"If those wisps of smoke are meant to hide Omega Redís 'carbonadium tentacle' in order to make sure this thing could still be approved by the Comics Code, then Arkadyís genitals are positioned in a weirdly high spot on his crotch. Congratulations: You now know more about Omega Redís ding-dang than you did five minutes ago."
—Chris Sims on
Jim Lee's X-Men
The use of strategically placed steam or smoke to censor the "naughty bits". Used most often in Anime
, but also in Western Animation
. Its use in Live Action
is rarer, as real smoke is hard to control, and is often transparent. Most recently, Censor Steam
can also be seen in the form of glimmering rays of light, or black shadows.
In recent years, many shows are marketed with explicit intent to be released on DVD, and for anime one of the best incentives to encourage people to buy is, literally, Fanservice
. However, many broadcast networks have particular policies against sexually explicit content (as opposed to direct sale via DVDs, which has none).
Thus the cheapest way to fulfill both needs is not to redo animation just to include Fanservice
, but broadcast it initially censored. For many series, fans became suspicious that this was done intentionally merely to get them to pay up.
A Bonus Episode
meets the two ideas in the middle.
Coined from the preferred censorship tactic of the fanservice
anime Girls Bravo
, which often obscured entire scenes until the second season premiered on another network.
The comedic version is usually Relax-o-Vision
A similar phenomenon is noted in more recent U.S. superhero comics, and is most strongly associated with the X-Men
A related trope, in which strategic placement of props is used to obscure nudity, is Scenery Censor
. In bath scenes, often replaced with Censor Suds
or a Modesty Towel
. In the bedroom, it's often replaced with the Modesty Bedsheet
Another related trope, in which the naughty bits simply aren't drawn at all, is Barbie Doll Anatomy
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Anime & Manga
- X-Men is quite fond of this. The aforementioned Storm (whose culture doesn't have much of a nudity taboo) is the queen of Innocent Fanservice, and then there are the numerous occasions on which someone proves to be Made of Iron and their outfits don't. This happens to men and women alike. Equal opportunity Fanservice!
- The Censor Steam◊ looks good on Peter Parker, too.
- Gwen Stacy's "return" in the Smoke and Mirrors arc has an overt case of this.
- Mary-Jane Watson and Felicia Black Cat hardy also get this from time to time.
- Ultimate Spider-Man is fond of this trope. It seems like Spidey can't beat the bad guys for good unless one of them (and often both) is naked and only censored by steam or light. Electro is probably the worst offender.
- Cloud from The Defenders had a 'costume' that consisted of swirls of cloud covering her privates.
Films — Live Action
- Beowulf fought the monster Grendel unarmed and completely naked (in order to fight on equal ground). When unexplained smoke isn't around, most of the battle consists of Beowulf jumping around like a circus monkey playing "Hide the Wiener."
- The Shower Scene in the movie I, Robot.
- The "Arnie" cameo in Terminator Salvation, as spoofed in this Sev Trek cartoon.
- Done to great comedic effect in My Fair Lady, when Professor Higgins's servants give Eliza Doolittle her first bath. The entire frame fills with steam as they close in on her, so that all we see are billows of white and an occasional towel (all while she loudly protests, "I'm a good girl, I am!").
- The Oracle in 300. Not entirely, but for the most part.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: Ron's vision of Locket! Harry and Hermione making out while naked Definitely helped it get a PG-13 rating.
- An (interrupted) almost-sex scene in the B-picture Hell Comes To Frogtown uses the shadow of the the female character's own leg as her Censor Steam.
- Copious amounts of Censor Steam get used on Selene in the fourth installment of the Underworld series, Awakening. She breaks out of her cryogenic chamber and is lying on the floor naked for at least a minute before she gets up to retrieve her gear. All the while, not a single "naughty bit" was seen.
Live Action TV
- The end of the first season of the 2000s Battlestar Galactica has a mob of identical Cylon women nude save for unexplained black shadow-like censor steam.
- Star Trek's Duras sisters. Just as well — they're all-Klingon.
- Highlander: The Series' first episode, Tessa's shower scene. Interestingly, the amount of censor steam had to be upped for the US version-the amount in the original wasn't enough to get past US censors.
- In the Genesis song "The Fountain of Salmacis", when Hermaphroditus first meets the title character: "He turned and saw her, in a cloak of mist alone".
- Used in the sauna scenes in the video for the Britney Spears song Womanizer.
- Used in Final Fantasy VI with Chadarnook, one of the bosses.
- When Bayonetta summons a demon, it is formed from her clothes, but a trail of Censor Steam still remains to preserve her modesty.
- Used to obscure some showering co-eds in the second installment of The Spellcasting Series.
- The Shower Scene from Cosmic Fantasy 2 has this in all versions except the Cosmic Fantasy Visual Collection.
- In Turgor when interacting with the Sisters to give them Color, they're completely naked save for binding chains that, for the most part, obscure all of their "fiddly bits".
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty In the ending video, this happens to Kerrigan
- A Monty Python's Flying Circus featured an Animated Segment called "Full Frontal Nudity", in which a man trying to watch a naughty film is prevented from seeing any "naughty bits" by increasingly bizarre Censor Steam and Scenery Censor, someone casting a shadow on the screen and, in the end, a traffic pileup in the middle of the theater.
- In Danny Phantom, along with using his hands to cover his you-know-what, steam covers Danny's naughty zone when he's taking a shower (and exposed to the public).
- In the Fairly OddParents special episode, "Fairly Odd Baby," there's one scene where Timmy steps out of the shower, obviously naked, and sees that all of Fairy World has shown up in his bathroom to celebrate Cosmo and Wanda's baby shower. Luckily, the steam from the hot shower covered up his private parts until he wished for a towel.
- The heroine "Fire" in Justice League Unlimited, while using her power, is essentially naked, except for strategically placed wisps of green flame.
- Code Lyoko is famous for it. During Fanservice bits (Yumi taking a bath or Aelita in the shower, just to name a few), MoonScoop made sure to have the water steam up or to cut the frame so that viewers didn't see their naughty bits.
- Censor Steam is used in Wakfu episode 22, when Sadlygrove (suffering from a sun fever) is hallucinating of Evangelyne showering.
- Invisible Network of Kids: One episode featured a shot of three boys showering naked; conveniently placed steam was the only thing covering their crotches.