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Western Animation / Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon

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Cel of Prince Darian giving Sailor Moon his Star Pendant.

"She can get dressed up, and look so sweet, then morph into a force that can't be beat!"

During the time Toei Animation shopped the rights to the Sailor Moon anime around in North America, it received a pitch from Toon Makers and Renaissance Atlantic (the same company that handled the adaptations of Super Sentai into Power Rangers for Saban Entertainment). This pitch, dubbed "Saban Moon" by fans, note  turned out even less faithful to the source material than the much-maligned DiC dub. As controversial as the latter was, every fan agrees it was better than this option.

It also (obviously) never got picked up, so for over 25 years, what little anyone knew about this pitch came from a two-minute music video that features footage from a supposed 17-minute pilot episode, an interview with Rocky Solotoff, the pilot's director and producer, several scripts and cels that turned up in late 2012. This version would have seen the civilian lives of the Sailor Guardians (referred to in this version as the "Princess Fighters") filmed in live-action segments that featured an ethnically- and disability-diverse cast (the pilot made Sailor Jupiter black, Sailor Venus either Latina or Mediterranean, and Sailor Mercury a wheelchair user).

The only footage of this pilot in initial circulation came from a panel at an anime convention (specifically Anime Expo 1995); this low-quality shaky-cam footage also recorded the reactions of the convention's audience. A version with the perspective corrected was made, and there is a slightly longer version which contains some of the preamble from panel host Allen Hasting (the author of the computer graphics software package Lightwave 3D who claims to have designed the vehicles, even though Rocky Solotoff said he didn't use Lightwave and a completely different person designed the vehicles). Not much else was known about the pilot until late 2012 when cels and copies of the animated portion's shooting script suddenly started appearing on eBay after the storage locker of a former Toon Makers executive was repossessed. For the first time, the characters' names and the plot were actually known, though much still remained unknown (such as how the live-action segments would have been worked into the plot or much of the production's cast and crew outside of a handful of names confirmed by the producers themselves).

In March 2022 an unofficial documentary, The Western World of Sailor Moon was released by Lost Media investigative YouTuber Raven "Ray Mona" Simone. In it she documented her (at the time, unsuccessful) search for the pilot and clean copy of the music video. Later, in August 2022, after following tips from viewers of this video, and with assistance from Kotaku journalist Cecilia D'Anastasio (who acted as liasion between Simone and former Renaissance Atlantic head Frank Ward), Simone procured clean copies of the music video and the pilot (which actually is only 10 minutes and 17 seconds long, not 17 minutes) from the Library of Congress which were released as part of The Western World of Sailor Moon, second episode.

Ray Mona later separately uploaded the 10 minute pilot which can be watched here, a clean version of the music video here, and watermark-free versions of both here.

Don't confuse this with Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, the live-action series made in Japan.

Tropes found in Toon Makers' Sailor Moon music video include:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: During the animated sequences, they mix primitive 3D CGI with traditional cel animation. Poorly.
  • Adaptational Diversity: The pilot did this to the Sailor Moon anime that it's based on. The entirely-Japanese (though they didn't look the part) Sailor Guardians are turned into a multiethnic American cast. Sailor Mercury also uses a wheelchair instead of being able-bodied.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Sailor Venus became a brunette, as opposed to her traditional blonde hair. Although her ethnicity has never been confirmed, there is speculation that it overlaps with a Race Lift to make her Latina or Mediterranean. Her uniform also changed from orange to a bright yellow with orange accents.
    • The other girls' shoes and uniform accents were given the secondary colors from their original designs, so that Mars would wear purple heels and Jupiter would be wearing pink boots.
    • Also, Mercury's hair was rendered red rather than blue.
    • Luna's color scheme is different, having Mystical White Hair instead of black. Although seeing as Venus is presumably in the starting team in this version and Artemis is nowhere to be seen, it is possible this version of Luna is a Composite Character of both. note 
    • A bit of a minor detail in comparison but from the only cel found of one, Tuxedo Mask's roses appear to be white in this version.
    • Queen Serenity, in addition to wearing a completely different outfit, is blonde like her daughter as opposed to her Mystical White Hair in the manga.
  • Adaptational Explanation: This series only had the first season/arc of the original anime/manga to go on, and gave its own explanation for the absence of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto: that Queen Beryl had already conquered those planets and stolen the power gems from them that were needed for transformation. Which, ironically, is the direction Naoko Takeuchi would later go with (on a more galaxy spanning scale) with Sailor Galaxia in the final arc of the manga and its anime adaptation in 1997, Sailor Stars.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Several:
    • There is no trace of Usagi/Serena's early crybaby and Cute Clumsy Girl tendencies. This Sailor Moon (Victoria on Earth) and her Princess Fighters weren't reborn but instead are refugees in hiding, so she takes on a competent leader role. Even when she daydreams, it is homesick dwelling on memories of the battle on the moon and of Prince Darian.
    • Sailor Mars has become a Tomboy with short hair who considers wearing sportswear to a school dance. Originally, Rei was either fairly elegant and spiritual (manga), or was a boy-crazy hothead (1990s anime). Makoto/Sailor Jupiter was a martial arts wielding Tomboy with a Girly Streak and Minako/Venus was a bubbly Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak who liked both volleyball and track and field sports, while Rei was only part of the archery team in the manga.
    • There is not much to go on for everyone else, but hints are dropped that Sailor Venus is more focused on looks and "girly" social events like school dances now. Minako was girly in the original, too, but was more of The Leader in the manga and in both manga & 90s anime had volleyball and arcade games as hobbies. Sailor Jupiter appears to have potentially been The Smart Girl as she mentions statistics and carries a calculator, whereas Sailor Mercury (who was smart one in the manga & anime) describes herself as "The Original Party Girl" at one point.
  • Adaptational Seriousness: Victoria has none of Usagi's vices and takes her duties as leader of the Princess Warriors with gusto.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Luna is changed from a black shorthair moggy to a white longhair.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: In the original series, Sailor Moon (Usagi) casts her "Moon Tiara, Action!" attack as an ultimate attack. In the pilot, this version's Tuxedo Mask throws a white rose to the ground, which glows and somehow Sailor Moon (Victoria)'s brooch emits a similar glow. Sailor Moon casts her tiara attack, and, soon after, both Tuxedo Mask and the white rose vanish, her brooch returning to normal.
  • Adapted Out: The Four Heavenly Kings are nowhere to be seen, Sailor Moon's original school social circle (Naru, Umino, Ms. Haruna, etc) are also absent. Also, as the princesses in this version are survivors who fled the fall of the Moon Kingdom, the families they reincarnated into no longer exist; the girls now attend Boarding School instead. Averted with Artemis, who at first seems like he was fused into Luna, but the creators did intend to have him appear later, they simply swapped his and Luna's fur color.
  • Age Lift: "Sometimes she's a fun-loving 16-year-old girl..." note 
  • The Alliance: The script's intro explains that the royal families of Mercury, Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter have formed one of these to defeat the threat of Beryl.
  • Altar Diplomacy: In the opening narration, Queen Serenity forges an alliance with the royal families of the Inner Planets, and, "to affirm their new confederation", betrothes her daughter Sailor Moon to Darian, Prince of the Earth.
  • Another Dimension: The princess warriors use their sky fliers to escape through a vortex into another dimension, so they can hide the jewels of power from Queen Beryl. They end up landing on our Earth.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: During the animated flashback sequence of Beryl's invasion, the ceremony is held on the moon's surface. Later, the "Princess Fighters" ride their sky fliers away from the moon and across space to escape Beryl's ship, without the need of any extra equipment, and are able to talk freely to each other.
  • The Battlestar: In the first animated segment, Queen Beryl crashes Sailor Moon's betrothal ceremony on her giant spaceship. Later, she follows them and commands the ship to explode the Sailors' (also space-faring) Galleon.
  • Black and Nerdy: When the girls are getting ready for the dance Sailor Jupiter mentions statistics when she thinks she'll be dancing with the cutest guy there and is carrying a calculator whilst she says this, hinting that in this version she's the studious one (whereas originally this was Sailor Mercury).
  • Boarding School: Judging from the presence of school uniforms and the girls hanging out in what seems to be a dorm room, as well as anecdotes shared by assistant animator Lynn Walsh in The Western World of Sailor Moon, this is where the girls lived and went to school on Earth. This was later confirmed in Raven "Ray Mona" Simone's interview with Steven Wilzbach & Rocky Solotoff in The Western World of Sailor Moon, part 2 (and that it was an all-girls school and Darian would attend a counterpart all-boys school across the river) and by the pilot itself.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Averted. One noticeable change is that none of the Princess Warriors call out their attacks.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • While most of the monsters seen in cels or what footage exists are youma from the original anime, the script has Queen Beryl speaking to a minion named Ursus. While this could possibly be a renamed existing character, it's very likely this was a new minion created for this series (possibly based off of the constellations Ursa Major/Minor).
    • The lava monster is also an original addition to Beryl's minions.
  • Cerebro Electro: Some comments from Sailor Jupiter indicate she would be version's The Smart Girl on top of being an electricity user.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • As with the original, each sailor is associated with a specific colour:
      • Sailor Mercury: blue.
      • Sailor Mars: red.
      • Sailor Jupiter: green.
      • Sailor Venus: yellow (instead of the orange colour of the original).
    • In the live-action segment, at the end of their costume-choosing montage, the four girls end up with similar colours:
      • Sailor Mercury: wears a blue dress with blue hat.
      • Sailor Mars: wears a red shirt with overalls.
      • Sailor Jupiter: wears a floral-print dress with green motifs.
      • Sailor Venus: wears a pale yellow dress.
  • Costume-Test Montage: In the first live-action segment, the girls are preparing themselves for the school dance, and are choosing what outfits they should wear. Alternates with Makeover Montage.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation: Sailor Mercury is a wheelchair user, unlike in the original.
  • Disabled Snarker: In the second animated segment, Mercury, on her flying wheelchair, shoots a laser beam at the lava golem and calls him "tall, dark, and gruesome".
  • Distressed Dude: Darian tries to wrestle a laser gun from the feline monster, and ends up in the crosshairs of its gun. Sailor Moon has to distract the creature with her sky flier long enough for Darian to gain the upper hand.
  • Dub Name Change: As was implied with the 1990s promo for the Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Moon's civilian identity is now Victoria/Vicky instead of Usagi (original) or Serena (DiC & Cloverway dub).
  • Electric Black Girl: By virtue of making Sailor Jupiter black.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The theme song explains the premise of the Princess Fighters' dual lives, though not much else.
  • Five-Token Band: Sailor Jupiter was black, Sailor Mercury was a wheelchair user and had long red hair, and Sailor Venus was depicted with dark hair and has been speculated to have either been Latina or Mediterranean. Ironically, perhaps, only one - who appears to be Sailor Mars - was Asian.
  • Gratuitous Princess: All the girls are now the princesses of their respective planets, an idea that eventually turned out to be the case in the original manga as well.
  • Great Offscreen War: The immediate reason for the plot is Beryl's invasion of the moon and the Sailors' escape to Earth (as depicted in the first animated sequence). However, according to the opening narration, Beryl attacked the Outer Planets, forcing the Inner Planets and the Moon to forge an alliance against her - which is never shown in the pilot.
  • Handicapped Badass: Sailor Mercury is now a wheelchair user. Instead of a sailboard, she has what appears to be a Leonardo da Vinci flier for space (since she can't stand and sail), and a laser-powered flying wheelchair for ground combat. Interestingly, despite the series' implied background of the girls fleeing home in the face of war, it is never explained why Mercury is in a wheelchair.
  • Hand Blast: In the second animated segment, Sailor Venus shoots a blast of yellow energy at the enemies, and Sailor Moon shoots a beam of blue light from her hands at the lava golem.
  • Lighter and Softer: From what is known from the pilot, this show seems to do away with the manga's tragic lore. The Moon Kingdom is presumably still standing and the Princess Warriors were forced to flee to Earth instead of being killed and reincarnated like their Sailor Guardian counterparts were. The closest there is to tragedy is Prince Darien being seemingly killed when his ship gets destroyed, but considering the appearance of a certain man in a tuxedo and a mask, it's highly unlikely he's gone.
  • Makeover Montage: In the live-action segment, the girls are in front of a mirror applying beauty masks on their faces, and later apply make-up and do their eyebrows. Alternates with Costume-Test Montage.
  • Medium Blending: Scenes that focus on the girls' civilian lives are live-action, but the action scenes are traditionally animated.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: In the opening narration of the first animated segment, it is said that Queen Serenity betrothed her only daughter, Sailor Moon, to Darian, Prince of the Earth, as part of her new alliance with the Inner Planets. The next scene, Sailor Moon and Darian seem quite happy to be with each other.
    [Sailor Moon and Darian hold hands together, and Love Bubbles appear on a blue background]
    Sailor Moon: Oh, Darian. I so look forward to this day.
    Prince Darian: At last, we'll be together.
  • Power Crystal: The "Jewels of Power". It's stated that Beryl is trying to obtain all of them so she can take over and rule the galaxy.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The "Sailor" in Sailor Moon is a reference to the characters' Japanese school uniforms that are designed to look like sailor suits, popularly described in layman's terms as "Sailor Fuku". Here the Princess Warriors are depicted as closer to actual sailors, as they sail into space on sailboards to fight the bad guys.
  • Race Lift: The cast were more diverse in this version compared to the original all-Japanese Sailor Guardians.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: When the pilot was finally found Tuxedo Mask was the one to change the least design-wise (he lost his hat & his roses became white); however, in both it and the earlier discovered animation cels & script (where Prince Darian features prominently in the pilot script but not Tuxedo Mask), his outfit as Prince Darian is liberally accented with pink now.
  • Reused Character Design: The monsters that appear in the cartoon have the same models as the youma who appeared in the first season albeit with some alternate colors. This includes Jiji, Gamecen, and Bakene.
  • Something about a Rose: During their betrothal ceremony, Darian gifts "a single [white] rose" to Sailor Moon, and states it is "a symbol of [his] everlasting love".
  • Space Sailing: The title "Sailor Moon" is taken more literally in this version, as the Princess Fighters use sailboards to travel through space and for transportation in general.
  • Spell My Name With An S: According to the original script for the pilot, Darien is spelled as "Darian".
  • Super Wheelchair: Sailor Mercury gets two - one for space, and one for the ground. It fires lasers.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Luna's eyeshadow.
  • Toon Transformation: The girls are live action when civilian, animated when they transform into Princess Fighters.
  • Transformation Sequence: Actually both to and from being Sailor Moon. It involved a lot of spinning as they floated through the sky.
  • Wake Up, Go to School & Save the World: Or save the planets, more like it. Accordingly:
    • The first live-action sequence occurs at night, and the girls are all giddy about the upcoming school dance. The second live-action sequence occurs during daytime in a classroom.
    • The second animated segment interrupts the girls' worries about the school dance, for Luna warns them about an attack on Jupiter by Beryl's forces.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Saban Moon


Princesses! To Your Sky-Flyers

Clip of the Princess Warriors and Prince Darian attempting to fight / flee Queen Beryl

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Example of:

Main / SpaceSailing

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