Exclusive: Viz Talks Sailor Moon With Anime Herald
On May 17, Viz stunned the anime world when they announced that they acquired the domestic rights to Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal. The fan-favorite series, had been off the market for ten years, was announced in epic fashion, with a splashy trailer and a well-timed social media reveal. It just seemed to grow exponentially, as the news rippled through mainstream news outlets, as well as the major anime news sources.
Simply put, fans across the country were on cloud nine. The show was suddenly streaming for free, and fancy Blu-Ray releases were on the way. Still, numerous questions still seemed to linger among the interested parties.
To get more details on the release and Viz’s plans or the property as a whole, we sat with Senior Manager of Animation Marketing Charlene Ingram, and Associate Producer Josh Lopez, who is working on the project.
I’d like to thank Charlene and Josh for taking the time from their busy schedules to talk with us!
Note: Edited for clarity.
Anime Herald: First off, I’d like to say congrats on getting the license! I don’t think anything’s going to top that this year! (laughs)
Josh Lopez: (laughs) Thank you.
Anime Herald: How long would you say you’ve been working to actually acquire Sailor Moon?
Charlene Ingram: Quite a while! This started… Wow. We were working on this so long that it’s hard to say when it actually began. It was a very, very long and drawn out process. Even back when we were in the old building, we started talking about it.
Josh Lopez: (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: Yeah. It’s been quite a while! It’s a big property with a lot at stake. So, obviously, it was very competitive across everyone who licenses anime, pretty much. So, yeah! It’s one of those things that feels like it’s been forever!
Josh Lopez: Yeah. I was aware of the possibility of the acquisition for quite some time, even though we didn’t have the property, we were definitely preparing just in case. It’s always good to be prepared, especially with something as massive as Sailor Moon. I think anyone that’s into anime that knows that it’s basically been unavailable to fans that are demanding it. We knew that it was time for it to come back too, so it was only a matter of time. (laughs) We’re really glad to be working on it.
Charlene Ingram: It didn’t even feel real until those tapes arrive! (laughs)
Anime Herald: (laughs) I can imagine! It’s been off the market since 2004, hasn’t it?
Charlene Ingram: Yeah, about ten years. About ten years since it’s been commercially available in North America. On the positive side, it’s a very well-rested property! (laughs) But it’s, yeah! It still, in a way, doesn’t fully feel real. Like I know me and Josh were working on it for so long. We kept making these almost, like, bets with each other and with the licensing team, as well. I would say, like, “Oh, I’ll believe it when the contract gets signed!”
Josh Lopez: Yep!
Charlene Ingram: And the contract gets signed, and we’re like “I’ll believe it when the style guides show up!”
Josh Lopez: (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: And then, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, the style guides show up. And we’re like “Alright, I’ll believe it when the PSDs show up!” and then the discs showed up. And finally, I was like, “you know what? I’ll believe it when the episodes finally show up, and the scripts, and everything!” And then, like clockwork, it all comes in a box! We were just kind of staring at it and we were like “this is what history looks like! Oh my gosh, it’s here!”
Josh Lopez: History felt a lot lighter than I imagined it to! (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: We got the tapes, and then just started really gearing up to the announcement because we knew that licenses like this, now that current anime is licensed and streamed, marketed, almost everything is simulcast. So there’s not a lot of surprises. And we knew that with such a big property, and such an important and legendary property, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to really make it a surprise and have everything as polished as possible before launch.
So those last several months really, before the announcement, everybody came on working on overdrive just getting it ready for the best announcement. We knew because we had this opportunity, we wanted to announce it and have some type of streaming available as close to that announcement as possible, while still building the fandom reaction for it. And that was a lot of working really closely with Josh’s team, the editors, and everything. It’s been just great.
I know Joshua will go into more detail since he’s been doing… as far as that trailer, that three and a half minute trailer took well over a month to do with all the storyboarding, editing, music selection, the approvals, I think we first started on the trailer in March.
We knew everything about the announcement, and the trailer being the video avatar of the announcement. We knew it had to be worth, proverbially, waiting ten years for. So it had to be right.
Josh Lopez: Yeah, Charlene was actually the producer on that trailer, and it turned out fantastic. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but it’s… the music alone is something that gets you excited about watching the show.
Anime Herald: Absolutely. That was just the perfect trailer for the time.
Josh Lopez: Oh, great! That’s good to hear.
Charlene Ingram: I remember, shaking you down for all of those clips. You know, that big episode list? And you were like “Why do you need all these episodes?”
Josh Lopez: It’s good. It’s very good.
Anime Herald: It’s been about a week since that announcement. How has the overall reaction been? Like, outside of the initial, giant “oh my god! Thank you!” moment, how has the overall market reception been? How have people been reacting in that week and a half or so?
Charlene Ingram: Well, it’s been great! From a marketing side of things, to put things a little bit in perspective, the episodes have been performing extremely well on Hulu. And if you look at the overall anime rankings, which aren’t really a science, they kind of change depending on what’s new, what’s not new. But they tend to be weighted overall by how many episodes there are.
Just to see Sailor Moon pop up on top with only four episodes versus a lot of the other top anime, that have hundreds of episodes, just shows the power of the more mass appeal that Sailor Moon has. Its first few days of subtitled streaming, it was outperforming a lot of big, US-based shows, like it was outperforming The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live for a short while. Again, everything changes pretty much hourly, but when it peaked, it was in, I believe, the top five shows viewed on Hulu. So, that just speaks to the power of Sailor Moon going beyond anime and into a true pop culture phenomenon.
Anime Herald: Definitely. That’s impressive.
Charlene Ingram: I know, Josh, you had, after the announcement, discovered a lot of people coming out of the woodwork about Sailor Moon!
Josh Lopez: The overall response has been very positive, and definitely encouraging for me. You know, anybody that’s working on something that gets instant gratification, even before we release a large chunk of the product, to hear the fans’ response, it’s really quite special. We’ve had some great freak-out responses on YouTube. We’ve had a lot of really positive comments and feedback on different forums and it’s been pretty special, already.
Charlene Ingram: It’s something that we do try to. We do like looking at the reaction videos on YouTube. You know, part of my job was keeping up with all the press coverage. The sheer number of press clippings on that day was more than I even expected! I think I spent a good two hours just going through Google News Alerts that had built up! (laughs)
But it’s neat to see the people who are working on it just be so excited about it, from Josh’s team, translation, studio, which we won’t be announcing until Anime Expo, but Josh has been so involved with the team working on it.
Josh Lopez: Yeah, I think working on Sailor Moon is just a, obviously, a huge opportunity. We’re going to be producing 200 episodes, 3 movies, and a couple of shorts. It’s a long journey in anime.
Charlene Ingram: And [Sailor Moon] Crystal, too!
Josh Lopez: (laughs) And Crystal, too! And that’s coming, as well! We’re already digging deep into the series, and it’s something, as we go, just like any long-running title we’ve worked on in the past, grown a very special attachment to a title like this.
Charlene Ingram: Well, you worked on Bleach, so you’re no stranger to long shows!
Josh Lopez: Well, I’m almost finished with Bleach, as well. And, just like Bleach, you know, when something comes to a finish like that, it’ll be very difficult to give it up. Luckily, we have a few more years of Sailor Moon!
Anime Herald: And how does it feel to be bringing over, of all things, Sailor Moon Stars? It’s the show that was once thought to be completely off-limits for Sailor Moon fans for so many years.
Charlene Ingram: I feel like, in a way, coming originally from Sailor Moon fandom, and then really coming from anime fandom, I find that… I don’t want to generalize with the general populous, but anime tends to have a natural way of setting people up for believing the fantastical, and believing things that may be a little outside of their comfort zone.
And I was always perplexed as to “why not Stars?” And I realized, when I started to leave my insular anime fan bubble and start dealing with more people as an adult many years ago, I realized that anime is normal to me, but it’s not normal to a lot of people. I think it’s kind of breaking out of that shell and understanding.
But with Stars, I almost feel like America’s finally ready for it, and the best response that we’ve gotten about all of these elements in Sailor Moon that were very controversial before, like a lot of things in Sailor Moon were pretty controversial when it first came out. The best compliment that’s been paid to it is that it’s not seen as scandalous. Any of it. None of the relationships, none of the genders, none of the situations of Sailor Moon are seen as scandalous anymore, and that is the best thing about it. It’s just beautiful, progressive relationships. And that’s the best thing that can happen with that! It’s just kind of normal now. It shows how much, especially in America, this really evolved. It’s nice that we don’t have to question this or change things anymore.
Josh Lopez: Not only are we releasing Stars, but we’re releasing the series in its entirety completely uncut, with the original music intact, and I think that’s the way it was meant to be seen also. No, since we are renewing it, it’s a nice approach, for sure.
Charlene Ingram: It’s a shame it’s taken so many years, but we’re very thankful that we get to be a part of something that’s so important for anime, and so important for pop culture and it’s going to be exposed to a whole new generation of fans.
Because we really learned with, most recently, the Ranma releases, that good shows are universal. It doesn’t matter how old they are. They find an audience, and people find good content. There’s this concern some characters did pop out that “oh that series is old, it will never work!” No. Good shows are good shows! And if you have good materials to work with, and you put them out on modern media, then people will be very open to discovering them.
We’ve had such a great reaction and warm response to the Blu-Ray remaster footage that we were working really hard on, and even just streaming on Hulu you can see that difference. Just little subtleties you just couldn’t see on previous releases.
Anime Herald: And it looks like initial reporting, specifically the initial report by [Anime News Network], states that the dub cast was approved by the creator? How involved has she been with the project as a whole?
Josh Lopez: Toei’s US licensing team is working very closely with the show’s staff and Takeuchi-sensei. They’re working as a team to approve terminology and language in the show, all of the actors, all of the main cast as well as any other significant and story-relevant translations that we may be making.
I’m sure that Takeuchi-sensei is very busy with the manga and other priorities, but we’ve already developed a pretty strong working relationship with Toei.
Charlene Ingram: Toei have been very up front. They’ve been such a great partner. All of those key elements have to get approved up high, because it’s extremely important. So, it’s been part of the reason why we are thankful for it. But it has been a very long process, because there are so many terms, names, everything… voices, rhythms to Sailor Moon.
If you get something, anything that happens you’re obviously going to have a butterfly effect. So it really has to be good from the get-go. I know Josh put a lot of work into the casting of it. And there’s a lot of tedious detail that played into it. And they all sound so good, like, hearing the final list, hearing those demos, I was like “It sounds right! It finally sounds right! They sound like their characters! They sound like they’re fourteen year old girls!” So it was great! (laughs)
Anime Herald: It must have been a huge difference to see the new cast versus what we’ve had in the past. Like night and day.
Charlene Ingram: Yeah, you know like, those little selects from the script and stuff are so much more authentic! You see those original personalities come out. Josh, you picked all the selects, right? For the scripts?
Josh Lopez: Yeah! We’re definitely trying to keep it as close to the original Japanese as possible. We’re definitely taking the classic approach to this. Obviously, we’re breathing some new life into it with some new talent and some new technology, but I think ultimately it’s going to be fantastic. I’ve already heard the first six episodes, and they sound fantastic. They sound amazing. It’s pretty exciting over here at the moment.
Charlene Ingram: Yeah! And these are the initial mixes of them. Like, everything has to be, like, these are… it’s still in its infancy. It’s still not fully formed. We’re really gearing up for those first episodes’ premiere, that dub premiere at Anime Expo. But things come out in stages. It’s all gotta be approved in stages before they’re locked and loaded.
It’s a real mix of people from in anime, not in anime. They really went for a very wide world to find the best of the best of everyone.
Anime Herald: And do you have plans to reach out to the non-core markets, like the people who may have grown up watching [Sailor Moon] as a kid, and might have kids of their own? Because, as you mentioned earlier, this has a giant fanbase that goes well beyond anime.
Charlene Ingram: The biggest thing that speaks to that is our partnership with Hulu. And Hulu was really supportive, and a really great partner with us, and it’s because of that, how important Sailor Moon is, that the trades picked it up. Yeah, that’s got core anime fan support, but there’s people outside of anime, too. So the word is definitely getting out there.
And to see a lot of non-standard, non-anime press sites really picking up on the story, and they continue to pick up on it. It’s really getting out there. We’ll continue to reach out, but there’s already multiple ways that Sailor Moon will be available. It’ll be available streaming for people who just want to dip their toe in and explore it, we’ll do some dub previews for people who want to hear what the dub sounds like.
And there will be the DVD editions that’ll be more mass-market for people to pick up. And there will also be that collector’s set, that’s the true jewel on the shelf for anime fans that have been waiting for so long.
So there’s multiple ways to engage with Sailor Moon with what we’re doing. We want it to be as accessible as possible. We don’t want to alienate anybody who really treasures Sailor Moon and wants that perfect, glorious, shiny release with all the bells and whistles.
Anime Herald: You’re currently streaming the series on Neon Alley, which has definitely gotten a lot of exposure. Do you have plans to reach out to anime fans in other ways, as well?
Charlene Ingram: Right now, we’re concentrating on the streaming, and working on the dub. We’re open to more opportunities. Again, this was just publicly made available right about last week, so it’s still in its infancy. We just want to explore ways to get Sailor Moon out there as much as possible. But as a way to start, Hulu is a really great avenue for getting that initial stuff out there. So we look forward to hearing from other places, too! (laughs)
Anime Herald: Absolutely. And given that Sailor Moon Crystal debuts in July, it seems like the perfect opportunity to reach new fans as well as the old. Are you planning on kind of working the two together, to build awareness between both series, for the people that may know about Crystal and not the original, and vice versa?
Charlene Ingram: Well, if the classic series is in its infancy, Crystal is even more so. There’s very little information publicly available on it, because it is a July simulcast, and traditionally speaking, when it comes to gearing up for simulcast, it is very early to be announcing a summer simulcast. So there’s basically no info.
We know our release date, we know our release time, we know what we’re working for. And we know what episodes in the format, but it’s really something that, it’s treated like a different property. You know, it has a different look, a different way of being rolled out. It’s still the same classic story, supposed to be a little closer to the manga. But we’re going to get it out in front of as many people as possible.
There are people who prefer the classic series, but they don’t know what Crystal’s going to be like. We don’t know what Crystal’s going to be like yet. So we’re going to have both of them out there, but our goal is to have enough of season 1 out on Hulu that it won’t be the same story at the same time. It’ll be a little bit staggered.
Beyond that, it’s still just a little too early to tell, but we’re excited to get more stuff!
Anime Herald: And what would you say has been the biggest opportunity to working on Sailor Moon as a property?
Josh Lopez: I think, for me, the biggest opportunity probably is the challenges of working on a show like Sailor Moon. Committing to a production that’s going to be in the studio for the next few years is no small task to begin with, but when it’s something as iconic and influential as Sailor Moon, it just, I can’t help but think of how lucky I am to have a job to do that! (laughs) That’s my work!
I think we’ll definitely run into plenty of obstacles and challenges along the way, but I think the payoff is going to be us giving fans a version of this title that is going to be something that they’ll love in a nice little package.
Charlene Ingram: And it’ll be consistent all the way through!
Anime Herald: None of the switch-over from “grainy” to “passable” that we had back in the day. (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: All of the video and audio are definitely in much better condition. The Blu-Ray remaster looks great. Everything just, it looks and sounds a lot better. That’s the most glaring difference in all that is just how much better it looks and sounds.
Josh Lopez: We also have it playing all day at in our office, so we have quite a few employees taking some time out to watch it as well. So I guess it looks much better!
Charlene Ingram: Generally, we have one TV running shows, and one TV running Sailor Moon! (laughs) We have a big, in our commons area at VIZ, we have a big whiteboard. There’s a whole whiteboard wall. And every week we have a little theme project, because a lot of people who work at VIZ, in the publishing company as well, they draw. And right now, there’s, like a mural forming of Sailor Moon stuff!
Josh Lopez: It’s very cute. All their favorite elements from the show, there’s been a contribution from different employees at VIZ. It’s really cute.
Charlene Ingram: But yeah! As far as me, the biggest opportunity is just finally getting the show back out there where it belongs. It was like the Missing Piece. It’s the missing piece of anime. In a way, it can make you sad that it wasn’t available for so long. You hear people say “why? This is such a great show, and no one can get it legally!” So to be able to bring it back is just huge! And, much like Josh, I can’t believe that this is my job! I feel like I’ve won ten lotteries!
But it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s the type of fulfilling important work that needs to be done that I’m so thankful for the whole team here, because they’ve got that passion and that drive. And that dedication that an important title like this really needs, and it’s just, even though it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of long hours, it’s a lot of approvals, it’s a lot of aggressive attention to detail over a very long property, it doesn’t feel like work in a way. It just feels like a mission, something you’re almost called to do.
It was, like I said in the ANN interview, I felt like Luna was in that box, and she kept saying “You have a mission! You guys must put this out!” (laughs)
Anime Herald: I’ve noticed, there’s definitely a lot of affection for the property between you two. So, really, how did you get exposed to Sailor Moon as a property?
Josh Lopez: When Sailor Moon was on, it wasn’t, maybe it wasn’t for all boys. But a lot of boys did like it. Don’t know if it was my show back then, but I’ve since really come to love titles that focus around girls that are… coming of age stories. I recently worked on a show called Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne, and it was one of the bigger titles that I had experience with, about all these young girls learning their way and becoming super-powerful. And now I get to work on a magical girl show, which is even more special.
I, like Charlene, never thought, when I got into anime that I’d be able to work on something as massive as Sailor Moon. And now that I am, it’s pretty exciting!
Charlene Ingram: For me, my first exposure to Sailor Moon is it used to come on in-between my classes in college. ‘Cause I would just leave Cartoon Network on, and would catch little glimpses of it. At first, I was like “that’s nice, that’s nice!” And then I became just transfixed by it. And I wanted to learn more about it, and it really, I had been watching Ranma, but Sailor Moon was the thing that really solidified me in my fandom.
And, like, that was the thing that triggered “consume all things anime.” I just wanted to find out more about anime. And I wanted to go to an anime con, since I liked watching Sailor Moon. And the closest anime con to me at that time was actually Anime North in Toronto, so I literally went up to Toronto, and I thought “this might be cool!” And I made a costume, and I didn’t even know what cosplay was. I just decided it might be cool to go to this anime con dressed like a Sailor Moon character. But I met people who would become some of my greatest friends.
I got into Sailor Moon musicals. Joined a big Sailor Moon musical cosplay group and made a whole bunch of costumes. And then it just kind of became a very important part of me. I love anime, I love the manga, but that, my special fandom thing with Sailor Moon’s always been the musicals. That was the thing that had the most amazing and powerful memories tied to it. In 2001 I got to go to Japan and got to meet the cast. So that was very, very pivotal.
Josh Lopez: Charlene also owns the largest Sailor Moon audio collection out of any person I know. (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: (laughs)
Josh Lopez: Before we had any assets or masters for the show, we were already using her CDs as a reference to the show.
Charlene Ingram: Yeah, I have a ton… and it was actually a present from my boyfriend this past Christmas, is I have so much anime music. He, for my Christmas present, went through all of my anime CDs. Like, nearly a thousand of them. And he loaded them all into iTunes for me. We started working on Sailor Moon, and I was like “Hey Josh! Hey Josh! You wanna hear some music? You wanna hear some music? Here’s some Sailor Moon, here’s some stuff you have to listen to! This is so good! Do you need the audio of the attacks? I have those, too!” (laughs)
Josh Lopez: It was a very thoughtful gift but, little did he know, he was aiding the animation department at VIZ, as well.
Charlene Ingram: Yeah, he had no idea! (laughs)
Anime Herald: And what, in your opinion, would be your biggest goal for the property’s release? What would like to say to those that may be on the fence for, say, sitting down and watching a few episodes of Sailor Moon, or purchasing the sets?
Charlene Ingram: Well, I’d say it’s a journey. It’s one of those series that’s of a very rare breed of shows that just keeps getting better as it goes along. It’s very, even though it deals with fantastical things, it’s very realistic in how it progresses. It’s not afraid to take things slow.
Part of that strategy around bringing out a couple of episodes a week is we have the golden opportunity to replicate that journey, as we are working on episodes to make them the best possible.
So the two episodes a week really allows people to go on that journey with Usagi and everyone, and just experience it from the beginning. Because before, in the fandom, they had a very cut and edited dubbed version of it that completely eliminated some episodes, and changed a lot about others. But it’s a “sit down and experience this” type of thing.
I really want people to experience that, and just… you know, it keeps coming to mind, and I might sound old by saying this, saying they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. To have a 200-episode series that drives the story with every episode, has so much character development.
Everyone has one they favor, but just for the whole exposure, it’s like “slow down, take it as it comes, and the experiences that these girls have. They’re also going to fall in love with them in that slow, nice, sweet way.
Josh Lopez: Yeah. I mean, my biggest goal for Sailor Moon is to give fans new and old a show that they’ll love. We have already, as far as the dub’s concerned, we have an amazingly talented cast. We’re working with one of the best studios, we have the support of our licensor, and ultimately everybody that is involved is definitely focused on giving Sailor Moon the love that she deserves. (laughs) It’s going to be a big, gigantic ball of magical girl love! (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: I guess, to backtrack a little bit, with the whole keeping everything under wraps for that big announcement, it was, like, all of the audition reads had to be, like… we had NDAs all over the place, and some of them didn’t even know who they were playing until they showed up for first day of recording!
Josh Lopez: Oh yeah! We left them waiting.
Charlene Ingram: And you get those reactions, you get that raw energy. We wanted it to be effervescent, young, and just exciting! And I would say that, if people are on the fence about buying it, we’re really in the fairly early stages of packaging design. But keeping all five seasons in mind, we want them to all look good together. So I think everybody, just like everyone has a favorite part of Sailor Moon, everyone has a favorite season of Sailor Moon, too.
But they’re all meant to look good together, because the payoff for Stars is the journey of the first four seasons. They all build up to that point in that finale, and it’s really, I think people are going to be very impressed with how beautiful and elegant they look. We want it to be the type of thing you could hand to someone you want to get into anime, and they will get that impression that anime is beautiful and precious, and treated with respect.
We want it to be similar to Ranma, like it’s trophies you put on the shelf. Sailor Moon is, whether you like the show or not, you have to admit it’s one of the most important series out there for a reason.
Anime Herald: Definitely.
Josh Lopez: Like you were saying, we’ve assembled a great team as far as Sailor Moon goes as a whole, whether it’s our dub, our streaming, our package design, our product. Everybody’s really focused on creating the best possible product we can. I actually sat in a meeting with our product team and have seen some of the promotion in use for the Blu-Ray, and it looked fantastic. A lot of attention to detail has been paid, and the design team that’s working on it as well, is also very talented. I think it’s going to be pretty special. It already looked really good! (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: Yeah, it’s already, like this… it’s really coming together. I keep saying, like, it’s just starting to feel right. And, going back to the whole goal, the ultimate goal of us working on Sailor Moon was everything had to have love poured into it.
And that’s totally business terms, love, but it’s the only way to describe it is love and respect being put into it, is we want people to come away with knowing it was done with love. Knowing that it was done with those original intentions in mind. We want every part of it to scream “finally!” It’s like our little bit of revenge, it’s… we have to do right by Moon!
Josh Lopez: Magical Girl Love!
Charlene Ingram: Yeah!
Josh Lopez: A big giant ball of Magical Girl Love!
Anime Herald: And just one more question, this one’s a bit more on the light-hearted side: [your] favorite scene from Sailor Moon, what is it?
Charlene Ingram: From the first season?
Anime Herald: In general.
Josh Lopez: I’ll say something about the first season. We had so much fun working on the one where four of them learned to get skinny from Usagi, and all of the monsters of the week are all of these muscle-bound jocks. (laughs) And we had the hardest time not using the biggest, oafish voice for the characters, or giving them Austrian accents. (laughs) So I’m gonna lean towards learning to be skinny from Usagi.
Charlene Ingram: Oh, this was so over the top!
Josh Lopez: It’s over the top, it’s great!
Charlene Ingram: Oh gosh, for me, there’s just so many moments in Sailor Moon. Oh my gosh!
Josh Lopez: this might take a while. (laughs)
Charlene Ingram: Oh, it’s just so massive! Oh, what would it be, what would it be? The thing that I liked, it’s an over-arching theme of the series, is I liked the progression of Venus because she shows up and she’s a strong leader who’s seen some stuff. I mean, she was the first one to become a Sailor Guardian. And she’s got a past, and she’s seen some…stuff. And she shows up, and she is that strong, powerful, stoic leader who’s a real asset to the other Sailor Guardians.
They find that she becomes friends with everyone, and everyone becomes stronger. And everyone becomes closer, she’s able to let her true nature out, to the point where she becomes really fun and ding-y, especially by the time Stars comes around.
Normally, you see lighthearted characters take a turn for the more serious through the series, but you almost never see a real stoic leader type let loose as the story goes on. It’s kind of an opposite approach to storytelling. And Sailor Moon was very innovative in many ways, but that’s a secret subtle leap that not a lot of people realize.
That they felt okay to take Venus in that direction, and then you realize at the end, by letting her emotions go like that, she actually became stronger. And it’s, like, just all those character progressions, but Venus to be certain.
And I also really love when Sailor Saturn takes on Nehellenia. When there’s that big, that pan cel where we see the silence glaive at her neck. I mean there’s a lot of pan cels in Sailor Moon, but that little snapshot, I think it’s the very beginning of Stars.
Like, any time Saturn shows up, you know stuff’s about to get real. And Nehellenia is a very almost sympathetic villain in a way. She’s, in a way, the purest of the villains because she just wants to be young and pretty. She really didn’t want to be that bad, she just ended up that way through her quest. And she doesn’t have that, that story of Galaxia, she doesn’t have that scornable of a thing of Queen Beryl, she doesn’t have the backstory of the Black Moon Clan.
She’s just kind of a tragic character, in that it got to the point where Saturn has to show up just shows how vanity can corrupt you. Which, while a vain message, is something important to keep in mind. It’s not all about just becoming skinny or staying pretty, like, it can corrupt you if you’re not careful. (laughs)