Sailor Moon’s Jennifer Cihi comes to BentonvilleCon Oct. 28

Sailor Moon’s Jennifer Cihi comes to BentonvilleCon Oct. 28

Not long after high school, in the early 1980s, Jennifer Cihi landed a job at Tokyo Disney. It was there that she was introduced to Japanese anime, defined as “a style of Japanese film and television animation, typically aimed at adults as well as children.” She was … mystified.

“We all thought that their animation was weird,” she admits of her American compatriots at that time. “We had come from ‘Scooby-Doo’ and Looney Tunes, so it was all new to us.”

Little did Cihi know that anime would make her famous years later, when she was cast as the English singing voice of Sailor Moon.

“I had no clue when I booked the gig for Sailor Moon,” says Cihi, who will be in Northwest Arkansas Oct. 28 for the BentonvilleCon. “I was trying to hit it big in LA, so I took the gig, but it was non-union. I got paid a lump sum, thought of it as a work-for-hire and went on with my life.”

Thirty years later, Cihi does around 20 comics and anime conventions a year — and loves every minute of it. Fans line up to meet her and get her autograph, and she does a concert of Sailor Moon songs after many of the events.

“People love those songs,” she marvels. “Sailor Moon is very loved. When I first started doing conventions, it was humbling. People cry during the songs. I’m their Katy Perry or Adele.

“I had no clue these songs meant so much to these kids.”

Originally a manga series written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Moon features a schoolgirl heroine named Usagi Tsukino, who transforms into Sailor Moon to protect the universe. Adapted to anime in 1992, Sailor Moon has spawned feature films, tabletop games, theme park attractions, an ice skating show and a musical group called Sailor Guardians 5. New movies “Sailor Moon Eternal” and “Sailor Moon Cosmos” were released in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

“The new Sailor Moon is bringing a whole new fanbase to my show,” Cihi says. “These conventions all started with Star Trek, which really paved the way for comic cons. It’s just as fun for me as the fans think it is for them. I’m just a very normal person who is very grateful — and I’m still singing at 57 when the music business would have pushed me aside.”

Growing up in San Jose, Calif., Cihi fell in love with performing when she saw her sister on stage in “Annie Get Your Gun” at the Children’s Musical Theatre of San Jose.

“I looked at my mom and said, ‘I want to do that’ — and I have been a professional singer for 44 years now,” she enthuses. “Singing is really my bag. I wouldn’t call myself an actress necessarily, although I have done a lot of acting. Don’t give me a script! Let me wing it and be funny.”

Thanks to a “very progressive” director at the Children’s Musical Theatre of San Jose, however, Cihi was one of 10 children taken to an open-call audition for the national tour of “Annie” in 1978. At 12, she was cast as Pepper, the older orphan who bullies Annie, alongside a then unknown Molly Ringwald. She’s also appeared on Nickelodeon’s “Roundhouse” and in the 1997 animated film “Princess Mononoke,” performed with bands, been a successful jingle singer for products like Hot Pockets, works as a personal chef and has created her own jewelry line.

“Don’t stick me at a desk,” she says. “I love that I get to do all this stuff!”

BentonvilleCon, touted as a “collectors’ Mecca” and “Arkansas’ best and truest comic convention,” will also feature Tom McLoughlin from “Friday the 13th”; Tami Erin from “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking”; voice actor Clay Adams from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Yu-Gi-Oh”; a cosplay contest; and more than 100 merchandise vendors.


Bentonville Con

WHEN — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 28

WHERE — Four Points Hotel in Bentonville

COST — $20-$100


BONUS — Jennifer Cihi will present a separately ticketed concert ($15) at 6 p.m.

Categories: Music