Viz Media dropped a bombshell at Anime Central (and on Twitter) on Friday with the announcement that they have licensed the complete Sailor Moon anime—both the original series and the new Sailor Moon Crystal. The license includes all 200 episodes of the original television anime (including Sailor Moon Stars, which has never been released in North America before) plus three movies and the new anime series, which is set to launch on July 5.
The anime will be streamed on Hulu Plus and on Viz’s own NeonAlley anime channel, and it will start on May 19 with four subtitled episodes of the original anime. Two new episodes will be added every Monday. When Sailor Moon was originally licensed for North American distribution, in 1995, some of the episodes were cut or remixed, but the new version will be shown without edits and will leave intact the original names (i.e. the lead character will be Usagi, not Serena) and relationships (Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus will be a couple, not cousins).
That’s just the beginning. Viz will release a dubbed version (with a new voice cast) later in the year, and DVD and DVD/Blu-Ray sets are in the works as well. The premiere of Sailor Moon Crystal coincides with Anime Expo, and Viz will celebrate a special Sailor Moon Day on July 5.
Here’s the trailer Viz released today:
Sailor Moon has had an interesting history in North America. When it was first released, the show languished in an early-morning slot and ended up being taken out of syndication the following year. The fans rose up with an internet petition and then demonstrated marketing muscle with a “procott,” buying Pop Tarts en masse to encourage the makers of Pop Tarts to buy ads during the show. It was picked up by USA, dropped again, and then ran for quite a while on Cartoon Network as part of its Toonami block. The broadcast and home video licenses for North America expired in 2004, and the show has not been legally broadcast or sold since then.
Sailor Moon never went away, though, and Kodansha Comics’ new editions of the manga were best-sellers that made their way into mass-market chains such as Wal-Mart. Sailor Moon was the first shoujo manga to really catch on in North America, and many girls saw it as the first adventure/superhero story written for them. While first-generation Sailor Scouts remain loyal to the series, the manga seems to have picked up some new readers, and it will be interesting to see how this anime plays the second time around.
Viz Sailor Moon news page
Official announcement trailer
Interview with Viz’s Charlene Ingram and Josh Lopez
Sailor Moon 101 at MTV Geek (in which I get schooled by the fandom for getting the gender of the cat wrong)
Mike Toole on the history and popularity of Sailor Moon
The Sailor Moon Wiki
Wikipedia: English adaptations of Sailor Moon
Kodansha Comics catalog page for vol. 1 of Sailor Moon