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
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:
- Japanese doesn’t use spaces
- 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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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!