2014 has a been a fantastic year for Sailor Moon fans. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the much beloved shoujo anime of the ‘90s, Viz Media gave fans oodles of goodies. And by oodles, I mean oodles. In the past 4 months, we received a new anime called Sailor Moon Crystal, a weekly release of 2 subbed episodes of the original anime on Hulu, and a brand spanking new English dub. Yes, a new dub!
If the English dub of the ‘90s brought to us by DiC was your foray into Sailor Moon like the rest of us American kids, you may look back and realize that this dub… was not the best. DiC’s dub of Sailor Moon was heavily edited and censored to protect the American children from the big bad adult themes in those Japanese cartoons, natch. You know what, though? 9-year-old Shay loved it. But what 9-year old Shay didn’t know was that the original version is so much better that you really can’t compare the original to the English dub. And finally, after all these years, Viz has righted wrongs and triumphed over evil and brought Sailor Moon fans a proper English dub.
As of this blog post, Viz has released the first 23 episodes of Sailor Moon’s first season on Hulu. And naturally, I have already binge watched them all and LOVE it. Let me tell you the reasons why I find the new English dub is Absolutely Awesome:
The original music is intact
That’s right! From the theme song to the background music to the closing credits song, it’s all the same as the original, including the original Japanese lyrics for the theme songs!
“Moonlight Densetsu” is played in its full glory. There’s no more cheesy “never running from a real fight” theme song (which y’know is a little silly, given Sailor Moon’s cry-baby tendencies).
I noticed when I watched the subs that the original music is far superior, and I am happy that we now have an English dub with the original music. Take for example the transformation music. I find the original to be better than the DiC transformation music — it’s more pumped up and less schmaltzy. Listen and compare: Original and DiC Transformation.
There’s no need for that annoying “Sailor Says” segment
Because the Viz dub didn’t heavily edit to the point of obliteration, the episodes actually last the proper length and don’t require some after-school special blurb of “important” lessons from Sailor Moon. I actually subjected myself to some DiC dub episodes on YouTube recently and was appalled that the Sailor Says were actually terrible advice. In an episode where Usagi has to tell Naru that the man she loves (Nephrite) is really a bad dude, Sailor Says turned it into a diatribe about how it’s bad to spread gossip.
I mean, the generals in the Dark Kingdom are handsome, but I think if my friend fell in love with a Bad Dude, my advice would be to STAY AWAY FROM HIM! And not worry about whether it’s “gossip” or not. Jeez, DiC. So much for the children, huh?
Usagi sounds like an actual teenage girl! And so does Naru!
Even as a child, I remember thinking that Serena sounded too much like a grown woman. Now in the Viz dub, Usagi gets a voice that actually sounds like a 14-year old whose primary concerns are sleep, Sailor V video games, and her heart’s battle of Motoki vs. Tuxedo Kamen:
Stephanie Sheh’s take on Usagi is worlds more appropriate than any of the VAs that tried their hand at Serena in the past. Thumbs up, Viz.
Usagi’s not the only one with an age appropriate voice! Naru, or Molly for us Americans, does not have a horribly out of place Brooklyn accent whose tone was just way too old. Plus, Naru’s DiC voice was awful and grating. Viz has remedied this by providing her with a VA who too sounds like a teenage girl. Thank goodness.
Luna’s not a grandmotherly English nanny
Luna, one of the resident talking cats from the Moon, was another victim of an out of place accent. Her clipped English accent even seemed odd to 9 year old Shay. Combined with the stern tone that the DiC VA took, Luna seemed overly harsh and derisive towards poor Serena Usagi.
Granted, Luna has every right to be concerned about the fate of the world is in the hands of a teenager with a predilection for crying her way out of things, but she didn’t need to be so mean! In the Viz dub, Luna has a cute but no-nonsense voice that is so much more fitting for the character.
Thumbs up again, Viz.
It’s the Dark Kingdom, NOT The Negaverse
C’mon, DiC, the “Negaverse” is a really lame villain name. At least the Dark Kingdom sounds mildly spooky in its parallel to the Moon Kingdom. Really, being called the “Negaverse” just removes all cool villain credibility. Thank goodness Viz kept all of the original names, rather than following in the missteps of DiC’s poor attempts at Americanizing Sailor Moon.
There’s no “Zoycite” here!
Remember that pretty “villainess” of the DiC dub with an annoying laugh who plotted against co-worker Neflite (ugh, Nephrite) and enjoyed a romantic relationship with Malachite (er, Kunzite)?
You know, that “villainess” who was surprisingly flat-chested for a lady?
Yep. 100% male Zoisite. I hated Zoycite, as the DiC dub called her in their erasure of homosexuality. 9-year old Shay was super annoyed by her, and I was happy to discover as an adult that Zoisite is an entertaining and interestingly complex villain when I watched the Japanese subs for the first time. And even though the first 23 episodes only show dashes of Zoisite, as it’s episode 25 where Zoisite’s arc really begins, I am happy to see that the new dub has brought us an equally entertaining character as the original, and not some gauche, heteronormative shadow. Plus, Lucien Dodge, Zoisite’s Viz VA, is perfect as Zoisite. Just perfect — I need a third thumb at this point, y’all.
Sailor Moon can actually be funny on its own, but Viz has thrown in some one-liners that really sets it apart from the DiC dub. I was watching an episode where a throwaway character gets possessed by Nephrite’s shadow, which in the anime, turns said character purple. Because purple skin = demonic possession, duh. Viz’s dub writers go for it and have one of the other throwaway characters say “Does she look purple to you?!”
Also, recall the clip I included above with Usagi and Mamoru’s interaction. A recurring humorous theme in the Viz dub is poking fun at Mamoru. In the DiC dub, Serena grumbles about that jerk but still calls him “cute.” In the Viz dub, Usagi instead grumbles about that jerk and his stupid purple pleated pants. Because Viz is totes right on this one: purple pleated pants are pretty ridiculous!
Needless to say, I am pretty STOKED about how awesome Viz’s new dub is and will be once we get more than just a mere 23 episodes. If you’re a past, present, and maybe even future Sailor Moon fan, you should definitely give it a go! If you’d rather sample the new dub than binge, might I suggest the following episodes?
Ep. 1: The Crybaby: Usagi’s Beautiful Transformation
Ep. 8: The Girl Genius Is a Monster: The Brainwashing Cram School of Horror
Ep. 10: The Cursed Bus: Enter Mars, the Guardian of Fire
Ep: 12: I Want a Boyfriend: The Luxury Cruise Ship Is a Trap
Ep. 21: Protect the Children’s Dreams: Friendship Through Anime
Ep. 22: Romance Under the Moon: Usagi’s First Kiss
Note that the dubbed 23 episodes will be available on Hulu for only a limited time. You can pre-order this fancy DVD/Blu-Ray box set that is scheduled for release in November. Personally, I can’t wait for more dubbed episodes to be released. The first 23 episodes have shown that Sailor Moon fans are getting a proper, wonderfully done English dub that was long overdue.