AKA, “The Sera Myu Info Post”.
Since the Sailor Moon Musicals are coming back, I’m sure there are going to be new fans looking to get into them. As they have such an extensive history, however, this can be daunting so I thought I’d give an introduction to this wonderful incarnation of the Sailor Moon story.
I promise to be as coherent as I can, but even with all the restraint I possess I may just end up fanboying all over this post.
For starters, where do we get the title “Sera Myu”? It literally just comes from the term “Sailormoon Musical”, which in Japanese is pronounced “Seramuun Myuujikaru”, which fans have shortened to the term Sera Myu. Since the title of the series is usually written as one word (セーラームーン: Sailormoon) in Japanese, this term can be written either with or without the space between the two words. I usually put the space in since I’m used to the English standard of breaking the title into two words.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the musicals began in 1993 and were meant to end in 1997 when the anime concluded airing, as most anime musicals do. The shows experienced unprecedented success, however, and continued to produce 2–3 musicals each year before finally going on hiatus in 2005. These 2–3 shows usually consisted of one new musical, a revised version of that same musical (known as a “Kaiteiban”), and sometimes a special show like a concert or revue.
Since they ran for so long and mounted so many shows, the musicals are grouped into different “Stages” for organization purposes. The shows are officially divided into three stages, but most fans group the shows into four stages; one for each of the four actresses to play Sailor Moon over the course of the shows: Ohyama Anza (now known simply as ANZA), Hara Fumina, Kanbe Miyuki, and Kuroki Marina. By breaking down the Myu this way, they look like this:
- Sailormoon- Gaiden Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen: A musical about the Dark Kingdom’s revival after their defeat in the first season of the anime/first arc of the manga. Features the five Inner Soldiers, Queen Beryl and her minions, and (along with its Kaiteiban) is the only musical in which Luna and Artemis appear. This musical was filmed and released for sale.
- Sailormoon- Gaiden Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen (Kaiteiban): The revision of the previous show which kept the same story, only difference being changing the season from Summer to Winter. No video of this show was made available to fans.
- Sailormoon Super Spring Festival: A musical performance which, as far as I know, was not a musical, per se, in that it did not have a story but was rather a special event with the cast performing songs in costume. No official video of this performance was released.
- Sailormoon S- Usagi Ai no Senshi e no Michi: Corresponding with the S (third) season of the anime/Mugen arc of the manga, this musical is about the Sailor Senshi fighting Professor Tomoe and Kaolinite and meeting Sailors Uranus and Neptune for the first time. Sailor Pluto is mentioned in this musical, but only appeared in silhouette and Sailor Moon reaches her Super form for the first time. This is the second show to receive an official video release.
- Sailormoon S- Henshin- Super Senshi e no Michi: No video was released of this musical but a few things are known about it: It was similar to the previous musical (which is probably why they didn’t sell a video of it) and was the first true appearance of Sailor Pluto as an active cast member.
- Sailormoon S- Henshin- Super Senshi e no Michi (Kaiteiban): Another un-filmed musical. It is assumed that little changed between this Kaiteiban and the original Henshin.
- Sailormoon SuperS- Yume Senshi- Ai- Eien ni…: Tied to the SuperS (fourth) season of the anime/Yume arc of the manga, this musical features the Dead Moon Circus as the villains, minus the Amazonness Quartet. Sailor Moon and the Inner Senshi are all in their Super form while Sailors Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus remain in their regular form. This musical combines the villains of the Yume story with the threat of Saturn’s revival from the Mugen arc and was released on video.
- Sailormoon SuperS (Kaiteiban)- Yume Senshi- Ai- Eien ni… Saturn Fukkatsu Hen!: The first Kaiteiban to receive a video release! This musical made some significant changes in plot to the original Yume Senshi which is probably why it was filmed for sale and included a larger role for Queen Nehellenia and the first appearance of Sailor Saturn and Eternal Sailor Moon.
- Sailormoon SuperS Special Musical Show: This un-filmed musical was a shortened version of the Yume Senshi shows, featuring a smaller cast which only included Sailors Moon, Mercury, Mars, Pluto, and Uranus and fewer villains as well.
- Sailormoon Sailor Stars: From this point on, all musicals are filmed and released for sale. Like most of the previous musicals, this story differs from its corresponding season of the anime since it was being written as the show was airing/manga was publishing and therefore little was known about the plot’s arc, but it is based on the Stars season and features Sailor Galaxia versus the full Solar System Sailor team. Some differences include that Sailor Chibimoon is prominently featured while Sailor Chibi Chibi is not included at all; Galaxia’s backstory and defeat is altered; and there’s no mention of Chaos vs. Serenity as the theme of the story.
- Sailor Moon Sailor Stars (Kaiteiban): Many changes to this show but still quite a different story from the anime or manga. This was meant to be the final musical in the series.
- Eien Densetsu: The musicals continue due to fan support! This is the first musical to not correspond to a season of the anime so the writers experiment a little more with their works, even though they always put their own spin on the stories. That said, this is very faithful to the themes and story of the Stars arc in different ways than the actual Stars musicals. For example, Princess Kakyuu finally appears, having been largely absent from the Stars musicals. The largest creative difference is that this time around, Sailor Galaxia revives Queen Beryl to use her to fight the Sailor Senshi.
- Eien Densetsu (Kaiteiban)- The Final First Stage: This emotional performance marks the end of the First Stage. Every cast member playing a Sailor Soldier graduates and though some return in later shows, none ever play a Sailor Soldier again. This is a particularly emotional end to the Sera Myu careers of Ohyama Anza and Morino Ayako (Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury) who have been playing their roles since the very first show. Two videos were actually filmed of this show: one during its run and one of the final performance (Senshuuraku) capturing the special performances given that day as well as the speeches at the final curtain call.
- Shin Densetsu Kourin: Literally “The New Legend Begins”, this musical introduced an entirely new cast of Sailor Soldiers. The story was very similar to Eien Densetsu with Sailor Galaxia reviving Queen Beryl to do her bidding. This time around, however, the Amazon Trio also returns giving us a mix of three different villain groups.
- Kaguya Shima Densetsu: The first entirely original story to be made by the musicals, it tells the story of an evil villain named Coatl who lures the Sailor Soldiers to Kaguya island in order to capture the Silver Crystal. A second set of villains, space pirates led by Loof Mellow, is also attempting to steal the Crystal but is not aligned with Coatl.
- Kaguya Shima Densetsu (Kaiteiban): This revision was essentially identical to its original.
(Miyuki’s stage marks the first time that continuity was employed between musicals. Her stage is also known as “The Dracul Arc” because each of her musicals tells part of a continuing story in which the Sailor Soldiers fight a group of vampires. Though there are four musicals in this stage, it is considered a trilogy because one of them is a Kaiteiban.)
- Last Dracul Jyokyoku: In the opener of this series, Sailor Moon and the Soldiers meet the villains for the first time. Count Dracul and his minions fight the Sailors, but there’s also a group of Dream Demons who seem to have more to do with the plot than they are letting on. This musical was a revamp (pun not intended, but appreciated) of the unreleased Sailor Moon S- Henshin- Super Senshi e no Michi and bears strong similarities to the filmed Sailor Moon S musical.
- Kessen/Transylvania no Mori: In the series’ second installment we meet Vampiru, Count Dracul’s daughter. She meets Lilith of Darkness and the two join together to fight the Sailor Soldiers. In addition to these villains, a new Sailor Soldier appears known as Sailor Astarte but whether she is friend or foe is uncertain. This musical also includes the Amazoness Quartet for the first time, though they are instead known as the Sammael Quartet.
- Kessen/Transylvania no Mori (Kaiteiban): The revision of this musical includes many important plot changes which will affect the final chapter of this trilogy. As such, it is this revision which makes up the second chapter in the trilogy because the final musical follow’s this one’s events and won’t make sense as a continuation of the original.
- Last Dracul Saishuu Show: The conclusion of this epic series has the Sailor Soldiers finally fighting the true enemy which has been orchestrating the events of the previous musicals all along. Following the musical is the Super Revue Musical Show which was a concert celebrating all the major themes introduced in this series and in the previous stages.
- Tanjou! Ankoku no Princess Black Lady: This musical tells the story of the Black Moon arc of the manga (second season of the anime), with the villains Prince Demand, Saphir, Esmeraude, the Ayakashi Sisters, Wiseman, and of course Black Lady. This was a fairly faithful telling of the manga storyline but with a few characters excluded, such as Rubeus and Berthier, and original characters created.
- Tanjou! Ankoku no Princess Black Lady (Kaiteiban): Very similar in content to the original, the main changes were the inclusion of Rubeus and Berthier and elimination of one of the original characters. These changes made the musical even more faithful to the manga.
- Ai no Sanctuary: This special show was part of the tenth anniversary celebrations for the Sailor Moon franchise. It included Prince Demand from the previous musicals as a commentator for a wrestling match the Sailor Soldiers attended which was invaded by musical-original villains Dark Sirius and Dark Nibiru. After the musical, there is a special talk show in which past and present cast members discuss their favorite aspects of the series.
- Mugen Gakuen: Once again, the Mugen arc of the manga is used as the basis of a musical, but this time around it is much more faithful to the original work. It focuses heavily on the Outers, especially Sailors Uranus and Neptune since this musical was primarily written as a farewell to the actresses playing them. In addition to Professor Tomoe and Kaolinite as the villains, this musical features the Witches 5 and includes Sailor Saturn and Mistress 9 in the action, all of whom were absent from the previous musical based on this story.
- Mugen Gakuen (Kaiteiban): No significant changes were made to this musical from its original. These two musicals also included a set of original characters known as the Hoshino Family: a group of aliens looking to avenge their planet against Pharaoh 90, the story’s main villain.
- Starlights! Ryuusei Densetsu: For the first time since Eien Densetsu (Kaiteiban) the Sailor Starlights return to the musicals. This musical is quite similar to the original Eien shows with Sailor Galaxia once again reviving Queen Beryl to do her dirty work.
- Kakyuu-ouhi Kourin: Essentially a Kaiteiban of Starlights!, this musical features a very similar storyline but with the inclusion of Princess Kakyuu.
- Shin Kaguya Shima Densetsu: Re-visiting the musicals’ first original story, this musical includes almost all the same characters and mostly the same plot but with some new songs. The elimination of some characters helped clarify the story somewhat.
- Shin Kaguya Shima Densetsu (Kaiteiban): A revision of the previous musical without too much changing.
Now, the official breakdown is a bit different. Like the fan division, it counts the First Stage as ending with Eien Densetsu (Kaiteiban) but after that point it has the Second Stage lasting all the way through to Kakyuu-ouhi Kourin which makes the Third Stage last for only Shin Kaguya Shima Densetsu and its Kaiteiban. I prefer the Four Stage fan breakdown because it makes more sense to me and breaks the timeline up a little more equally:
As you can see, it can be a bit confusing since something like the Dracul Series can be referred to as either Third Stage or Second Stage depending on what category you’re using. Whenever I write about the shows I typically use the fan-made division, but I’ll try to use the more specific AnzaMoon, FuminaMoon, etc. titles rather than just First or Second Stage to help avoid confusion. When production of the musicals stopped in 2005 it was termed a hiatus, rather than a conclusion. As such I’m not sure if this revival will be officially considered part of the Third Stage or not, but most fans will likely refer to it as the beginning of the Fifth Stage: SatomiMoon, in honor of Ookubo Satomi assuming the tiara.
In addition to the shows themselves, there are other performances available as part of the Sera Myu oeuvre:
- Omake: “Bonus” footage. This was usually included on the DVD and VHS copies of the show if they were pre-ordered at the theater. Omake typically contain rehearsal footage, clips of the Senshuuraku, and were narrated by cast members.
- FanKan: Short for “Fan Kansha (Appreciation) Event”, FanKans began toward the end of the first stage as a special performance to show how grateful the production was for all the support the fans had given. They quickly became a loved tradition and would be performed for a few days prior to the opening of the next new show. New cast members would be introduced to the audiences, teasers for the upcoming show would be performed, and there were lots of fun silly numbers like Sailors singing villain songs and vice versa. When a new Sailor Moon actress took over the role, she would receive the tiara from her predecessor in a lovely little ceremony.
- Koshiki Guide Video: Not every musical got one of these—in fact I believe only about four of them did—but they were extensive looks behind-the-scenes of the shows. They included lots of rehearsal footage, photoshoots, promotional appearances, and character/cast bios.
I think that’s about all I’m going to include for today. If you have any questions, please ask away. I’d be happy to answer and perhaps make a follow-up post in case there are significant things I overlooked or glossed over too quickly.