Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン, Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn, officially translated as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) is the title of a Japanese media franchise created by Naoko Takeuchi. It is generally credited with popularizing the concept of a sentai (team) of magical girls, as well as "revitalizing" the magical girl genre itself.
The story of the various metaseries revolves around the reincarnated defenders of a kingdom that once spanned the solar system, and the evil forces that they battle. The major characters—called Sailor Senshi (literally "Sailor Soldiers"; frequently called "Sailor Scouts" in the North American version)—are teenage girls who can transform into heroines named for the moon and planets (Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, etc). The use of "Sailor" comes from a style of girls' school uniform popular in Japan, the sērā fuku (sailor outfit), after which the Senshi's uniforms are modeled. The elements of fantasy in the series are heavily symbolic and often based on mythology 1996.
The Sailor Moon manga was preceded by Codename: Sailor V, which centered around just one Sailor Senshi. Takeuchi devised the idea when she wanted to create a cute series about girls in outer space, and her editor asked her to put them in sailor fuku. When Sailor V was proposed for adaptation into an anime, the concept was modified so that Sailor V herself became only one member of a team. The resulting manga series was a fusion of the popular magical girl and sentai genres of which Takeuchi was a fan, making Sailor Moon one of the first series ever to combine the two.
The manga resulted in spinoffs into other types of media, including a highly popular anime, as well as musical theatre productions, video games, and a live-action series. Although most concepts in the many versions overlap, there are often notable differences, and thus continuity between the different formats is limited.
The English adaptation of the Sailor Moon anime was produced in an attempt to capitalize on the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. After a bidding war between Toon Makers, who wanted to produce a half live-action and half American-style cartoon version, and DiC Entertainment, DiC—then owned by The Walt Disney Company—acquired the rights to the first two seasons of Sailor Moon. The English adaptation was subsequently handled by Optimum Productions of Toronto, Canada. DiC subsequently lost the license and the rights the Cloverway, the North American branch of TOEI Animation. Cloverway acquired the rights to distribute Sailor Moon, and Optimum Productions adapted the next two seasons.
As of May 2004, the Sailor Moon anime has officially gone off the air in all English-speaking countries due to lapsed licenses which have not been renewed. However, in 2014, Viz Media acquired the license to the series and commenced re-releasing the anime on bilingual DVDs with a brand-new, and uncut, English dub. Both subtitled and dubbed episodes are available for streaming on Viz's website.
The manga was translated into English in 1997 by manga publisher Mixx (now renamed Tokyopop). The manga was initially syndicated in MixxZine but was later pulled out of that magazine and moved into a secondary magazine called "SMILE." The US comic was released as three series: Sailor Moon, which collects the first three arcs (the Dark Kingdom, Black Moon, and Infinity arcs), Sailor Moon Super S, which collects the Supers arc, and Sailor Moon Stars, which collects the Sailor Stars arc. They feature all of the content from the original manga collections (though the names of characters introduced in the first two story arcs were changed to those used in the English anime), as well as the occasional new sketch and "thank you" commentary from the series' creator.
As of May 2005, Tokyopop's license to the Sailor Moon manga has lapsed, and the English-language manga is out of print. However, Kodansha USA announced they acquired the rights to translate and publish the manga and on September 13, 2011, new volumes of the updated version of the Sailor Moon manga -- now known as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon -- and Codename: Sailor V manga were released in North America, along with a new English tranlation.