Who Were Moon Lips and Why Did They Sing Moonlight Densetsu?

This is from a Sailor Moon stage show and has nothing to do with Moon Lips... but it DOES cause nightmares

This is from a Sailor Moon stage show and has nothing to do with Moon Lips… but it DOES cause nightmares

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!

Sakurakko Club members (left to right): Anza, Misako, and Hiroko

Sakurakko Club members Anza, Misako, and Hiroko

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:

  • Anza Oyama (Usagi)
  • Ayako Morino (Ami)
  • Hiroko Nakayama (Rei)1
  • Kanoko2 (Makoto)
  • Nana Suzuki (Minako)

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.

Theme song: performed by "Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team" -- Sailor Moon S OP

Theme song: performed by “Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team” — Sailor Moon S OP

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.

Sakurakko Club members Kanoko, Fumiko, and Anza

Sakurakko Club members (left to right): Kanoko, Ayako, and Anza

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!

Theme song: performed by "Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team" -- Sailor Moon SuperS OP 1

Theme song: performed by “Sakurakko Club: Sakura Team” — Sailor Moon SuperS OP 1

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.

Theme song: performed by "Moon Lips" -- Sailor Moon SuperS OP 2

Theme song: performed by “Moon Lips” — Sailor Moon SuperS OP 2

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.

The first appearance of the Moon Lips cover?

The first appearance of the Moon Lips cover?

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

See kids? Dreams DO come true!

See kids? Dreams DO come true!

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!

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  1.  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.
  2. Though she used this stage name in most places, she performed on the Sakurakko Club TV program under her real name, Noriko Kamiyama
  3.  See Japanese Variety Show (Wikipedia)
  4.  See KEY WEST CLUB (Wikipedia)
  5.  See the Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S Music Collection
  6.  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
  7.  See Sakuragumi Discography

17 thoughts on “Who Were Moon Lips and Why Did They Sing Moonlight Densetsu?

  1. I love articles like this. It’s weird… I don’t know most of these people, I’ve never heard of Sakurakko Club, I don’t really care that much about the information I’ve just read and I probably won’t remember it for long… but I’m such a fan of Sailor Moon so that it’s just plain fun to come across any new tidbits of information how about any parts of it were made and how it was done. And I love that there are superfans like you who have the dedication, language ability, and access to the information that allows you to discover these interesting bits of Sailor Moon history.

    I am slightly familiar with Anza Oyama and had no idea that she and the musical members had a direct contribution to the TV show like this.

    Thanks for linking to your article about the precursor song to Moonlight Densetsu, I hadn’t seen that one! Once again I had no clue there was another version of that song before it was Moonlight Densetsu. Listening once again to the DALI version and the Moon Lips version… even though they were only two years apart, it feels like they were from different decades, almost. Somehow my brain has categorized the first two seasons as “early 90s” and the later three as “late 90s”, as if they happened with a multiple year gap in between.

    • Hmm, interesting question. I doubt we’ll ever get an official answer, but I always just wrote it off to them wanting to make him look a little more mature/different from his younger form. Since giving him silver hair would kinda copy Queen Serenity (in addition to making him look pretty old), maybe they went with purple?

      They really should’ve just given him a nice, fancy moustache. =D

  2. Ahhh we are left with a little mystery again! I had no idea any group name existed for that song besides Moon Lips! That’s what I get for never bothering to attempt to read the opening credits XD. Good catch!!

    • Like so many things in the world of Sailor Moon, we’re really only given little scraps of cloth and threads to work with.
      But it’s fun to see how much we can put back together, and hope that someone winds up talking someday!

  3. Hurray! As a crazy Sera Myu fangirl, I feel very elated now that you’ve finally touched the subject <3 Regarding that, I've got a question that's been bugging me for years now: what on earth passed through Fuyumori's mind that drove her to write "L'amour d'amour moonlight" and what sense is this supposed to have got?

  4. I actually had no idea that Moon Lips were essentially the (original) SeraMyu cast. It’s pretty interesting that SeraMyu and the Anime had a small connection like this.

    • Then when you consider that most of the initial SeraMyu girls (as far as I can confirm, Anza (Moon), Ayako (Mercury), and Nana (Venus)) belonged to the same talent agency as most of the PGSM girls, Starlight Productions, you can definitely see that there are a lot of small connections between almost all forms of Sailor Moon.

      It’s really interesting when you dig down into it!

  5. In an American convention appearance ANZA talked a bit about this when someone asked what it was like to audition for Myu. I can’t remember her exact words (the panel is on youtube under MTAC Anza panel if you want to see) but she said that there were no auditions and that they were picked because they were already part of a group.

    What I’d like to know….. were Satomi & the other actresses “forcibly” retired from their roles (rather than performing through the end of New Myu) or did they leave because they had other obligations?

  6. VERY, very interesting article. Thank you. I’d often wondered about who Moon Lips was and the reason behind their genesis; however, I didn’t really put much effort into delving too deeply for the answer.
    My knowledge of the classic musicals is pretty cursory. I have digital copies of many of them, as well as all of the newer ones, in my collection, but have yet to actually watch them in their entireties.

  7. Well, since you asked… Why on earth was Death Vulcan cut short? The VHS runs as long as a normal myu but a good chunk of it is a musical revue. My guess is that the Dracul series want doing that well, but why cut the story short if they were still going to produce the show?

  8. I remember reading somewhere that there were other songs considered for the 90s anime opening besides Moonlight Densetsu. I’d love to see if you could find out what songs we almost got.

    • Huh, I’ve never heard about that before, but it’d definitely be interesting to explore further and see if there was anything to it!

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