Pioneer To Release SMS & SuperS TV Series Before Syndication
And We Think We Have A Compromise

Well have we gotten an earful! Recently, we asked fans what they thought if some redubbing would be necessary to make a successful, Pioneer Entertainment Home Video release of the "Sailormoon S" television series. Although there were plenty of misunderstandings & disagreements, one aspect was made abundantly clear: Absolute loyalty to Sailor Moon. No matter if you are a closet DiC lover, hate certain Voice Artists or an outspoken purist, all fans seem to want the opportunity to purchase the series.

None of this was lost on Pioneer Entertainment which used it's first appearance at the Otakon anime convention to go public with their plans. On Saturday, August 5, at a Pioneer panel held at the convention, the company made the announcement that they will release for Home Video, the "Sailor Moon S" & "Sailor Moon SuperS" television series.

Pioneer plans to release a bilingual DVD of "Sailor Moon S" with an unedited, subtitled Japanese version and hopes to include an unedited, dubbed version. We and Pioneer are not sure that an unedited, dubbed version truly exists. When Cloverway received the deal for the dubbed episodes Pioneer requested that Cloverway provide dubbing for all the dialogue before editing. (This request was made in case Pioneer wanted to proceed with a Home Video release.) This might have not been done as we have heard conflicting tales. We suspect that most of the dialogue has been covered and that Pioneer will be able to advertise that the DVD is unedited (and not just the Japanese version). These problems are not expected with "Sailor Moon SuperS."

Producing for Pioneer (as she did for the features) will be Hiroe Tsukamoto. We hope that Dana Weaver and Rika Takahashi will be the translators for the subtitled Japanese version (since they did such a good job on the features).

The representative from Pioneer may have announced a subtitled VHS version prematurely. This came as a surprise to us and Pioneer. The company can not confirm that they are actually planning such a release as anime distributors have been dropping the format for the skyrocketing DVD sales.

And, as our earlier report alluded to, an edited, dubbed VHS version is still in question. There is agreement that there should be such a release, the question is what shape should it take? More on this below.

Although there have been some reports (maybe even from Pioneer) that there are going to be 3 episodes per unit, we would very much like to see this upped to 4 episodes per unit. 3 episodes would mean, for example, that "Sailor Moon S" would require 13 DVDs or VHS tapes, at 4 episodes there would only be 10 DVDs or VHS tapes. We would GLADLY support 3 episodes per unit under a proposal discussed later in this report.

Dates have not yet been set but we expect "Sailor Moon S" to be released before June of 2001 with "Sailor Moon SuperS" to follow. This would mean that the series would be released before U.S. Syndication.

At one point, we asked fans via our tickertape to save the Anime Mailing List Cards (which are stuffed in all of Pioneer's DVDs & VHS boxes) for possible mass action concerning some issues. A few days later, with Pioneer's announcement at Otakon, most of these issues appear to be resolved.

Fans who want to be in the position to decide if & how "Sailor Stars" gets dubbed should DEFINITELY buy the "Sailor Moon S" dubbed releases. If the dub should go the wrong way again and/or the Cartoon Network should want too many changes we could get what we want through Pioneer--but only if we buy the S series. (We want to keep our options open.) And despite what anyone may claim, we don't believe that Pioneer will release the entire S & SuperS series or dub "Sailor Stars" unless the first few volumes of S sell well. Buying SuperS may or may not matter--it depends how events are played out.

Now here's what we learned around the Campaign Headquarters during all this debate and what some of the companies still need to know.

Read this carefully!
To The Fans

First of all, special thanks to everyone who wrote to our Comments Page. We read every single letter and considered everyone's opinion. We believe that several of the involved companies read many of the letters as well.

You may be surprised to learn that internally we've had the same disagreements but with one, perhaps major, exception. We know how easy it could be to get better quality for the series. What is "better quality"? Please read the Company section on the right but you should also know the following!

When we added members to the campaign several years ago we tried to enlist individuals with different points of view, with different backgrounds and interests so that we could be a microcosm of all Sailor Moon fans. When we couldn't come to an agreement on what to do about "Sailor Moon S" we asked you, the fans, what you thought.

Like you, we appreciate all of the good things which companies have done for "Sailormoon." We have not asked for any changes in the dubbed televised version of the "Sailormoon S" series. We wanted a DVD release of the unedited Japanese version with subtitles and have always believed that it would sell well in spite of the inclusion of the anticipated weaker (in sales) dubbed televised version. What we were considering is how the sales of a stand alone Home Video English Language version would perform. Our discussions did not concern any televised version nor Japanese version. Please read our story.

We wondered if fans would buy Home Videos of the edited, dubbed televised version even though the majority will have seen the series on the Cartoon Network, on YTV and on other international broadcasters. Although fans always claim they would make such purchases--this sometimes proves not to be the case. We wondered if there should be a different version aimed at those fans who would not make such a purchase. These are the one and the same fans who have been complaining to the Cartoon Network (and now, in lessor extent we understand, to Nicole Thuault at Optimum Productions) about the problems with the new dubbed episodes.

Such a version would have had the following:

1. As many of the original Voice Artists back as possible (with the exception of Tracey Hoyt).
2. As many of the adaptation continuity mistakes fixed as possible.
3. Even less editing than the televised version.
4. Maybe some of the DiC music cues.

We did not expect to get Haruka & Michiru back to their normal, correct relationship for this version.

But some of these same fans indicated to us on our Comments page and through other means that they, indeed, would buy a Home Video version as is, in spite of taping the series on the initial Cartoon Network run. This answered our question. The fans seem united enough for us to warrant a Home Video release of a Bilingual DVD (unedited, subtitled Japanese & dubbed televised versions) as well as (are you reading this Pioneer?) a VHS of the dubbed televised version.

Some fans have wondered why the Save Our Sailors campaign seems so concerned if a product makes money or not? Because that has been the way we have attracted corporate interest in "Sailor Moon" again. We want to keep and to attract more companies to "Sailor Moon." We wish to continue to guide companies to products that fans want and stop companies from producing products that fans don't want. It is only through this that we can get more episodes dubbed and subtitled versions released. We don't want to hear companies complaining that they lost money on anything having to do with "Sailor Moon."

Other fans may wonder why we (and maybe Pioneer) believe that the edited, dubbed televised series will result in weaker sales? Normally a dubbed version of anything will easily outsell its subtitled version and it should in this case. However, it seems that fan interest is much stronger than usual for the unedited, subtitled Japanese version. The changes in the edited, dubbed televised version of "Sailormoon S" have created a greater reaction to a larger percentage of fans than with, say for example, any series of "Pokemon," and maybe on par with "Dragonball Z." Pioneer has already had a taste of this but might not have been aware of it's extent until we warned them of it.

Pioneer's experience with "Sailor Moon" has been, so far, only with the dubbed features. The features had very few changes and so fans were happy with the versions. But this is not true with the "Sailor Moon S" television series. An unedited, subtitled Japanese version is not available and an edited, dubbed version has been available through broadcast. So, as far as a Home Video release of the "Sailor Moon S" television series is concerned, the dubbed version will be of interest--but not as much as with the features. Pioneer's greatest success has been with "Pokemon" where none of these issues matter.

Helping out tremendously with the dubbed release is that it will occur before Syndication. Normally, a premiere via Syndication makes more money than a premiere via Home Video. However, the Cartoon Network has an exclusive in the U.S. market which bars Syndication for now but seems less restrictive on Home Video. Also, DiC's divorce from the production contract still leaves The Program Exchange with the exclusive (and valuable) U.S. Syndication rights until 2002. This means that any episodes that are to go to U.S. Syndication must go to The Program Exchange AND (it appears to us) profits given to DiC. So Cloverway might have been faced with the following: Release new dubbed episodes to The Program Exchange for Syndication and let DiC collect the profits OR go direct to Home Video and (recoup any remaining production expenses and) receive profits. The choice was simple.

It's important to note that a deal still could be worked out concerning Syndication. Once again we mention that we want all companies associated with the property to make money, especially, in this case, The Program Exchange, whom we feel, has been given an empty bag for Halloween.

Some fans came up with the idea of redubbing the first 2 seasons of the series, "Sailormoon" & "Sailormoon R." Fans expressed interest in having the original DiC Voice Artists dub the seasons with no cuts or changes--an intriguing proposition but one which might prove to be unprofitable. The problem is that such a version may not attract enough sales. Too many dub fans like the DiC version as is and/or may be unwilling to buy unedited releases of the episodes. A very good test however would be a Home Video release of the unaired or combined episodes.

Because of DiC's divorce as the production company for these episodes but its continuance as administrator for music and licenser of certain toys, merchandising and certain videotapes it appears to us that Cloverway may not want or be able to bring up such a matter right now. Pioneer mentioned this situation at Otakon and may have unfairly portrayed Buena Vista Home Video Entertainment as the problem. The problem may lie in the divorce and we don't blame anyone (DiC nor Cloverway) for not wanting to address these issues. It is indeed best to, as one lawyer told us, to "wait the clock out." A Home Video dubbed release of Episodes 2, 5, 6, 20, 42, 45, 46 & 67 should be possible when DiC's original contract expires in 2002. If Pioneer's subtitled releases are successful we would fully expect them to release subtitled versions of all of the "Sailormoon" & "Sailormoon R" television series in or after 2002.

Optimum's Address

Some fans have wanted to contact some of the old Voice Artists to tell them how much they have been missed and are wanted back. Fans, for a limited time, could contact any of the Voice Artists (old or new) via snail mail in care of Optimum Productions. Casting, however, is handled by Optimum. If you should want any of the old cast to return you should email or snail mail Optimum. So as not to drive Optimum nuts with us, we advise fans to stop any contact with them after the final episode of "Sailor Moon Super S" has premiered on the Cartoon Network. If there should be too much correspondance, we would hope that Roland Parliament would set something up on the web to handle this sort of thing.

A few fans took issue with our stance concerning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States in the related matter of a letter from Louis Hurtubise of Optimum Productions. Mr. Hurtubise mentioned that the FCC was one of the causes for the editing of the series. This was simply not the case. We believe it was specifically edited to the Cartoon Network's standards. (As an example, please see the story about Episode 119 currently on our Index Page.) The FCC has never had jurisdiction in regulating the content of cable television. Syndication is a different matter as broadcast stations are a limited public resource which must meet FCC guidelines. But this should not be used as an excuse to avoid producing an unedited version.

Many TV shows have more than 2 versions. There are "text, " "textless," "Domestic," "European," "Syndication," "Broadcast," "3 Commercial Break," "4 Commercial Break," "Barter" versions and so on. Fans may recall DiC's initial 65 episode Syndication package which included "Sailor Says" and non "Sailor Says" versions.

Specifically in the Cartoon Network's situation, fans are already well aware of the two versions of "Gundam Wing" available: Edited (for the afternoon run of Toonami) and Unedited (for the Midnight Run of Toonami). Fans have wondered why the same was not done for "Sailor Moon." Making only one edited version available retards a whole demographic for the series and repeatability. (But for better or for worse, the days of censorship are dwindling as the public gains control over distribution systems. The money is in unedited programming. The people in children's television seem to be having a hard time accepting this.)

So please, no "2 versions are too expensive" around here okay?

We here at the SOS were delighted in seeing so few changes to the series and were not surprised at Haruka & Michiru being made sisters or cousins. (Most of us were betting on sisters.) That so many continuity errors arose from the adaptation was a little disconcerting but the major shock for us was the casting & direction of most of the new Voice Artists.

To have worked so long and so hard and to think that we were finally getting so much unedited and to get the original M&E tracks only to see what had been the best part of the dub ruined was, for some of us, extremely depressing or infuriating. We don't want to make any demands, we want everyone to do their job, why would we have to say, "Oh and by the way keep the Voice Artists good"? Must we do everything?!"

One of our members was so depressed over this, that they quit watching the new tapes of the show after 4 episodes.

But the dubbing did improve, which leads us to what we need to inform the companies of.

Anybody home?
To The Companies

First, we love the lack of edits and the usage of the original M&E tracks. We are grateful that Cloverway worked so diligently to get more episodes dubbed and the Cartoon Network for putting up the money. These events will be discussed in a future story if events ever calm down around here.

But as to the Voice Artists, it appears that Cloverway has gotten a free ride out of the fans concerning this one. It did help that Optimum was able to improve the dub during production. If Optimum continued on its initial course events could have had a much different outcome. There are still some problems which need to be resolved.

The first dozen episodes of the edited, dubbed episodes of "Sailor Moon S" are worth less than the rest of the series. If Pioneer should release these first they will hinder the sales of the rest of the package. We don't think fans are interested in a "Highlights of Sailor Moon S" release; we do think fans wish to buy the entire series in order. Unfortunately, not only do these early episodes devalue the S series Home Video & TV rights overall, they also impact all "Sailormoon" properties & licenses in English language markets.

With this in mind the Save Our Sailors campaign (and boy, do they need saving in this case) would very much like to see all of the new Sailor Scout Voice Artists who appeared in the first dozen or so episodes to have a second chance at rerecording some or all of their lines. We and you all know that they could now do better. These takes could be accomplished towards the end of the "Sailor Moon Super S" television series recording sessions.

We would hope that Cloverway & Toei (and Optimum as well) would cut Pioneer some slack if they should show interest in doing this. Leaving the S series as is could easily hinder "Sailor Stars" and future Toei projects.

As to the Home Video release (and we know this isn't easy), why not get the rights to include some of the animated Japanese Sailormoon commercials? Fans would love to see those! (And there's no need to dub them!) Including anything previously unseen or "New & Improved" would be great for sales!

Electronic Matchmaking Game Ad
Ad for "Sailor Electronic Hand-Held" matchmaking game

Curry Ad
A commercial for "Sailor Moon Curry" topping - wherein Sailor Moon reveals that she likes this topping more than Tuxedo Mask, and he is sadly flattened by the other Senshi when they realize she has another can and race to get it.

Nakayoshi Ad
A commerical for Nakayoshi (the magazine that Sailormoon was serialized in).

We do not expect to see any of the adaptation continuity mistakes fixed. We can see how difficult that would be and not applicable to the first dozen episodes--so we'll live with that. If you would like a list of how the adaptation created continuity problems not found in the original we could have one put together for you. (Eager fans are standing by.)

As to future productions, fans seem to have accepted or grown accustomed to the new Sailor Scout Voice Artists though the return of any of the cast used at the end of the initial 65 episode Syndication package would be welcomed. Other than the Sailor Scouts there are two important roles to be noted. Although Vince Corraza is doing a terrific (almost funny) imitation of Toby Proctor as Darien, there would be nothing wrong with having Toby back. But in the case of Rini, every fan has written or said that they love Stephanie Beard. Please keep her.

Many of the new performers, specific to "Sailor Moon S" have received high praise especially Jeff Lumby as Dr. Tomoe (so much for nepotism)! Sailors Uranus & Neptune are harder to call. If you should be considering replacing at least one of them (and you should), they appear briefly (if we recall) in a single episode of "Sailormoon SuperS." This would be an ideal opportunity to try a new performer.

The VA Mantra

Some of the new Sailor Scout Voice Artists seem to be in need of a mantra they might try reciting before reporting for duty:

1. I will make a fool out of myself in the studio today.
2. I will scream, with power & conviction, non-sensical words.
3. I will strive to add some sawtooth to my attack phrases.
4. I will do a wide range of long, strenuous grunts & groans.
5. I will work on that damned American accent.
6. I will perform as if my life depended upon it.
7. I will, whether I like it or not, be best remembered for this role.

As how to handle future adaptations, we'll use the recent "Cousins" choice as an example.

We here in the SOS clubhouse understand why Haruka & Michiru were made cousins. There are many ways this could have been handled but we would have preferred a more tongue-in-cheek approach. This is because the visuals and music make it so compellingly clear that they are in love with one another--that when the straight approach was used it made Cloverway & Optimum look ridiculous. The dialogue and the voice direction were at complete odds with everything else. It just didn't work. (This is not going to go down well with the anime industry back in Japan.)

So instead of, "We're cousins" we would have preferred, "We're, err, cousins!"

Plenty of similar challenges await in "Sailormoon SuperS" and "Super Stars" which brings us to.....

We're still not sure about what to do with "Sailor Stars" and are not united on how to proceed. How the problems with "Sailor Moon S" are handled and how "Sailor Moon SuperS" is produced will determine everything.

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