Breaking News: Sailor Moon says “Salem Kazakhstan!”

Hey Moonies! Breaking on Toei Animation Europe’s website on Monday was the news that the complete Sailor Moon series is on its way to Kazakhstan! The Kazakhstani company Kino Company via the Eastern European Country (EEC) Territory Plus Licens will soon approach free television channels in Kazakhstan to propose the entire series. Though this release was short, it left us with some questions, and we will keep you posted if we learn any more. We did a little digging though to find answers around our answers…

1. What channel might they approach with Sailor Moon?

From what we have been able to learn, free Kazakhstani TV consists of channels owned by the Khabar Agency. These channels have some kind of ruling influence from President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. We poked around at the program listings and it seems that all animation on this channel is Kazakhstani (or based on their culture). There is no sign of any other cartoons from anywhere else on these channels. These channels are largely devoted to news, sports, and Kazakhstani drama, lifestyle and reality shows. Something tells us these might not be good candidates for the show. We did find another channel digital service provider, and this is Alma TV. Alma TV carries Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nickelodeon, and others on their “Kids” channel. We could only spot one anime on the schedule, and that is Bakugan. We wonder if this channel will be the one that is approached with the series. At this time we are unable to confirm if this channel is free or part of a paid specialty service. We would love to hear from our Kazakhstani readers or anyone else who knows anything about TV there.

2. Will this be a new dub?

We do not know for sure, but all signs are pointing towards “possibly”. Some shows in this country air in Russian, so there may be a chance that the existing Russian dub will air. Russian is the second most common language spoken in Kazakhstan, so this does not present a problem to the majority of the population. However, we also read that there is now some anime being dubbed into Kazakh, so just like Israel saw Sailor Moon for the first time in Hebrew recently, it could well be possible that a Kazakh dub could happen. Kino Company, is Kazakhstan’s largest film production company. Though they have only produced a handful of films since 1989, many have been critically acclaimed. In 1994, Kino Company produced their first (and only) full-length animation film called “Dragon’s Island” which was based on classical Japanese literature. The movie won an award at the Ankara International Film Festival in 1994! If this company is successful in their pitch and dubs the series, we think that it is in good hands. That being said…

3. Will there be censorship?

Maybe. While there isn’t a whole lot of information about what exactly the Kazakh film censors actually censor, we do know that there does exist some censorship in the country. The government frequently censors news stories. Fans may remember the controversy surrounding the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan from a few years ago. The controversies in the movie caused the government to issue many statements about the inaccuracies portrayed in the film. While the movie was not banned, the government did make a request to 20th Century Fox’s central European distributor Gemini Films, not to distribute the film there. They complied. Many have in turn sought their own copies from other European countries. When looking at the cartoon landscape, it seems mostly male oriented. The only cartoon for girls on Cartoon Network’s schedule is The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. On Nickelodeon, the following shows air: iCarly, Victorious, Dora the Explorer, and Ni Hao Kai-Lan. Now Sailor Moon is a pretty harmless cartoon, all things considered. But the government attitudes surrounding issues of nudity, gender identities, and other perceived controversial issues in the series remains up to debate. We also dug up an old interview from 2008 with Kazakhstan’s Director of the National Art Academy Arystanbek Muhamediuly, where he condemns cartoons like Sailor Moon and Spongebob Squarepants (as well as others by name) and demands there be more cartoons for children based on Kazakhstan’s rich cultural history. It’s a bit of a shaky situation. We invite any fans who know of how productions are censored in Kazakhstan to contact us with what they know!

At the very least, we do know that those in Kazakhstan who have wanted to watch Sailor Moon probably have. We found several Kazakhstani fan-run anime sites that featured episodes and movies streaming for free of the Russian dub, or Japanese version with Russian subtitles. If it comes to their country, it gives them the chance to watch and possibly purchase a legitimate release.

We congratulate Toei Animation Europe, Kino Company, and Plus Licens on this new venture into Kazakhstan with Sailor Moon, and wish them the best of luck on continuing to spread Sailor Moon’s message around the world!