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Anime episode pulled for ‘blackface’


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SEGA pulled an episode of a gag anime after Western Twitter users thought it promoted blackface

The latest episode of ‘Vocaloid’ gag anime ‘Petit Sekai’ has been “indefinitely” pulled by SEGA after Western audiences on Twitter accused the show of promoting blackface.


The anime is based on the ‘Project SEKAI COLORFUL STAGE!’ mobile game and follows ‘chibi’ (exaggeratedly short) versions of the game’s characters as they find themselves in various light-hearted comedic situations.

In the latest episode, titled ‘Leo/need Style’, the characters, who are in an all-girl idol group called Leo/need, decide to come up with a new visual style for all the members. After going through several ideas, they end up taking inspiration from the ‘Leo’ aspect of the band name and propose a ‘Lion’ theme. They dress up in tribal costumes and don dark make-up.

basically, Leo/Need tried to explore new style for their band, and one of them is based on lions, because “Leo”

and this is what came out of it. pic.twitter.com/Jsu4DVwYgX

— Artistic_Kitsune ➡️ Red Savarin Supremacy (@KitsuneArtist) February 18, 2022

However, the group eventually decides that the style is too “far out there” and rejects the theme. The episode ends with the main character, Saki, going home still wearing the make-up and surprising her brother with how wildly different she looks.

While most viewers saw the episode as light-hearted and well within the confines of Japanese culture, with the ‘Lion’ getups seemingly being a nod to gyaru – a popular Japanese fashion subculture which features over-the-top clothing, extreme tan and wild make-up, meant to be a rejection of traditional Japanese beauty standards – a handful of Western viewers saw the whole thing as ‘blackface’ and took to Twitter to express their outrage towards SEGA.

Two ganguro girls with heavy eye Make-up, Japan, 2000s. (Photo by: PYMCA/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“There is literally NO excuse for the Project Sekai anime to have blackface in it,” wrote @kaiyerra. “I hope they get a ton of s–t for this. I’m not sorry. This is just gross.”

Another user claimed the devs shouldn’t have included “blackface” since they knew they had a western audience. 

the project sekai blackface situation is crazy because all the devs know well and have acknowledged that there’s a gigantic western following for the game so the fact that they would put leo need in blackface is so 😭😭😭

— kio (@kzzrttt) February 17, 2022

Some defended the show by pointing out that the unique Japanese subculture that was being depicted had nothing to do with ‘blackface’, but those who were outraged insisted that the “stereotypical ‘tribal’ or caveman outfits” shouldn’t have been featured either.

Eventually, SEGA responded to the accusations by announcing in both their English and Japanese social media accounts that they would be taking down the episode indefinitely, and apologizing for the use of “inappropriate expression.”

Regarding ぷちセカ (Petit Sekai) Ep. 6

We would like to issue a sincere apology regarding the use of an inappropriate image in the episode “Leo/need Style.”

For now, we will be taking down the episode “Leo/need Style” indefinitely. pic.twitter.com/V3XoNlkD0b

— HATSUNE MIKU: COLORFUL STAGE! (@ColorfulStageEN) February 18, 2022

SEGA went on to say that the “team’s goal is to provide both in-game and outside-the-game content that is enjoyable by fans around the world with different cultures and values.” Adding that “We would like to issue a most sincere apology for releasing inappropriate and insensitive content, although it was unintentional, we appreciate many of our fans for pointing the issue out.”

They concluded the statement by saying “We are making sure the issue is shared among the team thoroughly so we can utilize this experience to avoid encountering similar issues in the future as we continue to strive to create contents that can be enjoyed by a wide range of players.”

Many fans of the game and show were disappointed by the company’s decision to pull the episode, with some blaming SEGA for “bending the knee” and listening to a handful of outraged Twitter users who insist everyone must respect foreign cultures, while they themselves apply their own Western bias towards foreign media and subcultures.

realeasing jp games to the west are a mistake. they’re easily offended. seems like they never heard of gangura which are big part of jp pop culture. btw, this game was targeted to jp audience first. you don’t like it, don’t play it. easy

— Ikhwan Eivanart (@Kay_Eivan) February 19, 2022

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