4 Absurd Things 90s Sailor Moon Fans Fought Over

The Moonie Wars were a tough time for all

The Moonie Wars were a tough time for all

And no, I’m not talking about whether Sailor Moon or Goku was more powerful (and yes, that was a thing). What I’m talking about here are the different causes that early Sailor Moon fans were up in arms over back in the late 90s and into the early 2000s. These were debates that could quite literally figuratively tear fan communities apart and that… well… are all pretty absurd when you have 20 years’ worth of hindsight to work with.

Whether you’re an old-time Moonie or a newcomer to the series, I think  it’s worth taking a look back at how the fandom has evolved over the years into what is (hopefully…) a better and more caring Sailor Moon community.

So listen up, kids! As a proud veteran of the Great Moonie Flame War of 1998, I have some interesting stories I’d like to share. And you better pay attention! You know what they say about history: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.1

I've covered wars, ya know

I’ve covered wars, ya know

Space Case: Sailormoon vs. Sailor Moon

Yes, my dear friends, for awhile there some “purist” fans were insistent that the correct English spelling of セーラームーン (seeraa muun) should be Sailormoon, with no space between the words.

Why? Well, the argument consisted of two points:

  1. Japanese doesn’t use spaces
  2. Many original promotional materials write the name as one word in English

While 1 is technically true, in that case you really should stop using spaces between all proper nouns in the series (e.g., Moontiara, Firesoul, Sailorchibichibimoon, and more). I can see some overly zealous fans actually agreeing with that, so let’s just forget I even suggested it.

As for the second point, the Japanese materials never cared about how English was written. Case in point, the infamous “Sailor Satan” SeraMyu musical promotional material debacle.2 Or that Haruka and Michiru’s last names are inconsistent between one product and the next.

Though both fans and official sources have generally settled on Sailor Moon nowadays, there is still some inconsistency in how to best write Small Lady’s name in English, as you’ll often see ChibiUsa, Chibiusa, and Chibi Usa floating around online.

Bunny? Serena? You choose!

Bunny? Serena? You choose!

Loco Localizations: Serena vs. Bunny

While all of you are out there basking in the glory of Kodansha’s “Eternal Edition” translation of Sailor Moon, back in the series’ early days in North America, Usagi’s actual official English name was Serena. That is until we finally saw the release of MixxZine’s3 translation of the manga in the late 90’s and her name was inexplicably changed to Bunny.

Read also:  What's It Like to Be a Sailor Moon Cosplayer?

For awhile there, we had two official translations of Sailor Moon (via the anime and manga) running concurrently, leading to some confusion over how to refer to Usagi in the English canon. And naturally, when there’s some confusion between which is the correct option among two choices, people like to respectfully talk things out attack the opposing party into oblivion.

For what it’s worth, I think the name Serena generally won out in the end because not had fans been using that name longer, but most products/toys on the market were licensed through the anime and wound up using Serena as well.

Sailor L.O.S.E.R.

Sailor L.O.S.E.R.

Sailor Loser: The Weakest of Them All

Because apparently people got tired of just arguing over who is the strongest Sailor Scout (Soldier? Senshi? Guardian?), another popular topic of discussion was over who is the weakest member of the Sailor Team. Of course, this often was very little more than a proxy discussion over which character you hated the most, who you incidentally also happened to think was the weakest.

ChibiUsa was a frequent top contender on these lists, most likely due to the horrible way she was portrayed as Rini in the DiC dub. She was an obnoxious, bratty little kid with a high-pitched voice, so I can kind of see where some of disdain for her character came from, though it’s a shame that this perception remained among fans for years, even after Sailor Moon S and SuperS became available to the North American market and knowledge of the Japanese version (and the awesomeness that is ChibiUsa) began to spread.

As an interesting side note, Sailor Mercury frequently often appeared on these lists right up there with Sailor ChibiMoon. Though it’s true that Sailor Mercury is probably objectively one of the weakest of the Sailor Soldiers in terms of power, I also got the sense that she was often disliked among western fans, which is pretty much exactly the opposite of what we see in Japan. I wonder why that was?

I'm sorry, what's your name again??

I’m sorry, what’s your name again??

Name Game: Alex, Michelle, and Susan

Since the original North American Sailor Moon dub only ran through the middle/end of Sailor Moon R,4 it was only natural that fans would want to start adapting more of the Japanese Sailor Moon lore into the English story they’d come to know and love.

Read also:  Who is the Most Popular Sailor Moon Character Now?

For reasons I’ll never understand, that meant that fans felt compelled to make up English names for characters that came later in the series, as opposed to… you know… just starting to use the Japanese names. I know this stuff sounds crazy, but it seriously happened, okay?

As best as I can recall, I do feel like the English-speaking community did eventually settle on some (mostly consistent) names for the Outer Senshi, though everyone beyond that (such as the human forms of the Sailor Starlights) was pretty much the wild west. The commonly-accepted names were:

  • Haruka = Alex
  • Michiru = Michelle
  • Setsuna = Susan
  • Hotaru = Heather

Ultimately, Michelle is the only name that wound up being used in the official English dub, though I imagine that’s more because of how obvious it was rather than the company actually listening to the fan community.

At least it all worked out in the end... kinda...

At least it all worked out in the end… kinda…

I personally find it interesting that, though most of these issues mentioned above (and many, many more!) were something that fans of the series cared deeply about back in the day, they all ultimately wound up becoming completely irrelevant as time went on and exposure to the Japanese original increased. Sadly, they’ve mostly just been replaced by new issues that fans like to argue about, but this at least gives me hope that, with time, the community will get over those as well.

Are there any Sailor Moon arguments that you’d have added to this list? Obviously everything written here is just what I personally experienced, so I’d love to hear more from other people’s points of views… and especially if you have any stories from the Sailor Moon fandom outside of North America!


References:

  1.  See George Santayana
  2.  See Sailor Satan
  3.  See TokyoPop (magazine) (Wikipedia)
  4. Depending on what year we’re talking about

58 thoughts on “4 Absurd Things 90s Sailor Moon Fans Fought Over

  1. Thanks to interesting wording and the italics making it look like there’s no space:

    “…even after Sailor Moon S and SuperShit”

    But that is a good description of the 4th series.

    • Wow, you’re totally right!

      =p As much as I’d love to keep it, I had to make a slight edit to the text for readability. Love it, though.

    • SuperShit. Lol! I was so unfortunate to read the Dream Arc before seeing the anime. And I was appalled when I saw the anime version.

      • Same. I thought it was going to be the best thing ever after reading the manga. Boy was I wrong.
        The way they were released in the USA, I actually read the Dream Arc (even the manga was labelled SuperS, here) before the Infinity Arc.
        There was a note in the manga volume, that was probably fake, it was from Naoko hinting that Dic should dub the SuperS arc soon.

        • You are correct on the Naoko notes. They were loosely based on the original Japanese in WHAT they talked about, but they were almost entirely made up.

  2. Chibiusa was/is hated in Polish Sailor Moon fandom as well. Our version used the original voice acting in the background and the female voice-over in the foreground, so I think that even without Rini’s high-pitched voice in DiC dub, she would be heavily disliked in NA fandom.

    When it comes to Polish fandom, people were mostly preoccupied with bad translation or censorship in the Polish version (you may read more about it here https://wikimoon.org/index.php/Sailor_Moon_in_Poland ). When it comes to fights inside fandom, nothing comes to my mind – maybe except arguments between Mamousa and Seiyusa shippers.

    BTW, what was the Great Moonie Flame War of 1998 about? 😉

    • I don’t know, I think Chibiusa would be much more popular in North America if they didn’t rewrite her character to be an obnoxious brat and give her a horribly grating voice. Chibiusa is a great character in the original and should be seen the same way in any well done translation.

      As for the “Great Moonie Flamewar”, I believe that’s just a joke about how back then the Sailor Moon fans would argue over all kinds of little things like the stuff in this article – how names are spelled, whether rumored character backstories are real or not, all kinds of things.

      • Indeed, nice catch! I wasn’t referring to anything specific with regard to the “Great Moonie Flame War of 1998.” That was just for dramatic emphasis, and to point out that there was a constant back and forth across mailing lists, guest books, websites, and more for years on end about the state of the Sailor Moon fandom.

        The Lemure Files are a great time capsule of old Sailor Moon arguments, if you’re curious to read more!

  3. Sailor Moon is much stronger than DBZ Goku, obviously. Now DBS Goku… I think she loses.

    Oh wait…

    It’s kinda funny how these terrible localizations pushed the American community together in a sense. Nobody would care about these things in a country with decent dubs.

    • So DBS Goku > Sailor Moon > DBZ Goku… I guess that’s fair enough.
      But what about when you put Sailor Cosmos into this equation??

    • Including Sailor Moon into a “who’s stronger” contest is kind of cheating. Her powers grow to match the situation, so her power is almost limitless. The Galaxy Cauldron concept means (I think) that even if she was killed, her killer would eventually die but she would eventually be reborn, so in a way she still wins. Plus she has the ability to trade her life for a wish so if she just wishes the enemy gone, the best an enemy can hope for is a draw… and she just gets reborn again eventually.

      • And especially into contests against other Sailor Soldiers/enemies in the series, it just kind of makes for a boring discussion because the answer is so obvious.

        I still find it ridiculous that people even debated this at all, but since Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z were some of the bigger anime fandoms back in the day, it was obvious that they’d clash, I suppose. Not much unlike the Star Trek vs. Star Wars insanity.

        • to be fair neither goku nor usagi killed their opponents unless they have to, see 90% of both series villians. usagi just gets stronger depending on the situation and every time goku is near death he gets stronger. its an infinite loop

  4. You should continue writing about this absurd “Moonie fights”… So much fun! (Actually, I still remember the fandom ships war with delight but I think that’s another story)

    • Shipping insanity is something that you still run across today. Though, I have to say, the “Anti _______ Shipping” shrines of old were always entertaining. Who goes out of their way to make a website dedicated simply to something they don’t like??

  5. I just went back and looked at my Mixx/TokyoPop translations over the name translation thing because I remembered that they actually referred to her as Serena in the first act!

    In her first introduction she says “I’m Serena, but everyone calls me “Bunny””. However, as far as I can remember, that’s the only time they reference to her as Serena and she is Bunny throughout the rest of the translation. XD

    Part of me liked the usage of Bunny as a way to get her Japanese name in there without changing everyone’s names to their original Japanese. Considering when these comics were coming out, a majority of Sailor Moon fans would really only be familiar with their original Dic dub names, it makes sense.

    Another part of me wonders if its the translator giving a tiny middle finger to having to change their names at all. XD Like…”well if we say shes Serena but nicknamed Bunny…then we’ve at least got Usagi going for us!” Who knows. xD I’d love to find an interview or something with the original translator from back then.

    • That almost feels like someone threw in a last-minute edit before going to print.
      After the volume had already been translated as “Bunny,” maybe the editor said something like “Yo, hey… you know that her English name is Serena right?”

      Nice to know that officially her name was Serena in the manga, though!

  6. I never saw any real debate about the spaces in the names. Of course you would use spaces in English, they’re not used in Japan because the language is different. On the other hand, I do use “Chibiusa”, but I justify it by calling it a proper name…

    As for the name issue, “Bunny” was probably a mistake. No one is named Bunny, in America it makes people think of a Playboy Bunny, it’s just awkward. I would have liked a name other than “Serena” because it’s too close to “Serenity”, but that’s the name that we got. Of course the best solution is just to call her Usagi in the English translation.

    Sailor Mercury is the weakest of the Sailor Senshi, and I think that’s a big part of why Americans didn’t like her as much as others – she’s not quite as much of an evil-bashing hero as the others. The other part is that an Ami-like personality would be more appreciated in Japan than here… while Americans enjoy outgoing and fun-loving personalities a bit more than they like quiet and studious ones.

    I have to wonder how those dub names were chosen. Where in the world did “Amara” come from? If anyone in the world could find out, I bet it’s Tuxedo Unmasked. A unisex name like Alex would have been perfect for that character.

    At least they weren’t oblivious enough to not turn “Michiru” into “Michelle”, that’s an obvious one. Susan seems like a decent choice, but a little old fashioned maybe? Trista is a bit unusual, but works well enough I guess. Heather would have fit very well for Hotaru… which brings up another issue – why did they suddenly switch to sticking with this Japanese name in the middle of the season, but changed Haruka and Michiru at the beginning of the season?

    It’s not like “Hotaru” is an American-sounding name like Mina or Rei. They also changed Eudial to “Eugeal”, as if that’s any more normal sounding in English… odd change. But then the other Witches had their names left alone. Definitely seems like different people worked on the beginning of the season and others handled things once the season got going.

    • Keeping Hotaru was always really weird to me too. I know that I should be happy and supportive that they actually were keeping with Japanese names for once, but I was really just disappointed in the choice. If you’re going to localize all other names in the series, just go all the way. It’s not like Hotaru is even a common Japanese name that many people would be familiar with.

      It’s so weird!

    • “Amara” comes from Greek and means eternal. It doesn’t quite fit Haruka’s character, but it sounds vaguely similar to Haruka, so I can see why they’d use it. And it actually is a unisex name! (Even if it its uncommon for boys.)

      • I’d never even heard of the name Amara until the series came out, though I guess to be fair, I hadn’t even heard of Lita either.

        I wonder what their inspiration was for taking that name?

        • I read somewhere once that Lita was from “Leda”, one of Zeus’ (Jupiter’s) lovers. But that seems far fetched.

          • For the longest time I always thought maybe it was just a popular Canadian name, but that doesn’t appear to be so.
            Maybe it was just one of the dub writer’s friends or something?

        • “Lita” is also the name of a style of boot similar to the ones Jupiter wears, so I’ve also heard that that’s where they got the name from, though that feels even more tenuous than the “Leda” theory. Unless someone asks the producers about it directly, we’ll probably never know where the name came from.

    • I heard they chose to keep “Hotaru” because she was the most ‘Japanese-looking’ of the group. Meh. I would’ve been okay with “Heather”, too, for consistency.

      • If they’re going to change everyone else’s name, yeah, I would’ve MUCH preferred that they just went with a localized name for Hotaru. It’s just weird otherwise.

  7. I remember some of this back in the day. The Sailormoon spelling controversy lasted the longest as I found people insisting on it well after the ’90s.

    In the ’90s I rarely knew any North American fans who disliked Ami; in fact nearly everyone I knew who liked Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon liked Ami the most. One guy even wrote fanfic that made Ami the most powerful. I did eventually find some fans who really hated Ami and were not shy about saying so.

  8. Ironic, in Italy Bunny is the official name of Usagi in the manga and the 90s anime.

    And in Italy Chibiusa is well and truly despised; pretty much nobody likes her, mostly because of her behavior in the 90s anime, and even though she gets better in Crystal, she still gives a lot of people the hives as soon as her pink-haired head shows up.

    • It was the same in Germany. I really disliked the 90s anime Chibiusa. Manga Chibiusa was bearable, and I could forgive Crystal Chibiusa though I could never really say I liked her.

      I don’t really remember Japanese Chibiusa’s voice but I have 2 songs sung by Araki Kae. And they give me the creeps every time they happen to start. But I admit that may at last partially be caused by the insignificant fact that Ms. Araki ist just horrible at singing. Her FY Miaka spoken voice is o.k. but Miaka image songs sung by her just make me cringe and jump over them asap.

      And Usagi is called Bunny in Germany, too. I heard it’s because the French used that name. And the first version of the manga got translated from French.

      • That has to be really weird for it to have been translated from Japanese > French > German. I wonder if that introduced any strange story inconsistencies…

        • Mhm, theoretically I could compare the Japanese and the German version as I have both here. Fortunately I don’t think I’ll have the time for that. However, if there’s something specific (just let me know the chapter and page) I could most certainly check it out for you.

          Apparently Germany did it with quite a few early mangas until the end of the 90s as there were plenty of French-German, but few Japanese-German translators. And the French had also already mirrored the pages so using them saved a lot of money. It was only in 1999 or 2000 that one publisher dared to publish the first unmirrored manga.

          I remember one think from both manga and anime that kept confusing me. Usagi used to introduce herself as “I’m Bunny Tsukino. I’m 14 and go in the fourth class (grade or year in the German system). I’m not sure whether that’s some French problem or origined in 2nen 4kumi. If you asked me, I’d translate that as 8d, which is a common name of the fourth class of the 8th year of education.

          Btw. after the new SM edition came out, they retranslated the manga from Japanese. I was already in Japan and had little money as a self-financing foreign student so I never bothered to buy them nor had a look at possible differences in translations.

      • Bunny was Usagi’s name in the Polish version of Sailor Moon (based on the French version) too.

  9. There is always the bad translation of michiru and haruka’s relationShip, fisheye, and the like in the DIC dub. We werent allowed to have a lesbian relationship then but look at all the cartoons and stuff on cartoon network and toonami now. Though if you weren’t dumb, you knew they werent cousins.

    • Yeah, I thought about talking about the whole Prince Uranus fiasco as well, but unfortunately the article was running a bit long (I shoot for ~1000 words per article). Maybe I’ll have to do a second one!

  10. Other names I saw (even on official merchandise in the 90’s) were:
    Haruka- Corinn
    Michiru- Nerissa
    Setsuna: Celia
    Hotaru: Helen (I think I also saw Jenny once, too)

      • Those were the names given to the North American dolls, which came out before the third season aired if I’m remembering correctly.

          • Yeah, my local comic shop had a lot of dolls that I’ve never seen since and even a Pegasus. I think he ordered the Pegasus for me but at the time I didn’t even know what it was and passed it up since it was about $50…probably totally worth it now.
            He also sold some action figures. It was the first time I’d seen Neptune in color and I was shocked that she had green hair. I’d always imagined her as a redhead, for some reason, the only images I’d seen of her were in b&w.
            Sadly, as a teen back then, I was short on cash and only bought SM trading cards and manga back then.
            The only evidence I can find for you of their English names is on this site: http://sailormoon.takeuchi-naoko.com/info/chara/senshi/uranus.php
            …and if you have a copy of the “Sailor Moon role-playing game and resource book”, it lists those as the names given by Irwin Toys (minus Helen).
            Other than that, I can’t seem to find anything to help much.
            There was a ton of Sailor Moon merchandise in the 90’s that I have still not come across again, even stuff marketed here in the USA.
            I did manage to snag an Irwin Saturn doll (I’ve since ebayed it) and I’m still kicking myself for passing up that Super Sailor Moon doll.

        • I remember seeing different names on a couple of toys I had purchased back then as well! For some reason, before the third season aired, there were these collectible figurines that also included the outers in the line up. (I only got Super Moon and Chibimoon). They had their names on the little insert packaging and I think the names above were the ones I saw.

          Now I wish I had saved some of that packaging. XD

    • When we did the (original) Sailor Moon S fandub, Haruka was Erica, and all of episode 92 was scripted such that it could easily be confused for “Eric” – “Erica’s” could be heard as “Eric has,” etc.

      • I just want to butt in here and say that this is absolutely amazing to hear from someone who worked on one of the old Sailor Moon fandubs!!

  11. Slightly off-topic comment: The translation fights remind me of the official translation problems in my country. We also had “Sailor Satan” (though only in the S arc) and Bunny (both in the manga and the anime). As a bonus, in the first volumes her surname was spelled “Cukino”. The person who translated the anime misheard “Beam” as “Bean”, so Minako’s attack was translated as “Peas and Beans” (seriously. The updated version was “Peas, Beans, Stron Will”). The attacks in general would deserve another paragraph, though they’re not as funny in English, so I’ll just add that “Pink Sugar Heart attack” became “Moon Pearls, Pink Candy”. Makoto’s attacks had too many names to count. Good old days.

    • Peas… and beans?!?!

      Did these people not have a script or something, and were they just working off the audio in the anime? That’s crazy!

      • Alex didn’t explain it, but it’s because in Poland (aka the country we both live in ;)) there is an idiom “groch z fasolą” (pea with beans), which means sth like ‘everything mashed with each other without any sense’. Merury’s “Shabon Spray” had an idiomatic translation, which means practically the same (“Mydlo, powidło” = “Soap and ja,”).

    • Oh my, and I thought the Dic dub names were bad!
      Sadly, even now we’re not totally free of bad translations since we got “Sparkling Wide Pressure” as “Spark-Ring Wide Pressure” in the manga a couple years back.

  12. I’ve seen people say the dub names are dumb, like Minako to Mina for example, Mina isn’t a dumb dub name , it was literally her nickname in the manga regardless of translation (and Serena (Serene in Latin)/Serenity basically means “peace” so yeah) its seen in. Sighs. Some fans are stubborn.

    • I actually think a lot of the dub names were pretty good. They got across what they needed, and they also sounded mostly natural, which was what the dub was aiming for.

      I will forever insist that Darien is a good name. Andrew fit Motoki well, and Melvin really drove home the character’s image. Molly… I’m not totally sold on. Amy and Raye were both good compromises. Lita… is kinda weird. But it works, I think.

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  15. Bonus: Only Sailor Moon vs. Goku fight I’d see possible would be an eating contest.

    Goku would be a clear victor, and Usagi would be so impressed she’d lose with grace.

    And tbh, in an actual fight, goku would be too impressed by the flashiness of Moon’s attacks (as his ADD goes…) and complement her. Usagi is a stickler for flattery, so that’d end the fight, unless it turned into a complement war, and Goku still wins haha.

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