Viz Media announced today that they will be licensing the original Sailor Moon franchise in North America for the first time in nearly twenty years.
Sailor Moon will be dubbed with a brand new English cast and released online via Neon Alley and Hulu, completely uncensored. The original English dub, done by DiC in the mid-90s, was infamous for the amount of editing done for American audiences. This time around, it all remains in its original form, which will surely be a treat for hardcore Sailor Moon fans who probably could’ve done without all of the valley-girl speak (it was a serious relic of the 90’s, after all). There will be no editing out of character deaths and all of the same-sex relationships established in the Japanese version (notably Sailor Uranus and Neptune) will remain intact.
Also special about this re-release is the inclusion of the final season that was never aired in the United States, Sailor Stars. The “lost” season was deemed unfit to air because all of the adult content embedded, including a new set of Sailor Scouts called the Starlights who had ambiguous gender identities (they posed as male pop stars and then transformed into female superheroes). As attitudes have evolved, anime has become even more adult (and accepted as such) and society continues its nostalgic obsession with the 90s, it is a rather apt time to release the English adaptation of this and the other Sailor Moon seasons.
So, with the original series being dusted off and revamped for the 21st century, what about that much anticipated 20th anniversary reboot?
There have been several delays since it was first announced back in 2012, but Sailor Moon Crystal will finally see a worldwide debut on July 5th. Maybe not-so-coincidentally, Viz will be responsible for its North American distribution. July 5th is also the day the original will begin streaming subtitled episodes (dubbed episodes will come in the fall). That means both series will be going up against each other, which is quite odd. While anime series have been rebooted before (Dragon Ball Z Kai and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, for instance), they have never premiered at the exact same time, like Sailor Moon would in North America. Considering the popularity of the original here (it and DBZ are credited with breaking anime in the West), will the reboot suffer for it?
Or, in a rather ingenious move, are Viz and Toei Animation, the production studio for both, launching a one-two marketing punch, offering both the classic and rebooted series to revive the franchise with maximum impact? It’s what Funimation intended to do with Dragon Ball Z Kai, except they failed miserably by putting it on Nicktoons. With two Sailor Moon series, the companies are hoping they can tap into both the 90s nostalgia of old fans and the general anime-watching public who may not even be familiar with the old series (or think it’s too cheesy to be taken seriously). The success of either or both series opens up a flurry of licensing opportunities that will bring in tons of cash and re-establish Sailor Moon as one of the most important titles in anime history.
With both Sailor Moon series due to premiere in July, it’s clear that the summer belongs to the moon.
Are you excited for the return of the Sailor Scouts?