In a move that surprised and delighted many manga and anime fans, Kodansha Comics announced on Friday that they will be publishing new editions of Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi, beginning in September 2011.
As an added bonus, they also announced that they will also be publishing Codename: Sailor V, the stories that inspired and preceded Sailor Moon, making them available in their first official English language edition.
Kodansha Comics is promising that this new deluxe edition of Sailor Moon will feature "gorgeous new cover art, retouched interior art and dialogue along with extensive bonus material from Takeuchi, and detailed translation notes." It will follow the format of the deluxe editions released in Japan, so the originally 18-volume series will be re-released bi-monthly beginning in September 2011 as 12 larger volumes, with two additional volumes featuring short stories.
Codename: Sailor V will be making its North American debut as a two-volume series. Codename: Sailor V are the stories that inspired Sailor Moon. It features a masked Sailor Venus as she fights evil and looks for love, then eventually realizes that she must find other sailor guardians (a task she accomplishes in the pages of Sailor Moon).
The Sailor Moon manga series debuted in Japan in 1992 in the pages of Nakayoshi, a shojo manga magazine aimed at young girls. It follows the adventures of Usagi Tsukino," a young girl who transforms into super heroine Sailor Moon to combat evil and fight for love and justice in the name of the Moon and the mysterious Moon Princess."
To date, over 15 million copies of Sailor Moon manga have been sold in Japan. It has inspired an anime series, live action TV shows and stage shows, tons of toys and merchandise, and has been seen, read and loved by fans all over the world.
Previously published by TokyoPop from 1997 - 2001, the Sailor Moon manga has been credited as one of the major forces behind the growth of manga in North America, especially because it was so appealing to a group of readers who weren't big comics consumers: young girls. Boosted by regular showings of the Sailor Moon anime series, the Sailor Moon manga was a huge hit. However, in recent years, all volumes of the English edition of Sailor Moon have been out of print, and have been increasingly difficult to find.
In a recent search on eBay and Amazon, a complete set of 18 volumes of the TokyoPop edition of Sailor Moon in "like new" condition was going for $975, although it's been more typical to see sets going for about $500 or single volumes with an asking price of anywhere from $25 to $60 per volume.
With this kind of scarcity and demand out there, it's little wonder that the most frequently asked question at TokyoPop panels in recent years was "When are you going to reprint Sailor Moon?" The answer from TokyoPop reps was usually that they had lost the licensing rights to Sailor Moon from Kodansha (the original publisher and licensor of Sailor Moon) and they weren't likely to get it back.
When Kodansha Comics came on the US scene, they announced plans to re-release Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo and Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow in 2009. At the time, fans wondered (and many asked), "What about Sailor Moon?" Well, now we know. From the Kodansha Comics press release:
"I'm very excited to reintroduce Ms. Takeuchi's work to her American fans," said Yoshio Irie, president and CEO of Kodansha USA Publishing. Irie is also the former chief editor of Nakayosi magazine in which the SAILOR MOON manga was serialized. "As we continue to build the Kodansha Comics manga list, a title like SAILOR MOON is the jewel in our crown. As the former chief editor of the work in Japan, I'm especially thrilled to finally release the prequel, CODENAME: SAILOR V, to the many fans who have been asking for it at long last."
Even with the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (a.k.a. C2E2) comics show in full swing that day, many comics and anime news outlets spread the news, and even a few non-comics newspapers and websites too.
" It's the title that broke manga in the US -- no comic has had a bigger influence than SAILOR MOON, the manga/anime that kicked off the shojo manga boom, made it safe for girls to read comics and introduced the idea of cosplay to America in a big way."
- Heidi McDonald, The Beat
"Sailor Moon is one of those books people get sentimental about--for a lot of readers and creators, especially women, it was their first comic. It looks like Kodansha is going for those older readers, as they are describing their release as a "deluxe edition," rather than keeping them cheap for teenagers--who would probably find it laughably dated. Kids are cruel that way."
- Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
Needless to say, as the word spread, the reaction from fans (via Twitter) was instantaneous and almost universally ecstatic.
WHAT WHAT WHAT!?!??!?!? SAILOR MOON RE-RELEASE!?!??!?!?!? Tears, tears of pure joy.
- Narutaki (@narutakiRT)
!!!!!!!!! BEST NEWS ALL DAY, HOLY CRAP
- Aly (@cybody)
OMG! Kodansha bringing back the Sailor Moon manga. *does sparkly shoujo eyes of YAYness*
- Reileen van Kaile (@reileenvankaile)
SAILOR MOON IS BEING RE-RELEASE IN THE US?! OMG CRYING TEARS OF HAPPINESS ;____;
- Nicole (@langmuirwaves)
OH DANGGGG Sailor Moon is coming out here again? OH MAN OH MAN
Ch-ch-check it, guys! SAILOR MOON'S BACK
- Kasey Van Hise (@spacekase)
Other fans were a bit more measured in their reactions, but definitely acknowledged the importance of this title to a generation of comics/manga/anime fans.
Sailor Moon was the gateway drug to comics and anime for so many girls.
-Stephanie Lantry (@StephanieLantry)
I had drinks with Joe Sacco last night, and unrelated to the announcement (obvi) sailor moon came up. He'd never heard of it. meanwhile, everyone under 30 all knew the theme song to the show. Very generational.
- M. Carens-Nedelsky (@MC_Nedelsky)
Several fans mentioned feeling lots of love and nostalgia for a title they read and enjoyed when they were younger, and happiness for a new generation that would be introduced to this shojo manga classic.
My inner 13-year-old is super excited
- Caroline (@fruitykogyaru)
CLAMP's back, Sailor Moon is back... it's like it's 2001 all over again!
- Kate Dacey (@manga_critic)
I'm so happy that a whole new generation of little girls will get to discover- no, actually I'M GREEDY I JUST WANT IT
- Karen Gellender (@KarenGellender)
Many mentioned dissatisfaction with the TokyoPop edition translation of Sailor Moon, which Anglicized many Japanese names and cultural quirks found in the original stories, and changed some of the relationships of the characters.
They'll be better that Mixx/@Tokyopop's releases, right? No Usagi / Bunny / Serena name confusion? XD
- Ted Aaron (@Taaron12)
You guys have no idea how long I have waited for sailor moon to come back to north america! And the MANGA? A real translation finally!!
- Steph (@sakabelle)
I can finally collect all of Sailor Moon properly and have faith in the translation. :D
- Humberto Saabedra (@AnimeNewsdotbiz)
And it wasn't just female fans getting excited about the news...
HOLY CRAP, SAILOR MOON!
- David Welsh (@MangaCur)
It was hard not to go around my office going "YOU GUYS!! SAILOR MOON!" without getting weird looks.
- Sean Gaffney (@Toukochan)
srsly guys, Sailor Moon IN AMERICA *re-awakens longtime crush on Sailor Mercury*
- Carlo Santos (@patachu)
Why am I excited about seeing the return of Sailor Moon? I guess it one of those Manga that should always stay in print.
- Tom Stidman (@redneckotaku)
A few comics retailers also welcomed the news of Sailor Moon's imminent return:
But before retailers get too excited about this, keep in mind that there were also a few comments like this one:
why is it such a big deal the the Sailor Moon manga is re-released? u can read it online for free? i guess if you want to own it but still~
- ・・・(R I B B O N 。)★ (@tsuirocrown)
Which was followed by this reply:
I'd rather Takeuchi-sensei know that I enjoy her work and support future work. It doesn't cost that much to buy!
- Jen D @palmie
Now that you've heard the buzz from around the Internetz, what do you think? Share your thoughts about the return of Sailor Moon below!
Image credits: © 2004 Naoko Takeuchi / KODANSHA LTD., © 2003 Naoko Takeuchi / KODANSHA LTD.