Sailor Moon is a Japanese manga and anime series written in 1995 by Sukehiro Tomita. The story follows a 14-year-old girl named Usagi Tsukino and her friends as they fight for the three tenants of friendship, justice, and love. While they live their daily lives as normal middle school girls, they fight monsters that threaten humans as the Sailor Scouts. When being introduced to Sailor Moon, it is very apparent how much the bonds between the girls are the driving force for persevering over the challenges that came their way.[1] This driving force, amongst other influences, has been misinterpreted as the series aired in the United States. Sexualities, gender identities, and performances were sensitive topics that differed between Japan and the United States by a large margin. Evidence of these discrepancies have been centered around some of the major characters and villains.

Figure 1. Advertisement Artwork for the Sailor Moon television series in the U.S. 1997 from Toei Animation.

Contents

1.Reinterpretation of Sailor Moon

1.1 The Diffusion Information et Communication

2. Heroes

2.1 Sailor Moon

2.2 Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus

2.3 Sailor Starlights

3. Villains

3.1 Fish Eye

3.2 Kunzite Zoisite

4. Other Resources

 

  1. Reinterpretation of Anime

1.1 The Diffusion Information et Communication
When Sailor Moon aired in the United States, elements of its narrative were stripped away due to fact that these very elements represented sexual and gender identities that were not perceived as acceptable to U.S. audiences, especially to the children of the population. During the time Cartoon Network took up the series for syndication in North America, the company was uncomfortable with the idea of a cartoon exposing children to the type of homosocial behavior featured in Sailor Moon. The Diffusion Information et Communication, a Canadian company otherwise known as the DiC, was responsible for providing the English dubbing and subbing for Sailor Moon.[2] It is a popular debate amongst fans of the series who have watched both the Japanese and English versions of the show with regards to how much the diction took away from the identity of some of the characters.[3]

  1. Heroes

2.1 Sailor Moon
Prior to the Sailor Scouts coming to be, Sailor Moon (Usagi Tsukino) had an initial mission to find each of the destined Sailor Scouts to bring them together as a team. A notable quality about Sailor Moon were her homosocial voyeurism prior to formally acquainting herself with the girls. She would gawk at them from afar and be mesmerized by their beauty to where her clumsiness gets the better of her, or she would intimately admire them for their aptitude in technical ability. However, all of this was in efforts to express the longing support Sailor Moon provides for the scouts but in the Western lens can be misconstrued into inappropriate behavior from one girl to another.

Figure 2. Sailor Uranus and Neptune in an embrace, with English subtitles. Sailor Moon, 1997.

2.1 Sailor Uranus and Neptune
 One of the most widely known queer occurrences that the DiC attempted to sanitize was how Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune expressed their feelings for each other under the guise of being each other’s cousin.[4] In addition, Sailor Uranus is masculine presenting in her appearance, her diction, and her actions. These elements of her in the dubbed version of the anime were feminized to make her character fit the appeal for a cisgender, heterosexual viewer.[5] In every effort to maintain the façade of their real relationship, the DiC attempted to change the context and the words that they say to and about each other to be more appropriate for cousins rather than lovers, even though the visuals of the anime reflect the latter.

2.3 Sailor Starlights
There is little information about the Sailor Starlights’ interpretation in the United States because it became harder for the DiC to fabricate a cis-hetero friendly version of the anime.[6] The Sailor Starlights are a trio of characters appearing in the latter part of Sailor Moon that operate in similar fashion to the Sailor Scouts as far as being women who utilize the power of the stars for the heroism. What differs them from the earlier editions of Sailor Scouts is the fact that when they are in disguised as regular people in their daily lives they are biological men, specifically young men that perform in a popular J-Pop band.[7] This filmography would be difficult, daresay impossible, to edit out. These queer representations could not be eliminated through subbing and dubbing, so the airing of Sailor Moon was cancelled in North America at this point in the series.[8]

  1. Villains

3.1 Fish Eye
In the Japanese version of the anime, Fish Eye is a male villain in the series while in the dubbed version was voiced as a woman. With Fish Eye having feminine features including long and wavy hair, it would be interpreted as a simple way to hide the fact that Fish Eye was interested in men. In the Japanese version, Fish Eye hunted men in order to supplement his power and had even fallen in love with one of the main male heroic characters, Tuxedo Mask. With the same intentions of hiding queer representation in the anime in the U.S., the DiC incorporated a female voice actor and replaced traditionally male pronouns with female ones.

 

Figure 3. Kunzite and Zoisite as featured in the first season of Sailor Moon, 1997.

3.2 Kunzite and Zoisite
Similar to Fish Eye, Kunzite and Zoisite are actually two men in the Japanese version of the anime who are openly in a romantic relationship. Playing one of the many henchmen to Queen Beryl, the main antagonist of the Sailor Moon series, Zoisite was voice acted by a woman. The reason behind why Zoisite was chosen between the two lovers as the female character was mainly due to the fact that he has a more submissive demeanor which is often associated with the Western qualities of femininity.[9] By doing this, the DiC was able to embody the structure of a heterosexual relationship.

  1. Other Resources

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[1] Newsom, Victoria. “Young Females as Super Heroes: Superheroines in the Animated Sailor Moon.” Femspec, vol. 5, no. 2, 2013.

[2] Brienza, Casey. “The Western Sailor Moon Generation: North American Women and Feminine-Friendly Global Manga.” Global Manga: ‘Japanese’ Comics Without Japan?. Routledge, 2016. p. 25.

[3] West, Mark I, The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki. Scarecrow Press, 2008. p. 134.

[4] Hoskin, Rhea A., “Westernization and the Transmogrification of Sailor Moon.” Researchgate, 2016. p. 3.  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rhea_Hoskin/publication/304124015_Westernization_and_The_Transmogrification_of_Sailor_Moon/links/576745cb08ae421c448c49a5/Westernization-and-The-Transmogrification-of-Sailor-Moon.pdf. Accessed 26 October 2017.

[5] Newsom, Victoria, “Young Females as Super Heroes: Superheroines in the Animated Sailor Moon.” Ibid.

[6] Ballenger, Rebecca, “Too Many Girlfriends: Sailor Moon’s Censored Life in the U.S.” Bookmans, 11 May 2015. http://bookmans.com/too-many-girlfriends-sailor-moons-censored-life-us/. Accessed 27 October 2017.

[7] Hoskin, Rhea A., “Westernization and Transmogrification of Sailor Moon.”. p. 4

[8] Hoskin, Rhea A., “Westernization and the Transmogrification of Sailor Moon.” Ibid.

[9] Hewle, Darrah M., “Anime and Identity: Reception of Sailor Moon by Adolescent American Fans.” East Asian Studies Summer Fellows, 2015. p. 17. http://digitalcommons.ursinus.edu/eastasia_sum/1. Accessed 27 October 2017.

— MM

MM is currently a student in WMST 595, Sexing the Body. Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section!