Sailor Moon à la Saban
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold
Imagine you are eight years old, and you just got home from school. You're one of the many brave latch-key kids who guard their palace with all their might until one of your parents gets home from work. You make yourself a snack, and then rush into the living room and turn on the TV to FOX, just in time to see your favorite show, Sailor Moon.
The opening credits begin to roll. There is the familiar CG shot of the planets which fades into a shot of Serena driving her car, then you see the moon as it blends to become a picture of the animated Sailor Moon with her long flowing-hair as she turns back into her everyday self. Next you see Mina, Lita, Amy, and Raye at school chatting with Serena which cuts to a shot of Sailor Moon's trusted companion -- her white cat, Luna, in both animated and live action form. Then a sharp cut to the Sailor Scouts on their ‘space sailboards' as they fly out into space. Then you see them in a group show in all their animated glory. From right to left there is Mars standing tall half-way off screen, then Mercury in all her brainiac glory, then Sailor Moon standing tall in the center with her back arched and chest heaved outward, Jupiter is right beside her with her right hand clutched in a fist, and finally, Venus, hovering in her armored wheel-chair ready to blast any space scum back to the Negaverse.
Ok, I know by now you must be thinking something along the lines of ‘what are you smoking?' Well, the truth is, you've just been given a glimpse of what the North American world of Sailor Moon could very well have been like if Saban Entertainment secured the rights to the show's license.
Flashback to 1994. With Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers reigning supreme on the airwaves and toy store aisles, the stage was set for another show to come along to lay claim to the female demographic. At the same time, Andy Heyward of DiC and Haim Saban of Saban Entertainment both commissioned trailer tapes to be shot using the Sailor Moon licence. Saban Entertainment teamed with Renaissance Atlantic and Toon Makers, Inc. to produce a trailer for a show that would complement Power Rangers, while DiC simply produced an English dub of the original anime version of Sailor Moon. These tapes would be used to show the international licensors at Toei Animation and Kodansha what was being planned.
Ultimately, DiC won out in the bid war for the license, not because their version was closer to the original, but simply because they were willing to pay more money. According to the information given at the Anime Expo ‘95 speakers' panel, one of the contributing factors for why Saban opted to concede to DiC is the fact that a show combining live action and part cel-drawn animation, with some computer animation added, would have pushed the show well over an acceptable budget. In this case, it was cheaper for DiC to bring over the anime version and just redub it.
A short time ago, Animefringe obtained a copy of the enigmatic trailer produced by Saban.
After the show was permanently shelved, the trailer was leaked to the Otaku scene at the Computer Animation panel at AnimeExpo ‘95, where it was met with total laughter and an assortment of snide comments. In the minutes leading up to the screening, a person seated dead-center facing the podium turned on his camcorder to catch the speaker, who was involved in rendering Lightwave computer-generated backgrounds and between-scene footage, give some background on the project. After a short address by the speaker, the lights were turned off, and the camcorder was aimed at the TV screen on the right. After a pause, the trailer was played.
After viewing the trailer, the audience didn't know what to make of the images they had been shown. There was a mixture of groans, laughter, comments, and applause. After the reaction died down, the speaker commented, "You're very lucky to see that, because [...] I don't think it's ever been shown publicly before. And it may not be again."
Yet, the clip has since been reported shown at a number of different conventions including a DiC differences panel at Toronto Trek 12, and at Anime North ‘99 in the panel ‘The Secret World of Sailor Moon.'
In early 1999, the Anime Expo '95 amateur footage found its way to the Internet on an FTP server and word of its existence quickly spread to a number of message boards and newsgroups, where the clip garnered a multitude of posts. With time, the commotion died down and knowledge of the footage quickly faded. Every once in a while, someone comes across the clip for the first time or hears about it from a newsgroup, usually resulting in a small influx of comments.
Just take a minute to ponder this thought... Somewhere in the omniverse, a little girl or boy is watching reruns of a live action Sailor Moon show at this very minute. Just imagine the consequences for the popularity of Anime in that world.
At the beginning of September, Animefringe sent three letters to the companies responsible for the production of the live action Sailor Moon trailer. The letter to Toon Makers was returned, showing that the company does not exist anymore. The letter to Renaissance Atlantic returned a month later with 'return to sender' written on the envelope. The third letter, to Saban Entertainment, has yet to recieve a reply.
Toonami: Digital Arsenal - Click on ‘Downloads', then on ‘Sailor Moon' for a .mov of the trailer.
AniMono - Enter and click on ‘Movie Clips' for a .mov of the trailer.
Anime Globe - Click on ‘Downloads' section for ZIP of the trailer.
Glen Pearce's Anime Distribution - Fansubber that offers a high-quality version of the trailer as end of tape filler plus other rare clip extras.
Saban's Sailor Moon Related to She-Ra! - Sandy Cosimano's article for Otaku No Tsuki