d_ami "I passed but with only a 98!"
More Mirth & Merriment
DiC To Be Production Company For Any New Episodes
Rights No Longer An Issue
Have You Passed Your Bar Exam?

As we have previously reported, DiC lost the options and any rights to any additional television episodes of "Sailor Moon" from Toei. After DiC lost these rights in late 1998, Pioneer Entertainment came to a separate agreement to produce dubbed versions & distribute the animated features in English speaking territories.

Recently, DiC tried to renegotiate the options back. What happened next, only a lawyer could keep track of! Passed your recent bar exam? Great! Then get ready for the wildest ride yet of the saga that is "Sailor Moon" in the English speaking world! (If you should get lost, don't worry, just skip ahead to the very end of the story where there is some absolutely essential information for every fan to consider!)

'Led by the stars of the zodiac'

Oh The Joys Of Running A Web Site!

You wanna know how we were absolutely sure that DiC no longer had the rights? When their lawyers and staff stopped returning phone calls and letters from companies wishing to license the property. These companies started to contact us! Not wanting to reveal the dispute or get involved until it was settled, the Save Our Sailors campaign, for the most part, did not return most of the sensitive inquiries. We'll now happily return to our previous position of unofficial potentate of all unassigned rights directory.

Enter A Certain Network

When the Cartoon Network showed interest in presenting new, additional episodes an agreement was drawn up with Cloverway, Toei's representative in the United States and not with DiC. (For the purposes of this report, all references to "Toei" shall mean "Toei" and/or "Cloverway.") The problem that Toei then faced was which company was going to produce any new episodes. With the success of the subtitled and the then (and current) production of the dubbed versions of the features, Pioneer seemed the obvious choice.

But the network did not exercise the agreement and so Toei did not have to select a production company at that time. Toei might have selected a company but we are unaware of this. The reason why the network did not exercise the agreement will be the subject of a future story.

During this same period there appeared to be an understanding between DiC and Toei. With DiC's decision not to exercise its options and/or default of its original agreement, (both DiC and) Toei did not pursue this matter. Since there was no new deal, there were no options or future rights to fight about. This sort of company behavior is not uncommon. If nothing is really an immediate issue then neither company has anything to gain by fighting one another. (Why pay a lot of money for a lot of lawyers to straighten out something which has no worth?)

Why Toei Chose DiC

Months later, when the network finally decided to order more episodes, Toei had to select a company. DiC was notified or found out about the order (not from us) and was willing to rectify the situation. That DiC, had gone on record to willingly fix whatever they had done--placed Toei in an impossible situation. If Toei had selected Pioneer, then DiC would have been in an excellent position to sue Toei concerning the rights & options.

Why? Because judges, juries and arbitrators usually find in favor (that means pick the winner) of whomever wanted to avoid court to begin with. While the facts of any dispute play importance--the fact that one of the parties wanted to correct what it had done (with or without admitting any guilt) usually has tremendous weight in any decision.

Ready for Action!

Moon Producing Activation!
A Shift In Power

There has been a subtle but important shift of power over the years.

First 65 episodes:
DiC produces version which needs to be approved by Toei/Kodansha/Takeuchi.

Next 17 episodes:
Irwin Toys pays for DiC to dub more episodes which still need to be approved by Toei/Kodansha/Takeuchi.

Pioneer comes to an agreement with Toei to continue DiC conventions which only needs approval from Kodansha & Takeuchi.

Next batch of episodes:
The Cartoon Network makes a deal with Toei. Toei is the defacto producer and makes a deal with DiC to dub the episodes which only Kodansha & Takeuchi need to approve.

Some may ask, why doesn't Toei just open a production company here and do it themselves? The answer is that anime has never been consistently popular enough to warrant the investment. With time, this might change.

From Toei's point-of-view the choice was did they want to waste any time fighting this out with DiC (and possibly ending up in court) or make a deal with DiC and get something out of it (a resolution to the rights issue). It appears to us that Toei selected the latter. While some fans may object to such a decision, they may have not had the personal, horrendous experience of the overwhelming amount of time and energy a dispute can consume. DiC may have also bid a lot less for the production job (which would have strengthened any case) than Pioneer. But we do not believe that a bid played any real significance in Toei's decision--the opportunity to avoid a dispute did.

It's important to note that there is the very strong possibility that the words, "litigation," "sue," "lawyer," and "I'll see you in hell(!)," were never used between the two companies. Companies usually discuss all sorts of scenarios internally without ever discussing them to the outside world. And so, it is needless to say, that we never saw a lawsuit filed between the two companies.

Why DiC Wanted The Deal

The question arises of why DiC, so uncharacteristically, was willing to do so much to get the property back. Usually DiC just loses properties and/or abandons shows and that's the end of that. Andy Heyward is notorious for cutting losses (which is not-at-all a bad business practice). But here, in this case, DiC has had to pay money and/or receive less production money to correct this situation. Why?

  • The deal is huge. It's much larger than fans may think.

  • DiC has been shrinking into almost non-existence. DiC needs the work. (Note to Toei: We hope someone is watching for quality!)

  • Bragging rights. This deal helps save DiC from being completed devoured or scuttled by the mouse (ABC/Disney--which is still a Limited Partner of DiC). The industry publicity might help DiC secure bigger & better deals. They will be able to claim (no matter how some fans might feel) that DiC ultimately made "Sailor Moon" a success in the English speaking world.

  • Future options. In the entertainment business whoever is left standing, wins. Now that there is a interest in new episodes this might lead to even more opportunities. DiC wants in.

Our New Best Friend

DiC is the company that's going to produce any additional episodes for now. As fans, we may complain about them left and right but that's the way it is. Deal with it! We take back all of those unkind words we might have said about Andy Heyward. Andy insane? We were joking! ;)

It's Pioneer we're concerned about.

The Negaverse's latest plot?
"He still has memories of Pioneer. Queen Beryl isn't going to like this!"
Left At The Altar

No company wants to be known for losing out on a deal--so we're not going to say that Pioneer did. (*Forget, you will forget everything you have read before this sentence*)

But what Pioneer did do is to provide an unbelievable amount of leverage against DiC. We're not talking about money here (which we're not privy to), we're talking about higher standards for the show and more competition for all sorts of rights to "Sailormoon." The release of the features helped keep the show alive in the English speaking world.

  • Is there money in releasing "Sailor Moon" subtitled, dubbed and unedited? Pioneer's sales have been excellent.

  • Does everything need to be censored or visually altered for the United States? Pioneer has shown it doesn't.

  • Can Japanese & North American music cues be successfully married? Pioneer has shown how to do it.

  • Want to get Sera-Myu's subtitled in English? Pioneer can now provide all the statistics any distributor (including themselves) would need.

  • And in the future, when this current production deal ends, which company could step in and takeover? Hhhmmm............

So this is why we're going to highly recommend that fans go out of their way and make sure to buy the remaining features from Pioneer. "Sailor Moon S" is supposed to be released on May 23 and "Sailor Moon Super S" probably in August. Buy them or Pioneer may drop out forever--leaving us with only DiC!

'Miracle Romance'
Yes! I Do Not Want To Leave Pioneer Standing At The Altar!

To show my support I'm going to get my parents, or be 18 years of age, and RIGHT NOW preorder the VHS tapes and/or DVDs of the "Sailor Moon S" and (when it becomes available) "Sailor Moon Super-S" features!

eToys.com (VHS & DVD)
Reel.com (VHS & DVD)
DVDExpress (DVD only)
Checkout.com (DVD only)

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