What Happened to the Sailor V Anime?

We were so close to an animated Sailor V, and yet so far...

We were so close to an animated Sailor V, and yet so far…

Rumors of the purported Codename: Sailor V anime have been with the fandom practically since the day Sailor Moon first hit the airwaves. And who could blame fans for the confusion? After all, even the Sailor Moon manga was confused about what its own title was in the lead up to the series debut.

Considering what a massive success the Sailor Moon franchise was proving to be — not only on TV, but in movie theaters, on stage, and in the manga as well — it seems like a spin-off series should have been a sure thing.

So what happened?

Today we’re going to take a look at what information we do know about the Codename: Sailor V anime, see how far it made it into production, and come up with a few theories of our own as to why it never saw the light of day. Put on your hard hats, ’cause we’re digging deep!

Clockwise from top:Minako Aino, Miyabi Yoronu, Hikaru Sorano, Mamoru Chino

Clockwise from top:
Minako Aino, Miyabi Yoronu, Hikaru Sorano, Mamoru Chino

What’s most interesting — and perhaps the greatest travesty — for me with regard to Sailor V seeing an animated release is that the series entered anime pre-production not once, but twice before being cancelled each time around.

Now that’s just downright cruel.

As I’m sure many of you already know, Sailor Moon was pretty rushed in terms of development, with less than half a year between the initial release of the one-shot Codename: Sailor V manga and Sailor Moon‘s Nakayoshi debut. The anime wasn’t much better off when you consider that they were still holding auditions in late December 1991 for a weekly anime coming out in the following March.

While Sailor Moon‘s long-time editor, Fumio ‘Osabu’ Osano, has given conflicting stories about how early the concept of a Sailor V anime was ditched in favor of fleshing out a full Sailor Team, we do know that an initial script,1 pitch document, and even early production art for the series were created.2 We do know, however, that the idea was shelved relatively quickly as, according to Series Director Junichi Sato,3 they barely managed to get Sailor Moon out of the door, so having made any real progress on a Sailor V anime is out of the question.

According to the planning document itself, we can even see that it was initially Codename: Sailor V — and not a new spinoff series — that got greenlit for serialization in Nakayoshi and the person in charge of writing the proposal was quite enthusiastic about seeing this become an anime series.4

Sailor V’s on a Roll!

Codename: Sailor V, initially carried in July 1991 in RunRun, an offshoot of Kodansha’s Nakayoshi, was met with such a huge response from readers and it’s been decided that the series will be serialized in Nakayoshi! This proves that modern girls are looking for a shojo comic that breaks away from the mold!

Goldfish Warning! has drawn attention for expertly bringing the adventures of the super carefree Wapiko and super self-centered Chitose into the animated realm while maintaining the feel of the manga. We want to rush to ride the new wave of comic-based anime and bring to life this super energetic, super cool girl who leaves both Wapiko and Chitose in the dust!

The plan we’re introducing is for Codename: Sailor V!

In case you didn’t notice, the 90s were pretty big on the word super.

Despite all the over-the-top excitement our anonymous author poured into the pitch document submitted internally within Toei, it was all for naught and the idea was scrapped in favor of refining the concept into what would become Sailor Moon.

… but that isn’t the end of Sailor V‘s foray into the animated world, dear reader.

In 1995, a four-episode Codename: Sailor V OVA5 series was publicly announced, with the series supposedly to be as follows:6

  • The story supposedly would be relatively faithful to the Codename: Sailor V manga
  • The first episode would showcase Minako’s meeting with Artemis (her servant at the Magellan palace) and tell the story up until she becomes Sailor V
  • Episode 2 would feature the appearance of the Dark Agency
  • Information on pricing and episode release dates were predicted to be forthcoming following the Sailor Moon SuperS movie debut

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find much more information about this Sailor V OVA beyond this one magazine “scoop,” which means that the project was likely quietly cancelled before it got far into development.

I'm here to answer questions and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of bubblegum!

I’m here to answer questions and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of bubblegum!

Is Sailor V a cursed project destined to die on the vine? Or does it perhaps have another lease on life once the Sailor Moon Cosmos movie comes out? I can’t really say for sure, but I personally have mixed feelings on the idea of Sailor V making the leap from manga to video. While I’d love to see more of Minako’s misadventures just as much as the next Sailor Moon addict, there’s something about the Minako & Artemis narrative style (i.e., only the two of them interacting with each other and the story) that doesn’t exactly seem to lend itself well to a 30 minute animated format.

But that’s just my opinion on the subject. What do you think? Do you think Sailor V has the potential to be a compelling anime? Or, if any changes are needed, how do you think the story could be adapted while remaining true to the manga? I’d love to hear what you think!

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  1. See p. 90 of Nakayoshi Anime Album Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon Classic Volume 2
  2. See Some images appear to be from a Sailor V anime that was almost made before Sailor Moon
  3.  See p. xx of Prism Power
  4.  See the opening page to the planning document
  5. OAV? OVA? I swear, no matter how many times I double check this, it seems like there’s no consistent answer in Japan or the west.
  6. See p. 57 of the October 1995 issue of Anime V

8 thoughts on “What Happened to the Sailor V Anime?

  1. I would think a direct translation from manga to anime would be a rather short project, so even with the “only Minako & Artemis” stuff it might be breezy enough to not get too dull. But then I haven’t read much of the original manga, lol.

  2. I have some creative work on the Sailor V series.

    But you have to abandon the manga as canon.
    And I’m going to have to get off my computer and get serious about storyboarding.

    It will be necessary to add friends for Minako in this series.
    But she needs such friends so that their presence does not contradict the events of the Sailor Moon series of the 90s.
    And so that against their background, Minako looked like an adult girl.

    What do you think, Tuxedo, who should be added to make it funny?

    That’s right, her!

    And to make it even more fun…
    “Russians always need to make it even more fun!”
    I quote him:

    Tweet #1

    Tweet #2
    Answer #1
    Answer #2

    Tweet #3

    Yes. Tuxedo, you are absolutely right.

    These two should be added to the Sailor V series.
    And then the joy of the fans simply will not be the limit.

  3. I do think it would need some big changes to work as an anime. They could either chop it down to OVA size leaving out most of the fluff (which is 90% of this series) or expand on it like they probably would have done back in the first attempt by adding a friend group of sorts for Minako.

    I’d love to see it, but I’d prefer an expansion to the Sailor Moon (sixth season/arc) if anything new does get announced. I’d even say Sailor V would work better in bite size installments, like Hetalia used to do.

    • They could do Sailor V as like a mini series or a set of movies or something. Movies at least would have slightly higher chance of animation because it’s Toei who’d do it if done but ehh, if it were to happen there are a few options at least.

  4. A short OAV based on the original concept, complete with early 90s animation style and sound direction, would be amazing. Unfortunately, I doubt Toei and Naoko Takeuchi have any interest in revisiting the early concepts. The licensing is probably a huge mess as well

  5. I’d love to see a short film of sorts that gets shown in front of the Sailor Moon Cosmos movie, similar to how the first Pokémon movie had a short film shown in front that expanded on Mewtwo’s backstory.

  6. I tend to agree that it would be difficult turning the type of comedic effect that is often in Sailor V straight into anime. They tried to do this in Crystal a bit, and it always felt forced. There’s just something about the still frames that allows jumps between serious and comedic moods to make sense where it doesn’t in anime. So I feel like it would either have to be an OVA with straight comedic antics and no Ace reveal at all or they would have to seriously tone down the comedy to let the serious parts of the story show in earnest. At this point, with Crystal having given Minako back her personality a bit, I could see them maybe entertaining the later choice. But I agree it’s probably something they simply won’t bother with. They found the magic 5-girl formula with Usagi as the star and even then, as per several of your articles discussing the financial/ratings success of the show, it’s not that big when you look at the playing field it’s in. So to spend time on an OVA about only one of the girls who isn’t even the most popular would be pretty absurd. Ami (who was the most popular of the team for a long time iirc) had a little short devoted to her along with one of the movies. I would never expect to see more than that level of effort given to Minako, no matter what the history of the series development entailed (and no matter how many fan tears I cry about it – which is a lot lol).

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