There are many dystopian novels that are considered classics of literature. 1984 obviously springs to mind, as does The Handmaid’s Tale. Another book that’s constantly numbered among these titans of type is Fahrenheit 451. If 1984 is about government oversight, and The Handmaid’s Tale is about (white) women’s bodily autonomy, Fahrenheit 451 takes its stand against the evils of censorship. And while I always knew that was what it was about in a vague intellectual sense—the titular temperature is that at which author Ray Bradbury believed books burn—I’d never actually read the book to learn what the story inside was.
Earlier this week, I finally did that. And now I’m kind of pissed off to discover that Bradbury’s idea of censorship is about as sensitive and compelling as a 4chan forum.
When DiC created the English dub of Toei’s anime Sailor Moon, many things were changed. Some of the changes were done to make the show more appealing to English-speaking audiences, but many were made to censor out elements which were deemed inappropriate for the show. One of the more glaring examples of censorship in the English dub of Sailor Moon is the handling of the character Zoisite (spelled “Zoycite” in DiC’s version). Zoisite was one of the Shitennou, or “Four Heavenly Kings”, and, in the anime, was romantically linked with the Shitennou’s leader, Kunzite. Zoisite and Kunzite were also both men, and therein lay the problem for DiC when they were creating the English dub of the series.
Since there was virtually no mainstream market for anime in the English-speaking world at the time Sailor Moon was being produced, DiC needed to make the show fit in with standard programming at the time. One of the standards of programming was that animation was for kids, so DiC marketed Sailor Moon to that young demographic. In doing so, there were many things that had to be changed about the show to make it more acceptable to parents, councils, and the like, so anything bloody was removed, words like “death” or “kill” were never used, and most examples of non-Western spirituality were toned down or cut out. With this approach to adapting the series, it’s pretty easy to see that the homosexual romance was never going to make it into the English version, so how was it handled? By making the man Zoisite into the woman Zoycite.
Most fans will point this out as one of the most insulting acts on DiC’s part, whether they’re dub supporters or dub haters, but to be honest, I’m not too angry about this decision.