Sailor Moon Transforms for its 20th Anniversary


Many anime and manga fans will have one or two series that they’ll fondly remember as the titles responsible for opening up their world to Japanese culture. For most female fans from the Toonami Era, that series was Sailor Moon.

September marked the beginning of the Sailor Moon manga’s re-release onto American shores, after six years off the market. Volume One debuted in September, with the subsequent eleven volumes in the set released every other month. The new version includes a new translation and strict attention to detail, and will even include some color pages. Sailor Moon Short Stories, the collection of shorts scattered throughout the first Japanese printing of Sailor Moon, will be released as a two-book set at the end of the main Sailor Moon release schedule, in 2013. An added bonus to fans, Codename: V, the two-volume precursor to Sailor Moon that follows the exploits of crime-fighter Sailor Venus, will also release Volume One this month.  It has never been released in the U.S.

This new Sailor Moon is published and produced by Kodansha Comics, the American division of the original Japanese publisher; the previous publication was handled by Mixx Entertainment (part of Tokyopop). Mixx Entertainment had two versions of the series, the first released with different story arcs under different subheadings, like the TV series (Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars), corresponding to the first Japanese printing of Sailor Moon. However, Mixx’s second edition, and the new Kodansha Comics release, adheres to a later Japanese edition of Sailor Moon, which includes specially added artwork; lack of segmented subheadings; and the page count-per-book is shifted slightly, for a total of twelve main volumes plus the 2 Short Stories books, rather than the sixteen total from the original run. This way, it is not only easier for the new fan to get into the series, but also costs less.

Why is this release significant?  If you were introduced to anime in the mid-to-late 1990s, chances are your “gateway series” is Dragonball Z if you’re male and Sailor Moon if you’re female. These two series, broadcast on Cartoon Network’s afternoon Toonami block, made anime readily available to every household with cable, five days a week. Around the same time, Fox and USA Network got into the game with anime being aired during the traditional Saturday and Sunday morning cartoon blocks, respectively. Thus began the great boom — and average-age-reduction of viewers — in American anime culture. This series is where it all started for so many — and now, new and old fans alike can again see the originating manga.

Also, this is the first official U.S. release of Sailor Moon — in any media — that maintains the original Japanese names of all the characters. Sailor Moon is a series infamous as a poster-child for “localization” changes in the early days of anime on U.S. daytime television. The T.V. series was dubbed with Americanized, or completely new, names for characters, including some gender changes. The final season, which included the cross-dressing Sailor Star Lights, was never aired. The previous manga release, while including all the “seasons,” was released in mirror-reversed left-to-right format. All of these missing pieces have been reinstated in Kodansha Comics version.

Women Writing What is Possible for Women

But there’s another reason Sailor Moon, and its availability, is significant. Aside from being important to anime’s history in the U.S., Sailor Moon also stands as a marker in the women’s rights movement in both Japan and America. Naoko Takeuchi, the writer and artist of Sailor Moon, comes as part of a line of female manga artists writing for girls in Japan — something that had only become mainstream a decade before; prior, the stories for girls were dictated entirely by male staff, once the market was determined to exist at all.

Making its way to America in 1994, Sailor Moon was one of the first series for girls in the States that included a female lead and empowerment of the female characters through fighting and action, something typical in male-oriented cartoons or exclusively allowed to male characters. Often, the token female character was billed as “the smart one,” but was forced to wait in the background while the action occurred. Moon is also significant as a story in which the characters live in a world that is not encumbered by sexism. When a girl goes to fight crime, she’s held to her abilities as her own person, not by the standards of being female as compared to a male in the same position. Traditional thoughts of girls needing to stay home from battle don’t even appear. In Sailor Moon, empowerment, grabbing destiny — both are possible to everyone, male and female, and who’s going to say “no”?

Even after six years off the market, a testament to Sailor Moon’s influence is that it continues to be a household name, attracting new and old generations of fans alike, and working as a bridge between them. No doubt the Kodansha team is looking to maintain its year of No. 1 hits by courting Sailor Moon fans with a release that aims to maintain the author’s intent and the title’s historical significance. For all of those who ever uttered “Moon Prism Power!” in their backyard when no one was looking, with a stick as their Moon Wand and a golf ball as their Sacred Silver Crystal, here, finally, along with the release of Codename: V, is the entire Sailor Moon manga universe, unabridged.

Disclaimer: The writer of this blog was an intern for Kodansha Comics while Sailor Moon and Codename: V volumes 1 were in production, and was one of those Toonami Children. However, she promises (held at pen-point by lawyers) that she in fact writing here as a fan and reporter only, in search of truth, love, and justice.

  • Elsie

    So wait…. are they re-doing the 5th anime season – there dubbing it? Re-airing it? Whens it coming outtttt!?

  • Mimihime

    This was such a sweet article ;___; made me so nostalgic. I made my first friend in kindergarden because i was making a mood wand out of tinker toys and he likes sailor moon too. ;_;

  • naomi rori

    I am dissapointed so far. Between what Kondansha is doing with Random House, problems with translations, the lack of recognition to comments and questions, taking out art folds, dropping good titles, and the raising of prices for quality on par with Mixx Manga(chiks comics, mixx entertainment, tokyo pop, etc).
    On another note I am female and I like DBZ more.

  • th

    this is so lame!

  • Annabelle

    This is AMAZING!!!! i love sailor moon! i just got codename sailor v and it is also AMAZING!! But 1 bad thing is they raised prices for these novels () ()
    (,,) (,,)

  • I am a male of the Toonami era, and I will admit, proudly, that I preferred Sailor Moon to DBZ. Perhaps it was because they become semi-nude during their transformation sequences (Teenage boys are pervs. This is a well-documented fact.), but, honestly, I think it was because the anime had a better sense of timing and pacing. (How many Super Saiyans does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one, but it takes 17 episodes to do it.) While I’m sure there was filler in Sailor Moon, at least all the episodes were self-contained, unlike DBZ with its endless TBCs.

    Also, Sailor Mercury was my first fictional crush. That might also have something to do with it ^_^;;

  • Manuel

    Moon is also significant as a story in which the characters live in a world that is not encumbered by sexism.

  • sALLY

    The re-released mangas are great! I never read the TokyoPop version but I am curious to read them and compare. So far I’m liking the manga storyline better than the anime because it’s uncensored and true to Takeuchi’s vision. Now the anime is being re-released in summer 2013. SAILOR MOON IS MAKING AN AWESOME COMEBACK!!!

  • You’re reading feminism and relativism into the story. Just because Takeuchi was part of a wave of new female authors does not make her a figure of the Left (see Jane Austen).

    From Takeuchi’s personal life, we know she is and always has been very pro-traditional family. For the series, I recommend that you pay close attention to the relation between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask. Even though he only plays a secondary role in the action, aesthetically he still fills the role of a male guardian (think of the Blue Knight in Tokyo Mew Mew). Bookish university student Mamoru is definitely the stronger persona next to ditsy Usagi, who draws her strength from her purity of heart. One of the girls, the headstrong Makoto, even daydreams of being a housewife and cooking for her husband in the future. Plus, if you read the manga you will recall those sweet moments when Usagi and Mamoru sleep chastely with Chibi-Usa, their future child, between them. What could be more conservative than that?

    Of course, there are the lesbians and both-male-and-female characters, especially in Sailor Stars, but that seems like a secondary consideration, and not pushed politically on the reader with the New England moralism of our domestic screenwriters.