For a lot of English- speaking Sailor Moon fans their first introduction to Sailor Moon was the DiC Entertainment English- language release which premiered in North America in 1995. I can still remember when I first sat down and watched Sailor Moon as a child in 1996. I was immediately hooked. The theme song was catchy, I loved the transformation and magical attack scenes, and that all of the heroes were girls. I didn't realise at the time that the show was an adaptation of a Japanese anime and manga. It would be years later, once I got a little bit more internet savvy, that I would figure that out and discover the original Japanese version of the show and the manga it was based on. I can remember at the time that there was a lot of disdain online for the DiC adaptation of Sailor Moon. A lot of fans hated it and judged people who liked it, claiming that the original anime was better. They weren't wrong to dislike the DiC dub of the show. It wasn't the most faithful adaptation.
DiC Entertainment won the licencing rights for the first two seasons of the show in 1995 after winning a bidding war with Toon Makers, who had wanted to make a live-action, half animated, version of Sailor Moon. The Canada based Optimum Productions was hired by DiC to dub the anime for an English-language release in North America. The DiC release of Sailor Moon was marketed and released as a children's show in North America to capitalise on the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In order for the show to be labelled suitable for children, Sailor Moon's English release was subject to heavy editing, with lots of cuts made to content and length. The names of the characters were changed from Japanese to English, Japanese signage was removed and replaced with English writing, dialogue was rewritten, scenes involving nudity, bathing or violence was censored, homosexual characters were rewritten and censored, the original background music was taken out and replaced with a new one written by Bob Summers, entire episodes were skipped and the final two episodes in season one had so much footage removed they were merged into a single episode.
I know this is probably nostalgia speaking, but I don't think the original English release of Sailor Moon was that bad. I definitely agree that a lot of the cuts and edits were pointless censorship and sometimes the acting, dialogue and music would be overwhelmingly corny, I would cringe so hard I would pull a jaw muscle. But it wasn't all bad. One of the things I did like about it was the original background sound effects and music. The songs were catchy, memorable, and magical. I would even go as far as to argue that they were sometimes better or on par with the original Japanese music score. In this article, I will list some of what I consider to be the best music from seasons one and two of Sailor Moon.
1. The Opening Theme Song "She's The One Named Sailor Moon"
Composer: Bob Summers
Lyrics: Andy Heyward, Monroe Michaels
Performers: Nicole Price, Brynne Price
The "Sailor Moon Theme Song" was composed by Bob Summers and was used as the North American theme song for the first four seasons of Sailor Moon and the films, The Promise of the Rose, Hearts in Ice and Black Dream Hole. The song uses the same melody of the Japanese theme song, Moonlight Legend, but has different lyrics. Is this song better than the original Japanese song? No, it's not. But that doesn't make it a bad song. It's just different. Moonlight Legend was used in the first four seasons of Sailor Moon, before it was replaced in season five with "Sailor Star Song".Moonlight Legend was a catchy, whimsical song. I really love the lyrics and how they describe the romantic relationship between Usagi and Mamoru. The song really captured the spirit of the show, the magic, and the romance. Moonlight Legends was a big hit in Japan. In 1995 the original single by Dali was certified Gold and the song was a popular karaoke song from 1991 to 2000.
The North American version of the song is completely different. The biggest difference between it and its Japanese counterpart is the lyrics. In Moonlight Legends, the lyrics read like a romantic poem, with grand descriptions of the love felt between Usagi and Mamoru. In the English version, the song has simpler lyrics and is more of a superhero anthem, that focuses on the central character of Sailor Moon and her fighting skills. It includes iconic lines like "Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, she is the one named Sailor Moon".
It's clear that the North American song was rewritten to put a stronger focus on the fighting aspects of the show, rather than the romance. I suspect this was probably done in the hope that the show would be compared to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers which was super popular at the time. I really like this song. It's not as iconic as Moonlight Legends, but it's not terrible either. I like the creepy, build up at the beginning, the heavy rock guitar sounds, the memorable lyrics, and the strong focus on girl power. I also really prefer the North American opening visuals compared to the ones that were used in the Japanese version. The imagery used in the English version really matches the fighting vibe of the song.
2. The New Transformation and Background Music
Composer: Bob Summers
For all its flaws, the English dub of Sailor Moon had amazing background music that in a lot of cases surpassed the original Japanese music. Bob Summers did a wonderful job composing different and unique styles of music for the characters and the transformations, battles and attack scenes. Just compare this English clip which shows Serena transform into Sailor Moon for the first time with this Japanese clip that shows Usagi's first transformation into our favourite sailor-suited heroine. The difference between the two musical styles is quite big. The Japanese music uses background vocals and has a strong jazz sound to it. The English music has no background vocals and uses full orchestra sounds and computer special effects to make the scene a lot more grand, sweeping and magical. It feels a lot more like a superhero theme and has strong girl power vibes.
In the video above you will be able to see a selection of the different styles of music that were used in the English dub. At 0.44 seconds the action theme song called "Sailor Jupiter" begins which was used during transformation, battle and attack scenes for the Sailor Guardians. I love the big brass sounds used in this track, the harp, and the strong drum beat. It is bold and heroic and works wonderfully as a fighting anthem. The Japanese counterpart to this track can be heard here. It features background vocals, strings, and has more of a magical girl feel to it. It works fine, but I prefer the English version better because it feels more charged and has a strong action feel to it. At one minute and 36 seconds, the character theme song for Sailor Moon begins which is called "Moon Tiara Action". It features bass guitar and brass instruments and computer effects. It was used primarily when Sailor Moon threw her tiara at an enemy. At two minutes and eleven seconds, you can hear the theme song for Tuxedo Mask. I've always been fond of this track. The acoustic guitar sounds fit his character well and the mystery that surrounds him in the earlier seasons. My favourite original character song in the English dub is Luna's theme which can be heard in the video at three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. It uses heavy synthesizer sounds, computer effects and a harp to tell the audience that Luna is a magical, mysterious creature and not an ordinary cat.
3. Carry On
Composer: Michael Benghiat, Andy Heyward, John Miyagi Author
Lyrics: Michael Benghiat, Andy Heyward, John Miyagi Author
Performer: Jennifer Cihi
In the 40th and final episode of season one, Day of Destiny, the Sailor Guardians travel to the North Pole to battle Queen Beryl. Queen Beryl senses their arrival and sends the Doom and Gloom Girls, five of her strongest monsters, to destroy them before they can reach her. The monsters manage to kill off Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Venus and Sailor Jupiter. Sailor Moon goes on to face Queen Beryl alone and transforms into Princess Serena to vanquish her with her Moon Crescent Wand. As she raises her wand above her head to battle Queen Beryl, the song, Carry On, starts to play in the background.
Carry On is a character theme song for the Sailor Guardians that was developed for the English dub of Sailor Moon. It replaces Moonlight Legend, which was used during Princess Serenity's final battle with Queen Beryl in the Japanese anime. I consider Carry On is to be vastly superior to Moonlight Legend in this scene. It has a strong hard rock feel and the lyrics were written to match the scene with lines like:
Here I'm standing in the night.
My crescent wand the only light.
Alone against my darkest fear
But I sense my friends are near
I'll draw from each the power I need
The evil Queen we will defeat.
Moonlight Legend is a great song, but I don't think its a great fit for this moment in the show. It's a love song, not a battle song. It does have its moments though. I like the part when the Princess calls on the spirit of the Sailor Guardians to lend their strength to her and their hands reach up, one by one, and grasp hold of her wand. The song reaches a crescendo and we hear the lines "Coming across a strange miracle…we will meet again and again…" It's a powerful moment and a great conclusion to the battle with Queen Beryl. To watch the English clip featuring Carry On, click here. To view the original Japanese clip, follow this link.
Which song do you think is better suited to this scene? Carry On or Moonlight Legend?
4. She's Got The Power
Composer: Michael Benghiat, Andy Heyward, Matt McGuire
Lyrics: Michael Benghiat, Andy Heyward, Matt McGuire
Performer: Stan Bush
"She's Got the Power" is featured in the 21st episode of season two, Naughty 'N' Nice, when Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians go up against Rubeus and the Negamoon Sisters to protect Rini (Chibi- Usa) from them. She's Got the Power is my favourite English song. It is wonderfully written, fits Sailor Moon's character perfectly, Stan Bush is amazing in it, and the hard rock sound is just epic. She's Got the Power replaced the very popular Japanese song, La Soldier, in the episode. La Soldier is a terrific, fast-paced song, that suits the scene and the battle very well. It opens with an intense dance beat and is a mixture of rock and dance. So which song is better in the episode, She's Got the Power or La Soldier? I think they are both excellent and very similar to each other. If I had to choose a winner, it would be She's Got the Power, due to the lyrics and how well they match the scene. The song begins with a synthesizer playing a deep, low note, and then builds up speed with guitar and drum sounds. The lyrics include descriptions of the fight like:
Oh, oh! A crash of thunder
A brilliant flash of light
A battle has begun
And only one will win the fight
Danger in the air
Destroying everything in sight
The time has come to right the wrong
With Prism Power might!
The song does a great job capturing Sailor Moon's heroic side and acting as a character anthem for her. To watch the scene it appeared in, click here. If you would like to listen to La Soldier, check out this video.
5. My Only Love
Composer: Michael Benghiat, Andy Heyward, John Miyagi Author, Monroe Michaels
Lyrics: Michael Benghiat, Andy Heyward, John Miyagi Author
Performers: Jennifer Cihi, Sandy Howell
In 30th episode of season one, A Crystal Clear Destiny, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask reveal their secret identities to each other. After Tuxedo Mask is seriously injured in a fight, Sailor Moon's tears form the Imperium Silver Crystal and she awakens into Princess Serena. It is at this moment that "My Only Love" starts playing in the background.
My Only Love is an original English character song for Sailor Moon. It replaced the Japanese song, Illusionary Silver Crystal, which was written by Naoko Takeuchi, the creator and author of the Sailor Moon manga. I really love the lyrics in the Japanese songs. They are absolutely beautiful, like this verse from Illusionary Silver Crystal:
Where is it? In the legendary stars
A quiet light emits,
a silver crystal (believe in it)
Connecting with you, this moment, so quiet
From the tips of your eyelashes, the silver crystal falls
Now hug me forever
Illusionary Silver Crystal features strings, piano, guitar, and soft vocals. It is a slow, dreamy song, that ties in well with the reveal of the Moon Princess and the discovery of the Silver Crystal. How does Illusionary Silver Crystal compare to My Only Love?My Only Love has a very similar sound to Illusionary Silver Crystal, except it is more of a rock ballad. The lyrics are wonderfully written and Jennifer Cihi pours so much emotion into her voice. The song really understands the relationship between Serena (Usagi) and Darien (Mamoru) and the love that they share for each other deep down. The opening verse is my favourite:
Deep in my soul
Love so strong
It takes control
Now we both know
The secrets bared
The feelings show
So which song is better, Illusionary Silver Crystal or My Only Love? I think the winner here is My Only Love, because of all the emotion in the song and how it is a little bit more fast-paced. The song also answers a lot of questions about Serena and Darien's relationship and their feelings for each other.