By Joseph Walter
Like all of these early anime juggernauts, Sailor Moon was edited for content, and its scripts were "Westernized" or "Americanized" at the behest of worried producers in order to appease to an audience that they thought wouldn't understand the concept of shows being made in other countries.
Prominently for DBZ and Sailor Moon, their original musical score were entirely stripped and replaced with a new one for American audience. This subject riles up diehard fans of both shows, but I'm going to take the controversial stance that Sailor Moon's new soundtrack, composed by Bob Summers, is actually better than the Japanese original. Hell, I'm dying for a full release, and prepared to fight for it!
For this week's Soundcheck, I'm discussing some of my favorite cues from the localized score of Sailor Moon. Now, the selection of these is partly based on how much I love them (a lot) but also because they are a handful of the very few officially released portions of the score.
Tuxedo Mask's extended theme, for example, was never released, nor were any of the love themes or other dreamy compositions, and it's a bummer. So, once again, fingers crossed for a full release, but, in the meantime, let's enjoy what we do have.
Click on the song titles to give them a listen!
The noble brass and dancing strings at the start gracefully explode into what can best be described as magical fairy dust, excellently setting the stage for Sailor Moon's graceful metamorphosis.
The oboe synth lays out the ground work for the transformation motif, creating a sensation that what we are about to see is both mysterious and gorgeous, if not slightly somber. It is quickly joined by the full synthetic orchestra, as the brass and strings swirl around it to the beat of a 90s drum machine.
The swell at :21 coupled with the magical, echoing sound effect is such an iconic moment, and it's the second rendition is wonderfully backed by a smash of timpani at :29.
The final climax of layered brass and the stand-offish conclusion that settles the entire orchestration into a wall of power are a great way to close off the piece and give the necessary impact to Sailor Moon's transformed state.
It's hard to adequately describe what works so well with this track; it just perfectly captures the build-up and excitement of the transformation, while simultaneously nails everything you need to understand about the series in musical form. It's dreamy, romantic, cool and, honestly, epic.
The funky bass line, the brass flourishes and strong, noble theme build-up Sailor Moon's finishing move gloriously, and then it all perfectly concludes with the dissonant scattering to accompany the destruction of the monster-of-the-day.
Starting with a rather cheesy synthetic string version of Bach's Toccata, it's followed by an eerie by an eerie series of pained, drawn out notes, which are the basis of the main theme.
The song then transitions into full-power, with this brooding, bubbling version of the previous drawn out notes. Heavy synths, deep bass, and a sprinkling of high-pitched, spooky notes, conjures an atmosphere that sounds exactly the way Queen Beryl's lair looks.
An incredibly well done piece.
The opening, dreamy harps, the first, noble hit of brass, and then the driving drums, bass and bad-ass horns do the job, and the piece ends on a rather ominous note, giving the whole thing a great sense of story-telling.
It's cheesy as all Hell but... like... why is it so good?
It plays during Sailor Moon's climactic final battle with Queen Beryl and, honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Cheesy lyrics about the power of friendship and teamwork are backed by a sick guitar playing and a catchy theme, perfectly coming to a dreamy head with a solo and then, at 1:11 a magical series of notes that explodes into a powerful, guitar driven climax before returning to the refrain.
Do yourself a favor and watch this final battle on YouTube. Seeing the imagery and this song intertwined may just bring a tear to your eye, as it has mine.
"Power of Love" accompanies Sailor Moon, the Sailor Scouts, Tuxedo Mask and even the 900 year-old toddler, Rini, in their fateful and ultimate encounter with the Doom Phantom during the show's second season.
Once again, incredibly cheesy lyrics accompany a very, very 90s pop song and yet... again... like, why is is this so epic? Is it nostalgia? Or is it because it's just honestly this awesome?
You've... you've just gotta believe in the power of love. That's all there is to it.
Really, watch this final battle, too. The song fits perfectly, and, really, it gives me chills.
The lyrics are far too on-the-nose, talking about "Prism Power might," and what not, but God, if it doesn't work in context.
Perhaps most intriguing is that this song was performed by Stan Bush. Yes, Stan Bush, the one that gave the Transformers "The Touch." And somehow, someway, that makes it even better.