Yo, Cedric_alpha is back again, and I’m here for another review of a popular anime. Now, last year, we all got re-introduced to one of the most popular magical girls anime of all time. Viz Media did a deal to not only bring back the original Sailor Moon and show it in its original uncut Japanese subtitle form, but to also re-dub it with a new cast and show it off. The episodes would be shown on Hulu and Neon Alley (Viz Media’s own site) with two uncut episodes every Monday. And they would also show the new dub episodes before it was shown on DVD and Blu-Ray. Also announced before that in Japan was a new project that was to be a new Sailor Moon anime that would follow closer to the manga than the original did, and have its creator, Naoko Takeuchi, be on board through it all, to run as well. This was Sailor Moon Crystal. That was over a year ago. Now, it’s late October (as of this article being written) and Sailor Moon is now over 150 episodes on Hulu/Neon Alley. While Sailor Moon Crystal is finally getting its dub premiere in November and maybe a 3rd season. Now before I get into my review of it, quick thing I want to tell ya. I never saw Sailor Moon when it first premiered on Toonami way back when. I didn’t have Cartoon Network till 2000, so I missed out on a lot of the early stuff. So my first foray into this was when it got picked up last year in its uncut form. Basically, I been watching it new all throughout. And being 3/4th through it, I will continue on that path. Now, because of this, I can’t make a giant review of it like I did with my Naruto Shippuden review. So I’m gonna break it down season by season. Also, since I can, I will make some comparisons with this and Sailor Moon Crystal. Because I do heave some things to say about Crystal as well. So without further ado, let’s start off with the first season of Sailor Moon. (Since this is a review, there will be spoilers. So be warned)
Story and Characters
The story starts off fairly simple. We meet a girl name Usagi Tsukino. She is a 14 year old middle school student, who is very clumsy, a big crybaby, and not very bright. She is very kind though, as we find out when she helps out a poor kitty cat getting teased by kids. The cat has a bandage on it, and when removed, reveals to have a “bald spot on its head”, that looks like a crescent-shaped moon. The cat senses something with Usagi, and follows her home. She then talks to her, which freaks Usagi the hell out. The cat, who’s name is Luna, gives Usagi a brooch, and with the words, “Moon Prism Power, Make Up” she transforms into the Pretty Guardian who fights for love and justice, Sailor Moon.
From there on, she gets taken into a world that is full of monsters, villains, crystals that can destroy the world, and a guy dressed in a tuxedo who helps her and is part of her destiny/fate/future. She also makes a few friends along the way that not only can transform into magical girls who fight in Sailor uniforms as well, or as they are called, the “Sailor Guardians”, but they are also part of her destiny/fate/future that all unfolds. I’ll get to them and this destiny stuff in a bit.
Luna informs Usagi that her mission is to find the Princess, the person who will lead Sailor Moon and the others. Usagi really just wants to be her normal teen self at first, but quickly adjusts to it. A lot of Monster of the Day fights go down, with Usagi clumsily beating them all, with some help by a masked man named Tuxedo Mask, who is later revealed to be Mamoru Chiba. (This may be a spoiler, since it doesn’t reveal he is Tuxedo Mask till halfway through the first season, but even people who never seen it should figure it out pretty early on, since his disguise is just a very flimsy mask.) This handsome guy usually tosses roses and says some stuff that normally makes no sense at all. But Usagi develops a big crush on him (she goes gaga for most handsome men early on) for he’s usually there when Usagi fights. Those monsters she fights? They are sent out by Queen Beryl, ruler of the Dark Kingdom. She is looking for the Legendary Silver Crystal, a crystal that has immense power and could destroy or save the world, depending on the wielder. She is the former. She sends her hetchman Jadeite do to the dirty work at first. (He is one of the Four Generals of the Dark Kingdom, along with Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite. They all have a role to play in the first season, as both villains, and other roles.)
As Usagi/Sailor Moon continues her fight, and helping her friends and teacher not to get attacked by monsters, not only does she need to locate the Princess, but the other Sailor Guardians as well, to help her with this task. Cause transformations pens and “Moon Tiara Action” can only go so far by yourself. The first help comes in the role of Ami Mizuno, who we found out to be Sailor Mercury. Ami is one of the kindest and most gentle of the Sailor Guardians. She is just a precious cinnamon roll, and I liked her immediately as soon as she appeared on here. She is also one of the brightest minds on the show, and wants to be a doctor someday. She usually figures out all the situations that Sailor Moon and co. get into. It isn’t long after Ami appears that they locate the next Sailor Guardian. She is Rei Hino, and she is Sailor Mars. This shrine maiden is really bold and prideful in how she handles things, and she won’t take crap from anyone, especially Usagi. As you see as they get in fights alot, and make fun of each other. Even with this, she still likes Usagi, and does help her, mostly being the reasonable one. Mostly.
The 3 of them team up, and are eventually able to defeat Jadeite (by moving jumbo jet, no less) and then Nephrite shows up and MOTD (Monster of the Day) and fillers show also aplenty, and he develops a romance with Usagi’s friend, Naru Osaka. Then he gets killed by Zoisite’s minions. Also, there is an anime making episode (yes, this happens), and one where they all think they found the Silver Crystal and the Princess (they don’t) and Usagi gets her first kiss from 19 year old, college student Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask. While she is completely drunk. I can’t make this up. (To be fair to Mamoru, he’s a high school student in the manga/Crystal. Why they made him a college student here and made that scene even more creepy, I have no idea.)
Right after Nephrite’s demise, we are introduced to the next Sailor Guardian. Here, we meet Makoto Kino, who is Sailor Jupiter. She is very tall, can kick your ass, and she loves to cook. Also, she has a very big affection with seeing that every guy she falls for looks like “the sempai that broke her heart” in some way an
d I want to be the one who makes her forget her ex I mean, I hope she can break this heartache soon. She is also, in my opinion, the best Sailor Guardian on here. Did I forget to mention that Mako can spot a nice ass as well?
So with her joining the team, there are now 4, and they move on to face the first gay couple of the series, Zoisite and Kunzite. And yeah, I said first, cause they aren’t the only same-sex pair who are on here. But that is for another review. They fight Zoisite to start, who attacks them with a Dark Crystal. Usagi gets the Moon Stick, which makes her the (very clumsy) leader of the team, and gets a new attack in “Moon Healing Escalation.” There also stuff that involves Rainbow Crystals, which are located and extracted using the Dark Crystal, and comes from various people, and a fat cat who is named after a character from Gone With The Wind, and Mamoru has problems with his memory/Usagi, which involves stuff that seemed like it happened in the past, which I’ll get to in a minute. They are still having trouble with Zoisite, who gets all the Rainbow Crystals, but in enters another one of the Sailor Guardians, Sailor Venus, who went by the mysterious Sailor V on here. She is Minako Aino, and they think at first she’s the Princess they are looking for. Alas, she is not the Princess, but she seems more like a leader than Usagi does. At least through the first season. (Also with her, another talking kitty. His name is Artemis.)
After she joins the other 4, Zoisite launches an attack to get the other Rainbow Crystals. In this attack on the team, Mamoru (who we learn then is Tuxedo Mask) gets critically injured and almost dies, and this makes Usagi sad, and the Rainbow Crystals, responding to her crying, come together and form the Legendary Silver Crystal. And does it take them on a ride. Cause to start off, the Silver Crystal changes Usagi from her sailor uniform, into a Princess dress, revealing that she herself was actually the Princess they been looking for. (Although, this should’ve been obvious since they showed some memories about the Princess earlier that showed the Princess looked like Usagi. If that didn’t do it, then the 2nd OP and ED are the real obvious giveaways for Usagi being her. Thanks, Toei.) She transforms into Princess Serenity, the ruler of the Moon Kingdom, which did I forget to mention the Princess is from the Moon? Cause yeah, she is. It also reveals that Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask was Prince Endymion. They loved each other in the past, on the Moon, and were loved by the people of the Moon Kingdom. Why didn’t NASA tell us this shit? Or are they keeping this a secret from us? Conspiracy Theories go!! Anyway, after this, Zoisite gets beaten, by Queen Beryl herself, and even though he was a bad guy, he did have a touching death scene with his lover, Kunzite, by his side.
Mamoru, who is still injured, gets healed by Queen Beryl with the Dark Crystal, and subsequently, brainwashed as well. He doesn’t know his own self, and is now going by Prince Endymion’s name. Of course, this upsets Usagi as she tries to un-brainwash him. He also clashes with Kunzite alot. This happens in the fillers alot. But after the fillers get through, which includes figure skating, a tragic love story of Minako’s, family stuff, and trying to have the Dark Kingdom fall for a stupid ploy, the real action begins. After finding the Dark Kingdom’s location, which is strangely located in the Arctic, Kunzite delivers them to the past, as he was trying to eliminate them, and there, the girls see their past more. The person who shows them their past was Queen Serenity, Princess Serenity’s mother. (So Serenity is Serenity II. But they don’t say this.) The place they are at is Silver Millennium, the name for the Moon Kingdom, and it shows how peaceful it was, how Princess Serenity and Price Endymion (who was an Earthling, by the way) loved each other more. It also shows that the Sailor Guardians were bodyguards of Serenity. Usagi and co. are all re-incarnations of the original crew. Then an evil entity named Queen Metalia corrupts a lot of the Earth populace, including Queen Beryl, and they attack the Moon. An all-out war erupts, killing the Prince and Princess and the other Sailor Guardians, and Queen Serenity has to sacrifice herself to beat Queen Metalia. (She also sends the kitties to Earth afterwards, who wake up later.) After they get out of the past event, they then take down Kunzite (“You will never make me yell out ‘Refresh!!!'”) and it’s on to the final battle.
The Sailor Guardians make their way to the Arctic, to take on Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom. But she sends some more of her monster out, and they all take out the Sailor Guardians, one-by-one, and Usagi cries for them all, depressed for the loss of her friends. But even then, their spirits all are by her side, and she soldiers on to take on the boss. Unfortunately, brainwashed Mamoru is still there. With nothing getting through, they fight, with Usagi still trying to make him remember. She does it with a music locket Mamoru has, and he finally is un-brainwashed, and back to being himself… only for Queen Beryl to attack Usagi, and him getting in the way, being killed. After mourning him, Usagi then fights Queen Beryl, who takes Queen Metalia’s power to become a Giant Woman, setting up the epic conclusion. With help from her dead comrades, she gives off one giant blast with the Silver Crystal, and finishes her off, once and for all, killing Usagi in the process.
But, the Silver Crystal brings Usagi, Mamoru, and the girls back to life. They don’t remember anything that transpired, only the cats do. And with that, they return to the normal life they once had. To be honest, the way it ended like this, it could’ve easily been the finale of an any show, and I think most would be okay with that. But that was the end of the first season. 46 down. 154 to go.
Now to begin the real fun. Sailor Moon, and by extension, Sailor Moon Crystal, are both made by studio giant Toei Animation. They have produce a number of hits that basically define your childhood/adulthood, including Dragonball/Dragon Ball Z/Dragonball Super, One Piece, Pretty Cure, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, and Digimon. Now, I believe we all know how bad Toei at times can get. (Read “can get” as “most of the time.”) and I don’t need to get into how badly the animators are poorly paid and how long they work for. We all heard the stories. Now Sailor Moon being over 20 years old does at times look like its age. But it still has moments where it looks pretty good. The fight scenes look pretty. The transformation sequences of the girls look great, even if early on it takes forever to get through, and the designs do look nice, even if some of the styles looks really, REALLY 90’s. But, because it’s Toei, there are still a lot of problems throughout. For example.
What the hell is this? Why does Usagi have 7 fucking fingers here?! Why is one of them in the middle of her hand?! Just why? The faces also can look funny at times, and the lighting at times can really change dramatically. It doesn’t help that Hulu/Neon Alley has the worst lighting issues of the streaming sites that carries anime legally, so maybe it makes the lighting in the anime looks worst by comparison. Even so, the animation is actually not as bad as other Toei shows I seen, and in fact, this Sailor Moon in comparison with other newer Toei shows looks really well made. I’ll get to this a bit later. But for now, I’m giving the animation here a just above average C grade, which is like an A+ for Toei.
The music for Sailor Moon is really gonna depend on how you were raised with the show. If you were raised on the one during the early days of Toonami, then this is the song you remember. If you’re like me and have been watching it from the beginning since it started on Hulu, then the original Japanese cut is all you heard.
“Moonlight Densetsu” by Dali is a good song, and prepare for it to be stuck with you, cause it’s staying for the time being. The music locket that Mamaru has also plays a piano version of “Moonlight Densetsu” and it sounds great itself. (You will also hear the song a couple times when there’s a sad moment, and in full during the Sailor Moon/Queen Beryl fight.) The first ED, “Heart Moving” by Misae Takamatsu is basically a “first love” song, and it’s beautifully done. It fits the romantic style of this show. The second ED, “Princess Moon” by Ushio Hasimoto, is another lovely song that also fits well. Both EDs have a nice feeling to them, even if the second one does spoil who Usagi is earlier on. (Again, Toei you can thank for that. Which, by the way, they also like spoiling you with episode titles, as ep. 13, 24, and 45 can attest to.) There’s also the show background music, which can be from just Usagi and co. enjoying their day, to a jazz saxophone styling, and some more romantic music. Overall, the music fells pretty good throughout the show.
Sub and Dub
Just like with the music, this is really gonna depend with how you grew up with it. Again, I never seen the original Sailor Moon, but alot of “Moonies” I have seen comment either have nostalgia for the show and liked the old dub better than the new dub, or think the new dub clearly surpasses the old one by alot. It’s usually the latter I see, but to keep up with that nostalgia some had – and cause I was interested – here are two Toonami promos from back in the day.
But, unfortunately for fans of the old dub, I’m here to talk about the Japanese sub version and the new Viz Media dub. Now, unlike in my Shippuden review, I’m not going to say which one is better, because I actually enjoy both of them. Yeah, that’s right weeaboos. I can enjoy both sub AND dub shows. If you have a problem, complain about it online to someone who gives a shit. Anyway, to break down the roles of both.
In the sub, Kotono Mitsuishi voices the clumsy bunhead Usagi (except for the last few episodes near the end and the start of Sailor Moon R, cause she had surgery and couldn’t voice her), Aya Hisakawa voices the cute genius Ami, Michie Tomizawa voices firey red-hot Rei, Emi Shinohara voices the tough and beautiful Makoto, Rika Fumami voices the blonde ribbon-wearing Minako, Toru Furuya voices the tuxedo loving Mamoru , and Keiko Han and Yasuhiro Takato voice the roles of Luna and Artemis, respectively. The “Sailor Senshi” and Tuxedo Kamen (as pronounce in Japanese) all are great in their respected seiyuu role, and do a wonder job displaying the emotions, quirks, and the toughness of the Sailor Guardians to their fullest. And I can’t forget the villains. Keiko Han, also voicing Queen Beryl, and Masaya Onosaka (Jadeite), Katsuji Mori (Nephrite), Keiichi Nanba (Zoisite), and Kazuyuki Sogabe (Kunzite) are all wonderful in their roles as the bad guys.
The Viz Media dub version has Stephanie Sheh doing an excellent job as Usagi. She does the cute/sweet roles well, (as seen on Toonami shows Naruto, Bleach and Kill La Kill) and Usagi is another of those roles she does excellently, even if Usagi is a crybaby alot. Kate Higgins voices Ami, and she gets to play another character that is smart, but this time not universally hated (*coughSakuracough*). Christina Vee is awesome as Rei, and this time, her role as a magical girl is not as tragic as the last one, and kinda funny when she interacts with Usagi. Amanda C. Miller voices Mako, and she does give her a bit more a mature voice compared to the subs, but I like it that way. Makes her even better and represents her tough nature. Cherami Leigh plays Minako, and she sounds okay to me in the first season. (She gets really good as her in the next season. Kinda hard to not hear her other blonde character she plays in Fairy Tail.) Robbie Drummond is Mamoru on here, and even though his voice is ehhh to me at the beginning, he gets alot better as the show goes on, and I really enjoyed it as it went on.
Cindy Robinson is wonderful in her role of Queen Beryl. She was one of the first voices I liked listening to the dub. Todd Haberkorn is good in the limited villain role he plays of Jadeite. Liam O’Brian is pretty good as well as Nephrite. I loved Lucien Dodge and Patrick Seitz more as Zoisite and Kunzite in their time as them, especially the former. Also, shoutouts to Michelle Ruff and Johnny Yong Bosch as the roles of Luna and Artemis (They seem to not want to be apart in animes, don’t they?) and also a special shoutout to Ben Diskin as nerdy Umino. This guy is showing he can really play many roles, be it nerds, villains (SAO) or manly men (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure). Also on here include VA’s Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Queen Metalia), Bryce Papenbrook, Vic Mignogna, and Veronica Taylor. The new dub is full of great talent.
Original vs Crystal
As I close this out, I really wanted to get to this part, since I see it talked often, and I wanted to get my two cents on it. Now, I know how people have been talking about Sailor Moon Crystal and how bad it is (me included, because quite frankly, it’s bad. It’s just not good.) And yes, some fans really like Crystal and like that it is more an interpretation of the manga than the original never was. Some like it so much, they want to see it on Toonami, and sorry about this people who want it on there, but I say blehhhhhhh, and to next I say good luck, cause Hulu is keeping it for now on. But most of the stuff that goes along with Crystal conversation is the animation. Now, I know it’s not what makes most animes to be hated and all, but it seems that’s the main thing when breaking down Crystal. Is the animation bad in Crystal? OH GOD YES!! I mean, just search up “Sailor Moon Bad Animation” on Google, and the first 26 pics are from Crystal, with the 27th pic being …. well this.
Yes, Crystal looks bad. Real bad. Which is a shame, since it’s 2015, and you think it should look a whole lot better than its 1992/93 counterpart, not the other way around. Although, to be fair to Crystal, it’s not the only new Toei show who’s suffers from this. (Looking at you, Dragonball Super). But it’s not the animations that got me with Crystal. No, the one thing that really made me not like it was the thing that made the original so good: the characters. Now does Usagi cry alot in this one? Yes, but not as much as she does in the original. However, it really got annoying in the first half when she did do that, and then the others would say she was strong for this. When nothing happened. Ugggghhh. Speaking of the other Guardians, that’s another thing Crystal did poorly: Actually make them be characters. The Guardians got some time to shine in the original. Even if they were mostly in fillers, the character development was up there with the best of them. Hell, I’m still seeing character development with the Guardians 150+ episodes in. In Crystal, they are just cardboard cutouts. Like they are just there to be there. Most of the CD goes to Usagi and Mamoru, and that’s it. Now, if that seems harsh, well here’s an example. As I said in the story, the others get killed off by the monsters before the final battle. I felt like I developed a connection after all that time, and felt it when they were killed. It was sad when Ami, Rei, and the others were killed in front of Usagi. The emotion from the VA’s helped in that too, in both sub and dub form. In Crystal, I felt literally nothing when they got killed. Their deaths struck me in no way, shape, or form. The character died, that was it. Sailor Moon made me care. Crystal, not one crap was given.
Another thing I have to say is this: There wasn’t alot of action in Crystal. Actually, that’s not right. There was some, but it felt like it only lasted 2 minutes, then it was done. Let’s talk a bunch, here’s the villain, transformation sequence which takes 1/4 episode (this happened in the original too, but it stopped being as long later on. Most of the time), then boom, villain done. Hell, the final battle with Queen Beryl as I said was epic on here. In Crystal? Usagi cuts off a evil necklace she was wearing. Then she died. Literally, that’s how she’s dies. WHAT?! (Also a quick note. Crystal was supposed to closely follow the manga. What happened with Queen Beryl in the manga? She got stabbed in the gut. By Sailor Venus. Yeah, so much for closely following it.) I think Crystal could have been really good. It did follow the whole Four Generals thing more, and showed that they loved the Guardians in the past on there (sorry, no gay couple in Zoisite/Kunzite in the manga, just the original series.) Mamoru has more attacks to go by than just throwing a damn rose. And a couple other things it did well too. But other than those, yeah, it was a complete mess compared to Sailor Moon. Again, I know alot of people like Crystal, and as I said with other shows, if you like it, I ain’t stopping you. Like what you want. But everyone has different taste, and I like the original so much more. If you want to blame anyone for Crystal’s shortcomings, blame Toei for screwing it up.
To finish off the review of the first season of Sailor Moon, it was a fun ride through my first showing of this classic anime. The characters are great, the action is there, and the new dub sounds terrific, as does the uncut sub version. Yes, the animation is not as good as the rest, but hey, that’s Toei for ya. As much as I disliked Crystal, I’m still having a blast with the original. And I’m hoping to have more fun with the final 1/4 of the show. I hope to bring you my next installment in Sailor Moon R real soon, for we meet new characters, some cool, some really annoying. Also, time travel! So before I go, have some wisdom from a drunk Usagi.
I give the first season of Sailor Moon 7.5 “In the name of the Moon, I’ll Punish You!!”/10
Sailor Moon is made by studio Toei Animation. It is licensed by Viz Media. It can be seen on Hulu and Neon Alley