Sailor Moon (lost Toon Makers' live-action/animated series pilot; 1993)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

1394306547514.jpg

A recovered cel depicting animated Sailor Moon.

Status: Partially Found

In 1993, the animation studio Toon Makers intended to produce an "Americanized" version of the popular Japanese anime series Sailor Moon. A 17-minute-long pilot episode, combining animation with a live-action film of the Sailor Scout characters as American teenagers, was completed, along with an additional 3 episodes that was in development. The main animation plot of the pilot involved Queen Beryl attacking the Jupiter and the girls had to return to space to fight back. Toon Makers had hoped to entice Bandai and Saban into producing a full series to air on FOX Saturday mornings starting in 1994. However, for unknown reasons the project was rejected in favor for a dubbed version of the original Japanese anime.

Promotional Video

A two-minute promotional "music video" was made, showcasing the live cast, the animated characters, and the theme music, but ultimately the deal fell through and FOX instead aired dubbed versions of the original Japanese episodes. It has since been uploaded online.

Because of the campy live-action elements, the show has been given the derogatory nickname "Saban Moon", due to the fact that it heavily resembled shows affiliated with Haim Saban (such as a noted resemblance to She-Ra: Princess of Power) that would have been made during the early years of Power Rangers.

While the music video has been seen at conventions, the full 17-minute version of the pilot has never been publicly released. The two-minute theme music video was occasionally shown for promotional purposes after the Toon Makers series was cancelled. A notable presentation was made at Anime Expo 1998 by Allen Hastings (whose company, NewTek, made the graphics software in which Toon Makers had rendered some of the animation).

Interestingly, the music video ends with a Sailor Moon logo that would later be reused for the American dubs of the series, as well as all of its merchandise. The Toon Makers video was its first appearance, and the logo remains its only animated legacy.

Recovered Material

In late 2012, the contents of a California storage locker rented by Raymond Lacovacci of Toon Makers were sold after he was arrested on physical battery charges. Among the contents of the locker were concept art, original animation cels, and other artwork related to the American Sailor Moon project. Also, a script (ostensibly the one used for the pilot's voice work) was sold and has since been put online.[1]

Ownership

The Sailor Moon franchise is legally held by many parties. Kodansha oversees the manga, TOEI holds the power to revoke or grant any licenses to the anime and live-action series worldwide, and Bandai holds the rights for merchandising and video games, with series creator Naoko Takeuchi essentially having the final say over any decision that is made by any of these companies.

Toon Makers was temporarily granted the adaptation rights to Sailor Moon in order to pitch their version of it. As with most adaptations, Toon Makers was likely given a list of mandated changes, such as alternate names, terminology, and logo designs for use in the American market, explaining why the Toon Makers pilot shares a logo with DiC's dub.

The status of Toon Maker's existence is unknown at this time. There is no record of them having produced anything for the past few years, and their website has not been updated in a long time. This, combined with the production materials for the Sailor Moon pilot appearing on auction sites, seems to imply that Toon Maker has gone out of business.

Toon Makers' president and founder, Rocky Solotoff, said in a June 2001 interview that the company had returned the production materials to TOEI or Bandai and only had copies of said material for personal reference. It's likely to assume that, if anyone owns the footage, it is in the hands of either an ex-Toon Makers employee, TOEI, or Bandai.

Solotoff later went on to confirm in a December 2016 interview with Bleeding Cool News that Toon Makers did indeed have a vault copy of the entirety of the pilot episode on hand. However, reportedly, it is part of their demo reel and thus can not be shown to anybody other than interested parties.

Solotoff did not make a concrete statement at the time as to whether or not Toon Makers was defunct or still operating, thus it can not be known if the demo reel is even still accessible to any would-be clients.

In addition, Solotoff stated that any rumors of the pilot publicly circulating in any form were false. He went on to say that once the project was done the rights for it reverted back to one of the associate companies, but it is uncertain which one, placing it in copyright limbo.

Solotoff himself believes the rights-owner to be TOEI, but because it can not be deduced who would need to sign off to release it publicly, it is currently exclusive property of Solotoff, or any potential employees of the companies involved who were given reference copies.[2]

There is, however, a Making-Of video that was also produced at the time of the pilot's production, which also likely belongs to a Toon Makers employee.[3]

Gallery

Bootleg recording of the screened music video, including Allen Hastings' introduction
The Video In Better Quality (Thanks to TheSpaghettiGhost).

References

  1. 14 pages from the pilot's script. Retrieved 19 Aug '13.
  2. 2016 Updated Interview with Rocky Solotoff Retrieved 20 December '17.
  3. Interview with Rocky Solotoff Retrieved 5 June '15.