DIC's Dub made Sailor Moon popular in North America

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Jun 24, 2014
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#1
I know there is a lot of debate about the censorship that was done to Sailor Moon in the 90's English dub by DIC and the quality of their dub is not something I want to get into here. I just feel regardless of how you personally feel about DIC's dub of Sailor Moon that they at the very least deserve credit for making Sailor Moon as popular as it was in North America in the late 90's and early 2000's. The fact is the censorship choices were a necessary evil in order to be able to market Sailor Moon as a kids show here. Sailor Moon was aired heavily in syndication when it premiered here in 1995 and even though it was not initially popular in syndication this same dub was able to later air on Cartoon Network's kid friendly Toonami afternoon block and in Canada on YTV where it reached the highest level of popularity it has enjoyed here.

A lot of the merchandise from that era bears DIC's logo and there is no denying that their dubbed version of introduced a lot of people to Sailor Moon who later sought out the original Japanese dub and other versions of Sailor Moon. Had Sailor Moon been given an uncensored dub it would have not been able to air on TV and been given a direct to video release where it would have only developed a cult following through anime fans at the time. Whatever problems people have with DIC's dub they should atleast be thankful it exists because a lot of us wouldn't be here talking about Sailor Moon if it wasn't for that dub. DIC handled Sailor Moon a lot better than their dub of Saint Seiya in terms of exposure and merchandising and although DIC is now defunct they have earned an important place in Sailor Moon's history here.
 

mrploddy

Luna Crescens
Oct 11, 2003
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#2
Even though I don't like the DiC dub now I won't dispute the original dub had a large part to play in making Sailor Moon popular with the original American fanbase.

You're preaching to the choir on this one ;)

HOWEVER it's old news.

Without re-treading old ground the only place you will find it now is out of print DVD's / tapes. A re-release unless someone runs a kickstarter for it AND Naoko grant's permission for it ( I see pork flying...) isn't going to happen.
 

Neon Genesis

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Oct 31, 2015
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#3
I think Mixxzine's original English release of the manga also helped contribute to the series' popularity as it was a lot of fans' first exposure to the original uncut story.
 
May 14, 2016
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#4
I agree. I've asked on this forum before if pepole believe the Viz dub, if created and aired in the 90s would have been able to garner the same popularity and following. Most people said yes, but I disagree.

There was something about the 90s dub that hooked people. Between the cheesy dialogue and the catchy music, I genuinely think that at that time, that dub is the only one that could have seen so much success.

In part, this is because back then and even now to a degree the original Sailor Moon would not have aired on networks such as Toonami or YTV. MAYBE now, but not then, and even if it had I just don't think it would have been able to hook kids quite as well. The Dic dub was made to appeal to North American children - and that's what it did. Had it been released uncensored, it would have appealed to an older crowd and as OP said, would only have appealed to anime fans. Anime was still somewhat new to North America back then. Introducing it in the form of a kids show was a great idea.

Had it not been for Dic's dub we wouldn't have seen much, if ANY of the NA merchandise that exists today. The vintage, Irwin stuff anyway and maybe that wouldn't matter to a lot of you but I personally love the old NA merch. That's the main focus of my collection.

95% of the "how I discovered Sailor Moon" stories begin with "I watched it on TV before school when I was a kid-" and that right there proves that had it not been for that dub, most of us would not know about or enjoy Sailor Moon as much as we do today.
 

Mitsukara

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Apr 1, 2017
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#5
Yes. Not only did it get Sailor Moon released in America, it managed to keep a fair amount of the contact intact (Nephrite's story wasn't changed much for example).

The censored/cut content, like claiming Zoisite was female or skipping episode 2 or the parasol bit in episode 22 or all the season 1 finale cuts, they're unfortunate but I can see why it happened and how they would've had trouble airing it without those changes. I don't fault DiC for that stuff (though I do kinda fault America's unprogressive cultural elements of the 1990s, in general. ^_^' )

I am confused why they left out episode 6 though??

I would say that using more American-sounding names was also a neccesary compromise of the era, except that somehow Dragon Ball got away with not doing any of that and it did great in America, so uh, I guess that one's on DiC really? It probably seemed like the "safer" choice" though so I'm not too worried about it. Also, "Maxfield Stanton" is a gloriously shirtless-dude-on-a-romance-novel-cover/rich-dude-in-a-soap-opera kinda name and preserves the general sound of "Masato Sanjoin" to boot, I love that change.

I don't think replacing the music was necessary, at least for non-vocal songs (and almost every vocal song had an instrumental version made already) but music is enough of a matter of personal taste that many people disagree about which soundtrack is "better" so that's kind of subjective. I personally think the Arisawa Takanori soundtrack could've been left in 100% intact and that would've been fine, but whatever.

The acting is okay from what I heard (I especially like the first Serena, she was pretty good). Melvin sounds good too. The majority of the cast is fine. I think Nephrite's voice sounds a little silly with how over-gravelly it is, but whatever. Molly's accent is an attempt to stand in for her Osaka accent so I can't really fault them for that either.

The Shitennou's name changes are really incompetent, however. I don't understand how they knew enough about minerals to change Kunzite to Malachite (or why they did that), yet said messed up non-words like Jedite and Neflyte. I'm not sure if "Zoisite" was misspelled as "Zoysite" in any printed material or just pronounced that way, so that one much just be a pronunciation issue. It's confusing, though. Seriously, Neflyte sounds like some kinda plastic or teflon type substance, not a mineral, and these mineral names are English to begin with.

The only thing I really fault the DiC dubs for, that I really think they did wrong that they could've avoided, is overzealous rewriting or sloppy translation/not sticking to the tone of minor scenes on a routine basis. A bunch of little mischaracterizing moments (especially Rei) and dialogue that was excessively different. I especially think sticking a bunch of stuff from episode 44 at the beginning of episode 1 was a terrible choice which undermines the original writing for no good reason.

In those ways, I feel the editors did not respect the material very well and did a poor job, acting like they could write a better story on top of the real one when they really couldn't and cutting every scene of every episode apart and then stitching it back together in a clumsy fashion. These changes go beyond what was really necessary to get it on TV and are just obnoxious, and it's really that which makes it hard for me to sit through without groaning.

But that is still far better than not airing the show at all, and we owe a lot to it. It does indeed deserve a place in history, and I'm grateful for it's existence.

Also, we could've done much worse... look at that Saban demo reel. Yikes.
 

Neon Genesis

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#6
The DiC dub is by far the most important contributing factor to the success of Sailor Moon in North America, but I would say there was a number of different factors that contributed to it's success. As mentioned above, there was the original Mixxzine release of the manga, which was a lot of fans' first exposure to the original uncut story. The series also eventually did get uncut subtitled home video releases through ADV and Pioneer. There was also a rather aggressive toy and marketing campaign by DiC with the Irwin dolls and the Windows 95 computer game. Toonami also heavily advertised when they picked it up which was how a lot of fans discovered the series. While many fans discovered the show through the UPN broadcast, the series was nearly canceled the first time it was aired in the US, but the series was saved through the sales of the Irwin doll toys contributing to DiC buying the rest of R. Sailor Moon also benefited from having an active online community that was dedicated to sharing information and trading VHS fansub tapes and sharing video clips of the original. Yes, the DiC dub was the only way to get the show on the air in the 90s and it was the main contributing to the show's popularity, but it was a complex situation with a lot of factors involved. Other localized and rewritten dubs of magical girl anime like Tokyo Mew Mew, Ojamojo Doremi, and more recently Pretty Cure, have been less than successful at copying Sailor Moon's success in spite of their localized dubbing efforts.
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#7
Mitsukara said:
The Shitennou's name changes are really incompetent, however. I don't understand how they knew enough about minerals to change Kunzite to Malachite (or why they did that), yet said messed up non-words like Jedite and Neflyte. I'm not sure if "Zoisite" was misspelled as "Zoysite" in any printed material or just pronounced that way, so that one much just be a pronunciation issue. It's confusing, though. Seriously, Neflyte sounds like some kinda plastic or teflon type substance, not a mineral, and these mineral names are English to begin with.
Yeah, the names for the *Shitennou* (are they the Four Generals? Commanders? Masters of the Negaverse? There's no one definitive dub term for "Shitennou" so I don't really know what to call them) are a bit strange.

Kunzite was changed to Malachite presumably because "Kunzite" sounds a bit like a certain c word, and perhaps they wanted to avoid any potential controversy. Perhaps they thought "Malachite" would be an easier name for young viewers to learn/say. I don't know. In any event, that they chose a green mineral indicates they had some understanding of the Shitennou's naming convention.

Similarly, Zoisite was probably changed to Zoycite (yes, that's the official spelling) because some people have expressed concern that the mineral's name sounds like "suicide." (This is why zoisite is often called blue tanzanite instead.) Tweaking the name a bit avoids that. I think the spelling is stupid, but it's not like you ever see it in the show, so I'm not bothered by it. Her name is often pronounced more like "Zo-ih-site" than "Zoy-site" anyway, so I like to pretend her name wasn't changed.

Jadeite was probably changed (in spelling) to "Jedite" to avoid anyone pronouncing it "Jade-ite" (*cough* Viz *cough*). Since this change is only evident in writing, I'm not bothered by it.

Nephrite's dub name, on the other hand, is a mystery. I see no reason for its being changed. It can't just be a matter of poor transliteration, because they had to have known [neflite] isn't a mineral, and they obviously understood what the naming convention was. It's like they changed it just because. And clearly they enjoyed changing it because they kept changing its spelling. Different OFFICIAL publications give his name as Nephlite, Neflite, and Neflyte. Which is it people?
 

Neon Genesis

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Oct 31, 2015
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#8
I always assumed it was changed to Nephlite because the Japanese roll the r to sound like an l and they changed the spelling on how it sounded when pronounced.
 
Sep 6, 2014
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#9
MementoNepenthe said:
Yeah, the names for the *Shitennou* (are they the Four Generals? Commanders? Masters of the Negaverse? There's no one definitive dub term for "Shitennou" so I don't really know what to call them) are a bit strange.
For some reason I thought the Four Generals was the generally accepted dub term but now that I think about it I don’t think the dub ever referred to them by a collective term. Just descriptors like warriors for the negaverse. Granted I used Four Generals in reference to the original as well since the actual translation of shitenou is a bit awkward from a westerner perspective and generals gets the idea better.

Kunzite was changed to Malachite presumably because "Kunzite" sounds a bit like a certain c word, and perhaps they wanted to avoid any potential controversy. Perhaps they thought "Malachite" would be an easier name for young viewers to learn/say. I don't know. In any event, that they chose a green mineral indicates they had some understanding of the Shitennou's naming convention.
Isn’t it pronounced like KOON-Zite. Which has its own problems


[/quote]
 

Neon Genesis

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Oct 31, 2015
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#10
If I remember correctly, I think it was the ADV English subtitles that referred to the Four Heavenly Kings as the Four Generals.
 

C-17

Luna Nova
Mar 26, 2013
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#11
I don't understand how a horrible dub should be given credit for making a franchise, that was already proven successful all around the globe, popular.
Sailor Moon was a hit because of its interesting cast and themes, and the beautiful character designs. I'd say in North America's case the series got an audience in spite of its dub, rather than thanks to it.
 

Mitsukara

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#12
In terms of quality of presentation, yes, it's a testament to the original show's quality that people enjoyed it much more so than any of the dub's alterations.

The case being made for why the DiC dub was a good thing, is that Sailor Moon easily might've missed it's chance to be released in America in the 1990s at all. Many wildly popular, internationally popular Japanese properties were not imported at all, or altered beyond recognition with well over half their content missing (such as the Piower Rangers franchise being made out of only the action scenes of Super Sentai with none of the plot). Many popular franchises would also miss major installments (look what happened to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest).

Basically, the American mainstream media corporations of the time did not really respect Japanese culture and take it seriously. Despite growing trends to the contrary, the entrenched nature of racism in America was so predominant that it often seemed a majority of people, or at least many older people in positions of power, disapproved of and distrusted all Japanese culture.

On top of that, the "animation age ghetto" concept (basically, "all cartoons are for kids") was in full swing, with only the Simpsons taking any effective opposition to it. Trying to import dramatic works with strong adult themes was difficult, even for something as relatively tame as Sailor Moon (with only a few very intense moments of adult content here and there). And then you get weird inept stuff like people misfiling "Legend of the Overfiend", making the confusion and old folks' disapproval even worse.

Basically, the case to be made is not so much that DiC's alterations were anything great, nor necessary for Americans' enjoyment- rather, it's that they managed to walk the line to push it out there for Americans to see in that era AT ALL, against the difficulties posed by American culture of the time.

I can easily imagine a world where Sailor Moon was not released in the US in the 1990s at all, and where it was known only as very obscure cult to people who investigate (and subtitle) vintage anime far more than your average person. In that world the majority of Americans' first exposure to the franchise would probably have been Sailor Moon Crystal in 2014!

Or perhaps the manga from Mixxzine if that managed to come out without the accompanying DiC dub, but I think that would probably still not've made it into mainstream consciousness on it's own since manga wasn't really available mainstream in the US until the early 2000s when stores like Barnes & Noble started having manga sections.

For whatever problems we have in the modern day, and all the cool things there are to hold onto from the past (such as the Sailor Moon anime, which ended over 20 years ago), it's worth remembering how much better some things are now, too.
 

Neon Genesis

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#13
Those are all true facts but my main point from my earlier posts is that DiC didn't just pop the Sailor Moon dub into existence and the show was magically an overnight instant success. As I mentioned above, the show was in fact initially cancelled when it first aired in the U.S. and fans for many years thought those first 65 episodes were all we were going to get. It took a lot of hard work and effort from those "obscure cult" anime Internet fandom subcultures spreading information and encouraging interest in the series to make Sailor Moon a success. Save Our Sailors may have had a lot of nonsense, but there's a reason they came into existence, but it's not the case the DiC dub was always this guaranteed formula for success. And it took the efforts of fans to support the show as much as it was the shrewd business practices of the executives at DiC and the Program Exchange.
 

Mitsukara

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#14
Those are all good points too, it wouldn't have had the exposure or staying power without the word of mouth. I myself barely saw any of it on TV, but it was the enthusiasm of other fans that convinced me to check it out. That, and getting to hear some of the amazing Japanese image songs XD
 

Neon Genesis

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#15
I still remember one of the first Sailor Moon fan sites I visited was Hitoshi Doi's Sailor Moon Encyclopedia. It's funny how nowadays I avoid spoilers like the plague but back then I devoured all his detailed episode guides and character information and that was how I first learned about the Outers and the Starlights and all about the later seasons and skipped episodes. I appreciate the DiC dub more now for it's role in introducing me to the series, but I do still remember having that feeling that you were lied to about something that you loved when you first discover the original, especially back then when you were new to anime and didn't know better.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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#16
Of course it did.

The other choice would have been....

Spoiler: show
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2txbW5jWE14[/youtube]
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#17
rgveda99 said:
Of course it did.

The other choice would have been....

Spoiler: show
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2txbW5jWE14[/youtube]
Actually, that's not accurate. As I point out in the ToonMaker thread, Toei and Bandai always intended to bring the anime over to North America. They passed on the TM show because they didn't want to invest in its production costs and they didn't want two Sailor Moon shows competing against each other. If they had greenlit the TM series, we would have gotten it and the anime (though perhaps ToonMaker/Renaissance-Atlantic would have dubbed it instead of DiC).
 

Mitsukara

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#18
MementoNepenthe said:
Actually, that's not accurate. As I point out in the ToonMaker thread, Toei and Bandai always intended to bring the anime over to North America.
Sorry I missed/forgot about that. That makes a lot of sense; going with the Toonmaker approach seems like basically funding a new show with only tangential connections to the original property. It doesn't surprise me if Toei had no interest in that route at any point, and the demo video was a wasted attempt.

That said, I have a hard imagining them running both shows in tandem. Has anything like that happened with other franchises? I mean, I guess Super Sentai probably has official English subtitled/dubbed versions by now, or something, and Power Rangers still keeps making new iterations. But that's nowhere near the same kinda thing as airing both on TV back in the heyday of TV.

Another example I'm halfway familiar with is a sitcom called The IT Crowd. The show was from Britain, but I think they attempted to make an American version for some mystifying reason. I don't think they aired the British and American versions side by side, though. It'd be an weirder move than making the American version was in the first place.

Anyway, as far as worse possible outcomes, I do think it was more likely for the whole release of Sailor Moon in America (at the time) to get canned than for the Toonmakers version to greenlit, at least as far as I can guess.
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#19
The only example I can think of that's kind of similar is that towards the end of the run of the show Happy Days, they made an animated spin-off called The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. So you had the established live action sitcom that aired in primetime to a general audience, and an animated Saturday morning series to appeal to kids/the younger part of the established audience. (Happy Days's primetime spin-offs, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy also got animated spin-offs around that time, and eventually the three merged into one hour-long animated series. The early 80s were strange times apparently.)

So I guess I could see the Toon Makers live action/animated hybrid series being used to grab a pre-teen/early teen audience (appealing to the same demo that watched Boy Meets World and Sabrina the Teenage Witch), with the anime being adapted, as it was, to appeal to a younger, Saturday morning cartoons-watching audience. Or maybe it would have been the opposite, with the Toon Makers show appealing to young kids and the anime being dubbed more faithfully and marketed to an older audience. Who knows. But I think the shows could have existed alongside each other without one hurting the other.

Of course, I suppose there might have been difficulty in selling the shows in syndication. If one station/channel/network bought the anime, and a different one the TM show, they might end up directly competing with each other. The stations would have to coordinate their schedules, and even if that happened, there'd still likely end up being a lot of confusion as to what show was on what channel at what time, and the ratings/popularity of each would have suffered. It would only work if the same station/network picked up both series, and they probably would be reluctant to do that, so I can see why ultimately Toei and Bandai might have decided it would be too risky a venture and settled on just having the anime dubbed.

Still... I kind of wish that when PGSM was made they had revived the TM concept. Maybe one day...
 
Jun 24, 2014
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#20
I see that a lot of people are judging and talking about the quality of DIC's dub and even though I did not want this topic to be about that since it was brought up a few times I will say that DIC should be given credit for leaving a lot of the more mature content in the show such as Nephrite's death which did not have a single cut despite being one of the more graphic violent deaths in the show even though there was more tolerance for having a villain die on a kids show as opposed to the heroes (which is why there was no way DIC could air the final two episodes of Season One uncut or uncensored at the time) the fact still remains that at that point in the series his character had changed and became more good and sympathetic so his death being uncensored and uncut is a big deal to me and something I will give DIC credit for.

Now getting back to the main topic of this thread like I already said regardless of one's views on the quality of DIC's dub it helped bring Sailor Moon to a wider audience in North America. Although not a huge hit in syndication when it initially aired here it was available in most of the country when it premiered and it had a huge merchandising push from Bandai here too. DIC's dub later aired briefly on the USA Network before finding a home on Cartoon Network in America and YTV (although I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that it was already a hit on that network before airing on Cartoon Network in the states) where it reached it's highest level of popularity here.

Sailor Moon was a huge property in Japan and without DIC's dub it never would have caught on or became popular here. A perfect example of this is Saint Seiya which was huge property in Japan with many sequels and spinoffs but in America it only has a cult following. Sadly by the time show was brought here in 2003 (by DIC and airing on Cartoon Network) it was already too old since the showed debuted in 1986 and aired here in 2003 which is a 17 year gap! compare that to Sailor Moon which debuted in Japan in 1992 and aired here 3 years later in 1995. Only 32 episodes of Saint Seiya were dubbed and it aired once a week (as opposed to 5 days a week for Sailor Moon) before it was canceled (with less than half of the 65 episodes that initially debuted here for Sailor Moon) The merchandising push for it was also a failure and the line was never revived and discontinued a year later. This is a good example of how DIC did a good job of bringing one anime (Sailor Moon) to North America and helping it gain popularity here unlike another one they brought here (Saint Seiya) that was very popular in Japan but mishandled it's release here so it's now more obscure here despite it's bigger popularity in Japan and other parts of the world.

I'm not even saying DIC's dub is good (although compared to Cloverway's dub of S and SuperS it certainly is!) or that anyone should bow down to it or think it's an acceptable dub today because despite whatever flaws the VIZ dub has it is the only dub of Sailor Moon I recommend to people. All I am saying is that regardless of how one feels about the quality of DIC's dub there is no denying they deserve a lot of credit for both introducing people to the property and helping it gain popularity here.