Content warning: this article briefly discusses the Kobe child murders.
Capcom has confirmed that the Japanese version of Resident Evil Village will be censored in order to comply with the country’s CERO (Computer Entertainment Rating Organization) standards.
On the official Japanese Capcom website, the developer states that the widely-anticipated horror game will have two versions: one with a D rating (17 and up) and one with a Z rating (18 and up). A translation of the page states there will “basically” be no major differences in the game’s content from the overseas version; however, there will be differences in the expressions of that content to abide by the regulations. Those differences will consist of no head decapitations and less blood shown. Additionally, no scenes that CERO prohibits will be included. Presumably, for the sake of spoilers, these scenes have not been detailed. Alex Aniel, the Japan Business Manager of Limited Run Games, took to Twitter to confirm the news for international audiences.
So, in short: yes, the content will be modified, but players who experience the Japanese version won’t necessarily have an inferior experience due to those modifications. The content just won’t be as gratuitously gruesome. The U.S. version of the game will not be affected.
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This isn’t anything new, for the Resident Evil series and its gore have been censored in various countries to different degrees. For example, in the U.S. release of Resident Evil 4, characters could be decapitated in certain instances, such as when they would be attacked by the chainsaw-wielding Ganado. Additionally, some enemies’ heads would explode if you shot them with a powerful enough firearm.
In the Japanese version, instances of decapitation, and other overly brutal deaths protagonist Leon S. Kennedy could face, were removed. In the Japanese version of Resident Evil 2 Remake, some aspects, like Elliot Edward’s resulting in his body being cut in half, were censored to be less gruesome. There are many more examples throughout the series, as practically every entry has been censored to comply with Japan’s CERO, North America’s ESRB, and/or Europe’s PEGI restrictions.
Japanese media’s restrictions are much tighter in part due to the 1997 Kobe child murders that shocked Japan. Two children — Ayaka Yamashita, age 10, and Jun Hase, age 11 — were murdered by a 14-year-old boy reportedly named Shinichiro Azuma (Japanese law prohibits the publication of a juvenile offender’s identity) in the city of Kobe. The children had been assaulted and Hase was beheaded. The killer was arrested in June after having committed the crimes in March and May. After the murders, politician Shizuka Kamei called for the restriction of overly cruel and controversial content, especially in horror movies entering the Japanese market.
Resident Evil Village will come to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on May 7. It will also come to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The last-gen versions of the survival horror game will be freely upgradable to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.