MyAnimeList: Can We Petition for Some Guideline Changes? (A post protesting Castlevania’s exclusion from the database)


When I sat down to write this week’s post, I for sure thought I would be writing a review of Castlevania Season 3. Because, obviously, I binge-watched that on March 5 just like everyone else! (Okay, not everyone, but I know some of you have because my feed was filled with Castlevania screenshots and comments and fan art that meant I needed to watch it ASAP or have the series spoiled hours after the release.)

Anyway, back to the point. I thought I would be writing a review of Castlevania S3 (wow that ending) and instead, I spent most of my Friday night following the season finale reading MAL’s Database Guidelines, looking for loopholes that I could use to make a defense for Castlevania in a submission to the admins since I was reminded once again that Castlevania didn’t qualify as an anime when I tried to update my anime list on MAL. Which leads us to this post. I vote that we petition for a slight change in the guidelines. Not a total overhaul, though, because their guidelines are pretty fair.

The guidelines, specifically the ones on anime submissions for addition to the database that disqualifies Castlevania, are as follows: 

1. The following entries are allowed in the anime database:

  • in Japan for the Japanese market;
  • in Korea/China for the Korean/Chinese market;
  • as a joint production between Japan/Korea/China and another country.
    Note: This does not include productions where only the animation is outsourced..

2. The following entries will be automatically denied:

  • Additions that cannot be confirmed to exist/no official announcement has been made.
  • Shows where all work, aside from the animation, was done outside of Japan/Korea/China (e.g. directing, script, etc.). For example, if a US company outsources only the animation of a particular work to Japan, it will not be included in our database.
  • Foreign edits or cut versions of an anime that was broadcast outside of Japan. Information about such edits can be placed in the More Info tab…. [sic]”

You can read the guidelines for yourself here, LINK.

Castlevania is rejected every time someone submits it because it is considered an American animation. It’s the same with Avatar: The Last Airbender, Korra, and any other American animation that might seem like an anime to you. 

Generally, I agree with MAL’s guidelines. I define anime a little differently in my head, but I don’t think MAL should have to live or publish by my rules when theirs have done such a fantastic job in categorizing thus far. HOWEVER, I still think we could make a slight adjustment to the guidelines that will allow for works like Castlevania while still excluding things like Loony Toons.

How? First, by looking at the source material. Second, by looking at how the series is published. Let me explain.

Castlevania started off as a Japanese video-game that was eventually adapted into a two-volume manga series, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. The source material was all made in Japan and published for a Japanese market, that spread out into Western markets. Netflix then made the animated adaptation that we’re discussing here. This brings us to the second point, looking at how it’s published in the marketplace.

Netflix released its animated adaptation in 2017, and thus far, all seasons have been published not only in English but also in Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and various other languages. In essence, one could argue that despite being made outside of Japan, the series has been created for Japanese+Other Markets.

If the MAL Guidelines could make the addition of a series that meets these two factors together, then series like Castlevania can be allowed while still excluding things like Loony Toons and even, dare I mention it, Avatar: The Last Airbender. ATLA, while having been inspired mainly by martial arts and Japanese/other sources, does not find its core in a published work of a similar name and/or story in Japanese/Chinese/Korean canon (at least not to my knowledge). 

Thoughts? Comments? Please let me know because this is all I’ve been able to think about since yesterday. 

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