It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.
When production company DiC brought a dubbed version of anime stalwart Sailor Moon to the States in the mid-90s, fans of the Japanese version were none too pleased with the poor translations, hokey voice acting, and disregard for the original’s mythology. Consider yourselves lucky, however, because fans almost got something much, much worse.
In 1994, a company called Toon Makers, Inc. made a Sailor Moon pilot using a combination of live action and animation. Due to the DiC deal, however, the 17-minute pilot was never released and, to this day, has never been seen (though some scripts and cels did turn up in 2012). Our only glimpse of this mind-bending time capsule comes through grainy footage from Anime Expo 1998, where a 2-minute music video that served as a promo for the series was shown to a suitably gobsmacked audience.
In the clip, laughter resounds as attendees glimpsed a series that not only “Americanized” the animation, but featured a Jem-esque theme song, choreographed dances, and crescent moon-shaped vehicles for the “Princess Fighters” (as they were here dubbed). And, while admirable for the era, the creators’ attempts to diversify the characters evoke the Burger King Kid’s Club more than, you know, real life.
Watch it below.
An interview with director, writer, and producer Rocky Solotoff gets into the nitty-gritty of the show’s fallout, as well as some insight into the actual series (Adrienne Barbeau was apparently cast as Queen Beryl!).
He also knows the animation sucks.
“[W]hat we did was we tried to Americanize the animation. Which to this day we really are not happy with. We were kind of under a real low budget and a time constraint. So we didn’t have time to go back and really massage the animation as we should. It was an attempt to make the characters, basically, more Americanized...We were looking for something that had kind of a Filmation style to it only for budgetary constants. You know we’d always like to have more money to make it look better, but based on the money that we had and the mandate of coming up with something that had more of an American taste to it is why we created the animation with that look.”
When will we accept that Americanizing anime is a fool’s errand? It doesn’t translate at all. At the very least, it leads to surreality like that brief Sailor Moon pilot above.