Why were there so many Sailor Stars musicals?

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Mar 8, 2012
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#1
The manga's Sailor Stars arc ran from March 1996 until February 1997 in Nakayoshi. The anime adaptation aired concurrently (March 9, 1996 - February 8, 1997).

The first musical based on the Sailor Stars arc was the imaginatively entitled Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, which ran from August 5 to August 30, 1996. Given that the manga and anime arcs were only halfway through, this musical naturally took quite a few liberties.

The second musical based on Stars was the obligatory revision of the first musical, which ran from December 28, 1996 to January 12, 1997. So far so good.

But then the next musical they did was also based on Stars: Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ The Eternal Legend ran from July 25 to August 18, 1997. This musical seemed to take inspiration from the anime's Nehellenia arc, only swapping Nehellenia out for Beryl.

This feels like an odd move to me: Why not start over and do another Dark Kingdom musical? (Perhaps the use of Beryl and two of the Four Generals was meant to be a compromise?) Why not do a Black Moon musical since they'd skipped over that arc before? Why not do an original story? A musical based on one of the movies, the Doom Tree arc, Sailor V, the side stories - anything? Why not end the musicals altogether? Why do another Stars musical?

Okay, maybe it was because the first (two) had come out before the manga and anime versions had ended. With the story complete, they could do a more informed adaptation. Fine.

Then, in February 1998, this version of the story got its own obligatory revision. Fine.

But then, once again, the very next musical they did was Stars: Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ Beginning of the New Legend, which ran from July 10 to August 31, 1998. This musical is essentially a second revision of The Eternal Legend.

This musical was - finally! - followed by some original stories and adaptations of the Black Moon and Infinity arcs. And then, in July 2003, another Stars musical, another glorified revision of TEL, premiered (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ Starlights ★ Legend of the Falling Stars), followed by its glorified revision, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ The Advent of Princess Kakyuu, in January 2004.

That's a total of SEVEN musicals based on Stars during the Bandai Myu era. SEVEN. And I find that so puzzling??? Stars was the lowest rated season of the anime. I don't think the manga version was particularly popular either. So why did they keep doing musicals based on it? And why, despite doing, once again, SEVEN of them, and having the space to invent the characters of Sailor Pewter Fox, Sailor Titanium Kerokko, MC Fly, Sailor Theta, and Sailor Buttress, did they never find the time/space to include Sailor Mnemosyne, Sailor Lethe, Sailor Kakyuu, or Sailor Cosmos? (At least Cosmos finally got to appear in Le Mouvement Final, but that musical skipped Heavy Metal Papillon, Phi, and Chi, along with the Sailor Quartet, who only appeared in one of the Bandai run's Dracul arc musicals.)

In other words: what made Stars a success on the stage when it was a flop on TV and in print?
 
May 31, 2009
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Tankei Kingdom, Kinmoku
#2
Maybe the previous Stars musicals sold well (do we have any info on how the musicals performed?) and so they made more. Maybe because the producers thought Stars would be fresher in people's minds being the most recent arc. Maybe because Stars marked the end of Sailor Moon as a story and doing more Stars-based shows was a way to celebrate Sailor Moon as a whole.
 
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Nov 22, 2016
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#3
Did the Stars manga sell badly? Where did you get that info?
Anyway, I think the answer is simple. A bigger cast of heroes and villains to work with. More plot possibilities.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#4
People’s opinions and tastes change over time.

As a kid, I thought “Dream” was the best arc of the manga and now I think it’s the worst.

10 years ago my favorite season of the 90’s anime was the first one, but now it is “Stars.”

I hated Crystal and now I love it.
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#5
Did the Stars manga sell badly? Where did you get that info?
Anyway, I think the answer is simple. A bigger cast of heroes and villains to work with. More plot possibilities.
I don't know if the Stars manga sold badly, but Nakayoshi seemed to pay less and less attention to it over the course of its run. Sailor Stars was very likely intended as a soft reboot for the franchise, so there was a big push at the start, but by the end the enthusiasm for it had fizzled out.

Yes, the bigger cast size theoretically = more plot possibilities, but they just ran the same "Eternal Legend" story five times; it's not like they even used the Starlights in any of the original plot musicals they did.

AFAIK there's no information available on what the ticket sales, CD sales, home video sales, or any other merchandise sales for the musicals were like. Clearly the musicals were financially successful enough to keep them running long past the end of the manga and anime (and to bring them back for the 20th-25th-30th anniversary celebration). That they did five Stars musicals in a row (seven in all) suggests that those were particularly popular with fans, which leads us back to my last question: what was it that made Stars successful on stage but not on screen or in print? Did the arc just need more music? Did it need Pewter Fox and Titanium Kerokko? Did it need the return of Beryl and the Generals?
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#6
Because I loved Sailor Moon, I used to have some Nakayoshi issues when I was a kid.

I remember that “Sailor Moon” clashed with “Cardcaptor Sakura.” All of a sudden, “Cardcaptor Sakura” became a huge hit and Sakura was on all Nakayoshi covers.

I remember that some of the issues of Nakayoshi came with little gifts. I think one came with a journal/planner (?), very good quality, and it had many Nakayoshi characters on the cover.

No, I cannot read Japanese, I just wanted to see the pretty pictures. I had literally no idea that the Sailor Moon book arts existed.
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#7
In the interest of trying to figure out what made Sailor Stars successful on the stage, I've decided to re-watch all the Stars musicals. I just finished watching the first one (Summer '96). Here are my observations:

  • "Chasin' After You" is a much better song than Nagareboshi He"
  • Yaten and Taiki actually have personalities!!! And they're likeable!!!
  • Lots of humor. (Okay, it's all very over-the-top and cringey, but it's something. The anime and manga were almost oppressively melancholy. Even when there were humorous moments, they were always tinged with a bittersweet aura. This wasn't such a big problem in the manga, which is always kind of wistful, but coming off the heels of SuperS in the anime? Holy tonal whiplash, Batman!)
  • The Outers are a lot more involved.
  • Chibiusa is also a main character. (I wonder if this inspired Naoko to bring her and the Quartet back into the action for the second half of the arc?)
  • Mamoru also doesn't get killed off (though we don't really get to see him until the end when Tuxedo Mask just kind of turns up out of nowhere.)
  • There's no Chibi Chibi
  • Aluminum Siren and Lead Crow are replaced by Pewter Fox and Titanium Kerokko. (I wonder why they did that, especially since Pewter Fox and Iron Mouse are almost impossible to tell apart. I also wonder if Fox and Kerokko were original creations by the Myu staff, or if they were unused Animamate ideas from Naoko.)
  • I want a Pretty Girl Detective Squad spin-off. That whole scene was a #vibe.
  • The Inners transformed with "[Planet] Crisis Power" which I thought was interesting.
  • The time travel stuff in this musical is really bizarre, but I'm all for Chibiusa and Hotaru as time-traveling girlfriends having wacky adventures as they meet everyone's incarnations in various historic eras. That said, Mamoru as a feudal lord and Usagi as a male fishmonger named Usanosuke Isshin (i.e. making them a gay couple) was an...interesting...choice. (Of course, Anza's hideous wig and performance completely undercuts being able to see Usanosuke as male, but still.)
  • The Battle Labyrinth scene was obviously inspired by the Nehellenia arc
  • There's no mention of Chaos (I don't think he'd been mentioned in the manga yet)
  • Princess Kakyuu doesn't appear (She had only *just* made her first appearance in the manga, so it's understandable that they'd leave her out, but it also leaves the Starlights' search for their princess completely unresolved)
  • Eternal Sailor Moon revives the Inners and Outers so we can get a big final showdown
  • Galaxia escapes at the end :lol:

Conclusion: If the manga and anime had had more humor, given Yaten and especially Taiki personalities, not sidelined the Outers (and Inners), not killed off Mamoru, and not (almost entirely) written out Chibiusa, I think it would have gone over much better with fans.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#8
But the Stars anime has humor. The episode in which Yaten briefly adopts Luna as a cat is one of the best. My theory is that SuperS made people lose interest in “Sailor Moon” and that by the time that Stars aired, people were tired of “Sailor Moon“ and needed a break.
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#9
Just finished watching the Sailor Stars Revision (Winter '97) musical. And, like, yeah, I guess technically it's a revision in that they made some changes from the original musical, but none of those changes improved the story any, and the lighting, staging, and camera work was perhaps even more confusing to follow. (I want to love the Bandai musicals, but they're all such exhausting hot messes.) Like, cool, we got to see Princess Kakyuu...for literally thirty seconds. What even was the point? And they mentioned Sagittarius Zero Star, but none of the action took place there. Galaxia name dropped her Saffer Crystal at the end, so what? We still got no kind of back story for her, and still no mention of Chaos. (But hey, at least Galaxia didn't just Peter Pan it out of there at the end :lol:) MC Fly was still a weird, annoying character. Theta, Phi, Chi, Titanium Kerokko, and Iron Mouse might as well not have even been there since they contributed literally nothing to the plot and had maybe four lines of dialog between them. The Starlights still conveniently rescue Neo Queen Serenity off-stage, so that plot point is still utterly pointless, other than to be a needlessly contrived way of inserting Chibiusa into the story. Mamoru impersonating MC Fly was necessary why? The biggest plot change was probably the Edo period sequence: while I found it more engaging overall (I'd love to see more of Rat Boy and her squad of Female Ninjas), I also found it a lot more confusing, "This is a Pen" was racist at worst, uncomfortably in poor taste at best, and of course they made Usagi's Edo-era incarnation female here.

tl;dr The revision was mostly a downgrade and I didn't observe anything that would provide further insight into the Sailor Stars arc's stage success.
 
Mar 8, 2012
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#10
Finished watching Eien Densetsu/The Eternal Legend (Summer '97) and......what a mess. Once again, uneven pacing, strange acting choices (especially from Anza and her perpetually distracting facial expressions), bad camera work, bad lighting, and bad scene blocking made so much of this musical difficult to comprehend. The lack of any kind of overarching continuity/canon for the musicals didn't help either, so be prepared to experience total confusion over who this Chibi Chibi girl is, why Sailor Moon doesn't recognize Queen Beryl, and why Hotaru can't transform into Sailor Saturn even though she could last musical.

That's not to say everything in this musical was bad; just that a lot of it was...weird...and the overall production is so incompetently handled from start to finish that whatever good stuff the songs and story may have had to offer got almost completely obfuscated.

Yet this is the version of the Stars story that they ran five times, so obviously some of its elements resonated with audiences. (I can only hope the subsequent four takes are more polished.) Certainly this production borrowed a lot more from the anime than the previous musicals did (namely Ginga TV, the Nehellenia arc (now starring Beryl), Chibi Chibi's being Galaxia's Star Seed and the Uranus/Neptune fake-out betrayal thing, two of the worst parts of the anime, though at least they foreshadowed the Uranus/Neptune thing from the start?), but that only complicates the question of why the Stars musicals worked when the anime flopped. The "Pretty Girls Detective Squad" and Taiki and Yaten's being total goofballs seem to be the only holdovers from the previous Stars musicals.

Anyway, here are the rest of the observations I made while watching:

  • I thought Galaxia killed Tuxedo Mask right at the start, but I think she actually just knocked him out to give to Beryl later, and then either she or Beryl brainwashed him, and then Galaxia randomly killed him for no reason, then brought him back to life as her minion? I have no idea what was going on with him.
  • I like "The Holy Soldiers of Orleans" sequence, but the musical never gets back to the whole everyone's-working-on-a-TV-movie plot, so it just feels completely out of place. It really only serves to foreshadow Uranus and Neptune's betrayal later on. The school music festival from the last two Stars musicals made a lot more sense and worked much better within the story. I think keeping the Chibiusa-and-Hotaru-travel-back-in-time plot from the previous musicals and just substituting the Edo period stuff for the Holy Soldiers of Orleans would be the best compromise.
  • The Little Match Girl scene is incomprehensibly bizarre. I don't understand the purpose of that scene at all. It literally makes no sense and does nothing to build on characterizations or theme or anything.
  • They did not even try with Kunzite and Zoisite. (And where are Nephrite and Jadeite?)
  • So I guess they winnowed down the Sailor Animamates from four to two in order to make space for Kunzite and Zoisite, but why did they keep Tin Nyanko and Titanium Kerokko (now called Mitis Kerokko for literally no reason)? Tin Nyanko is played by the same actress as last time (but with a new, bizarre wig), but Kerokko isn't, so it doesn't seem to have been a decision based on actress availability. Was there some indication that those two were the most popular? Seems so random.
  • The basketball game sequence is one of many tedious, unnecessary, and strange dance interludes that needlessly drag out the musical's run time, along with every time Chaos/Kyaos is on stage. (Also, literally what is his outfit and what are they doing with him? I guess making Chaos be chaotic is a reasonable choice, but also no. They replaced MC Fly with this? Bring back Sailor Buttress! And why even have Sailors Phi, Chi, and Theta if you're just going to keep dressing them as Shadow Bugs and give them literally no dialog? Why even have all three of them when one of them is usually off-stage anyway?)
  • Zoisite's actor is like twice Ami's age, so those romance scenes between them were...yikes. (See also: 95% of Usagi/Mamoru scenes in the musicals. Could they not find young male actors to be in these things?)
  • I appreciate that Haruka wore the boys' school uniform instead of the girls', but I wasn't expecting it, so it was very confusing at first to see her dressed like the Three Lights and I kept thinking she was Taiki.
  • Did Beryl summon Pluto's Garnet Rod for her? That whole scene was so strange, but yay @ the start of my Beryl/Pluto shipping.
  • Yaten x Kunzite
  • This musical had a faint whiff of Usagi/Seiya, after the previous musicals pretty much entirely avoided that, but again it's only the faintest of whiffs here.
  • Every Chaos/Kyaos scene is the worst. GET BACK TO THE PLOT. ENOUGH SHENANIGANS PLEASE.
  • Chibi Chibi shows up, disappears, Kakyuu shows up, Galaxia vanishes. 1) I really thought they were doing Chibi Chibi-was-actually-Kakyuu, and got excited for a second because that would make so much more sense than her being Galaxia's Star Seed, but no. 2) Yay Kakyuu.
  • This musical really tries to make it seem like Kakyuu is the biggest threat to Galaxia and that the two maybe have some kind of past beyond just Galaxia's destroying Kinmoku, but no. Kakyuu is easily killed off without every using any of her powers. L A M E.
  • I guess in this universe, Usagi and the others awoke as Sailors without ever having regained their past life memories some how.
  • I kind of low-key also ship Kakyuu and Beryl now
  • I thought this was a La Reconquista invention, but this musical also seems to be saying Beryl was legitimately the queen of Earth before and engaged to Endymion. (And Kunzite and Zoisite were both her and Endymion's guards.)
  • We actually get a scene set at the Galaxy Cauldron this time!
  • "SAILOR COSMOS ATTACK" WHY NOT GIVE US ACTUAL SAILOR COSMOS YOU COWARDS? (Also that final battle was so weak and anticlimactic :lol:)

Conclusion: Stars needs Taiki and Yaten to be goofballs, the girls to be a detective agency, no Seiya/Usagi romance drama, and Beryl and Setsuna to be a couple.

ETA: The "wedding" during the curtain call was cute I guess. I also wanted to say that it kind of bothers me that in this musical, as in the last two, Mercury and Mars both got special focus, while Jupiter and Venus got pretty much completely shafted with no moments to really shine. Outside the manga, those two really got the shaft, huh?
 
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Mar 8, 2012
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#11
Finished watching the Eien Densetsu/The Eternal Legend Revision (Winter '98) and its senshuuraku. Again, there weren't really any radical differences from the original. Here are the changes I clocked:

- This time around, Galaxia explicitly kills Mamoru and takes his Star Seed right at the beginning.
- The little match girl scene was removed, making it all the more baffling
- Beryl mentions her "Dark Moon Clan," but we never see them. Kunzite and Zoisite do not appear in this musical, so she's without subordinates.
- Hotaru is the star of the school made-for-TV musical drama thing instead of Haruka and Michiru, which means their fakeout betrayal at the end isn't foreshadowed (apart from a passing remark from Taiki or Yaten)
- Chibiusa is never mentioned (though I don't remember if she was mentioned in the original version either)
- Instead of the Ami x Zoisite stuff from last time, in this musical Kyaos and not!Mamoru/Tony Chiba try to coerce her into studying abroad, a plot point that comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere just as fast.
- In the original, there's a scene where the Sailors confront Kunzite and Zoisite, having worked out they're responsible for trying to frame Rei for attacking students. Here, they confront Kyaos and Endmyion...without reacting at all to Endymion...
- Once again, Saturn awakens off-stage, an anti-climactic finish to an unnecessary plot point
- Sailor Moon's kiss somehow turns mud puppet!Endymion into...the actual Mamoru? Or something?
- Kyaos saves Mercury, but she does absolutely nothing but stand around on stage for the rest of the show, so...