As reported by Anime News Network last week, Viz changed two panels of Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 8 for the American version. In the Japanese version, the character Greed is hung on a crucifix; in the American version, Greed is still hung as if he's being crucified (arms out, legs together), but he's now on an oblong slab instead of a cross.
We asked Viz for the reason for the edit, and the response was the same as it has been in the past (see 'Viz Covers Up 'I's''): to 'fit the criteria for release in the American market.' The criteria used were different in these two cases. In this case, the religious reference was toned down in a series that's been one of the bestselling manga of the year (it was the #4 manga property in the most recent ICv2 Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga, see 'ICv2 Top 10'). The edit to I's was done to tone down the sexual content, probably to make the series more consistent.
Viz has emphasized that it only makes changes with the 'approval and input' of the creators.
We also asked how frequently Viz changes its content for the American market, and were told that changes were made 'rarely.' Anime on DVD has a running list of edited manga volumes from a number of publishers. Viz has 20 series with one or more edited volumes on the list.
The news on the Anime News Network site engendered 350 posts, many from passionate fans on both sides of the issue. We asked Viz what reactions they'd seen. 'Most of the feedback we are getting on this particular issue is that considering it does not change the story, and it is so minimal, it's not an issue,' a Viz spokesperson said. 'Most respect the choices and approvals made by the creator as well as understand that the audience varies in different countries.'
We chose manga edits as the 2005 Manga Controversy of the Year (see 'ICv2 Manga Awards'), primarily because of the hue and cry over the relatively heavy editing of CMX's Tenjho Tenge series.