When Sailor Moon first hit Cartoon Network, I found it entertaining in a way I hadn’t ever before experienced. Things…changed. The characters grew over time, they remembered what had happened last week and learned new things as the series went on. They got more powerful, and braver and more competent as the series progressed. The story wasn’t about just defeating the bad guys. We learned about the characters themselves, too – what they liked and didn’t like. They had complex relationships – sometimes the closest of friends, sometimes they’d be distant. It was something so amazing, so different from the animation I had grown up with, that I was hooked.
It was 1998. Seriously? I have been obsessing about this series for 17 years? Good heavens.
Pioneer originally released the series on VHS. We don’t have all of the VHS tapes because they were impossible to find in order, or as a set. You’d get one volume of episodes at Suncoast and thne search forever to find the next one, maybe discovering it at an anime con, or the bargain rack at The Wall. Or not, and you’d have that hole in your collection forever. When Pioneer put the set out on DVD, I scarfed them up. Cartoon Network had hacked and slashed the third season up in the weirdest possible way, making cross-dressing Haruka and her flirtatious possibly-girlfriend Michiru into a creepy pair of incestuous cousins, and we were thrilled beyond belief to have Sailor Moon S in its subtitled, uncut weirdness.
In 2014 we got the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime. Predictably, fandom spent more time being unhappy about it than glad. My favorite complaints are that the animation is bad and the faces are all the same. The complaint that we spend too little time with the characters is entirely valid. The season went from 40 episodes down to 13, mirroring the manga, which means the anime has both the strengths and the weaknesses of the the manga. We lost some character building time for the Senshi, that is true. We also lost many other things.Viz has put out a brand new master of the original Sailor Moon anime. I am rewatching every single episode, even the bad ones, and let me tell you, there are some stinkers in this thing.
Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1, Disk 1 begins with the moment that clumsy, crybaby Tsukino Usagi meets a talking cat, Luna and learns that she is a Guardian of Love and Justice, Sailor Moon. She is also stalked by this creepy dude in a mask and tux, cleverly called Tuxedo Mask.
No one is going to beat me in my love for this series, but I have to be honest with you, episode 4 really bites. In fact, the first 7 episodes are probably my least favorite among all 200 and I am including all of “R” and “Super S” in that. Chibi-Usa kissing a unicorn sucks less that the episode where Usagi is worried about losing weight. If I could destroy that episode so no one ever had to see it again, I would, gladly. And truly, the animation is abominable. Remember, that no one at Toei knew whether this would fail and they pulled out no stops at all. The animation is bad even for its time. So when you complain that the animation is bad in Crystal, remember that Sailor Moon has a 20-year tradition of bad art. ^_^
And let’s talk about the writing for a second. In Crystal, because we don’t have monsters of the day, only enemies of the day, we don’t get lines like “Frilled-neck lizards, albino Mexican salamanders, and the human face fish are all mad!” I don’t know whether to call that a loss or a victory, ^_^
This all having been said, the one thing that made the series work for me starts up in Episode 8, with the addition of Mizuno Ami to the team. The rapport between the characters was always what made Sailor Moon work for me (although I admit to loving the monsters of the day for their inherent absurdity). When Ami first shows up, she looks lonely. That look will leave her face as time goes on, because one of the key points of anime is that you are stronger with friends. Seeing Ami smile was worth it. It’s always worth it.
Last, but not at all least, I have to commend Viz. The remastering is as good as anyone could have ever hoped and the translation not only is accurate, but includes cues to character voice, so that Usagi’s lines sound like a child, while Ami’s are a bit more mature. Top marks from me on that. (As an aside, when I began watch Crystal, I though that Mitsuishi Kotono-san was voicing Usagi a bit babyish, but the more I listen to the original, the more I think it fits. About episode 7 or 8, she starts sounding a bit more babyish, so clearly that was what they were going for.)
In general, the Viz edition is clean, simple and appealing. For folks who want fancier layouts, there are multiple versions, with physical and content extras. The more basic Limited Edition is available on Amazon and RightStuf through the Yuricon Shop.
It was both wonderful and excruciating revisiting this disk and I have no doubt that my feeelings will remain the same for the next two disks. Onward – more Senshi await.
Art – 6 tops
Story – 7 Still more plausible than Weiss Kreuz
Characters – 7, soon to climb
Yuri – 0
Service – 1 unless you count Tuxedo Mask and I don’t, but there is inevitable bathing.
Overall – 7, but watch it crescendo as we move forward.
Sincere and immense thanks to Viz Media for a review copy. It’s like visiting old friends (and remembering why you didn’t visit them any more. ^_^)