what age group should Sailormoon be aimed at?
Ever since Toonmakers first attempted to “Saban” Sailormoon, English speaking Moonies have been debating about what age group the series should be aimed at.
When Moon Sisters first opened on February 18th 2005, I first posted that Sailormoon is a mature, adult series. A lot of fans have since mistaken the word “adult” for Hentai, the Japanese term used to define anime and manga porn.
For the record, ADULT does NOT mean “porn” although you may not know that if you see the whole series.
Still, I’ve received hundreds of emails and notes posted to my YouTube, swearing that Sailormoon should always be aimed at 3-6 year olds. These people also believe that anything above TVY7 should be burned and we should all act like Teletubbies minus Tinky Winky.
Bullshit. And I have the proof.
So to settle the debate once and for all (I hope), here's what happened.
Sailormoon creator Naoko Takeuchi said that initially she aimed the manga at a mature audience, specifically teen and adult men. Hence where the Sailor Senshi appear nude 62% of the time. Below is an excerpt from Sailor Moon Graphic Novel #1:
Now a handful of you old enough to remember (and hopefully own) a few Mixx Manga books may question the fact that a lot of the original segments with Naoko had the words “Mixx” and “Mixxers” thrown in, years after the original interviews took place. You would be right in your questioning, but at the very least Mixx still did NOT edit out the sentiment of said interviews.
So now let’s take a look at some scans from the actual manga. Keep in mind NONE of the following come from ANY transformations, and also keep in mind that this isn’t even a full list of shots:
The original target audience also explains the amount of lingerie images in Sailormoon:
There’s also a ton of violence to contend with:
And let’s not forget Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship:
At first, Toei Animation
kept up with this target audience, allowing writers and animators to place all
kinds of lewd humor into practically each episode:
And of course Toei kept up with the violence and nudity, much to the point of adding in even more death and destruction than the original manga!
But somewhere during the completion of season one, a Toei exec decided that the series could make TONS more money, if they added a few more toy lines aimed at the children of the show's initial audience. Kodansha was right behind them, making commercials and send-away products, aimed at tween girls.
Now is where everything
gets tricky. The content of the show remained mostly unchanged, save but for a
few episodes of Sailormoon SuperS. The show still dealt openly with sexual
themes, violence and death, but the toy line was aimed at a younger and younger
demographic. At one point, a slue of toy ads ran during episode 164, which had
the following themes:
SuperS received the
lowest ratings of any season of Sailormoon, despite the amazing artwork, a
stellar toy line (which even included motion sensitive dolls, intelligent
enough to follow the episodes with you) and a deep storyline. Part of the blame
was placed upon the fact that the season dealt mostly with the life of a
growing Chibiusa, while another part of the blame went to the fact that Toei
failed to keep up with the manga, and thus the Outer Senshi were mostly omitted
(minus the movie and one special), the Amazoness Quartet were depowered and
removed from Senshi status (Aw c’mon Toei really??), Super Sailor Chibi Moon
had half of her powers removed until the movie and the end of the season,
Eternal Sailor Moon was pushed ahead into StarS and NONE of the other Senshi
received their full power ups at the end. And I’m not even counting the
depowering of Diana and Artemis.
Then came Sailormoon StarS, where all hell broke loose.
Naoko Takeuchi had not yet finished writing the end of the manga, and had been in several heated arguments with different Toei writers. Toei animation wanted the series to keep going, with several executives wanting to take the series not only into a separate story altogether, but they wanted to aim for an even younger demographic, while Naoko wanted the series to stay true to her initial audience.
The solution? End the series at StarS.
While both the anime and
manga took on even MORE adult themes, the endings vary. The anime ended in
February of 1997, while the manga lasted until the following March. Naoko and
Toei bickered, until finally agreeing upon the final designs for Taiki, Seiya
and Yaten (Toei opted for rattails, so that Bandai could make the dolls with
brush-able hair. Naoko wanted their hair to remain short like Mamoru and
Haruka. Go figure.) Toei eventually did drop most of the “kid-friendly” themes
that were originally in place, though a toy line was aimed at girls ages 3-11.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Earthy!! Japan had different standards for children’s programming in the mid 1990’s. Shouldn’t everything be edited anyway?”
*SMACK* No dear. Don’t think stupid. J
Now I know Japan in the 90’s was not nearly as screwed up as the United States when it came to censorship, but please use your brain here. Do you REALLY want your toddlers watching this:
Now about the continuation of the kiddy nonsense.
Back in 1994, Toei began
licensing out Sailormoon to other countries. While much of Europe left the
series alone, (save but for the Swedish dub, which made no sense at all.)
Mexico would go on to alter a few key plots. While Uranus and Neptune's
relationship was left to the imagination of the viewers, Fish-eye and Zoicite
were made female. Aside from this though, the series was left pretty much
intact, until episode 200, where a few religious coalitions pitched a fit over
the Starlight Senshi, and of course the fact that Usagi was naked for like 15
minutes. However even with that tidbit of controversy, the Spanish version of
Sailormoon saw very minor edits.
Americans would not be so lucky, however.
1994 saw Toonmakers produce a Saban like music video for a cancelled live action product.
Any similarity between this and ANTHING Sailor Moon related is purely coincidental.
Once Toei Animation had seen the above reel, they pitched a fit and began shopping the series around for another few months, until they struck a deal with DiC, via their long standing relationship with DiC’s parent company. So DiC picked up the series, and between December of 1994 and April of 1995, the series bounced from local station to local station, edited to SHREDS.
DiC (a subsidiary of Disney at the time) had ZERO intention of producing an anime above TVY7. In fact I'm not entirely convinced they even read the script for ANY episode before cutting and dubbing. So while a basic toy line was produced, the show was aimed at 2-11 year old girls.
However by making the
decision early on to aim the show at such a young demographic, DiC wound up
running into some major snafus involving content. One such incident came with
the infamous “Day of Destiny” fiasco, in which episodes 45 and 46 were spliced
together as one 24 minute episode, but some episodes just could not be censored
without leaving open great big plot holes. As a result, DiC dropped a total of
6 episodes. Episode 67 (though dubbed) was dropped due to the fact that it was
the lowest rated episode in the entire series. The only questionable scene
involves a baby plesiosaur with a wound, but other than that it was a harmless
episode. But take a gander at the other 5!
WOW you dubbies missed a TON of stuff!!
The first few series of toys from BanDai America and Irwin only existed in small quantities, relegated to either the tiniest isles of the local SUPER toy store, comic book shops or rare specialty stores. The initial book lines were even more scarce, and for the first two years Sailormoon only existed in syndication on select local channels in the US. The USA Network briefly aired the first 65 DiC edited episodes, but dropped the series after only a few months.
Finally in June of 1997, Cartoon Network acquired Sailormoon for it’s Toonami block, airing the show at the start of said block every day at 4 est. Mixx began releasing the manga in English in 1998 and soon the PC game
“The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon” was released in some US markets. Canada saw most of the Sailormoon merchandise, due to the series popular run on YTV, but Americans were still starving for more.
DiC (then facing financial crisis with Sailormoon being it’s only profitable series still on the air) was only able to acquire the remaining 18 episodes of Sailormoon R, via a generous assistance from The Program Exchange, which by then had been distributing The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show to Cartoon Network. But during the early stages of production, internal bickering over funds led to the quitting of the first voice actress for Sailor Mars, and the second voice actor for Tuxedo Mask.
Around this time Disney had threatened to produce a live action movie, with Gina Davis set to play Queen Beryl, but the movie never got the green light from Toei. Part of the reason was that the script would have cheapened the quality of the main storyline, and rumors had spread that a live action or otherwise re-animated series was planned, with Sailor Mercury having black hair instead of blue, and with Rini/Chibiusa being ret conned as Serena/Usagi’s baby sister instead of future daughter. But by now Cartoon Network had already aired the final 18 episodes, so the concept of Rini being anyone BUT Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask’s first born, was thrown out the window.
DiC through Optimum Productions would dub the three Sailormoon movies, but during production Toei had once again began shopping the series around to another distributor. They chose Cloverway, a distant subsidiary of theirs, and shortly thereafter ended a five year odyssey with DiC. The specials that aired before each movie
(I.E. Ami’s First Love) were never released.
1999 saw Cloverway pick
up S and SuperS once DiC had lost the rights to the series. Only a few of the
DiC voice actors chose to stay on for the next two seasons, as many of the
actors had chosen other paths. The second voice for Sailor Mars returned after her
sabbatical from DiC, and the voices for Sailor Jupiter, Artemis, Luna, Ikuko,
Shingo/Sammy and the movie voice for Sailor Uranus were all lined up, but the
second voice for Sailor Moon had to leave soon after the movies were released,
in order to have her twins. The other voice actors either quit or were fired
for various reasons, and soon Cloverway had begun hiring new actors.
The people at Cloverway were a little smarter than the people at DiC, and quickly ascertained that the series should be aimed at an older audience. So the call was made to reduce much of the editing. It started with the retention of the original sound effects and music (which was also a cost-cutting trick) and it soon spread to half of the dialogue (though some episodes would retain less than half of the original script.)
Some controversial changes were made, starting with the changing of Uranus and Neptune’s relationship, and continuing to the unnecessary gender changes of Zirconia and Fish-eye. However the themes of death were restored, and some sexual innuendo was also left alone.
So seasons three and four were dubbed, staying a little closer to the original. They aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami block a half hour later, and the show was now marketed to 11-15 year olds with no care what so ever made to gender.
Too bad Irwin toys missed the memo.
Two commercials aired for the new toy line, but they were aimed at the old 2-11 year old crowd. One ad featured five little girls playing with the 11.5 inch dolls while another spot aired with a tiny tot sleeping with a Sailor Moon plush.
After the ratings came in however, Irwin nixed the commercials, and at the conventions, the company aimed the new Sailormoon toys at mature collectors. (Hence the rare & expensive Sailor Saturn doll)
Cloverway released the episodes onto censored dub, uncensored dub and subtitled VHS's, and later released the uncensored subtitled DVDs. The censored tapes were aimed at pre-teens, while the other sets were aimed at teens and adults, with the familiar 13 and UP sticker.
By the middle of 2001,
SuperS was wrapping up and things appeared to be great for Sailormoon in
America. The manga was just ending, and was well received even by non-Moonies
everywhere. But then came the mother load…
Cloverway attempted to bring over StarS, but Toei Animation executives were unhappy about the way all four seasons had been dubbed in America. The general feeling was that the series should have been aimed at the same demographic that it had been, BUT uncensored.
While in Japan (at the time) it was considered “okay” to show children such images as perverts groping women (like Rei’s grandfather) and people being attacked, American audiences cringe at these topics even being mentioned on TV-14 shows. Japan views these images as “educational” meaning that by showing a child a pervert groping a young lady, you show children what to look out for, and to be aware of their surroundings so that they DON’T end up raped, groped or murdered. But in America, we tend to believe the myth that if you show a child a pervert groping a young lady, that it’s imitative behavior, kids are stupid and they will start groping each other and end up pregnant and on drugs and then WE’LL have to pay for it and somehow it becomes the government’s fault.
If you just had to re-read that and say “HUH??” then congratulations, you are fine.
But if you nodded your head and said “SEE? That’s WHY Sailormoon had to be censored!” Then you’re an idiot.
Cartoon Network execs equally did NOT want StarS, due to the un-censorable adult theme of the show.
While Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star would enjoy runs both on Toonami and on “The Midnight Run”
(Later changed to Adult Swim), Cartoon Network executives did not want to test out an adult block version of Sailormoon.
One reason is that these idiots believed the myth that this was always a “girls” show, and that women don’t like adult-themed shows, hence why the planned girls block of programming, centered on action-girl shows like Sailormoon, Cardcaptor Sakura and Powerpuff Girls was cancelled in development, and the shows would air sandwiched between “boys” programming. (Yes, there is a place in Hell for these peeps.)
Another reason was longevity. While Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star had only been on the network for a short amount of time, Sailormoon and Dragonball Z had been on Cartoon Network since 1997. Execs worried that if you were to suddenly repackage either show for an adult block, that you would lose the pre-teens and kids watching, and that the adults and teens the new block was aimed at, would mistake said adult block for yet another kiddy fair.
Cloverway and Irwin respectively tried in vain to get plans for a censored StarS off the ground. But despite the fact that the anime was vastly changed from the manga, there was no feasible way StarS could be edited without decimating the entire series.
For starters, Taiki, Yaten and Seiya are girls who dress up as guys who dress up as girls. It’s made very clear that even at their best transformed state, they still have FEMALE parts. An earlier SailormoonS cross-dresser character named Tamasaburou had been changed into a girl, just so that Cloverway wouldn’t have to explain that some boys do like dresses. If this is how a one-shot character is shown, how would a trio of transsexuals be introduced to 2-15 year olds back in 2001?
Then there’s Seiya herself. She’s madly in love with Usagi, even though Usagi has made it clear that she’s waiting for Mamoru to return from the dead. There is NO way you can make Seiya another cousin at this point.
And oh the death toll is staggering. In a nutshell, Seiya, Yaten, Taiki, and Galaxia are the only people who do NOT die in the anime. In the manga, yes. But in the anime, these are the four who will remain death-free between episodes 173-200.
The costumes for the villains and new Senshi are all based on dominatrix gear. Even the baddies of the day get a less-than-PG-costume, and there was plenty left over for fan service. Again, to cut ANY of this out, means that you would have to delete the whole season. The following are a few other points on why StarS is un-censorable:
← And this is from the final episode #200. The episode begins with Usagi being naked and dead, Chibi Chibi resurrects her, becomes a sword, Galaxia crushes it, killing Chibi Chibi, then Usagi decides to fight naked for the next 15 minutes. She finally heals Galaxia, killing Sailor Chaos from inside of Galaxia’s own body (PS in the manga Chaos is a dude) and they spend some time being good and naked, while the Starseeds of all the dead people of Earth encircle them. Then Chibi Chibi rises from the dead, along with Mamoru (as Prince Endymion) and the Sailor Senshi. Chibi Chibi turns into a butterfly and vanishes, while Galaxia (still naked) returns the seeds of everyone she murdered across the universe. That’s at least 25 minutes of un-censorable footage right there!!
Fed up with trying to find a suitable distributor, and a network that would host Sailormoon uncensored, Toei Animation pulled the plug on everything related to the anime, and locked down the rights to anything remotely close to the anime by 2004. A brief reprieve came with Pretty Guardian Sailormoon in Japan, a live action series that after episode 5 bares almost NO resemblance to the anime or manga at all, despite inspired costumes by Naoko Takeuchi. (Look, unless this is how you explain why 30th Century is so messed up, I’m ignoring this mess.)
The rights to the Sailormoon anime were on lockdown until March of 2010, when Toei to began re-airing an HD version of the original anime at the Cannes film festival.
In 2011, Kodansha began
releasing the updated manga in English in the United States. Each book from
Codename Sailor V through the Short Stories books has the appropriate age
warning. Ages 13+.
But between 2001 and today, many fans who only remember snippets of Sailormoon still swear that the show could be censored for the sake of the children who watched back in the day.
These people forget that the youngest children watching Sailormoon back when Cartoon Network last aired the show in 2004, are now entering their early teens, and really don’t remember it well. And the most tech savvy of these so-called “children” have been watching the show uncensored on YouTube, and probably wouldn’t want to see the series cut up like so much deli meat.
So there you have it.
Now you know all about the myth of the age group for Sailormoon, and how it all
got messed up. Now let’s learn from the past, and keep petitioning to have the
series return UNCENSORED in the US.
For more on why this show needs to be re-released uncensored and at it’s original teen-to-adult crowd, please visit my ever growing pictorials:
Disturbing facts about the Moon Sisters...
In 2014, Viz Media announced that they had gotten the rights to distribute Sailor Moon, R, S, SuperS, Sailor StarS and Crystal in the United States. From that summer onward, Viz has been releasing the entire series UNCENSORED in both subbed and a new dubbed format. The DVDs have episodes ranging from TV-PG to TV-14, each due to varying sexual and violent themes, and the series airs on Hulu and Neon Alley, with Crystal airing on the aforementioned and on Crunchyroll and Nico Nico Douga.
From 2011 onward, the manga has been published in America, also UNCENSORED and spans everything from Codename Sailor V to Parallel Sailor Moon. Kodansha brought the manga over, with distributor Random House.
GE Animation, Bandai, Tamashii, Peach John and Leg Avenue have been steadily releasing new merchandise worldwide, aimed at a teen and adult audience since 2011, with America and Japan in a tie for most adults-only goods.
We did it, everyone!!
On April 11th, 2016, Hulu slapped episode 200 of Sailor Moon Sailor StarS with a TV-MA. It was later reduced to a TV-14 PV but the episode still requires an age check and log in. The entire series was re-rated to TV-14 with select episodes getting a TVPG for ages 13+.