Home Video War!
In a surprising development, Pioneer Entertainment's Home Video release of the "Sailor Moon S" television series does not appear to be causing the devastating erosion expected upon ADV Films release of the first series, "Sailor Moon." VHS tapes of DiC Entertainment's edited dubbed version (repeated endlessly on U.S. & Canadian television) seem to be initially holding up against the onslaught of VHS & DVD, edited & uncut versions just now entering the market produced by Cloverway. In some unique, limited circumstances, the ADV VHS units are actually performing better than the Pioneer VHS units.
We would hope that Cloverway take note of the popularity of the DiC version when considering any future edited & dubbed productions for television.
The ADV releases appear to be settling into a new level of predictable numbers with each additional title. Although sales have never been (nor were expected to be) spectacular (as with the feature releases), they have not yet fallen off the face of the Earth either. The next few weeks should prove decisive.
ADV's recent and upcoming VHS tape releases are:
Meanwhile, Pioneer's staggered release of the different formats and versions is going as expected. The first 4 episodes are on tapes marked, "Pure Hearts - Volume 1;" episodes 5 - 7 are on tapes marked, "The Love War - Volume 2." 3 versions of each Volume are being released making for a total of 6 VHS tapes. 2 of the tapes have the Edited & Dubbed episodes which premiered on the Cartoon Network in the United States. These are sometimes known as the TV or Toonami versions. There are also 2 tapes which have the same exact episodes but are uncut (and will be available on the first DVD). This version is known as Uncut & Dubbed . The final 2 tapes have the same episodes, also uncut, but are in Japanese with English subtitles (and will also be available on the first DVD). This version is known as Uncut & Subtitled.
The reason for releasing only 7 episodes on VHS is so that they equal the number being made available on the first DVD. (A pattern which is expected to continue although the number of episodes per unit will change.)
Here are the first 6 VHS tapes to be released, as provided by Amazon.com (with two boxes possibly being incorrect):
The cover art to the Uncut & Dubbed Version of Volume 1 should be the same as the Uncut & Subtitled Version of Volume 1 (but with the words, "Original Uncut Version" added). And the Uncut & Subtitled Version of Volume 1 should have had the words, "English Subtitles" across the top of the box. (Hey Pioneer & Amazon.com! Please straighten this out!)
The upcoming DVD release will have the first 7 uncut episodes which can be played dubbed or in Japanese with English subtitles. This DVD is designated as Sailor Moon S - Pure Hearts/Love War (Vols. 1 & 2). There have been no surprises here concerning orders & pre-sales, as they have (so far) been good but not as good as with the features.
Some fans (and some sites) seem to have been mistakenly informed that all of the formats and versions would be released in late January 2001 (which was then moved to February 6). As far as we know the VHS versions were always to be released starting in early February with the DVD to follow thereafter within the month. Pioneer itself may have been in the dark as it (and most small distributors) have been at the whims of a DVD manufacturing industry currently operating at over 100% capacity (and which can be several weeks behind schedule for any number of reasons). Only the major studios appear to have any sway with this industry and seem to dictate which titles get released on schedule.
Pioneer has told us that they hope to release Volumes 3 & 4 during April.
Most of the ADV & Pioneer releases should be popping up soon at your nearby Best Buy, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Sam Goody, Suncoast, Tower and maybe even some Wal-Mart locations. The Uncut versions will probably be available in fewer locations (due to regional hostility towards uncut anime). Besides retail locations more of the versions are currently available Online at such sites as Amazon.com, The Right Stuf, Blockbuster.com, Suncoast.com and Tower.com.
Amazon.com visitors should be reminded that Amazon's "Sales Rank" numbers change hourly and that online sales skew more to Subtitled & Uncut versions rather than the much larger retail sales (which favor Dubbed & Edited versions).
Orders, pre-sales and some actual initial sales suggest that there has been some pent up consumer demand for both lines of products from ADV & Pioneer. However, one of the reasons for the ADV line holding up maybe due to the fact that fan interest is not so nearly as strong for VHS tapes from Pioneer. In other words, there appears to be two strong and very different consumer segments interested in these releases.
One group has VHS players and loves the DiC productions (and so ADV holds up better against Pioneer) and the other group has a DVD player and wants more of the original Japanese version (thus the stronger per unit interest in Pioneer's DVD). Pioneer's theory of releasing as many versions as possible on VHS makes them the winner of grossing more per title. However ADV could end up grossing more on a per VHS unit basis. What does this mean? A lot! Profits and continuing interest in Sailor Moon from these companies may hinge more on their deals with their respective licensers (DiC & Cloverway) rather than with fan interest. For example, a terrible situation could be if Pioneer's deal hinged on royalties on a per unit (rather than a per title) basis and if (vice versa) ADV's deal hinged on royalties on a per title (rather than a per unit) basis. Many other factors probably play a part as well.
Initially, Pioneer planned to release only the TV version on VHS as the Uncut market was (and still is) dramatically moving towards a DVD only release. Pioneer added the Subtitled & Uncut version perhaps as a warning to DiC & ADV and then (once the DiC & ADV deal went public) called for an all-out war by adding a (mostly) unprecedented third version: Dubbed & Uncut.
With both lines performing (but with some expected cannibalization), Cloverway is now the big winner as they should be receiving a small percentage from DiC's productions. With time we'll see how ADV fares.
Pre-sales & actual numbers of units sold (and not shipped) of the releases were made available to us under the condition that they not be made public. Such information could be published by the companies involved if they should so wish. However, we believe that this is not a burning issue with the majority of Sailor Moon fans.