Over a quarter of a century has passed since Sailor Moon first hit the airwaves, and yet the series manages to continue to excite new and old fans alike with a constant stream of new products, musicals, cafes, and even the occasional anime season. It’s easy to forget, though, that the series had actually been relatively dormant in Japan for much of this time.
While hindsight may be 20/20, and we may now know that there was no true “successor” to Sailor Moon in the most direct sense of the word — at least not until the Pretty Cure franchise came around — I think it’s interesting to take a look back in time and see what series fans back in the 90s thought would be the next big anime in the shojo-sphere.
Join me for a trip down memory lane as we take a look at some of the interesting predictions reporters on Japanese anime were making back in the mid-90s. I hope you’re ready for some serious nostalgia!
Considering what we know now, it might surprise you to learn that the anime literati1 of the mid-90s were already predicting the downfall of Sailor Moon and calling for its successor all the way back in 1994, with the launch of Sailor Moon S.
Seeing as this would go on to become one of the series’ most beloved seasons, it’s actually kind of funny when you think about it.
Alas, after two strong seasons and one underway, it’s not too hard to understand where the reviewers of the day were coming from in thinking that there’s no way the series could go on forever. After all, every mighty giant must fall, right? It just happens to be that it’d take another 2 years and an absurdly large forehead for Sailor Moon to meet its end.
Today we’re going to take a look at a feature in the June 1994 issue of the Japanese magazine Animage,2 titled 「ポスト『セーラームーン』を探せ！」. For those of you that prefer English, the title would be something like “On the Lookout for the Next Sailor Moon!” or “Looking for the Next Series in a Post Sailor Moon World!” depending on how you want to interpret notoriously vague Japanese headlines.
The premise of the article is that Sailor Moon had launched something of a shojo renaissance in the Japanese anime industry and the series was now facing a wealth of competitors — one of which, they suggested, was likely to usurp Sailor Moon‘s throne as the queen of shojo.
The article goes on to theorize that, if a shojo anime hopes to win the hearts and minds of a mostly female audience,3 it should meet five criteria:
- Metamorphosis: The series should involve some form of transformation
- Gag: It should have some light-hearted comedy as well
- Love: Shojo anime needs a love story
- Super: The characters in the series should power up
- Battle: The girls should be depicted as brave in the face of battle
After looking at this list, the very first series to come to mind for me as a front-runner for toppling Sailor Moon would have been Magic Knight Rayearth. Except that the anime wasn’t released until 4 months later, in October 1994.4 Oh well.
Since I’m striking out here, I guess we should probably see what series the magazine editors thought stood a chance against Sailor Moon.
Running for a total of 74 episodes from January 1994 to June 1995,5 Akazukin Chacha was Animage’s top choice for up-and-coming shojo anime, meeting a whopping three of the criteria set forth.
Not only did the series involve a pretty glamorous transformation sequence, but it was also known for often breaking up the story with comedic moments. Check and check. There was also a constant back and forth between Riiya and Shiine as they fought for Chacha’s affection, so we can also give it a point for having a love story, even if that wasn’t a focus of the series.
Another newcomer to the 1994 anime season, Marmalade Boy ran for 76 episodes from March 1994 to September 1995.6 Though the series lacked any transformation sequences, battles, and wasn’t exactly known for its comedy, the magazine editors felt it definitely more than made up for that with its heavy emphasis on love and romance.
Series Director Akinori Yabe commented about the series:
Or for you English speakers (loosely translated):
“In order to have our viewers really feel that sense of heart-thumping-in-your-chest-excitement, we have to keep all lies out of the series. To make that happen, we’ve based it off of live-action dramas and really put ourselves into making a production that’s built up on individual, small performances. This type of world is different from those in Chacha and Sailor Moon, and I intend to go on with making a realistic story.”
I’ll Make a Habit of It
Running for a paltry 39 episodes between April 1994 to January 1995, I’ll Make a Habit of It (超くせになりそう; Chou Kuse ni Narisou)7 is an anime series starring the idol singer/judo champ Nagisa Shiratori. It is also a series that yours truly feels comfortable saying nearly no one remembers. But that’s neither here nor there.
In the interest of fairness, the series excels in expressing the concept of a “battle” in more than one way, showing our heroine cutting off her pigtails and dressing up as a boy to duke it out against a bunch of tough guys, and then later on dressing up in fashionable idol garb and taking that same fighting spirit to the stage.
Metal Fighter Miku
The last of our proposed Sailor Moon destroyers, Metal Fighter Miku was a thirteen episode series produced from July to September 1994.8 The plot of the show follows “The Pretty Four,” a group of robot-suit-wearing female wrestlers in the far-flung future of 2061. And they double as pop stars too, because why not?
In its defense, the series was meant to be a short-lived comedy/action anime from the start, so taken in that context, I really don’t think it’s all that bad. It was also the only series without a manga or built-in fanbase to back it up, so I think we should give it some credit for standing up against these other animated behemoths.
Of course what we know now — and that they didn’t at the time — is that Sailor Moon was still at the peak of its performance, and none of these series really stood a chance in knocking it off its pedestal. While I think they all hold up fairly well in their own individual ways, as the Animage article itself alludes to later one, nearly each of these anime fall short in bringing together a complete package like Sailor Moon does.
Since we’re already on the subject, what anime was your “next Sailor Moon“? Back in the late 90s, when I was first getting into anime, I remember Fushigi Yuugi being the “next big thing” for many anime fans at the time. Personally, I’d probably say that Card Captor Sakura was the first anime to lure me away from the the soldiers of love and justice, though ultimately that proved to be short-lived.
- The animiterati? Anirati? ↩
- See Animage (Wikipedia) ↩
- Don’t worry about telling me, I already know how absurdly sexist this sounds. It’s 1994 Japan, soooo…. ↩
- See Magic Knight Rayearth (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Akazukin Chacha (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Marmalade Boy (Wikipedia) ↩
- See I’ll Make a Habit of It (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Metal Fighter Miku (Wikipedia) ↩
32 thoughts on “What Shojo Anime Was Predicted to Be the Next Sailor Moon?”
I´m sorry but,
There will never be an ¨Next¨ sailor moon
Gotta agree with you. There may be similar series, but there’s only one Sailor Moon!
It’s funny that Marmalade Boy was supposed to be the next ‘Sailor Moon’ (which I think ended up being PreCure) since in my country, Italy’s dub, Usagi and Miki (the lead female in Marmalade Boy) shared a dubber, Elisabetta Spinelli.
Oh, wow, that’s an interesting connection! How was it hearing Usagi talking to another boyfriend like that??
Oh, it was fun, especially since Miki looks a lot like Makochan, Arimi was voiced by Rei’s first dubber too. Spinelli also voiced the lead in Hime No Ribbon’s italian dub and Lucia in the Mermaid Melody dub. But most of the dubbers for the ’90s Sailor Moon in Italy were pretty popular VAs for other animes/cartoons, both of the time and now.
And for a fun turnaround, Spinelli voiced the shy, Ami-like Lettuce in the italian Tokyo Mew Mew dub while the Usagi-esque lead Ichigo was dubbed by Debora Magnaghi, Ami’s italian VA.
Tokyo Mew Mew (Mew MewPower for the dub name) was whst got back into anime it’s manga got me to relook into Sailor Moon, because of the preview in the back of volume 1. Seeing it at afe 6 then forgoting about it until I was 12, SM became my absolute favorite after rewatchig in middle school, II’ll always love both series. ^____^
Tokyo Mew Mew — now THAT brings me back! I remember seeing a lot about it and watched an episode or so, but for some reason I never really got into the series. But now that I’m older (and wiser… maybe?), I think I’d like to give it a rewatch and see if it holds up.
Tokyo Mew Mew was also my “Next Sailor Moon”, I recently re-reading the manga and rewatched the anime last summer and it was nice living through that nostalgia over again. The anime is 52 episodes long and the manga is only 27 chapters long along with an 11 chapter long sequel. This year is actually the manga’s 20th anniversary, so glad that the series is finally alive again. :’v
Since we’re already on the subject, what anime was your “next Sailor Moon“?
In my case that was very different… Sailor Moon was my “next Winx Club”. ;D
I started to watch Sailor Moon 10 years ago because a lot of older girls were comparing Winx Club, my favourite cartoon, to it. I’m not really an anime fan, watched a few, but always was a cartoon girl more. And my “next big fandom” after Sailor Moon was Mysterious Cities of Gold, a series, once again reccomended to me by older friends (from Sailor Moon forum!). I have a thing for animated shows from time before I was born. 🙂
“Mysterious Cities of Gold” …! Wow, I haven’t thought about that show in years! I remember that on slow days at school before long breaks we’d watch those on occasion, but otherwise I totally forgot about that series.
As for Winx Club, I never really saw a connection until you mentioned it, but I can kinda see it now when I really think about it.
Similarly (but totally not similar at all), “Totally Spies” always reminded me of Sailor Moon for some reason.
Mysterious Cities of Gold is awesome series, I highly reccomend you to rewatch it. 🙂 It was animated in Japan, but series is created by France. It’s really more popular in France and Poland than in English-speaking countries.
Winx is very different from Sailor Moon when it come to atmosphere and pacing, but it has girls as main characters and transformation sequences so close enough? 🙂 I think all cartoons/shows with all-girl main cast can be compared to Sailor Moon, especially those with fantasy elements!
Totally Spies are based on Cat’s Eye lot more I think.
Great forehead joke.
I do what I can… =D
I loved Marmalade Boy! I was surprised it never became more popular than it did. I definitely enjoyed that it brought over some Sailor Moon voice actresses like Aya Hisakawa and Kikuko Inoue.
I guess the fans wanted more action like Sailor Moon, and less relationship drama… understandable, I guess. But so few shows produce characters that feel somewhat realistic and draw you into caring about them… and Marmalade Boy is one of the few besides Sailor Moon that accomplished that for me.
Marmalade Boy, at least to my understanding, was a hugely popular show… it just didn’t quite have the staying power that Sailor Moon has had. I’m sure there are a ton of reasons for that, but one of them, I think, is probably just related to the age of the audience.
The audience that would have been watching Marmalade Boy would have been an older group, and thus they would be growing out of anime sooner. The next “generation” that would have grown into the show obviously would be picking up from later on in the series and don’t have a deep love for the full scope of the series, so it just never really had the same “staying power” as a show like Sailor Moon did, which skewed a bit younger.
At least that’s my thought on it!
For me, the closest thing to me for the “next Sailor Moon” was Cardcaptor Sakura, though at the same time, I can’t really say that I’ve found any anime that can truly be called the “next Sailor Moon” so far. As much as I love Cardcaptor Sakura, I don’t really think it can truly take Sailor Moon’s place.
To me it was Fushigi Yuugi, I fell in with with Fushigi Yuugu the first time I set my eyes on it.
I didn’t have a “next” Sailor Moon, but I enjoyed DoReMi, Wedding Peach, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and Cutey Honey (?). Later when the internet became a thing I discovered Mermaid Melody and Tokyo Mew Mew. I don’t know why, but I never liked Pretty Cure.
You are from Germany judging by the titles xD My answer would be exactly the same as I’m from Germany as well.
I remember an extra of Marmalade boy manga or another Wataru Yoshizumi’s manga, where Yoshizumi sensei talks about her vacation with her very close friend Naoko Takeuchi. Ahah!
I always thought that the next Sailor moon are Wedding Peach and Card captor Sakura.
After I’d watched and rewatched and rewatched everything Sailor Moon, I was desperate for something more.
I went all in on Wedding Peach. I still say it is a knock off…mysterious other kingdom senshi reincarnated on Earth to fight an evil force that brainwashes love interest…
I enjoyed the series for what it was but it seemed to be taking some things too far, like double transformations almost every episode.
I still hold it rather fondly in my heart. I mean, Angel Lily is like Mercury and Neptune in one! (Not really)
I also tried Tokyo Mew Mew, which I also felt was very similar to the Sailor Moon plot. I thought the manga was decent but the anime couldn’t hold my attention.
Then there’s Pretty Cure. I just can’t do it, maybe it gets better, but I can’t see it as a successor to Sailor Moon and in spite of it’s popularity and Toei’s insistence to make it live on, it just doesn’t do it for me.
I wouldn’t want to see the story line diluted, but I feel the only way to make a successor to Sailor Moon is to continue Sailor Moon’s plot.
Come on. “Wedding Peach” is much more than a knock off. It had much better love stories and I like how everyone got a boyfriend over the course of the series. I think it did a few things better than “Sailor Moon” and it’s always fun to rewatch.
I also like “Pretty Cure” at least in the first season as I remember it having a lot of important life lessons and it was very different from other magical girl series as Nagisa and Honoka looked like normal school girls (no strange hair colors and hairdos) and often fought the enemies with their bare hands. Transforming into Cure Black and Cure White their costumes didn’t cause eye cancer as well xD It was definitely watchable for people of both genders.
I’ve been in love with Sailor Moon since forever, and I tried very hard to find another anime that I could love just as hardcore, but none were on that level in my opinion. However, that never stopped me from finding some great stuff! I would say that Revolutionairy Girl Utena, YuGiOh, Trigun and Inuyasha were my post-sailor moon tropes that I fell in love with, even if the genres werent truly the same, except for the former. Really, if anything I’m really more into reading mangas than watching the anime counterparts. With that said; the manga that would become my next sailor moon, even tho the genre doesn’t fit the narrative of the article, is Bleach. Love the manga!! But I dislike the anime to a point if that makes a lick of sense. Other than that; Sailor Moon has remained a consistent part of my life. She was there for me during the times where humans didn’t even want to be there so Usagi forever holds my heart.
Akazukin ChaCha actually hits all of the bullet points. Later on in the series she gets power ups and while she’s sometimes as afraid as Usagi gets in the early seasons, ChaCha is generally pretty brave in the face of battle. There was also the romance between Dorothy and Seravi (also mostly played for comedic effect.) The whole thing sort of plays off less as The Next Sailor Moon and more Sailor Moon For Younger Audiences. It also features at least a few of the Sailor Moon VAs. I know Barabaraman-sensei was Saffir, but I’m sure I’m blanking on others.
As far as spiritual successors to Sailor Moon, in its way, Utena always felt like a similar kind of story. Metamorphosis? Check. Gag? Check, though much more infrequently than BSSM. Love? Check. Power-up? ehhhhhhhh, maybe? I mean Dios regularly possesses her. Does that count? Probably not. Brave? Hell yes.
And Tenshi Ni Narumon and Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne too and both of those got super dark to the end and now I have desperate needs to rewatch the anime of my youth lol.
There was never a “next SM” for me, especially because at the time I started watching anime (’96-’97) there was only one channel in Argentina that showed Japanese animation. During the kids’ TV prime time (5 to 7pm), I tuned in to watch SM, Dragon Ball and Ranma 1/2 (heavily censored, of course); the anime offer was very limited at first and was already ‘old’ by the time it was shown here. Later on other anime arrived, such as Pokemon and CCSakura, but I never got hooked on those. Also, my godfather was a great influence as far as my anime taste was concerned, and I ended up consuming lots of shōnen. I guess SM will always be my only magical girl love
I’d have to say Cardcaptor Sakura was as close to the next “big thing” that would potentially distract me from Sailor Moon. I would say I’m still a mega fan of both tho! =)
Nothing can replace Sailor Moon, but Card Capture Sakura came close.
Inuyasha, then Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, were my “next” Sailormoon. These were the only series that ever made me fanatical over them! Ojamajo Doremi, Rozen Maiden, and Code Geass were close runners up.
If we’re strictly talking Shojou (i doubt i spelled that right) anime and not just anime, then my “Next Sailor Moon” was Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch/Pure. Those songs are catchy!
CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth seems like it was trying to capture some of what made Sailor Moon work, but in an entirely fantasy world, versus Sailor Moon’s combination of the “Slice of Life” and “Monster of the Week” formats. But I don’t think they tapped into what made Sailor Moon work until Cardcaptor Sakura. While it certainly isn’t a magical girl show, Angelic Layer also managed to capture the balance between action and human interest that Sailor Moon did. So in my opinion, the ladies of CLAMP were among the few creators who could have come up with another Sailor Moon, if duplicating it was possible. Even Toei and Naoko Takeuchi didn’t recapture all of what made Sailor Moon work in the Crystal series. I think it was just in the right place at the right time.