Taking a cue from every mid 90s geocities website we spend a good half hour talking about the DiC dub of Sailor Moon. But with fewer sparkly gifs.
When Toei Animation approached Naoko Takeuchi about adapting her existing magical girl manga series ‘Codename Sailor V’, she had a better idea. Rather than reproduce the already existing concept she pitched an idea for combining the original licence with the Super Sentai genre to produce a magical girl team show, known as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. Originally envisioned as being a single one-off story arc, the immense popularity of the show led to it being continued for a further four seasons, three feature films, a tv special and three film shorts.
Meanwhile in America, the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a live action series which took a japanese Super Sentai show’s action sequences and repurposed them opened up a previously niche market for the adaptation of Japanese television. Never ones to pass up the opportunity to emulate a far more successful rival, Andy Heyward and the team at DiC jumped on the opportunity and licenced the first two seasons of Sailor Moon for American television.
DiC made numerous changes to the show to make it suitable for its target American market. Entire episodes were cut due to unsavory content, while art was changed to minimise suggestions of sexuality or violence. A romantic subplot between two male characters was removed with a gender swap of one of the pair. Despite the often blatant references to Japanese culture and locations, the character names were anglicised and the show was implied to take place in America. Finally, each episode was ended with a ‘Sailor Moon says’ PSA which repurposed footage from the episode to convey a moral or social message to the viewers.
The show, however was a disappointment. Instead of the Power Rangers scale success DiC was anticipating, Sailor Moon had poor ratings in syndication in the US, and some minor success in Canada. DiC ended translation duties after their 65th episode, abandoning the show just before the climax of the second season. The show would not be picked up again until the year 2000 when viewings of reruns of the show on Cartoon Network would lead Cloverway (Toei’s US branch) to continue the dub.