Home Entertainment Cartoon Network’s Sailor Moon Censorship Explained

Cartoon Network’s Sailor Moon Censorship Explained


The list of censorship in “Sailor Moon” is long (The Michigan Daily gives a solid overview). One of the biggest changes is the removal of many Japanese cultural references, including pivotal character names. Usagi became Serena, Michiru was changed to Michelle, Mamoru Chiba turned into Darien Shields, and so on. The dub didn’t take into account that many fans of the series, like myself, would read the mangas and learn their original names, anyway. Young viewers aren’t dumb; we recognized elements such as their sailor school uniforms that indicated the setting was a different country with a different way of life. These changes harmfully suggest that exposure to different nationalities poses a threat or is inherently confusing to children.

Cartoon Network also handled the airing of “Sailor Moon” with kid gloves, changing blood to a strange green color, referring to deaths as mere kidnapping, and removing the outline of (gasp!!) breasts during the transformation scene. They also inserted educational “Sailor Says” segments at the end of each episode which gave moral lectures about issues like recycling or healthy eating.

Since the ’90s saw a resurgence in conservative religious politics (anti same-sex marriage, advocating for prayers in public school, and abstinence-only education, etc.) Cartoon Network removed a lot of the Catholic iconography. The Holy Grail was renamed The Purity Chalice and the image of Hotaru hanging from a cross like Jesus was removed. These changes strip away the series’ most artistic and bold choices and dilute the narrative stakes and emotional impact. The fate of the universe hangs in the balance for these schoolgirls, and the darkness they face — even death — is meant to be grim, which heightens the excitement.

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