Great news for fans of the Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon series! An hour and a half documentary titled “The Western World of Sailor Moon” was released on March 15th. It explores the early days of Sailor Moon’s release in the west with a specific focus on the infamous Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon pilot, also known as Saban Moon. In this episode of Tales of the Lost Raven Simone covers the history of the pilot which we already knew but also does some research and uncovers some new information which had not previously been made public! Rather than read on and get some details you should probably set aside some time and watch the documentary via this link which is also embedded below.
All that has ever been seen of this pilot is a short music video which was shown at an anime convention as seen in this clip. Readers of this site may recall that I posted a lot about this pilot about a decade ago. At the time a number of animation cels and the script were auctioned off on eBay. I posted a lot of images of those auctions and, before I had financial responsibilities like children, spent a significant amount of money to buy some of those cels as well as the voice over and animation script which I scanned and shared on the site.
The documentary features a number of shots of the Sailor Moon News site, discusses the “Project Y” script which is found on this site and uses images of a lot of the cels I was lucky enough to get my hands on.
There’s a lot going on this documentary so I suggest you just watch it but I’ll touch on some of the specifics which I found most enlightening. Earlier in the doc there’s a bit of an exploration of things from the Toon Makers’ pilot which seemed to end up in the DiC dub. The reasons for this aren’t terribly clear but the narrative of the documentary suggests that these were concepts original to the Toon Makers’ series which were then incorporated into the DiC dub once that was the direction the adaptation of Sailor Moon went. It’s also possible, for some elements, that they were originally conceived of for Sailor Moon itself and then passed on to both the Toon Makers’ pilot and then the dub. There’s not a huge distinction here but it would change where those creative decisions came from. The main obvious factor here is the Sailor Moon logo which is the same in both the Toon Makers’ pilot and the DiC dub. There’s also the Moon Cycle, a North American exclusive toy, which has seemingly no connection to the Sailor Moon anime but looks a lot like the vehicles in the Toon Makers’ series. I’ve long defended this connection on the site and in this case it seems that this toy absolutely originated as a concept from the Toon Makers’ series.
Some names may have been kept. Evidently the name Darien from the dub is similar to Darian from the Toon Makers’ series, which is noted in the script. Raven goes on to speculate that the other names which were mentioned in an early trailer for the Sailor Moon dub, those being Victoria, Blue, Dana, Sara and Carie, may have originated from the Toon Makers’ series. It’s a compelling idea which is certainly possible but I’m not seeing any hard evidence of it. There’s some interesting research about the popularity of names in the 80s and 90s but it also seems likely these names would be popular options for an Americanized dub just as much as a live action series. I’m curious to see if this line of research goes anywhere.
Towards the end of the documentary things get interesting with confirmation of information which was previously speculated about as well as some new completely new stuff. An interview with Lynn Walsh, who worked on the series, gives us all kinds of details which weren’t previously known. She confirms, and gives photographic evidence, that Adrienne Barbeau was in fact cast as the voice of both Queen Beryl and Queen Serenity as had been suspected.
When discussing the studio where the live action footage for the pilot is shot it’s mentioned that it was shot in the same sets used for the “boarding school” in Saved By The Bell. Based on the dates and it being a boarding school suggests this is Saved By The Bell The College Years. The documentary shows some comparisons between the dorm room in the show and scenes from the Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon music video footage. Though there seem to have been some changes it seems likely these were the same sets.
The documentary leaves us on quite a cliffhanger as Raven Simone gets an e-mail from another person in the photograph who she refers to only as the mysterious man in red. He suggests an interview with both him and Rocky Solotoff which will surely be a big part of a future video! I reached out to Raven to share with her some contact information for Tami-Adrian George, who confirmed that she was in fact Sailor Jupiter from the pilot, and she mentioned that she has a lot of additional information for a part 2 to this video. I certainly can’t wait to see what that documentary has in store!
What did you think of this documentary? What information were you most excited to learn from it?