The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: March 11th, 2000

Who to Blame for Censorship and Changes to Sailor Moon

By: Hitsuji Kinno

Dic is blamed for all of the changes to the original Sailor Moon, and although we (at least some of us) are grateful to Dic for bringing Sailor Moon to America (program exchange, and others also included). Often the rantings and ravings about Dic include how they censored such and such on Sailor Moon. How could they do such a thing to a wonderful TV show. But this is not where we should place all the blame for such events.

I researched for my senior thesis censorship and changes to anime and manga. I was surprised to find (but not shocked) that it was most likely NOT all of Dic's fault. Instead we can blame our own government for the censorship. We blame Dic for all the bad dubbing, but we can never blame them for the censorship.

I'll adress the censorship first. Censorship is usually defined as the following, "The act of examining books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable." ( Censorship is actually determined by our government. (this section is better known as the FCC).

The FCC on their web page state the following: "The mission of this independent government agency is to encourage competition in all communications markets and to protect the public interest. In response to direction from the Congress, the FCC develops and implements policy concerning interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable." ( 11:39)

Yup.. blame them. (though we have to wonder what the 'public interest' is.) They are the ones that would take out such things as sexual references, homosexuality (sad, isn't it?), "misuse" of Christian symbolism, and violence. Though I have not found out from them what their definition of "inappropiate material" is, you can get an implication of what they mean simply by looking at what is rated "R" and what is rated "G".

It would not be advantageous for Dic to censor all of the material that most of the Sailor Moon population believes. If this issue is thought in terms of money, logically, they would be aware that their audience would be insulted by the cutting of the umbrella scene in NA episode 18. Rather they wish to get as much money as possible meaning that they want the widest audience possible.

Dic chose to rate Sailor Moon Y-7 (proabbly with the help of the US government and sponsors). This means that Dic and co. thinks that most of the viewing public is about 7 years old (and up, probably to about 14), or in this case, was going to be. (*sigh* how sad) For rated Y-7 there are certain guidelines put out by the US government, especially when it's going to be broadcast on local stations. The guidelines for local stations is stricter than it is for cable stations, purely because of the access that the channel has to the audience they are broadcasting to. (Local=more range of people. Cable= specialized group of people.)

You can also see proof of this in the Dragon Ball Z episodes (the dub is done by Funimation.), another anime shown on Cartoon Network with much of the same issues as Sailor Moon. (Just in case you hadn't heard of it.) On their site they say in their FAQ for Dragon Ball Z that they don't like doing censorship to Dragon Ball Z. In fact, it is more advantageous for them to NOT censor the program. Afterall, angry fans in this business usually means that they will try to find other means of watching the show. When Dragon Ball Z moved to a cable station, all of the local stations that broadcast it were eventually dropped. (I think it is on a contract basis, so they couldn't pull it all at once.) This also resulted in the majority of the new show being broadcast with less censorship. Because the restrictions on cable are lighter than on local stations, if they were to continue on local stations then they would have to make two versions of the show which was not profitable enough for them to continue.

Dic moved Sailor Moon because it was getting to be popular, they could show to a cable company that Sailor Moon would do well in a almost prime time spot. This would make sense, because Cable companies want a good guarentee that the show will be a success, especially since they could be making money of of another show. (We are in a capitalist society..) It was therefore advantageous for them to move and eventually let the Sailor Moon shows at 6:30 and 5:00 in the morning drop. If it was advantageous for them to keep censoring, then the censorship would logically be at the same level as it was in the first 65 episodes. As most of you have seen this did not happen. The level of censorship dropped in the last 17 episodes to be broadcast.

The sponsors can also be blamed for the censorship involved. Their stake in the process is that they want money. Dic has (while they were still around) had trouble with finding sponsors for their product. (might be why they dropped the rights to Sailor Moon although it was doing so well). They might instruct Dic to cut something. This may be because they fear the adults would complain since often the adults watch the shows that their children watch. It is not really clear what they told Dic to cut and do. They might be blamed for all the Americanization that we see on the show. Of course this also depends on the sponsor. Bottom line: No sponsor, no show.

I'm not sure if Dic feels bad about the censoring, but FUNimation does. FUNimation dubs Dragon Ball Z and can be set up as an example.

"Why do you censor the show?
"Believe it or not but we hate censoring the show as much as you hate seeing it censored. The level of censorship is determined by the broadcaster, not FUNimation. The first 53 episodes were created under the censorship authority of Saban. [ed. Saban is the company that imported Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers into America.] Each episode had to be blessed by an independent censorship authority before it could be aired. These episodes were also created for 'free TV' which requires stricter FCC censorship guidelines than cable. We at FUNimation agree that many of the censorship issues have been pretty ridiculous and that the series should remain as pure to the original form as possible. This has been a constant battle for us since we feel most of Dragon Ball Z is perfectly suitable for all ages and teaches great moral traits such as honesty,friendship, good vs. evil, etc..." ('s FAQ on DBZ)
Some of you might like to point out other anime that have been censored less, such as Pokemon. I would like to show you that the standards for censorship in anime have been deteriating. "Astroboy", Kimba, the white Lion, Speed Racer, and most notably Robotech (three anime mashed in a blender with the top open) had far more censorship than Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon is newer than those anime. Pokemon (I really don't like to count this one.. but since a fave seiyuu of mine did the voice.. I'll count it.. but it's still a cop out sellling to the American public FIRST), Dragon Ball Z, etc, are more recently brought in anime, and has less censorship done to it. No standard for censorship to the anime medium has been established and keeps changing. The more recently imported the anime the less censorship is done to it.

What we can blame entirely on Dic is the bad dubbing and any translation mistakes. (examples of this are in the list) The basics you can blame on Dic are: as messing up the translations, decisions about voices, and the administrating of Sailor Moon. (SOS, *ahem* still doesn't get this, but by now most of you know that they are a bit thick-headed, but that's another article.)

So, who do we really blame for what? Here's a convient list, so you can flame both sides legitimatly (though I don't reccomend flaming, sheesh.. people can't take a joke?). Also so you can correct any person you run across that makes the claim it's all Dic's fault.

Done by our lovely, wonderful government, and perhaps the sponsors. (basically anything they think will OFFEND the public, is done by the government, anything that people won't UNDERSTAND is most likely done by the sponsors)

  • The censorship of any references to sex.
  • the censorship of anything dealing with violence (i.e. the combining of the last two episodes in SM)
  • The taking away of any homosexulity
  • scenes like the umbrella, where they think Children will put themselves in danger. (whatever..)
  • Any material that might be insulting to the Judeo-christain belief system (since most of us in America wouldn't understand the implication of christian symbols in anime. These usually imply mystery, and not religious affliation)
  • the cutting of the episode where Umino/Melvin looks up Haruna-sensei's/Ms. Haruna's skirt.
  • The cutting of violence.
  • The renaming of food, items, and Japanese places. (basically Japanese culture. blech.. sponsors.. c'mon..)
  • The cutting of the image of a devil image in Evil Begone (used the middle road)
  • The telling to change the names to American ones.
  • Sailor Says (required by the US government for "violent *kids* shows"
  • The cutting of "Black Moon". (probably for racial reasons. *gag me.. we aren't that stupid)
  • The cutting of Black Lady. (Ok... I see a caucasion looking person, not African heritage.. and they want the change.. O_O;)
What we can blame of Dic: (Ok, you can now boo..)
  • The choosing of the voice actors (some say it's a plus, some say it's minus, but you gotta admit Rini's voice is just grating to the ears..)
  • The bad translations. Such as the carrot/potato incident: this was where Lita held up a carrot, it looked like a carrot, was orange like a carrot, had a top like a carrot, and she called it a potato. You can also count Raye call a beef curry package chiken curry.
  • The line about the Princesses of your own respective kingdoms. (this probably was done by some fan of the manga at the studio.. just to prove that they weren't all bad.. *gag me*)
  • sloppy voicing
  • Some of the Americanization. (though most of it I would blame on the sponsors)
  • the cutting of the Sailor V episode and the Dinosaur episode (they thought it didn't advance the story, which I say is wrong, since it develops the characters majorly)
  • The actual choosing of the names.
  • The use of Negaverse in the second season.
  • The MAKING of Black moon into Negamoon. (not the decision to actually changing it, but what it was to be called in the place of it)
  • The MAKING of Black Lady into Wicked Lady. (not the decision to actually changing it, but what it was to be called in the place of it)
What you can blame on both:
  • The Talent reference. (Makoto in the original arched her back as she fought about the Sleeping Beauty role in SMR and *ahem* refered to her cheast size as the reason for getting the role.*ahem* Lita said I have the most *talent* doing the same action. This is most likely a collaboration. the government said that they wouldn't allow "breasts" so the editor came up with "talent." Good joke. That's creative thinking on the editor's part.
Basically the US government and the sponsors set guidelines and then Dic tries to bend, get around, or get creative with those guidelines. In most cases they had to follow the guidelines, but you can see evidence of when Dic side-stepped the guidelines. (such as using the the death of the Sailors material in the Sailor Says) So when you want to blame someone blame it on as many people you can. Blame the changes and censorship on the FCC, the sponsors, AND Dic. (who says I want Dic free from blame?)

If you want to refute this argument, you must site ALL of your sources, and they must be legitimate. That means give me a website, or a complete bibliography with a ligitimate argument, or expect a flame right back.

Comments on this article can be sent to: Hitsuji Kinno.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

  Current Lemures Top || Main || Email   
© 2002 AQ