*NOTE: In case you were looking for a review of the original version and storyline, you’re out of luck. This review is based on the original English Dub from 1995 through 2000.*
Where were you in 1995? I was only a year old in this year. In 1995, we saw the release of the films Toy Story from Pixar, Pocahontas from Walt Disney Pictures, and Apollo 13 from Universal. In this year, the television program FRIENDS was a year old. Also, The History Channel was launched in 1995. On September 10, 1995, there was a major realignment of US broadcast television with network affiliate switches. But on September 11, 1995, one program arrived in North America from Japan that would forever influence popular geek culture as we know it. This program was an anime called Sailor Moon.
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, as it was originally called in Japan, was a manga series created by Naoko Takeuchi in 1991. This series was eventually adapted into an anime television series in 1992 by Toei Animation. This show ran for 5 seasons totaling 200 episodes on TV Asahi in Japan from March 1992 until February 1997. DiC Entertainment partnered up with Optimum Productions in Toronto to develop an English language version of Sailor Moon. The English dub premiered in North America in broadcast syndication on September 11, 1995. The series is about 5 girls who transform into 5 soldiers in Sailor uniforms known, in North America, as “The Sailor Scouts.” Each of these magical girl heroines have magical powers that come from 1 of 9 respective planets of the Solar System. They use these powers to fight against and protect the world from the forces of evil. Halfway through season 1, these 5 scouts learn that they all originally come from unique backgrounds.
The title character’s real name is Serena Tsukino (Usagi Tsukino in the original version). Serena is 14 years old and she lives with her family in the Azzbu-Juuban neighborhood of Tokyo. She has long, blonde, pigtailed hair which is usually it rolled up into two buns on both sides of her head. Because of this, she is commonly referred to in the dub as “Meatball Head.” Serena is often goofy, clumsy, and a bit of a crybaby. She usually doesn’t like to do any schoolwork and
usually doesn’t fare very well in school as a result. Also, she is often late for school in the morning, and when she is late, her teacher, Ms. Haruna, makes her stand in the hallway (this is usually how students are punished for tardiness in Japan). When she is approached by Luna, a talking navy-blue cat with a crescent mark on her forehead, she is baffled that this cat can talk. But when Luna alerts her of an eminent evil force that’s approaching, she presents her with a locket. Upon Serena crying out “Moon Prism Power,” this locket would give her the ability to transform into the champion of love and justice, Sailor Moon (☽)! Throughout the series, Sailor Moon fights against different kinds of evil forces, has a different transformation for each season, and has different attacks for each season, each more powerful than the last. She eventually learns that 1,000 years prior, Serena was a Princess in a kingdom on the Moon known as the “Silver Millennium.” She walked in the footsteps of her
original mother and ruler of this kingdom, Queen Serenity. However, when the “Negaverse” (Dark Kingdom) and its ruler Queen Beryl attacked, the Moon kingdom was destroyed, and thousands of people were wiped out. Queen Serenity used the power of the Crescent Moon Wand and the Legendary Silver Crystal to send the people of the Moon, including Princess Serena, to a future life on Earth. Sailor Moon would be accompanied by four other Sailor Scouts to fight alongside her.
Amy Anderson (Ami Mizuno in the original) is also about 14 years old. She has short, blue hair. Amy is a genius with an IQ of 300. All she does is study, study, study. She ends up acing all her exams in school. When danger becomes present during a seminar she goes to, Luna presents her with a transformation pen. Upon shouting the words “Mercury Power,” she transforms into the Sailor Scout of Love and Intellect, Sailor Mercury (☿)! Her powers are based around water and cryogenics. She is also an expert in computing and is the most intelligent Sailor Solider of the five. Her areas of expertise qualify her as the groups lead strategist.
Raye Hino (Rei Hino) lives with her grandfather in the Cherry Hill Temple (Hikawa Shrine in the original), a Shinto shrine that overlooks much of the Azabu-Juuban section of Tokyo. Raye has long, black hair and is usually shown wearing a traditional Japanese temple robe when working at home. Raye was born with psychic and spiritual powers. She is able to predict future events before they happen, and is able to sense negative activity
occurring nearby, almost like a Jedi knight sensing a disturbance in the force. Raye, also, has a really short temper, especially with Serena. As a result, they usually quarrel with each other. When she is faced with life or death situation involving multiple vanishing city buses, Luna also gives her a transformation pen. With this pen and calling out “Mars Power,” Raye transforms into the Sailor Scout of Love and Fire, Sailor Mars (♂)! Her powers are based around fire, as well as her psychic and spiritual abilities. Also, in both civilian and sailor form, Raye uses what’s called an “Ofuda.” These are small, about 7″ x 2″ strips of paper with Kanji characters written on it that translates to English as “Evil Spirit, Disperse!” Raye uses these Ofudas to freeze or immobilize her enemies.
Lita Kino (Makoto Kino) is a tall, tomboyish girl who has wavy brunette hair in a ponytail. Lita transferred to Serena and Amy’s school after she was allegedly ejected from her previous school for fighting. She lost both of her parents at a young age, and lives in her own apartment. She is very good at cooking, gardening, housekeeping, karate, and anything that is hands-on. In her first appearance, she saw Sailor Moon struggling to contain a monster that contained a “rainbow crystal,” one of seven that make up the Legendary Silver Crystal. This monster was originally a human being, but when the rainbow crystal is removed, all of that changes. Lita decided to chip in and help with fighting the monster. When she does, Luna notices the symbol of Jupiter on her forehead; the same thing happened with Amy and Raye before they first transformed. Luna gave Lita a transformation pen, and upon calling out “Jupiter Power,” Lita transforms into the Sailor Scout of Love and Courage, Sailor Jupiter (♃)! Her powers are centered on electricity, nature, and physicality. If you don’t know how tough she can be, you’re in for a shock…hehehehe, puns.
The last Sailor Scout of the original five is Mina Aino (Minako Aino). Mina has long blonde hair, blue eyes, and she wears a red bow in her hair. She usually wears a similar school uniform to Serena’s, but not exactly the same because they don’t go to the same school until season 5. Mina is very uncompromising, committed, and as clumsy as Serena. She is best known for alluding to old proverbs but she misquotes them. She originally
lived in London, and was the original Sailor Scout long before Serena first became Sailor Moon. Why? Because she fought crime in London as Sailor V. But when Sailors Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter were all in trouble, Mina appeared as the Sailor Scout of Love and Beauty, Sailor Venus (♀)! Venus’ powers and attacks are based on love and light. Sailor Venus is considered the de jure leader of the Sailor Scouts because she has more experience. Her guardian is a white cat with a crescent moon on his forehead just like Luna. This cat’s name is Artemis.
There’s usually someone who steps in to a fight to offer some kind of support. This guy’s name is Darien Shields (Mamoru Chiba in the original). In season 1, Darien is shown to be 17 years old. Early on, Serena and Darien first meet, inadvertently, in the first episode when Serena crumples up a poorly graded exam, throws it into the air, and hitting Darien on the head. Darien is shown to be rude to Serena. Unbeknownst to Darien, he’s able to transform into his alternate identity, Tuxedo Mask, to aid Sailor Moon in battle. As Tuxedo Mask, he usually makes his entrances by throwing red roses in-between a monster and Sailor Moon to interrupt battles. This happens almost to the same effect of a referee throwing out a penalty flag and whistling a play dead in Football. Sometimes, Tuxedo Mask joins in the battles by fighting with his telescopic cane. Midway through Season 1, it becomes apparent that Darien is also Tuxedo Mask and that Darien was a prince and Princess Serena’s love interest in the Silver Millennium. Tuxedo Mask has also been a target for the enemies throughout the show. In Season 1, Queen Beryl’s henchman Malachite (Kunzite) and Zoicite kidnap Tuxedo Mask while he’s unconscious. Beryl brainwashes him into Aiding and Abetting in Beryl’s evil plans.
One of the things that I love about this show is that the heroines magically transform into pretty soldiers in sailor uniforms on-command. The sequences are very cool and fascinating to watch. When I first watched Sailor Moon in 2000, it was airing the dub of Season 4 on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block. It was on every weekday after school. When I saw the transformation scenes, I was blown away with amazement. In Season 4, Serena transformed side-by-side with Rini, her future daughter who time traveled to live in the 21st century. While Serena became Sailor Moon, Rini became the next generation of Sailor Scouts, Sailor Mini Moon! I thought it was an amazing sequence because it shows silhouettes of the Scouts in a secluded space being surrounded by sparkles, ribbons, and whatnot covering their bodies. The sequences take up about 25 to 30 seconds of screen time, but in that world, the transformation is instantaneous. It’s almost like time is slowed down by about 300% for show. Regardless, I find the whole concept cool.
Each season presents a different enemy of focus. In Season 1, it was the Negaverse ruled by Queen Beryl, who was determined to conquer the entire universe. In Season 2, there are two arcs. In the first arc, two aliens Alan (Ail) and Ann (An) use “cardian” monsters to steal energy from living organisms in order to just survive with their Doom Tree or the Tree of Life (Makaiju in the original). In the second arc, a group called the Negamoon Family (Black Moon Clan) tried to destroy the world based on time travel, masterminded by a ghost being known as “Wiseman.” In Season 3, evil beings known as Daimon Heart Snatchers roamed around to steal peoples pure heart crystals to awaken the evil Mistress 9, the sovereign of silence. In Season 4, a clan known as the Dark Moon Circus (Dead Moon Circus) targeted different peoples dreams to find a magical flying horse named Pegasus. The Dark Moon Circus is ruled by Queen Nehelenia. In the final season, there are two arcs.
The opening theme for the English Dub of Sailor Moon is based on the original Japanese opening theme “Moonlight Densetsu.” It used the same melodies, but very different lyrics and different instrumentals. The original song was written by Kanako Oda; it was performed by DALI in seasons 1 & 2 and Moon Lips in Seasons 3 & 4. English version lyrics for the DiC and Cloverway dubs were written by Andy Heyward and performed by Nicole and Brynne Price. The English theme was the first original anime theme to be translated and redone in the English language since Star Blazers in 1979. The original, Moonlight Densetsu, was a song about love, but the English theme resembles somewhat of a superhero chorale.
There are multiple voices for each of the characters in both the Japanese and English speaking languages. I’m only going to mention the original English dub cast. Sailor Moon was voiced by Tracy Moore in the first couple of episodes, Terri Hawkes for 57 episodes and all three films, and Linda Ballantyne for all of Season 3 and 4. This was Terri Hawkes’ best known role. She also did the role of Wendy Masters on General Hospital in 1990. Ballantyne was the voice of Percy the Green Engine in the 2000 film Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Sailor Mercury was voiced by Karen Bernstein in the first 82 episodes and all of the films, and then Liza Balkan took over for all of Seasons 3 and 4. This was Liza Balkans only known voice role. Sailor Mars was voiced by Katie Griffin, who also voiced Alex in Totally Spies! Sailor Jupiter was voiced by Susan Roman, who was with Ballantyne in Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Roman was the voice of James the Red Engine in that film. Sailor Venus was voiced by Stephanie Morgenstern in Seasons 1 and 2, and by Emilie Barlow in Seasons 3 and 4. Tuxedo Mask was voiced by Toby Proctor for Season 1 and Vincent Corazza for Season 2 onward. Corazza also voiced Alan in the first arc of Season 2. Corazza currently does the voice overs for many of the Dunkin’ Donuts Commercials in the United States. I actually had the opportunity to meet and have a fun conversation with Vince during Katuscon in February 2015. Sailor Mini Moon did not appear until Season 2, and she was voiced by Tracey Hoyt in Season 2 and all of the films, and by Stephanie “Sugar Lyn” Beard in Seasons 3 & 4.
Since landing on North American soil in 1995, Sailor Moon has had a huge impact on many anime fans growing up in the 1990s. This character has been recognized as one of the most important and most popular superheroines of all-time. In western pop-culture, Sailor Moon is sometimes connected with the feminist and Girl Power movements and with empowering its viewers. It took the definition of Girl Power to a whole new level in the mid-90s. It inspired a lot of fans to cosplay and dress up at conventions as the characters from this series, which is still happening to this day. One thing that was the norm of English dubbing during the 90s, especially when adapting something to younger audience, was changing the names and “Americanizing” the series which is what DiC Entertainment did. Also, the original series that aired in Japan had quite a bit of content that was not suitable for audiences in America. The original English dub had to be edited for content in order to comply with regulations imposed by the FCC during this time. But regardless of what the North American production teams had to do or didn’t have to do, I like the show for what it is. Therefore, I have to give this program a rating of 9.9 of 10.
- DiC/CWi/Toei. Sailor Moon. Syndication/Cartoon Network. 1995-2002. Television. Screen Captures
- Sailor Moon R The Movie: Promise of the Rose. Dir. Kunihiko Ikuhara. Prod. Iriya Azuma. Screenplay by Sukehiro Tomita. Toei Animation/Pioneer Entertainment, 1993. Screen Capture
- Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie: Black Dream Hole. Dir. Hiroki Shibata. Prod. Toshihiko Arisako and Go Yamamoto. Screenplay by Yōji Enokido. Toei Animation/Pioneer Entertainment, 1995. Screen Captures
- Tabercil. Linda Ballantyne in 2013. Digital image. Flickr. 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/44775455@N00/9584636794 >.
- Terri Hawkes. Digital image. Behind the Voice Actors. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/terri-hawkes/ >.
- Penalty Flag. Digital image. CSN Mid-Atlantic. 6 Nov. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <http://www.csnmidatlantic.com/football-washington-redskins/talk/penalties-persistent-problem-redskins >.