Theatre Thursdays: Notre-Dame de Paris in English

All right, I know I’ve been writing about this show for a while, but I figured since I’ve done two character studies I may as well go all out and just discuss the show as a whole and how it has been received in different parts of the world. Since the production was such a success in France, it was quickly translated into English for productions to be mounted in Las Vegas and London’s West End. Neither production came close to replicating the success of the original, and there are various possible reasons for this. I’m going to look at what I feel to be the most likely of these reasons

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DiC vs. Toei: Wicked or Black?

Black Lady and ChibiusaIn the second season of the Sailor Moon anime there is a plot in which the character Chibiusa is turned evil by the villain Wiseman, who plays on her insecurities and infuses her with powers that cause her to develop into a full-grown woman. In the original anime produced by Toei Animation this evil incarnation is known as Black Lady, while in DiC’s English dub of the series she is instead called Wicked Lady. Like almost every change DiC made to the series in their dub, this has been a point of contention among fans, many of whom believe the show should have been dubbed with as few changes as possible. I don’t personally support this view and while I don’t think all of the English dub’s changes were good, I will use this article to explain why I support DiC in this particular instance.

Black Moon Clan- Rubeus the Red, Demand the White, Esmeraude the Green, and Saphir the Blue

Black Moon Clan- Crimson Rubeus, Prince Demand, Esmeraude the Green, and Saphir the Blue

When Takeuchi Naoko wrote the second arc of her Sailor Moon manga, she created a group of villains known as the Black Moon Clan. The group was identified by the downward-pointing, black crescent moon marking on their forehead, in opposition to the White Moon Clan with their upright, golden crescent moon insignia. As you can see from the above picture, color was a large portion of these villains’ identities and the color black was the most predominant and unified feature of their group: Black Moon Clan, black insignia, their power came from the Black Crystal, etc. and this remained the case when Toei adapted this arc into the second season of the anime.

When it came time for DiC to dub this section of the anime, however, most of these color identities were modified or ignored. The villains were simply Rubeus, Diamond, Emerald, and Sapphire without their “the Red”, “the White”, etc. subtitles and the word “Black” was eliminated entirely from their group. They were instead called the Negamoon Family and used the power of the Dark Crystal. Since the word “Black” no longer appeared in these villains’ name, when Rini (Chibiusa) was turned evil, she was not called Black Lady but instead Wicked Lady.

Why was this change made? It’s probably pretty obvious: the title “Black Lady” sounds extremely racist and when the name is used to imply that she is evil it becomes even more problematic. The main reason I’m writing this article today is because I saw someone make the comment “If Black Lady is racist then so is black coffee” and I just felt the need to fully express how much I support DiC’s change in this case.

First off, in case anyone thinks the coffee example is an acceptable argument; it’s not. Coffee is not a person and therefore cannot experience racism. Are we all on the same page there? Good, I’m glad.

More importantly, the real problem here is using “Black” as shorthand for “bad”. It’s not that this is inherently racist (when referring to things other than people), after all, darkness has long been seen as threatening and frightening and I’m sure that’s the connotation Naoko was going for when she created these villains: the distinction between light and dark. The thing is, when this comes over to the English-speaking world (and in particular the United States) where historically black people have been mistreated and dehumanized at the hands of white people, using “White” to mean good and “Black” to mean evil becomes a problem.

It’s been a part of our culture to hear “Black person” and instantly think negatively about them and while there has arguably been improvement since the days of legal segregation, modern children still have negative attitudes towards Blacks and there is absolutely no need to keep reinforcing those attitudes with children’s entertainment. DiC may have been more concerned with being politically correct than with actually fighting a culture of racism, but either way they still made the right decision in using the word “Wicked” to identify evil rather than “Black”.

Black Lady

Ace plays Final Fantasy VII: The Translation

Final Fantasy VII is considered by many to be a classic, and though some of the previous installments had varying degrees of success, VII has the honor of being the Final Fantasy game that made Final Fantasy popular in America. It came out all the way back in 1997 and was the first in the franchise to utilize polygon graphics and to be developed for the PlayStation. Furthermore, it was also the first game of the series to be ported to Windows. At the time of its release, it had some of the best graphics ever seen in a video game.

Though they suck by today’s standards.

Though they suck by today’s standards.

This was also the first Final Fantasy game to take place in a more modernized setting. On the whole, it was the first Final Fantasy to do a lot of new things. This game was pretty groundbreaking, and has thus far been one of the most successful games ever. Certainly, VII has a lot going for it. Not only was it different in terms of technology, it also features a lot of well-written characters and a good story. That’s not to say that there aren’t any problems in the game. There are problems all over the place.

The biggest issue I noticed right away is how this game was edited. Everything involved with it is a graphic designer’s nightmare. And I don’t just mean the game. Everything from the box to the strategy guide has problems. The translations are terrible, and they mar what could otherwise have been a great story. It’s not a good sign when even the game box has noticeable, easily fixable mistakes. I cannot actually take a picture of my game box for you guys, because the text would be too small to read, so I recreated the image instead.

Well, I will agree that that is a very creative way to spell “masterpiece” and I’ve never seen it done that way before.

Well, I will agree that that is a very creative way to spell “masterpiece” and I’ve never seen it done that way before.

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