Sailor Moon has been around for more than 25 years and is arguably as popular today as it was when it first came out. The '90s manga and anime series sparked a phenomenon that has spanned 18 volumes of the manga, 200 episodes of the #anime, video games, and a handful of TV and movie specials. This train isn't slowing down anytime soon, though, as new merchandise, a new stage musical, and Season 4 of Sailor Moon Crystal being released in 2017 to celebrate the landmark anniversary. But one question remains: Why haven't we gotten a live-action movie based on the franchise?
It Has Gone Live Action Before
In 2003, Japanese production house Toei Company created Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, a live-action series based on the franchise. However, the show was not particularly popular due to the fact it deviated from the familiar plot of the original manga and anime, with modifications made to the popular characters. That said, it did have some highlights. These included the Sailor Senshi's weaponry by the end of the series, and the arc in the show where Sailor Mercury became a servant of evil Dark Mercury.
If nothing else, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon proved that fans expect certain elements within the franchise's storytelling. And much like the live-action show, the stage musical also introduced new characters and altered aspects of the story. However, being a stage performance, audiences were always more forgiving as they tend to understand there are technical restrictions when operating on a stage.
There Is Plenty To Inspire A Movie Studio
A group of girls wearing sailor outfits is certainly a head-turning look. #Cosplayers have taken welcome liberties with the Sailor Senshi aesthetic, with many inspired alterations that includes a popular trend in combining the costume with ancient armor. These offer great examples of how a production team could give the ensembles a powerful edge.
The fact that weaponry was added into the live-action series is also another area that could be further developed. Some of the Sailor Senshi do have fighting implements, but not all do. Sailor Jupiter would have been deadly if she were given some weapons. She is the powerhouse of the Inner Senshi, so giving her a pike or ax would make her unstoppable.
Who Would Be The Target Audience?
For the #superhero-themed movie genre, the majority of the characters are still overwhelmingly male. Female audiences have a much smaller and limited choice when it comes to female heroes. Sailor Moon would be a perfect opportunity to create a female empowered movie that will delight audiences around the world. And this is mostly due to the story itself.
How Sailor Moon Works
Sailor Moon has a pretty complex storyline that spans five arcs. These plots crisscross the past, present and future to create one epic love story. The character Sailor Moon is the reincarnation of the Moon Princess of the once-great Silver Millennium era that fell to destruction. She fell in love with Prince Endymion, and it is this that brought about the wrecking of the Moon Kingdom. With the last of her powers, Queen Serenity made it so that everyone would be reborn in the future.
However, all their enemies were revived along with Sailor Moon and the Sailor Senshi. Their fight to save the world is hinged on Sailor Moon and the reincarnated prince (Tuxedo Mask) having a connection and love strong enough to overcome. Naturally they succeed, but this means new threats from the future and from the farthest reaches of the galaxy that are sent to attack the group of heroes and try to claim the Earth for themselves. Each story arc builds on the characters, their powers and increases the number of Sailor Senshi over time. This could be a great set-up for a multi-film franchise.
The Characters Would Appeal To The Masses
With just the first five Sailor Senshi alone you have five characters who would appeal to a wide range of viewers. #SailorMoon is at the center of everything, but is clumsy and often forgetful. She is also the quiet, highly intelligent member of the group. Sailor Mars is the stern and focused warrior, while Sailor Jupiter is the tallest and strongest, but at the same time has the most gentle heart, and Sailor Venus is their brave leader. The Outer Senshi add even more relatable dynamics once they join the group.
Even the villains are relatable in the franchise. While the Big Bad will always be crazy and deranged, all those working under them tend to be compelled by reason that anyone can relate to. One example was Blue Saphir from the second story arc. He knew his brother had become entangled in dangerous forces, but due to his loyalty and love for his sibling, he follows him so as to offer protection and keep him from harm. You also have villains acting out of fear and desperation to simply exist, which only makes you empathize with them.
Sexuality is also another area that's explored in Sailor Moon. Sailor Venus in particular is very sexually aware and on a search to find her man. Sailor Uranus and Neptune are also lovers (despite the US dub making them cousins) and their intimacy and tender love for each other is perhaps even adored more than our heroine Sailor Moon and her love interest Tuxedo Mask. With so much of the story centering on these relationships, it offers a subplot of love that could make it easier to market to cinemagoers.
Now Is The Time
Female-led moves are on the increase. #WonderWoman is set for release and will herald the first big solo female superhero movie in decades. Add Captain Marvel, Gothem City Sirens and now Batgirl in the next few years, and the cinematic landscape is only getting more diverse. Sailor Moon could be a brilliant alternative to what both #Marvel and DC will do with their female characters.
Sailor Moon is a 25-year-old proven franchise with longterm, unwavering popularity. To discard it as a big-screen idea that wouldn't work is a shame. With five story arcs, a movie could easily be made for each plot so as to create a fresh film franchise. But hey, it's just an idea.
The Sailor Moon anime is available to stream now on Hulu. What would you like to see in a live-action movie version? Sound off in the comments below.