Not Star Comics, that's for sure. Fansite MetalRobot of Italy conducted an interview with representatives of Italy's Star Comics, and a question was asked about Sailor Moon. Here it is, translated into English:
MR: Italy was the country picked for the foreign relaunch of the series, Sailor Moon, when this happened the rights to the anime were unblocked and it has come back on the air. Also in the news these days are the future release of the rights for the manga series. Is Star Comics going to publish this?
SC: The news of the release of the rights of Sailor Moon is true, but it isn't Star Comics that will have the rights in Italy. We have no problem admitting that someone else has bought the rights, if it has not been released openly it is because nobody has asked J (NOTE: more on J later). We are certainly not happy with the situation, especially the circumstances that led to the decision to entrust the series to another publisher, even though Star Comics invested a lot in the series in the past. Star Comics was never supported by any 'parent', we got where we are thanks to our efforts... but sometimes that is not enough.
Now, we have some shocking news to share with you. We can't name the companies involved (please don't ask us, we have to respect everyone involved), but in late June we learned that the international manga rights were in limbo. We got an email on a Monday along with a request for the manga report, we reworked the report and sent it off late Thursday night, and on Friday afternoon we learned that the rights had in fact just been resolved (after months of issues) as of that morning. This more than explained why there was nothing happening with the manga release in Italy to coincide with the broadcast on Hiro, and we all expect to hear some good news from there any time now. Up until that day, no company has had any rights for the international release of the Sailor Moon manga. Nanoda of Italy has also published that the rights were just recently resolved.
We certainly weren't given any indication about the rights being in limbo in February when we sent off the manga report. From the tone of the representative's voice over the phone, we all assumed that everything was in place. Fans, do not worry about your efforts going down in vain! All of your comments were forwarded in this updated report with a note to excuse the references and to continue read the comments sent in by fans (all of the other companies we have sent copies of the report to have enjoyed reading what you all have to say). We feel for Star Comics though since they put in a lot of effort into the manga (which by all accounts that we have read was a very successful release), and they will not be allowed to continue their legacy for a future release. In the future though, we may post a short section that we included in this updated manga report that showed a few examples where the Tokyopop translations got sluggish.
As far as "J" goes? No one knows who they are referring to, not even us. ComicsBlog.it has a few theories, but we wonder if the J actually means "Japan" and is meant to be something vague. We can tell you that it is most definitely not the case of anyone not asking to license the manga. We deal mostly with the English side of things although we try to cater to as much international news as we possibly can, and during that week in June there was every indication that there were a lot of companies interested in a license for the updated manga. We don't know of any companies in Italy that start with the letter "J" that have anything to do with manga or comic releases, but we would not be surprised if Giochi Preziosi were to acquire the license, since they have been at each licensing meeting etc. since the beginning. This would have given them an advantage in bidding for the manga since they have already been working with Toei Animation and PNP/Naoko Takeuchi on the Sailor Moon revival.
Also: We know that the series is returning to Eastern Europe, but we have been asked by a representative of Plus Licens to wait for a different release. The ones that are being posted around the internet were meant for corporate readers only. What we can tell you is that Plus Licens has the rights to manage the series licenses for broadcast, merchandise, etc. to different companies, but they will not be releasing the series themselves. Think of it as Toei Animation and PNP/Naoko Takeuchi as being the "Grandparents", Plus Licens as being the "Parents" and the children that are going to "play" with Sailor Moon are the ones that will be getting licenses for actual releases. Make sense? Again, we understand that these are exciting times to be a Sailor Moon fan, but with this excitement comes some waiting!
*** And a personal note from me, Sailordees: I apologize for the lack of updates in the last little while - believe me, I wish for nothing more than to have time to work on these blogs, but on June 28th, I got some great news in my personal life that has forced me to prepare for some big changes. I can't share much more, except for the fact that these big changes are requiring a lot of my time. I will probably not be able to return full time to either Moon Chase or We Got the Solution until September, but rest assured our staff members will do their very best to keep you guys updated as much as they possibly can. Thanks to all for your continued support and patience!