Every once in a while some Sailor Moon related article gets enough mainstream attention that even people who aren’t into the show send it to me! This has been the case for the past few days with Kotaku’s article on the “Long-Lost American Sailor Moon”. What the article contains is a fairly in depth explanation of the Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon series, also known as “Saban Moon” to some fans, which culminates not in finding the actual Toon Makers’ pilot but instead something called “Team Angel” which is absolutely not Sailor Moon and at best loosely inspired by it.
Most of the information contained in the article is information which was already known to some of the fan community. This is all about the clip which was shown at Anime Expo in 1995 which was a mix of live action and animated segments and would have been a Power Rangers style Americanized Sailor Moon. The author, Cecilia D’Anastasio, admits not to be being a Sailor Moon fan. The reader follows along with her attempt to find more about the clip. She does a good amount of investigative work which doesn’t lead to much but she presents it in a fairly compelling way. The article includes a mention of the voice over script which I bought back in 2012, back when this site was relatively new.
Also featured are some of the cels which ended up on eBay. I ended up buying a lot of these when they were sold and I’m glad I did as there aren’t many more sold after that original batch if my eBay saved searches are any indication! Images used in the article and video are mostly from the Moon Sisters web site which has a lot of information about the show. Some of those, including the up close head shots of the Sailor Guardians, are also in my personal collection. The Moon Sisters photos which made it in the video were from the original auction before I painstakingly removed the cels from the lined paper they were stuck to and got better photos of them.
One interesting new tidbit of information which I hadn’t seen before what that the white cat, who was actually Luna in this version, was so drugged that it kept peeing everywhere. Having a cat in a show isn’t as easy as having a dog! As many cat owners probably know bringing a cat to a new environment or to encounter new people usually results in a frightened hiding cat. TV cats usually have a calm temperament or are heavily drugged!
The author tracks down Rocky Solotoff who mostly gives us information we knew before and puts her in touch with Frank Ward who, after many dramatic interactions, may not ever have actually been involved with the Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon pilot. Either Rocky Solotoff misremembers Frank Ward’s involvement in the project or Frank Ward simply doesn’t remember working on it. Some 24 years later neither would be all that surprising. The 17 minute Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon pilot, it would seem, is still lost and may never be recovered. What is it that was finally found? What is the big reveal of this article? You can see the clip embedded below.
I don’t feel that the video’s title “Lost American Sailor Moon – Team Angel” is terribly accurate. This is a couple minutes long clip pitching a show called Team Angel. There is certainly something which could be said to be Sailor Moon inspired about this show but it is not well demonstrated that this is “American Sailor Moon”. There’s a group of girls who transform to be superheroes but that’s about it. It was made in 1998, years after Sailor Moon had already aired in English here in North America and in the same year that Sailor Moon started to air on Cartoon Network. I see Sailor Moon as an influence but also Power Rangers, Spice Girls, Xena and probably a bunch of other things.
The fact that this is a girl team doesn’t need to be Sailor Moon inspired. This was 1998 when the term “Girl Power” permeated popular culture. The Spice Girls were at the height of their popularity and I think this shows in the show as well. Xena Warrior Princess was a hit show which could easily explain the greek style costumes from the beginning of this clip. The Charlie’s Angels movie was only a couple of years away. I’d say a girl power show like this is more reflective of what was going on 20 years ago than it would today.
Certainly some of the transformation sequence look Sailor Moonish. The greek goddesses style somewhat matches what the Sailor Guardians looked like in Silver Millennium though I don’t think this resemblance is likely to be intended. Knowing that this was done by people who were involved with the Toon Makers Sailor Moon version suggests those similarities are more than a coincidence but if they weren’t I wouldn’t assume a connection. To me claiming that this is a Sailor Moon show is a bit of a stretch. An exaggeration to make this discovery fit with the narrative of the article when ultimately it seems to simply be an unrelated show pitch which loosely fit the description which Frank Ward was given. It seems like the idea of the article was to reveal the actual footage of the Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon show and when they got something else rather than just scrap it, they tried to make it fit. Kotaku tried to put a square peg in a round hole and judging by the article’s popularity, they did a decent job of making it fit.
Another fun thing I noticed in this trailer was this guy who looks a lot like Chris Pratt. The similarity was so striking that I had to see what he looked like in 1998! Sadly it doesn’t appear to be him as the actor in this scene has detached earlobes while Chris Pratt’s are attached.
What do you think? Does Team Angel look like Sailor Moon to you?
Keep reading for more images of this clip. Do you recognize any of the actresses?