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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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Cast and crew celebrate 20 years of Sailor Moon

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Sailor Moon

TORONTO — Twenty years after its original airing in Japan, Sailor Moon is still recognized as one of the most influential cartoons of its genre in North America.

And at this year’s Fan Expo in Toronto, members of the original cast and crew celebrated the milestone with a panel discussion featuring voice actors Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon), Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars), Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter) and Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask), as well as voice director John Stocker.

The Sailor Moon series was the Toronto Jewish voice director’s first time in that position, and it has since led to him working as director on a number of cartoons, including Totally Spies, Redakai, and Caillou. Stocker is also well known for his voice-acting work, perhaps most famously as Beastly in the Care Bears.

But the Sailor Moon reunion brought back together a cast that he described as particularly special.

“Sometimes you do get together with a cast where everybody just gets along, and not only do they get along during the time we’re recording, but years down the road, we have times like this where it gets even stronger, and the reflections are wonderful and we enjoy working as a team and we’ve become even better friends,” Stocker said at the Fan Expo panel talk.

Despite several change in voice actors over the course of the series, and the fact the crew had to work on a low budget, it had a lasting impact.

For many young girls, Sailor Moon was their first introduction to anime, and it gave them a show about a group of women – the Sailor Scouts – who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty as they fought for love and justice.

Stocker said it was the first time young girls ever saw “girl power” in all its glory in a cartoon, which may explain why so many have been touched by it.

At Fan Expo, one woman thanked the panelists for their work in bringing the show to Canada, showing her that anybody – even a goofy “meatball head,” a reference to Sailor Moon’s trademark hairstyle – can do good.

Stocker said many fans express similar sentiments to him and the cast.

“Some refer to individual scouts as being guiding forces, role models or mentors,” he told The CJN. “[The voice actors are] often thanked for giving them something they’ve been able to pass along to and share with their daughters.”

He said a lot of mothers “cosplay” – short for costume play – with their daughters at the conventions, with both dressed as scouts.

The mere fact that so many people showed up to Fan Expo dressed in Sailor Scout uniforms demonstrated how long the show’s influence has lasted, even though Stocker said he and most of the voice actors had no idea of its impact until years after it aired.

“I had already dropped it off my resume,” he said. “Then, when I did Fan Expo a few years ago, I looked around and talked to a lot of people. Suddenly it really hit me. This thing is huge.”

Fans will be happy to know that coinciding with Sailor Moon’s 20th anniversary, creator Naoko Takeuchi announced a reboot of the series. It’s set to debut this winter, although it hasn’t been announced whether Stocker and his voice actors will return to work on an English dub.

They all expressed interest at the panel, and Stocker urged fans to contact the production company – rumoured to be Toonami – to tell them they’d like the original crew back together.

“You want to hear this gang, you want to see all of us again doing Season 6, we’d love to do it,” he said.

But if he had the opportunity to get involved with the reboot, he has one thing he would change.

“I’d take my time with it,” he said. “It was recorded in too much of a hurry. Sometimes we had to sacrifice production and performance values for the sake of budget. Can you imagine how amazing it would be if we had the time to pay attention to a little more detail?”

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