First Impressions! Sailor Moon: We Shriek A Bit

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Sailor Moon Crystal, Toei, 2014

Kayleigh: MOON PRIDE, MOTHERFUCKERS.

I’m so excited that Sailor Moon Crystal is finally here. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the original anime–those were the days when you had to wake up at 6:00 am every morning before school to tape it–and like a lot of 90s kids, Sailor Moon was hugely influential for me. It shaped how I saw anime, superheroes, fantasy storytelling, female protagonists … Sailor Moon was it.

The first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal is very faithful to the first chapter of Naoko Takeuchi’s manga. Usagi Tsukino is an ordinary schoolgirl — she’s a bit of a crybaby, but has mysterious dreams about being a princess on the moon. One morning she discovers a talking black cat named Luna, who reveals Usagi’s true destiny is to become the magical girl Sailor Moon, and she must find the Legendary Silver Crystal before the evil Queen Beryl does. And who was that masked man?!

So, there’s a lot of attention to detail here, and a lot of nostalgia — maybe too much? The original story was published 20 years ago, and some of the character beats feel regressive — particularly the “women are craaaaazy about jewelry, amirite?” stuff, or Tuxedo Mask yelling at Sailor Moon to stop crying. I hope nostalgia for the manga doesn’t stop the new anime from developing in new directions or freshening up the story.

The animation is lovely; I love how Usagi’s hair moves, and our brief glimpses of Princess Serenity — that gown!! — are gorgeous. (I eat up the “we were star-crossed royalty ON THE MOON!” subplot with a spoon, I tell you.) Tuxedo Mask’s character design also sports a lot of great detail, though I agree with Usagi — where the hell was he going in that tuxedo in the middle of the afternoon?

Did anyone else shriek when Sailor Moon said, “In the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!”? My Magical Girl is back, ya’ll.

Now we have to wait two more weeks for Sailor Mercury!

Claire: I haven’t seen it yet (probably tomorrow — I have to gear up) but twitter is full of people crying, sighing, & dying.

I AM EXCITE. Lots of comments about the hair to be seen, too! Which, having enjoyed Angel’s comments on hair power in her Moonie Musing recaps, is nice to look forward to.

Sailor Moon Crystal, Toei, 2014

Angel: I HAVE ALL THE EMOTIONS. I’ve also watched the episode twice.

Waking up at 5:30 am to prepare the livestreams was not easy, but SO worth it once the episode started. I thought the opening sequence was fantastic, and set the scene really well for the series: the sketch-like lines were gorgeous in that soft light and mist. A complaint I’ve heard many times over the years about the previous anime was how the development of Usagi and Mamoru’s attraction to each other was so sudden, and I love that Crystal is taking the opportunity to lay down that backstory early. I also think it’s going to be a good way to highlight the differences between the past and present characters.

Hearing Mitsuishi Kotono’s voice made me shed a nostalgic tear. (And yes, I did recite Usagi’s self-introduction along with her.) The voice actresses for the other senshi won’t be the same, but I look forward to hearing what they do with those familiar lines, especially for Rei and Usagi’s infamous fights. OH, and I enjoyed the theme song, “Moon Pride,” far more than I did when the preview came out a few weeks ago. The Sailor Moon soundtracks have served as my study/soothing music for years, and it’ll be interesting to see what Crystal has to offer.

Speaking of what Crystal has to offer: OH HEY THERE MAMORU CHIBA, LOOK AT YOUR SMOKING HOT TUXEDO-WEARING, SUNGLASSES-CLAD SELF. LOOK AT YOUR LITTLE WAISTCOAT. LOOK AT YOUR BLUE EYES AND SILKY BLACK HAIR. YOU’RE A PRINCE.

Ahem. I’ve seen lots of comments about Usagi’s eyes looking “dead,” and I don’t agree. The expressiveness is definitely more subtle than what we saw in the old anime, but I see that as more of an effect of the art style and the tone that Crystal’s production team is choosing to take. Is it absolutely perfect and capable of pleasing every fan? No, and I wouldn’t expect it to be. But I was very very happy with what I saw, and the small nudges of humour (like Usagi’s face in the Osa-P Jewelry Shop window), and the sense that this team loves Sailor Moon as much as the fans do.

Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon Crystal, Toei, 2014

Carolina: Right now is such a good time to be a Sailor Moon fan!

I liked the episode, and while I was watching it I forgot previous nitpicks (facial expressions, regarding the animation, etc.) I had while watching the trailer. It was actually better than I expected, and that is super super super good. I loved it.

I think Kayleigh touched on the most important piece of criticism: the necessity to freshen up problematic (or just silly!) aspects of the original version. Being realistic, though, I don’t think it’s gonna happen. They are following the manga very strictly.

I loved being able to scream the old jargon again (oshiaki YOOOOO), I loved the transformation scene, I loved the shop window scene. But I’ll try not to go too much into what I loved, because that’s just me fangirling and screaming.

Mid-transformation, Sailor Moon Crystal, Toei, 2014

Laura: My First Sailor Moon

So, I’m not an anime newbie. I have willingly ridden the crazy train that is Revolutionary Girl Utena, been emotionally scarred by Neon Genesis Evangelion, and pondered the possibilities of a crossover between Trigun and Cowboy Bebop (there’s a video out there well worth watching which does this exact thing) — but I have never seen even a single episode of Sailor Moon. Not one! Not even the insane live-action musical version! (Or was that Utena again … ?) I’m no stranger to the magical girl genre: I watched all fifty-two episodes plus all three OVAs of Fushigi Yugi. (Sometimes, in my nightmares, I still hear Miaka shrieking for Tamahome to come save her.)

But Sailor Moon? It was never my jam.

Well, friends, that stance ends now. And though I lack the nostalgia of so many folks watching this new series, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I watched Episode 1.01 of Sailor Moon Crystal with a friends who’d grown up with the series, figuring she could give me a crash course in it. I knew the basics, of course — Sailor Scouts, Tuxedo Mask, a talking cat, mysterious moon powers, American censoring of pertinent relationships and plot points — but was otherwise clueless.

And pretty much remained so throughout the episode, which is probably just about right for anime. Still, here are my impressions as I watched:

1. How the hell does she get her hair to float like that? (This is not a new question: I’ve asked this of anime characters since I started watching. It goes along with “where is the wind machine gently blowing sakura petals across your pensive gaze?”)

2. Why are you wearing a tuxedo at eight in the morning, sir?

3. Relatedly: Why are you wearing the same tuxedo later on, sir? Not only is it immediately recognizable, your sunglasses literally covered more of your face than this mask. Kudos on the cloak, though. That takes moxie to pull off.

4. Why does no one in anime question the talking cat?

5. Jewelry from kindly, familiar adult humans is very very dangerous. Jewelry from talking animals will give you magical powers.

6.  Tuxedo Mask is the Most Mysterious. And therefore the most swoony.

ROMANCE, Sailor Moon Crystal, Toei, 2014

7. I really love that her first fight was going abysmally until she stumbled onto her powers. She is fourteen. She doesn’t know how to fight, even if she’s suddenly taller and stronger and possessing several more sparkly objects than previously!

8. God bless anime transformation sequences. I loved them in Utena and Fushigi Yugi and I love them now. Although this one did look a bit more video-game-graphic-y than normal.

General assessment: a good time had by all! I still have almost no clue whatever what’s going on, but presumably the show will spell it out for me over the next eighty-six episodes and five OVAs. Either way, I’ll for sure be tuning in for the next one: I just can’t resist a mysterious masked man and a perilous but enthralling journey of self-discovery and inherited magical powers. Really, who can?

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About Author

Angel Cruz is a writer and boy band scholar. You can also find her at Book Riot for endless discussion and flailing over all things literature. Ice cream, Broadway musicals, and Arashi are her lifeblood.

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