SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
WHY WAS SAILOR STARS NEVER DUBBED?
Disclaimer: We never got an official reason why the 5th and final season of Sailor Moon, Sailor Stars, was never translated into English or televised. (My best guess is Theory 5, as Toei has repeatedly shown that they overcharge their clients for the rights to the series) It was televised (and in some cases heavily censored) in other countries, but the English speaking world is far from the only one who didn’t get the end of the story. Here are our best theories as to why Sailor Stars was never dubbed:
#1: THE SAILOR STARLIGHTS
In the manga, the Three Lights (Seiya Kou, Taiki Kou and Yaten Kou) are women from Kinmoku, a now-destroyed planet from outside the Solar System, who disguise themselves as a male boy band in order to sing songs that may help them to locate their lost princess, Princess Kakyuu. In the anime, their backstory is the same, but instead of just cross-dressing as males, they physically become men. You see them shirtless on more than one occasion. And when they transform to the Sailor Starlights, they become women again. One version of their transformations even has animation where you can watch their breasts grow. For obvious reasons, characters who physically change back and forth between male and female wouldn’t go over too well on children’s television.
P.S. Sailor Star Maker’s attack is – no joke – “Star Gentle Uterus.” Easily changed, but…yeah. Star Gentle Uterus.
#2 HOMOSEXUALITY/QUEER RELATIONSHIPS
As I stated in the previous episode, Seiya’s love for Usagi is unquestionably a queer one. They might be physically male when they’re romancing her (or at least attempting to) but there’s no easy way of disguising that Seiya spends at least half of their life as a female (nor can they turn Seiya’s love for Usagi into a loving relationship between cousins :P). Haruka and Michiru’s relationship is a lot more suggestive in this season, as well.
Practically every character dies in this season. Sorry for the spoilers there. DiC went to absurd lengths to conceal that Sailor Moon, Prince Endymion and the Inners all died in the battle against Queen Beryl. There’s no way to conceal the deaths here, because Eternal Sailor Moon is forced to watch them happen. Sailor Galaxia/Chaos’s plan is to become the most powerful being in the galaxy, and for that she collects every true Star Seed she can find. True Star Seeds are generally found in Sailor Senshi, Princes and Princesses. Once the Star Seed is removed, the owner of it painfully disappears into nothingness.
For the final episode, #200, Usagi uses the Silver Crystal’s purity to heal Galaxia. But while she’s doing that, she’s completely naked, with only the Silver Crystal on her chest and a pair of white wings. You can’t see any details, as the style is similar to how the transformation sequences are animated, with breast and crotch outlines. DiC and Cloverway removed the body lines in the transformations, but unless they wanted to spend a ton of money digitally painting a teeny tiny bikini on Usagi, they’d have to have the finale of their show with its star flying around naked for half the episode. If you’re wondering why she was naked, it is because Usagi’s greatest power is her purity, and the nude body is considered a symbol of purity in Japan. Western society has a little trouble differentiating a naked body from a sexual one.
#5 THEY COULDN’T GET THE RIGHTS
I usually use DiC and Cloverway as a shorthand for referring to the two phases of the English dub, but all of it was scripted, recorded and composed by Optimum Productions, which is based in Mississauga (a city west of Toronto), Ontario. They only purchased the licencing rights up to the end of SuperS. There are two theories – one is that Toei demanded more money for the rights to Stars than Optimum was willing to pay. The second is that Toei were pissed off about the quality of the English dub, and refused to sell the licence to Optimum.
WILL SAILOR STARS EVER BE DUBBED?
YES! I’d honestly lost all hope that this story arc would ever get an English language dub, but VIZ Media recently purchased the rights to the entire Sailor Moon anime, and are gradually releasing a new subtitle & English dub track. They have promised to release the series entirely uncut and complete. Note though that it will take a long time before VIZ releases Stars on Hulu/DVD/Blu-Ray, since the series will be released in half-season box sets every few months.
IS THERE A WAY TO WATCH SAILOR STARS?
Not legally, at least not yet. VIZ has been uploading subtitled (and some dubbed) episodes to Hulu at a rate of 2 episodes per week, but as there are 200 episodes, it will take several years before those episodes are available. I can’t even estimate when the DVD/Blu-Ray release of this season will be available. Be prepared to wait a while.
There is a fandub that has been working on the season for several years, but they have completed only 9 episodes (and there are over 30 in this season, so at the rate they’re going we’ll all be in our 50s when they’re finished). I refuse to link to them because, although their work has high production values, I’ve had enough of seeing the series I love given the DiC treatment. Yes, they are intentionally slavishly imitating DiC’s style of dubbing. Cuts, music changes, dialogue changes, digital changes, the works. AND they are mostly censoring Haruka & Michiru’s relationship because there are kids watching or something. I find that extremely disrespectful and homophobic. If you’re going to do a fandub, do it faithfully or not at all. If you absolutely must watch the fandub, it’s easy to find on Google.