Censorship

Perhaps the most curious choice of censorship : the addition of hammy EEEEEEEEVIL.

The original version has a particular aesop : shinjiru kokoro. Roughly translated, it means to believe in the heart and mind, and it is used in context of whether someone is worth saving. It says that what matters isn't the shell in relation to the savior, but the fact that someone is a living being alone. Regardless of whether someone is like you or not, a friend or stranger or enemy, beautiful or ugly, light or dark, unconditionally.

It portrays this in a number of ways, one of which is by first playing light as good and dark as evil, but never actually stating so. Characters assume this by default, but in the end they're proved wrong, ultimately delivering a message of equality and the need to be open minded. It is the villain Reda who remains the only one to believe in separation.

Saban has gone out of its way to censor this theme and shoehorn darkness into being evil incarnate and claiming light is synonym to goodness. Needless to say, this has caused a number of plot holes.

Below is a list of things Saban doesn't tell, ignores or has actively altered to get a different effect :

  • Ma translates to demon. The dark element is also referred to as Curse and Yami (darkness) but not Aku (evil).
  • Sei translates to holy. This element is also referred to as Hijiri (also holy), but not Zen (good).
  • The original uses the English word demon both to refer to a species and a morality, while ma is used solely to denote the physical form. Saban never uses the word demon, let alone the distinction between species and insult.
  • Namiko Gokumare, Mondo and Rokuna's friendly teacher, belongs to the demon element.
  • The Black Tango Cat belongs to the holy element. She is morally ambiguous at best, being quite willing to eat sapient lifeforms yet also caring for Namiko.
  • Mirror bugs, the sort that cursed Utahime by sucking her magic away, are holy monsters.
  • The Plasma Ball, which ended up draining the energy of both friend and foe, is holy. Saban claims that it is an Earth monster.
  • Twinkle Star, who plays dirty and sided against the heroes with Count Collection, is a holy monster.
  • Coatl, a monster sealed for destructiveness, is a holy dragon. Saban claims that this is an Evil elemental.
  • The Swamp Hydra, who has been peacefully living in the wind realm without destroying the world around, is a demon dragon.
  • Orthros, who is loyalty incarnate and an ally to the heroes, is of the fire but uses demon energy as its main offensive. It doesn't negatively affect anything.
  • Reda, of the demon element and the archvillain, is able to combine holy and demon energy into one attack. Saban tries to cover this up by throwing around the word "evil" a lot and as mentioned above, changes Coatl's root element.
  • Ciel, of the holy element and ally to the heroes, is able to perform demon magic without ill consequence. Saban claims the spell she used instead was a "force of light".
  • The lines about how one needs to invoke rage and hatred to unlock the powers of darkness are not in the original.
  • The lines about how one needs to kill in order to become stronger with the dark element are not in the original.
  • The demonic Cyclops is indisputably evil, yet isn't depicted using demon energy. This violates the previous dub rule according to which the Cyclops should have lots of power, so Saban pretended that the Birdmen's attacks are actually his attacks.
  • Pazuzu, who unwittingly destroys the forest in his fight with Bahamut, is a demon. While acknowledging that Pazuzu is not evil, only oblivious, Saban off course removes any reference to him being a demon.
  • There is no Boomerang Spell. Those monsters weren't "made evil", they were just being mindcontrolled.
  • Mondo's way of addressing Gabriolis is rejecting and offensive, provoking him and talking about how fighting villains like him since he is good and Gabriolis evil. Saban Mondo goes from wanting to be friends to wanting to be enemies (till Saban has no more choice but to have the boy act like he should), while it is reverse with original Mondo, who starts out unable to forgive but eventually refuses to fight Zaha at all, after learning from Ciel that there's more to it than just good or bad. This turns the message of reaching out before one judges on its head : dub Mondo only forgives Gabriolis when it is convenient, while original Mondo actively reaches out and tries to understand even before that.
  • Zaha explicitly refers to the idea that since he cannot change into an angel, he must be evil. He was raised to believe this and it played a part in his fall. The dub removes his self-racist sentiments entirely, and thereby the disprove of it.
  • Ciel counters Zaha's fear by stating that regardless of his form he will still be the same person; Zaha need not fear that his form is testament to his will or that he will be compelled to do further evil. Saban changes this part to say the exact opposite, that darkness should be rejected and light accepted for him to find peace.
  • It's never mentioned who won the war in the original, and the phrase that it endlessly repeats itself indicates there will be no winner. Saban replaces this by saying that "Good" won.
  • When the Flame Angel tells Mondo of the risk that the demons pose when conjoining the world, Mondo sees a memory of the redeemed Zaha and says everyone can be part of his dream. Saban alters this conversation to have Mondo say that evil is already part of his world anyway and Gabriolis was turned good, so they can be modified. Original Mondo simply doesn't believe there is a thing such as a collectively evil species to begin with, while dub Mondo affirms it and only points out there are exceptions.
  • Those "gargoyles" were not chasing the heroes, they were fleeing for their life.
  • There is a moment where the demons are obviously having doubt about Reda's actions and they are first victims on the list. The Yondai Tenshi wonder whether it's morally acceptable to let the demons die through their inactivity, with the Flame Angel implying they ought to do something. This was cut and replaced by footage that makes them look indifferent and in the case of the forest angel, amused. Their lines were altered to affirm that the ugly things over there are evil.
  • Ciel refers to all monsters being part of the same world that Reda is attacking and that there is no such thing as Angels and Demons (see above notes on racially discriminative phrases). This is replaced by her saying that everyone banding together is an exception to the rule, with the second statement cut.
  • The Wave Angel at two points lists all elements as being part of the same thing (therefore equal). One is replaced by her talking about faith, the other has her talking about pure hearts. The lines by the Fire Angel about how all needs to be one are also cut.
  • Rut brought along the other demons to help, the dub replaces his lines with stating that all evil monsters have come. In other words, Ruth reasoned with them, while Saban just uses this to again call the entire species evil.
  • Reda's motivation rant is cut and he never talks about the end of war by diminishing all differences.

The irony is that the original said this : Reda was the one droning on about how the dark element was the most pure, untainted by morality, and he is proved wrong when all his subjects show up and say screw you, we're gonna do the right thing, and they gave their power to the holy Saint Star Dragon, who suffered no ill effects from said power.

In the end, the demons are seen amongst the other monsters and joining the heroes peacefully, which closes off the show on a hopeful note, now that Reda is gone and the angels having finally reached out, they will be able to decide their own life.

Too bad Saban went through 50 episodes of macekre before they realized that hey, maybe pretending the darkness = evil doesn't make a lot of sense. It is only in the last minutes of the show that they finally drop it, which is why only the dark element goes nameless during the energy gift scene : it really wouldn't make a lot of sense to shout EVIL when all demons are doing something good.

For closure, it is interesting to have a look at all the monsters in the show do something not nice for a reason that is not mind control or the carnivorous drives of an sentient but not sapient animal.

Fire
Orcs — Invaded the elf village for some undefined vendetta. Not lethal.
Minotaur — A murderous rampage may be overreacting to finding people in your cave. Lethal.

Wind
Pazuzu — So absorbed with battle that he's disturbing the natural order through his wind powers. Lethal by proxy.
Bahamut — Ditto to the above. Lethal by proxy.

Earth
Troll — Trampling on random people to vent. Lethal.
Hekatonchires — Random rampage. Lethal by proxy.
Stone Giant — Willingly helped Count Collection. ??

Holy
Mirror Bug — Draining Utahime's magic, the flowers and the Arboreal Ancient, more than it needs. Possibly lethal.
Coatl — It's not clarified what exactly caused it to be sealed, but there are legends about it that make Reda happy. Lethal.
Twinkle Star — Used Jahne as baseball and played dirty. Not lethal.
Black Tango Cat — Tried killing innocent sapient creatures with the intent of eating them. Lethal.
Cat King — Randomly imprisoned the heroes. Granted, he is very slow in the head. Not lethal.
Random Angels — Left behind the injured Zaha on the battle field. Lethal by proxy.
Yondai Tenshi — Stood around doing nothing while people were tortured and dying, due to political reasons. Lethal by proxy.

Demon
Cyclops — Random rampage. Lethal.
Haunting Vampire — Kidnapped Hiiragi to get the Mon Mon Items. Lethal by proxy.
Gremlins — Sealed for causing chaos. Debatable, since they only are shown to target bad people. Not lethal.
Lesser Demons — Followed Reda's orders in attacking the heroes and Count C. Not lethal.
Zaha — Torturing kids. Horrible, but not lethal.
Ruth — Helping Zaha. On his own, he is a prankster at best. Not lethal.
Reda — The end of the world. Torture as a side dish. Lethal.

That leaves only the water element to never display any chaotic tendencies.