In the Name of the Moon, I will License Rescue You!

narutaki_icon_4040 Wouldn’t ya know the moment I go on a vacation, something spectacular happens in the anime community! As a rule, I stay off the internet while on these breaks but friends texted me for all this news about Sailor Moon.

We have been waiting a long time, too long really, for a Sailor Moon anime license rescue. But now here it is and it wasn’t just a rescue, it is a whole package of epic proportions.

hisui_icon_4040 After Rose of Versailles, Mazinger Z, and Galaxy Express 999 available in English it seemed clear that not every anime would ever be licensed but there were no anime that were clearly off the table (other than maybe Anpanman and Doraemon). No one expects to hear that Legend of the Galactic Heroes got licensed but if it were picked up tomorrow a large number of people who would be happy but not many that would be utterly flabbergasted. At this point it is more surprising what has still not picked up more than what is. While it is probably a matter of cost it is still a little surprising that in world were you can buy DVDs of  Uta no Prince-sama you can’t do the same with Free!.

The biggest headscratcher has always been the fact that no one had ever got the rights to re-release Sailor Moon. It was one of the tent pole series in creating modern English-speaking anime fandom especially when it came to female fans. It was on TV in an extremely visible manner. It is clearly a series that still has a good deal of nostalgic cache. So as it has been out of print for a while the price of the old DVD release of the original series and R from ADV has gotten increasingly expensive and the older Sailor Moon S and Super S from Geneon have become insanely valuable. Sailor Moon Sailor Stars was only ever available as fan-subs. So the conventional wisdom was that anyone would wanted to make boatloads of sales just needed to get their hands on this property and just let it print money. The fact that no one had the series spoke more to the fact that something had to be happening behind the scenes. I have heard a dozen different rumors and theories. The Japanese licensor did not want the crazier parts of Sailor Stars to ruin the reputation of the brand, Naoko Takeuchi had near impossible demands, the Japanese producers wanted to release it themselves as opposed to going through a middle man in the U.S., or just that it was insanely expensive. Whatever the reason that was holding it back that seems to been cleared away with the imminent debut of the new Sailor Moon Crystal.

VIZ not only has the rights to Sailor Moon Crystal but they also releasing all the original series uncut. That is sort of a big deal.

narutaki_icon_4040 Sailor Moon is one of the shows (and for some is THE SHOW) that introduced tons and tons of girls and boys to anime in the 90s. Whether they watched on TV in the early hours of the morning or bought a severely abridged version on VHS from Toys R Us, it became a phenomenon stateside. The merchandise you could buy ranged from the usual dolls and wands to t-shirts to even a comforter (I oughta know since I owned one). It was everywhere and it was an exciting time. And now it seems that exciting time, those feelings, are returning!

hisui_icon_4040 Sailor Moon is a series that changed things. To use the old Ani-Gamers joke, in a serious manner, it is the Evangelion of Magical Girl shows. Sailor Moon changed anime in the U.S. and Japan. In Japan there are magical girls shows pre- and post-Sailor Moon. Before Sailor Moon magical girl shows were mostly just about girls using magical to solve mundane problems. Sailor Moon introduced a Sentai angle with fighting monsters that changed things forever. Without it we would not have the things like the PreCure franchise and Madoka Magica. There are still shows in the old school formula (like Full Moon o Sagashite) but overall when you ask anyone about magical girls the fighting style shows are what you think of.

narutaki_icon_4040 My first question when I heard VIZ had picked up “all of Sailor Moon” was “Does that include Sailor Stars?” It was foremost in my mind when wondering about any new release of Sailor Moon. It has been sought by fans fervently for years but became more of a distant hope to the point of not even bothering to ask.

Sailor Stars is unique in the franchise and many steps darker than the original story. This is one of the reasons it has been held back from release, but that reasoning has always seemed silly. People liked that Sailor Moon had a complex story, the destruction of the Moon Kingdom is no small act, so pushing the envelope with the final season would have made fans proud. Other things U.S. broadcasters didn’t want to deal with was the relationships and gender issues of the series. Now finally, those who perhaps did not go out of their way to finish the show on fan-sub, will have a chance to do so.

I have literally been waiting almost 20 years for this piece of Sailor Moon to be released in the U.S., to say I’m excited in the understatement of the year.

hisui_icon_4040 I will admit that I have never really watched that much Sailor Moon. Much like Dragon Ball Z it is a show that I have mostly learned about through nerd osmosis. The broad strokes of the show are second nature to me but I could never win a trivia contest about the details of the show. Despite that I do know that Sailor Moon Stars has always been that one seemingly unobtainable part of the series. Sailor Moon S might be the most popular part of the series but Stars was always the one know for being gloriously crazy in just the right way. I’m sure the Super Moonies were thrilled to be able to finally purchase this legally as opposed to having to watch fan-subs.

Like I said I’m hardly an expert but even I realize how momentous this is. It was always been one of those so close yet so far situations. The fact that it is coming out at just the right time makes it an even sweeter announcement. I know people had their fingers crossed when the Kodonsha release of the manga did so well. So there was already an uptick of interest. Following on the heels of the surge and the coming supernova that is Crystal makes this a perfect storm.

narutaki_icon_4040 VIZ didn’t simply decide to license rescue Sailor Moon, which has seen varied releases over the years, they are presenting it like it has never been out before. A new transfer on BD, a new translation, a new dub, all uncut.

I don’t particularly care either way about the new dub or old dub or a dub at all. However, I would like for BDs to include the English opening as a bonus. I can’t wait to see what extras will be included! And the packaging, I am hopeful for beautiful things!

hisui_icon_4040 The new transfer looks gorgeous. The colors look brighter and the art crisper than it has ever looked before. They are even including all the cut episodes and putting a more authentic dub on the show. What could be better?

Apparently what could be better would be the old dub. There is a vocal little group that is mad that the DIC Entertainment cut is not being included as far as anyone can tell. I understand the nostalgic affection for that version but does anyone really need to remember Haruka and Michiru being portrayed as overly affectionate cousins? I think that is some rose-colored glasses being put on for these complaints. I’m sure side by side some of the older performances, free from context, will be superior to the new dub cast but overall the new dub would have to better utterly wretched to be any worse (or even just comparable.)

Plus, the Japanese voice acting is still the same so there is always that bedrock performance if nothing else.

narutaki_icon_4040 The only exciting part I can see in a new dub is Sailor Moon making it back on to television. It is a perfect time for such a thing, but since the dub will not be completed for a long while, I’m guessing at least a year before we see S1, I’m not sure where things will be at that time.

On the other hand, if they fast track a dub for Sailor Moon Crystal could we be hearing an announcement for it being broadcast on Cartoon Network a la Space Dandy?

hisui_icon_4040 My roommate and I have started watching the show on Hulu if for no other reason it is such a foundational piece of shows like Pretty Cure that we figured it is required watching just as part of our anime education. I’m sure other people are doing the same. Some people are watching because of fond memories whereas others want to see what the hubbub is about. Being on Hulu mean that people who don’t watch anime on a regular basis can still watch the show which is vital for a series with such a large following even outside of normal otakudom. Not everyone has a Crunchyroll account but anyone with a computer knows about Hulu at this point in life.

I am a little disappointed that VIZ was the ones who picked up the series. If it had been Funimation or Sentai they would have fast tracked the series to be out ASAP to latch onto the hype train. While VIZ is not incapable of doing that with anime the number of times they have not done so has earned them quite the reputation. Their glacial efforts with Tiger and Bunny come to mind. By the time the physical releases come out the show’s fandom had died down considerably. I would hate to see the same thing happen with Sailor Moon.

narutaki_icon_4040 We now have a new book and translation release of the manga including the side stories and Sailor V with artbooks upcoming; new merchandise has been appearing for the last year online and at places like Hot Topic; and now all the anime will be re-released, I think we can safely say Sailor Moon is back!

hisui_icon_4040 It’s funny. I recently got into a bit of a Twitter argument about this series. Someone said that if the recent Cardcaptor Sakura re-release did not do well then no one would pick up Sailor Moon because it would be proof the genre is radioactive in America. My statement was while I love Cardcaptor Sakura (Tomoyo 4 life) it is on a different tier than Sailor Moon. Cardcaptor Sakura is a show that strange shoujo aficionados love and only strange shoujo aficionados. Sailor Moon is show that gets parodied in Robot Chicken because it has become a part of the casual pop culture database. Sailor Moon is Voltron or the Transformers while Cardcaptor Sakura is Gundam or Gurren Lagann. One you can mention at a convention and everyone knows it the other can be mentioned on the street as everyone knows it.

I’m really excited to see how much this one two punch of Sailor Moon can take off. I think the manga re-release proves the audience is still there. I’m just curious how much bigger the anime fandom was than the manga audience. This has the potential to be really monumental.

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