The 18 manga volumes have been adapted into an anime series titled Sailor Moon which was produced by Toei Animation. The series was broadcast from 1992 to 1997 in Japan over the course of five seasons along with three feature films, a television special, and three short films produced during the same period. A live-action television adaptation titled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon aired from 2003 to 2004 and a reboot of the anime series titled Sailor Moon Crystal began simulcasting in 2014. Several companies have developed merchandising based on the series, including light novels, collectible trading card games, action figures, musical theater productions, several collections of soundtracks and a large number of video games. The manga series was licensed for an English language release by Kodansha Comics USA in North America, and in Australia and New Zealand by Random House Australia. The entire anime series has been licensed by Viz Media for an English language release in North America and by Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand.
Since its release, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon has received wide critical acclaim and has become one of the most popular manga and anime series worldwide. The entire series has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, making of it one of the highest selling shōjo series ever, and reviewers have praised the art, characterization and humor of the story. The anime is popular in several countries and is arguably one of the most influential in boosting the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture. Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon is often cited with popularizing the concept of a team of magical girls and for revitalizing the magical girl genre. The franchise is also credited with redefining the genre, as many previous magical girls did not use their powers to fight evil and the concept is now considered one of its standard archetypes.
Toei Animation produced an anime television series based on the 52 manga chapters, also titled Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. It was directed by Junichi Satō, Kunihiko Ikuhara and Takuya Igarashi. The series premiered in Japan on TV Asahi on March 7, 1992, and ran for 200 episodes until its conclusion on February 8, 1997. Most of the international versions, including the English adaptations, are titled Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon Crystal
On July 6, 2012, Kodansha and Toei Animation announced that it would commence production of a new anime adaptation of Sailor Moon, called Sailor Moon Crystal, for a simultaneous worldwide release in 2013 as part of the series’ 20th anniversary celebrations. Crystal premiered on July 5, 2014, and episodes would premiere on the first and third Saturdays of each month. Kotono Mitsuishi reprised her role as Sailor Moon. The first two seasons were released together, covering their corresponding arcs of the manga (“Dark Kingdom” and “Black Moon”). A third season (subtitled “Death Busters” based on the “Infinity” arc on the manga) premiered on April 4, 2016. On January 25, 2017, another sequel was announced.
Films and television specials
Three animated theatrical feature films based on the original Sailor Moon series have been released in Japan. The films are side-stories that do not correlate with the timeline of the original series. A one-hour television special was aired on TV Asahi in Japan on April 8, 1995. In 1997, an article in Variety stated that The Walt Disney Company was interested in acquiring the rights to Sailor Moon as a live action film to be directed by Stanley Tong.
In Minato, Tokyo, a middle-school student named Usagi Tsukino befriends Luna, a talking black cat that gives her a magical brooch enabling her to become Sailor Moon: a pretty guardian destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Luna and Usagi assemble a team of fellow Sailor Guardians to find their princess and the Silver Crystal. They encounter the studious Ami Mizuno, who awakens as Sailor Mercury; Rei Hino, a local shrine maiden who awakens as Sailor Mars; Makoto Kino, a tall transfer student who awakens as Sailor Jupiter; and Minako Aino, a young aspiring idol who awakens as Sailor Venus, accompanied by her talking feline companion Artemis. Additionally, they encounter Mamoru Chiba, a high-school student who assists them on occasion as Tuxedo Mask.
In the first arc, the group battles the Dark Kingdom. Led by Queen Beryl, a team of generals—the Four Kings of Heaven —attempt to find the Silver Crystal to free an imprisoned, evil entity called Queen Metaria. Usagi and her team discover that in their previous lives they were members of the ancient moon kingdom called Silver Millennium. The Dark Kingdom waged war against them, resulting in the destruction of the moon kingdom. Its ruler Queen Serenity later sent her daughter Princess Serenity, her protectors the Sailor Guardians, their feline advisers Luna and Artemis, and the princess’s true love Prince Endymion into the future to be reborn through the power of the Silver Crystal. The team recognize Usagi as the reincarnated Serenity and Mamoru as Endymion. The Guardians kill the Four Kings, who turn out to have been Endymion’s guardians who defected in their past lives. In a final confrontation with the Dark Kingdom, Minako kills Queen Beryl; she and the other Guardians then sacrifice their lives in an attempt to destroy Queen Metaria. Using the Silver Crystal, Usagi succeeds in killing Metaria and resurrects her friends.
At the beginning of the second arc, Usagi and Mamoru’s daughter Chibiusa arrives from the future to find the Silver Crystal. As a result, the Guardians encounter Wiseman and his Black Moon Clan, who are pursuing her. Chibiusa takes the Guardians to the future city Crystal Tokyo, where her parents rule as Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion. During their journey they meet Sailor Pluto, guardian of the Time-Space Door. Sailor Pluto stops the Clan’s ruler Prince Demand from destroying the spacetime continuum, leading to her death. Chibiusa later awakens as a Guardian—Sailor Chibi Moon—and helps Usagi kill Wiseman’s true form, Death Phantom.
The third arc revolves around a group of lifeforms called the Death Busters, created by Professor Soichi Tomoe, who seek to transport the entity Pharaoh 90 to Earth to merge with the planet. Tomoe’s daughter Hotaru is possessed by the entity Mistress 9, who must open the dimensional gateway through which Pharaoh 90 must travel. Auto-racer Haruka Tenoh and violinist Michiru Kaioh appear as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who guard the outer rim of the Solar System from external threats. Physics student Setsuna Meioh, Sailor Pluto’s reincarnation, joins the protagonists. Usagi obtains the Holy Grail, transforms into Super Sailor Moon, and attempts to use the power of the Grail and the Silver Crystal to destroy Pharaoh 90. This causes Hotaru to awaken as Sailor Saturn, whom Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna initially perceive as a threat. As the harbinger of death, Hotaru uses her power of destruction to sever Pharaoh 90 from the Earth and instructs Setsuna to use her power over time-space to close the dimensional gateway.
In the fourth arc, Usagi and her friends enter high school and fight against the Dead Moon Circus, led by Queen Nehelenia, the self-proclaimed “rightful ruler” of both Silver Millennium and Earth. Nehelenia invades Elysion, which hosts the Earth’s Golden Kingdom, capturing its High Priest Helios and instructs her followers to steal the Silver Crystal. As Prince Endymion, Mamoru is revealed to be the owner of the Golden Crystal—the sacred stone of the Golden Kingdom. Mamoru and the Guardians combine their powers with those of the Holy Grail, enabling Usagi to transform into Eternal Sailor Moon and kill Nehelenia. Four of Nehelenia’s henchmen, the Amazoness Quartet, are revealed to be Sailor Guardians called the Sailor Quartet, who are destined to become Chibiusa’s guardians. They had been awakened prematurely and corrupted by Nehelenia.
In the final arc, Usagi and her friends are drawn into a battle against Shadow Galactica, a group of false Sailor Guardians. Their leader Sailor Galaxia plans to steal the Sailor Crystals of true Guardians to take over the galaxy and kill an evil lifeform known as Chaos. After killing Mamoru and most of the Sailor Guardians, Sailor Galaxia steals their Sailor Crystals. Usagi travels to the Galaxy Cauldron to defeat Galaxia and revive her teammates. Joining Usagi are the Sailor Starlights who come from the planet Kinmoku, their ruler Princess Kakyuu and the infant Sailor Chibichibi who comes from the distant future. Later, Chibiusa and the Sailor Quartet join Usagi and company. After numerous battles and the death of Galaxia, Sailor Chibichibi reveals her true form as Sailor Cosmos. Usagi then destroys Chaos with the Silver Crystal. Mamoru and the Sailor Guardians are revived and return to Earth with Usagi. The series ends with Usagi and Mamoru’s wedding six years later.