Page to Screen: Sailor Moon S (1994-1995)

sailormoons1994

Sailor Moon S
based on the manga by Naoko Takeuchi

★★★★★

1994-1995 • 38 episodes • Toei Animation/Viz Media

Sailor Moon S had an odd journey to North America. You see, after the first two seasons of DiC’s dub performed so poorly in syndication, DiC just kind of dropped it. In fact, it kind of dropped it towards the end of Sailor Moon R, never finishing the season. But after Cartoon Network made Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon R a key part of Toonami, the show became more and more popular. DiC eventually bought and released the remaining episodes of Sailor Moon R, but it was Cloverway, the then American branch of the show’s production company Toei Animation, that produced the dubs of Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon Super S, which ran on Cartoon Network. Sailor Moon Sailor Stars was never picked up for North American distribution, largely because of that season’s gender trouble.

I tend to think of Sailor Moon as a very cohesive whole, like a lot of manga and anime franchises, so it’s a little jarring to realize just how it trickled into North America, where it had such a sizable impact. As much as I’m mildly playing at revisiting my childhood by watching Sailor Moon at god awful in the morning while I get ready for work, I’m experiencing Sailor Moon in a way most English-speaking fans did not; I mean, I’ll actually get to watch an official subtitled version of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.

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Page to Screen: Sailor Moon R (1993)

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Sailor Moon R
based on the manga by Naoko Takeuchi

★★★★½

1993-1994 • 43 episodes • Toei Animation/Viz Media

When Toei Animation asked Sailor Moon author Naoko Takeuchi to adapt her manga into a one season anime series, neither of them knew how successful it would be. Toei, not one to miss an opportunity, asked Takeuchi to keep working on the manga. Eventually, the manga and the anime found a rhythm that worked, with the anime following the manga closely enough that only the production time created a month or so long lag.

But, at first, the anime demand exceeded the manga supply, necessitating two filler arcs before Takeuchi and her editor hit upon the main idea for the Black Moon arc. The first is the delightful Makaiju arc, where two aliens, Ail and Ann, infiltrate Tokyo to feed human energy to the alien tree that sustains them. And the second is the infuriating subplot where Mamoru breaks up with Usagi due to a prophecy, never mentions that to her, and she spends most of her energy tearfully trying to win him back. It’s a hard side to see to the normally brash Usagi, especially when she’s only dealt this crap hand in the anime for the flimsiest of reasons. (Oh, and he’s a college student dating a fourteen year old. This kind of stuff doesn’t make me like you, Mamoru. Step it up.)

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Page to Screen: Sailor Moon (1992)

sailormoonseasononeSailor Moon
based on the manga by Naoko Takeuchi

★★★★½

1992-1993 • 46 episodes • Toei Animation/Viz Media

When the first major wave of anime hit the United States in the early nineties, I was a small child, both in the sense that I was both young and in the sense that I was not already five six, as I would be before hitting middle school. Already entranced by the television, I began watching fits and snatches of cartoons, although the serial nature of television went over my head. It completely eluded me to the point that I would just turn on the television whenever, which was usually at four in the morning. Madame McBride was not amused. When she came across me watching The World of Richard Scarry at an ungodly early hour, she took it for Are You Afraid of the Dark? and made sure I never lay my hands upon a remote before noon again, so help me God.

This might be why I didn’t understand how television worked until I was fifteen.

But that was how I saw Sailor Moon for the first time. I’ve, in the course of my fits and starts to more personal writing, tried to pinpoint the exact airing schedule of it when I came across it, and have only come to the conclusion that being on the west coast helped. It was DiC’s now infamous American dub of the show, neatly glossing over any cultural inconsistencies, providing neat moral lessons in the Sailor Says segments, and, of course, frantically erasing any violent and queer content, from the first season’s villainous Kunzite and Zoisite to Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. While I didn’t watch it religiously, Sailor Moon fit neatly into my haphazardly lady-centric view of the universe, even as it faded into the rearview mirror when we left California.

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