Podzilla 1985

Monday, July 07, 2014

Sailor Moon Crystal - The Other Review

Lindsey beat me to it, but it doesn't mean I'm without opinion on the first episode of the Sailor Moon Crystal anime.

But first, I'd like to give you some history between Sailor Moon and I.

I first encountered Sailor Moon as a teenager when I was trying to download a completely legal ROM for the Super Mario RPG. I came across a file called smrpg and thought I had struck a treasure chest full of gold coins and Goombas. Boy, was my face red when it turned out to be the Sailor Moon RPG - a little gem called Another Story.

I didn't know what a Sailor Moon was, and since it had little to nothing to do with Mushroom Kingdoms I deleted it without hesitation.

Fast forward a year or two and I was a low point in my life. My uncle, a very sweet man who lived with us and who I was very fond of, had just passed away and I had recently broken up with the first girl I ever truly cared about. I slipped into a deep depression and I had little response to the pills that the quacks prescribed to me. I was decked out in all black with long hair and a suicidal attitude. I ushered in the era of emo all by myself.

I also didn't sleep, which is a trait that I unfortunately carry with me to this day. During one of my sleepless days I stayed up and watched Pokemon somewhere near dawn on KTLA out of Los Angeles. We had one of those gigantic satellite dishes that still went by galaxies, so I got some pretty random channels. And on this particular morning, after the adventures of Ash Ketchem and his volt rat, I watched my first episode of Sailor Moon.

And I hated it.


It was goofy, lame, and what I would have classified as a "girl show." After another sleepless night, I forced myself through another episode. This continued on until they took it off of KTLA, moved it to Cartoon Network, butchered two more seasons, took it off the air, made a live action version, and then we can skip ahead to the year 2014 and after fifteen years of becoming a superfan and owning every piece of merchandise I could find, we arrive at Sailor Moon Crystal.

I had a lot of expectations and a lot of fears. I expected too much from it, and there was little possibility that it would live up to the hype that I had put on it. I have been waiting for a new anime for almost half my life. How the hell can you live up to that?

What really worried me was that it was another origin story. We already had the original anime, the musicals, and the live action series to go over the same story line. Here we are again retelling how Usagi met Luna, the gang, saved the world, and shared some laughs.

It seems impossible to please the long time fans and rope in the new ones. It had to be different enough to feel like a new experience, but how can you do that when the story has been retold so many times? I was worried that it would gloss over the beginnings and skip to the parts the original anime didn't have, like the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood anime a few years ago. I didn't like how rushed it felt, but everyone assures me it was the superior version.

So, how did it do? After fifteen years of waiting, was it everything I expected it to be?

Yes and no.

It really is unfair to judge the new series. I had the same fanboy reservations about the new Godzilla film, and while I did enjoy it immensely I'll admit that it wasn't what I had hoped it to be. It was so different from the other Godzilla movies that it felt like something completely unnecessary. I cheered when Godzilla appeared for the eight minutes out of the two and a half hour film, but there was such an emphasis on the new monsters that you could have left Godzilla out completely and it wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Sailor Moon Crystal was the exact opposite experience with a similar feeling of disappointment. It was such a copy of the first episode of the original anime that it almost felt like a waste of time.

Remember Naru's mom being possessed? It's here.

The 30 point quiz and Usagi's mom kicking her out for being an idiot? Almost exactly the same.

The Sailor V kick against the door? YES!

Usagi going back to sleep when Luna talks to her for the first time? YES!

A crying attack? YES!

Zombie attack and a tiara throw?

YES! YES! YES!

It wasn't an exact replication of the first episode of the original series, but it was damn close. It's not fair to take points away from the series for it though, because it is supposed to follow the manga and in that sense it did. It just so happens the original episode of the original series did the exact same.

So, it's familiar so far, and sometimes that is to a fault. What did I like about it?

The music is superb. The new theme "Moon Pride" is amazing and fits the series better than "Moonlight Densetsu." There, I said it and I stand by it. It's energetic with guitar riffs straight from Dynasty Warriors, and the moment they say "Sailor Moon" is so hauntingly beautiful that it sent shivers up my spine. The background music was also outstanding, although I did miss some of the original BGM. The ending theme is good, but just like "Heart Moving" it will take some time to grow on me.

It goes without saying, but the new art style is amazing. The character designs are superior to the originals and it really does look like the manga. The animation is smooth and the whole thing has a new age look that still honors the original. No complaints here, except for maybe how girly they made Jadeite look.

The voice acting is solid, as we all expected. It's weird hearing the same Usagi from so long ago, but her voice still fits the character and Mitsuishi Kotono truly is the character. The rest of the cast were just kind of there, but that's no fault of their own. It was a basic beginning to the story and there wasn't a lot to do. Even Tuxedo Mask, who will hopefully have more to do than just show up every once in a while to help fight the monster of the week, just kind of filled some space here in the same savior role we saw a million times in the original.

Also, I really, really hope they do away with the weekly monster gimmick. No more filler!

So, what's the verdict on this new series that we all waited a lifetime to see?

It's good, but it isn't great yet. Let's not lie to ourselves. As much as I wanted to be completely blown away, I wasn't. I did enjoy it though, and I will stay tuned for the next few months to see how this plays out. The first episode was a basic retread of what I've seen many times before, but that doesn't mean the entire series will be the same way.

If they stick to the source material of the manga we can expect a better story for the villains. I wonder how far they'll delve into the lore and if they flesh out the relationship between the girls and the bad guys. Will the four generals continue to serve Mamoru as they did in the comics? I'm hoping so. The fact the original anime killed them off and never mentioned them again always bugged the hell out of me.

I think the new series will be fantastic. I still expect great things from it. Even if it ends up being just passable, it's still Sailor Moon.

It's still the greatest anime ever made.


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