Sailor Moon Crystal premiered a week ago, and there are many reviews out there for the first episode, but I stumbled upon this new series this morning when I turned on my PS Vita and opened the app called "Crunchyroll." I've watched anime growing up, but it wasn't until the 90's that I got really into it, and Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon was one of the series that I was a big fan of. I remember USA Network aired the English dubbed episodes during the time I was in school or work, so I taped them on VHS. I'd come home and be excited to watch the new episodes and see what adventures the Sailor Scouts had next. Shortly after that, I bought the Japanese boxed sets on DVD and read a few issues of the manga.
On to the new series, it was free to watch on Crunchy Roll, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The first thing I noticed is that the characters looked different, they looked more like the manga versions of themselves. This is a nice change, because like with anything, the book versions differ from the TV or movie versions. Other differences are the opening and ending sequences and the theme songs. Even though there's noticeable CG in this new series, the look is modernized for this day and age, and it's refreshing to see a 2014 animated series for Sailor Moon. I had no idea what this new series was going to be about, and while watching it, I noticed similarities with the first episode of the original 90's show.
The episode starts off with the title character, Usagi Tsukino, waking up to the sound of her alarm, and this is where the audience sees what kind of character she is, because she starts yelling and falls down the stairs due to the fact that she's running late. We get a glimpse of Usagi's mom, Ikuko Tsukino, and she tells her daughter to be careful because she knows just how clumsy and klutzy Usagi is. As Usagi runs to school, she steps on and trips over a black cat. She then picks up the black cat and notices bandages on her little forehead, so Usagi takes them off and notices a crescent shaped moon on her forehead. After staring at the black cat's forehead for a bit, the school bell rings, and Usagi runs away because at this point, she's extremely late for school. After this moment, we get a break from the action and get a glimpse of a villain named Jadeite, and we see him conjuring up an evil entity, who he sends out to search for the "legendary silver crystal." Back at the school, Usagi is so late, her teacher makes her stand outside of the classroom. Because Usagi woke up late and missed breakfast, her stomach growls, and she eats her lunch, but she will regret this decision during her lunch break. Shortly after, we are introduced to two of her friends, Naru Osaka and Gurio Umino. Umino is an annoying nerdy kid, and he shows the two girls his test score of 95, which he says he didn't really prepare for. Naru scored an 85, and Usagi narrates to the viewers that Naru is "smart and her family is rich." Unfortunately, Usagi scored a 30, so we now know that she's a space case as well.
Outside of the school, Usagi, Naru, and two girls talk about a robbery at a jewelry shop and that there have been a lot of crimes going on in the past couple of days, which is terrifying. Umino tells them that Sailor V stopped all those crimes, and explains who she is to Usagi, because she never heard of Sailor V. Here, Usagi asks Naru if her family runs a jewelry shop, she says yes, and she tells the girls that they're having discounts and that some of the jewelry is affordable, so the girls head to the jewelry shop after school, and they realize that the place is packed with shoppers. This is where we realize that the evil entity is posing as Naru's mom, and she wants to steal the energy from all the shoppers. Usagi leaves, because with her awful test score, her mom won't buy her any jewelry, and outside, she runs into Mamoru Chiba, who also has a major role in this series, and is a fan favorite as Tuxedo Mask. Mamoru is also in search for the "legendary silver crystal."
Before heading home, Usagi heads to the arcade, and we are introduced to Motoki Furuhata, who works part-time at the arcade, and he's a boy Usagi has a crush on. The black cat reappears, and Motoki tells Usagi that the cat's been wandering around there lately. When Usagi arrives home, her mom is furious of her test score, so she temporarily kicks her out of the house. Here we see Usagi's little brother, Shingo Tsukino, and he makes fun of her because she got kicked out of the house and because he's smarter than her. Afterwards, we get a first glimpse of Tuxedo Mask, and we see the evil entity absorbing the energy of the women who were at the jewelry shop earlier. Back at the Tsukino house, the black cat shows up again, this time talking to Usagi. Here, the cat introduces herself to Usagi, and Luna is her name. Luna tells Usagi that the bandages prevented her from talking, and she gives a "gift" to Usagi, a colorful broach, and Luna explains how important it is for Usagi to go on this mission she was destined for. The broach starts to flash, and Luna tells Usagi the magic words that will transform her to Sailor Moon. Then we see the new and revamped transformation scene, and after hearing Naru's voice crying for help, Sailor Moon heads to the jewelry shop.
This is where the climactic final scene occurs, where Sailor Moon fights crime for the very first time, and since she's new to this, she has no idea what to do or how to fight. With the aid of Luna and Tuxedo Mask, she is successful, and the energies are restored to the women who were possessed. We get a final glimpse of Jadeite, who viewed the fight on a crystal ball, and he realizes that he must find the "legendary silver crystal" as soon as possible. The next morning at the school, Naru talks to the girls about "a sailor guardian" who saved her, and Usagi stands from a distance listening to the conversation. Meanwhile, outside the window, we see the backside of Ami Mizuno, the sailor scout known as Sailor Mercury. It starts to rain, and we see Ami running away, and the infamous words "to be continued" appear on the screen.
I did some research, because I wanted to know more about this new show, and with further reading, it's not a remake of the original series, it's a version that's going to be true to the manga, and when reading all of this, I thought this was a genius move, who's done this before? So once again, after being away from modern day anime for 10+ years, I'm excited to see more and see what direction this new series will take. The first episode streamed live on July 5, 2014, episode 2 will air on July 19, and new episodes will air every two weeks after that.
Overall, this is a great first episode, and it's enjoyable, but for fans of the original series, it'll be more of a "homecoming" than anything else. Fans will have big smiles on their faces because it's so great to see these characters on the small screen once again. One strange moment is Mamoru's first appearance where he's wearing a tuxedo in the afternoon, considering he has to have a secret identity from being Tuxedo Mask. Other than that, the animation is beautiful and the redesigned characters look great. Even though episode one is similar to the first episode of the original series, the manga is faster paced, and if this series stays true to the manga, the similarities will eventually fade away. Viewers will just have to wait and see what happens next with every episode. I give Sailor Moon Crystal "Act 1 - Usagi, Sailor Moon" 4 out of 5 stars. Sailor Moon Crystal is the new anime for the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon by Toei Animation Co., LTD. Sailor Moon characters created by Naoko Takeuchi, is directed by Munehisa Sakai, and licensed by Viz Media. New and past episodes stream on Crunchyroll, HULU, Viz/Neonalley, and Niconico.