It’s been a long two years since Toei Animation announced that a Sailor Moon reboot was in the works, and setback after setback had fans wondering whether or not the rumored series would ever see the light of day. But everyone’s favorite Pretty Guardian is back, and the final result does not disappoint. Sailor Moon Crystal, the reboot of the hugely popular Sailor Moon of the 1990s, boasts an updated animation style, a streamlined story, and even a brand new theme song. Staying much truer to the original manga in both art style and storyline, Sailor Moon Crystal serves as a soldier of love and justice for the story of the magical girls who have impacted lives of countless fans over the past 20 years.
Story-wise, Sailor Moon Crystal is much more succinct and flows better than its 1990s predecessor (Sailor Mercury will be introduced in episode 2, whereas the original didn’t incorporate Ami until 8 episodes in, for example). This of course needs to be the case, as Sailor Moon Crystal is comprised of a solid 26 episodes, which are said to focus on the stories of the first five senshi, or the first season or so of the original show. As it stands, there have been no official announcements of Toei Animation’s intentions to create episodes past this arc, as production probably depends on the success of the show’s first season. But after last night’s premiere, I think it’s safe to say that the fan base has a significant presence and is thirsty for more (I for one would love to see a certain couple who are most definitely not cousins).
The art style of the reboot, while it takes a bit of getting used to, is much truer to the art of the manga in all of its over-stylized shoujo glory. As is common in anime these days, Toei has incorporated several computer generated special effects, particularly in the transformation sequence. Call me old school, but I find it difficult to be a fan of this half-animated style (it doesn’t help that Crystal doesn’t have the budget of, say, Pretty Cure). But small grievances aside, the animation is an impressive step up from the two-decades-old original, and there are plenty of homages to the old animation to satisfy one’s nostalgia.
The series’s first episode, “Usagi—Sailor Moon,” adheres very closely to the first episode of the original anime, in which Usagi (Serena in the ‘90s English dub) meets Luna the talking black cat, who assists Usagi in discovering her Sailor Guardian powers. She then uses said powers to rescue her friend Naru from the clutches of a demon who is using Naru’s mother’s jewelry store to absorb power from unassuming female victims. But small alterations such as location changes, dialogue improvement, and a better flow of events make watching Sailor Moon Crystal like taking a breath of fresh air.
One particular improvement that caught my attention was the depth that the studio added to the storyline of Mamoru Chiba, aka Tuxedo Mask. His presence is given more relevance, not to mention the animators have truly outdone themselves with his looks (if you didn’t make an audible noise when he came on screen you are lying). It seems like a focus of Crystal from the beginning will be the relationship and romance between Usagi and Mamoru, which is an exciting and vital addition to the story and one of which fans will instantly approve.
Sailor Moon Crystal airs every other week on multiple sites, including Hulu (with English subtitles) and Japan’s Nico Nico Douga (which has subtitles in 12 different languages). Nico Nico’s buffering time seems a bit slower, but is commercial free (for those of us too cheap to pay for Hulu Plus). Both sites’ English subtitles are accurate, but in my opinion, Hulu’s subtitles are more natural. US-based Crunchyroll also airs the new episodes at the same time for its subscribing members.
Catch the next episode, “Ami—Sailor Mercury,” on July 19 at 7pm JST.
What was your favorite moment of the first episode of the Sailor Moon Crystal premiere? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and stay tuned for more Sailor Moon-related news as the series continues!