Sailor Moon fans are in for a treat this weekend.

Sailor Moon Moonlight Party - 20140902

Earlier today, Viz announced that the first four episodes of the new dub will hit Hulu and Neon Alley. The new dub will make its début on Friday at 8:00PM Pacific (11:00PM Eastern). Furthermore, on September 7, Hulu and Neon Alley will begin streaming through episode 23 of the historic franchise on their service.

To kick off the première, Viz will host a “virtual slumber party” from the company’s headquarters via YouTube. The YouTube presentation will feature commentary, trivia, and other events, in addition to live Q&A and a trivia contest. The event begins at 8:00PM Pacific, to coincide with the moment the dubbed episodes hit Neon Alley.

Before I go any further, I want to paint a picture of a much older, much different time for many of you. This was a time when anime was on black bulky things called “tapes” and two episodes cost as much as $29.95.

Today, we’ve just received an announcement that the entire first 23 episodes will be available in subtitled format, in addition to a brand spanking new dub that people have been speculating over endlessly, for no real cost. Well, barring commercials and adverts.

It’s amazing to see just how much the industry’s evolved since the early days. Anyway, let’s get back to the topic on hand.

Sailor Moon Key Art 001 - 20140717For many fans, this will be their first real exposure to Viz’s new Sailor Moon dub, outside of the teaser clips. While the company did show the first two episodes at Anime Expo, it’s fair to say that the general audience for the feature was beyond limited due to sheer space constraints.

For the first time, we’ll see just how well things stack up to the ancient DiC dub, and whether the new actors can conquer that sheer rose-colored wave of fond memories.

In short, it’s a pretty big deal.

It’s clear that the folks at Viz think so as well. Their announcement of the “virtual slumber party” is a sign that they want to be able to effectively capture and work with the energy of the moment. It’s a way to continue to really feed the excitement by supplementing the overall viewing experience and basically serving as a conduit for conversation between fans and the company alike.

The “slumber party” format is particularly brilliant, as it immediately kicks fans in the nostalgia. The very idea will undoubtedly kick up memories of times long past, when friends would gather and the only worry was which Sailor Moon episode everyone wanted to watch. At the same time, it sets the tone for the event itself, as slumber parties are informal by nature.

In short, slumber parties are fun! It’s where friends can let their hair down, talk about stupid stuff, and eat a hell of a lot of awesome stuff that they normally won’t because everyone‘s doing it. It gets silly, and there just tends to be this “anything goes” kind of atmosphere.

That’s a powerful image.

Sailor Moon Slumber Party - 20140902And, if handled right, this will be something that reaches outside of the typical anime fan community. The virtual event poses a fantastic opportunity to pull fans of the old Sailor Moon dub into the fray, or to introduce new fans to the series proper. It’s a chance for old friends to get together, and for newcomers to really see what the fuss is about.

For many, I expect that the “virtual slumber party” will be somewhat of a jumping off point. It will be a place to start the evening, but ultimately relatively few will stick around for the entire two hours. And that’s okay. If handled right, it won’t be about the presentation or the content of the event. Rather, it’ll be where people go from that starting point. The stories that are told, and the memories shared will prove to be the best marketing of all.

This is, of course, the best case scenario. We have a few days until the event kicks off. Until then, the clock is ticking…