Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 1 – How Does it Live Up to the Hype?

It’s here.  Let me repeat myself.  IT’S HERE.  The day has finally come, and alarm clocks and iphone apps around the world went off a mere two hours ago because NEW SAILOR MOON HAS PREMIERED.  Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know I am a complete and utter Sailor Moon fangirl.  I have the VHS tapes to prove it.  Needless to say, when I heard the announcement of a new series, I cried like I was back watching the R movie again.  I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this for over a year.  And today was the day when it was supposed to all pay off.  About 90 minutes ago, I woke up to watch the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal, an anime that is not so much a new Sailor Moon story, but more like a re-boot, billed as a more faithful adaptation of the manga.

Did it deliver as promised?


Did it live up to my expectations?

The jury is still out on this one.

The show opens on the still frames of outer space that were shown in the trailer with this gorgeous background track behind it.  Yeah, this girl on the hype train was crying again.  It helped to set the mood, but was completely unnecessary and a waste of time, up until we saw the moon and the earth, and then we were treated to some gorgeous Revolutionary Girl Utena-style art of a prince and princess.  I don’t want to spoil too much if you haven’t seen the episode, but, I mean, if you have watched even a tiny bit of the old series, you can tell what I’m talking about.  If you have seen the entirety of the old series, and can sometimes repeat dialogue verbatim from the episodes that DiC released on video back in the day, then this first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal will feel undeniably familiar to you.  Why?  It’s almost exactly the same as the first episode of the the original.  If you watched it in Japanese, there are huge portions of the script that are the ridiculously similar, if not lifted from the premiere episode of the old Sailor Moon outright.  It helps that both the original and Crystal hired the same voice actress for Usagi, and, while you can tell in the new series that her voice is a touch lower, it’s still like turning on something you’ve seen a million times, just with updated animation.

The new theme song is pretty solid.  I love the lyrics; they completely encompass what Sailor Moon is all about, a group of girls who can fight their own battles and don’t need a man to save them (sorry, Tuxedo Mask).  The opening animation feels stilted, though.  And the CGI parts baffle me.  Why would you just throw them in there like that?  And it’s not good CGI, either, it’s distracting Love Live! CGI, where you can completely tell that it’s not hand-drawn and the bodies just look off.  As for the character designs, well…Usagi is Usagi.  Her eyes feel a little vacant, but she is a little vacant, so I suppose it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.

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Ami is gorgeous, which is odd for me to admit because I never really liked Sailor Mercury.

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You can’t really tell from this picture, but Rei has extremely distracting red lipstick.  It makes her look so much older than she should, and now she has permanent bitch face.  Actually, all the girls have distracting lipstick.

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Except for Makoto, who is stunning.  She is the favorite of a lot of my friends who admit to watching this show, and now I can see why.

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And then, we have Minako, and did you know that according to some Facebook quiz, I’m most like Sailor Venus?  But I digress.

If you’re looking for something new, you will want to look for the flashbacks/forwards that I previously mentioned.  Other than calling Sailor Moon’s tiara attack “Moon Tiara Boomerang,” which was never used in the anime, that’s about it.  Is it more faithful to the manga?  Yes, with the addition of these shadow scenes.  Now, in the original, these were never my favorites, but with the art style in Crystal, they are the best parts of the episode.  It’s Utena.  You know what I mean.

Utena silhouetteThink this but with long pigtails and a flowy white dress.

I also feel the need to mention that the hideous CGI returns in Sailor Moon’s transformation scene, which completely ruined it for me.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the background were CGI, but this was just unnecessarily distracting.

The ending and ending song, were, however, utterly gorgeous.  If you’re looking for a new episode preview, you’re not going to get it, but you will get beautiful title and eye catch cards.  Seriously.  All of that art is the best part of the show.  Best, best, best.  But, episode one of Crystal was still almost identical to episode one of the original series, which makes my hype train slow down.  A lot.

It’s still the first episode, and it remains to be seen whether or not they are going to cram the entire manga into this reboot, or if they are just going to stick with the first five or so volumes, before we are introduced to most of the outer senshi.  I have a feeling that that is what’s going to happen, and I will be sorely disappointed because, for me, Sailor Moon did not blossom until the S season.  In two weeks, we’ll get introduced to Sailor Mercury because they did give us a tiny hint of foreshadowing by showing a shot of Ami walking around the school before they cut to the ending.  And that’s all I know.

What did you think of Sailor Moon Crystal?  Are you more interested in this or that Viz is going to release the old series in its entirety?  Are you waking up ridiculously early again to catch the next episode in two weeks?  Let’s chat because it’s way too early to do anything else productive.

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à suivre…

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