The recent release of an English-language version of Square Enix’s Manga UP! app has left fans less than enthused after it was discovered that the company has censored numerous depictions of ‘sexualized’ body parts, including breasts and knees, across the various manga titles available on the service.
Officially made available to the English-speaking public on July 24th, the appropriately titled Manga UP! Global incarnation of Square Enix’s digital library collects localized editions of the company’s manga catalog in one app, with various agreements having been made to allow for the central aggregation of the series published under their direction regardless of who, if anyone, may have licensed them in the West.
Notable offerings currently up for perusal include Fujino Omori and Kunieda’s illustrated adaptation of the former’s original light novel series Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Homura Kawamoto and Toru Naomura’s Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler –, and Hiromu Arakawa’s seminal work, Fullmetal Alchemist.
While the announcement that the app would finally be coming stateside was initially met with celebration and praise from fans, these positive sentiments were quickly dashed, as it was soon discovered that the company had taken a shotgun-blast approach to slapping a black bar over any artwork featured on the app that could be considered even remotely sexually.
For example, in the first Prologue chapter of Atsushi Ohkubo’s Soul Eater, an early scene wherein Soul, intent on killing the mysterious ‘Witch Blair’, bursts in on the woman while she’s bathing sees numerous shots of the latter’s bare breasts and backside unceremoniously covered up:
Blair is furthered censored in her first full-body illustration, occurring just the next page over, with her fully-clothed chest being hidden from viewers’ eyes:
Likewise, the first chapter of Shinichi Fukuda’s My Dress-Up Darling – whose recent anime adaptation was one of the most popular of the Winter 2022 season – features censorship of both a cosplay-inspiration photo shared by female lead Marin Kitagawa:
As well as a subsequent panty-shot centered between her legs:
In the world of isekai, Square Enix covered up the bottom portion of Tiana’s standard leotard outfit in Ouji Kuro’s manga adaptation of Yoshiyuki Takahashi’s and teffish’s From Leveling Up the Hero to Leveling Up a Nation:
Perhaps suffering the worst of all, Kennoji and Mastumoto Komikan’s I Time-Traveled and Confessed to My Teacher Crush was subjected to near-constant censorship of its female lead, Haruka Hiiragi.
A woman whose busty quality is apparent regardless of her outfit, the Manga UP! version of the isekai series’ first chapter not only censors near every appearance of Hiiragi’s cleavage, as most blatantly seen in their ‘black barring’ of the manga’s opening color page:
But also, in one shot, her genitalia, despite her wearing nothing more revealing than a pair of jeans.
Most bizarrely of all, Square Enix’s censorious intent also resulted in a shot of protagonist Ragna’s knee, as drawn in the opening color spread for Nenjuu Muichatarou and Yami Satsuki’s Strongest Swordsman’s Magic Training: Reincarnated with Level 99 Stats, He Gets to Start Over from Level 1, being given the black bar treatment.
Given this odd knee-related judgment (which truly feels like a joke straight out of Me & Roboboco), as well as the examples provided by users on social media of the service’s inconsistent application of its standards, some have speculated that Square Enix may have employed an automated program to analyze, detect, and ultimately censor its Manga UP! uploads for Western audiences.
However, as of writing, no concrete evidence has been provided to either support or disprove this theory.
Further, the above examples are but a few instances of Square Enix’s Manga UP! censorship practices.
Thus, as the service finds its way into more hands, it is highly likely that even further edits will be uncovered.