Why hasn't Shojo/Magical Girl anime been more popular on TV after Sailor Moon?

TheMisterManGuy

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In 1995, DiC Entertainment, LP, by then a subsidiary of ABC, acquired the North American license to Sailor Moon. The wildly popular Shojo anime that breathed new life into the stagnating Magical Girl genre by incorporating elements from Shonen and Tokasatsu shows. Like most anime at the time, Sailor Moon, despite being aimed at an audience of young girls, featured content and subject matter that executives at DiC felt wouldn't fly with American children. The initial English adaptation of Sailor Moon featured numerous changes such as removal of Japanese names and locations, toned down violence, removal of objectionable content such as death, alcohol, and darker, more dramatic elements being either removed or lightened up to appeal to younger children. PSA segments known as "Sailor Says" were also added at the end of every episode to appease stations who wanted to air it.

The series premiered in syndication September 11th, 1995, but was taken off after only 2 seasons due to low ratings, largely caused by stations airing it in dead timeslots. After a brief re-run on USA Network, the show eventually ended up in the hands of Cartoon Network, Airing alongside Dragon Ball Z on the weekday Toonami block. Sailor Moon experienced newfound success, especially among the then niche demographic of girls aged 9-14, which prompted CN to order a third season from new distributor, Cloverway, Inc., which premiered in 2000. The Cloverway dub featured the original music, and (infamous "Cousins" incident aside) far less censorship than DiC's production thanks to the looser standards of the Cable Broadcaster.

But with Sailor Moon now being a hit, why wasn't it followed up on properly? At least with Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z, networks scrambled to get their own Mon series and Shonen anime on air to replicate their success, but every Shojo/Magical Girl series that could've been a hit on TV, never got proper airings. Cardcaptors infamously stripped the "Shojo" out of Cardcaptor Sakura, Magic Knight Rayearth was rejected by networks, Pretty Cure only aired in Canada, ADV dropped Mermaid Melody as fast as they took it up, and Tokyo Mew Mew had the misfortune of being licensed by 4Kids. Why was it so hard to follow up on the success of Sailor Moon during this period?
 

TnAdct1

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My best guess for this can be summed up in one word: demographics.

In particular:
  1. The preference for male viewers over female;
  2. Concerns that will target the wrong audience (i.e. older viewers).
 

Daikun

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DiC's initial dub tarnished Sailor Moon's reputation, and later shojo anime that came to the U.S. were met with similar fates. Shows like CardCaptor Sakura and Tokyo Mew Mew were also highly sanitized for children's television and basically seen as "Sailor Moon ripoffs." It's hard to shake off the perception of shojo in the west after the damage caused by those dubs.
 

PicardMan

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Wasn't Glitter Force the second coming of 4kids One Piece?
 

TheMisterManGuy

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Concerns that will target the wrong audience (i.e. older viewers).
I can understand if not enough kids are watching. But why would Shojo anime attracting older viewers be a problem? Shows like Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z were just as big with kids as they were with adults.
 

Mostezli

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There are more than enough magical girl western shows.
I thought when it came to anime on traditional tv,
it had to be "gender neutral" toyetic or primetime action thrillers.
I managed to tune into a Shojo series like Fruits Basket because it wound up dubbed on a very obscure channel.
 

Red Arrow

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There has been a lot of Western competition for magical girl anime: The Powerpuff Girls, Totally Spies, Winx Club, W.I.T.C.H., Juniper Lee, Star vs., She-Ra, The Owl House, Lego Elves, Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts...

Very few Western animation is comparable with shonen.
 

TnAdct1

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I can understand if not enough kids are watching. But why would Shojo anime attracting older viewers be a problem? Shows like Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z were just as big with kids as they were with adults.
There's two reasons why I say this.

The first reason is that I feel that the mahou shoujo shows were likely trying to get shown on regular television (i.e. Kids WB, Fox Kids) instead of cable, with my opinions being based on Kids WB. During the first couple of seasons of its existence, Kids WB was very popular among older viewers. However, Jamie Kellner wasn't too pleased with the idea with the idea that the programming was attracting more older viewers than kids and proceed to sabotage things come Season 2 in order to make it easier to cancel those shows that the Network wasn't committed to.

With the early 2000's, while anime was starting to catch on big time in America when it comes to younger audiences, it was already having somewhat of a following with older viewers thanks to various college clubs and arthouse releases of some of the bigger anime films at the time. When it came to the big mahou shoujo titles at the time:
  • Sailor Moon was serving as one of the gateway drugs to anime in general;
  • Those who have owned a Sega Saturn would possibly be familiar with Rayearth thanks to the American release of the the Saturn RPG;
  • Cardcaptor Sakura was one of the most popular shows in Japan at the time.
Considering these aspects, there is the concern that rather than attract the target audience of school-age girls, the shows would instead gain the interest of high school/college-aged males that are starting to truly get into the world of anime, which could be a no-no to some executives.

The second reason: some of the outfits worn in these shows can be somewhat skimpy (heck, look at Digimon Frontier, where the Digimon forms of the female human character has her basically wearing bra and panties), and it could end attracting the more perverted viewers.
 
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TheMisterManGuy

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Considering these aspects, there is the concern that rather than attract the target audience of school-age girls, the shows would instead gain the interest of high school/college-aged males that are starting to truly get into the world of anime, which could be a no-no to some executives.
But Sailor Moon was a pretty big hit with girls in the end, so I don't think I buy that excuse.

On a side note, I'm not sure why Kids' WB! thought it'd be a good idea to try and re-develop Cardcaptor Sakura into the Male oriented "Cardcaptors" wouldn't it be considered a good thing to expand your demographic a little?
 

Takao

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On a side note, I'm not sure why Kids' WB! thought it'd be a good idea to try and re-develop Cardcaptor Sakura into the Male oriented "Cardcaptors" wouldn't it be considered a good thing to expand your demographic a little?
They likely saw that it was popular in Japan and wanted in. Pokemon was huge in Japan and huge on Kids WB. Why wouldn't this be ...

Attempting to make it more gender-neutral was to help it fit in with a schedule that was predominantly watched by boys:

"We know today that our audience is about 70-75% boys to 25-30% girls. So for us, it's very important that the show has appeal to our core boy audience. We also reshaped Sakura a bit to make her more appealing to American tastes. She's a much stronger, more dynamic character than she is in Japan. We think that has more appeal to both boys and girls over here."

A faithful version of Cardcaptors would've stuck out like a sore thumb and clash with the demo the block was selling to advertisers. When things are going good, you don't suddenly start targeting a different audience.
 

AdrenalineRush1996

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DiC's initial dub tarnished Sailor Moon's reputation, and later shojo anime that came to the U.S. were met with similar fates. Shows like CardCaptor Sakura and Tokyo Mew Mew were also highly sanitized for children's television and basically seen as "Sailor Moon ripoffs." It's hard to shake off the perception of shojo in the west after the damage caused by those dubs.
I thought that perception was shaken off during the last decade.
 

TnAdct1

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They likely saw that it was popular in Japan and wanted in. Pokemon was huge in Japan and huge on Kids WB. Why wouldn't this be ...

Attempting to make it more gender-neutral was to help it fit in with a schedule that was predominantly watched by boys:

A faithful version of Cardcaptors would've stuck out like a sore thumb and clash with the demo the block was selling to advertisers. When things are going good, you don't suddenly start targeting a different audience.
This is where my demographics comment comes into play. Most magical girls show were targeting an audience of young females, and unless you're someone that's into anime, this was going to be a hard sell for a viewing audience that's is mostly boys.
 

Vuxovich

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I thought the United States was the only country that never aired Powerpuff Girls Z. Well, I had a conversation with a friend of mine via Facebook chat and he revealed that PPGZ never aired in North America, Pan-European countries (except French and Italian-speaking territories, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Greece and Cyprus), the Middle Eastern and African countries (except French and Portuguese-speaking territories). On top of that, he told me about many reasons why PPGZ never aired in the United States.
More than likely the only reason why PPGZ was available in Europe at all was because the rights, for some reason, were bought by a third-rate company (it was, in my opinion, either Viz Media's European branch or Elastic Rights). That company's low outreach in Europe played the part. By the way, the company has/had since went bankrupt. And the only reason why PPGZ was dubbed in Latin American Spanish was because of Toei and definitely not Turner. In fact, Toei has a strong relationship with Latin America.
Speaking of North America, the reason as to why PPGZ never aired there definitely owes to the fact the anime was going to have two English-language dubs. And the one that was going to be supervised by Craig McCracken himself never was for unknown reasons. If I am wrong, then allow me to tell you that the reason the dub of PPGZ was done by the Ocean Group was because someone from the original PPG show (or from Cartoon Network) was removed during the anime's production for unknown reasons. With that person out of picture, so was the voice cast of the original PPG show.
As an European fan of the Powerpuff Girls franchise, I would like to state that saying that PPGZ is better than the 2016 reboot would be an understatement. For reasons I don't know, I feel that Cartoon Network (USA) absolutely refuses to acknowledge PPGZ as canonical to the whole Powerpuff Girls franchise. The lack of Craig McCracken's PPGZ dub that never was plays the part.

How about that and what do you think?
 

TheCartoonRailfan

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Regarding Sailor Moon, I understand that the changes at Cartoon Network may have affected the series, but wasn't there an issue involving the broadcasting rights and the author?
 

AdrenalineRush1996

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Regarding Sailor Moon, I understand that the changes at Cartoon Network may have affected the series, but wasn't there an issue involving the broadcasting rights and the author?
You're correct along with that the legal wranglings between Toei and Takeuchi prevented the anime from continuing to air on TV in the US until the late 2010s.
 
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