On the night of April 20th, Crunchyroll published a blog post stating that three seasons of the original Sailor Moon series will come to YouTube for free. A handful of tech and nerd-culture websites played telephone with the story, leaving out one very important fact: the Sailor Moon website clearly states that “distribution is limited to Japan.”
In other words, the audio is Japanese-only, there are no English subtitles, and you can’t start the free Sailor Moon episodes without a Japanese IP address. Toei Animation, the company that owns Sailor Moon, sold exclusive US distribution rights to VIZ Media years ago. Unless VIZ Media uploads Sailor Moon to YouTube, you’re stuck watching it on Hulu.
Okay, but why does this promotion exist in the first place? Toei Animation wants to get people excited for its new Sailor Moon movie, titled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal: The Movie. The film, which is slated for a Japanese release on September 11th, takes place during the fourth story arc of the Sailor Moon manga and anime. By streaming the first three seasons of Sailor Moon for free, Toei can drum up hype for its new movie, bring in new fans, and give old fans a quick refresher.
I hope that I haven’t ruined anybody’s day. Unless VIZ Media comes out of the woodwork to give us Sailor Moon for free, we’re stuck watching with dubs or subs on Hulu. Hulu’s cheapest streaming plan costs just $6 a month, and students can sign up for a Spotify Premium + Hulu + SHOWTIME bundle for $5 a month.