This interview took place on August 22nd at Anime Revolution in Vancouver, B.C. Guest writer Jesse Betteridge conducted the interview on behalf of Moon Chase! A Sailor Moon News Blog.
Jesse: Did you expect the amount of support Sailor Moon has received since you’ve announced the relaunch?
Charlene: Well, we knew it was really popular, we knew there would be a lot of support, we knew it would be very well regarded because the fans had been so hungry for it but — I completely underestimated the level that everything has been. We sometimes joke around the office “Char would be the last person to underestimate Moon! She’d be the one to oversell it.” And so far everything we’ve done, we’ve run out, so it’s moving really fast and I’m super thankful for that.
Jesse: If plans are in the works, do you know yet if the Sailor Moon movies be released as singles or in one box set?
Charlene: There’s no release news on the movies yet, we’re working on the TV series first. It ultimately comes down to having the best materials and with the release schedule, the movies are a little bit more flexible. So, we want to make sure we get the TV series off to a good start before we start slotting in those movies, be them separate or together.
Jesse: What was it like trying to cast Sailor Moon while trying to keep the news a secret?
Charlene: Well, our production team and the studio really did a lot of casting Sailor Moon. I listened to all the demos, all the finalists and they were all numbered. So, even though I know a lot of people in VO, when you listen to so many of them – especially when they’re all anonymous – it was very interesting seeing it come together. But I fully support all the choices the production team made and the Japan team made. But it was really, really tough for everyone. Even though I was just doing a lot of cursory listening for it and keeping in mind and mentioning any vocal inflections to watch for – as a fan – everybody who auditioned was just so impressive. Especially for the Guardians, when the girls were picked, it was like – when they were all together – you just knew. And it was an “ah ha! Eureka!” moment when the slides were brought around and you just heard them one after another it was just, “wow, this really sounds right.” It was exciting.
Jesse: Any comments for the fans who might still be iffy on watching the new dub?
Charlene: Well, nostalgia is a very powerful thing. People get voices stuck in their heard from what they know but, I think one of the greatest things is to know that this is a true, uncut to the original Japanese version with the creative team in Japan involved. So, if you’re on the fence, I’d say give it a shot so you can see what that whole team envisioned for it to sound like and know that everybody that’s working on it just knows how important it is and is working their hardest to make it right. In fact, everybody when they’re in the studio and doing their lines – they reference the original Japanese, they reference the original scripts, they listen to it for tone, inflection, meaning and just hitting those right beats. If it’s a comedy beat, they want you to laugh; if it’s a dramatic beat, they want you to feel that. So I’d say – love the dub from the 90’s. It’s nostalgia, it’s powerful. But this is like Sailor Moon completely reborn. It’s a way to rediscover her again for the first time.
Jesse: It’s been mentioned before that you do not currently have access to the DiC dub. Are you able to comment on the status of this?
Charlene: The materials are just not available. There are multiple reasons that the actual materials for those episodes are just not available. We know a lot of people want to speculate about it, but there are multiple reasons. In some cases, the materials themselves are in poor shape or just don’t exist anymore.
Jesse: We know you personally watched Sailor Moon yourself. Can you pick a favourite character?
Charlene: I can pick a favourite from the different types, certainly. My favourite of the Inner Guardians is definitely Sailor Venus. I think she’s a lot like me, personality-wise and that I can be a stoic leader. I’ve seen some stuff in my past, but when I get comfortable I get very dingy and I also love idols, I love singing and dancing around, I love being over the top and of course orange. My favourite Outer Guardian, that’s Sailor Uranus – not because I’m like her, not at all, but I just think she’s the coolest out of all of them. I adore Otokoyaku types and am a big Takarazuka fan. And I love her relationship with Neptune. For the villains, I go back and forth between Galaxia and Queen Nehellenia. I would want to be like Galaxia and be super powerful, but as I’m getting older, I can see myself turning into Nehellenia if I don’t let my glittery Venus side come out more often! (laughs)
Jesse: In the next year, what US and Canadian conventions can fans expect to see you at?
Charlene: Well, for this year I know I’ll be at New York Comic con and possibly a couple other ones, but as for next year we’re still working on plans for that. I definitely, not just for me but for Viz too, try to hit several major places around the US and Canada. I of course would love to go to more, but it just comes down to planning and resources. The VIZ Anime marketing team is just two people right now, so balance is key. I love taking the Sailor Moon party and all the anime party to wherever we can. Spreading the love is very important!
Jesse: Currently online streaming of the Sailor Moon classic series is not available in Canada because Viz streams everything through Hulu. Is there any news on when they are going to be available in Canada?
Charlene: We’re still looking for the right streaming partner for Canada that can serve the Canadian market with the licensors’ needs in mind. So there’s no simple solution. Hulu’s a great partner for us for the US for all those reasons. Keeping really good analytics on the content, keeping the licensors in the loop, and we would love to find something similar for Canada. But, in lieu of that, we have moved up our subtitled EST (Electronic Sell-Through, or Download To Own) that’s available in Canada so you can get the full, first 23, now 46, episodes on iTunes and other outlets up North and the prices are actually discounted for that. So while we’re really working hard to make streaming in Canada possible, it has been a little difficult but it’s something that we keep pursuing. We’re always looking for partners that would be a good fit for streaming and broadcast.
Jesse: On Twitter you guys have teased about trying to get [Sailor Moon classic] on Canadian TV because of course YTV played a very significant role in sort of keeping the ball rolling with the series back in the 90’s. Are there any new updates or is there any news on that right now?
Charlene: There’s no news at this time. Just like with streaming partners, we would wish for the uncut, uncensored dub to find the right television partner – if there is one for it. But, now that we’re doing it uncut, uncensored and true to the Japanese vision, we would be very reluctant to follow any opportunities that would involve any cutting, especially with the genders, relationships, attacks, and story elements.
Jesse: Can you share some details about what’s being included with the upcoming release with the booklet and Blu-ray/DVD combo set?
Charlene: Yes, the upcoming set comes out on November 11th. It will have an 88 page full colour booklet which has all the episode guides, not just for the first 23 but for all 46 episodes. So it’s meant to be a booklet to cover the whole of season one. It will have all the character profiles and turnarounds, so that will be really good for cosplayers because you can see cool, detailed shots of the costumes; profiles; there will also by lyrics of the opening and ending songs in Japanese, Romanji, and in English so people can follow along; and there will be some other cool treats in there as well for Sailor Moon. The box itself is a shimmery, pearlescent, prismatic box that will have space to hold set two that will come out early 2015. Each of the discs will be character themed, and that extends into the motion menus as well, which is something you don’t see very often in anime, especially on a Blu-ray. So, disc one will be Usagi/Sailor Moon themed, disc two will be Ami/Mercury themed, and disc three will be Mars themed. And we’ll be carrying that through for set two and then onward of course, with the different characters mixed in with the guardians as well. It’s a nice, elegant, robust set that’s meant to be the first of the five seasons that I think people will be proud to own.
Another thing that’s for the first time – it will include closed captions for the deaf and hard of hearing. Those will be from the dub track and those will be accessible like standard closed captions through your remote. On your DVD, closed captions come through your analog cable, that will be the same on Blu-ray because Blu-ray handles traditional closed captions on analog and not through HDMI, but there will also be subtitles, signs, and songs subtitles. We wanted to make this classic series very accessible to people, so it’s one of those cool new things that we want to add and it was very commonly requested especially for Sailor Moon.
Jesse: And anything on release schedule?
Charlene: The release date for set two is not finalized right now but we’re expecting it to be early 2015 and the release rollout will be determined. So, once set one and set two come out, R set one will come the same distance away from Sailor Moon set 2. Once we get set two locked down, that will predict the general release schedule for all ten sets.
Jesse: Okay. Would either the Sera Myu musicals or the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series be something Viz might consider for future release?
Charlene: Each part of Sailor Moon is handled like a completely separate property. Even Sailor Moon Crystal is handled differently from Sailor Moon. The rights for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, the tokusatsu series, and Sera Myu which was produced by Bandai (the original Sera Myu) – they’d all be totally different and may or may not even be available. Depending on the success of Sailor Moon the anime, it’s something I’d definitely like to consider. It would be something if the anime is successful to think about and it’s no secret my personal favourite part of Sailor Moon was always the musicals. Those were the things that were most dear to me as a fan. But there’s a lot of difficulties in doing that. A whole lot of difficulties for live-action anything. They likely could not be dubbed.
Jesse: And what do you think is going to be the most challenging aspect of these releases?
Charlene: The most challenging aspect… Well, anime has definitely changed. You don’t see a lot that even exceed 26 episodes anymore. So it’s keeping that interest of a modern audience through all 200 episodes plus the other stuff. The original Sailor Moon is a bit of a slow burn and has a lot of character development. Especially when you contrast it with Crystal that moves a lot faster – it’s keeping that interest up and really focusing on the major story beats for each season. The way that I think the release schedule is going to roll out, we’re going to position them around the times that major story elements show up. So, we had the big Sailor Moon celebrations this summer for the Inner Guardians, if everything works out, we’d like to do the same for the Outer Guardians, Chibimoon, the Sailor Starlights, and everyone else so that we keep that interest going. It ultimately comes down to how much the fans like it and how much the fans want to support it. The best way to tell anime companies and creative teams they’re doing the right thing is to vote with your wallet. You can do that multiple ways, it doesn’t always cost money. Watch the free and legal streams; or if you like download to own / EST – buy those episodes on iTunes, Google play, Xbox, Playstation; or when the episodes come out on DVD/Blu-ray combo! if you like that beautiful collector set support that and more things like it will be created. If you’re just a DVD only buyer, support that as it will be in a lot of stores. We judge the popularity by what the fans want. So keep supporting Sailor Moon in official ways, even if you don’t have any money to spend on Sailor Moon stuff – watch the official streams because those numbers go directly to Japan and they know how popular it is. And when something is popular, we get to do a lot more neat stuff like fan events and create cool packaging.
Jesse: And any last things you would like to say to Moon Chase readers?
Charlene: Thank you guys very much for your support of Sailor Moon and being so patient. And thank you for your support with us as we’re working on the series and know that it is being given all the love and respect that it deserves. Everybody on the Sailor Moon team loves and cherishes the series from the people who work in licensing, the production team, everyone – the artists for the box – they all love Sailor Moon so much. For me, just one part of the process, every day feel like a dream AND a very important mission! Just look forward to more cool announcements in the future that I can’t talk about just yet – but stay tuned! We’re going to keep bringing that magic and hope you love it too.
Jesse: Great. Thanks a lot.