3 Days of Sera Myu – Day 1: Sera Myu Producer’s New Musical Debuts!

After what seems like ages, we’re going to finally keep up with the cast of Sera Myu (and hopefully be a little more consistent about it). This month, we have 6 sightings from actors, and 1 sighting from a producer of the well-loved Sailor Moon Musicals. We’re spreading them out over three articles over three days – enjoy!

Former Sera-Myu Producer Appears at Major Event for Minky Momo Musical!

Time sure passes quickly! It was only last July when we told you that Sera Myu producer Toshiyuki Takezawa was going to produce a special musical to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the first magical girl animes, Magical Princess Minky Momo. Later that summer, these commercials ran to advertise for auditions. Just a few weeks ago, at the Sunshine City Complex in Ikebukuro, Japan, some of the major cast and chorus members came to perform a preview of the musical. Tickets went on sale to the general public on February 12th, and the musical will run for a limited engagement from April 29th to May 5th at Sunshine Theater Ikebukuro. Playing major roles in this play are idol Asami Katsura in the role of Adult Minky Momo, and Sayaka Akimoto in the role of a new villain created just for this musical named Nightmare. Readers may recognize Sayaka from the popular singing group AKB48. Making their musical debut as child Minky Momo are Anna Ichioka and Miku Katsunuma. These two beat out over 700 girls who auditioned! They are both nervous since it is their first musical, but they are looking forward to being on stage! The plot of this musical will feature Minky Momo trying to help adults remember their dreams, but Nightmare will make this task difficult!

Toshiyuki spoke after the performance with the show’s director and screenplay writer and lyricist. He wore a (shall we say interesting) peach jacket and brought out a life-size standup cutout of Asami in a nurse costume from the musical. He told the screenwriter a year and a half ago to start work on this musical, and they continue to work hard to please the fans. They are almost done writing the lyrics! He said that he was happy to be producing a musical performance again at Sunshine Ikebukuro after producing on the Sailor Moon musicals. Nightmare was created as a symbol of people losing their dream, since they needed something obvious to show in these 2 hours! It was Toshiyuki who offered the role to Sayaka, having been very impressed with watching her perform with AKB48 last November. He has also worked with Asami before when he produced a musical based on Boys Be… when she was only 14-15 years old. Now he feels she is perfect for the role as she has matured into a young lady, much like Minky Momo.
Toshiyuki also announced other members of the cast and crew who were not there that day, Chisa Yokoyama will play Minky Momo’s mother, the Queen of Mirror World. Miyako Kiura will be designing the costumes and Tomonori Nakamura is composing the score. He said he wanted to make this show for children, their parents, and all Minky Momo fans.

Then came a question and answer period (which you can read more here). One member of the press asked this question “Minky Momo can turn into an adult doing any job. What did you want to be when you were a child? And for the two young actresses, what do you want to be in the future?” Some of the answers were cute, one was surprising, but Toshiyuki didn’t answer. He did say something special though! When he was asked if there were other events planned for the 30th anniversary, he said that there will be some new manga and a re-broadcast, and he is looking forward to a third season of the anime. He also said that the Sakura Wars musicals and the Sailor Moon musicals he produced ran for 13 years each, and he hopes to run Minky Momo for 14. He might be very old by then, but he would like to try for it!

Gigazine posted some videos of the event:

1st Theme song performance
2nd Theme song performance
Photo Shoot

Next up? You won’t believe who’s appearing in dramas on Japanese Television as we speak!

BREAKING NEWS: Mexico and Latin America are NOT Getting a DVD Release

Yesterday one of our twitter followers Ultimo_Spalpeen tweeted this to us, and we were a little hesitant to post it to the site until we actually knew it was true. Roughly, this is what the Sailor Moon section of this article translates to:

Sailor Moon:

One of the most anticipated series in recent years, returns to Mexico and Latin America after many years, by DVD-release, or in this case, the DVD could not be censored but still contain the original dubbed track from Intertrack Mexico. In 2010, this is confirmed with a total DVD release.

We noticed that Capital 8 does have an image of Sailor Moon on their website, however it was missing the various copyrights or trademarks on it (on any of the Italian websites, there is always some mention of any combination of Toei, Naoko Takeuchi, and PNP). It is very difficult to find any official image like this on an official site without any sort of trademark/copyright information. And, there was no release anywhere on their site announcing that they had the rights to Sailor Moon. Moments ago, we just got the e-mail we were waiting for from our contact at Toei, and simply got the response back:

This is false information.

At this time, we wish to thank this representative for getting back to us so quickly today.

We understand that you are probably heartbroken with this bombshell, but please, do not give up hope Moonies in Mexico and Latin America! Perhaps Toei is waiting to see what kind of response the show will get in Europe before bringing it across the ocean.

EDIT: Toei has given another site some different information. The Latin America Sales Manager of Toei Animation Inc. Eduardo Lucio (who we can only guess works just feet away from our contact), has told SOS Brazil that Toei is waiting to see how the show does in Italy first, and then they hope to bring it back to Brazil in 2011. This is something that we had thought all along, and at least we know now that we are on the right track (although we thought we might have heard something by the Fall of 2010 considering how things have been progressing in Europe).

BREAKING NEWS: Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards Announced

Two big pieces of Flashpoint news were announced today! The first was a long-awaited announcement of the US DVDs for Season 2, and now an award nomination for show creators and writers Stephanie Morgenstern (Sailor Venus #1) and her husband Mark Ellis, along with writer James Hurst were nominated for their screenwriting on the Season 2 Part 2 opener, “One Wrong Move”. We’re calling it that since there was some initial Season 2/3 confusion. To check out the full list of nominations, check out TV_Eh here. Congratulations to Stephanie, Mark, and James, and we wish you all the best of luck when the awards are handed out on April 19th in Toronto!

New Sailor Moon Interviews on ANIMAX!

Dear Moonies: We know you are all anxious! Yes, we read this story tonight about new DVDs in Mexico and Latin America, but we are waiting for official confirmation. There is an image of Sailor Moon on Capital 8’s site (which is a very good sign) but there is no press release listed anywhere, and we just want to be sure. We’re a little surprised that we don’t see the correct copyright credentials on that image, since they are all over the images (or in proximity of them) in Italy. We have contacted relevant official sources for confirmation and we will comment on this as soon as possible!

Now, back to what this post is really about:

Hours ago, reader Jim! sent us these links to some new interviews on YouTube which came from a series of specials on ANIMAX. Creators, is a talk show on ANIMAX that is hosted by Kyan Chiaki (the cosplayer at the Sailor Moon DVD Launch & Reunion Event) and actor Kendo Kobayashi. On the shows which aired on the Saturdays, February 6th and 13th, three very special guests were featured! Directors Junichi Sato and Kunihiko Ikuhara, as well as Sailor Moon herself, Kotono Mitsuishi were interviewed on the talk show. The three of them shared the untold story of how the show was born, and how it changed the industry. Kotono also shared some special memories of her time on the show, and even moves a giant Sailor Moon plush around while performing her infamous monologue right after her transformation! Unfortunately, we are really busy behind the scenes of Moon Chase with our big endeavour coming this Friday, and trying to get this rumor confirmed. We don’t have a lot of time to watch this interview – but know that we are working on getting something related to this interview to you fans through other, more exciting avenues. In the meantime, please watch it here:

First Half, Part 1
First Half, Part 2
First Half, Part 3

Second Half, Part 1
Second Half, Part 2
Second Half, Part 3

Junichi continued (and still is) on the show yesterday and next week, for his work on Keroro Gunso (better known in English as Sgt. Frog).

Toei Update, Early 2010

This post is just to keep fans up to date on Toei‘s milestones. It is too early in the year to know if there’s a window of possibility of Sailor Moon in North America.

From January 25th-27th in Las Vegas, the National Association of Television Program Executives held their annual Market and Conference. Toei didn’t make any announcements with respect to the North American market, but did make a few towards the Latin American market (which is also handled through their Los Angeles office). Dragon Ball is headed to Chile, and will be broadcast on Megavision TV, and Digimon Frontier is headed to Brazil on Rede TV. The DVD rights for Digimon Frontier have been licensed to Brazilian distributor Five Stars. Toei had a booth at the market, but doesn’t appear to have made any major presentations other than these announcements.

Perhaps one of the biggest announcements comes from FUNImation – and this was posted a little over two weeks ago. FUNImation announced that it did in fact get a license from Toei for Dragon Ball Z Kai, a retelling of the DBZ saga. In Japan, the series is known simply as Dragon Ball Kai, featuring remasterd Hi-Def picture, sound, and special effects, along with a brand new voice track recorded by the original cast. Since many of the frames from the original were destroyed after production was completed, the frames were redrawn over still frames from existing footage and filled in with softer colors to reduce the visual damage – and all kinds of tricks were played, some frames were cropped, others became more detailed. But the most important difference is the faster pace of this story, which remains true to the manga and doesn’t drag on like the last series did at points. There will be around 100 episodes once this is complete in Japan. FUNImation announced the cast for the English version, however the comments show that many fans are unhappy with some of the changes (in fact some fans are still angry over the lost of many of the Ocean Group’s dub VAs).

The second big story from Toei is all of the buzz surrounding Halo Legends, which was released last tuesday. Toei was one of a few Japanese studios commissioned to produce one of 7 different shorts based on the popular gaming franchise. Toei’s, was special though. While the other six shorts were considered to be canon with the “Halo-verse”, Toei’s was a complete parody of it! It involves a character named 1337 who falls off a ship and lands on some strange planet. He meets a couple of kids riding a dinosaur, gets into a DBZ-esque fight with a Brute… and it only gets goofier. So far, reception of Halo Legends has been positive. So, if you’re looking to watch Toei take a ridiculous and hilarious take on the “Halo-verse” definitely give this one a rent! Fans can get more information on the release here.

And a bit of news on Sailor Moon’s “rival” in Japan that is currently trying to take the world by storm, Pretty Cure. The 7th series, Heartcatch PreCure debuted last week on Japanese TV, and features two Seiyuu that were from Sailor Moon: Chika Sakamoto (Sailor Star Healer/Yaten Kou) and Taeko Kawata (Momoko Momohara). They play Kaoruko Hanasaki (Tsubomi’s/Cure Blossom’s Grandmother and Confidante) and Shypre respectively. On March 20th in Japan, a new Pretty Cure movie (Precure All Stars DX2: Light of Hope— Protect the Rainbow Angel!) will be released in theaters featuring all PreCure heroes from past and present! YTV has also put Pretty Cure back on the schedule on Saturday Afternoons (this is probably the second or third run of the series). And, while we were researching all of the exciting news coming out of Italy we stumbled upon some dubbed trailers for other seasons of Pretty Cure on Toei Animation Europe’s site here and here. It’s likely that these trailers were probably dubbed in Canada (the voices do sound very similar to the ones used in the dub of the first season). We’re not sure what Toei has in store for Pretty Cure, but we encourage all fans who want to see more seasons of this in English as well as a DVD release, to support the show as best they can in Canada and write a letter to Toei about Pretty Cure.

Last week, the Mobile World Congress was held in Barcelona, Spain. This is a special conference held once each year, where thousands of mobile leaders from around the world “gather, collaborate, conduct business and experience vision in action.” This year’s conference featured keynotes and panel discussions, an exhibition with over 1,300 booths,and an awards ceremony and seminars that highlighted the most innovative mobile solutions. Among these 1,300 exhibitors, tucked away in the very last exhibition hall, was a booth from Toei Animation Co. Ltd. featuring two executives from their Los Angeles Office. Pictured left-to-right: Kenji Ebato (Executive Vice President of Toei Animation Inc. of Los Angeles) and Sae Song (Manager of Digital Media and Mobile Content). Those of you who have written letters to Toei, will have addressed the guy on the left, so now you can see who you are sending them to! What this image (from here) doesn’t show you, is that there was in fact a Sailor Moon poster on display. Yes, this is a pretty drab looking booth compared to photos of some of the others we have seen, but Sae had a lot of interesting things to say to Andrew Lim of Recombu.com. Sae first blames the decline of the anime industry on two things: Japan’s declining population of children, and bittorrent from overseas markets. The fans, according to him, are consuming anime differently, and it is difficult for Toei to keep up. They are facing the same challenges as many other companies are in trying to effectively monetize their content. They can put Fist of the North Star online, but it isn’t easy to make any money off it (we have a few qualms with this statement, but we’ll save this for later). He thinks that anime is at a tipping point now, and all of the studios need to get together and make a common hub for fans to watch anime online. But, this isn’t as easy as it sounds to get everyone on board, so Toei Animation Inc. wants to follow after Toei Animation Co. Ltd. in Japan, and get their content out on mobile phones and tablets. At this conference, they had hoped to speak to application developers and networks to come up with something “amazing”. But, the majority of companies that should be interested in this kind of thing, just aren’t. Toei hasn’t gotten a lot of requests for information from anyone about this. Lim ends by saying that they had a lot of great ideas, but they should have been put in a better part of the exhibition rather than in the very last hall.

As far as older series like Fist of the North Star goes, we think Toei might have been better off selling high quality episodes as digital copies, or releasing DVD boxsets. There are some hardcore anime fans that still enjoy these series, even though these audiences may not be as big compared to other series. Many fans are still a little irked with the new “movies” being produced of these older series (EDIT: Thanks to reader NJ_, it looks like there is at least some hope for Fist of the North Star). And, North America does not compare to the strength of Japan when it comes to mobile devices. There are maybe only a handful of mobile phones across the market which compare to most Japanese mobile phones, which are more powerful and capable of a lot more. For Toei to really be successful they would have to think outside the iPhone and Blackberry box with their fans to deliver mobile content that could work across most mobile phones. To Toei’s credit in Japan, they have many successful ANIMO sites for many different series (including DragonBall, Sailor Moon, Pretty Cure, and Saint Seiya), delivering anime content to mobile devices.

Fans can now see the T-shirts that Toei collaborated alongside Uniqlo with on their site. However, here’s the really strange part. The shirts are available on the English site for the European and American markets, but are nowhere to be found on the Japanese website. This brand is very popular in Japan, and we find it a little strange that this appears to be a deal reached through Toei Animation Europe, and not through Japan where the apparel could have been more successful since the brand is just making itself known in Europe and North America. Nonetheless, we like the t-shirts, and we have them pictured here for you. These shirts are only part of their men’s collection, and sorry, no Sailor Moon. They are affordable, priced at $15.50 USD.

And finally, Toei Animation Inc. has named Firefly Brand Management the North American licensing agent for Digimon. Firefly will have the rights to the merchandise licensing sales for the first five seasons. The article goes on to mention that it “briefly flowered in the U.S. during the early 2000s”. Reading something like this worries us a little, because shouldn’t a show still be flowering for a merchandise strategy to really be effective? Digimon was never as popular as Pokemon in North America, and we haven’t heard too much buzz about that franchise lately. Nonetheless Kanji Kazhaya (President and COO of Toei Animation Europe and possibly Toei Animation Inc. in Los Angeles) had some optimistic remarks, saying “As one of the industry’s most reputable and experienced licensing agents, we look forward to benefitting from the expertise of Firefly’s founder, Cynthia Modders, and her brilliant colleagues.” We hope that Firefly Brand Management redoes their site a little – there isn’t much there in terms of clients they have worked with, so we can’t say for sure what sorts of merchandise will come out of this deal. This sort of affects Sailor Moon because if Firefly does a good job with this series, we may see them handle some merchandise rights for Sailor Moon in the future. Speaking of which, watch this site. More action, coming soon!