Sailor Moon R Released To A Grateful America
VHS Instantly Hits #7 On Amazon.com
The 60 minute animated feature, "Sailormoon-R" has finally been released on DVD and in an edited, dubbed version in the United States & Canada on VHS. Pioneer Entertainment initially anticipated a wide release of the VHS for January but only managed to distribute a few copies towards the end of the month. Gradually more units became available leading up to the new published date of the wide release for February 8. The DVD trailed in release.
The DVD (the very first for the English language version of "Sailor Moon") reached a high of #61 during this same period.
While the dubbed unedited version of "Sailor Moon R" is expected to be one of Pioneer's top individually produced titles, the company may make more money overall from just being the distributor of Viz Video's series of "Pokemon" tapes.
The dubbed feature was to have premiered via video projection (no film copies have been made) at the New York International Children's Film Festival 2000 (NYICFF 2000) but started appearing in some stores (perhaps already bootlegged?) before then. "Sailor Moon R" (SMR) was presented on Saturday, February 5 & 12 at the Cantor Film Center (36 East 8th Street) to 2 Sold-Out screenings as part of the NYICFF's "Japanese Animation Retrospective." Double billed with the feature was Osamu Tezuka's "Princess Sapphire" a "magical girl" 30 minute television show which aired in 1967.
The festival placed a clip of SMR on their web site (which soon may be removed).
While the NYICFF 2000 was sponsored in part by the Cartoon Network, no national publicity has been detected from the screenings. Usually such events are used to promote a national release. We have received no reports of any advertising. Sales appear to have come primarily from the internet & word-of-mouth.
The DVD has been harder to come by. It appears to be selling out before ever getting displayed. The only copies which we have seen for sale have been at Online sites. These sales maybe due to the fact that the DVD contains a version not available in any other form to the public.
The DVD contains the subtitled version previously released on tape, the ability to play some of the music from the edited version and also a special dubbed unedited version. Fans have noticed all sorts of problems with the dubbed unedited version. Such problems highlight the dilemmas which all translation teams face--do they keep to the actual translation or do they try to keep lip sync (and change the words)? The DVD may unintentionally become educational to anyone interested in producing fan dubs.
The DVDs (of all the features) are expected to become collectors items.
Originally, Pioneer took no public stand on which formats would receive which versions. In one advertisement, Pioneer would only commit to a VHS dubbed version and a DVD in dual language. We were informed that they would attempt 3 versions on one DVD but this might have proven to be too difficult and/or counter-productive (it could have hurt VHS sales). Rather than release 2 DVDs or possibly engineer a solution, Pioneer chose to keep the dubbed edited version only on VHS and the dubbed unedited version only on DVD (and added the options from the dubbed edited version). The subtitled version is available on both formats.
While this makes it easier for otaku to collect all the releases (thank you!) this will mean lost revenue and encourage pirating. With the release of the DVD, the most highly pirated SMR item will be tapes of the dubbed unedited version.
We have been told that one of the reasons for Pioneer's decision was to avoid "confusion in the marketplace." This is a marketing term for when there are too many versions available for sale which might cause a loss of sales or unsatisfied customers. In this particular case, there is the fear that a parent may mistakenly buy a VHS of the dubbed unedited version and then publicly complain about its contents. To prevent that from happening, the dubbed unedited version is not being released on tape--though, as far as we know, it could be in the future. (However, the SOS does not expect this to happen. The DVD release is expected to kill any such demand.)
And while the VHS tapes of the subtitled version were unedited, the Japanese soundtrack is thought of as a deterrent to such complaints. In other words, parents who would complain about questionable content wouldn't last a few seconds into the film. They would (and it appears, did) return these tapes. (One Suncoast manager told us of one mother returning a tape who said she thought it was great that "Sailor Moon" was now being shown in Japan!)
Pioneer believes that consumers who purchase DVDs (and know how to use them) would also be the least likely to complain about content.
Normally, such issues are of no concern to distributors, but the circumstances concerning "Sailor Moon" are unique. Never has an established Americanized version of a popular anime series been made available in an uncensored version. Yes, there have been English language versions of uncensored animes but they did not premiere in edited Americanized versions via syndication and then be repeated endlessly on cable networks.
Concerned parents are expecting a certain kind of DiC-like production.
Dubbing of all 3 features began on August 23, 1999 at Optimum Studios in Mississauga (near Toronto), Ontario, Canada with almost all of the original Voice Artists returning. Producer Janice Sonski had publicly promised fans that she would endeavor to reunite the cast but with the caveat, "...whoever is available." While Toby Proctor did not return as Tuxedo Mask, Katie Griffin did reprise her role as Sailor Mars. (Thank you Ms. Sonski and Louis Hurtubise!)
For the English version, Pioneer added to the title: "The Promise of The Rose," perhaps in an attempt to give the "R" a different meaning. (We've heard different accounts of what the "R" is supposed to stand for [either the "Return" of Sailor Moon or "Romance"] but "The Promise of The Rose" has never been one of them.)
The edited version is not that much different from the original (which was pretty child-safe to begin with). Most of the cuts have been understandable. Most of us were surprised to see the inclusion of Chibi-Usa's toy dart gun but not surprised over the deletion of a reference to (but not the declaration of) the possibility of homosexuality.
But it should be noted how the Japanese features would be considered safer than the anime television series to Western audiences. In the West, television series are always made safe and it is in movies where racier content is usually offered--with the original Japanese "Sailormoon" the opposite seems to hold true.
According to the Cahners publication, Video Business magazine, the dubbed version of the "Sailor Moon R" feature hit #8 of all VHS sales in the United States & Canada. The release remained in the top ten for 4 weeks, then dropped to #21 and, as of this writing #31 performing much better than we or anyone else had expected! And all this with no advertising! (Well, there was an ad in Animerica from Suncoast but talk about preaching to the choir!) Read our Special Report (see above) and laugh outloud where we wrote that it wouldn't perform as well offline! This business gets weirder everyday! What's next? "Sailor Moon On Ice" shows? Hhhmmm.....
Actually, what is next is the May 23 release of "Sailor Moon S." Originally planned for March, then scheduled for April, this video is being delayed to coincide with other "Sailor Moon" activities this year. The third feature, "Sailor Moon Super S" may now come out in August for the same reason. "Sailor Moon S" can be preordered now in an edited dubbed VHS version and a bi-lingual unedited DVD version. We recommend getting both versions as while the VHS version is fun to watch, it's fascinating being able to see the same film on DVD unedited with the original music score (and with the option of English subtitles)!
The following was reported by AnimeOnDVD.com on Thursday, May 25, 2000:
Sailor Moon R Uncut (04:55
PM EST): Back in February when the movie was
released on DVD, there was lengthy discussion in the forums about some footage
that didn't match how it was done in the Japanese laserdiscs which caused people
to speculate that the movie wasn't quite as uncut as the packaging would have
led us to believe. Asuma did some inquiring at Pioneer and found this out:
Back in the magical time when Sailor Moon R was first released (ok, bad
pun...), Toei made two movie masters. The first was a film "final"
edit master of the raw animation, used for the theatrical release in Japan. The
second master, the one that LDs were stamped from, was compiled after the film
was released in theatres, and corrected the lip movement/footage mismatch so
astutely noted by animeondvd.com users.
Pioneer was completely unaware two different tapes existed when they
requested production materials from Toei. Toei sent Pioneer the first master (d'oh)
instead of the "edited" second master. The discrepancy wasn't
discovered until well after the disk was in production, and thus we have a DVD
that does not match the Japanese LD/fansubs.
Ironically, the Region 1 DVD is closer to the source footage than the
Japanese LD... funny how life works.
Back in the magical time when Sailor Moon R was first released (ok, bad pun...), Toei made two movie masters. The first was a film "final" edit master of the raw animation, used for the theatrical release in Japan. The second master, the one that LDs were stamped from, was compiled after the film was released in theatres, and corrected the lip movement/footage mismatch so astutely noted by animeondvd.com users.
Pioneer was completely unaware two different tapes existed when they requested production materials from Toei. Toei sent Pioneer the first master (d'oh) instead of the "edited" second master. The discrepancy wasn't discovered until well after the disk was in production, and thus we have a DVD that does not match the Japanese LD/fansubs.
Ironically, the Region 1 DVD is closer to the source footage than the Japanese LD... funny how life works.