I have searched all over for an answer to this and there doesn't seem to be a satisfactory answer to me. One theory says that it's a light offensive joke aimed at Americans, a subtle way of calling us dicks because of how it's usually only offensive material that are censored on TV. Another theory says that it's actually to not offend Americans, since they couldn't render all the stars or that it might not be displayed appropriately. I'm not so sure I'm convinced with that since Excel Saga's main audience is not American, at least, I don't think it is.

Why was the American flag censored in episode 17 of Excel Saga? Have there been other instances where national flags are censored or is there some sort of regulation to censor flags that they must follow?

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Relevant clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x39Jp-z61M&noredirect=1 At around 0:39

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    Related - the dialogue around that specific scene is: "The very picture of a slum town! This means it must be America!" The portrayal of America is also fairly ... negative (in an stereotypical way) in the entire episode - e.g. Sandora is making cel sheets for someone in the mafia, who is trying to pass them off as fakes. – Maroon Jul 1 '14 at 5:07
  • Looking at the episode again, it's worth adding that when the American flag appears in Excel's eyes right after this shot, the flag is very stylised (three stars, a bunch of thin black lines drawn across a red surface rather than red/white stripes). – Maroon Jul 1 '14 at 5:10
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    See this question on Japanese Language: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/11810/3437, which describes a similar phenomenon. I think this is a reasonably common way of delivering a light insult on Japanese television. The theory that this was done to avoid offending Americans is almost certainly bunkum - Japan has never been one to care about the sensibilities of foreigners who mostly don't even watch their TV. – senshin Jul 1 '14 at 21:53
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    Perhaps it was humorous censorship: The censorship is so ineffective you know exactly what's being censored. Furthermore, the viewer might distract themselves further and ask, "Why censor this in the first place?" – Paul Rowe Aug 31 '15 at 14:39
  • Maybe they just censored it out of extreme caution of causing problems. Anime do tend to censor out or use similar-sounding names for businesses and brands due to it being problematic if they keep them in there (i.e. WcDonald's). Perhaps they felt like if they left it uncensored, it may cause problems with the US breathing down their backs (not that it ever really would, but whatever). Honestly, I could be just totally off-base here, but that's my thought. – JaykeBird May 24 '16 at 10:11

It was likely a joke. It's much the same as when people from Japan censor Mickey Mouse in ways you can obviously tell it's still Mickey Mouse, partially I'm sure as a joke on America's strict copyright laws (Japan allows doujinshi, which as far as I know never get attacked on copyright grounds).

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