If you watched Sailor Moon dubbed in your native language as a kid though, you might not have even realized at the time that it originated from Japan. Due to some changes in the localization process, many traces of Japan were removed from the show. For everyone who grew up with all of the Japan-ness of Sailor Moon removed, let’s go on a journey to explain some of the things you might have missed!
Let’s start from the beginning, what or who is Sailor Moon? Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a magical girl series created by Naoko Takeuchi about a young girl named Usagi Tsukino who one day finds out she is a warrior who must fight evil in the name of the moon. Sailor Moon is the second series of its type from Mrs. Takeuchi, right after her first successful series, Codename: Sailor V.
Struggling to balance her normal everyday life with her secret crime fighting identity is hard for Usagi but she has a team of other warriors who represent the rest of the planets in our solar system to help her and make up the Sailor Guardians. Read our intro guides to the Sailor Guardians that represent the inner planets and outer planets, and the moon of course!
One of the ways that Sailor Moon became so popular around the world was through dubbing and localizing the anime. This process changed some of the names and character traits of the characters as well as genders and relationships.. Although this may seem drastic, it gave many people the opportunity to be exposed to Sailor Moon from a young age, and then grew up with the iconic series.
The basis of this article will be the Sailor Moon that was dubbed in the English language by DIC Entertainment in the early 1990s.
The first thing that fans of the English version of Sailor Moon notice when watching the original Japanese version is the name of the characters. Our lovable Serena (Sailor Moon), Amy (Sailor Mercury), Darien (Tuxedo Mask), and Lita (Sailor Jupiter) are actually Usagi, Ami, Mamoru, and Makoto. And that is only a few, almost everyone in Sailor Moon had their Japanese names altered to be easier to understand and remember to non Japanese speaking audiences.
As if these new names weren’t a shock enough, there is another layer of surprise for any Sailor Moon fan who does study the Japanese language. All of the Inner Guardians’ names have a double meaning when they are read in Japanese naming order. Again with our main character Sailor Moon, when reading her name in Japanese, Tuskino Usagi means rabbit on the moon, a reference to the legend of the jade rabbit living on the moon.
A common change with the Sailor Moon series and many other Japanese series that were marketed towards children was to change the type of food talked about and eaten. This is understandable since children or even the average person might not be familiar with a lot of the food eaten overseas, especially a “Westerner” looking at Japanese food.
This means that the main character Sailor Moon’s “meatball” hairstyle is actually called odango in reference to the Japanese dango (dumpling made out of rice flour). Westerners might also remember her being addicted to odd looking “jelly donuts” which were actually nikuman (pork buns). Of course these are just a few instances, there are more things you miss when you watch Sailor Moon in English.
Since Sailor Moon takes place in the very real Azabu-Juban in Tokyo, there are many of these real world places that show up in the anime and manga. Tokyo Tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the series, but Rei’s Hikawa Shrine is another popular place to visit. Take a Sailor Moon pilgrimage with us to see some of the sites that were used in Sailor Moon.
Although this place was not featured in the series, the Sailor Moon Store in Harajuku is an absolute must for Sailor Moon fans when visiting Japan. The store is located in the La Foret building just off of Takeshita Street, and is also home to many lolita fashion stores like Alice and the Pirates and Angelic Pretty.
Located on the B0.1 floor of the building, the Sailor Moon Store is actually 2 separate stores across the hall from each other. One store is pink and sells cute yet affordable goods like phone cases, plush toys, DVDs, and a lot more. Across the walkway is the blue store which sells more high end goods like jewelry, clothes, designer bag collaborations and official cosplay items.
If you only have a few yen to spare, you can also give their gashapon (capsule toys) machines a try that are located in front of the blue store. Small figures, keychains, character cards are just some of the fun things you can win!
As you leave the Sailor Moon Store make sure to check out the display window, as the display changes often. It has featured props from the Sailor Moon wedding course offered by a popular wedding venue as well as a Princess Serenity wedding dress from a popular wedding dress maker in Japan. As of the time of writing this article the window features a collaboration dress between Sailor Moon and Japanese lolita fashion brand, Alice and the Pirates, a sub brand under Baby the Stars Shine Bright.
This last one is time sensitive but for those who were in Japan from Dec. 2021 to April 2022, the Sailor Moon Illuminations were a magical experience. A day trip to the mountains in Kanagawa Prefecture to Sagamiko Pleasure Forest might seem like an unlikely place to find a kawaii Sailor Moon experience, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
That’s ok if you were unable to see the illuminations in person, YumeTwins took a trip there for you! You can check out our opinion on the hike up the mountain, the beautiful path of lights, and the final light show at Crystal Tokyo and all of the Sailor Guardians!
Of course, it is always important to enjoy media however is best for you! But if you want more context or broader information about the series you are watching or reading you can always go to the source, in its original language. Interacting with Sailor Moon in Japanese gives you more insight into the series and Japanese culture!
Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments section.
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Ever wonder why Sailor Moon’s name is sometimes Usagi and sometimes Serena? Or why she seemed to love weird shaped donuts? Check out what you might have missed watching Sailor Moon in English.
In Part 2, learn more about the Sailor Scouts that represent the outer planets as well as Sailor Chibi Moon!