Sailor Moon, known as Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn?, officially translated Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) in Japan, is a media franchise created by mangaka Naoko Takeuchi. Fred Patten credits Takeuchi with popularizing the concept of a sentai ("team") of magical girls, and Paul Gravett, author of Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics, credits the series with "revitalizing" the magical-girl genre itself. Sailor Moon redefined the magical-girl genre, as previous magical girls did not use their powers to fight evil, but this has become one of the standard archetypes of the genre.
The story of the various metaseries revolves around the reborn defenders of a kingdom that once spanned the solar system, and around the evil forces that they battle. The major characters—the Sailor Senshi (literally "Sailor Soldiers"; frequently called "Sailor Scouts" in many Western versions), teenage girls—can transform into heroines named for the moon and planets (Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, etc.). The use of "Sailor" comes from a style of girls' school uniform popular in Japan, the sērā fuku ("sailor outfit"), on which Takeuchi modeled the Sailor Senshi's uniforms. The elements of fantasy in the series are heavily symbolic and often based on mythology.
Before the Sailor Moon manga appeared, Takeuchi had written Codename: Sailor V, which centered around just one Sailor Senshi. She devised the idea when she wanted to create a cute series about girls in outer space, and her editor asked her to put them in sailor fuku. When Sailor V was proposed[by whom?] for adaptation into an anime, the concept was modified by Takeuchi so that Sailor V herself became only one member of a team. The resulting manga series merged elements of the popular magical girl genre and the Super Sentai Series which Takeuchi admired, making Sailor Moon one of the first series ever to combine the two.
The manga resulted in spinoffs into other types of media, including a highly popular anime, as well as musical theatre productions, video games, and a tokusatsu series. Although most concepts in the many versions overlap, often notable differences occur, and thus continuity between the different formats remains limited.
The protagonist of Sailor Moon, Usagi Tsukino, an ordinary ditzy middle-school girl—or so she thinks—discovers a talking cat named Luna, who reveals Usagi's identity as "Sailor Moon," a special warrior with the destiny of saving the planet Earth, and later the entire galaxy. Usagi must now find the moon princess and protect Earth from a series of villains, beginning with the Dark Kingdom that had appeared once before, long ago, and destroyed the kingdom of the moon.
The characters in Sailor Moon awaken members of the court of the kingdom of the moon, and the people dedicated to protecting it; when the dark nemesis attacked the kingdom, the Queen sent the Moon Princess, her guardians and advisors, and her true love into the future to be reborn. As Usagi and Luna battle evil and search for the Moon Princess, they meet the other Sailor Senshi, incarnations of the Moon Princess' protectors, and the mysterious Tuxedo Mask.
As the series progresses, Usagi and her friends learn more and more about the enemies they face and the evil force that directs them. The characters' pasts are mysterious and hidden even to them, and much of the early series is devoted to discovering their true identities and pasts. Luna, who teaches and guides the Sailor Senshi, doesn't know everything about their histories either, and the Senshi eventually learn that Usagi is the real Moon Princess. The Moon Princess' mother had her reborn as a Sailor Senshi to protect her. Gradually Usagi discovers the truth about her own past life, her destined true love, and the possibilities for the future of the Solar System.
The plot spans five major story arcs, each of them represented in both the manga and anime, usually under different names:
- the Dark Kingdom arc (Sailor Moon)
- the Black Moon arc (Sailor Moon R)
- the Mugen/Infinity arc (Sailor Moon S)
- the Dream arc (Sailor Moon SuperS)
- the Stars arc (Sailor Moon Sailor Stars)
The anime added an additional minor arc at the start of the second series, and spent the first few episodes of Sailor Stars wrapping up the plot from the previous series. Taking place before the manga timeline, its sister series Codename: Sailor V tells the story of Sailor V, Minako Aino and her adventures during the year before Sailor Moon itself starts. Many characters from Codename: Sailor V return in Sailor Moon, including Sailor V herself (under the name "Sailor Venus").
- Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon (月野 うさぎ Tsukino Usagi?)
- The main character of the series. Usagi is a carefree young girl with an enormous capacity for love, compassion and understanding. Usagi transforms into the heroine called Sailor Moon, Soldier of Love and Justice. At the beginning of the series, she is fourteen years old and portrayed as an immature crybaby who hates having to fight evil and wants nothing more than to be a normal girl. As she progresses, however, she embraces the chance to use her power to protect those she cares about. Sailor Moon wields the all powerful Silver Crystal - a family heirloom from Moon Kingdom. Linking her life force with it can maximized it to its full potential, rarely used in this fashion because the end result could possibly mean Sailor Moon's own death.
- Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury (水野 亜美 Mizuno Ami?)
- A quiet, fourteen-year-old bookworm in Usagi's class. Highly intelligent with a rumored IQ of 300, she can transform into Sailor Mercury, Soldier of Water and Wisdom. Ami's shy exterior masks a passion for knowledge and for taking care of the people around her. She hopes to become a doctor one day, like her mother, and tends to be the practical one in the group. Secretly, she is also a fan of pop culture and romance novels, and becomes embarrassed whenever this is pointed out. Ami would also be considered the "tech girl" of the group, Utilizing her mini data computer, which is capable of scanning and detecting virtually anything she needs.
- Rei Hino/Sailor Mars (火野 レイ Hino Rei?)
- An elegant, fourteen-year-old miko (shrine maiden). Because of her work as a Shinto priestess, Rei has limited precognition and can dispel/nullify evil using special Shinto scrolls, even in her civilian form. She transforms into Sailor Mars, Soldier of Fire and Passion. She is very serious and focused, but although easily annoyed by Usagi's flightiness and being totally clueless, but cares about her very much. Rei is portrayed as boy-crazy in the early anime and short-tempered throughout, but is uninterested in romance and self-controlled in both the manga and live-action series. She attends a private, Catholic school separate from the other girls.
- Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter (木野 まこと Kino Makoto?)
- A fourteen-year-old tomboy who transfers into Usagi's school. Very tall and very strong for a Japanese schoolgirl, she can transform into Sailor Jupiter, Soldier of Strength and Lightning and with some control over plants. Both Makoto's parents died in a plane crash years ago, so she lives alone and takes care of herself. She cultivates her physical strength as well as more domestic interests, including housekeeping, cooking, and gardening. She wants to marry young and to own a flower-and-cake shop.
- Minako Aino/Sailor Venus (愛野 美奈子 Aino Minako?)
- A fourteen-year-old perky dreamer who acted on her own as Sailor V for some time. Called by her nickname Mina in the English versions, she has a companion cat called Artemis who works alongside Luna in guiding the Sailor Senshi. Minako transforms into Sailor Venus, Soldier of Love and Beauty, and leads Sailor Moon's four inner guardians. She also dreams of becoming a famous singer and idol; she attends auditions whenever she can. In contrast, in the live-action series, she is a successful J-Pop singer (of whom Usagi and Ami are fans) and has a poor health condition, choosing to separate herself from the other Senshi as a result.
- Chibiusa/Sailor Mini Moon (ちびうさ?)
- The future daughter of Usagi and Mamoru, around six to nine years old, Chibiusa travels from the 30th century to seek help to save her parents, then later to train with Sailor Moon to become a soldier. She learns to transform into Sailor Chibi Moon. At times she has an adversarial relationship with her mother in the 20th century, as she considers herself more mature than Usagi, but as the series progresses they develop a deep bond. Chibiusa wants to grow up to become a lady like her mother.
- Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask (地場 衛 Chiba Mamoru?)
- A student somewhat older than Usagi. As a young child he experienced a terrible car-accident that robbed him of his parents and of his knowledge of his own identity. During the series its revealed he has a special psychic rapport with Usugi and can sense when she's in danger, which inspires him to take on the guise of Tuxedo Mask and fight alongside the Sailor Senshi when needed. After an initially confrontational relationship, he and Usagi remember their past lives together and fall in love again.
- Setsuna Meioh/Sailor Pluto (冥王 せつな Meiō Setsuna?)
- A mysterious woman who appears first as Sailor Pluto, the Soldier of Time and Space, who has the duty of guarding the time corridor from unauthorized travelers. Only later does she appear on Earth, living as a college student. She has a distant personality and can be very stern, but can also be quite friendly and helps the younger Sailor Senshi when she can. After so long at the Gate of Time she carries a deep sense of loneliness, although she is close friends with Chibiusa. Sailor Pluto's weapon of choice is her Garnet Rod, which aids her with her power to freeze time and attacks.
- Michiru Kaioh/Sailor Neptune (海王 みちる Kaiō Michiru?)
- A elegant and talented violinist and painter with family money. A year older than most of the other Sailor Senshi, she can transform into Sailor Neptune, Soldier of Ocean and Intuition. She worked alone for some time before finding her partner, Sailor Uranus, with whom she fell in love. Neptune has ultimately given up her own dreams for the life of a Senshi. She is fully devoted to this duty and willing to make any sacrifice for it. Sailor Neptune's weapon of choice is her Deep Aqua Mirror, which aids her with her intuition and revealing cloaked evil.
- Haruka Tenoh/Sailor Uranus (天王 はるか Ten'ō Haruka?)
- A good-natured, masculine-acting girl. Haruka, of an age with her partner, Michiru, transforms into Sailor Uranus, Soldier of the Sky and Fury. Before becoming a Sailor Senshi, she dreamt of being a racer, and she has excellent driving skills. She tends to dress and, in the anime, speak like a man. When it comes to fighting the enemy she distrusts outside help and prefers to work solely with Sailor Neptune and, later, Pluto and Saturn. Sailor Uranus's weapon of choice is known as the Space Sword, which aids her with her fighting and attacks.
- Hotaru Tomoe/Sailor Saturn (土萠 ほたる Tomoe Hotaru?)
- A sweet, lonely young girl whose name remains unchanged in the English versions, though pronounced slightly different. Daughter of a mad scientist, a terrible laboratory accident in her youth significantly compromised her health. After overcoming the darkness that has surrounded her family, Hotaru is able to become the Soldier of Death and Rebirth, Sailor Saturn. Saturn shows that being damaged should not stop one from being the best one can. Indeed, her past problems mean that she now wields forces of destruction so powerful that she is rarely called upon to use them, but unlike the others, her Senshi and civilian persona seem somewhat disconnected. She is often pensive, and as a human has the inexplicable power to heal others. She is the only one of the main characters to go with her name unchanged between the original Japanese and English-language localized versions. Sailor Saturn's weapon of choice is her Silence Glaive, which aids her with her power to generate barriers and the power to destroy the universe.
- Note: In the mythology the Sailor Senshis' names are derived from, Pluto is the god of Death and Rebirth, whereas Saturn is time and space. There is no known explanation for the mix-up in the names.
Before the Sailor Moon manga, Takeuchi published Codename: Sailor V, which centered around just Sailor Venus. She devised the idea when she wanted to create a cute series about girls in outer space, and her editor asked her to put them in sailor fuku. When Sailor V was proposed for adaptation into an anime, the concept was modified so that Sailor V herself became only one member of a team. The resulting manga series became a fusion of the popular magical girl genre, the Super Sentai Series, of which Takeuchi was a fan. Recurring motifs include astronomy, astrology, Greek myth, Roman myth, geology, Japanese elemental themes, teen fashions, and schoolgirl antics.
Talks between Takeuchi and her publishers originally envisaged only one story-arc, and the storyline developed in meetings a year prior to publications, but having completed it, Takeuchi was asked by her editors to continue. She issued four more story-arcs, often published simultaneously with the five corresponding anime series. The anime series would only lag the manga by a month or two.
The complete original manga spans 52 chapters, known as Acts, as well as ten separate side-stories. Its main series appeared in serial form in Nakayoshi, Kodansha's shōjo manga magazine, from 1991 to 1995; the side-stories were serialized in Kodansha's Run Run. Kodansha has published all the chapters and side-stories in book form. The first edition came out as the series was being produced, from 1992 through 1997, and consisted of 18 volumes with all the chapters and side stories in the order in which they had been released.
The second edition, called the shinsōban or "renewal" edition, began in 2003 during the run of the live-action series. Kodansha redistributed the individual chapters so that there are more per book, and some corrections and updates were made to the dialogue and drawings. New art was featured as well, including completely new cover art and character sketches (including characters unique to the live-action series). In all, the new edition consists of 12 story volumes and two separate short-story volumes.
By the end of 1995, the thirteen Sailor Moon volumes then available had sold about one million copies each, and Japan had exported the manga to over 23 countries, including China, Mexico, Australia, most of Europe and North America.
Kodansha released special art books for each of the five story arcs, collectively called the Original Picture Collection. The books contain cover art, promotional material, and other work done by Takeuchi. Many of the drawings appear accompanied by comments on how she developed her ideas, how she created each picture, whether or not she likes it, and commentary on the anime interpretation of her story.
Another picture collection, Volume Infinity, appeared in a strictly limited edition after the end of the series in 1997. This self-published artbook includes drawings by Takeuchi as well as by her friends, her staff, and many of the voice-actors who worked on the anime. In 1999 Kodansha published the Materials Collection; this contained development sketches and notes for nearly every character in the manga, as well as for some characters who never appeared. Each drawing is surrounded with notes by Takeuchi about the specifics of various costume pieces, the mentality of the characters, and her particular feelings about them. It also includes timelines for the story arcs and for the real-life release of products and materials relating to the anime and manga. At the end, the Parallel Sailor Moon short story is featured, celebrating the year of the rabbit.
The Sailor Moon anime, co-produced by TV Asahi, Toei Agency and Toei Animation, started airing only a month after the first issue of the manga was published. With 200 episodes airing from March 1992 to February 1997 on TV Asahi, Sailor Moon is one of the longest magical girl anime series. The anime sparked a highly successful merchandising campaign of over 5,000 items, which contributed to demand all over the world and translation into numerous languages. Sailor Moon has since become one of the most famous anime properties in the world. Due to its resurgence of popularity in Japan, the series returned to the airwaves on September 1, 2009. Also, Italy is getting it rebroadcasted in northern-hemisphere autumn 2010, also getting permission from Takeuchi who will be releasing new artwork to promote.
Sailor Moon consists of five separate arcs. The titles of the series are Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS and Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. Each series 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. There were also five special animated shorts, as well as three theatrically-released movies: Sailor Moon R: The Movie, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, and Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie.
The anime series uses traditional animation techniques throughout. It was directed by Jun'ichi Satō, then Kunihiko Ikuhara and later Takuya Igarashi in succession. Character design was headed by Kazuko Tadano, Ikuko Itoh and Katsumi Tamegai, all of whom were also animation directors. Other animation directors included Masahiro Andō, Hisashi Kagawa, and Hideyuki Motohashi.
The series sold as twenty "volumes" in Japan. By the end of 1995, each volume had sold approximately 300,000 copies.
There were noticeable differences between the manga and anime, including the radical personality change of Rei Hino, the toned-down focus on Mamoru Chiba in later seasons, the large emphasis on the Sailor Starlights in the final arc, the removal of several characters including Sailor Heavy Metal Papillon and Sailor Kakyuu, the inclusion of an extra 'arc' in Sailor Moon R sometimes referred to as the 'Makaiju arc', Diana's late introduction in the anime, the homosexual relationships between Zoisite and Kunzite and Michiru Kaioh and Haruka Tenoh, the personalities of the Ayakashi Sisters and the Witches 5 and the removal of Sailor Cosmos.
The musical stage shows, usually referred to collectively as SeraMyu, were a series of live theatre productions that played over 800 performances in some 29 musicals between 1993 and 2005. The stories of the shows include anime-inspired plotlines as well as a large amount of original material. Music from the series has been released on about 20 "memorial" albums. The popularity of the musicals has been cited as a reason behind the production of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon TV series.
Musicals ran twice a year, in the winter and in the summer. In the summer, the musicals showed only in the Sunshine Theatre in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo; however, in the winter they went on tour to the other large cities in Japan, including Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Kanazawa, Sendai, Saga, Oita, Yamagata and Fukushima.
The final incarnation of the series, The New Legend of Kaguya Island (Revised Edition) (新・かぐや島伝説 <改訂版> Shin Kaguyashima Densetsu (Kaiteban)?), went on stage in January 2005. Following that show, Bandai officially put the series on a hiatus, although the productions have not been revived since 2005 leading many fans to speculate that the series has been, for all intents and purposes, canceled.
The Tokyo Broadcasting System and Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting screened a tokusatsu (live-action) version of Sailor Moon from October 4, 2003 through September 25, 2004. The series, titled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (often shortened to "PGSM"), used an entirely English-language title for the first time in the Sailor Moon franchise. It lasted a total of 49 episodes. Almost one thousand people applied for the parts of the five main characters.
The series' storyline more closely follows the original manga than the anime at first, but in later episodes it proceeds into a significantly different storyline from either, with original characters and new plot developments.
In addition to the main episodes, two direct-to-video releases appeared after the show ended its television broadcast. These were the "Special Act", which is set four years after the main storyline ends and which shows the wedding of the two main characters, and "Act Zero", a prequel which shows the origins of Sailor V and Tuxedo Mask.
More than twenty Sailor Moon console and arcade games have appeared in Japan, all based on the anime series. Bandai and a Japanese game company called Angel (unrelated to the American-based Angel Studios, as of 2010[update] known as Rockstar San Diego) made most of them, with some produced by Banpresto. The early games were side-scrolling fighters, whereas the later ones were unique puzzle games, or versus fighting games. Another Story was a turn-based role-playing game.
The only Sailor Moon game produced outside of Japan, 3VR New Media's The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon, went on sale in North America in 1997.
The English adaptations of both the manga and anime series became the first successful shōjo title in the United States. The anime adaptation of Sailor Moon attempted to capitalize on the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. After a bidding-war between Toon Makers, who wanted to produce a half live-action and half American-style cartoon version, and DIC Entertainment, DiC — then owned by The Walt Disney Company — and Optimum Productions acquired the rights to the first two seasons of Sailor Moon, from which they cut six episodes and merged two. Editors cut each of the remaining episodes by several minutes to make room for more commercials, to censor plot points or visuals deemed inappropriate for children, and to allow the insertion of "educational" segments called "Sailor Says" at the end of each episode.
The English adaptations by Optimum Productions and Cloverway of Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS (the third and fourth series) stayed relatively close to the original Japanese versions, without skipping or merging any episodes. Some controversial changes were made, however, such as the depiction of Sailors Uranus and Neptune as cousins rather than lesbian lovers.
Toei has never licensed the fifth and final series, Sailor Stars, for adaptation into English. As of May 2004[update], the rest of the metaseries has officially gone off the air in all English-speaking countries due to lapsed and unrenewed licenses.
The manga publisher Mixx (subsequently renamed Tokyopop) translated the Sailor Moon manga into English in 1997. The manga initially appeared syndicated in MixxZine but was later pulled out of that magazine and made into a separate monthly comic to finish the first through third arcs. At the same time, the fourth and fifth arcs began printing in a secondary magazine called "SMILE". After its initial publication, the entire series was reprinted in the smaller volume format known in the beginning as "Pocket Mixx" before Mixx became Tokyopop. In total, the series was collected into 11 "Sailor Moon" volumes, 4 "Sailor Moon SuperS" volumes, and 3 "Sailor Moon Stars" volumes. The volumes included extra stories that were not run with the monthly comics. Sailor Moon collects the first three arcs (the Dark Kingdom [Mixxzine 1-1 to 2-1 + Comic issues 1-7], Black Moon [8-19], and Infinity arcs [20-35]). Sailor Moon SuperS collects the Super S/Dream arc [Smile 1.1-2.6] and Sailor Moon Stars collects the Sailor Stars arc [Smile 2.7-3.10]. They feature all of the content from the original manga collections (though the names of characters introduced in the first two story arcs were changed to those used in the English anime), as well as the occasional new sketch and "thank you" commentary from the series' creator.
Sailor Moon opening themes
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Numerous people wrote and composed music for the Sailor Moon metaseries, with frequent lyrical contributions by creator Naoko Takeuchi. Takanori Arisawa, who earned the "Golden Disk Grand Prize" from Columbia Records for his work on the first series soundtrack in 1993, composed and arranged all of the background musical scores, including the spinoffs, games, and movies. In 1998, 2000, and 2001 he won the JASRAC International Award for most international royalties, owing largely to the popularity of Sailor Moon music in other nations.
Most of the TV series used for an opening theme "Moonlight Densetsu" (ムーンライト伝説 Mūnraito Densetsu?, lit. "Moonlight Legend"), composed by Tetsuya Komoro with lyrics by Kanako Oda. It was one of the series' most popular songs. "Moonlight Densetsu" was performed by DALI as the opener for the first two anime series, and then by Moon Lips for the third and fourth. The final series, Sailor Stars, switched to using "Sailor Star Song" for its opening theme, written by Shōki Araki with lyrics by Naoko Takeuchi and performed by Kae Hanazawa. "Moonlight Densetsu" made its final appearance as the closing song for the very last episode, #200. "Moonlight Densetsu" has been covered and remixed many times by artists such as the punk supergroup Osaka Popstar and Kitade Nana.
The English-language dub of the anime series used the melody of "Moonlight Densetsu", but with very different lyrics and instrumentation. 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. The English theme has been described as "insane but catchy". The Japanese theme is a love song based on the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru ("born on the same Earth"); its first verse, as it appears in the English subtitles, is as follows:
- I'm sorry I'm not straightforward,
- I can say it in my dreams
- My thoughts are about to short circuit,
- I want to see you right now
- Fighting evil by moonlight,
- Winning love by daylight,
- Never running from a real fight,
- She is the one named Sailor Moon
Both versions of the series also make use of insert themes, battle music, and image songs, with the original being much more prolific. Over 40 Japanese music albums were released for the anime alone, many of which were remixes of the previous albums in jazz style, music box, French, etc. In addition, 33 different CD singles were released, many of them centered around specific characters. The second most prolific country in terms of Sailor Moon music releases was Germany, which produced some fifteen albums and singles, including five by the pop band Super Moonies. In North America, only three albums were released. These numbers do not include the CDs from the Musicals, which were only released in Japan. At least one CD was released per musical, as well as various collections, such as Villain Collections or many songs sung by a single actor or actress. Various CDs were also released for the live action adaptation as well.
Moonlight Densetsu was released as a CD single in March 1992, and was an "explosive hit". "Moonlight Densetsu" won first place in the Song category in Animage's 15th and 16th Anime Grand Prix. It came seventh in the 17th Grand Prix, and "Moon Revenge", from Sailor Moon R: The Movie, came eighth. "Rashiku Ikimasho", the second closing song for Supers, placed eighteenth in 1996. In 1997, "Sailor Star Song", the new opening theme for Sailor Stars, came eleventh, and "Moonlight Densetsu" came sixteenth.
Originally planned to run for only six months, the Sailor Moon anime repeatedly continued due to its popularity, concluding only after a five-year run. In Japan, it aired every Saturday night in prime time, getting TV viewership ratings around 11-12% for most of the series run. 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. Later episodes of the anime added nude transformation sequences for the male audience, to the annoyance of Takeuchi - in the edited English version these scenes were censored. The media franchise is 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 has featured among the top thirty of TV Asahi's Top 100 anime polls in 2005 and 2006. The anime series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1993. Sales of Sailor Moon's fashion dolls overtook that of Licca-chan in the 1990s; Mattel suggested that this was due to the "fashion-action" blend of the Sailor Moon storyline. Doll accessories included both fashion items and the Senshi's weapons.
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. Other countries followed suit, including Australia, South Korea, the Philippines, Italy, Peru, Brazil, Sweden and Hong Kong, before North America picked up the franchise for adaptation. 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.
Critics have commended the anime series for its portrayal of strong friendships, as well as for its large cast of "strikingly different" characters who have different dimensions and aspects to them as the story goes on, and an ability to appeal to a wide audience. 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. 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. In contrast, others see Sailor Moon as campy and melodramatic. Criticism has singled out its use of formulaic plots, monsters of the day, and stock footage.
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". Despite the series' apparent popularity among Western anime fandom, the dubbed version of the series received poor ratings in the United States and did not do well in DVD sales in the United Kingdom. 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. 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. 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.
Both the manga editorial vid and the anime series were released in Mexico twice in a quite accurate translation in Imevisión (what is now TV 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 U.S. 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.
Due to anti-Japanese sentiment, most of 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 he 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.
In his 2007 book Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson gave the manga series 3 / 5 stars. He enjoyed the blending of shōnen and shōjo styles, stating that the combat scenes seemed heavily influenced by Saint Seiya, but shorter and less bloody, and noting that the manga itself appeared similar to Super Sentai television shows. While Thompson found the series fun and entertaining, the repetitive plot lines were a detriment to the title which the increasing quality of art could not make up for; even so, he still states that the series is "sweet, effective entertainment".
James Welker believes that Sailor Moon's futuristic setting helps to make lesbianism "naturalized" and a peaceful existence. Yukari Fujimoto notes that although there are few "lesbian scenes" in Sailor Moon, it has become a popular subject for yuri parodic dojinshi. She attributes this to the source work's "cheerful" tone, although she notes that "though they seem to be overflowing with lesbians, the position of heterosexuals is earnestly secured".
When comparing the manga and anime, Sylvian Durand first notes that the manga artwork is gorgeous, but that the storytelling is more compressed and erratic, and that the anime has more character development. Durand felt "the sense of tragedy is greater" in the manga's telling of the "fall of the Silver Millennium", giving more detail on the origins of the Shitennou and on Usagi's final battle with Beryl and Metalia. Durand feels that the anime leaves out information which makes the story easier to understand, but judges the anime more "coherent", with a better balance of comedy and tragedy, whereas the manga is "more tragic" and focused on Usagi and Mamoru's romance.
The anime has been cited as reinvigorating the magical girl genre by adding dynamic heroines and action-oriented plots. After its success, many similar titles immediately followed. Magic Knight Rayearth, Wedding Peach, Nurse Angel Ririka and Revolutionary Girl Utena all owe much of their basis to the popularity of Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon has been called "the biggest breakthrough" in English dubbed anime up until 1995, when it premiered on YTV, and "the pinnacle of little kid shojo anime". Matt Thorn notes that soon after Sailor Moon, shōjo manga began to be featured in book shops, as opposed to fandom-dominated comic shops. It is credited as the beginning of a wider movement of girls taking up shōjo manga. Gilles Poitras defines a "generation" of anime fans as those who were introduced to anime by Sailor Moon in the 1990s, noting that they were both much younger than the other fans and also mostly girls. Poitras credits Sailor Moon as laying the ground for other shōjo series such as Fushigi Yuugi, Vision of Escaflowne and Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Fred Patten credits Takeuchi with popularizing the concept of a Super Sentai-like team of magical girls, and Paul Gravett credits the series with "revitalizing" the magical girl genre itself. The series is credited with changing the genre of magical girls—its heroine must use her powers to fight evil, not simply to have fun as previous magical girls had done.
In the West, people sometimes associated Sailor Moon with the feminist or Girl Power movements and with empowering its viewers, especially regarding the "credible, charismatic and independent" characterizations of the Sailor Senshi, which were "interpreted in France as an unambiguously feminist position." As such, it has been compared with Barbie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Its characters have also been described as "catty stereotypes", with Sailor Moon's character in particular being singled out as less-than-feminist because her favorite class is home economics and her least favorite is math, although Japanese audiences viewed her character as tomboyish. The series creator has said she based Usagi on herself, and is meant to reflect her reality.
In English-speaking countries, Sailor Moon developed a cult following amongst various anime fans and male university students, and Drazen considers that the Internet was a new medium that fans used to communicate and played a role in the popularity of Sailor Moon. Fans could use the Internet to communicate about the series, using it to organize campaigns to return Sailor Moon to U.S. broadcast, and to share information about episodes that had not yet aired. In 2004, one study suggested there were 3,335,000 sites about Sailor Moon, compared to 491,000 for Mickey Mouse. NEO magazine suggested that part of Sailor Moon's allure was that fans communicated, via the Internet, about the differences between the dub and the original version. The Sailor Moon fandom was described in 1997 as being "small and dispersed". In a United States study, children paid rapt attention to the fighting scenes in Sailor Moon, although when questioned if Sailor Moon was "violent" only two would say yes, the other ten preferring to describe the episodes as "soft" or "cute".
As of 2004, Toei has control over the license to distribute Sailor Moon outside of Japan. On February 4, 2010, Toei began negotiations to re-license the entire series globally. If such a revival occurs, the international re-airing would start in Italy after a Japanese debut, then work its way around the world. In February 2010 the show returned to Albania in its original form. As of March 1, 2010, a new remastered Sailor Moon has returned to Italian television. Toei has also stated if it is popular in Italy, an international revival will begin. However, it has yet to be announced if the English version will be re-licensed. It should be noted that the English version only consists of most of the 1st season as well as the entire 2nd, 3rd and 4th seasons (minus the SuperS TV special). Recently, Toei is offering 200 refurbished episodes of Sailor Moon at MIPTV. The anime is also scheduled to begin playing on TVB J2 channel in Hong Kong once more in August 2010.
In 2009 Funimation announced that it was considering an entire re-dub of the Sailor Moon series and asked people to take part in a survey on what their next project should be. The re-dub of the Sailor Moon series was included. The results of the survey have not been released to the public.
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- Official Sailormoon website (Japanese)
- Sailor Moon (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Sailor Moon (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Sailor Moon at the Open Directory Project
- Sailor Moon Wikia
- Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon at the Internet Movie Database
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