Oh boy, have I got some prime Sailor Moon scoop for all you moonies out there, fresh from Anime Expo. Over the weekend, I got a chance to watch the first two episodes of the original '90s series with its shiny new dub, and while those episodes didn’t feature most of the principal cast, what I did hear in the episodes, I liked (with one noted exception). So, without further ado, here is your new Sailor Moon dub cast.
USAGI TSUKINO / SAILOR MOON - Stephanie Sheh
MAMORU CHIBA / TUXEDO MASK - Robbie Daymond
AMI MIZUNO / SAILOR MERCURY- Kate Higgins
REI HINO / SAILOR MARS - Cristina Vee
MAKOTO KINO / SAILOR JUPITER - Amanda Miller
MINAKO AINO / SAILOR VENUS - Cheramie Leigh
LUNA - Michelle Ruff
ARTEMIS - Johnny Yong Bosch
NARU OSAKA - Danielle Nicole
GURIO UMINO - Ben Diskin
IKUKO TSUKINO - Tara Platt
KENJI TSUKINO - Keith Silverstein
SHINGO TSUKINO - Nicolas Roye
QUEEN BERYL - Cindy Robinson
JADEITE - Todd Haberkorn
NEPHRITE - Liam O’Brien
ZOISITE - Lucien Dodge
KUNZITE - Patrick Seitz
Viewing the new dub was an odd experience to be sure, but not an unpleasant or unwelcome one. Sheh’s performance as Usagi was notably different from any of DiC’s “Serena” voices, but one can’t say she sounds out of character. She’s rather high-pitched and has a bit of that Joey Lauren Adams-esque baby talk hum in the back of throat that Julie Benz also sported in the late '90s until she came to her senses. And it doesn’t sound entirely unlike Kotono Mitsuishi’s Usagi, so there you have it. What this really hammered home was that now “Serena” and “Dub Usagi” are two completely different characters in two closely-related but ultimately separate works.
The same can be said of Tuxedo Mask. At once, Daymond as Mamoru sounds incredibly similar to Toby Proctor’s Darien, but a touch smoother and with the noted absence of a Canadian accent. Michelle Ruff’s Luna split the difference between Jill Frappier’s matronly British accent and Keiko Han’s childlike voice, making her sound like a young woman, which I have to say I prefer.
Cindy Robinson’s Queen Beryl is a much more subdued interpretation of the character than that of Naz Edwards. Both approached Beryl with a kind of femme fatale decadence to their voices, but Robinson so far shows no trace of the more cackly, Wicked Witchy kinks that Edwards gave Beryl in her more passionate moments. Not much was heard of Jadeite, Naru, or Ikuko (voice by Todd Haberkorn, Danielle Nicole, and Tara Platt, repsectively), but they did well.
The standout performance of the day, however, was that of Ben Diskin as Umino. I, for one, always found Umino’s voice in the original to be too smooth and too deep a register for so geeky a character. Well acted, but not entirely fitting. I strongly preferred the DiC dub’s Melvin, and though Diskin does come much closer to that voice, he completely makes Umino his own, really giving flavor to the character without making a complete caricature of him. His voice is in a mid to high tenor register, somewhat less strained than Roland Parliament’s Melvin, and adds a slightly nasal, congested, aspect to Umino’s voice. He really sounds like that kid you knew who was allergic to everything and always seemed about thirty seconds away from blowing his nose.
Besides those bells and whistles, though, Diskin really got the character’s fanboyishness, his naked geekery and social awkwardness, and complete inability to project any kind of cool. It certainly did him a service that Episode 2, which was cut from DiC’s run and had never previously been dubbed into English, is Umino-centric. Diskin rocked it, and I can barely wait to see what he does later in the series.
The only role that seems to be miscast was that of Usagi’s brother, Shingo. This is not a strike against Nicolas Roye, whose performance was fine, but his voice sounds way too deep for a ten-year-old boy. If a decent child actor was unavailable, I see no reason to avoid the time-honored tradition of casting a woman. That's worked for Bart Simpson for twenty-five years.
While the other cast members didn’t appear on screen, the actresses portraying the other four Sailor Senshi were present on the panel, and we got to hear from each of them about how they came to the project and how they intend to interpret their characters. Miller, who will voice Sailor Jupiter, has a very unique take on the experience.
“Sailor Moon was one of those things that I had seen a lot, but didn’t understand it because I saw it when I lived in Germany, because my dad was in the Air Force. So, I would sit there and I would watch, and I would have no idea what was going on. I just knew it was, like, amazing.”
A lifelong Sailor Moon fan, Miller auditioned for every female role, didn’t know she was cast for weeks, and even then didn’t know which part she’d been cast in, but was jazzed to learn that she scored Sailor Jupiter, as Mako-chan has always been her favorite. Mine too, for the record.
“I’m a lot like Makoto, because we were both the tallest kid in our class. I was, like, 5’7” when I was in fifth grade … I did play hockey on a boys’ team. I played goalie. So, I think that I have the tomboy aspect -- and I love green -- but also what I love about the character is that she was very tough but she was also equally as feminine. She was just so ‘I like to ice skate, I like to nerd out over cute boys,’ and I just love that about her. I think we both share that. Like we’re both feminine, but we’ll also kick your butt.”
Miller went on to say that, having watched Sailor Moon dubs in several languages, she’s noticed certain similarities and distinctions in every portrayal of Sailor Jupiter and intends to embrace the core qualities common to each performance, while bringing her own interpretation to the character.
Similar sentiments were expressed by other cast members, particularly Kate Higgins and Robbie Daymond, who stated that while they feel an obligation to honor their DiC predecessors and the fans, all they can really worry about it giving the best performance they can and remaining true to their characters. Can’t ask for more than that.
Charlene Ingram, Senior Director of Animation Marketing for Viz, further stated that the dub is being recorded sequentially, and thus future roles such as the Black Moon Clan and the Outer Senshi have not yet been cast. She also confirmed what has been long suspected, that the voice cast of the new dub will double as the English dub cast of Sailor Moon Crystal. I’m thankful for that. At the very least, it will keep things simple.
The new English dub will be recorded at Studiopolis in Burbank, California. Suzanne Goldish will serve as voice director, with producers Jamie Simone and Rita Majkut. Joshua Lopez is credited as the English Dub Producer.
While the episodes were fun to watch and the cast a joy to meet, it didn’t end there. Ingram was able to provide further details about the Blu-ray and DVD releases of Viz’s Sailor Moon collection.
Volume 1 will cover the first half (Episodes 1-23) of Sailor Moon’s first season. Don’t know how I feel about that. I mean, from a packaging perspective, it makes sense to split the episode count of 46 evenly down the middle, but Episode 24 is the conclusion of a major arc, features the death of a major character and a serious left turn for the direction of the season. It would be a far better place to leave off between box sets, especially since the first episode of Volume 2 in such a scenario would feature the introduction of Sailor Jupiter. It’s only one freakin’ episode. It would not alter costs or profits a bit, and would probably make the fans a lot happier. Sloppy marketing from my perspective, but that’s a fairly minor complaint. I’m still excited as hell!
The Limited Edition will feature the episodes over three discs in both Blu-ray and DVD format (totaling six discs) and will include an 88-page full color art book. It also comes in a premium chipboard box with room for Volume 2 upon its release. This packaging pattern will be repeated for all five seasons of the show, with box art designed for a matching set. The box art for the first season features Sailor Moon on the front with logo, her transformation brooch on the back, and the logo on the spine. The corners are bordered with prismatic holographic accents.
Standard Retail Price is $79.98, though I’m already seeing sites offering pre-order for far less. On the matter of pre-order, there is a limited supply pre-order exclusive coin featuring Sailor Moon’s brooch pattern on the front, along with her transformation call, “Moon Prism Power Make Up,” with the new Sailor Moon logo on the reverse side.
Sailor Moon Volume 1 is currently scheduled for release on November 11, 2014.
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