Throwing planet-smashing energy beams at one another is OK, but those martial arts masters better keep their middle fingers down.

As one of the very greenest of anime’s evergreen hits, it’s easy to forget just how old Dragon Ball Z is. The most popular and influential arc of creator Akira Toriyama’s generation-and-galaxy-spanning martial arts epic, Dragon Ball Z’s first TV episodes aired all the way back in 1989, and if you go back to its anime predecessor, Z-less Dragon Ball, that anime premiered in 1986, with the manga it’s based on starting in 1984.

In the decades since, attitudes about what is and isn’t acceptable in anime primarily aimed at young children have changed, and that’s manifested in a way that’s extremely upsetting to Japanese Twitter user @nappasan.

The above tweet shows a brand-new Japanese Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z, which went on sale from publisher Toei December 5, on the left, and the original version of the same scene on the right. While fan favorite Trunks used to be seen flipping the bird to his adversary Broly, he’s now just raising a clenched fist, in a much less aggressive/offensive gesture.

▼ Video comparison

What’s got @nappasan, and presumably the many people who have retweeted his comparisons, especially upset is how this digital altering of the anime’s visuals doesn’t seem to mesh with what’s written on the back of the Blu-ray box, which promises:

“A portion of ths anime’s visuals and dialogue are considered to be inappropriate in the current era, but in recognition of the importance of the work’s historical value, the existing original materials are presented in their original form. Thank you for your understanding.”

▼ The notice, boxed in red by @nappasan, as it appears on the Dragon Ball the Movies #6 Blu-ray.

It’s definitely odd that Toei would go to the trouble of printing such a confidently worded disclaimer on the box only to do the opposite. “This is an upsetting and serious betrayal of past visual expression,” Tweeted @nappasan, who later came across yet another example of middle finger-repositioning in the new Blu-ray.

The digital self-censorship highlights an evolution of how flipping the bird is seen in Japan. @nappasan claims that the gesture used to be less widely recognized in Japan, and was something that could fly under the radar without causing widespread offense.

▼ The raised middle finger pops up in Toriyama’s original manga as well.

Raised middle fingers actually enjoyed a brief spurt of popularity in otaku-oriented anime and video games that largely overlapped with Dragon Ball Z’s 1989-1996 original TV run. However, it was usually used in a challenging sense of “Come on, fight me!” or to express a general “I’m pissed off!”, as opposed to the “F**k you!” it’s generally interpreted as in the West. You’ll notice in the above tweet, for example, that Ranch is flipping someone off as she’s walking towards them (and thus needs to be held back) as opposed to using the gesture as a parting shot as she walks away.

As time has gone by, though, Japan’s perception of the raised middle finger seems to have come more in line with that of other countries’, and its casual use in otaku media has dropped off considerably. The upraised digits were also removed in Dragon Ball Kai, the reworked version of Dragon Ball Z that also trimmed filler story content and toned down depictions of violence and gore.

▼ Original (left) vs. Kai (right)

Still, @nappasan isn’t happy about the latest attempts to clean up Dragon Ball Z, especially since there was no prior, or subsequent, notice from the publisher. He does note, though, that the non-remastered version available for streaming through Amazon Prime in Japan, as well as the overseas Blu-ray release, don’t have this latest round of censoring applied to them.

So if the rebent middle fingers are a deal breaker to you, at least you still have other options.

Source: Twitter/@nappasan via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@nappasan

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he clearly remembers main character Bang in PC Engine fighting game Flash Hiders flipping off his opponent before each and every fight starts.