Sailor Moon is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has made fans across the world jump with excitement over the franchise once again. With a range of anniversary merchandise, the fourth and fifth seasons of Sailor Moon Crystal and a new stage show musical, hype is up on the anime/manga saga once again. The 1990s #anime is the landmark series that many fans first loved as a child.
However, the American version of the show was drastically different to the Japanese counterpart. The majority of these changes weaken the franchise's power. Many fans who have seen the Japanese versions would agree that they are far superior to the American version of the episodes.
Many characters had their names changed to align them with more common names in western countries. For #SailorMoon, this resulted in the following changes for the main characters:
- Usagi (Sailor Moon) changed to Serena
- Ami (Sailor Mercury) changed to Amy
- Rei (Sailor Mars) changed to Raye
- Makoto (Sailor Jupiter) changed to Lita
- Minako (Sailor Venus) changed to Mina
- Mamoru Chiba (Tuxedo Mask) changed to Darien Shields
- Chibi-Usa (Sailor Chibi Moon) changed to Rini
- Setsuna (Sailor Pluto) changed to Trista
- Haruka (Sailor Uranus) changed to Amara
- Michiru (Sailor Neptune) changed to Michelle
- Hortaru (Sailor Saturn) the only Sailor Senshi/Scout to keep her original name
Similarly, villains and other characters had their names altered in the translation of the show. This was to help audiences feel a sense of familiarity over more traditional Japanese names. This included altering the name of the Black Moon Clan to the Negamoon Family to avoid negative connotations, and the Death Phantoms changed to Doom Phantom to avoid the word "death" in a children's show. However, changing names is not uncommon for an anime; however, Sailor Moon saw more alterations than just to their names. With that being said, here are 11 ways the series was changed for Western audiences.
11. Japanese No More!
Sailor Moon, like many anime shows, saw a rewrite in some of its plot and characters to adapt it for a younger, Western audience. However, unlike other anime series, Sailor Moon saw much greater censorship over its Japanese references. Going through the footage frame-by-frame, they literally removed anything Japanese from the show. Massive franchise like Power Rangers and Pokémon have not gone to these extremes to remove everything Japanese for Western audiences.
10. Sailor Moon Getting Completely Drunk
The main heroine herself has made the mistake of getting drunk, not once but twice in the anime. During the episode "Usagi's Dance, in Time to a Waltz" she gets so nervous having to speak to foreigners she accidentally drinks alcohol, mistaking it for something else. A second time was during "Romance Under the Moon! Usagi's First Kiss" where she thinks it's punch. This episodes see her receiving her first kiss from Tuxedo Mask while she is still feeling the effects of the alcohol. This was simply not acceptable for the team bringing it to Western viewers.
9. Zoisite Was Made Female Instead Of Being A Gay Man
In the original Japanese version of the anime, Zoisite and Kunzite are generals for the evil Queen Beryl who also happened to be lovers. Rather than keeping the pair of male characters in a loving relationship, they changed Zoisite's sex to female. With his smaller frame and more feminine movements, Zoiste was easier to alter than the more masculine Kunzite. One would like to believe this was the only time LGBT characters were altered in the anime, but it was quite common when translating the entire show for Western audiences.
8. Sailor Mars Was Less Abusive To Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars had a very deep and powerful love-hate relationship. However, when the show came over from Japan, they cut the physical side of their friendship out of the show. Sailor Mars had a habit of getting frustrated at Sailor Moon for her lack of belief in herself, and this would typically result in a slap across the face. While Sailor Moon's feelings would be temporarily hurt, she would come to realize Mars slapped her because everyone around her believes in her so strongly. By removing this aspect from the show, it made Sailor Mars seem to be angrier than her Japanese counterpart.
7. Fisheye Was Gender Swapped
Fisheye was originally a male character in the Japanese show and was extremely feminine. He only ever targeted males and would even go to the extremes of getting them to fall in love with him to reveal their dreams to him. When it came to dubbing the character into English, he was changed into a female character. Given the character's personality, style and portrayal, it was easily done; however, it was another example of censoring out anything LGBT in the franchise.
6. Sailor Moon, Keep Your Clothes On!
One thing the Japanese show was not afraid to do was get the heroes down to their bare skin. However, this was deemed unacceptable by many countries and clothes or effects were added to the footage to cover any nudity. There was even an episode cut from the English dub that showed Sailor Mercury embracing herself as a person and warrior while completely naked.
5. Clean Up That Blood
In an attempt to make the show more child friendly, the dub version meticulously went on a mission to remove pretty much all the references to death. They also removed the majority of the scenes with blood or heavy violence to stop parents from getting angry over a show their children would be watching. When you watch the Japanese version you get a true life-or-death sense from the heroes battles, but in the English dub it sometimes seemed pretty tame for a big battle.
4. Sailor Moon Promoted Starving Yourself To Lose Weight, Just Not In America
This is a case of censorship doing some good for a change. The forth episode was literally named “Usagi Will Teach You! How to Lose Weight” and saw the heroine gain some weight. However, she was literally told to starve herself in the Japanese version, and one of Usagi's fuller-figured friends even admitted to losing weight so others would like her more. The episode was aimed to shame those with extra weight. When it was dubbed, the majority of these references were removed as it was considered shameful to subject audiences to such material.
3. The Sailor Senshi/Scouts Deaths Were Altered
One of the most annoying parts of the censorship was the anti-climactic battle at the end of the first series. In Japan it was a two-part episode, and the first episode feature Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus all sacrificing themselves to help Sailor Moon reach their enemy, Queen Beryl. In the final moments of the second episode they were all resurrected, and all was good for the heroes. However, in the English dub, the Sailor Senshi/Scouts were captured instead, thus weakening the power behind the episode. Naturally, this was done again to avoid death in the dub version, but it saw a brilliant two-part finale cut down to only a single episode.
2. Lovers No More, Instead They Are Cousins
Perhaps the area of censorship that irritated many fans more than any other was the alteration of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune's relationship. Originally being depicted as lesbian lovers, the pair were altered to cousins for many countries outside of Japan. Sailor Neptune and Uranus have a love that is perhaps even more powerful than that of our main hero Sailor Moon and her partner, Tuxedo Mask. Removing this powerful love story from the show was more a slap on LGBT relationships still being considered unorthodox by many at the time.
1. Sailor Star Who?
The Sailor Starlights were a trio of Sailor Senshi/Scouts from another solar system; however, there was more to them than first appeared. The trio were actually men who would transform into the trio of magical girls. Let's face it: If they were not going to allow LGBT relationships in the dub version, there was no way they were going to allow this trio to appear. This resulted in the entire final story arc of the show to be cut completely. This was actually a shame, as it was the final series of the show and had perhaps the most extreme final battle against the villainous Galaxia. By the end of the show all the Sailor Senshi/Scouts had been killed by her, excluding Sailor Moon and the Starlights.
Bonus: Sailor Venus Had A Backstory Episode That Was Cut
Sailor Venus was the final Sailor Senshi/Scout to join the team, having worked solo as the heroine Sailor V prior to joining the group. An episode in Season 1 featured a look at Sailor Venus and her journey before joining the group, but this episode was entirely cut from the dub version. Even more surprising was the baseless reasoning for it to be cut. By removing this episode, it weakened Sailor Venus as a character and turned her into more of a bumbling character as opposed to her being a strong and powerful leader of the team.
Things Have Changed
With the franchise boasting a cult following, the series has been redubbed by various companies and now include the previously cut or altered segments of the show. Also, Sailor Moon Crystal, which was launched to celebrate 21 years of the franchise, has held strong to some of the important story elements and character developments. So, while the 1990s put a censor on our celestial-powered heroes, the modern versions show how far censorship has come. The majority know the true portrayal of their favorite Senshi/Scout and the fan's love for the franchise has no end in sight.
However, although Sailor Moon has fell victim to the censors in the past, there is still a place to watch the entire series uncensored and uncut. Publisher VIZ Media has released the full 200 episodes on home release and Hulu with the original Japanese names and relationships for all the anime purists out there.
Which of the Sailor Senshi is your favorite?