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A Red Letter Day ...


... Tenchi Went Down to Georgia

Tenchi Masaki had to keep telling himself that he wasn't
nervous. It wasn't like he had never worked in the U.S. before.
It was just that the Pioneer dubbing sessions had been so much
more... well... *controlled*.

Even Ryouko, on her seat near the rear of the electric
shuttle bus, looked a little anxious. It was hard to tell if
Ayeka was nervous or not because her haughty 'bored' expression
was the same turn of face she used when unsure of herself.
Washuu and Kiyone both looked downright irritated and Sasami and
Mihoshi were...

"Hey, a Britney Spears song!" Sasami called out as Mihoshi
tried to work the kareoke machine.

... fitting in.

Tenchi shrugged and stretched his neck out. He checked to
make sure his sword was still in place on his belt and watched
for the front gates of the studio.

The shuttle bus tore through downtown Atlanta at a pace
that would make most men who hadn't also ridden *inside* the
cabbit-girl currently mia-ing along to Sasami's rendition of
'One More Time' whiteknuckled with terror. The thing that really
bothered Tenchi about the whole ordeal was that the bus driver
was an overly polite weasel.

"Ah... And we've arrived, honored guests," the weasel
called out in perfect, unaccented Japanese as the bus ground to
a stop in front of a studio lot. "I'm afraid I'm needed in
surgery so--"

"Uh, Thank you, Mister Weasel," Tenchi said, shaking
the... mammal's... hand. "Uhm..."

"Tenchi!" A familiar voice called out.

Tenchi turned happily to see a tall, dark-haired young man
striding towards him.

"Chiba-san!" Tenchi waved happily. "It's good to--MPH!"

The dark haired young man rushed over to Tenchi and
clamped his hand over the shorter boy's mouth. He looked around
in panic to see if anyone had heard.

"What's the big deal?" Tenchi asked.

"Ah, sorry about that. It's 'Darien Shields' here instead
of 'Momaru Chiba'. Most of the fans know, of course, but it's
studio policy."


"It's no big deal. We're still stuck with the DIC
licensing issues and... well.. I'd rather not go into all of it
right now. I'm just glad to welcome you to Atlanta. How is
everybody holding up?"

"Good, so far," Tenchi gestured to the rest of the group,
just climbing out of the bus. "It's certainly a nerveracking
experience. I *never* imagined we'd be picked up by an American
network. It's going to take some adjustment. Also..."

"Yes?" Darien prompted.

"Well, I've heard some bad rumors. I mean, *everyone*
knows what happened when you and the girls first came over."

Darien nodded and chuckled. "It's not so bad. True, we've
endured some rough times, but things are looking up. I write it
all off as 'early adoption' problems. We also made the mistake
of starting out trying to fill a *tiny* niche syndication
market. Since we've been here, well, things have been better.
*Much* better. The fans have helped immensely."

"The fans," Tenchi agreed.

"They're a different breed here, but they're intensely
loyal," Darien explained. "We'll have to take in a sci-fi
convention incognito. It's quite an experience. Oh no..."

"What?" Tenchi asked.

"Well, hello, alien mammas!" A large, very muscular, very
blond man was accosting Ayeka.

"I'll thank you very much to keep your hands to yourself!"
the princess protested.

"It's Johnny," Darien explained. "One of the locals. He's
basically a good sort, but... well..."

"Ah-hah! Watch me work!" The man snapped out, striking a
bodybuilding pose. Tenchi couldn't help but be impressed by the
massive square jaw, the incredible bulk of muscles, or the way
the man's every move cracked through the air like a whip. "Maybe
you outer space chicks need a little more *bang* to get you all
warmed up," Johnny drawled.

"Thank you, but no," Washuu said, pushing past the muscle-
brain with her luggage on a rolling cart.

A few others had come out to see the new arrivals as well.
Hanna-Barbera characters were popping out of the wood work and
helping to unload the shuttle bus, while Sailors Uranus and
Neptune in their civilian guises had come out to meet Darien and

"Whoa-ho! Pretty green-haired mamma!" Johnny snapped.

"No, I'm afraid you can't have a date, Mister Bravo,"
Neptune greeted. "Nor am I interested in 'doing the monkey' with

"What? You're still not pining for this jerk, are you?"
Johnny demanded. "Driving a race car doesn't make you cool. I
could drive a race car. This guy's just using you, hot mamma!
Why don't you spend some time with-- ah-hah!" Johnny whirled
through several agonizing looking poses. "--A real man!"

Sailor Uranus just smirked and winked at Tenchi as Johnny
continued to obsess over Neptune.

"He doesn't know?" Tenchi asked.

"We've only been here for the last few weeks," Uranus
said. "But it doesn't look he's going to figure it out any time

"It's kinder that way, really," Darien noted. "Ah,
Professor," he greeted, seeing Souichi Tomoe walking up to the
group next to another man with a long white lab coat and a
strong square jaw.

"Darien, Mister Masaki, Professor," Professor Tomoe
greeted the group and Washuu, who was standing next to Tenchi.

"Professor," Washuu returned. "And..."

"Professor Utonium," the other man introduced himself.

"Professor," Washuu replied.

Tenchi's head began to swim.

"Professor!" three young girls in color-coded matching
suits shouted as they flew out from one of the sound stages.

"Ah, girls!" Professor Utonium greeted the large-eyed and
smiling trio.

Tenchi boggled at the sheer level of Kawaii. Had the
Americans truly mastered the art?

"I'm Blossom!" the cute one said.

"I'm Bubbles!" the silly one said.

"And I'm Buttercup!" the pouty one said.

"Girls, why don't you help our new guests with their

"Okay, Professor!" the girls shouted, flying off in a
colored flash.

"Professor!" Washuu accused.

"Well, haha! We all have our moments, Professor Washuu,"
Utonium admitted. "I just couldn't admit to myself that that vat
of CHEMICAL X could possibly do any harm. It's only my good
fortune that it was mixed with sugar and spice..."

"And everything nice," Tomoe added. "CHEMICAL X is a truly
dangerous substance when used improperly."

"Ooh! What's that?" Bubbles asked Sasami, demurely
pointing to Ryo-ohki, who had resumed cabbit form and was
perched on the blue-haired girl's head.

"It's Ryo-ohki!" Sasami explained, smiling beatifically at
the three smaller girls, her large pink eyes beaming with
happiness and light. "She's a spaceship."

"Ohhh..." the three Poweruffs cooed in unison.

"Can I hold her?" Blossom asked.

"Miya!" Ryo-ohki agreed happily.

Uranus began to quietly gag.

"Oh, how cute!" Mihoshi noted, sticking her own blonde mop
down into the mix. "You look so kawaii together!"

"Teehee!" Bubbles giggled, reaching out to pet the cabbit.

If Kiyone's blaster had a barrel, she would have been
spinning it by now.

"Aren't they cute, Tenchiiiii?" Mihoshi and Sasami asked
in unison as twelve overly large and gleaming eyes stared
pleadingly at him.

Utonium, well used to living in such a situation, pulled
out a syringe of insulin and mercifully injected Tenchi.

He was just in time because Dot Warner and Babs Bunny
showed up to see what had caused their 'cuteness' sense to go
off so strongly.

"The kawaii factor is increasing exponentially," Washuu
noted, holding up a portable meter to the display. "If we don't
stop it now, it'll go critical!"

"Did somebody say 'cute'?" Johnny asked, sticking his nose
into the fray. "I'm cute. WHOA-MAMMA! Blonde alien hottie at six

"Oh my!" Mihoshi giggled.

"Bear my children," Johnny pleaded. "We'd be so pretty

Mihoshi began to fidget. "I don't know..."

"That'd do it," Darien noted. The kawaii moment lost, the
Powerpuffs started to aid Sasami in carrying her luggage away.

"Oh by the way, Professor," Tomoe said as he produced a
clipboard and and a ball-point pen. "Here's your renewal
application for your U.S. Mad Scientists Guild membership."

"Hey, thanks!" Washuu said, quickly filling out the form.
"Full Name... Gender... Age... Uhoh."

"Current age," Utonium suggested.

"'Evil' or 'Not Evil'," Washuu continued. She began to
chew the end of the pen in thought.

As she was filling out the application, Professors Utonium
and Tomoe led Washuu away to introduce her to a small red-haired
boy in a white lab coat.

"Well, it looks like we'll be okay," Tenchi said
nervously. "We're all fitting in, I guess."

"It'll be okay," Uranus assured him as they started to
walk along with their luggage. "It's a lot scarier than it
looks. Speaking of scary..."

A studio functionary in a dirty t-shirt and old tennis
shoes shambled up. "Uhh, Ryouko. Can we talk for a minute? The
guys upstairs have a *leetle* problem with a few scenes in your

Ryouko started in apprehension, but nodded and listened to
the man as he began to whisper in her ear.

"But I like nudity!" Ryouko protested after hearing the
man's piece. "You can't cut those scenes! They're integral to
the story. Besides, Ayeka was naked, too!"

"Only because you stole my towel, you demonic old hag!"
Ayeka accused.

"Urr... ladies..." The functionary backed away in quiet
fear as the air began to crackle around them.

Nearby, Darien was walking past a newspaper machine that
happened to be displaying a paper with Pikachu on the cover as
an ad for the next U.S. released Pokemon movie. Almost
subconsciously, Darien mimed throwing a Pokeball as he strode

His attention torn between the two sights, Tenchi asked
Darien about his action.

"Oh, it's a little superstition we've picked up. Pokemon
has opened a few doors for us. We're rolling for luck, I guess."

Tenchi sighed. The American market was confusing. The fans
here seemed just as rabid as the otaku back in Japan, especially
in the direct-to-video market he was used to. Ranma and Lina
both had legions and legions of hardcore fans. The wider market
was a little more hostile, it seemed.

"C'mon, Lady," The functionary begged. "We're cramming
this down John Q. Public's throat faster than he'll swallow
already. We just can't show nudity during peak viewing hours! Do
you have any idea the kind of stink that would raise?"

"He's right, Ryouko," Tenchi said.

Ryouko's bright blue glow shut off and she stared at the
young man in confusion. "But,"

"It's a continuing process," Tenchi realized out loud.
"The culture's not the same, no matter how much we wish it would

"There are inroads," Uranus said. "And we've made leaps
and bounds, but..."

"We're still fighting," Tenchi finished. "The people in
this country who want to see our shows are still fighting for
acceptance, too."

Darien smiled enigmatically and did his best not to pull
out a rose and start waxing philosophically.

"But you still can't cut the scenes," Tenchi informed the
functionary. "They're important to the story."

"Well, we could do what we've done for the Gundam fans,"
the studio functionary suggested. "We run episodes during the
day that are edited for violence and language, but then we show
them uncut again after midnight."

Tenchi nodded. "Your sponsors would allow brief frontal
nudity in that timeslot?"

"I wish," the functionary spat. "Believe me, I wish."

"What you might consider is a 'pan and crop' technique,"
Neptune suggested. "The frame is still shown, but zoomed on a
area that excludes nudity. That way, you don't lose any of the

Tenchi rubbed his chin in thought, and glanced once at

"You have to pick your battles," Darien suggested. "You
also have to cater to the fans."

Tenchi nodded, his mind made up. "Pan and crop after
midnight it is, then. It's a leap," he admitted. "But a good

"Also, our fans don't have the ability to buy legitimately
published uncut videos in the U.S," Darien stated. "You've got a
leg up on us there."

"That's true," Tenchi accepted. He smiled.

A little ways away, a young blonde girl with pigtails
bumped into Washuu as she was trying to demonstrate the inner
workings of one of her devices to the red-haired boy. Mihoshi
clapped in wonder at the multicolored explosion that crisped
both old and young scientist alike.

Yes, it was going to take some getting used to. It was
also going to take some sacrifices. And, little by little, day
after day, series after series, the world would be a little
cozier place.

With brief frontal nudity during primetime and afternoon
cartoon slots.


Author's Notes:

This was written on the first air-day for Sailor Moon S, on
Cartoon Network. I didn't know Haruka or Michiru's dub-names,
yet, so I stuck with 'Uranus' and 'Neptune'.

Since, we've learned all about 'Amara' (???Not 'Erica'???) and
'Michelle'. They're cousins, you know...

Yes, in a move that has made some curse and some howl with gales
of laughter, Uranus and Neptune aren't just lovers on Cartoon
Network, they're 'Kissing Cousins'. Go fig. (I'm glad I've got a
complete set of fansubs now...)

Tenchi, on the other hand, is getting *very* little cutting.
Mostly, they're cutting the scenes of pointless violence and
gratuitous nudity. In a lot of cases, rather than 'Pan and
Crop', Tenchi is subject to 'Fig Leafing'. Yup, they're painting
bikinis on the naked people.

What's the world coming to?