Sailor Moon R: The Movie Premiere Was Immersive Experience For Fans

We went to the Sailor Moon R: The Movie premiere in Downtown L.A.!

Last Friday, I attended the red carpet premiere of Sailor Moon R: The Movie at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. It was, to put it mildly, pretty freakin’ sweet. Not even taking into account the event itself, the venue is absolutely gorgeous with classic architecture accented by creative lighting. Even little touches like the stained glass exit signs really added an air of charm to the place (see the gallery above!).

Glorious as the venue was, however, that’s not what you clicked this link to read about.

The event itself was awesome, loaded with talented cosplayers and every kind of fan from those introduced through the Viz release to moonies from the ’90s who brought along their kids who have inherited their Sailor Moon love. I dressed for the occasion in Jupiter colors (green shirt, pink tie), because I love all the Senshi, but I had to represent my girl.

There was a merch line that offered all the available home releases as well as a pre-order for the R Movie, and a photo booth complete with props: the Cutie Moon Rod, the Moon Spiral Heart Rod, and the Holy Grail. I confess… I couldn’t pass it up.

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Nearly the entire cast of the movie was in attendance (with the noted exceptions of Kate Higgins, who voices Sailor Mercury, and Johnny Yong Bosch, who voices Artemis), and they were paired on the red carpet with the official cosplayers for the event.

Hit the gallery to see them all together!

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Following the red carpet, a reception was held up on in the hallway outside the mezzanine, where I got to schmooze with the cast, the English script writer for Sailor Moon Crystal, and some Viz officials including Charlene Ingram, who is pretty much the head of all things Sailor Moon at Viz. Other members of the voice acting community were there, like this guy.

That’s Carrie Keranen (The Xenian Flower) photo-bombing me and a certain hot-headed royal figure/erstwhile Lost Boy.

In talking to the cast, I not only found them to be some of the nicest, coolest people in Hollywood, but managed to learn some fun facts about them. For instance:

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Stephanie Sheh is incredibly dedicated to this project, and attended the event on a twisted ankle so that she could be a part of it for herself and for her fans. Any time she wasn’t onstage or on the red carpet, she was on crutches and powered through it just to make the event.

Ben Diskin is incredibly down to Earth and funny, and where a lot of actors like to focus solely on whatever they’re working on at the time, Diskin is totally game to talk about his previous work like Digimon Fusion and Kill La Kill.

Cherami Leigh, not a native of So-Cal, is actually fond of the cold and dreads when it gets too hot in L.A.

And Robbie Daymond has views on the proper execution of a hug. And incidentally, he’s a great hugger.

It was at that point I also managed to get a word with Deborah Crane, who adapts the scripts for Sailor Moon Crystal from the translations provided by Viz.

While Crane didn’t write the English script for the R movie, her comments on the process offered some insight into what goes into adapting an anime for an English-speaking audience. Namely that in the movies, much like in Crystal, the other Sailor Senshi don’t get as much attention.

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“I think the biggest challenge is finding ways to show whatever character I can for the other four girls, because you don’t really get a lot of time with them alone,” Crane told me. “So, it becomes a matter of ‘How can I word this character’s line so that it says something about her personality?’ While staying true to the original meaning, of course.”

Crane also revealed that fidelity to the source material can be a little more complicated than the desire for accuracy. “Sometimes it’s tough because you need to match the mouth flaps with dialogue that sounds right when it’s spoken. It’s not as easy as it looks.”

Crane then revealed that one of her favorite characters to write for is Chibi-Usa. “I slip in some Star Wars references for Sandy [Fox]. Watch those episodes again. More than once you’ll hear, “Help me, Sailor Moon. You’re my only hope.”

After that, everyone filtered into the theatre itself for Charlene Ingram’s live introduction of the movie, which was preceded by Make Up! Sailor Senshi!, a comedic short that I, in 22 years of Sailor Moon fandom, somehow managed to neither see nor hear of. And it’s hardly a masterpiece that sheds light on the series or the film, but it was funny and pretty damn cute. I’m not gonna lie.

Having come up in my moonie fandom on third or fourth generation VHS copies, this was the first time I’d seen Sailor Moon R: The Movie crisp and clear with sharp sound, and damn was it beautiful. I was smiling the whole time, particularly during the opening credits when the entire freakin’ theater sang along to “Moonlight Legend.”

Performances were on point, and I have to hand it to Ben Diskin for not only having the range to go from Umino to Fiore, but to create a voice for Fiore that really suited the character. I was a little surprised that some people were laughing at moments that I never suspected were supposed to be funny, but that’s fine. All part of the theatre-going experience.

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The Q&A afterwards included the cast as well as Suzanne Goldish, the voice director for the franchise, and a surprise appearance by Michelle Ruff, who voices Luna. While some of the cast’s answers to the audience’s questions got a good laugh, as often happens in Sailor Moon discussions some depth was stumbled upon when the topic arose of how themes of love and acceptance run through every incarnation of the franchise. Especially notable, considering the context of the R movie, is the welcoming space that Sailor Moon has always provided for LGBTQ people.

While it would have been very easy to gloss over the homoromantic subtext between Mamoru and Fiore, neither the writers nor the cast shied away from it at all, and I was quite relieved that they didn’t, because you theoretically could read Fiore and Mamoru’s relationship as 100% straight… but why would you?

The panelists commented on how great it was that the characters were certainly surprised by this new information about Mamoru and his backstory, and were trying to figure out exactly what it meant, but Usagi wasn’t going into a crisis about her boyfriend’s sexual orientation. She knows he loves her and is attracted to her. She’s more concerned that there was this critical experience and relationship in his childhood that he never told her about, and that it made her realize how little she still knows about him.

And whether or not there is some aspect of Mamoru that might be attracted to guys or even just Fiore is totally irrelevant. It’s not the point. Love doesn’t need to have a sexual component to be something other than purely platonic. Little boys and girls have crushes on each other all the time, and for those who aren’t aware, two little boys or girls can crush on each other in a cute, innocent way too.

The appreciation for how inclusive and accepting Sailor Moon, both the character and the series is, was shared by all, but the final word on the matter really went to Robbie Daymond, Tuxedo Mask himself. “Kids [that age] don’t think in terms of gay or straight or pansexual. They just love. To have this story where two little boys fall in love because one of them was lonely, and for that connection to follow them throughout their lives… I think that’s awesome.”

Well said, sir. Well said.

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Sailor Moon R: The Movie stars Stephanie Sheh as Sailor Moon, Robbie Daymond as Tuxedo Mask, Kate Higgins as Sailor Mercury, Cristina Vee as Sailor Mars, Amanda Celine Miller as Sailor Jupiter, Cherami Leigh as Sailor Venus, Sandy Fox as Chibi-Usa, Michelle Ruff as Luna, Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis, with Carrie Keranen as The Xenian Flower and Ben Diskin as Fiore.

Check back with Den of Geek soon with a closer look at the Q&A that followed the feature, as well as a green room interview with cast!