Sailor Moon: In Defense of the Dub

For anyone who has been to my (woefully out of date) website, you will know that my pseudonym, Darren Endymion, came about because of a series of Sailor Moon related coincidences which I decided to take as a writing name (hoping it didn’t come off as a bad porn name or a pretentious boobery of a mythology reference). But, we’re not here to discuss my fake name.

This is the reason we're here. So, pay attention, or you will be the name of the Moon!

This is the reason we’re here. So, pay attention, or you will be punished…in the name of the Moon!

Many years ago, my cousin gave me an old VHS tape of recorded Sailor Moon Super S episodes (the 4th season, the Pegasus/Dream season) for something to watch as I was partaking in some random creative endeavor with a friend. They were for background purposes and I was warned that this season was not the best. And it isn’t, but I loved it. Even though it was just a series of Monster of the Day episodes (more than any other season), it was just so freekin’ charming. About 917 episodes of the Amazon Trio later, they had a story arc that got good.

The Amazon Trio. We will refer to this picture later.

The Amazon Trio. We will refer to this picture later.

As I ran out of Super S episodes (right after the Amazon Trio bailed), the original DiC seasons were released on DVD. I decided to get the first one for the hell of it so I could see how it all started. It was amazing. However, imagine if your favorite show was hacked up, tortured into submission, re-voiced, and then had anything remotely controversial removed (spitting a drink, cross-dressing, gay love, death, etc.). Sounds horrible, right? You will get some people who will say yes, who turn their noses up at the English dubbed version that got them into Sailor Moon in the first place. I fling poo in their general direction.

The DiC dubs were travesties, sucking much of the life and drama out of the series, but there is something charming and cute about them. I made myself stretch out the episodes as though they were really airing on TV again. Each DVD release date was a day I looked forward to. They turned gay lovers into cousins, making things worse than what they intended to avoid…

"Cousins"? Not unless you live in Alabama.

“Cousins”? Not unless you live in Alabama. They are both female, btw.

They changed males to females if there was gayness about them (Zoicite and FishEye, I’m looking at you…see that picture above of the Amazon Trio? All men. Let that sink in. This dub, while not by DiC, still changed the one in the middle to female). They refused to touch Sailor Stars, not only because the popularity was fading, but because no amount of editing and lies could change the gender-bending Sailor Stars into anything palatable for American children.

The Sailor Stars, before and after transformation. You see? amazing season.

The Sailor Stars, before and after transformation. Male before, female after.

I loved the dubs, every second of them — even that abysmal first voice for Rini — because they are cute, happy pieces of wonderful. They make me happy when I’m down. They are bottled joy. Hacked? Obviously. Death became captured by the Negaverse. Made utterly PC? Yes. Is Sailor Moon Says terrible? Every second. And I love it all.

I have watched every episode in both English and uncut Japanese, and I love both. I will still watch both, depending on what mood I am in. There’s no question that the original uncut Japanese is vastly superior in almost every possible way. Yet the dub made obscure Japanese jokes and language/cultural idioms relateable to American audiences. They are homogenized, incomplete, and lacking something from the original. But they bring to the table a feeling all their own.

You want drama, suspense, death, gender bending, gayness, pain, and love? You want the main male character’s questionable friendship with other males? Cross-dressing villains? Go to the Japanese versions. Check out Stars. If Serena/Usagi’s scream at the end doesn’t give you chills, you may not be human. You want fluffy, funny, Americanized goofiness where the heroes call the villains tacky tarts, swamp witches, trashy has-beens, et al? Go for the dub.

With the first episode of the new series airing this past weekend after something like 20 years, and set to air a new episode every two weeks, you can expect at least two Sailor Moon related posts a month as I geek out and say hello to some old friends.



~ by Darren Endymion on July 7, 2014.

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