It’s Anime Week, and I am an anime person. By that, I mean my eyes are twice the size of my head, I giggle constantly, and there’s a pervy old man who follows me around to applaud when I bend over. It’s a tough life, but what can I say? I should have given that mysterious crone the DVD of Cowboy Bebop she begged me for in the forest that day instead of telling her to get a more productive hobby like doing cocaine or menacing a trampoline gym. Now I must live with this anime curse.
I also mean that I have watched some anime. I enjoyed the heck out of Sailor Moon as a kid. It had everything I wanted in a TV show– girls fighting crime in fabulous outfits, and that was it. I had one criterion for a good TV show, and it was surprisingly difficult to fulfill in the early nineties. However, although I enjoyed Sailor Moon, I wouldn’t say I’ve seen all of Sailor Moon because it was so radically changed for air in the U.S. market.
The U.S. famously made two lead characters, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, into cousins instead of lovers. Which, in turn, made a lot of little kids watch the show and think, why are those two cousins obviously fucking? A male character in a gay relationship was changed to a female character in the US to avoid another gay relationship. The superhero transformation scenes were censored to show less of the sailor’s bodies, and at least one episode was banned from reruns.
I’m not exactly sure why it was banned, so I decided to watch the episode and see if I could guess. It’s Sailor Moon, season 1, episode 4, “Usagi Will Teach You! How To Lose Weight!” Sounds educational, like something you would show in health class. However, it begins Like something you would show in a different section of health class.
Right off the bat, I’m going to guess that this one was banned because Usagi takes three different baths in a single episode. The girl is the cleanest crime fighter since Aquaman.
Really, they had her announce in the opening that she is fourteen and then immediately took several lingering pauses over her body in a bathtub. That has to be it, right? The episode begins with Usagi (Sailor Moon’s alter ego) coming out of the shower and throwing herself on the ground, crying because she’s gained weight. Her parents tell her it’s fine because some guys like a lady with a fat ass, but Usagi doesn’t listen.
Her whole family agrees she “spends more time eating than studying” and says in unison, “That’s why you’ve gained weight,” like pod people for fat shaming. Even Usagi’s magic talking cat gets in on making fun of her by drawing a shitty little cartoon.
Unable to handle the mental torment of her home, Usagi goes to school and shares her concerns with her friends. One of her friends tells Usagi, “the best diet is falling in love because then you want to look good.” Surprisingly, no one points out that you can’t eat love and need food to survive. It’s possible this was banned for implying that fat people simply haven’t fallen in love yet, as if you need a prince or princess to rescue you from the dragon that is your own metabolism.
The episode then introduces a weird, horny little boy character who tells Usagi and her friends that one of the teachers at their school has lost a bunch of weight at a special new gym. He knows this because he stalked the teacher and took pictures of her while she was working out. This is definitely what got this episode banned.
Usagi and her 14-year-old friends decide to join the gym, something most gyms in America don’t let teenagers do without adult permission because sometimes horny perverts creep around gyms and photograph women while they exercise. Luckily this gym is a mystical trap for sucking the lives out of women, so their sign up policy is a little looser than non-mystical death trap gyms.
A shadowy entity watches Usagi and her friends head toward the gym and mutters in an echoey demon voice, “Ha ha ha, more fools enter our lair.” This is what all gym owners say when they watch someone sign a gym contract, so there’s no red flag behavior yet.
Usagi and her friends are all instantly attracted to the owner of the gym, an adult man who looks like he’s wearing The Joker’s high school band uniform. This man radiates evil. He says, “Welcome to Shapelin. Are you new members?” in the exact same tone as a serial killer might say, “You’ll never find their fingers because I ate them.”
Usagi and her friends all work out while surrounded by big muscular men in tiny unitards who supervise. Once they finish, Usagi goes to the locker room for yet another bath while her friends are led into the basement by the gym owner, where he tells them he has a special machine that will make them thin. Ok, this is for sure why it got banned.
The machine is as blatantly evil as the gym owner. It’s a bunch of clearly alien pods with a glowing orb at the center. Nothing good has ever had a glowing orb at the center. However, this all encompassing chamber of star tampons seems legit to this group of teenage girls, so they climb right in and, twist, have a bunch of their life force sucked out. We know that’s what’s happening because the gym owner says, “Ah, the young and succulent energy of girls,” which, okay, is clearly why this episode was banned.
The next day, Usagi passes out in the street because she hasn’t eaten and is rescued by a boy she has a crush on. He tells her that he likes women who aren’t all skin and bones, so now that she has a man’s permission, Usagi decides to eat some pork buns. Within moments her fat shaming cat shows up to swat that food right out of her hands.
“He said he doesn’t like girls that are all skin and bones, but you can go too far the other way, you know?” the fat shaming cat tells Usagi. The woman ate one meal, and this cat showed up to remind her food is what makes you fat. Usagi starts picturing herself fat again and immediately runs to the death gym in horror.
This time the cat comes with her, I guess to make sure she doesn’t try and sneak enough calories into her body to survive on the way there? The cat spots Usagi’s glamorously thin teacher looking like a zombie and heads into the basement, where the gym owner announces to no one that just one more treatment will kill her.
The cat tries to get Usagi to go to the basement and save the teacher, but she’s too busy working out. It threatens to claw her face if she doesn’t go save the teacher. I’m starting to wonder if the cat represents the oppressive societal policing of teenage girls’ bodies? Is that why it was banned? Was this episode too political? Yeah! Fuck that manifestation of the patriarchy, Sailor Moon!
Terrified of her violent, psychologically manipulative cat, Usagi goes to the basement, where she is attacked by buff bodybuilders being mind-controlled by the gym owner. Usagi knows, even as Sailor Moon, she might not win this fight against sleepwalking men with above average strength. She’s an unusual protagonist– a girl who, if she sees the villain has muscles, might actually run away rather than transform into a superhero.
If you’re not familiar with the Sailor Moon transformation sequence, it’s the classic magical girl anime transformation. It looks like she gets sucked into the cosmos so beings of beautiful light can do some tailoring on her skirt and put a pretty headband on her.
Now that Usagi is looking sharp, the evil cat reminds her that fighting is exercise. Well, actually, she says, “Remember, if you fight these guys, you might lose weight!” As we all know, there’s no better exercise for a fourteen year old girl than bare knuckle brawling with three adult bodybuilders. That and ribbon dancing.
Sailor Moon punches the glowing spit right out of those guys in the name of weight loss. Now obsessed with losing weight and only knowing how to safely do so by fighting, Sailor Moon rampages across the earth, brutally pounding anyone who dares cross her path to keep her abs cut as hell. I’m kidding. I wish the moral of this story was fighting is the best exercise. That would be dope.
The episode ends with Usagi crying in the bathroom after yet another bath. Even with all of that ass kicking, she hasn’t lost any weight! So, the moral of the story is: teen girls, don’t be too skinny, but also definitely don’t be fat. However you feel about your body is bad because having a body is shameful, especially a body with the young and succulent energy of a girl. What a true nightmare! Hope you’re all having a good Anime Week. I’m going to go fight my mailman and take 11 baths.