Note: This article refers only to the anime and not the manga.
Recently, Viz Media announced the release of the original 200 episodes of Sailor Moon and three movies through Neon Alley and Hulu. I’m sure thousands of 20-somethings (like myself) screamed with joy at the news. It’s been around 16 years since Sailor Moon aired on Toonami (which has also risen from the dead) and released on VHS or DVD. The first four episodes of the first season were released last Monday.
Viz promised uncut and uncensored episodes with original Japanese names in tact (sorry “Serena” fans) and delivered.
When Sailor Moon first made it’s way to U.S. shores, a lot got left behind. One problem with the 90s English version of the show was the accuracy of the translation. However, this new translation by Viz has gotten a thumbs up so far. Other problems included excluding several episodes, excluding the fifth season and most of the sexuality in the show, outside of heterosexual relationships, was changed.
It’s understandable why some things are changed when they cross U.S. border — not everyone has advanced knowledge and insight into Japanese culture. So, it makes sense to change some things (such as a food) that the audience can recognize. However, the idea of changing relationships and someone’s sex to suit American sensibilities makes me irate.
When I was younger and brand new to anime, I didn’t know that Sailor Uranus and Neptune (both female) were in a relationship. Although, as a result, the two came off as incestuous cousins, even to my 12-year-old self.
Eventually, I watched the unlicensed, fansubbed episodes. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
If Sailor Moon is about true love and friendship, restoring the show to its original content is the perfect way to teach others that love comes in all forms. The fact that Viz has licensed the entire original anime franchise (including the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime) speaks volumes.
As fans, we want as much as possible to like the original version. The U.S. anime industry isn’t worried about offending us with gay and lesbian relationships (heck, yaoi, or boys love, is popular enough to have it’s own convention). Fans go straight to the licensed source as opposed to pirating content in order to avoid censorship. And as a result, everyone wins.
Now, I can look back nostalgically at the show, while a new generation of fans are created. Sailor Moon has a diverse cast and is just a fun anime to watch. And so I give Viz a huge thumbs up for accomplishing the huge feat of licensing Sailor Moon.