Who Were Moon Lips and Why Did They Sing Moonlight Densetsu?
Moonlight Densetsu really is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to bringing us a plethora of fan rumors and other mysteries surrounding Sailor Moon‘s famous theme song.
After two full seasons of using the original cut of the song, sung by the mysterious and short-lived DALI, the animation studio decided to record a new cut of Moonlight Densetsu starting with Sailor Moon S season. What’s interesting about this version, though, is that it’s actually credited to two different groups – which is the mystery we’re going to look into today.
Put on your scuba gear! We’re about to take yet another deep dive into this moonlit destiny!
First and foremost, let’s get the simple stuff out of the way: who were the members of Moon Lips?
Fortunately for us, that at least is pretty simple. Moon Lips consisted of the original cast of the Sailor Moon musical:
However, what makes this all interesting and worth talking about is the fact that the Moon Lips credits that we are all familiar with actually come later, around the middle of the run of the Sailor Moon SuperS anime. Up until that point, I can’t actually find any confirmation that they ever made any releases under that name.
Throughout both Sailor Moon S and the beginning of Sailor Moon SuperS, the performance of Moonlight Densetsu was credited to Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team. So what’s Sakurakko Club, you ask? Good question!
Sakurakko Club was a Japanese variety television show that aired on TV Asahi from April 13, 1991 to August 27, 1994. Since I can’t easily explain what the Japanese “variety” genre involves, I’ll let Wikipedia do that for me:3
A Japanese variety show is an entertainment television program made up of a variety of original stunts, musical performances, comedy skits, quiz contests, and other acts.
The Sakura Team was the name used to refer to the main/returning cast of “idols” — over 38 members throughout the series’ run.
As it turns out, the relationship between Sailor Moon and Sakurakko Club goes back to the earliest days of the series. So early, in fact, that it goes back to even before Sailor Moon got on the air.
You see, one of the spin-off groups to come out of the Sakura Team was called KEY WEST CLUB,4 consisting of the duo Keiko Azuma and Miki Nakatani. Yes, that KEY WEST CLUB. The one that sang the precursor to Moonlight Densetsu.
Considering the fact that both shows (Sakurakko Club and Sailor Moon) were being produced by and aired on TV Asahi, it should probably come as no surprise that the main cast of the original run of the Sailor Moon musical was also staffed fully by Sakurakko Club members.
I’m sure these young ladies were all very talented, but to my knowledge none of them had any formal on-stage performance experience. It kinda makes you wonder how the musicals would have come out if they actually held open auditions rather than keeping everything “in-house.”
But I digress. Back to the point at hand!
Basically what happened is that members of the Sakurakko Club television program were casted to perform the roles of the Sailor Soldiers in the musicals. However, even though they played their respective roles in the musicals under their own (stage) names, they were not credited individually in the 1993 single release of La Soldier or in any releases of their Moonlight Densetsu cover. As previously mentioned, they’re all collectively credited as Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team.
So now that we’ve got all that out of the way, where does Moon Lips come into the picture?
Well, as I mentioned above, the Sakurakko Club program ran until August 1994, a little less than halfway through the run of Sailor Moon S. This would mean that the Sakura Team – the catch-all name used for any of the CD releases from the idols on the show, regardless of who actually sang – would have also been disbanded at the same time.
It looks like they left the credits intact throughout the entire Sailor Moon S run and through the first 12 episodes of Sailor Moon SuperS, but this credit was changed to Moon Lips from episode 13 of Sailor Moon SuperS. As far as I can tell, there was no change in the members, so this was probably just done to reflect the fact that Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team no longer existed.
From thereon, all Sailor Moon CD credits would also credit Moon Lips for this cover of Moonlight Densetsu.
And speaking of CDs, there’s one more peculiar thing about this rendition of Moonlight Densetsu: as far as I can tell, no soundtracks sold during the Sailor Moon S run actually contained the Sakurakko Club/Moon Lips version. The I’m unable to find any CDs released during that season that actually use the Sakura Team/Moon Lips cut of Moonlight Densetsu. The song is suspiciously missing from the Sailor Moon S Music Collection5 and the Sailor Moon S Big Box Collection6 contains the DALI version.
This is pure conjecture on my part, but I’m wondering if this whole issue of the song not being released to CD might have been related to the casting change for Rei in the musical from Hiroko Nakayama to Misako Kotani. Hiroko played Rei through the Spring 1994 musicals and then Misako assumed the role from Summer 1994. This suggests to me that Hiroko would have been the one to record the Moonlight Densetsu cover for Sailor Moon S. They may not have been able to secure the rights from her to put the song on CD now that she was no longer part of the musical.
I’m not certain if they made a new recording for Sailor Moon SuperS, but if they did that would neatly explain away why they waited until nearly a year and a half after Sakurakko Club had ended to re-brand the group as Moon Lips and start selling the song on CDs. The first instance I can find of the Moon Lips cover of Moonlight Densetsu being on CD is the “Rashiku” Ikimasho single, which was released on July 21, 1995.7
In summary, basically: Sailor Moon Musical cast = Sakurakko Club = Moon Lips.
To be quite honest, I’m not sure how entertaining these looks into the tangled relationships that lurked in the background throughout the life of Sailor Moon are for most people, but I find this kind of stuff fascinating. Even if we can only speculate about some issues, like why they held off until mid-SuperS to change the name to Moon Lips, it’s fun to look at all the things that went on behind the scenes of our favorite series.
Now that we’ve officially broached the subject of the Sailor Moon musicals, is there anything specific you’d like me to take a look at, or any nagging questions? I’m definitely open to suggestions!
- Misako Kotani is often credited as being a member of Moon Lips, but I have serious doubts about that, since the dates don’t match up. ↩
- Though she used this stage name in most places, she performed on the Sakurakko Club TV program under her real name, Noriko Kamiyama ↩
- See Japanese Variety Show (Wikipedia) ↩
- See KEY WEST CLUB (Wikipedia) ↩
- See the Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S Music Collection ↩
- See Sailor Moon S Big Box Collection; Wikipedia says that this contains the Moon Lips cover, but the CD case clearly indicates it’s the DALI version ↩
- See Sakuragumi Discography ↩