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Sailor Moon

The title character, Sailor Moon herself
The title character, Sailor Moon herself

Sailor Moon (in full, 美少女戦士セーラームーン, Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn, literally Beautiful young girl soldier Sailor Moon) is the name of a famous shōjo manga by Naoko Takeuchi, and of many of the spinoff series — in multiple media, including anime, musical theatre, video games and recently tokusatsu (live action with special effects) — which have been based on it. The story of the metaseries revolves around the reincarnated defenders of a destroyed kingdom that spanned the Solar System, and the evil forces they battle.

At 200 episodes, aired in Japan on a first-run basis between March 1992 and February 1997, it is the longest magical girl anime metaseries and generally credited with popularizing the concept of a sentai (team) of magical girls rather than ones working alone. Although many shows have followed the same formula, most are generally considered to be relatively uninspired and none have ever been the marketing giant this anime has become.

The anime's first two series contain stories that vaguely revolve around the backdrop of the Silver Millennium (an ancient kingdom on the moon) and the superficially-related kingdom in the future. The third series is quite dark in comparison, while the fourth is sometimes considered overly light and silly. The metaseries enjoyed renewed interest in its final fifth series, although its reuse of many plot devices bothered some fans.

The most-recently-produced live-action series is known officially as "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon" (usually abbreviated by fans to simply PGSM), and it is the first series in the franchise to have an official English title. Allowing for deviations, it more closely followed the original manga than the animated metaseries in its first few episodes, but proceeded to follow a significantly different storyline than those of the manga and anime later in the show. The first episode of the series aired on October 4, 2003, with its final episode airing on September 25, 2004. Two movies of the live-action are scheduled; the first, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Special Act, due for Region-2 DVD and VHS release in Japan on November 26, 2004, and Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Act Zero, due for DVD and VHS release in Japan on March 25, 2005.

Although many concepts in the manga, anime and live-action show overlap, there are many notable divergences. Fans caution viewers not to always use information from either source to explain the other.


Story background

Sailor Moon is related to Japanese Manga
List of manga
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List of manga distributors
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Naoko Takeuchi amalgamated many seemingly disparate themes in the creation of Sailor Moon. Combining her love of space with Greek myth, Roman myth, Japanese elemental themes, and Meiji Era sailor-fuku school uniforms, she managed to fuse the popular magical girl and sentai genres and create a completely new and original idea.

The premise is as follows: Immature, underachieving student Usagi Tsukino discovers that she is the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, the princess of an ancient Moon kingdom. Her role as defender of the Solar System has been reissued to her in light of the reemergence of the evil force that originally destroyed her kingdom, the Silver Millennium. (Note: in the original Japanese versions, Silver Millennium is the name of the moon kingdom. In the English dub, "Silver Millennium" seems to refer to the kingdom and the time when it existed.) She fights using the identity of Sailormoon ("Sailor Moon" is used in the English dub, while both "Sailormoon" and "Sailor Moon" appear in the Japanese manga and anime-related sources). As the series progresses, Sailormoon is reunited with other reincarnated defenders—the princess's guardian soldiers. She is also reunited with her lover, the prince of Earth, who serves equally as romantic interest and primary protector.

The Japanese Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon) anime metaseries is composed of five separate series:

  • Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon) (usually referred to by fans as the "Classic" series, to avoid confusion with the entire metaseries)
  • Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn R (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R), which is actually two series. According to the Memorial Song Box booklet, "R" stands for "Romance," "Rondo," "Return," etc.; the R for the first series is usually said to stand for "Return" and the R for the second series is said to stand for "Romance."
  • Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn S (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S) ("S" stands for "Super")
  • Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn SuperS (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS) ("SuperS" is a plural of "Super")
  • Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn Sailor Stars (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Sailor Stars)

There are three Sailor Moon movies, and these have independent stories that are separate from the series. The movies fall in the general timeline of each of the three middle series (R, S, and SuperS).

There are a few specials as well: Sailor Moon SuperS Special, and Sailor Moon SuperS Plus: Ami-chan no Hatsukoi, both of which take place around the SuperS series. Additionally, there are several Sailor Moon soundtracks available.

Musical adaptations

Main article: Seramyu

The musicals, usually referred to collectively as Seramyu, are a series of live theatre productions that have played over 800 performances in some 26 musicals since 1993. The producers generally follow and expand upon plot concepts presented in the anime and manga, however there are several original plot lines.

The series generally runs twice a year, in the winter and in the summer. In the summer the only venue for the musicals is the Sunshine Theatre in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo; however in the winter it does also tour to the larger cities in Japan.

The lastest incarnation of the series, "The New Legend of Kaguya Island" [Revised Edition] (新・かぐや島伝説 <改訂版>, Shin Kaguyashima Densetsu (kaiteban)), will be staged in January of 2005. After the January 2005 show, the series will then go on a "short hiatus," according to the current producer, BMO.

English adaptations

English-dubbed anime

Main Article: English Adaption of Sailor Moon Anime

A dubbed North American version of the anime was created in 1995, initially airing in syndication in the United States, and on YTV in Canada. Many changes were made to the basic storyline; it was rewritten to conform to the much tighter regulations of American television to young children. Purist Sailor Moon and anime fans familiar with the Japanese original disliked it, although may grudgingly admit it introduced them into anime.

English-language manga

Last updated: 02-21-2005 12:07:58