Archive for the Sailor Moon Category


Sailor Moon S Anime, Part 2, Disk 3 (English)

October 13th, 2017

Okay, I’m convinced.  Watching Sailor Moon S, Part 2, Disk 3 on Blu-Ray has convinced me of the superiority of Blu-Rayfor remastered old analog anime. (I’m still completely un-awed by it for regular already higher-definition-than-my-eyes-see-at-anyway hi-def.)

But here, at the final disk of my favorite season of this show, I was unwilling to let a single over-saturated background slip by unnoticed. So Blu-Ray it was. The sound quality was good as far as I can tell. Undoubtedly, audiophiles among you cried out in despair, but all I want is the BGM balanced against the foreground dialogue, (which we did not get with the Pioneer DVDs.) I want, to be specific, “World Shaking” to resound appropriately. ^_^ And so it does. 

Plot-wise, we are in the darkest depths of the arc, basically watching uncomfortably as Hotaru’s body and psyche are the wrestling ground for three entities, only one of which is Hotaru herself. We’re forced to watch her struggle to live as Uranus, Neptune and Pluto try to kill her, Mistress 9 attempts to control her and Sailor Saturn awakens.

Thankfully, it’s the Sailor Senshi and her calm musical theme who wins, and proves the Outers to be completely, wholly, incorrect about all but one thing.

They save the world, of course, It wasn’t really in doubt, even almost a quarter of a century ago, when learning that fact would have been a spoiler. ^_^

The disk came with interviews with Erica Mendez, Lauren Landa and Christine Marie Cabanos, (Sailors Uranus, Neptune and Saturn respectively) which were delightful to listen to. Landa is a long time fan of the series and it shows. She has the same problem I have with “Tuxedo Mirage,” that I tear up for no particular reason when I hear it. ^_^ Another extra is watching them live as they watch an episode in which all of their characters appear together. It was worth a watch and it gave me a good reason to watch an episode dubbed. So let’s talk about the dub for a second.

There is one reason and one reason only I prefer subs to dubs. No, wait, two reasons. There are two reason I prefer subs. One, I really like to listen and try to follow the spoken Japanese. Anime dialogue is not nearly as fast and complicated as real-life dialogue, which makes it good practice for listening to spoken Japanese, something I am not at all good at (I say, then remind myself to put on JapanTV and listen to the damn news in Japanese and get some practice, only to find that Rin-ne is on. With subtitles. orz)

The second reason is completely, utterly, obnoxiously fannish. For decades, listening to American voice actors murder Japanese names just made it intolerable for me to listen to dubs. Well, I listened to this dub and didn’t cringe. So Viz is responsible for not only the definitive edition of Sweet Blue Flowers, but also the definitive – best-of-breed version of Sailor Moon S.  In a short chat with Viz rep Jane Lui at New York Comic-Con I expressed how impressed I have been with their work on these Yuri classics. She noted that creator Naoko Takeuchi-sensei gets final approval of everything on this release of Sailor Moon. I was very relieved and happy to hear that. Takeuchi-sensei deserves to have her say. So I’ll repeat here what I told Jane – thank you to everyone at Viz for doing such an amazing job. The love everyone has for this series shows. So, thank you to everyone who worked on it. 

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri –  5 Alternate family FTW
Service – 3 The Daimon stay racy right through the end.

Overall – 8

The penultimate episode reminded me just why adult characters are so important in series with mostly teen protagonists – someone needed to have pointed out to Haruka and Michiru that they were wrong about almost everything. It is this that really drives my dislike of the 5th season. Someone needed to say to Haruka and Michiru, “Hey! We’ve done this already! You have to listen to Usagi…remember?” It vexes me through the entire season.

Sailor Moon SuperS is on the way, I’m looking forward to it to see the Amazon Trio once again. ^_^

Thank you very much Viz for the review copy!  It was a blast to hum along with every single musical riff. We have the  Proplica Spiral Heart Moon Rod and play the Spiral Heart Attack music about as often as you’d expect. You know…daily. ^_^

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Sailor Moon S Anime , Part 2, Disk 2 (English)

September 25th, 2017

For the first time ever, I’m going to say hands down, the Blu-Ray is better. Watching Sailor Moon S, Part 2, Disk 2 on BD was…fun. The colors are super-saturated, and the animation is as good as the animation ever was (which is to say, not really all that good.) It was good enough, however, that we commented that the Blu-Ray made a difference and we never do that. Sound quality was, again, really decent and overall, the technicals were solid enough that we never once had to think about them for being intrusive or annoying.

In Part 2, the story is getting both sillier and more serious at the same time. We lose Eudial and pick up the delusional Mimete, with her creepy cormorant Daimons. In Mimete’s world, pure hearts are only had by celebrities, so she’d get along famously in 2017.

The Outer Senshi have settled down into full-time brooding, as Sailor Moon herself is getting used to a powerup. I particularly like how they don’t sit down to have any sensible conversations about the situation. Chibi-Usa is the only one who can cross lines, and that’s only because no one takes her seriously. 

Hotaru gets a creepy power-up, then the pathos is laid on with a trowel. I don’t get Kaolinite treating Hotaru so shitty. You’d think…but, no. 

In one of the most eye-opening episodes we both saw something so Ikuhara we started to laugh. It’s funny to see a beloved director’s visual tic so obviously on display.

We’re about to get into the darkest moments of the series and I find I can’t wait to watch it. 25 years later and I’m still a huge fangirl…which is why I’m as excited as I am to say I’ll get to see the new Sailor Moon store in Harajuku! Yay! I’ll be in Tokyo for Comitia and will save my yen for all the Sailor Senshi goods. ^_^ 

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri –  2 A bit muted this disk
Service – 3 

Overall – 8

I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for an interview that will interest you all at AnimeNYC. Say a little prayer.

Thanks very much to Viz for the review copy! I just love it to pieces.

 

 

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Sailor Moon S Anime , Part 1, Disk 3 (English)

January 11th, 2017

Today’s review begins with my very heartfelt gratitude to Okazu Superhero Ivan L. Upon reading in an earlier review that my computer had crashed and taken my Blu-ray player with it, Ivan generously donated one to Okazu. And so, because of Ivan’s kindness, I am able to report on Sailor Moon S, Part 1, Disk 3 on BD.

Sailor Moon S looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. ^_^ As a quick test, I rewatched an episode in DVD. It looks great, but damn, that Blu-ray is smokin’. There’s no going back now. ^_^

The episodes of Disk 2 and 3 are arguably the reasons that so many fans love this series. These episodes are where we spend so much time with each individual Senshi, learning about their hopes and dreams and the self-doubts that hold them back. It gives them time to be people, rather than just archetypes.

On Disk 3, we also have the second-best episode* of the entire season, Uranus’ origin episode, Episode 106. By this point, the animation has really settled in. 20 years ago, Michiru’s drawing of Uranus was pretty and a little sexy. 20 years later it looks as good as – perhaps better than – new, as our screen resolution can finally really capture the movement and light in it.

For this episode, I also watched the dub. You may not appreciate the leap of faith that took for me, but trust me – this is my second-favorite episode of  all 200.* I had to believe that Erica Mendez and Lauren Landa were going to voice Haruka and Michiru in a way that wouldn’t make me cringe. So when I tell you that I thought they did a fantastic job, it has meaning and weight. My sincere thanks to both of them. It meant a lot to me to see Uranus and Neptune voiced “right.” The script isn’t exact to the Japanese, but it works beautifully and I have no major complaints. (Of course I have minor ones…I’m an otaku. ^_^)  The rest of the cast is also excellent – it was an actual pleasure to watch a dub. I don’t think I have ever said that before in my life. 

20 years later, I’m watching Haruka being mean to Michiru on a ship that inexplicably has a painting of the entire city being destroyed by a giant tidal wave and the painting is so vivid and so extraordinary a thing that I had to comment, “What a thing to have on a ship!” And then be sucked back into a story I have watched dozens, perhaps, hundreds of times.  Haruka, Michiru, two 15 year olds torn between their own dreams of the future and the past, and between desire for each other and to save the world. It’s a pretty intense episode, in a series that is about to take a turn into intensity.

However, before we do that, we have Eudial and her terrible driving, the ongoing gag of her parking tickets and her terrible Daimons, and a discussion of a rosy future. There’s one last gasp of humor to come, before this all goes dark, but we’ll have to wait for it in the second set. I cannot wait for the second set!

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 9 Haruka and Michiru
Characters – 10 Haruka and Michiru
Yuri- 7 Haruka and Michiru 
Service – 4 

Overall – 9 Did I mention Haruka and Michiru?

I’ve written about this before, but the line “I won’t let you go home tonight” was a well-known pickup line in the 90s, when Sailor Moon S came out. It is suggestive to a Japanese audience in a way that an American audience might miss. And by “suggestive” I mean it wasn’t suggestive of driving all night long, it was a blatant come-on. Which is why Michiru says “ara” in that pleased/slightly scandalized tone. I’m sorry they changed it in English, but I’ll give them a bye on it. I can’t expect too many folks at Viz to know ancient pickup lines….although they could just ask me. ^_^ 

Thanks once again to Viz Media for the review copy, special thanks to Erica Mendez and Lauren Landa for their excellent jobs voicing roles that are so foundational to so many of us. And many, many thanks to Ivan. You all made me cry, in a good way. (T_T)

* If you can’t guess which episode is the favorite, then you’ll just have to wait. There’s really only one possible candidate. ^_^

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Sailor Moon S Anime , Part 1, Disk 2 (English)

January 3rd, 2017

Disk 2 of Sailor Moon S, Part 1 is a large part of what arguably makes this series so compelling. It is on this disk we do something that changes the series completely…we spend time with the Senshi.

We’ve met the Professor and Kaolinite and we understand that they  – and Uranus and Neptune – are after the “three talismans” whatever they may be and no further information is offered in that regard. Instead, we get a chance to actually see what matters to Ami, Rei, Makot and, Minako  and in doing so, we see well-developed characters who struggle with self-doubt and who rely on their friends and the people around them to find renewed purpose.

In addition, as we visit the Senshis’ inner dreams and hopes  we see something that thrills me to no end – we see the concern and affection and understanding they have for one another. This is not just Usagi running behind them, shouting their name, dragging the others along, this is the Inners supporting each other. Rei and Makoto talking quietly in the hallway outside Rei’s room is one of my favorite scenes of the season.  These are the episodes during which you understand at last, that Rei takes her shrine duties very seriously. That Makoto, who so often shrugs off her strength, wants more than anything to be able to rely on it. That Minako cares that she’s no longer playing volleyball, even though she knows why and that Ami’s worried that there’s no her in the middle of all that studying. And, in many ways, this disk goes a really long way to giving Mamoru the first glimpse we ever get of a real personality. In my opinion, these are the finest episodes of Sailor Moon S

This disk also includes the two-part episode on Usagi’s birthday, which is the second time we encounter the song “Ai no Senshi” while Usagi pleads with Haruka and Michiru to not allow people to be sacrificed. 

This disk shows my favorite qualitiy of storytelling – the plot is driven forward by character development with a backdrop of monsters, rather than just being one monster after another in tedious succession. 

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 9
Characters – 10 Eudial! Best bad guy ever.
Yuri- 5 Haruka and Michiru deny being a couple, I have  theory about that
Service – 5 Sexualized Daimons are still sexualized

Overall – 9

Did I mention Eudial has arrived! Wahoo. I love Eudial. ^_^

Many many thanks to Viz for the review copy and for their fantastic remastering!

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Top Ten Yuri of 2016

December 31st, 2016

Before I finish my whimsical look at the things that best expressed “Yuri” for me for the year, I just want to thank you all once again. 2016 was one of the best years of my life. I was able to travel a lot and meet even more of you than ever before. I was able to attend some fun events, speak with terrific folks and generally had a fantastic year.

And with that, here is the Okazu Best Yuri list for 2016!
 

10. LGBTQ Anthologies

From Northwest Press’s Absolute Power, to Indie books Oath, DatesBeyond, and Power & Magic through the IDW/DC collaboration Love is Love, 2016 was chock full of wonderful, hopeful collections of comic and prose for, by and about LGBTQ folks.

I love them all and love that out of pain, will come ever more inclusive and diverse art. We’re going to need it, we’re going to need to be making it. Commit to reminding yourself that you are not alone, there there are many people like you out there and who need you.  Anthologies are one way we can speak to one another…and I love them.
 
 
  
  
 

9. Yuri Webcomics

I  remember back in the 1990s, checking out a listing for “Yuri” webcomics someone had suggested to me, and finding a pretty amazing list of comics that had no lesbians and were “Yuri” only in the most extreme sense of the word. Wow, have we come a long way. I don’t think I’ve read so many webcomics in my life as I do now.

I’m reading Yuri and lesbian webcomics from North America, Thailand, the Philipines, Europe and Japan. The art is breathtaking, and there are so many it’s hard to single out a few, but I’m going to anyway.

If you want to read Yuri webcomics that inspire, are beautiful and have great stories, I recommend Pulse by Ratana Satis, Carciphona by Shilin and Always Human by Ari North. All three will give you wings. ^_^ Which is why these Yuri webcomics and so many many other LGBTQ and diverse webcomics (Agents of the Realm, The Hues, and so many more) make my best-of list for the year.
 

 

8. Yuri Publishers

In years past this mention has had a few names, most of which you’re more than familiar with. This year I want to list out all the publishers I thought off the top of my head that have in the past year, are currently or are about to publish Yuri manga.

In English: Seven Seas, Yen Press, Viz Media, and Udon Press.

In Japanese:  Ichijinsha, Kodansha, Hakusensha, Gentosha, Futabasha, Takeshobo, East Press, Kadokawa and Media Factory. Global Bookwalker for digital and a host of online comic providers in Japan and overseas.

Yuri isn’t niche anymore. In a few short years (short in terms of literature, that is,) Yuri has gone from being merely a fetish or a plot element,  to a fully-developed genre in it’s own right. In large part this is because creators and readers demanded it…and, as the market developed, the publishers followed. Thank you to all the publishers who bring us great (and some not-so-great ^_^) Yuri! 

 
 
 

7.  Yuri and LGBTQ Comic Events

It’s getting harder and harder to plan my events schedule, there are so many new and wonderful inclusive events out there.

There’s Girl Love Fest, of course, and Nijicon and Flamecon, here in the US.  There’s YaY-con in the Netherlands, Y/CON in Paris, and Yaoi/Yuri North in Canada, all of which tend to be a little heavy on the BL stuff, but all can use as much interest in Yuri as they can get! So, if you’re planning on attending, get involved and let them know what you want to see.  And coming up for 2018, keep your eye on Universal Fancon.

There’s also indie/small press comic shows like MoCCA and Stumptown and the amazing Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which are all queer-friendly. Don’t forget that that among the masses of doujinshi at Comiket and Comitia there’s great LGBTQ work.  Queer and Comics , the first academic conference on LGBTQ comics will coming to San Francisco for 2017!

There’s never been such riches in shows for folks who are looking for comics that tell their stories and communities of fans to be part of. If you haven’t yet added a LGBTQ comic event to your schedule, there’s no time like the present! Make it a 2017 New Year resolution to  get yourself to a Yuri/ LGBTQ comics event.

 
 

6. Lesbian Comic Essays 

I keep mentioning these, but comic essays have really lifted the profile of “lesbians” in the world of Yuri manga. Where manga often seem mired in coming out narratives about young girls, comic essays pick up the thread of lives lived by real women, for whom the story did not end with a kiss and promise.

Unsurprisingly, many of these stories deal with difficult topics, precisely because the story does not end when the last page of the book is turned.  Like autobiographical comics in the western indie market, these manga fill in the gap between fantasy and reality for LGBTQ readers.

Every year I find these comic essays to be some of the most satisfying comics I sit down to read. I hope the trend continues and we get even more women telling their own stories. Next year, you’ll get a chance to experience a legally licensed comic essay, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, from Seven Seas. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it!

 
 

5. Sailor Moon

I said it the other day, “If Haruka and Michiru make an appearance in any given year on Okazu, they are always going to win by default.” By default, Sailor Moon makes the list this year. ^_^

Not ONLY did we get a powered up- Season Three of Sailor Moon Crystal and Sailor Moon S finally got the definitive release it deserved, but also, I was able to see the Sailor Moon 20th anniversary exhibition in Tokyo!

2016 was a good year for me and Sailor Moon and for that, it just has to be present on this list. ^_^

 

 

4. Yuri Games

Without any doubt, this was the most surprising thing that happened this year. 2016 was the year I started to play Yuri games, read Yuri VNs and promote Yuri games that did not suck the life out of me! There were two Yuri VNs that were excellent, a couple that were good and a lot more that weren’t terrible, just not for me.   I am still shocked that I have an actual Steam account I have used multiple times this year(!). That’s just…amazing.  

So, yay for Yuri games! I’m glad to see some good ones from Japan make it over here, like Kindred Spirits, but even gladder to see good original games from domestic creators, like Highway Blossoms. And best of all, I think the Yuri Game Jam may be the best thing ever for all Yuri gamers. Support and play those games, then come back here and let us know how they are! Let’s go Yuri gaming!

 

So, we’re here at the Top Three Yuri anythings this year, and I’m pretty sure if you’re a regular reader you won’t be surprised, just from the sheer number of times I have raved about all these things….

 

3. Steven Universe

I don’t know what to say about this cartoon that I haven’t already said. It speaks to me in ways I had no idea a cartoon even could. Multiple episodes this last season have been Emmy-worthy. I sing the songs on repeat for days on end. The story is strongly anime-inspired, but never pretends to be something it isn’t. This is a true child of the Utena generation of American anime fans.

The acting, storytelling and sheer radical diversity of every single facet of it’s production, including staff, cast and characters, makes Steven Universe the cartoon I’d been waiting my whole life for. With so many canon couples between gems who identify as “she,” and such strong Yuri anime roots, I have no qualms about claiming it as ours. ^_^

Without question, Steven Universe has been one of the absolutely best Yuri things about 2016. 

 

2. Yuri Community

You, my Okazu Family. You, my readers, and writers, and commenters, my social sharers, my YNN Correspondents, my Patrons.  Every year you make the list and every year, it always feels a little inadequate on my part. I can never quite express how thankful I am for your support, your Guest Reviews, your comments and corrections, your news tips and the tremendous outpouring of generosity which always takes my breath away. I’ve been touched over and over by your kindness,  your humor and your insight. 

The Yuri Community is, once again, one of the very best things of the year. Thank you for being part of the Okazu family. 

 

There’s been one thing that I think has been conspicuous by it’s absence from these lists. We will now rectify that. ^_^ The number one Yuriest thing of 2016 is, without question…..

 

1. Grand Stage Drama CDs

These are so Yuri…! Otokoyaku of the Grand Stage Revue, all voiced by high-Yuri cred actresses, in which *we* play the part of the partner? The only way this could have been Yurier, is if these women showed up at our house dressed in suits and proceeded to read romantic poetry to us directly.

Having Ogata Megumi, Toyoguchi Megumi, Inoue Marina, Kitamura Eri and Saiga Mitsuki swooning all over you (metaphorically) while whispering sweet nothings in your ear?  This is so. fucking. Yuri. ^_^

This series hits me square in all my weak points, so short of a manga about a motorcycle riding, eyepatch-wearing martial artist librarian lesbian, this is pretty much it, this is the champion.

The Yuriest anything of 2016 is étriere’s Grand Stage Drama CD series. ^_^

As we finish up our look at the best of the year, I offer my fervent wish that our year going forward is a very good one. From my family to all of you in the Okazu and Yuricon family, we wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

 

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