Sailor Neptune is known for her maturity and iconic romantic relationship with Sailor Uranus. She was brought to life by Barbara Radecki in Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon S: Hearts in Ice and Sailor Moon Super S: Black Dream Hole.
Radecki grew up in Montreal on the West Island and had a passion for writing and reading Shakespeare plays throughout her childhood. In high school her focus in writing was still present however, she took a leap of faith and auditioned for Alice in Wonderland and was cast as Alice.
Radecki credits her high school teacher and plays director John Whitman for teaching her what it meant to be an actor.
“Writing is a very solitary experience and acting is a very communal experience and right away I had this wonderful time working with all these different actors and learning what it meant to convey emotion, and John taught me what it was like to really inhabit a character,” she said. “In the meantime, I stopped getting positive reinforcement for my writing so I kind of felt that maybe my gift is really being an actor. So that is what I pursued,” Radecki said.
She got her BFA in acting at the University of Windsor and said her career took off quickly. “I went from Montreal to Windsor to Toronto which is where I felt is the best place in Canada to do an acting career, and I was one of the lucky ones as my career took off quite quickly,” Radecki said.
Radecki stated that she got a lot of lead roles in various series and while it didn’t go anywhere, it was enough for her to earn a living and support her lifestyle.
The history of Sailor Moon is very rich and deep for every actor involved. Radecki’s history started with the character of Queen Serenity in the very first episode of the show.
“When I first did Sailor Moon I had the very first line in the English dub series because I was the one voiced Queen Serenity and that very first line that she had in episode one, and I actually forgot about that until I re-watched some of the episodes recently and I’m like ‘oh! That’s me!’ I forgot I did that!”
She also voiced Serena’s mom Ikuko Tsukino and shares her first impression of Serena. “You probably know that I also played Serena’s mom, and all I saw of Sailor Moon because we only see the scenes that we are dubbing all I saw was this in my mind bratty kid who was always whining and crying, and you know boy crazy,” Radecki said.
Radecki recounted a funny experience she had with her own daughter regarding Sailor Moon.
“I had my oldest daughter at the time and Sailor Moon was a big thing for all the kids at that point and she wanted to watch it,” she said. “I absolutely forbade her from watching it, because I believed so much in female empowerment and I wanted her to have a really good sense of her womanhood and I wasn’t sure where Sailor Moon fit into all of that. And she tells me that the first and probably only time she was ever grounded, was when I caught her watching Sailor Moon as I came home early and I grounded her from going to see her friends.”
It was when Radecki got the part of Sailor Neptune that her impression of Sailor Moon changed. “It was only when I got the part of Sailor Neptune, that I could see the more serious side of the show that really does involve female empowerment, and it is about these heroes coming together to make the world a better place and save the world,” she said.
Radecki said that she is going back and watching all the episodes on YouTube.
“Now in retrospect, having this new interest in Sailor Moon that has sustained over 20 years I’m going back now and watching the full episodes on YouTube, and seeing this whole story of this reluctant hero who doesn’t believe in herself, doesn’t believe she can be the hero, who is a regular girl who sometimes has meltdowns, and sometimes is boy crazy but is also committed slowly but surely to saving the world and making the world a better place.”
She expressed that she is proud of being a part of Sailor Moon that has a statement at its heart which is: People working together and fighting for what’s right.
Radecki was also proud to have the role of Sailor Neptune. “Not to mention the fact that I get to be this character that embraces the whole LGBTQ community, and the fact that this is one of the first lesbian couples to ever be portrayed in animation and probably even in the greater television world.”
In the English dub of Sailor Moon Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus’ romantic relationship was changed to cousins. Radecki shares her thoughts. “I know at the time in the North American version you weren’t supposed to know that they were lovers instead of cousins, but obviously in retrospect we know that now and I could speak to that and say as soon as I found out I was very disappointed that we couldn’t be open about the fact that they were girlfriends at the time. But I’m extremely proud that I got to be part of something really special that way,” she said.
Radecki mentioned that the producer and director told her that they were cousins. “When I started voicing Neptune they told us they were cousins, so that was my understanding for the first two episodes,” she said.
It’s very rare in voice over work for actors work with partners in the same booth, however, there was a day where Radecki was working with Sarah Lafleur (Sailor Uranus) and the producer and director talked to them about the true nature of Neptune’s and Uranus’ relationship.
“I remember they told us: ‘Oh you know what? This is actually a lesbian couple, and we need your voices to get lower now because in case anyone notices that they are a couple we want these girls to be of age because obviously these girls are having a consensual romantic relationship.’ So they wanted it to be clear that these were young women and not children,” Radecki said.
Now years later, we have seen a shift in how open and accepting we’ve become and Radecki says the LGBTQ community probably feels it’s been a long time coming and it says a lot about the human spirit.
“So I remember distinctly in that time going from they’re cousins and not really thinking anything of it because in the first couple of episodes there is nothing romantic, but before it became romantic and being told that they were girlfriends and then at that moment being disappointed like: ‘Why can’t they just be girlfriends in the show?’ she said. ”But that was that time and those were the kinds of things that wasn’t I guess allowed to be expressed in children’s shows, and now we don’t think twice about it. That just goes to show you how far we’ve come in 20 years.”
Radecki was a young mom at the time she started working on Sailor Moon and explains how Sailor Neptune inspired and empowered her.
“You know it’s interesting because that character is a very serious character. She takes her work very seriously, she’s very committed to what she’s doing, she doesn’t hesitate and she does what she has to do,” she said. “In some respects when you’re a young mom as I was when I started- your first goal is to take care of your children, make sure they’re safe, happy, and nurtured and sometimes your work takes a backseat which is why it took me so long to get back to my writing.”
She continued. “I think a character like Sailor Neptune- someone who focuses very much on what she has to do, is a nice counter balance to a person who’s very nurturing and wanting to make sure everyone’s happy and take care of everyone’s feelings,” Radecki said. “Sailor Neptune wasn’t touchy feely like that, so I think in terms of a role model for me I would say that’s my big takeaway from her is that she does what she has to do and I respect and admire that.”
Radecki details what she felt Sailor Neptune represents for women. “I think all the characters represent different things to each individual person. So I think each individual person takes different things from these characters and that’s why Sailor Moon has such a long-lasting impact because everyone is going to get something different out of it,” she begins.
“One person may get female empowerment, one person might get the acceptance of love between people of the same sex, and some people might get saving the world. I guess if I was to speak broadly I would say that’s what she represents. I think the young sailor scouts represent what it really feels like to be an adolescent and how confused you are by love, growing up, autonomy, and being your own person.”
She commented on how this relates to Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune.
“I think Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus represent the other side of that learning experience. They’ve come into their own and can show the viewers what it’s like to be grounded. I think when you’re very young you come away from being a child and you sort of feel like ‘oh where is my place in the world? Where do I fit in? What’s my purpose in life? And you feel very unsettled,” Radecki said. “But there comes a time in your life and it might not happen in your early twenties or late teens but I think for Sailor Neptune is an example of a young woman who has found herself, has found her purpose, she’s herself and very grounded.”
Radecki stated what she hopes people can learn from Sailor Neptune. “I hope that’s what young people can take away that you will get to a point where you’ll feel where you can own yourself, own your mission, own your voice and not apologize for that to anybody.”
Barbara Radecki’s upcoming book The Darkhouse comes out Fall 2016 through Cormorant/DCB Books in Canada and in Spring 2017 through Orca Books USA. It’s a psychological thriller about a 14-year-old girl who discovers her whole life is a lie, and she has to run from everything she’s ever known in order to find her true self.