Based upon the manga by Naoko Takeuchi
Directed by Junichi Sato
Dindrane's Anime Warnings:
- creepy, twisted villains
- off-screen mild cat abuse
- death and destruction
Released by: ADV
My Advice: Get it if you love the series, and at least watch it if you don't.
From the first strains of the familiar theme song "Moonlight Densetsu," Sailor Moon fans will know they're home. And finally, with this new uncut set, we American fans can finally see the episodes as they were intended, not butchered for soft American palettes. It may be a little harder core than you assume, for a teen girl show: people die. They sacrifice. They suffer. They triumph, and you feel that victory with them.
If you were raised by a tribe of rogue rhino in the Australian Outback and don't know about Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, let me sum up. The series tells the tale of the screw-up, flighty Usagi, who meets a magical cat named Luna who informs Usagi that she is a magical girl par excellence, complete with handsome leading man, arch-villains, and side-kicks. The focus of season one is the wicked Queen Beryl, ruler of the Dark Universe, and her minions, Jadeite and Nephrite. In her quest to find the legendary Silver Crystal, Beryl also steals human energy to feed to her ruler. 1000 years ago, Beryl attempted to take over our universe, but was stopped by the Moon Kingdom's Queen Serenity and the Moon Princess. The cost of stopping Beryl cast the Moon Princess and her bodyguard Sailor Soldiers into the far future of our time. Now, Luna, Usagi, and her friends, only recently discovering parts of their former lives as Soldiers, are expected to stop Beryl's new incursions, as well as finding the lost Moon Princess before it is too late.
One of the truly interesting things about this series is that Usagi, while annoying at times, is so imperfect. How tiresome is it to have only perfect heroes all the time? Usagi is a clutz, doesn't do very well in school, and is more than a little silly; she prefers shopping and playing video games to saving the universe, but that's what makes her so approachable as a heroine. She's normal. Her friends represent other aspects of teen girl-dom, such as the nerd Ami and the spunky Rei.
Luckily, like Usagi, Sailor Moon is more than just a pretty face. The characters are not simplistic cardboard stereotypes, though there are, in some cases, prototypes for later shows. They are imperfect, they change, and they grow. They also grow on you. The balance between humor, action, fright, and romance is perfect, with each scene and line of dialogue serving a purpose, which of course made it all the more tragic when the American TV releases removed some elements deemed too unsavory for American consumption. This is one series that seems lighthearted on the surface, but underneath packs real emotional punch with genuine moments of courage, true sacrifice, friendship, and dedication to a higher ideal.
Fans who are used to the American names will need about five minutes if that to get used to the new names, so that should not be a concern. Do pay attention to the characters' names, as they will all provide a hint to the character's true identity, such as Tsukino Usagi--obviously a reference to tsuki no usagi, or the rabbit of the moon, which is what Usagi is.
The visual quality is rather good, considering that the originals are over a decade old and new CGI has spoiled an entire generation. The artwork is quite good, as well; the detail in some of the shots is amazing. It's of a different style than a breathtakingly gorgeous show like Last Exile, but the colors are rich and vibrant, and the designs are all perfect for what they're meant to represent, including the Sailors' famous semi-nude transformation scenes, which are meant to represent their entrance into a pure state and readiness to accept the powers of their destiny.
A petty quibble about the DVD case: on the back of each mega-case, down in a wee font toward the bottom, the text reads "4 DVD's Total Running Time...," when of course "DVDs" should have no apostrophe. Other than that, it's great to have the entire season in two handy cases, with five discs each. The disc set comes with a nice insert that not only lists the episodes, but provides a brief synopsis. The nifty thing though is that the editors also tell you which firsts appear in any given episode, such as "first use of the Luna Pen and it's 'Moon Power' disguise function." Nice.
There are no special features on this release, but given the tidiness of the massive package and that for the first time we're getting to see the "lost" episodes and the missing scenes deemed too harsh for American TV, the entire series is a kind of bonus.
In short, if you're a Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon fan, this set is an absolute must-have. If you've never quite gotten into this show before, then check it out now; the inclusion of the missing dialogue and scenes make the whole thing more intelligible, though no less fun. There's something here for many kinds of fans, from romantic comedy to science fiction or even mystery. From middle aged men to young girls, there's just something about Usagi and her friends that appeals to people, once they give her a chance. Even if this show stays in the "guilty pleasure" category, let Tuxedo Kamen, Luna, Rei, and the rest take you for a very wild and action-packed ride.
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