Sailor Moon in North America
Sailor Moon in North America refers to the English translations of Sailor Moon intended for audiences in North America, including fan-subtitled versions. When the series was first licensed for distribution there were quite a number of changes to both the anime and manga, but beginning in 2011 more faithful and better quality versions were released by different companies for North American distribution. Because these two "eras" were so different for the English-speaking fans, they are treated separately in this article.
- 1 The First Fifteen Years
- 2 The Second Wave
- 3 Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and Sera Myu
- 4 Live Action Movie Rumors
- 5 External Links
- 6 References
The First Fifteen Years
The first English-dubbed version of the Sailor Moon anime that was released in North America was possibly one of the most notable of modern (1990s) anime dubs for two reasons: its popularity introduced anime to many viewers in North America who were unfamiliar with it, and the overwhelming amount of changes, censorship, and cuts caused many English-speaking fans to turn to fansubs or other subtitled versions of the original Japanese series.
In 1995, DiC won the rights to Sailor Moon in North America. The series was a 65-episode package, with seven episodes cut for reasons unknown. The series did so poorly in syndication that, after the run had completed, DiC dropped the show and made no effort to bring the series to even the end of the second season.
The series became popular after being aired on Cartoon Network in the United States, and as it had been popular from the start in Canada, there was high demand for more episodes. After two years, DiC eventually purchased and dubbed seventeen more episodes, which would complete the unfinished second season. Syndication rights for the first two seasons were handled by The Program Exchange from 1997-2004.
In 2000, Cloverway, Toei's United States branch, bought the rights to and dubbed Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS. The second two seasons were completed very quickly, because Cloverway was being pushed by Cartoon Network to finish dubbing within several months. In 2001, soon after the last two seasons ended, Pioneer released them uncut on DVD, including a subtitled version. The first four seasons were released by ADV in the same format in 2003-2004. Pioneer also released the three movies in 2000.
Toei had indicated that the last season, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, would never be sold to any American company because they believed it would be found objectionable in North America; this included even the first part of Sailor Stars, which completed the end of the SuperS arc.
The English dub of Sailor Moon was also aired abroad, such as in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
Censorships, Cuts, and Changes
There were many changes in the dub, especially in DiC's version. Most of the main characters' names were changed (with the exception of Hotaru Tomoe) and major plot elements were removed or altered.
In the first season, some of the content from the final episodes was added on to the first episode as an introduction, thus revealing many plot elements that were kept secret in the original. One character's gender was changed, and the dialogue was altered to add significant amounts of slang. The term "Sailor Senshi" was changed to "Sailor Scout."
Five episodes were cut entirely from the season, and footage was also cut from the episodes themselves. The final two episodes had so much footage removed that they were merged into one episode. The deaths of the Sailor Senshi were explained away as them having been "kidnapped" by the Negaverse, something which confused fans who had never seen the original.
The second season received much the same treatment, with one episode cut, bringing the number of episodes lost to seven. The story was also changed in that the primary villains were also from the Negaverse instead of the planet Nemesis.
Changes made in both the first two seasons included the elimination of any hint of violence and the elimination of breast lines in the transformation sequences; certain scenes were played twice (once forwards and once reversed) to avoid objectionable parts without losing time. There was also a "Sailor Says" segment after every episode, extolling a moral virtue of that particular episode. Also, many attempts were made to hide, cut, or erase any trace of Japanese writing originally visible in various scenes. Computer-generated images were added as transitions between scene changes, and several visual effects were added, such as a glint on Luna's forehead in her first appearance or sparks inside of Queen Beryl's crystal ball. Many of the scenes were sped up slightly, and some had contextual changes, like a scene of Usagi talking to herself being rewritten as though she were talking to the audience.
After Cloverway started dubbing the series there were fewer cuts, but many fans were not entirely satisfied with the results. Because of the rush to complete the show in time for its summer run, there was not enough time to rescore the show or make as many changes. The scripts were more faithful to the original, however, possibly influenced by demand from the fans, or by the introduction of a TV ratings system that lessened the need for censorship. However, Cloverway's episodes still had many mistakes and inconsistencies.
Some of these mistakes included characters having different names from past seasons, and attack and transformation names changing from episode to episode. In addition to these inconsistencies, Cloverway deliberately made some major changes of their own, including the decision to change the gender of two characters, one for no apparent reason, and to "hide" Haruka Tenou and Michiru Kaiou's lesbian relationship by calling them cousins.
Official Subtitled Version
The official subtitled version in the ADV and Pioneer releases was uncut and used the original names, though fans complained of some minor dialogue changes and errors in the subtitles.
Many fans considered the subtitled version late in coming, as the first two seasons were released eight years after they had aired. By the time the official version was released, some already had fan subtitled versions and were not willing to spend the money.
The most notable producer of Sailor Moon fansubs was VKLL. Although the early tapes had odd mistakes (such as Sailor Uranus' Space Sword Blaster being translated as "Crystal Attack"), they were extremely popular because they filled a void in the market. The popularity of fansubs was also helped by the fact that the tapes were extremely cheap due to the illegality of making a profit from fansubs: in theory, buyers paid only for the cost of the tape and shipping.
TokyoPop (originally "Mixx Publications") was the only North American company to hold on to the series long enough to translate and release the entire Sailor Moon manga. It was published in three story arcs: "Sailor Moon," running from the beginning of the series to the end of the Infinity arc (S), Sailor Moon SuperS (Dream Arc), and Sailor Moon Stars, the Sailor Stars arc.
Sailor Moon was originally published in Mixxzine and was the magazine's launching point. Starting in August 1997, it was serialized bimonthly. In the February 1998 issue, Mixx announced that it would be compiled into a "Pocket Mixx" edition as well, each book of which would correspond to the original graphic novels. At the same time, Mixx revealed the launch of their new magazine, Smile. The original premise was for the magazine to be a generic girls' fashion periodical, featuring reader-sent photos of ordinary girls and their families.
By the time the magazine was discussed further, Sailor Moon had been slated to move to Smile. There was much controversy and tension concerning Mixx Magazine's new format around this time period, as the company was taking it in directions many fans did not appreciate and the changes were announced only after the yearly magazine subscriptions had been renewed, which led to the Mixx website being hacked and defaced. Despite this, Smile was launched in October 1998, its main selling point being Sailor Moon. Fans who wanted to continue reading Sailor Moon and the other manga in Mixx Magazine had to get subscriptions to both periodicals, which upset those who were not teenage girls and were not interested in Smile.
After some time, Smile's format became that of a girls' anime anthology magazine, effectively eliminating the magazine's original purpose. This pleased most fans, but some felt that the effort was too little, too late.
Changes and Errors
Sailor Moon was Mixx's first translation, and while little was deliberately changed, many things were Americanized and lost in translation. Examples include the retention of the DiC names for all characters except Usagi Tsukino (called Bunny in Mixx) until S, where Sailors Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Saturn retained their original names. However, they were sometimes referred to using English names, presumably by mistake. Another famous error is the incorrect retranslation of a Yeats poem into English.
Several minor characters had their names grossly mistranslated, such as Ptilol as "Petite Roll." The names Sailor Lead Crow and Sailor Chuu were translated as "Sailor Red Crow" and "Sailor Chew," respectively. The Galaxy Cauldron was also translated as "Galaxy Cordon." Chibi Chibi's name was supposed to be based on her constant repetition of the word "Chibi," which she said because she had heard Usagi's mother say Chibiusa's name, but in the Mixx manga Chibiusa's name was Rini. In Chibi Chibi's first scene, the name was mentioned as Chibiusa. The Outer Senshi were at first introduced with their original names, but they were quickly changed back after Mixx said they had made a mistake.
Despite their stated intention of keeping the series as close to the original as possible, Mixx was surrounded by controversy from the beginning.
In July 1998, the editor-in-chief of Mixx Magazine, Ron Scovil, ended his tenure and left Mixx. Soon after, he started a webpage called Eye On Mixx, intended to show Mixx's "true intentions." He had many friends and allies from the Mixx Online Messageboard, which was shut down after the launch of Smile, allegedly due to fan misbehavior. Fans complained about Smile magazine, and made allegations that Mixx had created false accounts on their boards to support their cause and deleted negative opinions.
When the latest issue of Mixx magazine was released in November, it was much thinner but cost the same. The magazine was filled with articles on music and CDs, as well as the usual anime articles, whereas the manga itself had been flipped sideways and sized down to fit two to a page.
Only hours after the magazine was released, Mixx's website was hacked. The main page was replaced with an X-rated graphic of Sailor Moon, with a notice below it telling fans that Stu Levy (president of Mixx) was a "money-grubbing liar."
Three days later, after the page had been replaced, Stu Levy posted a seven-page "response" to the controversy that flew around Mixx and Ron Scovil.
The Eye on Mixx messageboard became the new base for Mixx fans after the official board was shut down. The fans associated with the site stated that they were tired of the way they were being treated and rallied around Eye on Mixx to keep them informed.
Alex Glover's Translation
Located at The Manga of Takeuchi Naoko, Alex Glover's translation was used by many fans who disliked the Mixx translation. On that site, Acts 1-15 were based on the reprinted edition of the manga and read like a script, whereas Acts 16-52 were translated from the old version and were written in a narrative format. This was because the newer translation was never finished, so Glover simply posted the old translations instead.
The Second Wave
In March 2011, Kodansha USA announced that they would publish the shinshouban edition of the Sailor Moon manga translated into English, along with Codename: Sailor V, the first time Sailor V had an official English-translated release. The first volumes of each series were published on September 13, 2011, and were immediately the #1 and #2 series on The New York Times Best Seller list (manga category). This version of the manga was far more faithful to the original Japanese release than the TokyoPop manga had been. It was unflipped and still read right-to-left, and kept the original names of the characters and the attacks, including honorifics used when addressing characters. The kanzenban edition was later released by Kodansha as the "Eternal Edition" beginning in September 2018, with a new English translation.
In May 2014, Viz Media announced that they had acquired the rights to the anime franchise, which included all 200 television episodes, the three movies, and the specials. The episodes were made available online via Neon Alley, Viz's Hulu channel, in the United States beginning on May 19, 2014, followed by online "download-to-own" services beginning in June. The subtitled version of the first episode of Sailor Stars was released on December 14, 2015, making it the first time that an official English-language release of Sailor Stars was available in North America. The entire series is being released on Region-1 DVD and Region-A Blu-ray, beginning on November 11, 2014. This release includes a brand-new, uncut, and unedited English dub produced by the Los Angeles-based studio Studiopolis. The new English cast, approved by Naoko Takeuchi herself, was announced on July 5, when Sailor Moon Crystal debuted on the video service NicoNico. The Viz dub retained most of the original names and terminology that the older dubs changed, although it did include minor changes, such as translating "Senshi" as "Guardian," using "Tuxedo Mask" instead of "Tuxedo Kamen," or having Sailor Mercury use "Bubble Spray" instead of "Sabão Spray."
On June 3, 2021, Sailor Moon Eternal became available on Netflix in the U.S. and Canada with English audio and subtitles (recorded at VSI Los Angeles with the Viz dub cast), and on July 1 of that year, the Viz dub of the previous seasons of Sailor Moon Crystal was also added.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and Sera Myu
Live Action Movie Rumors
In 1997, Save Our Sailors announced that Disney, DiC, and Forge Productions were planning to create a live-action movie which would be released in North America. According to articles on their site, Geena Davis, one of the owners of Forge Productions, would be playing Queen Beryl in the proposed movie. According to SOS, this feature was dropped because negotiations with Kodansha fell through.
Even though that particular proposed film never became a reality, rumors have persisted on the internet ever since that a film would be produced, claiming that various production companies, directors, and actresses will be involved. The most recent rumor claimed that Megan Fox would star.
- SOS - Proposed Live Action Feature (site no longer exists, retrieved from archive.org)
- SOS - Live Action Feature Dead (site no longer exists, retrieved from archive.org)
- Answerman column, Anime News Network, December 5, 2014