is the title of a Japanese media franchise created by Naoko Takeuchi. It is generally credited with popularizing the concept of a sentai (team) of magical girls, as well as the general re-emergence of the magical girl genre itself.
The story of the various metaseries revolves around the reincarnated defenders of a kingdom that once spanned the solar system, and the evil forces that they battle. The major characters—called Sailor Senshi (literally "Sailor Soldiers"; frequently called "Sailor Scouts" in the North American version)—are teenage girls who can transform into heroines named for the moon and planets (Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, etc). The use of "Sailor" comes from a style of girls' school uniform popular in Japan, the sērā fuku (sailor outfit), after which the Senshi's uniforms are modeled. The elements of fantasy in the series are heavily symbolic and often based on mythology.
Creation of the Sailor Moon manga was preceded by another, Codename: Sailor V, which centered around just one Sailor Senshi. Takeuchi devised the idea when she wanted to create a cute series about girls in outer space, and her editor asked her to put them in sailor fuku. When Sailor V was proposed for adaptation into an anime, the concept was modified so that Sailor V herself became only one member of a team. The resulting manga series was a fusion of the popular magical girl and sentai genres of which Takeuchi was a fan, making Sailor Moon one of the first series ever to combine the two.
The manga resulted in spinoffs into other types of media, including a highly popular anime, as well as musical theatre productions, video games, and a live-action (tokusatsu) series. Although most concepts in the many versions overlap, there are often notable differences, and thus continuity between the different formats is limited.
Usagi fights using the identity of Sailor Moon, and as the story progresses she learns more and more about the enemies which face her and the evil force that is sending them. Gradually she discovers the truth about her own past life, her destined true love, and the possibilities for the future of the Solar System.
The plot spans five major story arcs, each of which is represented in both the manga and anime, usually under different names. These are the Dark Kingdom arc, the Black Moon arc (Sailor Moon R), the Infinity arc (Sailor Moon S), the Dream arc (Sailor Moon Supers), and the Stars arc (Sailor Stars). The anime added an additional minor arc at the start of the second series, and spent the first few episodes of Sailor Stars wrapping up the plot from the previous series.
The Sailor Moon series began as a manga written and drawn by Takeuchi, the series' creator. It was an evolution from her earlier Codename: Sailor V idea, expanding the concept into a team of five girls rather than just one. Recurring motifs include astronomy, astrology, Greek myth, Roman myth, geology, Japanese elemental themes, teen fashions, and schoolgirl antics.
Only one story arc was originally planned, and the storyline developed in meetings a year prior to publications, but after it was completed Takeuchi was asked to continue. Four more story arcs were produced, often being published simultaneously with the five corresponding anime series. The anime series would only lag the manga by a month or two.
The complete original manga spans 52 chapters, known as Acts, as well as ten separate side-stories. Its main series was serialized in Nakayoshi, Kodansha's shōjo manga magazine, from 1991 to 1995; the side-stories were serialized in Kodansha's Run Run. All chapters and side stories have been published in book form by Kodansha. The first edition came out as the series was being produced, from 1992 through 1997, and consisted of 18 volumes with all the chapters and side stories in the order in which they had been released.
The second edition, called the shinsōban or "renewal" edition, began in 2003 while the live-action series was running. The individual chapters were redistributed so that there are more per book, and some corrections and updates were made to the dialogue and drawings. New art was featured as well, including completely new cover art and character sketches (including characters unique to the live-action series). In all, the new edition consists of 12 story volumes and two separate short story volumes.
By the end of 1995, the thirteen Sailor Moon volumes then available had sold about one million copies each, and the manga had been exported to over 23 countries, including China, Mexico, Australia, most of Europe and North America.
A special artbook was released for each of the five story arcs, collectively called the Original Picture Collection, which contain cover art, promotional material, and other work done by Takeuchi. Many of the drawings are accompanied by comments on how she developed her ideas, how she created each picture, whether or not she likes it, and commentary on the anime interpretation of her story.
Two additional books were created later: Original Picture Collection Volume Infinity, released in 1997 after the end of the series, is a self-published artbook including drawings by Takeuchi as well as her friends, her staff, and many of the voice-actors who worked on the anime. In 1999, the Materials Collection was published, containing development sketches and notes for nearly every character in the manga, as well as some who never appeared. Each drawing is surrounded with notes by Takeuchi about the specifics of various costume pieces, the mentality of the character, or even her particular feelings about them. It also includes timelines for the story arcs and for the real-life release of products and materials relating to the anime and manga. At the end, the Parallel Sailor Moon short story is featured, celebrating the year of the rabbit.
Strictly speaking, Sailor Moon is an anime metaseries. It consists of five separate series averaging around 40 episodes each, often referred to as seasons by North American fans because of the over-arching storyline. Each series roughly corresponds to one of the five major story arcs of the manga, following the same general storyline and including most of the same characters. There were also five special animated shorts, as well as three theatrically-released movies: Sailor Moon R: The Movie, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, and Sailor Moon Supers: The Movie.
Traditional animation techniques were used throughout the series. The series was directed first by Junichi Satō, then by Kunihiko Ikuhara and later by Takuya Igarashi. Character design was headed by Kazuko Tadano, Ikuko Itoh and Katsumi Tamegai, all of whom were also animation directors. Other animation directors included Masahiro Andō, Hisashi Kagawa, and Hideyuki Motohashi.
The series was sold as twenty "volumes" in Japan, and by the end of 1995, each volume had sales of about 300 000.
The opening theme for most of the TV series was , composed by Tetsuya Komoro with lyrics by Kanako Oda. It was one of the series' most popular songs. "Moonlight Densetsu" was performed by DALI as the opener for the first two anime series, and then by Moon Lips for the third and fourth. The final series, Sailor Stars, switched to using "Sailor Star Song" for its opening theme, written by Shōki Araki with lyrics by Naoko Takeuchi and performed by Kae Hanazawa. "Moonlight Densetsu" made its final appearance as the closing song for the very last episode, #200.
"Moonlight Densetsu" has been covered and remixed many times by artists such as the punk supergroup Osaka Popstar. It is believed that the song's melody was inspired by "Sayonara wa Dance no Ato ni" (Goodbye at the End of the Dance), performed in the 1960s by Chieko Baisho.
The English-language dub of the anime series used the melody of "Moonlight Densetsu," but with very different lyrics and instrumentation. At the time, it was unusual for anime theme songs to be translated, and this was one of the first such themes to be redone in English since Speed Racer.The Japanese theme is a love song based on the relationship between Usagi Tsukino and Mamoru Chiba ("born on the same Earth"); its DALI - Moonlight Densetsu.ogg, translated into English, is as follows:
The English "Sailor Moon Theme" is more of a superhero anthem. Its Nicole & Bynne Price - Sailor Moon Theme.ogg is written:
Both versions of the series also make use of insert themes, battle music, and image songs, with the original being much more prolific. Over 40 Japanese music albums were released for the anime alone, many of which were remixes of the previous albums in jazz style, music box, French, etc. In addition, 33 different CD singles were released, many of them centered around specific characters. The second most prolific country in terms of Sailor Moon music releases was Germany, which produced some fifteen albums and singles, including five by the pop band Super Moonies. In North America, only three albums were ever released.
Musicals ran twice a year, in the winter and in the summer. In the summer, the only venue for the musicals was the Sunshine Theatre in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo; however, in the winter it went on tour to the other large cities in Japan.
The final incarnation of the series, , was staged in January 2005. After that show, the series went on a hiatus.
A tokusatsu (live-action) version of Sailor Moon was broadcast from October 4, 2003, through September 25, 2004. The series is known officially as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (usually abbreviated to PGSM by fans), and it is the first series in the franchise to have a complete English-language title. It lasted a total of 49 episodes, and the broadcast originated from the Tokyo Broadcasting System. Numerous other television stations in Japan retransmitted the series.
The series' storyline more closely follows the original manga than the anime at first, but in later episodes it proceeds into a significantly different storyline from either, with original characters and new plot developments.
In addition to the main episodes, there were two direct-to-video releases after the show ended its television broadcast. These were the "Special Act", which is set four years after the main storyline ends and which shows the wedding of the two main characters, and "Act Zero", a prequel which shows the origins of Sailor V and Tuxedo Mask.
The only original Sailor Moon game to be released outside of Japan was the Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon game developed by Angel, released in France as "Sailormoon" in 1994. The other games are hard to find in any other country, unless downloaded from the internet as ROMs, some of which have been translated into languages other than Japanese.
A handful of games were produced in North America, including "The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon".
The English adaptations by Optimum Productions for Cloverway of Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon Supers (the third and fourth series) stayed relatively close to the original Japanese versions, and no episodes were skipped or merged. Some controversial changes were made, however, such as the depiction of Sailors Uranus and Neptune as cousins rather than lovers.
The fifth and final series, Sailor Stars, has never been licensed for adaptation into English. , the rest of the metaseries has officially gone off the air in all English-speaking countries due to lapsed licenses which have not been renewed.
The manga was translated into English in 1997 by manga publisher Mixx (now renamed Tokyopop). The manga was initially syndicated in MixxZine but was later pulled out of that magazine and moved into a secondary magazine called "SMILE. The US comic was released as three series: Sailor Moon, which collects the first three arcs (the Dark Kingdom, Black Moon, and Infinity arcs), Sailor Moon Super S, which collects the Supers arc, and Sailor Moon Stars, which collects the Sailor Stars arc. They feature all of the content from the original manga collections (though the names of characters introduced in the first two story arcs were changed to those used in the English anime), as well as the occasional new sketch and "thank you" commentary from the series' creator. , Tokyopop's license to the Sailor Moon manga has lapsed, and the English-language manga is out of print.
Sailor Moon has also been popular internationally. The first dubbed version was made in France, premiering on Club Dorothée in December 1993. Other countries followed suit, including South Korea, Italy, Spain, and China (Hong Kong), before it was picked up for a North American adaptation. It is credited as being the beginning of a wider movement of girls taking up shōjo manga. Gilles Poitras defines a "generation" of anime fans as those who were introduced to anime by Sailor Moon in the 1990s, noting that they were both much younger than the other fans and also mostly girls. Poitras credits Sailor Moon as laying the ground for other shoujo series such as Fushigi Yuugi, Vision of Escaflowne and Revolutionary Girl Utena. In 2001, the Sailor Moon manga was Tokyopop's best selling property, outselling the next-best selling titles by at least a factor of 1.5.
The anime series has been commended for its portrayal of strong friendships, as well as for "memorable characters", "charm", and an ability to appeal to a wide audience. It is credited with changing the genre of magical girls—its heroine must use her powers to fight evil, not simply to have fun as previous magical girls had done. According to Martha Cornog and Timothy Perper, Sailor Moon became popular because of its "strongly-plotted action with fight scenes, rescues" and its "emphasis on feelings and relationships", including some "sexy romance" between Usagi and Mamoru. In contrast, Sailor Moon is also sometimes considered campy and melodramatic, and has been criticised for its use of formulaic plots, monsters of the day, and stock footage.
In the West, Sailor Moon is sometimes associated with the Girl Power movement and with empowering its viewers. As such, it has been compared both favorably and unfavorably with Barbie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Drazen notes that Sailor Moon has two kinds of villains, the Monster of the Day and the "thinking, feeling, humans". Although this is common in anime and manga, it is "almost unheard of in the West". Despite the series' apparent popularity among Western anime fandom, the dubbed version of the series received poor ratings in the United States and did not do well in DVD sales in the United Kingdom. Anne Allison attributes the lack of popularity in the United States primarily to poor marketing (in the United States, the series was initially broadcast at times which did not suit the target audience - weekdays at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 pm). Executives connected with Sailor Moon suggest that poor localization played a role. Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements go further, calling the dub "indifferent", and suggesting that Sailor Moon was put in "dead" timeslots due to local interests. The British distributor, MVM Films, has attributed the poor sales to the United Kingdom release being of the dub only, and that major retailers refused to support the show leading to the DVD release appealing to neither children nor older anime fans.
In English-speaking countries, Sailor Moon developed a cult following amongst male university students, and Drazen considers that the Internet was a new medium that fans used to communicate and played a role in the popularity of Sailor Moon. NEO magazine suggested that part of Sailor Moon's allure was that fans communicated about the differences between the dub and the original version. In a United States study, children paid rapt attention to the fighting scenes in Sailor Moon, although when questioned if Sailor Moon was "violent" only two would say yes, the other ten preferring to describe the episodes as "soft" or "cute".
The manga won the Kodansha Manga Award in 1993 for shōjo. Sales of Sailor Moon's fashion dolls overtook that of Licca-chan in the 1990s; Mattel suggested that this was due to the "fashion-action" blend of the Sailor Moon storyline. Doll accessories included both fashion items and the Senshi's weapons.
Although both the manga and the anime were released in Mexico, pressure from a Catholic parents' group led to both being taken off the market.