Pioneer Animation is one of the key sources for shojo anime titles thanks to three extremely important shojo series, Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yugi, and Cardcaptors. Sailor Moon's success, first in syndication and then on the Cartoon Network has paved the way for current wave of interest in shojo titles. The success of the Sailor Moon anime on television also created interest in a wide range of licensed Sailor Moon merchandise including manga (from Tokyopop), apparel, wall art (1000 Editions), trading cards, audio CDs and even a collectible card game (from Dart Flipcards). Cardcaptors has also had broadcast success in the U.S (on the Kids WB) and spawned a wide variety of merchandise including a CCG from Upper Deck, while Fushigi Yugi, adapted from the manga by Yu Watase was one of the most popular shojo anime series in Japan. Let's take a closer look at Pioneer's new releases in each of these key shojo series.
Pioneer is right in the midst of its release of the complete 38-episode Sailor Moon S television version. Volumes #7 & #8 release today while the final four volumes of the 12-volume VHS series will appear in October and November. Sailor Moon is such a popular property that Pioneer actually produces four different skus of the same material. Three of versions are in the VHS format. They include an edited for U.S. TV broadcast 'Toonami' version, as well as both 'dubbed' and 'subbed' unedited versions. The fourth sku is the DVD version, which is unedited with both 'dubbed' and 'subbed' capabilities. The DVD contains 6-7 episodes per disk, which means that all 38 episodes of the Sailor S series will be available on just six DVDs versus twelve VHS tapes. Next January Pioneer will begin issuing the Sailor Moon Super S television series in the same fashion with two VHS volumes (in three different versions, '#1Toonami,#2 unedited ''dubbed' and #3 unedited 'subbed') and one DVD at a time on a bimonthly schedule.
Pioneer's Sailor Moon Movies DVD Box, which contains all three of the Sailor Moon movies, will surely be one of the key shojo products for the holiday season. The Sailor Moon Movies DVD Box debuts on October 9.
Though it hasn't received the U.S. television exposure of Sailor Moon or Cardcaptors, Fushigi Yugi is a brilliant series in its own right -- a fascinating fantasy about a typical junior high school girl, who discovers a mysterious book, The Universe of the Four Gods in the library, and is then transported into the fantasy world the book describes. Pioneer has all 52 episodes of Fushigi Yugi available in two four-disk boxed sets. Each boxed set contains almost eleven hours of programming on four double layer DVD disks. In addition to 26 episodes of the Fushigi Yugi TV series the boxed set includes a video art gallery, a relationship diagram for the characters, a text interview with Yu Watase, a 16-page full color booklet, and of course both English and Japanese versions plus removable English subtitles. Pioneer also has the series available in a 16-volume VHS version.
Next April, Pioneer will begin releasing episodes of a second Fushigi Yugi anime series, which was based on Fushigi Yugi novels rather than on Yu Watase's manga series (Viz publishes the manga series here in the U.S.). The Fushigi Yugi novels were authorized by Yu Watase, but she did not actually write them.
Cardcaptors is playing on the WB network and Pioneer is releasing both VHS and DVD versions of the series as edited for American TV under the title 'Cardcaptors.' Volume #5 of Cardcaptors ships in both VHS and DVD in early September, with Volume #6 arriving in November. Due to a request from the licensor, Volumes #4 and #7 will bow in January.
In addition to the normal bowdlerization process to prepare anime series for American television exposure, the Kids WB version of Cardcaptors does not present the episodes in the same order as they appeared in the Japanese series. So Pioneer is also releasing the uncut, unedited original Japanese version under the title Cardcaptor Sakura in both DVD and VHS formats simultaneously with the release of the Kids WB edited Cardcaptors series. There are also other Cardcaptor products, including a CCG from Upper Deck and manga from Tokyopop.
MoreIn addition to the titles mentioned above, which are true shojo series by anyone's definition, Pioneer has lots of titles, which, though not exactly shojo, have demonstrated a strong appeal to female customers here in the U.S. Though shojo anime and manga are the primary focus of ICv2's 'Grow With Shojo' promotion, our goal is get retailers to consider broadening their product mix with items that will bring more female customers into their stores (see 'How To Sell Shojo'). Typical of anime and manga properties that are not considered 'shojo' in Japan but which have a strong appeal to women here in the U.S. is Ah My Goddess, created by Kosuke Fujishima. Pioneer has the Ah! My Goddess Movie slated for a November release. Like the manga series on which it is based, the Ah! My Goddess Movie demonstrates a considerable shojo influence in the way in which the female characters are designed and depicted with flowing Art Nouveau-like organic lines.