Though a little clumsy and easily brought to tears, Usagi Tsukino is a typical 14-year-old girl in her second year of junior high. However, all of that changes when an encounter with Luna, a mysterious talking black cat, whose head bears the mark of a crescent moon, results in the animal bestowing a magical brooch upon her. Now Usagi can transform into Sailor Moon, a magical girl in a sailor uniform who protects love and peace!
Usagi is appointed as a guardian of justice and is tasked with the search for the legendary Silver Crystal, a magical artifact that holds immense power, as well as finding the other Sailor Guardians and the lost princess of Luna's home, the Moon Kingdom. Her mission isn't without opposition, however; Queen Beryl, ruler of the Dark Kingdom, wants to claim the Silver Crystal and take its power for her own.
Though she still has to worry about her school, family, and love life, it is up to Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Guardians to save the day!
I just don't know. I wanted to love this. I spent two years hyped for Crystal, ecstatic when it was announced and terrified it wouldn't actually happen every time it got pushed back. After all the excitement and the biblical-proportioned flood of 20th anniversary merchandise, I'm left feeling a little bitter. What went wrong here? Well... kind of everything. Like, pretty much everything.
Let's address the biggest, pinkest elephant in the room from the start: the artwork. I'm not interested in arguing about the style, just the quality. I think what happened here was an ambitious idea (trying to mimic Naoko Takeuchi's elaborate manga style in animation) with sloppy execution. The first episode looks mostly fine-- not amazing, but good-- and then it's like they animators gave up. The artwork flipflops between gorgeous and cringeworthy. Lack of budget can explain why the animation is choppy, but it can't explain why we end up with scenes where bodies are grievously misproportioned and character's eyes are visibly, obviously not aligned with each other. The bad artwork is especially tragic because it's clear that this series could have been beautiful. The Moon Pride music video is friggin' amazing-looking, and plenty of scenes in the anime look fine.
But the animators seem uninterested at best; things move, but the only thing that really gets loving animation is Sailor Moon's hair. Nobody's walk cycles look quite right, ever, and a lot of the time, no one seems grounded in the environments. A lot of "animation" is accomplished by having still images pan across the screen or stretch/shrink, to unintentional comedic effect. It's like watching Speed Racer, except it's sad instead of hilarious. Fight scenes show a bit more effort than the classic anime's JRPG-style "stock attack footage, villain reaction, rinse and repeat" fights, but still seem to cut away at moments that would be inconvenient to animate.
You can argue to the moon and back that it's a web series so we should expect lower quality, but you can't argue that there isn't a glaring lack of effort and care. Even a lot of the art "fixes" for the Blu-Ray are mediocre at best. You can also argue that this is "more detailed!!" artwork than the old series, and therefore So Much Better, but the thing is that the old series was low-budget, low-standards animation of its time, and Sailor Moon Crystal is just even-lower-budget, low-standards animation of our time. Crystal also lacks many of the excuses for the classic anime's quality: episodes were produced in two weeks instead of just one, and there was no need to make a bunch of filler while the manga advanced. Physical painted cels wouldn't have to be completely redone to correct errors. Technology has given us better, more efficient ways to animate in the last 20 years. But visually, Sailor Moon Crystal is just doing the bare minimum for 2014. And if the animators actually cared, and took more pride in their work, they could still do a lot more than this with the little they've been given. Like draw eyes that line up correctly. It's so bad it feels intentional. I feel like a decade down the road we might hear horror stories about animating on Sailor Moon Crystal, like that they were paid in ketchup packets and forced to work 23-hour shifts, or something, and these wonky faces were their silent protest.
Also, the CG henshin sequences use these weird, rubbery 3D models of the senshi that look like they belong in a cheap video game. They don't quite look like their 2D selves, their faces are creepy and doll-like, and transformations just aren't very lively; they're just low-effort rehashes of the transformation scenes from the first anime. They aren't fun. It's just not fun to watch Sailor Spaghetti twirl around like a plastic bag in a breeze with mediocre special effects. Sailor Moon's henshin sequences are an icon-- of the series, of the genre, and of anime in general. Anyone that's seen Sailor Moon remembers them. So this, to me, is really a reflection of how little the people working on this series care.
Unfortunately, the story is on about the same level as the art. The first anime was notorious for having too much filler. Sailor Moon Crystal ran too far in the opposite direction, deciding to squeeze two story arcs into one 26-episode season. It's extremely condensed, to the point that it sounds like a summary of itself. One manga chapter per episode isn't working for this series. While it's true that the manga, which Crystal is heavily based on, is pretty fast-paced, the manga has a fairy-tale feel to it and still manages to be engaging and emotional though its much more expressive artwork. Meanwhile, most every face in Crystal has the emotional depth and subtlety of an emoticon. The story itself is so excited to get to its next nostalgic plot destination and say, "Look how we did it THIS time!" that it forgets the journey, and the journey is the most important part.
Crystal takes no time to linger or to build its characters. Everyone but Usagi is a cardboard stand-up, pared down to their most basic traits. The inner senshi, after their introductions, are flattened so badly their dialogue becomes interchangeable, and by the climax of the first arc, they are literally just finishing every sentence together. It's like the writers wrote dialogue for one person and cut it up into little pieces so the poor things would all have lines, like a grade school play for a class with too many children. The senshi exist as little more than cheerleaders for Usagi, and any moments of personal achievement they were given in the manga are handed off to Sailor Moon. (Forget about this series as an adaptation of the manga: it diverges, pointlessly, all the time.)
Because Crystal makes its characters strangers to us, drama comes off as melodrama, and any moment meant to be meaningful or touching flops. It lacks any emotional truth; if you're aware of the Uncanny Valley effect, this is that, but with distorted human feelings instead of a distorted human appearance (insert additional quip about the art here). It's a series that sort of spoon feeds you what you're supposed to feel about the characters and the story, but never actually goes out of its way to create those feelings. Humor is almost absent, and feels forced or out of place when it happens. Characters pass the idiot ball around, with plot threads hinging mostly on their cluelessness-- especially Usagi, who we are meant to adore, and who the senshi praise mindlessly at every turn, even though this incarnation of her is annoying, selfish, and pathetic.
That's really one of the worst parts; Sailor Moon herself is no longer a good role model. The Sailor Moon I knew was a ditzy, clumsy, silly girl with a heart of gold and the capacity for infinite love and bravery, a person who lifted others up, drew them together, and still fought for them even when she was all alone. Crystal!Usagi is obsessed with Mamoru and frequently forgets about or outright ignores her friends while they get tossed around by baddies. The most she seems to be able to say about them is that they're beautiful. And while she's still an airheaded klutz, it's not cute or charming anymore. She certainly doesn't seem to care much about Earth. If there were any lines where she thought about her Earth family during her battle to save the planet, I must have been mid-yawn, but I'm pretty sure there weren't any. She doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself, and Mamoru. She's just a bratty child that never grows up and gets exactly what she wants anyway. The senshi's unthinking devotion to her comes off as almost eerie, like they've been brainwashed to worship her. Even Rei, critical of Usagi and at first suspicious of the whole sailor senshi thing in every previous incarnation, doesn't seem to have a single doubt about Usagi as their leader. Sailor Moon Crystal successfully made me hate a character that I previously loved and would have defended until blue in the face.
Incidentally: there is also a hackneyed, half-assed romance subplot involving all of the senshi, executed poorly of course because Crystal doesn't have the time or the dexterity to handle 8 not-Usagi characters' subplots. The theme song pretends to be feminist but the senshi are more dependent on men than they have ever been. I don't think Sailor Moon has ever been the perfect flawless feminist holy grail that some people make it out to be, but this version is a step backwards in comparison to the others. In the second arc, a panel with a consensual kiss between Usagi and Mamoru is converted into an animated scene where Mamoru forces a kiss on a depressed Usagi while she tries to push him away. Miracle romance.
The main plot itself is ass pull after ass pull after deus ex machina. Admittedly, this is a staple of Sailor Moon, but with a rushed story, cardboard characters, downright ugly animation and basically nothing likable or exciting to hold on to, it's kind of the final nail in the coffin. The story itself hasn't aged that well-- it needed some updating that just didn't happen. Imagine Crystal under a different name, and you get a shabby imitation of the classic anime and a weak contender in a genre that it revolutionized. And that's terrible.
Also, other than the catchy OP/ED, the music is forgettable. Having heard some of the other soundtracks Yasuharu Takanashi has worked on, it sounds phoned-in. The music never strongly ties itself to any scenes, even the transformation sequences. Most of my music collection is anime soundtracks, and I can't say I even remember most of Crystal's.
I've spent a lot of time being patient and forgiving with this series. I managed to convince myself I was enjoying it for about seven episodes. There are good moments that have made me smile or laugh, and I genuinely do try to shove aside the critical part of my brain and just enjoy it, but this thing is just so lifeless, so lazily written. It makes me sad that this shallow adaptation of the manga is how a lot of people are going to get introduced to Sailor Moon. The original manga story is a gem that could be easily polished, but nobody bothered.
I feel like this was all just a cash grab-- put as little money into the new anime for as much return as possible-- and the shameless price gouging on the BDs just proved it to me. It seems to exist to prey on nostalgia and sell hilariously overpriced copies of itself, and the 20th anniversary was just a convenient excuse. I feel like this series was not given the respect or care that it deserves. The fans got played by a studio that didn't want to make an honest effort, and it hurts, because, you know, I was so excited. Those two years of secrecy and delays were frustrating, but not nearly as frustrating as the result. I don't think it was unreasonable of me to have higher expectations. As a long-time Sailor Moon fan, it's hard for me to evaluate Crystal as a stand-alone series, but as a reboot for such a popular, long-lived franchise, it's a massive letdown.
I waited 14 episodes (~6 months, thanks to the ridiculously spaced out episode releases) for this thing to get better. I don't see how it possibly could now. The best I can hope for at this point is that people will watch it, realize it's terrible, and check out the classic anime or the manga or PGSM. Maybe in another 20 years, someone will take an honest shot at this, and hopefully, Naoko won't let Toei touch it again.read more
I've given up on Sailor Moon Crystal. As a former avid Sailor Moon fan I made it to episode 17 of this series before just completely giving up. It is downright terrible. The art is ugly and everything is so static it reminds me of a low budget flash animation cartoon. Storywise the pacing is dreadful and you'd think that was because there was too much to fit into this condensed manga-esque chapter structure.. but no, 75% of an episode is Usagi crying or dramatic name shouting.
The characters seem braindead. For dramatic purposes in storytelling you often have to have the characters miss a seemingly obvious bit of information, be a bit oblivious if you will, so that they can get into dramatic situations. I can accept that. I cannot accept an important plot point being divulged blatantly by a nemesis during a battle.. and then later when the group talks about the situation one person brings up what the big-bad said and everyone else has their jaw drop and react as if that's the first time and most shocking of news. The way the show is presented it's not even "the next scene" but sometimes they do something stupid like go to an arcade or have ice cream between the battle and the recap "stunning revelation" scene. What'd you all do? Turn your brains off and enjoy some cake for a while and suddenly snap back into reality at the pep rally?
For decades now. Sailor Moon has been the legendary all mighty queen of anime, who has launched a million girls (And lots of boys, and hentai artists) fantasies. Sailor Moon finally returns to her awaited throne with the release of Sailor Moon Crystal. However.....question is. Will she fall off her rightful throne? Let's get to it then........
Basically Sailor Moon goes through the same story it has been going through since its own first release during the 1990's. This time around it follows the story from the manga as close as possible. The best thing about Crystal is that. Crystal finally opens that much wanted window into some of the characters souls (The main villains) that the 90's anime almost closed off completely. Crystal finally shows that much needed side to Queen Beryl, and her cohorts that was illustrated in the original manga. This new reincarnation also answers many questions that many fans have faced ever since they heard that there will be a new Sailor Moon anime. Is this show funny like the 90's anime? Well.....there are light hearted moments to be had in Crystal, however things are completely different in that department along with many other areas. Is Chibiusa in Crystal? Not yet, but unfortunately she will arrive soon...........
There is a huge problem with this anime, and it feels like a lingering tumor that just won't go away. The problem is the animation/production. The facial expressions are almost beyond horrid at times. Sailor Moon, and her bevy of sexy power rangers all look very beautiful. However they sometimes look like blank dolls who are deeply yearning to escape their new prison of CGI, and internet fan boy fantasies. Sure. The animation in this show looks really wonderful at times, and stunning (Especially during the opening credits). It's just that sometimes it feels like that the animators have no clue what they are doing here. One moment everything is superbly gorgeous. The next moment everybody in the show seems like they have bells palsy. Eventually this problem gets solved...... and then it comes back yet again. Unfortunately Crystal does not cut it when it tries to give its characters the much needed body language, and emotion that the manga fully expressed flawlessly. Awkward poses, and a limited range of facial emotion really set this show way back.
There are some upsides. The story eventually becomes gripping, and emotional (During at least two episodes that is). It strikes the much needed heartfelt cord that Sailor Moon is well known for. And there's Tuxedo Kamen..... being Tuxedo Kamen from the manga version, and not the jerk from the old anime (That's not really a thing, but it's something). The background sounds, and the music is all done greatly. The main theme feels more like a really good heavy metal song. While the ending theme is soothing, and enjoyable to watch. Many fans do not have to wait 5,000 episodes this time around for Jupiter, and Venus to finally show up. Every sailor scout gets introduced during the first few episodes. Plus Sailor Moon evolves/matures just like she does in the manga throughout.
On A Personal Note: Listen, this show has to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, it is Sailor Moon. However that does not automatically label this relaunch "Amazing". Hardcore moonies (Including myself) will surely get a big mixed bag of emotions. Some will feel like wanting to like it, but hating it at the same time. Others will just force liking it because they want another season that involves the outer sailor scouts. A lot of fans will be pleased though, because this show follows the context of the manga. While some will just feel like that the wait wasn't worth it. I have read the entire manga series, and watched the old Sailor Moon show. I felt pretty crushed a little when I started watching Crystal. When the opening animation sequence started for the first time in my room, I was extremely excited. I was gushing with joy because the sailor scouts look really awesome fighting the forces of evil. Then later on when I saw episodes where Sailor Moon, and then Sailor Mars having the weirdest anime eyes that I have ever seen in my whole life........I then lost hope. The animation is fluid during only fight scenes, but not throughout everything else like the old 90's anime was. Even the manga had more facial expressions than this show does, honestly. This show will truly succeed if it can somehow manage to make it to the end of the series. Where Sailor Moon, the character becomes truly amazing. For now this is my review for Crystal, maybe I will change my mind when the next season comes on. Crystal is basically going to be two parts. The first couple of episodes will cover the Dark Kingdom arc (Which is now complete, and which I have now reviewed), and next up will be the Black Moon arc. Hopefully things will turn around during the Black Moon arc, since I really like Sailor Pluto (Come on, don't make fun of her.....Pluto will always be a planet in my heart).
The only ones who will truly enjoy this anime, are the ones who are new to the Sailor Moon franchise. read more
Personally, I was a bit on the edge when watching the trailers. The first couple of episodes really put me off as I am a big fan of the older series and manga, a remake was music to my ears.
The artwork takes a load of time getting used to. Not to mention the 100% CG transformations making the characters look like rubber dolls being stretched to fit their costumes properly.
There was really little effort put into every frame in terms of animation that I felt sick to my stomach just watching it, but... as a loyal fan, I swallowed that and continued anyway.
As it progresses, they improved on the artwork which was a huge relief for me, after all, this IS a remake no? And then here comes the big punch.
Yes, they are trying to do justice and provide as much fan service possible for the blockbuster series but I feel that it's rushed and they focused more on Usagi and Mamoru compared to the rest. Every other character deemed pretty much useless. It's all 80% UsaMamo 15% Random story 5% on the other sailor scouts.
Overall, it's quite enjoyable. You get to see many scenes and fan service from the manga and the music is amazing, hands down on that.
If you are going to compare this to the older series AND manga, please do yourself the favour and do NOT watch it. But if you would love to relive your childhood, please do!
Plus, this is only the first season. I am DEFINITELY looking forward to the following seasons, especially the final Sailor Stars season; that's IF it reaches that.read more
Plenty of anime girls have beautiful long hairstyles. But what about their short-locked sisters? Short hair is just as cute on anime girls, as the following list proves. Here are some of the best short-haired girls in anime!