Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sailor Says

Long treated as a medium solely for children in the United States, animation has finally become something that can be created for adults as well. The Simpsons started the trend, but South Park, Family Guy and Archer have run with it, bringing the United States in line with other countries like Japan where some animation is enjoyed by adults. This has made it possible for manga like Death Note to make it to the United States without getting sanitized.

Today, however, we're flashing back to the mid 1990's. While The Simpsons was trailblazing a path to more adult animation, most companies were still pushing the idea that cartoons equaled kids stuff so when the hit Japanese anime series Sailor Moon came to the attention of American entertainment companies, they mainly had visions of selling the dolls to tons of little girls. After all, Miss Sailor Moon looked tailor made for a "Girl's Power" type series with a corresponding line of toys.

Unfortunately, the show was typical of Japanese anime, with adult situations and fleeting animated nudity. This was not seen as a big problem for the American producers. The shows were heavily edited and risqué story lines were dumbed down into sometimes non-sensical morality stories. The edits made the show unintentionally hilarious, with ridiculous dialogue dubbed over seemingly unrelated footage. The most ridiculous dialogue was saved for the end of the show in the notorious Sailor Says segments.

Since every cartoon had to have a moral, the American producers inserted really lame ones that barely had anything to do with the episode. In an episode with a particularly vicious villain, kids were told that some people were mean and they should try to be nice. One episode barely featured an elderly man in it, so we were advised that old people weren't completely useless and we should listen to them sometimes. An episode featuring buses disappearing into thin air was amazingly used to discuss the environment. The ridiculousness of the "lessons" was probably lost on the children who watched the show.

Luckily, this type of editing has fallen out of favor and unedited, translated versions of the show have finally made it to the United States. If Death Note had been edited the same way, Light would be writing down the names of his friends in his "Friend Journal", Ryuk would be his imaginary friend and we'd get happy morals about not eating too much junk food like potato chips and studying for tests. Apparently the edited version of Sailor Moon has become a rarity since the company that produced the episodes no longer has the rights to air or sell them.