What Do We Know About DALI, the Band Behind Moonlight Densetsu?

DALI – Akira Ishizawa, Mari Nishimoto, Sayuri Tsuchiya, and Misuzu Takahashi

DALI – Akira Ishizawa, Mari Nishimoto, Sayuri Tsuchiya, and Misuzu Takahashi

It’s been over twenty-five years since the opening chords of Moonlight Densetsu first graced the airwaves, heralding in a new anime that would ultimately take Japan – and then the world – by storm. And yet, even as more and more information comes to light about what went on behind the scenes of making Sailor Moon, we’re still left with a bizarre mystery: where did the band DALI come from, and where did they go?

Though I doubt we’ll ever be able to answer this question completely, today I’d like to invite you along to go over what details we do know about DALI, and for a rare mini-interview with the band.

1992 SongBook – with a rare picture of DALI

1992 SongBook – with a rare picture of DALI

Looking back with our perfect 20/20 hindsight, it seems hard to believe that Sailor Moon would trust its theme song to an entirely unknown band like DALI. However, to be fair, no one even know when the series first came out if it would be a hit, or if it would be cancelled after a short run.

Even Moonlight Densetsu, the classic theme song that even today still manages to frequently rank within the top 50 songs chosen at karaoke,1 itself borrowed heavily from several other musical inspirations, so it may not be too far out of the realm of possibility to imagine that the show may have been trying to hedge their bets before signing on a major group.

So what do we know about DALI, then? Surprisingly little, sadly. When the band first formed is unclear, though we do know that they were active at least as early as February 19922 and disbanded within the year. There are some reports that they were active as early as Fall 1991, but unfortunately I can’t back that up.3

1992 DALI performance in Harajuku

1992 DALI performance in Harajuku

The band used to perform at Hokoten in Harajuku – short for 歩行者天国 (hokoushatengoku;4 a pedestrian zone closed to auto-traffic) – every week on Sundays from 2 to 3pm, which was apparently a big thing in the late 80s and early 90s for amateur bands at the time. They billed themselves as a dance/singing performance, so they may have also been known for their dancing.

Who were the members of DALI? This is something we actually do have the answer to. The members are:

  • Misuzu Takahashi
  • Akira Ishizawa
  • Mari Nishimoto
  • Sayuri Tsuchiya

Apparently all four members belonged to a talent management company called Stardust Promotion,5 which they got involved with by taking a part in an audition competition known as Stardust Lesson Stage. What isn’t clear, though, is whether each member performed separately and were then put together as a band by Stardust Promotion, or whether they were signed together as a group.

While what became of Sayuri and Akira has been lost to time, Mari and Misuzu immediately went on to form the questionably-named duo MANISH later in 1992, and were active until 1996.6

According to Ms. Takeuchi,7 however, there was originally another member on the group, who she refers to as “T.T.-ko.” There’s no clear information as to who this is, but she mentions that this T.T-ko is a famous actress.

Takako Tokiwa in a 1994 Lucido commercial

Takako Tokiwa in a 1994 Lucido commercial

Judging by the time frame, it’s possible that this is Takako Tokiwa.8 She was active from 1991, also belonged to the talent agency Stardust Promotion, and she used to perform at the same venue as DALI every Sunday.9 While this could be an open-and-shut case, the article says that she performed with DALI, so it’s possible that Ms. Takeuchi mistook T.T.-ko as a member of DALI when she was just joining them in their performances.

Or T.T.-ko is someone else.

DALI Interview

That’s about all the information I have here on DALI, unfortunately, so I’ll leave you with this short special feature on the group, appearing in the June 1992 issue of Animage.

Ishizawa: You know how they’re all in miniskirts in Sailor Moon, yeah? It’s kinda erotic.

Takahashi: But it’s fun, playing around like “In the name of the Moon, I’ll punish you!”

Nishimoto: Back at home, my brother will say to me “denwa mo dekinai midnight” (note: lyrics from the song) whenever I walk past him. (laugh)

All: (laugh)

Tsuchiya: But you know, the song has a lot of things in it about a young girl’s feelings, like wanting to be slim, or have the person you love read your letter. It’s easy to get hooked on it.

Takahashi: The opening animation is good too. (laugh) I couldn’t stop wipe this goofy grin off my face when it first aired. I couldn’t believe that I was the singer.

Nishimoto: You weren’t worried whether or not it’d take off?

Ishizawa: As soon as it went on sale, I went straight to some record shops in Shinjuku to go check out the situation. Two shops, even! They were both totally sold out, which made me feel better.

Takahashi: There was one left at the shop near me. I mean, I bought it of course.

Tsuchiya: That’s because you don’t live in the city. (laugh)

Takahashi: Pbbbt

All: Please listen to the song!

Speaking of short-lived bands...

Speaking of short-lived bands…

And there you have it – all the information I’ve been able to pull up on DALI. Since we’ve talked about Moonlight Densetsu this whole time, that kinda makes me wonder: what’s your favorite version of the song? Or do you have another song that you like better?

I know that typically Sailor Stars is looked down on as when Sailor Moon changed, and even fans of the show often express disdain for the sudden theme song change, but I’m actually quite a fan of the Sailor Star Song. Over the years, Usagi grew up and grew stronger, so I think it was about time for her to have a more powerful, more self-assured theme.


References:

10 comments

  • In Cygnus And In Health

    I too have been curious about the singers, and their insights into the series. So this is useful to read about.

    It’s not to uncommon for Japanese bands to be picked or formed expressly to do the music for just one show, and then seemingly fading away or disbanding. Tetra Fang, who worked on Kamen Rider Kiva for example. Maybe this was a similar case?
    I recall, the voice actresses for the Inners also performed it at some kind of presentation very early on.

    As for the Stars intro, I think it worked for that point in the series. It probably seemed a bit jarring for many after the original had been used for so long. Especially given that these days you have animes that change them after a mere thirteen episodes.
    In fact, I actually kind of wish the other arcs had got their own signature tunes. Moonlight Densetsu for me is more firmly rooted in Classic then the three which followed.

    As for my personal favourite rendition. I’m quite fond of this one, which was done for what appears to be some kind of French themed CD.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3OBIMIXK6g

    Least favourite, would be Momoiro Clover Z. Theirs just felt bit off to me. :/

    I’d also like to take this moment to give some recognition to this underrated song, which I think would have worked quite nicely as an intro.

    • See, that’s what I find really weird about DALI. Since they broke up pretty much right after, I kinda assumed that the band was purely formed to sing the Sailor Moon theme song and didn’t actually exist as a band outside of that. But things get really weird when you read reports of them being active and performing in Harajuku as early as Fall 1991. At the very least, it’s confirmed that they were active in January/February 1992.

      Maybe it just didn’t work out?

  • Moonlight Densetsu is great, and I think it really sums up Sailor Moon, at least, the first couple of seasons! I grew up with the “Fighting Evil By Moonlight” song, and I never liked it. (I know it’s the same tune, basically.) But I just didn’t like the words. When I heard the original, Japanese version (and read the subtitles lol) I thought it was absolutely perfect.

    I actually loved the Sailor Stars song too, and even had it as a ringtone for awhile. ^_^

    • I think that Moonlight Densetsu was absolutely great for describing at least the first two seasons of Sailor Moon, but once we started hitting S and SuperS, I don’t know if it really described Usagi so well since her character had grown so much.

      That said, I always thought that the SuperS ending song, Rashiki Ikimasho, would be an awesome ringtone.

  • I wonder if this is the same Stardust that agency from Momoiro Clover Z, Keiko Kitagawa, Satomi Ookubo and Kanon… if so, Stardust relationship with Sailor Moon is longer than I thought! ❤️

    • I just did a quick search, and you’re right – Momoiro Clover Z and Keiko Kitagawa are managed by Stardust Promotion.

      Wow!

      • This is really interesting! *-*
        It seems we owe some great things to them!

        Another intersting thing is that before Momoclo, Stardust didn’t had an idol group in a long time. Since them, they founded a lot of sucessful groups like Ebichu, Team Syachihoko, Takoyaki Rainbow…
        Maybe they’ve tried before unsuccessfully?

  • To be honest I think the two versions of the song used for the first 4 seasons sounded the same to me. Maybe because the voices never differed too much to my ears. I think I need to hear other renditions or maybe just listen again. I think the song was fine for the first season, but as the show went on it felt too calm. Although I guess it worked for supers. I actually like the sailor stars theme song. It felt more energetic. Moonlight densetsu sounded like a lullaby.

    The sailor stars opening animation was nice quality and went well with the song. It was just disappointing no outer soldiers in the animation, but I guess it was honest since they barely appeared in that season and starlights were the main characters.

    I think each season could have used a new theme had there been more episodes for each season and it was kind of disappointing that there weren’t more episodes for sailor stars since the song sounded good. Of course, I had no clue what was actually being sung, but it was a good song. I think the sailor stars theme song made that season feel like it would be great, but to me the season was not that great.

    When it was used in battle, the sailor stars theme song fit the fight if you can even call it a fight in the last episode much better than the moonlight densetsu used in the final fight in season 1. That just felt more out of place.

  • This was amazing to read! Thank you! 😀 I know it’s probably even harder but I’ve always been obsessed with “Sailor Star Song” by Kae Hanazawa and as much as I tried to find any information about her or any other singles from her I failed miserably. Would be amazing if you had any information about her to share 😀

    • Wow, talk about a challenge! I only spent about 30 minutes, but I can’t find any reference to Kae Hanazawa existing outside of her two songs on the Sailor Stars album. My best guess is that maybe this was just a stage name? She might have had a contract with another record label and wasn’t able to perform under her own name.

      The only other place I’ve been able to find her listed is on a CD created by a live performance cafe called Cafe de Noel. The cd was released in November 2002, by a private label called Nurding.
      http://www.geocities.co.jp/MusicStar/3830/p-artist0514.htm

      It’s a long shot, though, and it may very well just be a different woman by the same name. But still, it’s quite a mystery as to why she just sprung up and then faded away. The idea that she didn’t perform under her real name is my best guess, but I can’t really be sure why that would be (though she isn’t the first person related to Sailor Moon to do that!).

      I can’t be totally sure, but 2-3 sites are saying this is a photo of her, for what it’s worth!
      http://gigle.jp/artist/29081

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