Perhaps The Most Controversial Anime Ever – Midori

Perhaps The Most Controversial Anime Ever - Midori


I recently wrote about my thoughts on disturbing movies and I brought up the disturbing movie iceberg since it showed me a whole slew of disturbing movies that I’d never even heard of. Something that did quite surprise me though was learning that an entry simply referred to as “Shoujo Tsubaki” was an anime. As you know by now, I’m a big fan of anime and I found it fascinating that I’d never heard of this film, particularly since it shared its tier with other films like Martyrs, Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film. As I began to research the movie, I found the history and production of the film to be interesting enough that I decided that I should write an article covering perhaps the most controversial anime ever, Midori.

Interestingly, the genesis of this anime goes back to the era of kamishibai where a character known as the Camellia Girl (Shoujo Tsubaki in Japanese) developed. This character would be either adolescent or preadolescent who starts out by selling flowers to raise money and eventually is forced to work at a circus. Suehiro Maruo, a mangaka, took inspiration from this character and developed a manga which would later be released in English as “Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show” around 1984. It was this manga that the anime film would go on to adapt.

The cover for the manga “Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show”.

The premise of the manga/film is that a 12 year old girl named Midori sells flowers to raise money to support her mother who is bedridden due to illness. After receiving an offer from an older man, she returns home to find that her mother has passed away and that she’s being eaten by rats. Since her father had left the family, Midori has no one and decides to go to the address where the older man had directed her. Upon arriving, she finds out that it’s a circus/freak show and she is quickly forced to work there where she is emotionally, physically and sexually abused.

In 1987, Hiroshi Harada began work on adapting the manga into a film. Due to difficulty in securing financing due to the subject matter, Hiroshi ended up funding the film through his life savings as well as directing, writing, storyboarding and animating the entire film himself over the course of the next five years. This results in a film that is quite basic when it comes to the animation itself with a lot of limited animation techniques used such as pans, zooms, animating only the mouth in a scene etc.

The cover for “Midori”, the anime adaptation of Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show.

Understandably, the film has been controversial since its release in 1992 but a claim that I see frequently, that Japan has banned the film along with the rest of the world, I’ve found difficult to confirm. I’ve tried to find sources of government or censor boards stating that the film is banned but all I can find is word of mouth when it comes to this. Instead, I was quite fascinated to learn that a DVD release of this film had been released in France in 2006. If this film got a release in France then it is objectively not banned the world over and it makes me wonder if the idea that it’s banned is an over exaggeration that has spread as rumour.

I have yet to see this film since I’m unable to get hold of the DVD and it doesn’t appear to be available on any streaming services but I do have to admit that I have a great deal of respect for Hiroshi Harada for his devotion and passion in developing this film. I’ve heard people make the claim that it’s an underrated masterpiece and I’ve also heard people say that it’s a worthless piece of trash that has no value whatsoever. I do hope to see the film myself someday since I would love to be able to develop an opinion but we’ll just have to see.

Let me know your thoughts on Midori, perhaps the most controversial anime ever, whether you had heard of it prior to reading this article, if so, how, if you’ve seen it, did you like it or dislike it, what you think about Hiroshi Harada himself, whether you think that Midori deserves being called the most controversial anime ever and any additional information you might have on the topic.

Hopefully you have found this article interesting and informative and, if you wish to seek any of the works I mentioned, don’t hesitate to use or for all of your needs!


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