Fat Princess, a charmingly bloody multiplayer PS3 “capture the princess” game, was set to be belatedly released in Japan as “Pocchari Princess,” but that release has been cancelled and delayed indefinitely – allegedly due to complaints over the fact that characters depicted only have four fingers.
Some explanation is in order – the issue derives from claims of discrimination by the hypersensitive descendents of Japan’s “burakumin” caste. In the Edo period, these were families forced to live as “untouchables” in special villages and ghettos as they worked in professions, such as tanning or undertaking, considered “unclean” in Shinto.
Such peoples were subjected to heavy legal and social discrimination, and although the caste was abolished in 1871 as part of the Meiji reforms, the discrimination lingers on to this day, with some people, predominantly in the Kansai region, still attempting to ensure their families do not marry the descendents of the burakumin by way of clandestine and illegal ancestry checks.
The burakumin reaction against this has seen the issue given virtual taboo status, along the same lines as racism in the west. The same reaction has also seen plenty of “anti-discriminatory” complaints and legal activity on their part, and it is here that the matter intersects with Fat Princess of all things.
“Yotsu,” “four,” is supposedly used by some blighted individuals as a discriminatory term for burakumin, and this has led to excessively sensitive burakumin activists attacking what they consider discriminatory usage of the number “four” – a variety of anime and manga have been forced to redraw characters to have five fingers based on such complaints:
Even the cover for the Japanese release of Left 4 Dead had to be replaced as it “looked as though” it the zombie hand had four fingers.
The issue now arises with Fat Princess, which has finger deficient characters:
A gameplay video for those curious about the game itself, which is incidentally generally considered to be rather good:
Most Japanese likely have no idea this “taboo” even exists, and it is magnificently obvious that developers Titan Studios, situated in the USA, could never have intended this as an attack on burakumin.
Still, the demands of political correctness being what they are, the game has had its imminent November release indefinitely delayed whilst replacement art is secured.
Adding irony is the fact that the game actually uses Japanese style moe visuals, and to good effect – doubtless the illustrators will be lamenting their failure to completely copy the style and give the characters the proper number of fingers, as it now transpires there was a “good” reason not to omit the extra digit…
This is not the first time the game’s content has been subjected to such criticism – cantankerous feminists previously criticised its theme of feeding princesses cake in order to fatten them up, which has the in-game effect of making the princess so heavy that only a team of players can drag her from her prison.
Nobody took any notice, although had it been a Japanese game being attacked by US critics perhaps they would…