There are a few anime that you can say are the epitome and trend setter of their genre. For example, for Shonen fighter series you can’t look past Dragon Ball Z but for the Shoujo magical-girl genre the series that hold that spot is Sailor Moon. If you grew up in the 90’s watching cartoons, there’s a good chance you watched Sailor Moon at some point. Even if you don’t care to admit it. There’s a good chance it was also many people’s first anime.
The plot of Sailor Moon revolves around a 14 year old middle-school student from Tokyo, Usagi Tsukino. She’s your average and relatable school girl who’s only worries in life are trying to get to school on time, hiding her bad grades from her parents and getting through the day without becoming a crying mess.
That is until she rescues a black cat named Luna, that she later finds out can talk and is entrusted with a magical brooch that enabled her to when a certain phrase is said, transform into the hero Sailor Moon. This also reveals the existence of monsters and nefarious plots of a dark organisation to Usagi who vows to punish all those she finds on the side of evil.
As the forces of evil continue to grow it becomes apparent that Usagi can’t handle things on her own. That’s when Usagi and Luna assemble a team of students possessing dormant abilities that when awakened gives them Sailor Scout abilities. Together the Sailor Scouts battle the evil Queen Beryl’s Dark Kingdom to rid the world of her darkness and stop them obtaining the all powerful Silver Crystal.
The first thing those that pick up this new set will notice is that the voices are different to what they may remember from the 90’s DiC dub. In 2014 when ViZ regained the license to release Sailor Moon again it was decided that along with remastering the series, it would also contain brand new re-recorded dialogue. It was hard to get into at first because I can remember the voices from the 90’s dub so prominently, but the new performances, once you get used to them are great and the script is now more faithful to the source material.
The new dub has opted to keep the Japanese names for the characters rather than localise them to more westernised names like DiC did in their dub. Serena is now Usagi, Darien has become Mamoru and Usagi’s school friends Molly and Melvin are now Naru and Umino respectively. If you’re a long time fan, it may take some getting used to but hopefully you too find that in the long run it is the better way to experience the series.
The next thing you may spot with the newly released sets are scenes and even whole episodes that you may have never seen before. Because the DiC dub was primarily aimed towards children and aired during prime morning TV slots certain plot points, themes, whole episodes and even the sex of some characters had to be removed or changed. Thankfully this set is completely uncut so you can finally get a faithful Sailor Moon experience and witness some great episodes you’ve probably never seen.
Because this set is just a remastered re-release of the original 1992 series, issues people have with the show are still present. Just because it’s now on Blu-Ray won’t make them like the content of the show any more. The show does have a very repetetive episode structure that is used in quite a lot of the episodes, especially earlier on in the series. This didn’t bother me, as when combined with it’s ‘monster of the week’ framework it makes for a show that’s really easy to watch and doesn’t fall into the same basket as other long running anime series that have story arcs stretched over far too many episodes.
With the series now on Blu-Ray it looks better than it ever has. It’s cell animation is incredibly vibrant with it’s clean, crisp line-work and the original 4:3 aspect ratio is retained with the use of vertical black bars down either side of the screen.
The home release Blu-Ray set contains all 46 episodes, fully uncut over 5 discs with both the new English and original Japanese audio available. It is housed in a special edition box that contains the 2 volumes for the first season. The set contains some additional special features that will appeal to fans of the series.
It includes textless opening and closing themes, which are pretty standard for most releases these days as well as a featurette behind the scenes of the new English Dub. Included inside the volume 1 case is a companion booklet that is full of character biographies, design artwork and some really high quality group images that look like small scale posters.
With a more faithful dub, crisp remastered visuals and a theme song that will be stuck in your head for days, there has never been a better way to experience the first season of a true anime classic. For fans of Sailor Moon this is definitely one to add to the collection and for series newcomers or fans of the magical girl genre this is the definitive way to experience Sailor Moon for the first time.
A Blu-Ray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.
All images ©Naoko Takeuchi/PNP, Toei Animation Film©1994 Toei Animation CO., LTD.