Earlier today, ANN reported that Kodansha will release the Sailor Moon and Sailor V manga in the west. The series will be receiving the deluxe treatment, with new cover art, cleaned up interior art and translations, and extensive bonus materials that were featured in the 2003 re-release of the title. The first of twelve volumes will hit stores in September.

This is an announcement that will, without a doubt, make many people very happy. Sailor Moon in any form has been a bit of a rarity in the west, since the series pretty much disappeared from store shelves both in print and on DVD in circa 2005. This stems from a long, fairly convoluted story that nobody that wasn’t involved really knows the answer to. So, instead of throwing crackpot theories, here’s the gist: Toei refused to renew the rights to the series, which led to the expiration of rights and the inability of distributors to produce new copies of titles. Unfortunately, a lot of people were left unable to purchase the series due to simple scarcity. In the six year period, the values of both the Sailor Moon manga and DVDs have skyrocketed. The Sailor Moon TV sets regularly hit the $200-$300 range on sites like eBay, and the manga can range from $30 to $100 per volume.

Sailor Moon was a true landmark title. The show originally hit western airwaves in the mid-’90s, courtesy of DiC. The show’s presentation was far from ideal, mind you – the show was heavily edited and altered to make the show palatable for the kiddie market in the west. Ask any older fan about this, and you’ll probably be treated to a decent amount of snark about how Usagi was turned into Serena, entire episodes were edited out of the continuity, and a pair of lesbian lovers became “cousins” (nudge nudge, wink wink). That’s right – Dic felt that incest was preferable to homosexuality. But that’s another story for another day. Still, for all of the griping and bitching, the show did make a giant mark on the fans. The show made an impression big enough that, when cancellation seemed to be certain, fans were able to rally and start the successful “Save Our Sailors!” campaign.

TOKYOPOP, then Mixx, treated the series far better than Dic did, though the series still saw numerous edits in names, as well as the removal of color pages and dust jackets, not to mention complete rewrites of creator Naoko Takeuchi’s margin notes. Unlike the anime, the manga never received an opportunity to have a fully uncut release.

The biggest surprise of this announcement, though, comes from Codename: Sailor V. Sailor V never was released in America, despite years of fans begging and petitioning publishers. To finally see it come west is both surprising and impressive. Many fans, myself included wrote the series off. After all, it’s a two-volume short story that revolves around Sailor Venus solving crimes. So, to see it finally hit the west is something that will have a lot of fans smiling.

The Sailor Moon manga has potential to sell very well. With a devoted fanbase, and almost a decade of absence from the market, there is a large amount of pent-up demand. I do hope the market responds well to the title, and people do actually go out to pick it up. The series is charming, and surprisingly fun to read, even today. And to those that plan to wait, I hope that they reconsider. Many were burned when the original run went out of print, and have a new opportunity to bring the series home for themselves. After all, if it goes off the market again, we could be looking at another six years before it reaches stores again, if not longer.