-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Fri, 25 Feb 2000 15:49:16 -0800

At 23:01 2/25/2000 +0100, you wrote:
>From: Chien Ting Chin <chinc@sten.sunnybrook.utoronto.ca>
>> Nemus wrote:
>> > So, every man on this planet must know every words in the English
>> > dictionary before he can invent a name?
>snip snip
>> It gets so bad that some American dubbers actually pronounce it as si-on,
>> so now both the spelling and the pronounciation invite trouble. If you
>> look at the thousands of Gundam websites in Japan, many of them, perhaps
>> unaware of or embarrassed by the official spelling, use Jion instead of
>> Zion or Zeon. Do you condemn them as senseless retocon too?
>Also in Italy 20 years ago the dubbers of the original serial had the same
>problem, I think (and also Mr. Nemus [anche tu sei Italiano, right?] should
>remember that).
>In fact they use the term ION instead of Zeon. Personally, until I found the
>word Zeon in the websites about Gundam on the Net, I always thought that the
>only pronounciation were Ion Dukedom.

I've been watching this discussion go back and forth, but stayed out of it
because it was basically more heat than light.

I shall now interject my only word on the topic, to wit: Tomino is not and
should not be held accountable for any reactions beyond those of his target
audience. In 1979, his target audience was the Japanese. If they didn't
care about his use of the name Zion, then neither should we.

That being said, Frederik L. Schodt and Ballantine Del Rey acted correctly
in changing Zion to Zeon, in consideration of THEIR target audience,
Americans who MIGHT care about the use of the name Zion. Ditto video
distributors, who have the same target plus English speakers around the world.

It's always a problem when you go beyond your target audience -- or even to
a new audience outside your previous experience. Classic examples:

Chevrolet Nova -- big problem in Spanish-speaking countries, where "No va"
means "no go".

Legend of the Sky Castle Laputa -- an even bigger problem in
Spanish-speaking countries, where "La puta" is a derogatory term for

Even if Tomino had considered a non-Japanese audience, "Zion" was just an
exotic word to him and he could not be expected to know its
ramifications. The connotations of a word don't always appear in the
dictionary, although some indicate when a word is considered vulgar.

Back in the late 80s, there was an OVA called Illusion Fighter Leda: Yoko's
Fantastic Adventure. It was set in an alternate world with an Arabian
Nights motif. Two of the characters were named Lingham and Yoni -- Hindi
words for the male and female genitalia, respectively. This was probably
deliberate, an in-joke, but again the target audience was exclusively
Japanese, who could not be expected to get it, much less object.

It could be worse. There's a symbol used in Eastern religions that looks
like this:

-------+ |
        | |
        | |
| |
| |
| +-------

The Nazi swastika is a mirror image of it, as distinct as an inverted cross
is from the upright one. This one represents clockwise rotation and
appears in American Indian art as well as Hindu and Buddhist texts. Viz
has to run a disclaimer in every issue of Blade Of The Immortal, because
the protagonist wears it as a crest on the back of his kimono and the art
gets flipped left to right, so that he appears to be sporting a Nazi swastika.

And, you know, even if the art weren't flipped, someone over here would
STILL see it as a Nazi swastika and get upset about it.

But the author and artist of the series should not be held accountable for
the feelings over here, because he was writing and drawing for an audience
who saw the symbol for what it was and had an entirely different view of
its meaning, untinged by any associations with the Nazis.

Which is more than you can say for the creators of Gundam 0080 and Gundam
0083, who deliberately Nazified the Zeon, without Tomino's knowledge or


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