The American Version of SAILOR MOON Is a ’90s Time Capsule

Sailor Moon was a bonafide anime phenomenon. It debuted in Japan in 1992, and by 1995, arrived in syndication in North America. Thanks to endless airings on Cartoon Network, the English dub of Sailor Moon became a pop culture sensation. But instead of a translated series, we nearly got a totally reinvented version for western audiences. They shot an entire pilot episode back in 1994, one never before seen. Until now, that is.

Via The Verge, we’ve learned that YouTuber Ray Mona has tracked down the American version, as part of a documentary about lost media. Mona discovered the footage, produced by Toon Makers, in the Library of Congress of all places. You can watch Finding Saban Moon: The Western World of Sailor Moon by clicking right here. And you can watch just the part that showcases the lost pilot above.

Sailor Moon fandom gave the American version the nickname “Saban Moon.” Although Saban Entertainment didn’t actually produce it. The reason for this is due to the fact that the producers of the American Sailor Moon took the same kind of approach as Saban did to the wildly successful Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series. They took original footage from Japan (in this case animated) and framed it with new live-action footage shot in the states. What worked for Power Rangers didn’t quite land for Sailor Moon, as you can see.

The English dub of Sailor Moon already made significant changes to the original version. Not only did they westernize all the names (a common practice back then), but all hints of gender fluidity or LGBTQ underpinnings vanished. No way American censors were going to allow that back in the ’90s. But the pilot for the American version is something even farther removed from the original concept than that was.

The unaired, American version of Sailor Moon.
Ray Mona

Just to start, they totally westernized Sailor Moon’s animation style, losing all of its anime flavor. Sailor Moon and her friends look more like Jem and the Holograms. And the live-action footage feels like an episode of the ’90s sitcom Blossom. Luckily, this version never aired, and fans got something closer to the original. But watching this footage is not only a hilarious ’90s time capsule, it reminds Sailor Moon fans of the bullet they fortunately dodged.

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