Friday, June 22, 2007

Breaking News: Japanese Cartoon Society Holds Meeting!

The Short of It? News Media Isn't Reporting the Whole Story!
This Article for Mature Readers Only.

While many of you were either asleep or awake in the late hours of the day Monday, we were busy Moon Chasing ™! (Because, it’s what we do!) And we came across a very interesting article from the Mainichi Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper! Now, while our stats tell us wonderful things about where our visitors are coming from, they don’t tell us the age demographic. So, a bit of a warning: this article is aimed for an older teenage audience and up. Click the link to jump to the article.



Manga and Anime has been rising in popularity all over the world, and so has a passion to discuss and study it academically. These art forms are becoming a big part of culture! In Japan, a society called the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoon and Comics was formed in 2001. It is a collective of academics from a range of fields who try to answer the questions: what has manga meant to us in the past, what is it to us now, what will it become in the future? They held their International Manga Symposium in Kyoto this past weekend, and the theme was "Circumstances of Japanese Manga All Around the World". They looked at the differences of manga and anime in other countries compared to Japan, including series such as Dragonball, Naruto, and Sailor Moon. There were sessions from looking at the differences in portrayals of death, to a survey done in France that looked at popular cartoons with youth in France.

One specific session looked at the circumstances in Europe and the United States, and some reps from Tokyopop and Viz attended. We aren’t sure who led this session but we are hoping that something turns up in a few days on the Society’s Official Site. The session talked about the rise of manga in other countries , and different publication reps from all over the world shared their stories and experiences in acceptance of the genre to the current state of it. But the audience went wild when someone said, and this is a rough translation: "Sailor Moon is reported as turning people homosexual". The article then goes on to talk about the special case of Italy, where the translators’ salaries were very low and there was not an accurate translation of the series. The news story ends here abruptly, and we wish that there could have been some mention by the writer who said what, or just what else was said. Or even the whole context of that statement!

When we read that , we were offended. Of all the crazy reasons for the censors and cuts made all over the world, this has to be the most ridiculous. I’m sure many readers and fans alike know plenty of men of any age who watched Sailor Moon and haven’t changed their orientation! In fact, several major Sailor Moon news sites past and present for the most part are run by men! Still though, why and where was Sailor Moon reported to turn viewers gay, and who said this? This was mentioned absolutely nowhere in the article, so we set out to investigate. First though, we navigated our way through the society's site to find out who presented this session. The Chairman was Tagayayo Ono, a famous movie critic and comic researcher. Speaking on behalf of Europe were: Takashi Uno, Chairman of the French Company Tonkam (anime/manga/merchandise distributor), Emilio Gallego Zambrano a translator from Spain, and current lecturer at Rikkyo University , and Federico Colpi, a supervisor, translator, and producer from Italy.


From what we have read, the Italians were as sensitive as the North Americans when they were making their cuts to the idea of homosexuality. Haruka(Heles) and Michiru (Milenia) were portrayed in the series as being "just friends". Again, contrary to the original where they were lovers, but maybe the lesser of evils compared to other markets where they were sisters or cousins. We were not completely surprised when we heard of this change. However, this still didn't explain the reason behind the comment the article mentioned.


But, we eventually found the answer to why this comment was made. In 1997, a psychologist named Vera Slepoy made her opinion public. She thought the transformation of the Three Lights to the Star Lights had the potential to turn young boys gay, and this resulted in the transformation phrase being altered to something to the effect of "Sailor Star (Healer/Fighter/Maker), Come to Me"! It then appeared as if the Starlights would magically appear when this phrase was called. Vera also thought that the fact that the females were the dominant superheroes confused a lot of people (she refers to them as dominatrici or oppressors). It seems some people still think that cartoons should be patriarchal! We also learned that that Vera Slepoy is the Jack Thompson of Italy. It seems that a lot of people spoke out against this series too - and perhaps we will dig into this for a future article. We couldn’t find any sign of the manga on the web. We would really love to hear from fans who have seen or read Sailor Moon in Italian to know how she was portrayed - please contact us! Despite all of this calamity, Italy must have done something right, as they were able to get the entire series with only one episode being cut (#89), the specials, and the movies. That's more than so many other markets in the world!

We are really disappointed that a major Japanese Newspaper failed to describe the entire context of that statement, and indirectly blamed the translators for it. They made no mention of who mentioned it at the session, nor any other highlights or discussion surrounding it. Clearly , it was not the translators' fault, but rather the fault of the producers for taking the sides of these bogus commentators and diverging the story from its original intention. There was no mention of what was said at the American session - which was presented by reps from Viz and Tokyopop, as well as Matt Thorn, a cultural anthropologist who researches and teaches about comics. Cartoons and censorship are always a hot topic of debate - and while we understand why fans can be dismayed with some cuts that are made, the other side of the coin-- cultural differences and intended audiences-- often create viable reasons to alter or censor content. We'll be keeping our eye out on the Society's site for the next little while, in the hopes that a report from this session will be posted.

5 comments:

David said...

I remember reading a mention of a news article from- I believe- Mexico or some other Spanish-speaking country somewhere on the internet about four or five years ago that was titled something along the lines of "Sailor Moon Turns Boys Gay". I'm pretty sure that the article was written by a woman but I can't remember any other details. I've tried looking for the article a few times since reading the mention but I've had no luck in finding it.

For the record, I am a gay male who loves Sailor Moon. :p

sailordees said...

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Senshi_chan said...

I have seen a few Italian Sailor Moon dub clips on YouTube, one of them I saw was the Starlights transforming. They called on their 'twin sister' to fight the enemies. Other then that, I have no clue. I hope that was somewhat useful knowledge.

sailordees said...

Thanks Senshi-chan!

Naru said...

I'm a psych student, and that Vera person was talking a load of crap, not to mention going against the scientific evidence at the time. Even then, a decade ago, the psychology world KNEW that you can't 'turn people' homosexual, it just doesn't work like that.

I'm glad that Michiru and Haruka were made friends rather than cousins though, it makes so much more sense (at least relatively).