Hello all! Today I’d like to write a post I’ve wanted to try for a while, but which I’ve put off as I wasn’t sure how exactly to structure it. One of my favorite aspects of Sailor Moon is the music. In every incarnation (except the manga, of course) there’s excellent music which aids the storytelling. The only downside to this, however, is the fact that such an abundance of music makes it difficult to whittle the field down to just ten exemplary pieces. In order to aid myself in tackling this feat, I have decided to limit myself only to the anime (I could not possibly pick just ten if I let myself go into the musicals’ oeuvre) and present my top five songs from the original and top five songs from the English dub.
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.
So, I talk about Sailor Moon a lot. I’ve been a fan of the show for years and, like most English-speaking Moonies, I was introduced to it by the English dub produced by DiC Entertainment. As such, I have a lot of affection for the dub and will defend many aspects of it. I don’t believe that one country’s adaptation of another country’s entertainment needs to be a carbon copy of the original. I’ll take into account cultural differences and marketability concerns because they are huge factors to consider when making a product for mass consumption, and, in the past, I have mostly sided with DiC in their decisions. There are times, however, when I have to state that DiC made the wrong choice, and I believe that is the case with how they handled the character of Rei.
My Sailor Moon kick continues!
While the DiC dub of Sailor Moon remains a sore spot and source of endless debate among fans of the anime, one thing most of us fans agree on is that DiC created some excellent music for the series. DiC went through the effort of creating tons of new music for the show when they dubbed it, and didn’t limit themselves only to replacing the songs. The company went so far as to re-do the instrumental themes giving their version of the series a completely new and unique atmosphere. Some fans may go so far as to say it was better than the original music, but that’s opening up a whole other argument that we don’t need to have right now.
What I feel is worth focusing on here is that, free of favorable or disparaging comparisons, the DiC score was, by its own merits, a very good score. As such, many fans have long wanted it to be released for purchase in its entirety and with the current worldwide revival of Sailor Moon in all her incarnations, but especially the anime, now is the time to make our voices heard. In order to do so, a petition has been started asking La La Land Records to release the full soundtrack.
The group’s Facebook page can be found here and includes some of the great music we can hope to purchase if the soundtrack is ever released. Since the tracks weren’t released, these previews were pieced together from various episodes and are incomplete. Hearing these themes carefully re-constructed by fans gives a hint of what can come and it’s wonderful to hear the music. The actual petition (which will be presented once it reaches 500 signatures) can be found here. A similar online petition is responsible for the recent release of a soundtrack for Batman: The Animated Series so there is a precedent for this request.
Please sign the petition and pass on the word! Hopefully we can get this made and enjoy DiC’s lovely soundtrack in its entirety.
In the second season of the Sailor Moon anime there is a plot in which the character Chibiusa is turned evil by the villain Wiseman, who plays on her insecurities and infuses her with powers that cause her to develop into a full-grown woman. In the original anime produced by Toei Animation this evil incarnation is known as Black Lady, while in DiC’s English dub of the series she is instead called Wicked Lady. Like almost every change DiC made to the series in their dub, this has been a point of contention among fans, many of whom believe the show should have been dubbed with as few changes as possible. I don’t personally support this view and while I don’t think all of the English dub’s changes were good, I will use this article to explain why I support DiC in this particular instance.
When Takeuchi Naoko wrote the second arc of her Sailor Moon manga, she created a group of villains known as the Black Moon Clan. The group was identified by the downward-pointing, black crescent moon marking on their forehead, in opposition to the White Moon Clan with their upright, golden crescent moon insignia. As you can see from the above picture, color was a large portion of these villains’ identities and the color black was the most predominant and unified feature of their group: Black Moon Clan, black insignia, their power came from the Black Crystal, etc. and this remained the case when Toei adapted this arc into the second season of the anime.
When it came time for DiC to dub this section of the anime, however, most of these color identities were modified or ignored. The villains were simply Rubeus, Diamond, Emerald, and Sapphire without their “the Red”, “the White”, etc. subtitles and the word “Black” was eliminated entirely from their group. They were instead called the Negamoon Family and used the power of the Dark Crystal. Since the word “Black” no longer appeared in these villains’ name, when Rini (Chibiusa) was turned evil, she was not called Black Lady but instead Wicked Lady.
Why was this change made? It’s probably pretty obvious: the title “Black Lady” sounds extremely racist and when the name is used to imply that she is evil it becomes even more problematic. The main reason I’m writing this article today is because I saw someone make the comment “If Black Lady is racist then so is black coffee” and I just felt the need to fully express how much I support DiC’s change in this case.
First off, in case anyone thinks the coffee example is an acceptable argument; it’s not. Coffee is not a person and therefore cannot experience racism. Are we all on the same page there? Good, I’m glad.
More importantly, the real problem here is using “Black” as shorthand for “bad”. It’s not that this is inherently racist (when referring to things other than people), after all, darkness has long been seen as threatening and frightening and I’m sure that’s the connotation Naoko was going for when she created these villains: the distinction between light and dark. The thing is, when this comes over to the English-speaking world (and in particular the United States) where historically black people have been mistreated and dehumanized at the hands of white people, using “White” to mean good and “Black” to mean evil becomes a problem.
It’s been a part of our culture to hear “Black person” and instantly think negatively about them and while there has arguably been improvement since the days of legal segregation, modern children still have negative attitudes towards Blacks and there is absolutely no need to keep reinforcing those attitudes with children’s entertainment. DiC may have been more concerned with being politically correct than with actually fighting a culture of racism, but either way they still made the right decision in using the word “Wicked” to identify evil rather than “Black”.
When DiC created the English dub of Toei’s anime Sailor Moon, many things were changed. Some of the changes were done to make the show more appealing to English-speaking audiences, but many were made to censor out elements which were deemed inappropriate for the show. One of the more glaring examples of censorship in the English dub of Sailor Moon is the handling of the character Zoisite (spelled “Zoycite” in DiC’s version). Zoisite was one of the Shitennou, or “Four Heavenly Kings”, and, in the anime, was romantically linked with the Shitennou’s leader, Kunzite. Zoisite and Kunzite were also both men, and therein lay the problem for DiC when they were creating the English dub of the series.
Since there was virtually no mainstream market for anime in the English-speaking world at the time Sailor Moon was being produced, DiC needed to make the show fit in with standard programming at the time. One of the standards of programming was that animation was for kids, so DiC marketed Sailor Moon to that young demographic. In doing so, there were many things that had to be changed about the show to make it more acceptable to parents, councils, and the like, so anything bloody was removed, words like “death” or “kill” were never used, and most examples of non-Western spirituality were toned down or cut out. With this approach to adapting the series, it’s pretty easy to see that the homosexual romance was never going to make it into the English version, so how was it handled? By making the man Zoisite into the woman Zoycite.
Most fans will point this out as one of the most insulting acts on DiC’s part, whether they’re dub supporters or dub haters, but to be honest, I’m not too angry about this decision.