By Naoko Takeuchi
My first experience with Sailor Moon was when I was a toddler; I vividly remember watching the series and having a Sailor Moon themed birthday one year. Mercury was my favorite, and at 21 years old and rewatching the series, she still is. Jupiter is coming up close, now.
There are three facets to the Sailor Moon series; the manga, the first anime from 1992, and Crystal, the remake that began airing in 2014. This review will focus on the first anime.
Nostalgia plays a huge part in watching the original Sailor Moon anime; the outdated, but still beautiful animation, the 90’s fashion, the vague familiarity of rewatching a childhood favorite: there is something to be said for a twenty five year old series that still stands today. The first time I watched it, I like most other American children, watched the DiC dub as it aired on TV and rented the movies – now, I am watching the full series in the original Japanese audio with subtitles. The difference is astounding.
The DiC rendition was censored and edited heavily – even character names were changed. Tsukino Usagi (Sailor Moon) was given the English name Serena. The lesbian sailor scouts Neptune and Uranus had most of their dialog stunted to reflect the homophobia of the time, making them into ‘cousins’ – and one of them had a boyfriend named Chad or maybe Brad? who never appeared but was mentioned every time they were alone together. Usagi’s best friend had a strange accent that was never explained. In comparison, the 199o’s version versus the new dub from 2014 or the sub is like a whole different show.
Even though the Crystal remake is available, rewatching – or watching for the first time – the original 90’s anime is something I whole heartedly recommend. Experiencing the original anime as it existed during its first run is surprisingly entertaining – though it is still clearly a children’s show with monster-of-the-week villains and take-over-the-world antics, the plot is iconic enough to be worth the watch. Whether it is worth watching all 200 episodes, three movies, and five specials is a different question.
As of March 18th I have just begun watching Sailor Moon R, the second season and I fully intend to finish the series.