Girlfriends or Girl Friends?

Japanese media is specifically known for one thing: Magical Girls. This genre is defined as having a young female protagonist who goes through a magical transformation to become a superheroine often involving school uniforms or Sailor Fuku costumes. Sailor Moon is one of the most popular series in this trend, with others being Puella Madoka Magica and Cardcaptor Sakura, with some of my personal favorites being Magic Knight Rayearth and Tokyo Mew Mew.

This is another popular theme that runs in these anime and manga series as well known as Yuri, or girl love. Yuri is a broad term that can describe a really close relationship between two female friends, all the way to deeply romantic and sexual love. In most magical girl media, the Yuri stops at the point when two women enter into a romantic relationship, such as Sailors Neptune and Uranus in Sailor Moon, however this kind of resolution is rare. Most of the female love is unrequited in these series, such as Tomoyo in Cardcaptor Sakura. Tomoyo is Sakura’s best friend, and she just loves to take pictures of her and make her cute outfits to wear and do everything possible that she can for her. At one point in the series she admits her love for her friend, but Sakura takes it as an admission of platonic love, the kind of love that two best friends have for each other. Tomoyo acknowledges that this fine with her as she will always continue to love her from afar. Another relationship similar to this is the one that Mint has for Zakuro in Tokyo Mew Mew. Zakuro is a beautiful and popular model, and Mint drools over everything she does and would do anything to make Zakuro happy. She even gets into a fight with Zakuro at one point upon being possessed by an alien and gets angry because she “loved” her and Zakuro said or did nothing about it.

When this media is translated and localized for a Western release, it is unsurprising that a lot of the Yuri and Yuri undertones become censored, at least in the case of the Anime. Back to Sailors Neptune and Uranus, they were changed from being lovers to being really really close cousins.  Tomoyo was toned down to make her love seem less romantic and more platonic with her English dialogue. Mint and Zakuro shared a similar treatment with Mint being slightly less obsessed with Zakuro.




Japanese Animation in America