By Alicia Ballard
Anime was a staple in Saturday morning cartoon line-ups in the mid-1990s to early 2000s. DIC, the company to bring most of the shows like Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and One Piece to America, tended to take liberties with the translations. For example: in Pokemon, Brock famously refers to rice balls as “jelly-filled donuts”. This was a tactic used so American children wouldn’t be confused by cultural references. However, with more mature themes, this was used as a censor tool.
This is especially true in the English dub of Sailor Moon. Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus were introduced in the Anime in the third season. In Japan they were introduced as lovers, but the English dub changed dialog to make it seem as if they are cousins. It is an unfortunate reflection of American homophobia of the time.
In Japan, Sailor Moon was one of the most progressive television series in Japan’s history. Giving females strong role models, featuring members of the LGBTQ+, and much more. Unfortunately, the climate in America had issues with showing some of these traits.
Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, or Michiru and Haruka, were not the only characters to get this treatment. Two villains, Zoisite and Kunzite, were introduced as gay men in Japan. When it was time to translate their dialogue, Zoisite was given a female voice actor in an attempt to change his gender and portray their relationship as heterosexual.
Similarly, the villain Fish Eye is a man in Japan. He regularly dresses as a woman, to cover this up Fish Eye’s gender was completely changed to female and given a female voice actor.
Fortunately, this injustice is slowly being corrected. Fans regularly expose the network for it’s blatant censorship using articles and videos to breakdown inconsistencies in story-telling and the re-framing of scenes versus the original Japanese version. With the remake of the series, Sailor Moon Crystal, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus have been presented as a couple in the English dub as well as the original Japanese version.
With the help of fans and understanding television producers, the progressive themes that made waves in Japan are finally seeing justice on American screens.