Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
Earlier today, Viz announced that they acquired the rights to Sailor Moon Crystal. The series, which will begin July 5, will stream on NicoNico at 7:00PM local time (6:00AM Eastern) every other week. The company has yet to announce details on the release, though more information will filter out as the release date draws nearer.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? The newest entry into the world’s biggest magical girl franchise, another chance for the Sailor Senshi to fight in the name of the moon once more on western shores? A chance to introduce another generation into the series that created legions of devoted fans? What could make this better?
Well, what if they licensed the first series? The landmark show that began the obsession for so many? That would be impossible! The show’s licenses were rescinded in 2004. Geneon announced at their Anime Boston panel that the licenses, upon expiry, were non-renewable, no exceptions! It would take the freezing over of Hell for the show to hit the west again!
Well, pack your mittens and gloves, kiddies! It looks like winter’s coming early to the land of the damned!
Earlier today, Viz announced that, in addition to Sailor Moon Crystal, the company acquired the domestic rights to all 200 episodes of Sailor Moon, as well as all of the films and specials. The deal is the proverbial keys to the kingdom. It includes everything, from the original series, to the controversial (at the time) Sailor Moon Stars. The series will be presented in its original 4:3 aspect ration, completely uncut. In addition, Viz will produce a new, uncut English dub, with actors that were approved by series creator Naoko Takeuchi.
That’s right, everyone. Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune will no longer be “cousins.”
The first four episodes will hit Neon Alley and Hulu on Monday, with two episodes being added to the services every Monday thereafter. On July 5, Viz will celebrate “Sailor Moon Day” at Anime Expo with a day of panels and announcements of the new dub cast, which will hopefully build up to the world’s largest Sailor Moon cosplay gathering.
Now, where was I? Oh, right.
In just a trio of tweets, Viz was able to utterly destroy years of speculation, and theory. For ten years, now, rumors have swirled about regarding the fate of Sailor Moon. Some argued that the license was tied to the live-action show. Others argued that it was due to Takeuchi’s control over the property. Some felt that the show didn’t sell enough to warrant a licensing.
How wonderful it is to be wrong.
Seriously speaking, Sailor Moon is a series that’s always had a bit of an odd time in the west. Dubbed versions of the show used DiC’s TV masters, which meant that any edits to the content, be it cut episodes, or toned-down violence, would always be included in the release. The subtitled releases, while uncut, were often hindered, be it by sub-par video quality, distorted mono sound, or some other technical blemish that would tarnish the otherwise stellar product.
A technically sound release of Sailor Moon, let alone with a dub that doesn’t turn lovers into cousins, is something that fans have clamored for. The release of Sailor Moon Stars, which had previously been a non-starter in North America, will simply add to the appeal, and should ideally create a sense of demand that will ripple through the franchise and translate to increased overall sales.
That said, with Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura hitting the market later this year, the market situation is set to grow incredibly interesting. Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon are both due to hit stores later this year. Given that both properties overlap in terms of market share, and that both are very large titles in the anime fanbase, there will be a fair amount of sales cannibalization, in which one product eats into the sales of the other. While most would place Sailor Moon as the favorite, due to the brand recognition and sheer mind share alone. This doesn’t include other comparisons that will inevitably be made, be it in perceived value (which will become a factor once the prices begin to roll out), perceived quality, or some other combination of factors.
In either case, though, it will be a truly fascinating fall, and a fantastic time for fans of magical girl shows. With the surprises that have hit us this season already, I can’t help but wonder what will turn up next!