There was a lot of hype about the new Sailor Moon reboot, and several pushed-back deadlines, but it finally started airing in Japan in July – and on Hulu, Crunchyroll, Neon Alley, and unlicensed websites (you know the ones). I believe it airs in Japan every first and third Saturday.
I instinctively loathe reboots, but Sailor Moon is a series that benefits from it. The Sailor Moon of the 1990s, like so many other anime, was made while the manga was still going, and this resulted in two undesirable things:
1.) Many, many filler episodes. These are called “Monster of the Day” episodes among fans.
2.) One entire season and two feature films that were in no way based on the manga (the Sailor Moon S film was based on a side story by Naoko Takeuchi).
The series also suffered from massive amounts of (seemingly) unintentional camp, such as Sailor Moon’s famous line, “In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!” Lots of people like that aspect, but I’m not one of them.
The animation itself wasn’t nearly as pretty as the manga. As you can see below, Sailor Moon Crystal has waaaaay better production values and looks waaaay closer to the manga.
So! Today I will briefly review the first two episodes. But first, I have a few general thoughts.
What I like about Sailor Moon Crystal:
- Really good animation
- Way better music
- Badass opening credits animation – I squeed when I saw the scouts’ attacks
- Pretty artwork for the title screen and commercial breaks
- Inclusion of photorealistic space imagery
- Well done foreshadowing
- Emphasis on Sailor V (which some people still don’t realize was a real manga that came out before Sailor Moon)
- Modern technology is incorporated in a way that doesn’t draw attention to itself.
What I don’t like:
- The camp is back! Noooooo
- The transformation scenes, while benefiting from better animation, involve computer animation that is just sliiiightly obvious.
**SPOILERS TO BE SURE**
Episode 1: Usagi – Sailor Moon –
Everything I put in my “like” list above was in this first episode. Usagi has flashbacks to her life as Moon royalty, which I don’t remember from the first series and which I think are a great way to both nod knowingly to fans and to spike the interest of new viewers.
Putting Mamoru in a tuxedo in broad daylight was perhaps not the best choice. It’s a nice tuxedo, to be sure, but it makes it even more obvious that he’s Tuxedo Kamen and Usagi looks pretty dumb when she doesn’t figure it out, like, immediately. Lois Lane levels, here.
Foreshadowing: I spotted Ami at school twice, and there are multiple references to Sailor V via posters, the video game Usagi plays at the arcade, and a comment by her mom. Yes, Sailor Moon has a mom, and a little brother, who I entirely forgot. In the manga, the “normal” people in everyone’s lives fall away after a certain point.
I found a great video comparing Sailor Moon’s transformation sequence from both animations. It shows the old one, the new one, and then side by side. The new one is actually somewhat longer and involves a lot of… should I call it traveling?
Episode 2: Ami – Sailor Mercury –
Sailor Moon is big on friendship between girls, and there is a scene in which Usagi and Ami make a connection that I think is just nice to watch. Playing video games is another way they bond and it seems Ami doesn’t have fun very often, so she gets to relax a little at the arcade.
I love that Sailor Moon is scared by enemies. Who wouldn’t be scared by a monster? It’s realistic and human.
I like Ami’s transformation scene in the 1990s anime better. While the new one is longer, it obscures her with water in the beginning and again, moves her around too much. Here’s a comparison of Mercury’s transformations.
I don’t recall Sailor Mercury getting to spout off campy lines, but now she does. I don’t mind that – after all, if they have to include silly catchphrases, Sailor Moon shouldn’t be the only one to camp it up – but her ending pose is terrible.
In minor news, Usagi’s laptop is so cute and the color is gorgeous. I want it.
Foreshadowing: Rei at the end.
I will be posting reviews of all the episodes – there are 26 planned, and hopefully they’ll continue after that.
I’m looking forward to
- The other girls’ transformations and attacks
- The gay relationships of actual guys
- More foreshadowing and flashbacks