In the last few years of the anime industry Sailor Moon has made a return to the scene. Originally licensed in America and edited under the studio DiC Sailor Moon had a troubling translation and dub to go with it. Though I remember the dub fondly many of us do so mostly in nostalgia and not in review. While shows like Dragonball retained much of their integrity Sailor Moon lost a lot of what made it special due to certain content. This spawned memorable things like cutting the deaths of the Senshi in the plot thus mutilating the emotional impact, adding in a message that made no sense at the end of the episode, and the infamous ‘cousins’ addition to the canonical couple Uranus and Neptune. Even though the show was licensed by Cloverway and improved in many ways it was Cloverway who made the famous cousin change as well as changing genders of certain villains to hide further implications of homosexuality. To put it simply: Sailor Moon has had a troubled dub since premiering in the United States but managed to gain fandom and acclaim in spite of this.
Sailor Moon R the Movie was originally titled “The Promise of the Rose” in America and was actually a movie I owned. It was a last minute decision to see the movie but I realized as the person who covers the new release and entirety of Crystal for this site it would provide an interesting look into how serious VIZ Media was in their dedication to Sailor Moon and to giving American audiences the true experience. To judge this movie appropriately I brought my boyfriend who has never seen Sailor Moon as well as a friend of mine who loves Sailor Moon. I wanted to answer a sincere question: Is the dedication of VIZ Media capable of reigniting the passions of fans who have attached themselves to the old idea of Sailor Moon?
The film began with a few integral additions. To start off three of the actors were given an interview: Stephanie Sheh(Sailor Moon), Robbie Daymond(Mamoru), and Ben Diskin(Fiore). In the interview each expressed what their characters were, joked around, and provided something unique to the dub. The addition this interview provided was a personable view of the actors that made it easy for me as a viewer to want to connect with the dub. Many times when I have gone to conventions I have found that learning how an actor connects to their role makes me more eager to connect to them as actors and then as their characters. Stephanie explained that Usagi was a spastic unsure character who tried to do good but was sometimes unable to and in the movie she was finally able to be more of a gentle and mature character who knew what to do. Robbie made many jokes about Mamoru and his inability to do things and often be kidnapped, while Ben had to kind of hint at what his character did because otherwise it would be a complete spoiler. It’s hard not to give actors a chance when they look you in the eye and go “Hey, we’re passionate about this project and we want to do it a lot of justice, here’s what we liked about doing this and a really insightful look into our characters and we hope you take something positive from this!”
And because of this it’s hard not to appreciate the characters knowing their actors care so much. Stephanie herself manages to win me over again and again with her heartfelt scenes. For every moment I am not sure in comparison to the old dub, Stephanie plays an endearing and charming Usagi who reminds me how much I’ve loved her since I was a little girl. Daymond manages to capture both a maturity and also ignorance in the somewhat shy movie adaptation of Mamoru, and Ben Diskin plays a movie only villain which sucks because I’m pretty sure he’d be fantastic in almost any role you throw him into. Right off the bat if you’re worried about the dub all I can say is that unless you just don’t like the actors voices then there is nothing to worry about. The adaptation is far superior to the VHS version I have sitting on my shelf and each actor knows how to do their job astoundingly.
As for the content of the actual show: boy did I go “wut?” There is some new stuff that I did not remember it all. Due to VIZ Media licensing I can’t pull up clips for you but it’s safe to say the old movie was cut in some hilarious ways. One of my favorites is a scene where Chibi-Usa is trying to wake Usagi up by suffocating her. In the original dub it was a short scene that happened quickly and seemed funny. In the uncut version it is almost hilariously long and it seems like Usagi might actually be suffocating. Jeez, kid, don’t kill your mom. (The amount of times I have to say this about Chibi-Usa is astounding.) At the end I cried and hell, my boyfriend even cried! The content added a 15 minute short introducing all of the Sailor Senshi. Without the short beforehand it would have been difficult for him to understand but instead he got an introduction that would have been necessary for any new viewer. Doing this was brilliance on the part of VIZ and because of it anybody can go into this movie blind and still enjoy it. As long as you like stories of friendship and love then Sailor Moon R The Movie will do that justice!
Now here is a real venue of discussion for me: Did VIZ do justice to the nostalgia? Well, two crying fangirls and one new fan crying aside this movie showed that even in the face of botched adaptations the love for the original content can still grow and be harbored in such a fashion, and when it is done correctly it can grow beyond that. I would go see any Sailor Moon movie in theaters and after this dub I believe anyone who knows the genuine effects it has might as well. Why does this happen? Is it just nostalgia? I think it’s important to take Sailor Moon Crystal into consideration and think about it. Despite the first two seasons being considered sub-par the fandom still watched and waited. Once they received season 3 everyone was ecstatic and pleased, all while the new dub was premiering. Sailor Moon exists now as an entity that has new entries as well as old and has surpassed the simple title of nostalgia. You don’t have to go looking far to realize that Crystal, the new dub, and the movie are all examples of one truth: Love and Justice conquer all!