anime

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 1 Review

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After a bit of a wait and some trials and tribulations, I’m ready to  episode one of Sailor Moon Crystal! One of the very first parts I notice of this anime is the return of the voice seiyuu of Usagi/Sailor Moon in the Japanese dub, Kotono Mitsuishi. The voice actor of Tuxedo Mask also reprises his role for this new adaptation.

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I noticed that the edition I watched on the VRV was slightly different from the one on my first viewing through Crunchyroll’s simucast–this version is most likely the Bluray edition, with some touched up animation , shots, and visuals.  The first episode mainly had great animation, save for an amusing shot of Sailor Moon ,after she transforms.

The episode starts off with an legant view of the moon princess, then shifts back to the clumsy Usagi as she runs late for school.  The opening by Momoiro Clover Z is catchy and serves its purpose, getting you excited to watch the show. There is a bit of CG animation towards the end of the opening. There is a little bit more CG in the anime itself, which I will touch upon.

Usagi comes across Luna, a mysterious cat who is being bothered by young boys. She has a bandage on her crescent moon which she then removes, revealing a crescent moon bald spot. This scene is similar to that of the manga and original anime. We then get an introduction of Jadeite, one of the initial villains.

Usagi and her friends live a regular life at school and are excited to go to a jewelry sale in town. Usagi ends up leaving a little early and bumps into Mamoru Chibi. This meeting is important in all adapations of the series and I think Toei Animation did a great job here, showing the more mature and teasing side of Mamoru Chiba, in comparison to Usagi’s more childish personality. She goes straight to the arcade after this, enjoying a Sailor V video game. Sailor V is a super hero Usagi looks up to. She wants to be just like her, ‘beating up bad guys’ but sees more of an appeal of not going to school.

The thirty percent she gets on a test does not help Usagi feel much better. The interaction she has between her brother, as well as an additional display of her maturity, while she imitates Sailor V in an attempt to get back on him, is both funny and animated well in terms of expression. I want to note here that this range of both funny and endearing expressions didn’t stay for most of the two first seasons of Sailor Moon Crystal, until the animation style changed for season three.

Usagi goes over to her room, wanting to take a nap. She runs into Luna again, a talking cat who claims that she is a guardian who’s mission is to fight evil, find her fellow members, and also a princess. Usagi pretty much rolls with everything well—at least at first—transforming into Sailor Moon and going to save her friend who is in danger.

Transformation sequences are a major part of magical girl series. It shows how a ‘regular’ girl can become a cute and empowered super heroine. The CG transformations have had mixed reception among fans. I like the calls backs to the original transformation from the 90’s anime with the final pose as well as ribbons as Usagi transforms, but it is a little jarring to switch from a different style of animation for this sequence. Although the sequence itself is beautiful, I found myself distracted by the different animation style.

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Usagi isn’t the best of fighters. One of the Jadeites’ monsters turns a few jewelry store customers against her. She runs away from most of the fight and is afraid until a man named Tuxedo Mask comes in and gives her the courage to fight. One of my favorite shots in this episode had to be the one of Sailor Moon looking at the moon, with the Tokyo Tower in view. Something about this shot in the episode made it very calm peaceful, fitting for the scene.

It looks like the new anime has a goal of being closer to the manga in terms of adaption. The pacing is faster in comparison to the original anime, with little room for filler. This was a pretty solid first episode! As the series progresses, I’ll take a further look at what it succeeds in, as well as what the series could improve on. Either way, as with many first episodes, it establishes the main characters and does quiet a good job at doing so!

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