Tomorrow, Sailor Moon makes its grand return to the US market via Kodansha Comics. In addition, the former Japan exclusive Codename: Sailor V will make its way across the Pacific and into the hot hands of waiting customers. Celebrations are already in full swing, as Comicopia in Boston is hosting a midnight launch party to celebrate the release. Some will shake their heads, and ponder the point of such fanfare. However, if one looks at the situation, it only seems fitting.
Sailor Moon was a major landmark in the American anime industry. The show made its glamorous debut in America in what many would claim is an utter disgrace. DiC obtained the TV rights to the series in 1995. To make the show acceptable for American TV, they took a heavy hand with the localization. Names were changed, characters were rewritten, full episodes were nixed, and everything was generally sanitized for the under-five crowd. Sailor Soliders were now “Sailor Scouts”, characters were “held hostage” rather than killed, and lesbian lovers became cousins. Many today regard it as an abomination. However, for many older fans, it was their first anime series. It created a market that hadn’t existed before, and allowed the fairer sex to jump into a hobby that had previously been dominated almost entirely by males.
Mixx’s release of the Sailor Moon manga was, like the TV series, an edited and over-localized affair. While it didn’t suffer the same degree of edits that the TV series saw, it still suffered from name changes, rewrites of Takeuchi’s notes, and changes to cultural jokes. The series went out of print in 2005.
In a sense, this is the perfect storm for Kodansha. A highly desired manga title will be entering the market in its original form after a six year hiatus. In addition, the long-sought prequel will hit the market in under an hour. Fans both young and old will finally be able to experience the title that influenced a generation of fans over the past fifteen years. Older advocates will share their experiences with younger family members, in hopes that they will be able to capture and deliver the same magic that they were inspired by years before.
While many years have passed, Sailor Moon is one of those few “timeless” titles. It has a way of appealing to all ages, and reaching across the gender line to enthrall both male and female readers alike. With its magnificent return to the west in just under an hour, one can only hope that the series can inspire a new generation of fans, and open the world of manga to yet another willing audience.