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This Almost Happened: The Other Sailor Moon

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"Letters from the New York Otaku"

By David Cabrera


#50 - This Almost Happened: The Other Sailor Moon

In order to explain this story, I had to explain Power Rangers before. And Doozy Bots! Well, I was setting up for this story. It's a big one.

So in 1993 Power Rangers made a huge amount of money by using stock footage from a Japanese superhero show. It was a tempting business model: after all, half of the footage was already done! There was a small wave of productions like this. “Super Human Samurai Syber-Squad” used footage from Gridman. “VR Troopers” used footage from Shaider, Spielban and Metalder and edited the video to make the three heroes into a team, and because of that it was completely baffling nonsense. None of these shows lasted very long.

A few years later, Sailor Moon-- itself a combination of the magical girl genre and a sentai show-- was up for bids in America, and different companies came up with different treatments for how it should be sold internationally. The most interesting take is one put together by Renaissance-Atlantic and Toon Makers (and is mistakenly credited to Saban, the Power Rangers people), which was the direct opposite of the Power Rangers strategy. Rather than dub Sailor Moon, or just rearrange its footage, they wanted to make a completely original new series that was Sailor Moon only in name.

Luckily for us, somebody got that tape and showed it at a convention in the late 90s. Unfortunately, this is the only recording we have available, so you'll have to try and ignore the derisive laughter from the crowd... or maybe your own derisive laughter. I have to warn you: this is going to be a lot worse than Doozy Bots was. (http://bit.ly/wrp11y)

It's kind of hard to describe, isn't it? The proposed show was a combination of a typical American superhero cartoon (I'm reminded of He-Man and She-Ra) and the campy teen comedies that were also popular with kids at the time, like Saved by the Bell. Only the idea of a super-powered team ala Power Rangers was actually kept intact. This show was made ready for American Saturday morning kids' TV, and even these few minutes make clear that it was not Sailor Moon in any sense.

Luckily for future anime fans all over America, Toei rejected this plan (too expensive!) and hired another company, DiC, to simply dub Toei's Sailor Moon anime and run it on TV. Here, have a chuckle at their promotional video. (http://bit.ly/dx0TUo). The show was heavily altered for American kids' TV, names altered, violence cut, preachy “Sailor Says!” segments added to every episode, sexualities changed! But it was a far cry from just throwing out the original work entirely.

Like Dragon Ball, it took a few years to get out of early morning time slots (I remember seeing it at 5:30 one morning as a kid) and gain any popularity, but once that happened there was no stopping it.

An entire American generation remembers and treasures Sailor Moon, and the reason they remember it was that the show was so very different from any cartoon-- and certainly any girls' cartoon!-- they had seen before it. It was that otherness, what Renaissance and Toon Makers wanted to cut off from the show, that made Sailor Moon famous and beloved. It would have been a waste to lose that.
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