As the anime crowd will tell you it’s been a big year for Sailor Moon fans! A reboot was announced that would be simulcast. The entire original series, movies, TV specials, and even the manga have been relicensed and remastered for an eventual BluRay release. A new dub is in the works. Heck, the show might even return to American TV at one point! There’s so much going on that there couldn’t possibly be more out there to love right? Well, as it turns out there IS something out there to love, and it’s pretty cool…if you were introduced to the very original dub by DiC Entertainment. First some history: Back in 1995 before all of this happened, “Sailor Moon” was simply a syndicated show in America that was dubbed by a little animation company called DiC.
The original dub has gone down in history as a lousy adaptation of the show that was edited for kids beyond what was needed to be, with a new soundtrack that did not make fans of the original happy. As someone who lived through this trust me when I say that it felt like a punch in the stomach when we eventually stumbled upon the original version of the show and realized that we had been sold a second hand product all these years. Back then it was easy to dislike the American dub for being the only version legally available to buy (and keep in mind kids there was no YouTube or BitTorrent to stream the original episodes on). Sometime has gone by though and now that there was a period where the original versions DID make their way to DVD it’s easy to look back at the DiC edition with much more fondness and nostalgia!
In truth the dub really wasn’t THAT bad in retrospect! The replaced music was certainly not as bad as the replaced music “Dragon Ball Z” got. The voice actors were very good in their roles and could rival the original Japanese cast for authenticity. The new names weren’t terrible (if they were changed at all). For all the toning down of the violence many of the hard themes remained intact to a certain extent. And honestly, if we had known what 4Kids Entertainment was going to do with the anime THEY picked up (*cough*”One Pience*cough*) we would have never complained in the first place! In short, with options available it was easy to appreciate the dub on its own right, and without it who knows if Sailor Moon would have been accepted by Americans as well as it ultimately ended up being.
In fact, when the third and fourth seasons of the show were dubbed by Cloverway we realized just how good we had it. Sure those seasons kept the original music in tact (even some of the Japanese songs were left undubbed), but the acting was far worse, the actors (or, the new ones anyway) not nearly as comfortable in their roles, and the new season dubs seemed incompatible with what came before. Oh and if you were a kid good luck letting your parents watch it because the edited family version was never released on DVD. One area where everyone got hosed was the final season of the show, which never reached America in any form. For years fans subtitled the show and some even attempted to do their own fan dubs of the show.
Fan dubs are notorious for being difficult to produce and very time consuming. If a fan ever complains about a dub being terrible they will usually never complain about it again if they their hands at making their own dub. Years ago I saw lots of these uncut “Sailor Stars” (the name of the final season) fan dubs with the original music and everything, but the quality was never any…well, good. Yesterday though I discovered something that I never thought I would see: A good “Sailor Stars” fan dub. No really, I’m dead serious about this. I have seen a fan dub from a group of fans called Fighter4Luv Fandubs (yeah, it’s still the internet) who decided to take it upon themselves to dub the elusive final season.
What’s more, they decided to dub it in the vein of the original DiC dub. That means using the American theme song, names, getting sound alikes for the original English cast, using the DiC music (except in certain scenes where you most likely wouldn’t want to replace the music), and even going so far as to editing it as if it were going to air on kids TV! Why, they even make their own “Sailor Says” segments at the end…which truthfully was the one part of the original dub everyone universally hated, but somehow in this case it’s kind of cool that they’re going so far to stick with tradition. What are the results of these fans hard labor (and make no mistake it is hard work to make one of these things)? The results are fantastic, absolutely fantastic!
The acting is great. The voice actors sound so eerily similar to many of the original actors (especially Serena, Lita, and Mina) that for a moment or two I thought they had managed to get the original voice actors back. In a couple cases (AKA: The Outer Scouts) the fans picked better voices than the studios did! The recording of the dialog is of professional quality. Not only is the acting good, but unlike fan dubs of the olden days there is no “microphone echo” from poor recording equipment. Alright, so there’s a LITTLE microphone echo from a couple of the actors, but otherwise there really isn’t much! Most of the old fan dubs of this series kept the original music because dubbing over the dialog was a big enough job in itself. With this dub though a lot of the original DiC music is used in the show. They even did a new opening with the classic DiC opening (which arguably has achieved legend status in the anime community).
The music is integrated into the dub so flawlessly though that the dialog and sound effect never conflict with it. Absolutely amazing! To make the dub even more like the original DiC show these guys have reused/created new computer animation segway’s that were used in the old dub. These were kind of corny at times, but they were distinct looking so it’s nice to see them again. Finally if you’re a parent whose introducing your kids to Sailor Moon through the DiC dub then you will be happy to know that minor edits have been made to make this “Sailor Stars” fun dub child friendly…for the time being (more on that in a moment). Alright, so these guys have managed to make a dub of “Sailor Stars” DiC might have made. What makes this such a big deal?
The big deal is that this is a great little “what if” you get to see. What if DiC had gotten to the final season of “Sailor Moon?” What would it look and sound like? How would it play? Chances are it would look a lot like this. There are nine episodes up with a tenth on its way, which means the show is currently 26% finished. Since this fan dub coming out as professional as it feels is a miracle in itself I’m not going to nitpick about what they might be doing right or wrong. However I am going to make a few suggestions that they will hopefully take to heart from a genuine fan of what they are doing. I have read the mission statement and apparently one of the changes that the dub is making is that they are going to dub the show uncut from this point on.
In my humble opinion this would be a mistake for a few reasons. The first is that this is CLEARLY a homage to the original DiC dub in terms of tone and dialog! If you are watching this fan dub you are watching this because you are a fan of the original dub, and people who like the original dub were never bothered by the editing in the first place. Secondly for legal reasons it would be a good idea to continue editing and scripting the dialog like the DiC dub. Now that Viz has the rights to the original series they are going to make an uncut dub of the final season.
Not only that, but they will do it much better than you guys will. Alright maybe they won’t (these guys have been doing such a good job) but by continuing with the editing, music changes, and DiC like script jokes you can continue to push it as a homage/parody of the original dub and actually keep doing this legally (passing it off as a parody would be true as well as protected by US law). Finally on a more personal level we need to admit something to ourselves: “Sailor Stars” never made it to America because this particular season was very dark and mature in nature. So much so that Toei Animation just didn’t want to toy with the idea because it could ruin Sailor Moon’s reputation in America with parents.
Clearly they aren’t as concerned about that now but that doesn’t change the fact that the final season is going to be more TV-14 than TV-PG for most American parents. I would personally love to have a family friendly version of the final season of this show to show my kids when I introduced them to Sailor Moon (or at least when I introduce my honorary niece Ramona to the show in a few years). Plus most of the concern came from the final episode which…well, if you know about it you know why it would have been a touchy subject. Wouldn’t it be great if fans could crack the problem of making the final episode suitable for kids viewing? If nothing else this would just be proof to Toei that the final season COULD be made suitable for American’s, and that their freaking out over the situation was just plain silly!
Right now the new episodes have dubs of the original songs because of copyright problems. If we have to make that sacrifice to get this on the video networks then so be it, but when the show is completed and shared through bit torrent sites hopefully the custom made opening with the DiC theme can be used. Who knows if these fans will be able to finish the dub due to time and resources, but if they’ve already finished 26% of the show I suppose there is no reason we can’t hope that the rest will be finished. You can watch the fan dub here and maybe even volunteer your time or donate a few bucks to help production of the rest of the episodes. Legally they can’t Kickstart this, so I’m sure they’d appreciate fan donations. I’ll have another editorial later on with some (friendly) tips that may be able to help speed the process of the dubbing up, but for now all I can say is great job guys!