The Return of Sailor Moon: Possibilities and Pitfalls

The return of Sailor Moon is quite the nostalgia bomb for those who grew up in the 1990’s. Whether you actually watched the show, or just like the fact that something from your childhood is returning, this adaptation does present the best chance in some time to convert mass demographic groups into anime fans. From the information that is already available, it appears that show will be released worldwide at the same time. That, in and of itself, is not that important. With the advent of the internet, anyone who is already interested in Sailor Moon, or anime as a whole, would be able to access the Japanese broadcast. Of more concern, will the show be broadcast in multiple languages upon its release? At what times will it be aired? What will be the tone and themes of the show? How much merchandise will be available?

Outside of our little Otaku sect we like to box ourselves into, most people in the world don’t like to read subtitles. Sure, there are your hipsters who will profess their undying love for foreign films, whether the interest is feigned is up to their friends or colleagues. Still, most young children have a tough enough time trying to understand what is going on in the plots of even the most simplistic of shows. Do we really think that a 7 year old will have the patience, much less the ability, to read subtitles. Assuming the goal of this reanimated series is to make money (and let’s be honest, that’s always the case), this series needs to be available in as many languages as possible, ab initio. In today’s world, you can’t have a slow roll out and hope to be successful. Attention spans are short, and people move on to different things. However, if you are able to get the world into talking about the same thing, at the same time, people are more likely notice.

Still, even if the money men have the right strategy in place, that could be all for naught if the show sucks. Let us assume for a second that it won’t. Instead, let’s assume the show, all things being equal, is of reasonable quality, and that whoever the target audience is will like it. Then again, we don’t really know the target audience. Considering the recent success of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it would be a reasonable assumption that darker and more adult tones would prevail this time around.

This leads us to the million dollar question. What will define success? An adult oriented show would might lead to more mass appeal, but who is thinking about the children, or our pure childhood memories? Screw the children, who would buy the crap in the stores? Sure, your average Joe Otaku might want an updated Dakimakura, but would 3rd grade girls want a file folder with a character who died a violent, bloody death on it. Of course, small amounts of yuri didn’t hurt in the mid 90’s, so who’s to say children won’t be more accepting and understanding (or oblivious) to even more touchy topics today.

However, a worldwide strategy suggests that money making is the aim of this mission. If that is the case, a more child oriented show may be better suited to sell merchandise and gain widespread  popularity akin to Pokemon or Hello Kitty. In addition, this may be more in line with people’s expectations. Suffice it to say, there are countless other directions this new project could take. A localization process could make the series appeal to different demographics in different areas. In what format, traditional means vs. television, the show will be aired will also be important. Anyone who says they know how it will all work out is lying. However, the success, or failure, of one the most well known Japanese anime brands around the world could have implications for other anime properties for some time to come.

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