Japanese phenomenon Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (translated as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, then taken back with a “just kidding” and rebranded as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon) is turning 25 years old this year. The original graphic novel premiered in 1992, a year before the TV show. It was a spin-off of the short-lived Codename Sailor V manga by Naoko Takeuchi.
Back in 1998 when I was first getting into the show (and watching the limited DIC dub episodes on an endless loop via Cartoon Network), I looked up everything I could about Sailor Moon and its secret 3.5 undubbed seasons. I scoured those series of tubes on the Information Super Highway for every god damn Geocities, Xoom, Angelfire, (and whatever other busted site gave your computer a Trojan Horse Virus) to eat up everything I could about the show. It was exhilarating!
It was also an infected mass of rumors, lies, and fan-created insanity.
But then, I started thinking about some of the wildest Sailor Moon rumors I heard over the years. And I pulled a few good ones out of the old memory banks, such as…
5) The American Sailor Moon Pilot is still called Saban Moon
Back in 1994, just one year after the Sailor Moon anime premiered in Japan, Toei began looking to license the rights to the show internationally. And one tiny company, the now defunct Toon Maker, heeded the call. Taking the Sailor Moon license, they created a strange premise: Half Live-Action footage. Half Original Animation. 100% bummer.
Their idea behind this Sailor Moon show was to shop it around to preexisting production companies such as Saban Entertainment in hopes that Saban would buy it from them and give them money to produce the show on their own. This is a very common practice in television making. Trust me, if Saban produced this, it wouldn’t have failed before the pilot stage. Think about it- Saban was riding some mad success on their rebranding of the Super Sentai franchise into Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. If Saban made the business decision to bring Sailor Moon over themselves, they would have had the funds and likely, vision to make it a success.
In order to gauge fan interest, Toon Maker put together a two-minute music video and teased it at Anime Expo in California. The response was less than enthusiastic. But what we didn’t know, or at least until 2012 when a mass of animation cels appeared on eBay, was that actual completed animation, possibly even a finish pilot, existed at one point. It is now considered lost. There are a multitude of incredible articles about this topic, thorough with tons of screen shots. One amazing website, Sailor Moon News, even managed to find a script to the lost pilot.
I’ve seen my fair share of cartoon scripts and from the experience I have, this one looks real. What’s most fascinating to me is the use of the name “Darian”. Fans of the DIC dub know that the Westernized name for Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask was in fact “Darien”. As a person who is very interested in animation, failed projects, prototypes, and “what we could have gotten” stories, I can’t help but wonder if anyone working at Toon Maker would later go to DIC, or if DIC was involved with Toon Maker obtaining the rights from Toei in order to make this pilot. It also makes me curious what Toon Maker would have called the group of girls. Were they the ones who came up with “Sailor Scouts”?
And really, I don’t know why I’m still hearing the words Sailor Scouts in 2018. The DIC dub is over twenty years old. It’s been off the air for at least 16 years. The original Mixxine manga are long gone with the Bunny Tsukino, Darien Shields, and Sailor Scouts translation. Why hasn’t it gone away?
That DIC force is strong.
4) Rumored Names, Dolls, and Toys
Before Sailor Moon S was dubbed into English, Irwin Toys released Sailor Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto dolls. Fans speculated for years what names would be given to Haruka/Michiru/Setsuna (their civilian names) should the dub ever come to fruition. The names fans “agreed upon” were Alex, Michelle, and Susan. I remember seeing those names everywhere and some fans were even using them in their Fan-Created dubs of the show. Or clips…because the internet was slow as shit and a 4MB AVI file took two days to download.
Instead, Iwin Toys released three dolls named Corinn, Narissa, and Celia. The boxes had the Sailor names (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) but these civilian names came from a tiny paper pamphlet that was stuffed in the box. Fans were confused, but excited to see the with (albeit odd) Westernized names. Ultimately, the third season of Sailor Moon was dubbed and the characters were named Amara, Michelle, and Trista and the doll name issue was never addressed by Irwin Toys, DIC, or Cloverway.
But the doll names weren’t the only Irwin toy with strange origins.
The Moon Cycle is a bicycle style toy meant for the 6” Sailor Moon Adventure dolls. There was never any sort of vehicle that the characters rode on in the show. This toy, according to rumor, is a leftover design idea from the scrapped Toon Maker pilot, although we can clearly see those girls riding on flying sailboat…style…things.
Irwin continued to drop the ball, exciting Sailor Moon doll collectors with Sailor Moon civilian-style clothing lines that never happened.
A Sailor Saturn doll that would never come.
And teaser prototype dolls for the Amazoness Quartet, villains from the 4th season of Sailor Moon.
Fortunately, America isn’t the only ones at fault here. Japan teased Sailor Moon fans with a picture of this Proplica, only to never release it on store shelves.
3) The Rumored Movies and Musicals that Never Happened
There were a few rumors in the late 90s/early 2000s that another Live-Action Sailor Moonmovie attempt was coming to the States. The earliest one I can remember floating around involved actress Geena Davis interested in playing Queen Beryl, which is captured beautifully in this article from 1997 when the Internet looked like dreck. Ten years later, the American movie rumor was riding strong, and claims insisted that Joss Whedon was on board to direct the Sailor Moon movie that was nowhere in sight.
The grasping at straws became even more frantic when fans insisted this film was in fact coming and even had actress Lindsay Lohan on board to play Sailor Moon herself. And finally, the nail on the coffin seemed firmly hammered in place when Megan Fox playfully suggested she’d be interested in being cast in a Sailor Moon movie and the Internet exploded in a way that made Kotaku think we needed an entire article dedicated to that sentence.
But just saying…if Megan Fox wants to go ahead and play Sailor Mars in a film, I’d be really super okay with that.
Somewhere around the time the movie rumors started to die, I remember seeing reports/fan hopes/gossip/whatever that there was the possibility of a Sailor Moon stage musical, like a Broadway show, right here on American soil. In Japan, Sailor Moon has been a stage musical since 1993, where they are known as Sera Myu, a combination of the words Sailor-Musical. They ran a new story each year consistently through 2004, went on hiatus, and returned somewhere around 2014.
The early ones are amazing- I’ve seen them all in raw Japanese and the music, dancing, and stories are just wonderful. But the idea of an Americanized version is just cringeworthy. Fortunately, the rumor was just that, although in 2017 the Japanese stage musical actresses hit the Anime Matsuri convention in Texas for a live performance that left all Myu fans geeking out hard.
Rumored Sailor Moon media doesn’t quite end there. Right around the time Toei announced a new Sailor Moon anime many fans were convinced that a Codename Sailor V anime was on its way. Fan-Made opening sequences like this one fooled some people who were hopeful we’d get a prequel to the series where we finally saw what adventures Minako Aino experienced as a transforming thirteen-year-old Japanese assistant to the police in England helping a man named Alan and a policewoman named Katarina while attending school and having moon powers as the guardian of Venus?
I never thought it made much sense either. But hey, you know, from the ashes of the rumors came Sailor Moon Crystal. Let’s just take it all at face value.
But speaking of things that could have been a Sailor Moon story, we almost got a version of the Sailor Moon SuperS movie that was very, very different. You see, Revolutionary Girl Utena was a series co-created by Kunihiko Ikuhara after he finished working on Sailor Moon SuperS. He pitched an original story for the SuperS movie to producer Iriya Azuma. However, Azuma left the Sailor Moon team before the movie went into production. Ikuhara therefore opted not to use the script.
But those of us who have seen the Utena movie Adolescence of Utena might see some interesting crossovers with the original premise of the SuperS movie…
According to Ikuhara:
“It was going to be a story in which Uranus and Neptune were the main characters. It was going to be a story independant to the TV series and this was going to be the first appearance of Uranus and Neptune. And Sailor Neptune was going to be in a 1000-year sleep at a place called “The End of the World”. And Sailor Uranus was needed to steal the talisman from the Sailor Senshi and use that to awaken Sailor Neptune. And Uranus was going to be riding the black Pegasus. And the story was going to be that Sailor Moon would ride Pegasus to chase Sailor Uranus riding the Black Pegasus to the “End of the World”. And the climax of the story would’ve been the rodeo scene between Sailor Moon on white Pegasus and Sailor Uranus on Black Pegasus. And so, this was kind of story I had in mind. But before production began, the producer walked off Sailor Moon. It would’ve been possible for me to make the story still, but since I came up with the story with the producer, I also walked off. But I had an attraction to the idea of “The End of the World” which I thought up for this plot. So, the same thing in Utena comes from the Sailor Moon plot.”
2) Headcanon that Spread like Wild-Fire
Going back to the early days of the Internet (when naïve, young internet scourers were unable to distinguish fact from fiction), a website known as SOS: Save Our Sailors (though from what, I’m not entirely sure) devised some sort of headcanon that was insisted to be true. For those of you unfamiliar with the term headcanon, it basically refers to a piece of lore or “fact” that you insist is true or part of the story, but there’s no agreement of it or evidence anywhere. It’s all in your head. At one point, the site insisted on the story of Prince Uranus. To avoid clicking the link, I’ve copied the rumor directly from the Moon Wiki:
“During the Moon Kingdom, the Prince of Uranus was in love with Sailor Neptune. His sister, Sailor Uranus, was mortally wounded in the battle with Queen Beryl‘s forces, but before she died she conferred her powers onto him. Then Queen Serenity sent everyone to Earth, and since all Senshi are female, and the Prince now had Senshi powers, he was reborn as a girl; but even so, his love for Sailor Neptune endured. Thus, according to this interpretation, they are not lesbians but former lovers ironically reunited as the same gender.”
This, simply put, is all a load of crap. So is the theory by the well-known bootlegger and costume seller who insisted that Sailor Uranus’ “true colors” were yellow with a green bow for reasons only that person understood.
And my favorite headcanon rumor, which I still see circulated to this day, is the one about Chibiusa (Sailor Moon’s daughter). Someone on a message board apparently tried to convince everyone that Sailor Pluto is in fact the young girl’s mother because both have red eyes and a close mother-daughter relationship.
All rumor. All headcanon. All in your imagination.
1) The Games We Never Got
Other than a CD-Rom game called The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon (released by DIC), we’ve never had a Sailor Moon video game in America. In Japan, there have been tons of them. Most of them were released in the 90s on Super Famicom and Game Boy (all of which I played on emulator, and let me tell you, they are excellent). They range from Beat em Ups, to Fighting Games, to Puzzle Games, and even an RPG.
In fact, it was one of two RPGs I’ve ever completed and I’m very proud of that. As time went on, there was a 3DO game released, (creepy CGI opening sequence included) a Sega Saturn game and a single Sailor Moon SuperS fighting game on the original Playstation. But again, none of them would ever come to America.
Unless you have that one liar friend who claimed to have a burned copy of the secret American prototype for the Playstation. Who of course, was never able to produce that copy when the topic came up again in conversation. Honestly, he probably just saw an import copy played on a friend’s modded PS1 and his teenager brain made up a whole crap story just to feel special. But in those early days, we were so starved for Sailor Moon merchandise, so hungry to hold objects with our favorite characters in our hands that we were ready, so freakin’ ready to believe almost anything.
Until you get a slap of reality across the face from Theodore Jefferson, former DIC employee who breaks down with painful, blunt honesty why there will never be any Sailor Moon video games in the US. And he should know. He wrote a book about it. And people who write books are smart:
“There will never be another English-language Sailor Moon video game. Leaving aside for the moment the now proven fact that Sailor Moon’s merchandising efforts outside of Japan are and will remain a train wreck, those responsible for the rights to these characters simply don’t care about markets outside of Japan. I have well-placed sources inside and outside the Sailor Moon licensing structure who confirm the Japanese licensors consider the U.S. a secondary market at best and further seem to prefer to avoid significant contact with their American licensees.”
Little did he know that we’d at least get to play Sailor Moon Drops on our phones and go broke buying levels.
Who’s winning now, starlight?
That’s right. Our faces right over here.