Pretty Cure, which is currently the biggest shoujo anime series in Japan, has finally landed a broadcast spot in the UK. Starting next Monday, the Sky Digital Satellite channels Pop Girl and Pop Girl + 1 will begin airing dubbed episodes of the popular anime series. The UK now joins Australia and New Zealand as places that will now broadcast Pretty Cure on television. Given that Pretty Cure is currently expanding its English fan base (Canadian fans have also been lucky recipients of the show), fans in the United States will have to keep their fingers crossed that Cartoon Network will finally pick up the show.
Great news Pretty Cure fans! Toei Animation Inc. has signed a deal with Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Inc. to bring the English dub of the first season of the show (49 episodes) to Cartoon Network in Australia and New Zealand! We’re excited that our fans down under can finally watch the dub of this show which was very well done (and we hope that you will see it too). This show was dubbed in Canada and was a joint effort between Toei Animation and Ocean Production. The show features a bunch of voices that you have probably never heard before and we think you’ll agree that the cast choices were just right for this show! There was also not a lot that was cut out of this series’ dub as far as content goes. Our readers who support Sailor Moon should also support this dub as much as they can. Showing the networks as well as the companies involved that this show is popular will go miles in convincing anyone to pick up a female superhero show. Congratulations for Toei Animation Inc. on finally having the chance to share Pretty Cure in English in a new territory (see fans, we told you a while ago that not all hope was lost for this series).
And remember, if fans want to see Pretty Cure on TV in the US, you can find contact information for Toei Animation in our forums (you have to be registered)! Send in those letters and convince them to bring us Pretty Cure (and Sailor Moon, of course! :P).
We’re retiring the old News from the Other Side of the Pond titles and are instead bringing in a new Sailor Moon in Japan Digest title. Mainly because, now Sailor Moon mentions in Japanese media are coming in packs (when they do).
An Article Comparing the Success of Pretty Cure to Sailor Moon in Japan (Again)
Once again, the Mainichi Shimbun has posted an article about Pretty Cure’s 7th year, and this time questions the roots of the series. Sailor Moon is mentioned as the first anime that started the trend of girl superheroes, but the article does not go without making a few controversial remarks about Sailor Moon. Fans can read an English version of the article here. Among the things that really struck a chord with us:
☽ Takashi Washio, a producer with Toei Animation comments: “We wanted to portray girls who don’t depend on other people, but always try to help others, the main characters are working hard towards their dreams, and we wanted audiences to see that as a cool thing.” Fine. Sailor Moon may have been dependent on Tuxedo Kamen to provide that crucial blow to weaken the enemy so she could use her “ultimate weapon”, but aside from that situation, every other character ALWAYS tried to help others. There were so many moments in the series where each of the Senshi were caught in a tough situation on their own. They handled it as best they could, until Sailor Moon could come and save the day. And don’t act like the girls of Pretty Cure aren’t dependent on each other either – they all have to unite for their “ultimate weapon” too.
☽ Akinori Takada, a media theory at Ferris University comments: “‘Sailor Moon‘ tried to work its charms on men, but ‘Pretty Cure‘ is different. I think that audiences have responded to the representation of independent girls fighting and solving problems.” Sailor Moon didn’t primarily try to work its charms on men. While the show did implore a few things to get guys to watch it, it was still at the end of the day an anime that was made for girls, and made to appeal to girls. And, audiences responded to much of the same things back in Sailor Moon’s day too, this doesn’t make Pretty Cure all that different at all.
☽ And finally, a comment from Ryota Fujitsu, 41, an anime critic: “Pretty Cure” focuses on the importance of friendship, and what sets it apart from “Sailor Moon” is the lack of romantic side plots. “The protagonists are cute, but they don’t flaunt their sex appeal, because the anime portrays girls who are vibrant and enjoying life, audiences are able to watch comfortably.” Uhh, there have been some romantic side plots involved with Pretty Cure, since many of the girls had crushes on guys (and vice versa). Nagisa had a crush on Fuji-pi, in the first season, Kento-kun had a crush on Inori last season, and those are just two examples. Sailor Moon focused on the importance of friendship just as much (if not more) than Pretty Cure did. Of course, we also think the protagonists of Pretty Cure have their own sex appeal, but we think we’ve written enough for this post.
Pretty Cure has a lot more in common with Sailor Moon than the people in this article think it does. While we think Pretty Cure has it’s own charm, just because it has had more movies and a much longer run than Sailor Moon, doesn’t bring it close to the legacy Sailor Moon continues to have in the hearts of anime fans all over the world.
Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential Hits Shelves in Japan, On Way Here Soon!
Gigazine posted a review of Brian Ashcraft (Senior Contributing Editor of Kotaku.com) and his wife Shoko Ueda’s book, Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool. There is also a translation posted on their English site here. In there is a chapter dealing with sailor-style uniforms for any otaku wishing to learn more about how they came to be popular, as well as a section on comic icons which largely seems to focus on Sailor Moon! This book looks like it would be a great read, and we look forward to bringing you a few exclusives ahead of the book’s North American release in August. Brian also told us that he interviewed someone very close to Naoko Takeuchi for this book and we can’t wait to read what they had to say! However, those of you that can’t wait to purchase the book in stores in North America, you can import this book from Japan – it’s published in English there!
People Surprised by Character Ages!
Japan’s biggest social bookmarking site Hatena ran a special feature last week about the ages of different popular characters in anime, manga, and video games. While some people expected that Sailor Moon was around 14 years old, many were surprised by the age of some other favorites! Nintendo’s Mario is around 25, Hiroshi Nohara is thought to be around 35, and Bakabon’s father from the old favorite Tensai Bakabon is around 41. Some ages of these characters were unexpected by Hatena users, but nonetheless a lot of people were interested to find out what the ages of their favorite characters might be.
And to Cap…
Later this week we will talk more about Kunihiko Ikuhara’s recent trip to China, but for now here are a few images from the People’s Daily of Ikuni in action! We think he needs at the very least, a top hat, a mask, and a cape in that last picture to go with that big bouquet of roses… just sayin’ ;)!
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!
Hi Moonies! So, I am currently looking over the reports I sent to FUNImation and Toei, and I want to include a section of short comments from the fans in the report that is going to Kodansha (there will be a writing campaign to Kodansha soon). However, there are not very many , and I would like to send a few pages more in the report. We need your help! Please send us your comments (no more than two paragraphs, please!) either via comments on this post, to our email (moonchasers@NOSPAMPLEASEKTHXWITHAMARASCHINOCHERRYONTOPgmail.com), or in our forums. It can be anything from short sentences saying that you want the manga, to what you want to see included with the manga. For example, some manga nowadays come with small paper goods as extras such as stickers, tags, and postcards, and if you would like to see these, please include them in your comments. We will NOT be sending Kodansha the results of the question we asked about merchandise since Kodansha deals exclusively with books. The PGSM manga came with stickers in every first-press issue, and if you liked those, please say so! The old Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon manga had anecdotes from Naoko that were not included in the PGSM manga. Would you fans like to see this part of the old work included in an English release? Which covers did you like better, the Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon covers or the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon covers? Those are all the ideas that we can think of for now, but you are not limited to discuss only what we have suggested here! Also, if you have read any of Kodansha America’s recent releases from Random House (Ghost in the Shell or Akira) or any of their past releases through Del Rey, and you have any thoughts about those, you could write about those too! Please, do not make comments about the anime. Kodansha has no rights or facilities to release anime in Japan or North America. The deadline to get your comments in about the manga will be January 23rd at Midnight PST, and I have set a target for the end of the month to send out this report. Hopefully by then the comments will be the only thing I have to put together so it shouldn’t take me too long after.
Thanks to all our readers for your continued support of the campaign! As far as the campaign for the anime goes, we’re going to wait and see how negotiations between FUNImation and Toei pan out before we plan and launch a Japanese writing campaign. At this point in time, if the fans can continue to participate in our English letter writing campaign (especially to Toei’s LA office), it is probably enough for now. FUNImation is well aware of the fans’ demand of the series, but Toei probably needs to really be convinced not to let this series sit on the backburner behind others.
On a side note, with regards to Pretty Cure, we suggest both American and Canadian fans to write to Toei as well. Americans, if you have not seen the dub of this show and you are a fan of it, please tell Toei how much you want to see this on TV. This is one of the best dubs that we have seen and barely anything was cut out! Canadians, if you enjoyed the show, tell Toei you want it back (and YTV too). Also, fans in both countries that are interested in a DVD release should also voice their opinions to Toei. On our forums, we have slightly altered our contact information in light of new information. So for the relevant addresses, please visit the thread here and send your letters! In my last conversation with a representative at Toei, I was told that not all hope was lost for this series, but the situation still seems pretty rocky given other hints. This is why we are asking all of you to write to them about Pretty Cure if you want it!