Who knew AESPA ’s Karina would find herself unwittingly right in the middle of a controversy over her choice of Japanese anime to watch. It all started pretty innocently enough when the kpop star shared a list of animes she loved over on the chat platform Bubble. However, criticism from her Chinese fanbase soon came pouring in when she mentioned her love for My Hero Academia, a show labeled controversial in China for its the reference to Japan’s infamous Unit 731 in the original manga. Aside from trending multiple times on the Weibo hot search, some C-Netizens have also taken to bombard her on social media demanding an apology. Now, a few days later, Karina finally comments on the backlash saying she had no no idea of its controversial nature and that she will be more cautious next time.
“It was only later that I found out the anime I previously recommended was considered controversial. Because the name of the character was changed, I was unaware of the problem it caused previously. I didn’t have any intentions when I recommended this show so please don’t misunderstand. In the future I will be a more prudent Karina and will try my best to share positive content with MYs (the name of the Aespa fandom).”
Boycott and Taboo in China
The root of the outrage lies in a character previously called Maruta Shiga in the original manga which inadvertently brings to mind a horrible time in Chinese history. The term maruta translates to “logs”, a particularly dehumanizing term used to refer to prisoners who became test subjects for biological tests and lethal experiments conducted by the infamous Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army.
Although the author apologised and the name quickly changed following the huge backlash received when it came out, many have still continued to boycott the series. In fact streaming platforms like Tencent, Bilibili, iQiyi and Mango TV have all pulled the anime series off of its shelves.