Monday, December 31

Why make an American Live-Action Sailor Moon?

I refer to Sailor Moon as the 'gateway drug' of Anime, because it was the first show that got many Anime fans hooked into Anime in the 90's. Anime was prominent in the West before then, but not as much as it became by the end of the 20th century. When Sailor Moon was dubbed by DiC in 1995, young Americans were unfamiliar with Anime and I remember it was mostly sneered upon and unpopular. Now, Anime is seen everywhere and common in children's animation. Anime is so respected nowadays, it inspired the style of "The Boondocks" and other animation. And such classics such as "Astro Boy" and "Lupin the 3rd" are shown after midnight on Adult Swim. Unfortunately, Sailor Moon didn't get the porcelain treatment shows have gotten recently. Fans can agree the dubs (even the ones from Cloverway) are a double-edged sword. If it was never made, fans would never be aware of it.

Many professionals (both the show producers and analysts) claim it was difficult to transliterate or adapt the Animated metaseries (the five 'seasons') because of the many taboos and/or controversies. Yes, DiC did edit and censor a whole lot of things like 'inimitable' behavior (spitting, etc.) but of course, as I always cover LGBT issues... I have to focus on LGBT... a whole lot of lesbian, gay, and transgender characters. The most popular being Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune of course. Who, after years between Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon S got adapted, the fans were already aware of their relationship. So when Cloverway decided to call them 'cousins,' it just wasn't respected. Creator Naoko Takeuchi vouches they are indeed lesbians and always meant to be women. They were controversial as well in Japan. Other LGBT characters include Zoicite and Kunzite who became female Zoycite and Malachite (name change reason unknown). In the Manga, Zoicite and Kunzite were not romantically entangled. Fisheye (gay male to female) and Zirconia (female to male) switched genders as well. And in Sailor Moon Sailor Stars Anime, the Sailor Stars transformed from women to men which surprised Naoko because she meant them to crossdressing women. All Sailors are female. That Anime may never get adapted to English. In Italy, the Sailor Stars and their male counterparts were split.

Okay, I digress! As some might know, in 2003 there was a Live-Action Sailor Moon produced by the Japanese. In fact, the same company that produced the Anime series--Toei. Some fans, or many of the North American fans were not happy that they used Japanese actors for the series. I find this ridiculous. One of my close friends says, "If a movie is based in [Germany], we get [German] actors!" Which I don't find completely true. Sometimes Germans play Russians and Mexicans play Cubans. Anyhoo, it only makes sense a show set in Japan created by a Japanese person targeted toward Japanese children to star Japanese people. Now, yes they might look a bit ridiculous in wigs, but GET OVER IT! I love the Anime, but I love the Manga most of all as the source. The Live-Action series followed the Manga for the most part and then started spinning into its own original stuff. Fans only familiar with the Anime, would sort of get lost when it came to the 2003 series. Rei's grandfather was not present and she wasn't as boy-crazy as in the Anime, Minako was drastically different from both the Anime and Manga in mood and Motoki (Andrew) was more of a nerd. It's called "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon," the only Japanese series to have an entire English title and the only to be called 'Guardian.' Fans call it PGSM.

PGSM was great because it focused on the girl's lives, relationships and fears. I could just ignore the stuffed doll cats, so-so CGI graphics and wigs, it was great. What was awesome about PGSM storyline was the dualism between Sailor Moon; they made a point of introducing Princess Sailor Moon (above--she never smiled in the series), an absolute power--only concerned in saving her love Endymion (Darien). In one episode, Usagi (Serena) met Princess in her mind and tried to reason with herself. It was Princess Sailor Moon who destroyed the world in the past. Where in the Manga, Usagi killed herself after her Prince was killed. In the Anime, her mother sent everyone to the future to be resurrected to live on. So I felt it was a metaphor for your potential to go over the edge, to the point of no return. Everytime she used her Moon Crystal, it would give the enemy Metalia (Negaverse) more power. Not to mention Dark Mercury or how some fans called her Darkury. Sailor Mercury, being one of the fan favorites, became evil temporarily. Luna became Sailor Luna, a little girl in a wig in place of Sailor Chibi-Moon, being that PGSM was only based on the first arc.

Back when, perhaps 1997 or something (not sure), there were rumblings about a North American Live-Action Sailor Moon movie. Especially since Disney owned DiC for a while, there were expectations Disney would do it. That ultimately fell through. Last year, there was a nasty rumor Lidnsey Lohan would star. Then there was the one Joss Whedon would direct. All has been proven to be untrue. I doubt Lohan is on any casting director's mind right now. As much as I love Joss Whedon, Sailor Moon is a major task to ask someone. I understand why some Whedon/SM fans would want him to direct something like SM, because they know he is dedicated and will do the best job he can do. And he understands super heroines. I think after dealing with big franchises, Sailor Moon would too much of a hassle for Joss. I don't even think he has seen the Anime. I think there would be major expectations from Sailor Moon fans for a project like I am suggesting. And I believe those expectations are justified because we have been hassled so much.

So why do it at all? I don't know. In my own whacked out mind, I think we (fans) deserve a decent representation of why we love Sailor Moon so much. Sailor Moon is the only original superheronie, not based on a male predecessor other than Wonder Woman. I think it would be fun. Sailor Moon can build on the popularity of Disney Princesses and also be the much need superhero role models for girls. Marketing would be great, I already imagine little girls in odangos and princess crowns. I also think it shouldn't be exclusively directed towards children and also portray Sailor Neptune and Uranus' relationship honestly and truthfully. Now you may asking yourself, isn't that crazy? Well, there are plenty of adult movie properties that has been popular with children: Aliens, Predator, Shadowman, Jurassic Park, and Robocop! Now why a movie? I think a live-action series is too much of a hassle for American producers and they wouldn't agree to it (money) as much to as a movie. I think a film company would agree more with a movie because they can test it out to see it is a hit. I believe if they make the research and carter a movie to fans, they can grab big audiences. I think Sailor Moon fans are as great in number as Harry Potter fans. You can not only attract little girls, young women, anime fans, but also many of young males. You won't believe how many Straight males love Sailor Moon. The Manga and Anime came in 5 arcs but some fans imagine 6 movies. Hey, if there is gonna be 8 Harry Potters, why not 6 Sailor Moons? I think if an American movie is made, it should follow in storytelling and mood of the live-action PGSM. Of course, there would be lots of debate over how the cats should be handled.

I brought up Disney before. The interesting thing is that recently Toei and Disney have already been collaborating. As mention before on this blog in posts about the Power Rangers, Disney has been working with Toei—who produces the source of Power Rangers (Super Sentai) since 2002. I heard nothing of Disney talking to Toei about Sailor Moon, but I think it could have been done. Unfortunately, ties between Disney and Toei may strained now that Disney may be not producing live-action Power Rangers by 2009. Besides, Toei has closed any chance of anyone obtaining the rights to Sailor Moon. The broadcast syndication license for the Anime in North America expired in 2003. and it is no longer shown on television in any English-speaking country. Toei currently has a lockdown on all Sailor Moon licenses, but Geneon (who did those big DVDs) may be interested if the situation changes. As for the live-action series, it has not been broadcast in any country outside of Japan and Toei has no plans for it to be adapted. Interestingly enough, Toei has decided to let their American company Cloverway develop Kamen Rider Dragon Knight to re-vamp the Masked Rider franchise that Saban 'ruined.'

About a year and half ago, I made my own dream cast for Sailor Moon. I might make some changes to my own cast choices.