A fan of the series since 1995, Koriander runs the popular Moon Sisters fan site and studies the Sailor Moon franchise closely.
Who Named the Mini Moon Princess?
If you have only been watching Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Crystal, and Sailor Moon Eternal on streaming services or via Viz Media's DVDs and Blu-Rays, then you might be wondering why new articles from sources such as Screen Rant and CBR are calling Chibiusa "Rini." That name is never used in either the subtitled or Viz dubbed anime, nor does it appear in the more recent reprints of the Sailor Moon manga.
The reason for this bizarre and shortened name can be traced all the way back to 1995 and to the first American run of the original Sailor Moon anime.
Back in 1995, DiC Entertainment was granted the license to 65 episodes of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon R, which the company edited, dubbed, and sent off into syndication as just plain Sailor Moon, with a few episodes dropped and episodes 45 and 46 fused into one. In some markets, the first 13 episodes of Sailor Moon R ran ahead of the rest of the season, completely out of continuity and out of order.
In order to appeal to North American audiences, many Japanese names were either altered or dropped completely.
For example, Usagi Tsukino, the reincarnated Princess Serenity, just became "Serena" with her last name Tsukino not being revealed until Tokyopop released the Meet Sailor Moon fan book years later. (Not to be confused with the Toys R Us Meet Sailor Moon book from 1995.)
Rei had her name re-spelled as "Raye" and Minako's name was shortened to "Mina" while Ami Mizuno had her name Americanized to "Amy Anderson."
Makoto became Lita, Mamoru became "Darien," and as the 65-episode run kept going, more and more names were altered and dropped.
Young and more internet savvy anime fans hated the insult of having DiC's editing team change the original set of names, when other edited anime titles like Dragonball Z and Robotech actually kept a few of the Japanese names intact. But it didn't deter fans from watching, nor did it keep them from buying new BanDai, GordyToy, and Irwin merchandise with the shorter names on the packaging and trading cards.
Depending on which TV market fans lived in during the first run airing of Sailor Moon on syndicated stations, and on Fox Kids in some markets, early fans of the show first saw Chibiusa on or after October 25, 1995, in episode 54, Serena Times Two, or as it aired in Japan on June 26, 1993, episode 60, Angel? Devil? The Mysterious Girl From The Sky.
Initially sharing the same name as title character Sailor Moon, the small girl with pink pigtails and bright red eyes would soon be known as "Rini" to North American audiences, and not as "Chibiusa" as Japan knew her.
Is it "Teeny Reeny" or Just Plain Rini?
Early tech savvy Sailor Moon fans in North America initially hated Rini, who was then voiced by Tracey Hoyt.
While the first few episodes of Sailor Moon R did make Chibiusa to be scheming and antagonistic, the DiC version of "Rini" upped the ante, making her even more of an incredibly selfish brat with an annoying voice, who did nothing except to insult and bully Serena and encourage other characters to taunt the title character. She would terrorize Serena endlessly and get a free pass just because she was small.
The first ever fan sites misspelled her name as 'Sereeny", "Reeny" or "Reeney" because on the show, other characters would call her "Teeny Rini" and crack jokes about how very similar Rini is to Serena, especially when the girls are upset.
But it's really no surprise at all that the two would look alike.
Rini wasn't just mimicking Serena to mock her or to steal her thunder.
She was actually Serena's daughter from the future.
Thanks to a fan campaign, DiC, Optimum Productions and The Program Exchange were able to secure the final episodes of Sailor Moon R, but eager fans wouldn't be able to see the big reveal of Rini being Serena and Darien's daughter until Cartoon Network's Toonami aired the episode as Sailor Moon: The Lost Episodes episode 76, Legend of the Negamoon on November 13, 1997, two years after Rini debuted and three years after Japan had seen this reveal for Chibiusa on January 29, 1994 in episode 83, The Shocking Future: Demande's Ambition.
Once Rini was revealed as Serena's child, everything about her name started to fit for the fans.
Tokyopop/Mixx/Chix Comix by this point had licensed the Sailor Moon manga. Their initial run flipped the pages to fit American style comic books and released certain arcs out of order to speed through the run. While many Japanese names were kept beginning with the Infinity Arc, Chibiusa would stay "Rini" for the entire run.
Then in 1999, the Sailor Moon movies were released out of order and without shorts and extras, followed up by a Cloverway dub of Sailor Moon S and eventually, Sailor Moon SuperS. Fans appreciated this half of the series because Cloverway made fewer edits, and because after the movies, Tracey Hoyt was replaced with Stephanie "Sugar Lyn" Beard, whose childish voice is closer to Chibiusa's original voice actress Kae Araki.
With a new voice also came a sweeter personality and less teasing, however this Rini also used a lot more urban slang than her Japanese counterpart ever did.
Starting with the Cloverway dub, Chibiusa's superhero identity as Sailor Chibi Moon was now changed to "Sailor Mini Moon" to both capitalize on the new fame surrounding Dr. Evil and Mini Me in the second Austin Powers movie and as a play on "Chibi" meaning "Small" or "Kid" and Chibiusa/Rini being a "Small Sailor Moon."
But there's another reason why people still call her "Rini" on the internet.
A Family Connection
Chibiusa's full name is Princess Usagi Small Lady Serenity, which is shortened when she becomes an adult in Sailor Moon Eternal to Princess Lady Serenity.
Her mother's last name of Tsukino is added when she attends school while she is in the past.
However everyone who knows her calls her "Chibi-Usa" as an abbreviated nickname meaning "Small Usagi" again referencing who her mother is.
In the final chapter of the manga Parallel Sailor Moon, the version of Chibiusa Usagi has given birth to after the StarS arc is just named "Chibiusa Tsukino".
While most people would assume that "Rini" is just short for "Serena" and "Serenity," it's not an English name at all.
Rini is also a Japanese name meaning "Little Bunny," making it very close to Chibiusa by definition.
This makes sense as "Usagi" is Japanese for "Bunny" and Bunny is Serena's name in the Tokyopop version of the manga and in the German version of the anime and manga. The family last name "Tsukino" means "On The Moon" referencing the Japanese legend of a mochi making rabbit on the Moon.
It also works where in Parallel Sailor Moon, Chibiusa has a younger sister named Kousagi or "Ko-Usagi" which means "Small Bunny."
Since Kodansha began re-releasing the Sailor Moon manga and Viz dubbed and subbed an uncensored cut of the anime, Chibiusa has not been known as "Rini" in any new merchandise or media.
But now that the past has been revealed, it no longer seems like a bad thing if Rini slips out once in a blue moon.
© 2021 Koriander Bullard
Nigel Kirk from Calgary, AB, CAN on September 26, 2021:
And to think, the DiC dubs are now thought of fondly thanks to nostalgia (though I still bought the VIZ DVD's for my niece).
Naomi Starlight from Illinois on September 22, 2021:
Her existence is explained but that didn't make her any less annoying. But they later add instances of Usagi being the clueless one and her being wiser than Usagi, which I would like, except that they also set up a love triangle it seems like between Rini, Mamoru and Bunny/Usagi. Yikes!