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Anime Guide :: History

        The anime version of Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is really what launched the series into stardom across the world. With its intriguing story, contactable characters, and beautiful art style, BSSM became one of the most popular and well known shoujo (girls') series. After five long anime seasons the show still remained in the market in various incarnations and has left a lasting impression on the thousands of people who discovered a love for anime through the show.

        The Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon anime series has its roots in the creation of the Code Name wa Sailor V manga by Naoko Takeuchi in July of 1991. (See Manga History) After seeing the manga in an issue of Run-Run Magazine Toei Animation Company approached Takeuchi and they began negotiations to turn the manga into an anime series.

        Takeuchi decided to expand the original idea of a sailor-suited soldier of justice into a group of five girls, which was more closely related to the popular sentai theme seen in shows like Go Ranger ("Might Morphin' Power Rangers"). With her new concept, Takeuchi began publishing the Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon manga in Nakayoshi Magazine in February 1992. Only a month later the Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon anime was born.

        The new anime series began airing Saturdays at 7 PM on TV Asahi in Japan on March 7, 1992. While originally aimed at a young female audience, the show soon gained a multitude of viewers and the ratings experienced a steady incline as the first season progressed. From older males to housewives, the show crossed both gender and age boundaries and proved to be a profitable asset for Toei Animation. The Sailormoon empire continued to grow with the release of myriad toys, games, books, manga, videos, laserdiscs, cassettes, and other Sailormoon related items.

        As the popularity of the series continued to grow in Japan, the rest of the world slowly started to gain access to the series. As the first season of Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon drew to a close in 1993, another season was not planned. Many fans were shocked to see the heroines die in the season finale. However, despite a rather final last episode, Toei decided to continue the series due to its unbelievable popularity. Even Takeuchi herself was shocked at the success of the series.

        In February 1993, the second season, Sailor Moon R (Return), of the anime began. Since the manga had not yet started a new arc, Toei created the first half of the second season on their own. This arc of Sailormoon R involved the children of the Makaiju (the Aliens) and it never appeared in the manga. The Makaiju arc was followed by the Black Moon arc, following the storyline created by Takeuchi in the manga. The popularity of the show remained throughout the second season and so a third season was created, Sailormoon S (Super), in 1994.

        Also in 1994, the rest of the world began to show an interest in the Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon series. It was during this time that a dubbed version of the show started airing in French on the Le Club Dorothee show. With the success of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" in North America, Sailormoon is considered for release in English.
        In 1995, the SuperS season (season 4) of Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon begins airing in Japan. It is during this time, while the ratings of the series remained strong in Japan, that Bandai and DiC officially announce the acquisition of the Sailormoon series in North America. On August 28 of that year, YTV begins airing the show under the title Sailor Moon in Canada. Shortly after, the show also started airing in the US.

        In April of 1996, Sailormoon SuperS ended in Japan. Even though it had been previously announced that the series would end with the fourth season, another season, Sailor Stars was contracted and began airing. However, the ratings of the show in Japan did not continue to be as strong as it once was.

        Despite excellent ratings of the English version of the show in both Canada and Australia, the show did not do well in the US. Much of the low ratings in the US could have been due to poor time slots and a lack of advertising and promotion. Without a strong success in the US, DiC did not see finishing the dub as financially worth the risk and stopped after only 65 episodes (covering the first season and parts of the second). It wasn't until 1997 that Irwin Toys, prompted by the success of the Sailor Moon dolls, became the shows sponsor and had seventeen more episodes dubbed, completing the second season. The seventeen so called "Lost Episodes" began airing in September of 1997.

        On February 8, 1997, the final episode of the Sailor Stars season aired and brought an end to the Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon series that had remained popular for five-years. With a total of 200 episodes and 3 movies, the anime series ran longer than many other similar series and prompted the creation of other Magical Girl anime.

        The fate of the Sailor Moon series in the US seemed bleak until June of 2000 when CWI took over the dubbing of the English version and the third and fourth seasons of the show were finally aired in North America. In addition to the Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS series, Pioneer Entertainment dubbed and subbed versions of the three Sailormoon movies and released them in North America. After a few airings of the new episodes, Sailor Moon once again went, for the most part, off air in the majority of the US, other than a few repeats here and there. With the lapsing of the North American rights to the series, a dubbing or releasing of further episodes in the series is unlikely.

Sources: Alan's Archive, SailorMoon Wiki, and The SM-RPG Book.