On my new favorite show on American TV, Tenchi Muyo, they sometimes like to drink tea. In fact, they drink tea quite a lot. Especially Ryoko, the wanted space pirate/demon. She drinks lots of tea whenever the opportunity arises.

There's a funny thing about this tea, though. Whenever the characters drink it, their faces get all red. If they drink much more, their eyes get all droopy and they start talking funny. What could that mean? If they drink a whole lot of tea, they pass out. In one episode, they had a tea-drinking contest, or so it seemed - they'd drink the tea really fast, then let out satisfied little sighs. Sometimes the characters compliment each other on their tea-drinking capabilities, like - "Wow, you can really put that stuff away." I've never heard of any tea that does things like that. Oh, and this tea comes in liquor bottles and sake jars.

Now, I'm not insinuating anything here. Maybe it's the caffeine in the tea that does that to them. Maybe they have highly alcoholic teas in Japan. But it does make you think. . .

But seriously. In a later episode, Nagi the bounty hunter orders a beer in a snack shop. The characters run a bar in one episode - and even though they don't refer to their drinks as booze, they don't call them "tea" either. The way it's presented, it's obvious - insultingly obvious that the show is censored. Why? Anyone old enough to be able to understand the plot of the show could surely tell that the characters get drunk off of their beloved tea. I even heard Space Ghost say "damn" once! Shouldn't they censor that instead?

I suppose that it's the American way to cover your ass before it gets blown into tiny peices by lawsuits, but why do they have to censor all the GOOD, imported shows? Why can't we be just a bit freer? Well, I suppose the time is coming soon, what with digital television and high-speed internet connections becoming readily available. I'm waiting.

Interestingly, in one of the later episodes (iirc, in Tenchi in Tokyo), they actually dub it as "sake" rather than "tea". Any rumors to the effect that this is a deliberate attempt to figure out how much they can get away with are pure speculation.

Oh yes, in one episode, Ryoko says "damnit" (uncensored).

According to the toonami translators, what you're supposed to do upon seeing this is smile, nod, and marvel at how they've managed to sneak a scene where half the cast is naked, in a hot tub, and having a drinking contest into a show rated TV-Y71. What all of us adults are supposed to do is have a good laugh as a thinly-veiled reference goes straight over the head of the target audience. (For more of this malarky, watch the UK dubs of the magic roundabout.)

If it wasn't for the digital bikini, you merkins would never have seen episode 4 on TV at all. Blame the puritanical ratings board, not the people that have to comply with it.

1 - The later 'adult swim' edits are TV-14, where they can say some rude words.

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