For years, the collective internet has been fascinated by the mystery of an Americanized Sailor Moon pilot, which was created in the early ‘90s as an attempt to market existing toys based on the Sailor Moon anime to Western kids without having to make anyone actually watch anime. Bits and pieces of the American Sailor Moon—called Saban Moon in the fan community due to the involvement of Power Rangers producer Haim Saban—have leaked online over the years, including a second-hand video of what would apparently have been its awful theme song (in terms of themes that explain the premise of the show, it makes The Transformers look like… Twin Peaks?).
A few years ago, Cecilia D’Anastasio at Kotaku put together a fascinating investigation into what Saban Moon was and how it (almost) came to be, detailing the hybrid live-action/animated series about a teen girl who hangs out with her friends as a real person but then transforms into the superhero Sailor Moon to go on animated adventures. It looked, in a word, awful. But Kotaku’s investigation uncovered an interesting thing: A second project called Team Angel was put together by some of the Saban Moon people to try and salvage the concept, and certain portions of that were able to be uncovered, but any actual evidence of the Saban Moon pilot—which, according to some accounts, did exist somewhere—was apparently gone.
But now, as reported by The Verge, a YouTuber called Ray Mona who specializes in uncovering seemingly lost media has found the full, never-before-seen pilot episode of the American Sailor Moon. Ray Mona covers the entire saga in two YouTube documentary videos, exploring as many details as possible about the failed pilot, who made it, and what happened to it, with the second part culminating in Ray Mona getting approval to request copies of Saban Moon-related materials from The Library Of Congress—including the actual pilot.
It’s a very interesting look into animation history, especially in terms of anime’s eventual breakthrough into Western television (and the decision to ultimately just bring the anime to America).