The Sailor Moon Reboot: What We Know and What to Expect
The new Sailor Moon anime has been delayed again, but there are a few things we know for sure and plenty to speculate on.
UPDATED 3/14/14: We now have a title, image, and plot synopsis for the Sailor Moon reboot. Details here!
Nearly two years ago, at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon, creator Naoko Takeuchi announced the development of a new Sailor Moon anime, and moonies around the world promptly lost their shit. With precious little info released over the past year, fans have been speculating desperately about every aspect of this new project. What would it mean to the franchise and the fandom? Would it add to the original’s legacy or detract from it, and to what degree? Before we jump on those questions, however, here are all the hard facts currently on record.
- This new series was initially scheduled to premiere Summer 2013 for a simultaneous worldwide release. The premiere has since been postponed twice, first to December, 2013, then again to July, 2014. No specific date is currently nailed down.
- The series will be available on Niconico, a Japanese streaming video service, likely with subtitles in ten languages including English. Toonami is looking into airing the show here in the U.S.
- The new anime will not be a remake of the 1992 original, but rather a more direct adaptation of the manga.
- While the original voice actors for Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask have expressed interest in reprising their roles, and several actors from the English dub have said the same regarding a dub of the new series, no official casting information has been announced on either front.
- Idol group Momoiro Clover Z will perform the theme song. Whether this will be a cover of “Moonlight Densetsu,” the opening theme for the original anime’s first four seasons, or a new song altogether has not yet been specified, but speculation seems to be leaning toward something new.
Given this information, a few thoughts immediately spring to mind. While plenty of fans wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to an all-new cast, a great many would have a very difficult time accepting new voices, especially in the two lead roles. Personally, I’d love for the original cast to return, but if the producers opt against Kotono Mitsuishi and Tohru Furuya, I see no reason they’d keep anybody else, and in that instance, I would agree it best to just wipe the slate clean and let this new show establish its own voice, no pun intended.
I feel similarly about the English cast. The dub of Sailor Moon was my gateway drug to the world of anime. Though I’ve since become an ardent purist, favoring the subbed original, now cringing at some of the dub’s more egregious missteps—the often poor translation, the excessive censorship, and the constipated delivery of a certain masked man—the dub will always have a special place in my heart, and there is a part of me that longs to see (or rather hear) that cast reunited. Personally, I think that if the English cast is reassembled, this time retaining their characters’ original Japanese names, it would truly be the best of both worlds.
On the matter of the theme song, I feel very much the same. While “Sailor Star Song,” the opening of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, was a catchy tune in its own right and eventually embraced by fans, there was considerable resistance to a new song coming in at the eleventh hour to replace “Moonlight Densetsu” the opener for the previous four seasons. However, the 2003 live action adaptation Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon went its own way in that department, so again, if this new anime wants to establish its own identity, I say go for it.
First off, Tuxedo Mask has a much more prominent role in the manga. Rather than falling into the Useless Boy Abyss after the conclusion of the Black Moon arc, he remains integral to the plot, his character continuing to grow and develop. Anime Tuxedo Mask got pretty damn boring after a while, and that was when he was around at all, so an opportunity to breathe some new life into that character would definitely be a step in the right direction, considering he’s, oh, the freakin’ male lead.
Another improvement would be the addition of the manga’s proper conclusion, including Sailor Moon’s ascension to her ultimate form, Sailor Cosmos, the omission of which from the anime disappointed not only fans, but Takeuchi herself. This character-stripping didn’t apply to Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask alone. Even among its most ardent fans, the anime was notorious for pulling off half the character development in twice the narrative space. Where were Sailor Mars’ daddy issues, Sailor Pluto’s unrequited love for her king, or the Amazoness Quartet’s evolution into the Asteroid Senshi? It’s not like we didn’t have the time to explore those stories, and I can’t imagine there’s a viewer out there that wouldn’t prefer them to another filler episode featuring some ridiculous monster of the week and some one-shot guest character we don’t care about.
The anime also omitted a lot of the manga’s mythology, which gave several character and plot details the appearance of being completely random and disconnected, and left several questions needlessly unanswered. With the manga complete this time around, why not follow it a little more closely to create a fuller, more cohesive world in which this story can unfold?
That said, the manga is hardly without its flaws, and there were some areas in which the anime improved upon it. The manga was certainly tight, but at times a little too tight. Sailor Moon’s introduction is followed by the introduction of Sailor Mercury in the very next chapter and Sailor Mars in the one after that. It was difficult to get one’s bearing with new heroes popping up every other week and villains getting killed off before you got a chance to give a crap whether they lived or died.
The anime spaced all that out a bit, affording the viewer a chance to get to know each character and develop a sense of status quo so that shaking it up actually had some effect. The extra room also allowed for further development of the secondary characters, particularly the villains. Nephrite’s relationship with Sailor Moon’s best friend, Naru, which gradually transforms him from manipulative villain to besotted anti-hero, culminates in his self-sacrificial death. This sharp left turn in the plot was the first of many truly emotional and heartbreaking moments and is such a fan favorite that many who are first introduced to the anime are horrified to learn that the storyline doesn’t exist in the manga at all.
The same can be said for the romance between villains Zoisite and Kunzite, which gave them depth far beyond your standard mustache-twirlers and helped cement Sailor Moon’s reputation as an LGBT icon. And while Takeuchi was shocked and less than pleased with the gender-bending nature of the anime’s Sailor Starlights (who, in the manga, were merely women in drag), fans loved it, considering transsexual superheroes to be the next logical addition to Sailor Moon’s envelope-pushing ensemble, rather than just a rehash of butch lesbian Sailor Uranus and drag queen villain Fisheye.
All in all, the best this new anime could do would be to adhere to the overall structure and character development of the manga without jettisoning all the innovation of the 90’s anime. While another bloated, 200-episode anime is hardly necessary, the manga could certainly use a little more cushion for its pushin’, and if this new series can find a way to successfully split the difference between the two, it could very well become not only accepted by the fandom, but considered the definitive incarnation of the Sailor Moon mythos.