Like I mentioned in my last post —
— the original dub of Sailor Moon has attracted its fair share of controversy since its original run, especially as it became progressively easier to get access to the original Japanese version so people could see what they’ve been missing.
My own brief research into the matter show the fanbase broken into two major factions: the ones who care enough about the integrity of the original Japanese version to adamantly defend its honour at all costs, and the people who essentially grew up with 90s dub and are nostalgic for what is basically the only version of Sailor Moon they’ve ever known.
For what it’s worth, I’d probably be one of the few that fall somewhere in the middle. I have a lot of fondness for the Sailor Moon of my childhood, but recognise that the original dub took a lot of liberties and made some weird choices, while having a few marked improvements (like, for example, calling them the “Sailor Scouts”).
Similarly, I think that the most recent dub is a definite improvement in terms of production values and professionalism, but the original dub is so ingrained into my psyche that adjusting to a different version is difficult. This is probably best exemplified by the characters’ names.
The original dub changed pretty much every last character’s names. Some fairly substantially: “Usagi” became “Serena”, “Naru” became “Molly” (and received the aforementioned Brooklyn accent). Others just got slightly altered to become more Anglicised: “Ami” became “Amy”, “Rei” became “Raye”.
Notably, the new names were incredibly inconsistent whether characters ended up with English or Japanese surnames. Sailor Moon got a new, English first name, but her last name stayed Tsukino, Naru ended up with the completely English “Molly Baker”, Sailor Mercury ended up as “Amy Anderson”, the only Sailor not to keep her original last name.
This is especially bemusing, given that the show is still clearly set in Tokyo. Granted, according to Wikipedia, there are more than 17,000 Americans living in Tokyo, though that number would have been lower back in the 90s…
This makes watching the new dub a rather jarring. I’ll be sitting there going “Who’s Usagi? Her name is — Oh … right.”
I (repeatedly) mentioned Naru/Molly’s Brooklyn accent. And, honestly, rewatching episodes of the original dub, I can feel myself grinning like an idiot every time she opens her mouth. It’s just such a weird choice.
I’ve read that it was apparently supposed to be the English equivalent of the Kansai accent she has in the Japanese version. I don’t know if that’s true, but whatever the reason, I was actually disappointed it didn’t survive into the new dub, where it feels like she gets a better-delivered performance, but ends up with less individuality by sounding just like everyone else.
Speaking of weird accents, Luna‘s voice has been likened by TvTropes to either Mary Poppins, or Angela Lansbury. And Sailor Mercury sounds like a vaguely Scottish middle-aged woman. The other Sailors are all good performances, but I feel like Venus should have Mars’s voice and Jupiter should have Venus’s.
Sailor Moon herself had three voice actresses in the original dub. The first is probably the best. The second is a really good performance, but comes across as too mature and composed for a character who’s a self-admitted airhead and crybaby. And the third paradoxically manages to be my favourite performance of the three when in a vacuum, but also the worst fit for the Sailor Moon character.
And, for what it’s worth, Sailor Moon’s mom is
a total babe a surprisingly solid performance for character largely relegated to the background.
Going straight from watching an episode of the original dub to the same episode of the newer dub, it’s immediately apparent that the Viz dub has a bigger budget, better actors, and more attentiveness for the original Japanese script. I will admit I certain level of “I don’t like this” to the new dub, but that’s not because it’s bad. Like I said, the original dub is so fixed in my memory that it’s shocking to hear the characters I grew up with sounding so different.
There’s nothing as immediately noticeable in terms of criticisms in the new dub, though I feel like Mars doesn’t always emote enough, though I think that may just be an attempt to convey her a stoic and serious, rather than a flaw in the performance.
As it happens, I recognise most of the cast from the various recent Fire Emblems.
And, as a final note, rewatching episodes of the original anime, I’ve come to the conclusion that the sunglasses Tuxedo Mask wears in his everyday life cover more of his face than his Tuxedo Mask mask.