As of this year, the anime series that defined childhoods for an entire generation turns 20 years old. In recognition, FanExpo breathed new life into its Anime section by organizing a reunion of members of the English voice cast.
The event had no trouble hitting capacity, and without a doubt it was a room full of love. A crowd of very unique individuals came together, all expressing the values the anime had taught them. The tone was set when every fan in the room joined together to serenade the cast with the anime’s opening theme song within the first five minutes of the panel. (Just imagine a solid 200 fully grown adults all belting out, “Fighting evil by moonlight! Winning love by daylight!”)
The panel consisted of Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon), Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars), Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter), Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask, a.k.a. everyone’s first crush on a fictional character), and the series’ voice director, John Stocker, whom all took turns fielding compelling questions from the fans, with plenty of anecdotes and jokes along the way to re-spark the feeling magic and wonder that made the series great to begin with.
The cast wasted no time in loving the fans back, by performing their iconic battle cries live:
The screaming and shaking after Tuxedo Masks talks is totally because I was attacked by a mysterious jaguar. Totally. Not at all the work of fangirl hysteria. Sssssshhh.
Toby Proctor spoke about the moment he realized the impact that Sailor Moon had on people, upon seeing a toddler on Toronto’s public transit wearing a Tuxedo Mask backpack in the early 90’s. Katie Griffin recalled a similar experience of walking into a video store in Toronto’s Chinatown to feed her love of kung-fu films, only to find the store stocked with merchandise from the anime and employees who acted nonchalantly towards her excited declarations of “I’m Sailor Mars! I am Sailor Mars!”. Susan Roman took a moment to spread the love for cosplayers, describing her awe and excitement at first seeing fans dressed like Sailor Scouts at conventions.
Fans got to show off their smarts as well as their adoration by posing questions that evoked thoughtful and inspiring answers from the cast, such as when an attendee asked which personality aspects each actor liked and disliked about their characters:
“[Sailor Jupiter] is not afraid to express how she’s feeling at the moment,” Susan Roman answered first, “She’s not afraid to call friends out on bad behavior,” as well as adding that she disliked “nothing” about her character.
Katie Griffin then explained her attachment to the character Sailor Mars, saying that “she is fiercely loyal and a hard worker”, while Linda Ballantyne dabbled in child psychology by expressing her favourite thing about Sailor Moon being that “she’s a goofball and that’s important for teenagers.”
Toby Proctor then took the mic to give his own take on Tuxedo Mask: “I don’t like that he was mean to girls and that they would buy into it. I don’t want my daughter liking jerks.” – actual feminist Tuxedo Mask? Nice.
One of the most important moments of the panel came when questions started being raised about possible changes to canon in the new upcoming Sailor Moon reboot series, and how some of the characters were portrayed in the English dub from the 90’s. Ballantyne stated plainly that she disliked the censorship of Uranus’ and Neptune’s relationship, to an uproar of applause and cheers. (And thus my faith in humanity was restored). She emphasized that “we are ready for it now”.
It’s more than readiness even in a diverse and accepting society like urban Canada – there is a serious need for more LGBT role models in today’s media and pop culture.
Stocker took time to further discuss possibilities for the new and improved anime on the horizon, but also admitted that he and the other original cast were currently not involved. Information about the new series has been quiet but he admitted to hearing rumours about recordings happening in the United States with an all-new cast, which is a heartbreaking possibility once you remember that the phenomena of Sailor Moon in the western world started in Canada, with casting and recording taking place here. (Finally, good things from the Canadian Content mandate!) He quickly followed up by urging fans to research the current owner of rights to the series and mobilize as a fandom to bring back the original cast into Canadian studios: “One in ten thousand will say what they want to say … if everyone in the room sent the owners an email, it doesn’t seem like it would – but it will carry an immense amount.”
This hour spent with the cast, crew and fans was not just a delightful wave of nostalgia, but a real reminder to Moonies everywhere about just how special and enduring the spirit of Sailor Moon is. She is the one! And so are we all.