Zoisite, Kunzite, and the negative perception of feminine men in the 90s

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Fokkusu

Lapis Lunaris
Feb 1, 2011
2,048
3
0
37.629562, -116.849556
#1
I randomly remembered someone here (don't remember who, this was years ago) claiming that the DiC dub made Zoisite a woman because he was essentially a Villainous Gay / Sissy Villain trope. And honestly... they weren't wrong about Zoisite fitting within that trope. However, I don't think that's why Zoisite was turned into a woman for the dub. A lot of kid's cartoons, back then and even today, had bad guys that could fall under the Villainous Gay / Sissy Villain trope, even if they weren't explicitly shown to be gay. I think it's interesting (and refreshing) that Kunzite, while a villain and gay, doesn't fall under this cliche. He's tough, very masculine, and extremely competent. Still, the dub clearly didn't have a problem with Kunzite (other than inexplicably changing his name). I don't think it was necessarily even the romance scenes between the two that prompted Zoisite's gender swap. Those could've been cut or heavily edited.

So what do I think was the dub's issue with Zoisite being a man?

Crossdressing.

Yes, crossdressing. A pretty major episode involved Zoisite disguising himself as Sailor Moon. There's no way DiC could have cut that without scrapping the entire episode. When crossdressing was portrayed in 90's TV, it was generally done for laughs at the expense of the character doing it (or whoever thought he was a woman and was interested). It was meant to mock men being feminine. But this was a serious plot point that showed Zoisite as an actual threat. Combined with Zoisite's general mannerisms and appearance, and closeness to Kunzite, it was probably quicker to just turn him into a woman than edit everything into something considered "acceptable." It isn't surprising when looking back at the sort of behavior/personality that was and wasn't considered acceptable for men before the pro- gay rights movement in the developed world.

Anyway, this is just something I'd been thinking about. Would love to hear others' thoughts.
 

Ale6

Lapis Lunaris
Jan 10, 2018
62
8
5
#2
If you want my honest opinion I think he was changed into a woman because of a mixture of all the options you gave.

Feminine men were always looked down at that time, and the stereotype of a burly man being with a feminine one was always present in tv when they decided that it was appropriate to show it. During the 90's queer representation was incredibly scarce and even when it was present it was mostly shown in a tragic light.
The fact that Zoicite embodies the majority of traits used in "Sissies", present in movies ranging from the 20's to 50's, was a clear sign that he wasn't what older American generations wanted to see in a cartoon aimed mostly at kids. His homosexual scenes were very few and honestly, with a bit of editing they could have got past the radar, basing it mostly on the fact that they were able to mask (even if incredibly poorly) the relationship of Haruka and Michiru that had about 50x times the amount of screen time they had.

The fact that he crossdressed as Sailor Moon I think had little impact on the decision overall since his figure was changed overall to resembles hers (meaning that using "magic" would have been less scandalous than having him actually dress up and put makeup on). I think episode 140 really shows what they didn't find acceptable as for the cross-dressing spectrum, an actual man dressing up as a girl model and putting makeup on all the while seducing a man all explicitly, seen from the editing and censoring done in that event.

Queer characters are still kept away from animated series for the most part, although some shows have managed to give it justice, and of course, in the 90's none of these characters were allowed anywhere near a mainstream hit like Sailor Moon.

I think the biggest issue with the type of person that Zoicite is meant to embody is that Japan never went through the era of "comedy" like the Americans did, where many characters representing taboo and unwanted spectrums were ridiculed(blacks, gays, lesbians, etch ...), so they never had issues with these representations coming to children media (even though the total age demography for SM in Japan is higher than the US) because they were never a BIG deal among their culture (yes, I know the overall LGBTQ+ progress in Japan is lower than the US, but a bad light in media was never shone across them, at least as far as I could research), it was mostly a deal when it came to reproduction and family morals.

Anyways that's what I think, hopefully, everything makes sense.
 

MementoNepenthe

Lumen Cinereum
Mar 8, 2012
2,986
283
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#3
Just want to point out that Kunzite arguably isn't gay in the anime as there are a couple of instances where we displays attraction to female characters, thus making him bi. Similarly, though their canonicity is essentially null, there *is* also an audio drama where Zoisite mentions dating middle school girls, making him likewise bi.
 
Nov 22, 2016
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#4
I don't think crossdressing has anything to do with it. But I agree the fact that his flamboyant personality not being played just for laughs in the original may have been one of the reasons for the dub gender swap. Even though he was a effeminate villain, he was taken seriously most of the time.
A lot of other dubs did the same to him tho, even the Swedish one.
But apparently the Swedish TV station told fans that was because they couldn't show gay people who were evil, and they fell for it. P-:
 

Neon Genesis

Luna Crescens
Oct 31, 2015
2,276
169
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#5
LGBTQ groups didn't have as much media influence in the 90s so I really doubt DiC changed it out of sensitivity to Zoisite being a crossdresser stereotype but DiC just probably didn't want to get sued by certain religious groups or the PTC.
 

Umino

Luna Nova
Jun 6, 2006
2,743
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#6
Just want to point out that Kunzite arguably isn't gay in the anime as there are a couple of instances where we displays attraction to female characters, thus making him bi. Similarly, though their canonicity is essentially null, there *is* also an audio drama where Zoisite mentions dating middle school girls, making him likewise bi.
It's also common for the "uke" or "top" characters to be depicted as not exclusively gay. Despite being in love with Zoisite, I wouldn't be surprised if the anime staff didn't really see Kunzite as "gay". Even in the Majokko Daizenshuu, a companion book to Toei magical girl series, only Zoisite is labeled as a "homosexual" in his character bio, not Kunzite.

They probably changed Zoisite's gender because it was easier. He was highly effeminate, and had a somewhat androgynous look. Also remember, the English dub wasn't the only one that did this. Apparently Sweden changed Zoisite's gender because they apparently didn't realize he was a male.

The dub was also weird about crossdressing in general. They had no problem with Amara crossdressing and being super butch. Other than joking about dating Darien, they still allowed her to flirt with the other girls. Likewise, Melvin crossdressing early in the series was left untouched. They did have an issue with Tamasaborou (character in episode 104) cross dressing for 30 seconds, so much so, they changed his gender to female.... which was weird because then Rini had a crush on a girl?

Then there's the whole Fisheye and Zirconica nonsense... idk, the dub is weird.
 
Nov 22, 2016
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#7
Apparently Sweden changed Zoisite's gender because they apparently didn't realize he was a male.
Sorry, but that's not possible. His voice is clearly that of a man and he has no breasts.
They were dubbing from the Japanese version. So unless the staff was blind and deaf, they were applying censorship like everyone else.
There was room for mistaking Luna's gender like few dubs did, but Zoisite was a human with obvious male features.
 

Ale6

Lapis Lunaris
Jan 10, 2018
62
8
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#8
Sorry, but that's not possible. His voice is clearly that of a man and he has no breasts.
They were dubbing from the Japanese version. So unless the staff was blind and deaf, they were applying censorship like everyone else.
There was room for mistaking Luna's gender like few dubs did, but Zoisite was a human with obvious male features.
It was probably a poor thought excuse.
 
Jun 30, 2010
1,053
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www.smcx.me
#9
It was probably a poor thought excuse.
I was definitely fooled by it as a kid. I didn't notice the "lack" of breasts because I wasn't expecting them. Zoycite was wearing a uniform that wouldn't show much breast tissue, anyway; if anything, I thought that this woman mean business and wasn't going to shy away from fighting. That the character often won against Tuxedo Mask (and even the Sailor Scouts), but not Sailor Moon when it came down to it, was also backdoor confirmation that Zoycite was a girl.

To me, Zoisite in the old anime looked effeminate in face, mannerisms, and most of all in the hips. He also has ringlet curls. When you take into account that Masahiro Ando directed several of the episodes he was in, and the fact that more often than not, Zoisite had softer features than his own Queen, Beryl

Look at him and Kunzite together:



Based on this image alone, a female voice, and no other context or information, would you think Zoisite was male?
 

Ale6

Lapis Lunaris
Jan 10, 2018
62
8
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#10
Based on this image alone, a female voice, and no other context or information, would you think Zoisite was male?
I honestly wouldn't, his bigger eyes, rounder face, and smaller shoulders are clear to convey a feminine figure, but if you see him full figure you would definitively think otherwise, since the lack of the hourglass shape on his body (not saying it's necessary, but most times than not it's present in a female body).
It really depends on the storyboarder at hand, I noticed some tend to draw him more androgynous (mostly drawn with sharper and thicker lines and more balanced proportions), while others like to keep his lines as smooth as the senshis.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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#11
I will say this with Zoisite while I definitely believed she was female in the DiC dub I did notice that her figure was more masculine then the way any given female was depicted on the show. She had really no breasts and a more masculine body dimensions. Of course when I found out that Zoisite was really a man this made sense but while Zoisite did have say a very feminine face he didn't have the dimensions of a woman or atleast how women are usually drawn on the show.
 
Apr 1, 2017
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D-Point
#12
Going back to the OP question for a moment, I think a big reason for the censorship would be that while effeminate men could certainly be portrayed, there are just too many scenes of him and Kunzite being physically affectionate, including Zoisite's important final scene, for it to be shown without people freaking out. Of course, they could've tried to chop all those scenes out- they were chopping everything up anyway- but it would be a pretty big plot point to excise. It would've had to be almost as butchered as their version of episode 45.

Plus, having effeminate gay villains is problematic on both sides of the political fence in America- considered offensive to those who don't want any acknowledgement of LGBT people, and considered offensive by LGBT people (or people sympathetic to our plight) because of the bad representation.

I don't personally find them offensive, but that's because I regard all of the Shitennou as sympathetic characters due to the revelation that they were brainwashed (for sure in the manga, and probably in the anime given what Prince Endymion says in episode 44), and so they worked for the Dark Kingdom under duress and with fragmentary, damaged memories. Hating them for that would also necessitate hating Mamoru, Chibi-Usa, Umino (episode 2), Naru (episode 22), and honestly most of the characters in the show (there's a lot of this kind of thing going around). Now granted, Zoisite is definitely the nastiest-tempered of the bunch, but even so. Also, his relationship with Kunzite is his greatest strength, not a weakness, so that's what really makes it work for me.

I didn't see this part of the DiC dub growing up, so my first introduction to Zoisite was watching subs, so I didn't have a chance to get tricked. That said, I can definitely see how it'd work. Zoisite is very pretty, there's plenty of flat-or-small-chested girls in real life anyway (orthogonally relavent to this, I swear Fish Eye has A-Cups in a certain episode...), and those are thick uniform jackets that could conceal the form (which is the same reason he looks like he has thick hips, the uniform skirt sticks out). Compared to buff, manly Nephrite and Kunzite, especially. And then there's the flower petals, which aren't inherently effeminate in Japanese culture, but come off that way in America.
 

Umino

Luna Nova
Jun 6, 2006
2,743
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#13
Going back to the OP question for a moment, I think a big reason for the censorship would be that while effeminate men could certainly be portrayed, there are just too many scenes of him and Kunzite being physically affectionate, including Zoisite's important final scene, for it to be shown without people freaking out. Of course, they could've tried to chop all those scenes out- they were chopping everything up anyway- but it would be a pretty big plot point to excise. It would've had to be almost as butchered as their version of episode 45.
Apparently the French dub kept Zoisite a man, but made him Kunzite's "brother". Yet, all of their romantic scenes were kept in...

The Korean dub also left Zoisite as a male, but most of their intimate scenes were cut.
 
Nov 22, 2016
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#14
Apparently the French dub kept Zoisite a man, but made him Kunzite's "brother". Yet, all of their romantic scenes were kept in...

The Korean dub also left Zoisite as a male, but most of their intimate scenes were cut.
Uranus sounded terribly girly in the old Korean dub. lol