Finally, I discuss one of the most hotly contested cases of DiC’s editing: the final episode(s) of Classic Sailor Moon*.
Classic dealt with the Sailor Soldiers awakening as warriors, fighting the Dark Kingdom, and eventually facing the Dark Kingdom’s leader, Queen Beryl, head-on. In general, DiC’s story arc was the same. Yes, there were plenty of adjustments along the way, but the trajectory was roughly the same. In the finale of the season, however, DiC made some of their biggest edits which affect both plot and character development. First off, they erase significant character deaths. Later, an extensive battle is cut out. Additionally, the last stand-off with Queen Beryl is quite altered. Finally, the end of the series changes from a reincarnation story to one of memory loss.
1. Inner Soldiers: Dead or Kidnapped?
In the Toei original, the final confrontation with Queen Beryl was drawn out over two episodes. Over the course of this two-part finale, each of the Inner Soldiers die while fighting some of the Dark Kingdom’s most powerful monsters. The deaths are not a surprise, since the episode’s title is “The Sailor Senshi Die! The Tragic Final Battle”, but they are still emotional and each of them get to go out with strength and honor.
In their ongoing quest to eliminate anything frightening or objectionable, DiC removed the Inner Soldiers’ deaths, saying instead that they were abducted into the Negaverse. This removes the emotional impact of the characters’ deaths not only from the audience, but from Sailor Moon as well. Whereas, in the original, she went on to fight Queen Beryl with the intent of avenging her friends and carrying their memories in her heart, in DiC’s version she is fighting to rescue them and hoping to see them again. This changes her character arc, but I’m not sure it does so for the better or worse.
In both versions Sailor Moon has to fight her greatest enemy to date without the help of her friends. We still see her developing her own abilities as a warrior and learning to be brave on her own. In Toei’s presentation she is cheered on by her friends’ spirits and realizes that she’s never alone, while in DiC’s she is alone, but fights anyway in order to save her friends. Toei emphasizes the bond of the soldiers, while DiC emphasizes the growth of our main character.
2. Final moments between Sailor Moon and Prince Endymion
DiC also cuts out a long and violent battle between Sailor Moon and Prince Endymion, her brainwashed lover. The battle is really quite hard to watch as he attacks her relentlessly and she is clearly in pain, but resists fighting back because of her feelings for him. Eventually, however, she remembers her friends’ sacrifices and finally fights back so that they will not have died in vain. It’s a wonderful outcome, seeing her stand up for herself and her friends, but it does take quite a long and painful road to get there and I’m not surprised or even upset that DiC cut straight to her fighting back and eventually healing him.
Here, DiC seemingly cuts or at least softens another character death. In the original, after Prince Endymion is healed, he dies defending Sailor Moon from an attack by Queen Beryl. In DiC’s version, it seems that he does still die, but the following scene in which Sailor Moon holds his body and says her goodbyes is cut and as such it’s not clear whether he died or was just severely injured.
3. Final Showdown
Toei’s version of the battle with Queen Beryl is quite a bit longer than DiC’s and involves a lot more talk between Beryl and Princess Serenity. When Serenity feels herself being overcome by Beryl, she asks the Silver Crystal to reaffirm her belief in the world she’s defending. She is then shown memories of her friends and they reappear by her side, giving her the strength to defeat the Dark Kingdom’s Queen. During the battle, the show’s theme song “Moonlight Densetsu” is played.
DiC’s version sees Princess Serena instead hear the call of her friends offering her support, seemingly from across whatever void separates our world from the Negaverse. Their presence then becomes physical as they break out of their imprisonment and appear at the Princess’s side. During DiC’s battle, an original song titled “Carry On” plays over the action.
4. Why doesn’t anyone remember anything?
Originally, Sailor Moon died after the Silver Crystal used all of her energy to defeat Queen Beryl. With her last breaths she wished that she and her friends could return to their normal lives, before they were awakened as Soldiers. This wish is granted, but in doing so, the girls forget everything about being Soldiers, including being friends. Since DiC eliminated all of the character deaths, reincarnation wouldn’t make sense. They wrote instead that the girls all forgot who they were after Queen Beryl was defeated. Though it was never stated explicitly, I always interpreted the memory loss as such: the Sailor Scouts were only awakened to fight the Negaverse. Since the Negaverse was defeated, these identities went dormant again, along with all memories linked with them.
Honestly, this is one case in which I can’t pick a clear-cut winner. On the one hand, Toei’s version is more mature and emotional. There are parts that are hard to watch, but do lead to rewarding payoffs. On the other hand, DiC’s alterations make it more palatable and still manage unique and worthwhile character development. They cut out a lot of action early on, but make their final battle more thrilling with quicker pacing and a great song.
This one’s a draw. If I were pressed to make some kind of decision, I would say that the rising action was better in Toei’s version, but the actual climax was far superior in DiC’s.
*Classic Sailor Moon or Sailor Moon: Classic are the titles many fans assign to the first season of the anime. Since all the following seasons had secondary identifying titles (Sailor Moon: Romance, Sailor Moon: Super, etc.) and the original was simply Sailor Moon, I’ll be referring to this season as “Classic” in order to clarify that I’m discussing just this one arc and not the series as a whole.