North American anime distributor Viz Media announced after its Anime Central panel on Friday that it licensed the original Sailor Moon magical girl anime franchise. The streaming, digital, and home video licenses include all 200 episodes from the five television series, the three feature films, and the assorted tie-in specials. This will include the first North American release of the final television series, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.
Viz is offering the franchise without edits in its original uncropped 4:3 aspect ratio, with the original Japanese names, story elements, and relationships. It is also producing an uncut Englishdub with a new voice cast.
Viz aims to release the franchise digitally with English subtitles starting this summer, followed by the English dub starting in late 2014. It also plans DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo releases in half-season sets starting this fall.
The first four television anime episodes will stream with English subtitles on Viz Media's NeonAlley.com service and the Hulu Plus service on Monday. Two more episodes will then debut every Monday ("Moon-day," as Viz's representatives deemed it).
Viz will celebrate "Sailor Moon Day" on Saturday, July 5 (the same day that the new Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal anime premieres worldwide) at Anime Expo. Viz will host panels with announcements of the new dub cast and staff, as well as what Viz hopes will be the world's largest Sailor Moon cosplay gathering.
Naoko Takeuchi launched the original magical girl team manga series in the shōjo monthly manga magazine Nakayoshi in 1992. It soon spawned anime, a live-action television project, musicals, and other adaptations, and it also sparked a worldwide boom. The 20th anniversary project began in 2012, and featured the first musical in eight years at the AiiA Theater Tokyo last September.Kodansha has been republishing the original manga in a complete edition since last November, andKodansha USA Publishing's Kodansha Comics imprint has been publishing the manga in North America.