They may have many voice credits to their names, but together Linda Ballantyne and Katie Griffin are most recognised as the voices of Sailor Moon (Serena) and Sailor Mars (Raye) from the ’90s English dub of Sailor Moon. During their panel at Supanova in Brisbane, they talked about how it wouldn’t be until their very first convention, over two decades after the original American dub of Sailor Moon ended, that they would realise how iconic they and their characters were.
On the way to that first panel, Ballantyne and Griffin saw a line of 400 people waiting for one theatre. Ballantyne remembered telling Griffin, “Could you imagine having that panel?” But when they realised these people were lining up to see them, “There was panic”. It set in further when they realised that the 400 couldn’t get in because the 2,000 seat theatre was already full. “It was amazing!”
Griffin remembered how previously they had no idea of the show’s enduring popularity. “It was the first time we realised the impact that Sailor Moon had on people. Because as voice actors, you don’t know. People watch your show, sometimes you get a season two, sometimes you get more. And sometimes you don’t.”
Since then, the duo has come to understand why Sailor Moon’s popularity lives on. “I think it’s a friendship thing,” Griffin theorised. “I think first of all the scouts all had different personalities, so everyone can relate to the different characters, and also the friendships were believable, because they didn’t always get along but they had each other’s backs. That doesn’t always happen in shows, but [in] this one it did!”
When asked about whether they preferred the style of ’90s or modern anime, Ballantyne revealed she wasn’t immediately taken by the look of Sailor Moon. “When I first saw the Sailor Moon stuff, her head was just growing to five times its size because she’s angry and her eyes are now pinpoints. At first, when I saw it, I was like, ‘This is weird. This is dumb. What is going on?’ Then I fell in love with it.”
Griffin’s favourite episodes were when Raye broke out of her usual habits. “I always loved when Chad was around. It was good for Raye because she’s so serious all the time, and it was a little bit of comic relief for her because she’s always very serious. Or when we would fight.”
Of course, they couldn’t retain their excitement when an audience member asked if they would still return to the series if they were ever offered the chance, both of them simultaneously exclaiming, “Yeesss!”
Ballantyne: “Of course we would! Do you know how hard it is to say goodbye to a character that you love so much? Because they’re all just little parts of your heart that you do. And you don’t realise that the last recording you go in for will be your last recording.”
Griffin: “We knew there’d be more and then unfortunately because of censorship at the time — because it was the early ’90s — that’s why it shut down. We were waiting for that last season. But I’m super happy that they re-did [Sailor Moon].”
Unfortunately, that’s less than likely to happen, but that doesn’t mean they’re disappearing! Griffin was excited to talk a little about her recently announced show, “I also do on-camera stuff. I have a new [Netflix] series coming out in April called Grand Army. It’s a high school drama. It’s not for the faint of heart. A lot of bad things happen; I can’t talk about that.”
Ballantyne also had something she was nervous to mention to the crowd. “I’m in quite a few series right now. I’ve got one called, oddly enough, Let’s Go Luna! And I’m an Australian in it. And I’m not great at doing an Australian accent, and now that I’ve been here it’s like, ‘Ooooh, we might need to go back and redo those…’”
Lead image: Linda Ballantyne and Katie Griffin at Supanova 2019 – Brisbane. Photo by Ewan Ly.