It has been nearly a month since debut of Sailor Moon Crystal and it seemed a good time as any to give my first impressions of Sailor Moon Crystal.
For the very few who do not know what Sailor Moon is, it is a manga that was adapted as an anime about a young teen, Usagi Tsukino (Serena, when it was original English dubbed), who we come to find out is a warrior that protects humanity from various threats known as Sailor Moon. She is joined by other Sailor Soldiers (Scouts in original American dub): Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus and more. Alongside Tuxedo Kamen, they join forces to save the planet and protect the remanants of the Moon Kingdom from thousands of years ago. Sailor Moon is created by Naoko Takeuchi, and she is considered one of the pioneers/perfectors of shojo anime.
Sailor Moon Crystal, essentially, is a reboot of the Sailor Moon anime …following the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood style with following more closely to the manga. Sailor Moon Crystal is being produced by Toei and being directed by Munehisa Sakai, who directed Smile! Precure and Suite Precure.
Now, one of the odd things about this show is that it is a bi-weekly anime … showing episodes every other Saturday. So, this month, we have only two episodes to look at: Usagi –Sailor Moon and Ami – Sailor Mercury.
USAGI- Sailor Moon retells the origin of Sailor Moon and how she met Luna and Tuxedo Kamen (Tuxedo Mask) for the first time. We meet Usagi … who is failing and tripping about like the original. She throws away a piece of paper on Mamoru’s head … making them meet. Like the original first episode of the anime, Naru (aka Molly) is in danger as a youma has taken over her mom’s form and drains energy through jewelry. Luna brings Usagi up to speed and she saves the day … with help from Tuxedo Kamen.
AMI – Sailor Mercury focuses on introducing Ami, who is a loner but still, very much, a genius. Ami and Usagi build their friendship during the course of the episode as Ami is sucked into a cram school trap by Jedite and the Dark Kingdom. Usagi and Luna come to save the day but Ami does get her transformation on as she becomes Sailor Mercury and the two Sailor Soldiers take down the youma.
Now, I am gonna start by saying that this show looks beautiful. They spared no expensive to make the animation for this show look like Takeuchi’s manga art for the source material. The colors are vibrant. The shading is placed well. There is a great, bright color palette for this show that makes it stand out from others. There is a good amount of brightness to the colors … except during the scene between Beryl and Jedite in the Dark Kingdom. The show is really a live, breathing version of Takeuchi’s art given life.
Voice acting-wise, Crystal sets the bar as original Usagi voice actress, Kotono Mitsushi , returns to her most famous role without missing a beat. She sounds exactly the same she did in the original anime. Misa Watanbe’s Beryl is threatening, dark with a touch of regal class. Jedite, played by Daisuke Kishio, is great with a youthful but threatening voice. Kenji Nojima gives a very engaging Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen while we get a strong, sophisticated sounding Luna in Ryou Hirohashi. The support cast give good presence as well as they do great jobs in the episodes they appeared.
The music and the transformations have something in common. Why? Because in these, we see the influence of Sakai’s time as director of the two Precure franchises with them. The music is very epic sounding during the battles while subtle in the quiet moments. There is a great blend of strong instrumentals that help push along the episodes extremely well. They feel just right in this new adaptation of Sailor Moon. The transformations are CGI with definite musical tones and influences form the many Precure CGI endings. They sound very Precure like. The transformations look Precure like. There are even sound effects similar to those used in the Precure series that Sakai had directed. Yet, Sakai gives it enough of Takeuchi’s art style and enough flare that they still feel very Sailor Moon-ish.
There are some great things that I want to point out. Usagi is still clumsy and whiny … but not nearly as much as she was during the original anime. Usagi’s whining is significantly different … making her a bit more likable. Plus, while she is afraid of fighting, she will and has only really whined about the responsibilities during the first episode. Ami is a work of art with her somewhat shy demeanor but her kindness breaks through as Usagi and Luna bring it out of her. There is not too much on the other characters yet … Mamoru is still slightly antagonistic to Usagi … but we have plenty of show to go.
Sailor Moon Crystal is off to a great start. Superb art. Great voice acting. Good story and character development. A wonderful sense of atmosphere and overall, a really spectacular cast. So far, so great with Sailor Moon Crystal. I am in. Let’s see what will come.