I am no stranger to Sailor Moon, although this is the first time I'm attempting to write about the show in any great detail.
I collected the manga in volumes as it was released by MIXX/Tokyopop. Sailor Moon was my first anime, although I didn't grow up watching it on TV when I was a little kid. My best friend showed me the R movie when I was a freshman in high school, and at that time, SuperS was airing on TV after school.
My Sailor Moon history is pretty extensive, but it's also an extensive fandom.
--I have read and reread the entire manga many, many times.
--I have seen S and SuperS (seasons 3 and 4) a fair number of times in English dub, S once in sub.
--I have seen the entire live-action series.
This is the first time I've seen Season 1; my goal is to watch the rest of the series, and then I might try watching fansubbed copies of the Myus (Sailor Moon live-action stage musicals).
When dubbed and edited for American broadcast, DiC made a lot of alterations that changed the tone of the show. I feel that this is best shown (concisely) by the different opening sequences. The Japanese OP focuses a lot on duality (Sailor Moon v. Usagi), and is very flowery and twirly. The American OP focuses on action, speeds up a lot of the animation, and adds gaudy frames and electric guitar. [Note that the Japanese Season 1 gets a new OP after Jupiter and Venus join the team.]
I really like Serena's voice in the first few episodes of the dub, before they change it. She actually sounds like a 14-year-old girl.
After about 20 episodes, Serena's best friend Molly (before she met the other Sailor Senshi) accidentally falls in love with one of the enemy! Serena tries to tell her not to love Nephlite, but Molly doesn't listen. She knows that deep down inside, he has a good soul. Too bad that in the English dub, Nephlite sounds like a total pedophile, and her trying to save him just ends up being confusing and WTF. "MOLLY, HE'S EVIL," doesn't hold sway with Molly.
After Nephlite bites the dust, Queen Beryl asks Zoisite to attack the Sailor Senshi. Zoisite does so, while fellow Minor Big Bad Malachite watches on.
At times, Zoisite can be a little effeminate - crossing his legs and holding his fingertips to his lips when laughing.
It is soon apparent that Kunzite and Malachite are totally in love. Kunzite dies in Malachite's arms, and later Malachite angsts over a photograph of himself and Kunzite. So of course, in the DiC dub, Kunzite is made female. (This becomes more disturbing in Season S, when the lesbian pair Sailors Uranus and Neptune are referred to as "cousins" in the English dub.)
While I didn't mind Mamoru in the manga, I basically hate Darien in Season 1 of the anime. He's so mean and useless! The dramatic plot is stupid too - he already has amnesia, so then when he's captured, he gets amnesia AGAIN.
I won't spend a lot of time on it because so many other people have elsewhere on the Internet, but Sailor Mars is my favorite sailor senshi (although it is really hard to choose....I love everyone except for Mercury). And in the anime, she's boy-crazy and constantly nagging/arguing with Usagi. In the manga, she's arguably the most mature of the Inner Senshi, and ends up taking a chastity vow for Sailor Moon. She has absolutely no interest in men (and Naoko Takeuchi loves to draw her provocatively with Sailor Venus).
DiC edited the series pretty heavily throughout. While the write-ups at this site are irritating to me this site
comprehensively describes the changes made to every episode of Sailor Moon. None of the editing was as extensive as the editing done to the last two episodes of Season 1 (at least, not yet).
The ending is much more dramatic in the Japanese version; Sailors Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Mars all die, in addition to Tuxedo Mask. After Sailor Jupiter dies and Sailor Moon wants to capitulate to Queen Beryl to end the death, Sailor Mercury actually slaps her. All of this was deleted from the dubbed version.
The sacrifice of each Senshi is so moving! And I love how Usagi is so naive, and how the other girls are all in silent agreement that this is necessary. After Sailor Mercury volunteers to stay behind, Sailor Mars leads the way forward while Sailor Venus literally pushes Sailor Moon away so that they leave Mercury behind, taking advantage of her sacrifice in getting farther away.
Hearing their death screams is also a lot more dramatic than DiC's dub, in which the girls always give quips about the "Negaverse" (apparently "Dark Kingdom" wasn't a badass enough title) being "Negatrash," etc.
I take personal satisfaction in that Sailor Mars' death was the most dramatic - her screams were most nightmare-inducing, and I LOVED her grabbing the tail of the second youma after the youma and Sailor Moon both thought she was dead, and yelling, "I'm not done yet!" and then killing the youma with Fire Soul.
It's also way more dramatic when she faces the mind-controlled Endymion (/Darien/Tuxedo Mask) - he holds her up by the neck while she screams.
It's probably because I just re-watched all of Buffy, but there are a lot of parallels. Buffy as a whole is a better-developed show, and Buffy is not so whiny as Usagi, but it's relatively the same: a blonde chosen one who experiences a lot of growth over the course of the series as she is helped by her friends (oftentimes much more mature than she) to defeat supernatural enemies. When Endymion gets mind-controlled, there are many overtones of Angelus. And I'll probably revisit the parallels when I write about the S Season, specifically between Dawn and Hotaru.
Pioneer used to own the license to distribute Sailor Moon in the U.S., but they have gone out of business. Currently, nobody holds the license. Because the DVDs/etc. are out of print, it is possible to watch them online at YouTube. I highly recommend using Wikipedia
to keep track of episodes (Japanese and U.S. numbering are different, as the US cut some episodes).
Reward for making it to the end: a fan-made version of the OP, in which Japanese fanboys make a live-action version. American fans who are unfamiliar with Japanese fandom: YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT HEINOUS IS. [My favorite part is the man in the cat-suit.]