Sailor Moon (anime)

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Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon
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Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon logo
美少女戦士セーラームーン
(Bishōjo Senshi Sērāmūn)
Genre Magical girl
Anime television series
Directed by Junichi Sato
Written by Sukehiro Tomita
Music by Takanori Arisawa
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Network TV Asahi
English network
Original run March 7, 1992 (1992-03-07)February 27, 1993 (1993-02-27)
Episodes 46 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R[1][2]
Directed by Junichi Sato (episodes 1-13)
Kunihiko Ikuhara (episodes 14-43)
Written by Sukehiro Tomita
Music by Takanori Arisawa
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Network TV Asahi
English network
Original run March 6, 1993 (1993-03-06)March 12, 1994 (1994-03-12)
Episodes 43 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon S[3][4]
Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara
Written by Yoji Enokido
Music by Takanori Arisawa
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Network TV Asahi
English network
Original run March 19, 1994 (1994-03-19)February 25, 1995 (1995-02-25)
Episodes 38 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon SuperS[5][6]
Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara
Written by Yoji Enokido
Music by Takanori Arisawa
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Network TV Asahi
English network
Original run March 4, 1995 (1995-03-04)March 2, 1996 (1996-03-02)
Episodes 39 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon Sailor Stars[7][8]
Directed by Takuya Igarashi
Written by Ryota Yamaguchi
Music by Takanori Arisawa
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Network TV Asahi
Original run March 9, 1996 (1996-03-09)February 8, 1997 (1997-02-08)
Episodes 34 (List of episodes)
Anime film series
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by
Released December 5, 1993December 23, 1995
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon[9][10] (Japanese: 美少女戦士セーラームーン Hepburn: Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn?) is a Japanese anime television series produced by Toei Animation. It adapts most of the 52 chapters of the original manga of the same title written by Naoko Takeuchi that was published from 1991 to 1997 in Nakayoshi. Sailor Moon first aired in Japan on TV Asahi from March 7, 1992 to February 8, 1997 before being dubbed into various territories around the world.

The series follows the adventures of the protagonist Usagi Tsukino, a middle school student who is given the power to become the Sailor Soldier Sailor Moon. Joined by other Sailor Soldiers, Usagi defends the planet against an assortment of evil villains. The anime also parallels the maturation of Usagi from an emotional middle school girl to a responsible young adult.

Due to the success of the anime in the United States, the manga comprising its story was released by Tokyopop. Additional manga works, called animanga, were released which adapt the animation to manga form. Sailor Moon's popularity has spawned numerous releases which have come to represent most of the content in the Sailor Moon universe; including three films, 39 video games and numerous soundtracks as well as stemming from this material. A faster-paced animated adaptation, Sailor Moon Crystal, began streaming worldwide in July 2014 onwards.

Plot[edit]

The series begins with a 14-year-old middle school student named Usagi Tsukino befriending Luna, a talking cat who reveals Usagi's identity as Sailor Moon, a magical "pretty soldier in a sailor suit" destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Luna accompanies Usagi to assemble a team of fellow Sailor Soldiers, find Princess Serenity and the "Legendary Silver Crystal" (「幻の銀水晶」 Maboroshi no Ginzuishō?, lit. "Phantom Silver Crystal"). The journey leads them to the studious Ami Mizuno, who awakens as Sailor Mercury; Rei Hino, a local shrine maiden who awakens as Sailor Mars; Makoto Kino, who awakens as Sailor Jupiter; and Mamoru Chiba, a young man who also assists them as Tuxedo Mask. A young aspiring idol named Minako Aino, who also operates as Sailor Venus, also joins them, accompanied by her feline companion Artemis.

In the first season, the group battles the Dark Kingdom. Led by Queen Beryl, a team of generals — the Four Kings of Heaven (四天王 Shiten'ō?, lit. "Four Heavenly Kings") — attempt to find the Silver Crystal to free an imprisoned evil entity called Queen Metaria. Usagi and her team eventually discover that they are members of an extinct ancient moon kingdom called Silver Millennium. The Dark Kingdom waged war against them, resulting in the moon kingdom's destruction. Its ruler, Queen Serenity had sent Usagi and Mamoru (whose names are revealed to be Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion, respectively), her guardians, their feline advisers and the princess's true love, Prince Endymion, into the future to be reborn through the power of the Silver Crystal. The Four Kings are also revealed to have been Endymion's guardians who defected in their past lives. In the final confrontation with the Dark Kingdom, the Sailor Soldiers sacrifice their lives to no avail and Usagi destroys Queen Beryl, who has fused with Queen Metaria, with the Silver Crystal. She then uses the crystal to resurrect her friends.

One year later, Usagi and Mamoru encounter Chibiusa, their future daughter, who intends to steal the Silver Crystal. As a result, the Soldiers confront Wiseman and the Black Moon Clan, who are pursuing her. Chibiusa eventually brings the Soldiers to the future city Neo-Tokyo also known as Crystal Tokyo, where her parents rule as Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion. Along the way, they meet Sailor Pluto, guardian of the Time-Space Door. She sacrifices her life to prevent the Clan's ruler Prince Demand from destroying the time-space continuum. Chibiusa later awakens as a Soldier — Sailor Chibi Moon — and assists Usagi in killing Wiseman's true form: Death Phantom.

After Death Phantom's demise, a group of lifeforms created by Professor Soichi Tomoe called the Death Busters, seek to resurrect the entity Pharaoh 90 and kill all life on Earth. Tomoe's daughter Hotaru is possessed by the entity Mistress 9, who must open the dimensional gateway through which Pharaoh 90 must travel. Auto racer Haruka Tenoh and violinist Michiru Kaioh appear as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who guard the outer rim of the Solar System from external threats. They are joined by Setsuna Meioh, Sailor Pluto's reincarnation. After obtaining the Holy Grail and transforming into Super Sailor Moon, Usagi attempts to use the power of the Grail and the Silver Crystal to destroy Pharaoh 90 from within. This causes Hotaru to awaken as Sailor Saturn, who is initially perceived as a threat by Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna. As the harbinger of death, Hotaru uses her power of destruction to sever Pharaoh 90 from the Earth and instructs Setsuna to use her power over time-space to close the dimensional gateway. Usagi (as Serenity) then uses her power to revive the planet revealing herself as the true Messiah Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were seeking.

Meanwhile, Queen Nehelenia, the self-proclaimed "rightful ruler" of both Silver Millennium and Earth, invades Elysion, which hosts the Earth's Golden Kingdom. She captures its High Priest, Helios, then has her followers, Dead Moon Circus, steal the Silver Crystal. As Prince Endymion, Mamoru is revealed to be the owner of the Golden Crystal, the sacred stone of the Golden Kingdom. When Mamoru and the Soldiers combine their power with the Holy Grail, it enables Usagi to transform into Eternal Sailor Moon and kill Nehelenia. Additionally, four of Nehelenia's henchmen, the Amazoness Quartet, are revealed to actually be Guardian called the Sailor Quartet, destined to become Chibiusa's guardians; they had been awakened prematurely and corrupted by Nehelenia.

After entering high school, Usagi and the Sailor Soldiers are drawn into a battle against Shadow Galactica, which consists of a group of false Sailor Soldiers known as the Sailor Animamates. Sailor Galaxia, the group's leader and a former Sailor Soldier herself who has been corrupted by the malevolent being Chaos, plans to steal crystals called Star Seeds in an attempt to overthrow the galaxy. To defeat Galaxia, Usagi travels to the Galaxy Cauldron, joined by the Sailor Starlights, their ruler Princess Kakyuu and the infant Sailor Chibichibi, who came from a distant future. After numerous battles resulting in the death of Usagi's fellow Soldiers, Usagi eventually frees Galaxia from Chaos's control and restores the Star Seeds. Usagi reunites with the Sailor Soldiers as Chibichibi vanishes and they return to Earth, where the Sailor Starlights and Princess Kakyuu proceed to disappear. That night, Usagi and Mamoru profess their love as they kiss under the full moon, ending the story.

Production and broadcasting[edit]

Further information: List of Sailor Moon episodes

Naoko Takeuchi developed the Sailor Moon anime for one season. Due to the season's popularity, Toei Animation asked Takeuchi to keep drawing her manga. At first, she struggled with developing another storyline to extend the series due to Toei's request. The basic idea of the second season, introducing the daughter of Sailor Moon from the future, came from her editor, Fumio Osano.[11] Sailor Moon is adapted from the 52 chapters of the series which was published in Nakayoshi from 1991–1997 and was directed by Junichi Satō, Kunihiko Ikuhara and Takuya Igarashi.[12] It premiered in Japan on TV Asahi on March 7, 1992, taking over the timeslot previously held by Goldfish Warning!, and ran for 200 episodes until its conclusion on February 8, 1997.

Because the manga was often published during the anime's production, the anime would only lag the manga by a month or two.[13] As a result, "the anime follows the storyline of the manga fairly closely."[14] Takeuchi has stated that due to Toei's largely male production staff, she feels that the anime version has "a slight male perspective."[14]

Sailor Moon sparked a highly successful merchandising campaign of over 5,000 items,[15] which contributed to demand internationally and translation into numerous languages. Sailor Moon has since become one of the most famous anime properties in the world.[16][17] Due to its resurgence of popularity in Japan, the series was rebroadcast on September 1, 2009. The series also began rebroadcasting in Italy in Autumn 2010, receiving permission from Naoko Takeuchi, who released new artwork to promote its return.[18]

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon consists of five separate seasons, each of them called Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS and Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars, respectively. The seasons roughly corresponds to one of the five major story arcs of the manga, following the same general storyline and including most of the same characters.[13] Toei also developed five special animated shorts.

The anime series was sold as 20 volumes in Japan. By the end of 1995, each volume had sold approximately 300,000 copies.[19]

International production and broadcast[edit]

During the original North American airing, some bathing scenes involving brief nudity were censored.

In 1995, after a bidding-war with Toon Makers, who wanted to produce an American live-action/animated hybrid adaptation,[20] DIC Entertainment licensed the first two seasons of Sailor Moon for an English-language release in the United States and Canada,[21] The anime adaptation of Sailor Moon attempted to capitalize on the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.[22][23] They contracted the Mississauga-based Optimum Productions to dub the anime and Bob Summers to compose an alternate musical score. This dub had mandated cuts to content and length to comply with Canadian broadcasting standards, which reduced the first 89 episodes to 82. The series premiered in Canada on August 28, 1995 on YTV and in first-run syndication in the U.S. on September 11, airing for 65 episodes until November 28, 1995. Despite moderate success in Canada, the U.S. airing struggled in early morning "dead" timeslots,[24][25] The series was eventually cancelled due to low ratings.[26][27] In response, a fan petition that garnered over 12,500 signature was created.[28] In 1997, re-runs of the cancelled dub began airing on USA Network. That same year, production on the series' English dub was resumed with the last 17 episodes of the second season, Sailor Moon R, and was broadcast in Canada from September 20 to November 21, 1997 to wrap up lingering plot lines.[29]

In 1998, re-runs of the cancelled dub also began airing on Cartoon Network in the United States as part of their Toonami block as part of the channel's weekday afternoon programming block. Due to the success of these re-runs on Toonami, the remaining 17 episodes of the original 82/89 episodes also aired on that channel. Only a year later, Cloverway Inc. producing an English-language adaptation of Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS and once again contracted Optimum Productions to produce the dub. Pioneer Entertainment was hired to handle home video distribution. This dub was produced with featured less censorship and was first broadcast on YTV in Canada, and later on Cartoon Network in the United States. Between late 2004 and early 2005, ADV and Pioneer lost the distribution rights to the first 159/166 episodes, as well as the three films.[30]

Due to the series' resurgence of popularity in Japan, re-runs the Sailor Moon series began on September 1, 2009 on Animax.[18] In 2010, Toei negotiated to license and broadcast Sailor Moon in Italy on Mediaset, resulting in an international revival.[31] Later, Toei licensed Sailor Moon episodes to countries which the show has not been aired before. On May 16, 2014, North American manga and anime distributor Viz Media announced that they have acquired the Sailor Moon anime series, as well as the three films and specials for an English-language release in North America, allowing them to re-dub the entire series with a new voice cast at Studio City, Los Angeles-based Studiopolis and restore the removed content from the first 89 episodes.[32][33]

Localization[edit]

During the original North American run of Sailor Moon, the series was the subject of heavy censorship which resulted in large amounts of removed content and alterations that greatly changed the original work.[34] Much of these changes included altering every aspect of the show from character names, clothing, scenes and dialogue of the show. The character Zoisite was renamed Zoycite and his gender was changed to a woman. Some scenes of brief nudity and bathing were also censored,[35] and any type of violence including violence against children were also removed.[22][36] Cloverway would also change the relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune from lesbians to cousins.[37] Viz and Studiopolis's re-dub for the 2014 release would address many of the censorship issues that was originally done by Optimum Productions and required by DIC and Cloverway, with the uncut releases preserving the integrity of the original Japanese release.

Music[edit]

Takanori Arisawa composed the score for Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. Arisawa earned the Golden Disk Grand Prize from Columbia Records for his work on the first series soundtrack in 1993. In 1998, 2000, and 2001 Arisawa won three consecutive JASRAC International Awards for most international royalties, owing largely to the popularity of Sailor Moon music in other nations.[38]

The opening theme, titled "Moonlight Densetsu" (ムーンライト伝説 Mūnraito Densetsu?, lit. "Moonlight Legend"), was used for the first 166 episodes. "Moonlight Densetsu" was initially performed by DALI for the first two seasons,[39][40] and then by Moon Lips for the next two seasons.[41][42] The second opening theme, used until its finale at episode 200, is Sailor Star Song performed by Kae Hanazawa.[43] The last ending theme, used for episode 200, is Moon Lips's version of "Moonlight Densetsu".[12]

The DIC/Cloverway English adaptation of the anime series used the melody of "Moonlight Densetsu," but with very different lyrics. At the time, it was unusual for anime theme songs to be translated, and this was one of the first such themes to be redone in English since Star Blazers.[44] The English theme has been described as "inane but catchy."[45] The Japanese theme is a love song based on the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru ("born on the same Earth"). The English Sailor Moon theme rather resembles a superhero anthem.

"Moonlight Densetsu" was released as a CD single in March 1992, and was an "explosive hit."[46] "Moonlight Densetsu" won first place in the Song category in Animage's 15th and 16th Anime Grand Prix.[47][48] It came seventh in the 17th Grand Prix, and Moon Revenge, from Sailor Moon R: The Movie, came eighth.[49] Rashiku Ikimasho, the second closing song for SuperS, placed eighteenth in 1996.[50] In 1997, "Sailor Star Song," the new opening theme for Sailor Stars, came eleventh, and "Moonlight Densetsu" came sixteenth.[51]

Related media[edit]

Home releases[edit]

In Japan, Sailor Moon received VHS releases during its run. The first VHS was released on July 25, 1993.[52] Sailor Moon did not receive a DVD release until 2002, ten years after its broadcast. Mass-produced individual 6-episode DVDs were released beginning on May 21, 2002.[53]

The international home release of Sailor Moon is complicated by the licensing and release of the companies involved in producing and distributing the work. Releases of the media occurred on both VHS and DVD with separate edited and uncut versions being released simultaneously. Both versions of the edited and uncut material are treated as different entities. Buena Vista Home Video distributed part of DIC's edited dub in six VHS tapes, containing two episodes, between 1996 and 1997. These tapes were originally available exclusively through Toys 'R' Us stores, but later saw wider distribution in other chains. A single VHS boxset containing the first 13 episodes of Sailor Moon R was also released in 2001.

In July 2014, Viz Media announced plans to release Sailor Moon in both Blu-ray Disc and DVD format, with the first set planned to be released on November 11, 2014.[54]

Films[edit]

During its broadcast run, three theatrical animated Sailor Moon films were produced. The films were usually released in December in accordance with the winter vacations of Japanese schools. They were typically double features paired up with other anime films, and were thus, usually an hour or less in length. The films themselves offer contradictions in both chronology and design that make them incompatible with a single continuity. The first was Sailor Moon R: The Movie in 1993, followed by Sailor Moon S: The Movie in 1994, and finally Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie in 1995.[55][56][57] The three films were licensed in North America by Viz Media and received dubs by Studiopolis. Before Viz, the films were in part of the Cloverway syndication and they received uncut English dubs by Pioneer, produced by Optimum Productions. All three films have been broadcast on Cartoon Network in the United States.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Originally planned to run for only six months, the Sailor Moon anime repeatedly continued due to its popularity, concluding after a five-year run.[58] In Japan, it aired every Saturday night in prime time,[15][59] getting TV viewership ratings around 11–12% for most of the series run.[15][60] Commentators detect in the anime adaptation of Sailor Moon "a more shonen tone," appealing to a wider audience than the manga, which aimed squarely at teenage girls.[61] The media franchise became one of the most successful Japan has ever had, reaching 1.5 billion dollars in merchandise sales during the first three years. Ten years after the series completion, the series featured among the top thirty of TV Asahi's Top 100 anime polls in 2005 and 2006.[16][17] The anime series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1993.[47] Sales of Sailor Moon fashion-dolls overtook those of Licca-chan in the 1990s; Mattel attributed this to the "fashion-action" blend of the Sailor Moon storyline. Doll accessories included both fashion items and the Sailor Soldiers' weapons.[22]

Sailor Moon has also become popular internationally. Spain and France became the first countries outside of Japan to air Sailor Moon, beginning in December 1993.[55] Other countries followed suit, including Australia, South Korea, the Philippines (Sailor Moon became one of its carrier network's main draws, helping it to become the third-biggest network in the country), Poland, Italy, Peru, Brazil, Sweden and Hong Kong, before North America picked up the franchise for adaptation.[62] In 2001, the Sailor Moon manga was Tokyopop's best selling property, outselling the next-best selling titles by at least a factor of 1.5.[63]

Critics have commended the anime series for its portrayal of strong friendships,[64] as well as for its large cast of "strikingly different" characters who have different dimensions and aspects to them as the story continues,[65] and for an ability to appeal to a wide audience.[66] Writer Nicolas Penedo attributes the success of Sailor Moon to its fusion of the shōjo manga genre of magical girls with the Super Sentai fighting teams.[61] According to Martha Cornog and Timothy Perper, Sailor Moon became popular because of its "strongly-plotted action with fight scenes, rescues" and its "emphasis on feelings and relationships," including some "sexy romance" between Usagi and Mamoru.[67] Usagi and Mamoru's romance has been seen as an archetype where the lovers "become more than the sum of their parts," promising to be together forever.[68] In contrast, others see Sailor Moon as campy[69] and melodramatic. Criticism has singled out its use of formulaic plots, monsters of the day,[70] and stock footage.[71]

Drazen notes that Sailor Moon has two kinds of villains, the Monster of the Day and the "thinking, feeling humans." Although this is common in anime and manga, it is "almost unheard of in the West."[72] Despite the series' apparent popularity among Western anime fandom, the dubbed version of the series received poor ratings in the United States when it was initially broadcast in syndication and did not do well in DVD sales in the United Kingdom.[73] Anne Allison attributes the lack of popularity in the United States primarily to poor marketing (in the United States, the series was initially broadcast at times which did not suit the target audience – weekdays at 9:00 a. m. and 2:00 pm). Executives connected with Sailor Moon suggest that poor localization played a role.[22] Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements go further, calling the dub "indifferent," and suggesting that Sailor Moon was put in "dead" timeslots due to local interests.[24] The British distributor, MVM Films, has attributed the poor sales to the United Kingdom release being of the dub only, and that major retailers refused to support the show leading to the DVD release appealing to neither children nor older anime fans.[73]

Both the manga editorial vid and the anime series were released in Mexico twice in a quite accurate translation in Imevisión (what is now Azteca), which also aired almost complete versions of Saint Seiya, Senki, Candy Candy, Remi, Nobody's Girl, Card Captor Sakura and Detective Conan. With quite a success and in the United States censored version in the Cartoon Network that was very quickly taken off the air due to the lack of viewers being lackluster compared to the original version; due to sensitive or controversial topics a Catholic parents' group exerted pressure to take it off the market, which partially succeeded – but after the whole series had been aired once from Sailor Moon to Sailor Stars and some of the movies.[74]

Due to anti-Japanese sentiment, most Japanese media other than animated ones was banned for many years in South Korea. A producer in KBS "did not even try to buy" Sailor Moon because the producer thought it would not pass the censorship laws, but as of May 1997, Sailor Moon was airing on KBS 2 without issues and was "enormously" popular.[75]

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