Censorship is the act of removing content deemed immoral, offensive or morally objectionable by certain individuals and an act of suppression of speech or other public communication as determined by a government, media outlet or other controlling body.
During the localization of the Japanese anime, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon in 1995, Broadcast Standards and Practices (or BS&P) were fairly strict and particular about what was considered objectionable or acceptable in Japanese cartoons like Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon and its first three seasons are perhaps among the more famous anime who underwent American and multinational broadcast standards in order to be syndicated on television.
Violence and Nudity in Sailor Moon
A notable difference of the series is the censorship of material. For scenes of near-nudity, such as transformation sequences, body lines were removed around the breasts and pubic regions, and for bathing scenes, the situation was solved by either digitally "raising" the water level around the cleavage or by eliminating body visibility by toning the water a solid color with the rest of the body being hidden.
There were removals of "any violence", including violence toward children. However, there instances of inconsistent editing or situations wherein overt violence could not be avoided. In the first season, Sailor Moon, the episode "A Friend in Wolf's Clothing", the violent stabbing and death of Neflite was maintained and only altered to censor the blood; instead of red, the blood was edited to appear green (a similar instance was done in Drgonaball Z when the character Piccolo lost his arm to Raditz).
The latter episode, "Sailor V Makes the Scene", Zoycite's stabbing Tuxedo Mask in the back is censored after the intent to stab is shown; however, the blood from Darien's injury is left in the following episode, "A Crystal Clear Destiny", yet his being stabbed in the back by Zoycite a second time is censored.
The episode following the premiere of the second season, Sailor Moon R, "A Knight to Remember", when Lita Kino's friend, Ken, was attacked by an Cardian, the blood drawn from his injury was left in the episode. Following his injury, the scene wherein Lita volunteered to give her blood to Ken because of their shared blood type was also left in the episode. "A Knight to Remember" contains the most explicit visibility of blood in the English dub.
Other oddities when concerned with censoring violence in Sailor Moon include a sequence wherein Serena Tsukino falls over the balcony in "Worth a Princess's Ransom" and Raye Hino slapping downtrodden Serena in "A Reluctant Princess".
Terminology that referred to the explicit death of a character, such as "die" or "kill", are used inconsistently throughout the series, and is often replayed with "destroyed" or other enthusiasms that suggest a possible survival of a hero or villain.
When the Sailor Scouts and Queen Beryl are killed in "Day of Destiny", characters say they were "sent to the Negaverse" (a possible euphemism despite the Negaverse being Queen Beryl's base of operations). However, Beryl is later stated to be "completely destroyed". In the uncut DVD releases, the original unedited sequences were left intact.
Americanization of names and locations
In an effort to make Sailor Moon friendlier to younger American audiences, character names and locations were given "Americanized" names. Mina Aino was originally named "Minako Aino", Amy Anderson was "Ami Mizuno", though there is a case of her original surname, "Mizuno", being maintained in Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS.
Before Sailor Moon's American debut, DiC distributed a promotional tape to syndicators and stations to sell the series. This tape is notable in that it features completely different names for the five main characters; Usagi was called "Victoria," Ami "Blue," Rei "Dana," Makoto "Sarah," and Minako "Carrie." Tuxedo Mask was temporarily "The Masked Tuxedo." However, in a movie similar to Digimon: Digital Monsters and Ronin Warriors, when the series aired the names were closer to their original form, either in sound or meaning:
- Usagi Tsukino - Serena (from "Serenity")
- Rei Hino - Raye
- Makoto Kino - Lita (a pun of the word "lightning")
- Haruka Tenoh - Amara
- Michiru Kaioh - Michelle
- Setsuna Meioh - Trista
- Mamoru Chiba - Darien Shields
- Chibiusa - Rini (as "Chibiusa" from "Usagi", diminutive of "Serena")
The only "Sailor Senshi" who retains her original name is Hotaru Tomoe, though in line with English pronunciation practice, the final 'e' in her family name is not pronounced with two syllables, rather than Japanese with three.
Other instances of Americanizing the series was Darien's food-associated nickname for Serena. In the Japanese dub, Mamoru Chiba nicknames Usagi "Dumpling Head" because her hair resembles Dangos. In the English localization, Darien Darien nicknames Serena Meatball Head" because the hair-knots on her head resemble meatballs.
A fairly commonplace occurrence when translating or subtitling East Asian media is the conversion of money. References to Japanese yen in Sailor Moon are replaced with references to the United States dollar. While not all Kanji was replaced, there were several instances of translations or re-namming locations to make Tokyo appear closer to a North American city.
Censorship of LGBT characters
In the original adaptation of Sailor Moon Zoycite ("Zoisite") was an effeminate gay man who was in love with Malachite ("Kunzite"). When the first season was dubbed by DiC, the character was assigned the identity of a woman and voiced by late actress, Kirsten Bishop.
While it was never directly mentioned in the show, Amara and Michelle were implied to be lovers in the original Japanese manga and anime, the latter being intentionally even more ambiguous. In some countries, the relationship was censored, as homosexuality was considered too risque for a children's program.
In the Russian and Hungarian dubs, Uranus was a man in civilian form, who transforms into a woman, similar to the Sailor Starlights in the unaired season, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. The Albanian dub skipped the third and fifth season, in which Uranus and Neptune appeared, altogether. In the Italian, French, and Polish dub, Uranus and Neptune were merely portrayed as close friends, instead of lovers.
The Mexican dub kept the relationship; however, this ended up causing the franchise to be boycotted in Mexico. The Brazilian dub was based on the Mexican dub, so the relationship was also kept. Despite popular belief, there was criticism in Japan for featuring a lesbian couple in a children's show. This is presumably the reason the Starlights were changed to men in Sailor Moon Stars.
For broadcast and VHS distribution purposes in North America, Amara and Michelle were referred to as cousins. However, Amara's flirting was kept at some extent, although many of it was redirected towards male characters (such as Darien) or meant to be a joke on how she is mistaken for a man. Innuendo between Uranus and Neptune was also sometimes left intact and random characters, even monsters of the day, knew that not only were Amara and Michelle cousins, but that Uranus and Neptune were as well. Sometimes this was justified, as the monsters-of-the-day were created from people and objects near to them.
The censorship of Amara and Michelle's relationship in North America is typically the more popular references when discussing Sailor Moon in general Anime fandom.
Not unlike Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon S, in Sailor Moon Super S the Dark Moon Circus antagonist, Fish Eye, was a gay man and was changed to a woman in the dub. This made the eventual episode, "A True Reflection", wherein Fish Eye develops feelings for Darien and steals his Dream mirror appear heterosexual in nature.
- Content taken from: Sailor Moon (English adaptations)
- Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon vs. Sailor Moon: Cuts and Edits (Defunct site)
- Sailor Moon Uncensored - A comprehensive guide to what was removed from the four seasons of Sailor Moon during its broadcast in America.
- ↑ Shojo Classic - Sailor Moon - March 17, 2008
- ↑ Archive Link
- ↑ Allison, Anne (2000). "A Challenge to Hollywood? Japanese Character Goods Hit the US". Japanese Studies (Routledge) 20 (1): 67–88. doi:10.1080/10371390050009075.
- ↑ Ladd, Fred; Harvey Deneroff (2008). Astro Boy and Anime come to the Americas: An Insider's View of the Birth of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
- ↑ Of Otaku and Fansubs: A Critical Look at Anime Online in Light of Current Issues in Copyright Law -November 9, 2011
- ↑ Toonami Digital Arsenal
- ↑ Sailor Moon Anime Guide
- ↑ Disliking Vs. Hating
- ↑ Beware of weasel words and passive-aggressive attitudes toward examination of the dub.