The TV Show
One rather embarrassing fact about the Swedish dub of the Sailor Moon anime is that it
took us 5½ years - longer than its entire run in Japan - to reach the end of the second
season. The show premiered here back in early 1996 and was dubbed up to Sailor Moon
R back then, but most of it didn't get aired for several years.
The reason for this is called TV4, a national public
channel who bought exclusive broadcast rights to the show from the Swedish copyright
holders - thereby preventing other stations from touching it. Their treatment of the show
is a long sad story of blatant mishandling, odd and changing time slots, sudden
cancellations, long hiatuses and constant fan fighting. When they finally aired the end of
SMR in 2001, just a couple of weeks before their Sailor Moon license expired, they stated
that they would "absolutely not" renew it. Well, good riddance to you too...
Waiting for a new buyer, the show laid in a limbo for a
little over a year (that's not so bad; we saw worse limbos when TV4 had it) before the
license was picked up in November 2002 by Kanal 5, a cable channel with good
circulation. It then ran there on weekdays at an early morning timeslot - 7.05 AM - for
six full runs before their license expired. Ep. 88 was aired in Sweden for the last
time on July 8th, 2004.
When Sailor Moon first appeared here in February '96 it was as a segment of the TV4
children's program Junior where it was aired along with cartoons like Jonny Quest
and Spider-man. The handling of this run was, in one word, godawful. The show got aired
weekly, on Sunday mornings, but was replaced with a feature film once every third week, so
the fans had to make do with only three (3) episodes a month. In spite of its
extremely sluggish schedule, Sailor Moon slowly built up a fan base from the viewers who
happened to discover it. A comic book soon hit the shelves (more on that below), and the
BanDai dolls and toys began to appear in stores...
...and then Junior ended in December, taking Sailor Moon
with it. The program that replaced it aired a whole different set of cartoons (it
was going to include the show, but some producer decided it was too violent for her
liking). The last episode aired was ep. 23, so after nearly a full year we still hadn't
seen Nephrite's death nor the appearance of Sailor Jupiter.
This ill-timed hiatus lasted for two full years. TV4
got bombarded with mail from disgruntled fans throughout this time, and RSM, Sweden's own
SOS, was born. It was a struggle against producers who'd already decided to not air the
show anymore and let it collect dust until their license expired - they even
stated as much for a period - but perservance won out in the end.
TV4 finally decided to start airing Sailor Moon again in
January '99. This time, the show was not part of another program but got its own weekly
timeslot at Sunday mornings. They started all over, so it wasnt' until after summer that
they reached the never-aired episodes. A change in the timeslot (from 9.30 to 8.30)
somewhat reduced its ratings, but the fans rejoiced at the barrage of "new" episodes, a
barrage that lasted for a glorious year and a half... before they pulled the show
again in December 2000, for no apparent reason and with only 12 episodes left of SMR.
OK, before that, there was another rainfall on the parade of
episodes. Eps. 49, 54, and 68 weren't aired, and have never been aired in Sweden.
It wasn't a case of censorship, rather a combination of technical problems and strange
priorities. Long story.
The wait only lasted for six months this time. In June 2001 they began airing a rerun of
the show, starting with ep. 21(!), on weekdays - except for occasional Mondays - at 10.30
AM. In this way they reached the Final Twelve (as they had come to be known) by the end of
the summer... in late August, after the end of the summer holidays. It remains a mystery
how anyone can consider it a good idea to air the episodes all are waiting for at a time
when their audience is away at school. To make things worse, the timeslot was changed
without notice several times during the last few weeks - the show kept getting pulled back
and forth by five minutes, so many who had set their VCRs to record it didn't get complete
episodes. SMR ended in this horribly mishandled way and TV4 dropped the show for good.
Sailor Moon was then on the shelf for about a year, and the
Swedish fans had to go back to what they are best at; writing mails and waiting. It
was eventually picked up by the Kanal 5 channel, which may not have been the optimal place
for it to end up (not everyone gets Kanal 5, unlike TV4) but at least they kept the
show running. Kanal 5 never aired the missing episodes 49, 54, 68 either (they said
they hadn't even received them and were a bit upset when they found out) but by that time
it didn't surprise anyone. Their six back-to-back runs of the two seasons only had one
major screwup - the first two runs ended with episode 88 being skipped for no apparent
reason, but it was included later. Compared to TV4's track record, that's still pretty
The sad part about the show ending when it did was, recordable DVDs were just
beginning to appear on the market. Most people were still using VHS; six or so months
later and there would have been hoards of quality DVD recordings of the Swedish dub in
Some of the very earliest episodes have also appeared on video - twice. Three tapes
featuring two episodes each (up to ep. 7, so not even Mercury appears in those,
regardless of what's on the sleeves) were released from Scanbox Sweden around
Christmas '96. Unfortunately, they didn't get any promotion whatsoever and were
notoriously hard to find in stores, so many didn't even know the tapes existed until they
had already been dropped from the market.
||A whole new set of six tapes was then released from TV4 Vision in
2000 - three at the start of the Fall season, three more before Christmas. Covering eps.
1-18, these contain three episodes each and include ep. 4 which was missing in the
The promotion for this set was much better, including
distribution to shopping malls and other "mainstream" retailers, and one could
occasionally find them in stores for a couple of years afterwards.
I really think they should have released two more tapes, to
take them up to the conclusion of the Nephrite arc, but oh well...
In 2002, the Swedish dub also began airing in Finland (with Finnish subtitles). The
Finnish cable channel SubTV showed two episodes a week, at 10 A.M. on Saturdays
and Sundays, with a rerun the next morning. The show never had it that good on this side
of the border...
The Comic Book
The anime color manga (not the Takeuchi original) has been published in Swedish as
a regular comic book, and in two separate editions. The first, from Semic Press,
appeared during the show's first run, premiering in July '96. When the show got shelved and it lost its TV
support, its sales dropped steadily during '97 until it ended in December that year after
a total of twelve issues.
It was relaunched in early 2000 by Egmont Publishing.
They started over from the beginning, reprinting a few key issues from the old edition,
but published new stories from the seventh issue onwards. The main drawback with this
edition is that they skipped a lot of stories in order to keep up with the TV show
- most notably, there was one massive leap from ep. 28 to ep. 47 which made us miss the
entire second half of the first year... Sales were pretty good, but Egmont didn't trust its
ability to carry its own; as soon as TV4 stopped airing the show in 2001 they cancelled
the comic book, after twenty issues.
You can find a complete gallery of the Swedish comic book covers in the Q&A