The decades-long search for the American version of Sailor Moon has finally come to an end. Ray Mona, a YouTuber who documents her efforts to find lost media (including the never-released Mean Girls game), has managed to unearth the pilot episode of the unaired, never-finished series that the Sailor Moon fandom has come to know as Saban Moon.
The story of the Americanized Sailor Moon starts in 1993, about two years before the debut of the dubbed Sailor Moon that we know today. At the time, animation studio Toon Makers teamed up with Renaissance Atlantic Entertainment, the producers behind the original Power Rangers, in a bid to make an English version of the series. The two companies pitched a project that blends live-action with animation that ultimately never took off. We only got a glimpse of what came out of the project in a brief music video shown at an anime convention in the 90s.
But now, we have the full first episode. In a two-part (part one | part two) series that takes place over the span of several months, Ray Mona details her journey to uncover Saban Moon. With the help of Bloomberg reporter Cecilia D’Anastasio, who attempted to find the long-lost episode in 2018 while at Kotaku, she got former Bandai America president Frank Ward’s approval to obtain a copy of the footage from The Library of Congress that she included in her video.
The pilot starts at 1:43:48 in part two of Ray Mona’s series, and it’s incredible to finally lay eyes on the series that never came to fruition. The episode splits its time between an animated and live-action format, with each Sailor Scout — and even Luna — played by a real-life actress during their time on Earth. During the sequences that take place in space, the show transitions to an animated version that swaps the original starry-eyed look of Sailor Moon’s characters for something you’d see in a classic Disney movie.
It’s a completely different take on the series, and, I have to say, it was totally worth the wait.
Correction August 29th, 11:44AM ET: A previous version of the article stated that Cecilia D’Anastasio is a reporter at Kotaku, but she is now a reporter at Bloomberg. We regret the error.