Mike wonders aloud which anime would be a good fit for the prestigious Criterion Collection.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Jan 13th 2003
DVD 1: A Heroine Is Chosen
Serena has just learned that it is her destiny to become Sailor Moon, a warrior chosen to fight evil forces that try to take over the world. She is helped by a talking cat named Luna and learns the duties and responsibilities that come from her newfound role. She is forced to fight Queen Beryl, an evil woman who wants to use the energy from the humans to rule the universe.
Sailor Moon fans, the nostalgia that has always accompanied those “good old days” of watching Sailor Moon on TV is now obtainable whenever you want it. The original Sailor Moon television series is available on DVD, dubbed and edited as it was for its first US television release. Released by ADV Films, the first disc includes the first six episodes, with no extras to back them up besides ADV trailers, but with so many episodes at a low price, it makes it worthwhile. The only problem with the disc is the formatting of its content. It's a shame that ADV is releasing the original series as the television version that appeared in the United States. Hardcore Sailor Moon fans will have to wait another few months for a chance to see the series in its original Japanese dialogue and unedited form. But with such a long series, Sailor Moon fans will be hard-pressed for their money if they plan on collecting all of it.
By watching the series again from the beginning, one can see why it gained so much popularity. The series is comical at times, and though the plot is painfully repetitive, whenever new characters are introduced, the viewer has the tendency to feel anxious whenever the scouts are in danger. This feeling of compassion for the characters drives the series, and makes it bearable to watch the same sequences over and over again just for a brief moment of character interaction. Also, even though the storylines of the episodes get excruciatingly repetitive and boring to watch, there is some tiny pleasure derived from seeing how many different ways there are to gather energy from humans (surprisingly a whole series-full). On the downside, watching the series from the beginning allows one to question the positive aspects of the show and its overhanging negative bits. Even in just the first six episodes, there are plot holes galore, and scenes that are blatantly illogical in the way the scenes were animated. The series introduces the Sailor Moon concept, as well as the various attacks much too quickly. With virtually no explanation, the viewer is lunged into an episode that is in no way discernible from one midway through the series. As for the points of illogicalness, the first episode shows Serena as a bumbling idiot, but when asked to transform or attack, she launches into an overly-confident Sailor Moon. This is highly inconsistent with basic human nature and development, and makes the series more apt to ridicule.
Whatever Sailor Moon is known for, it is definitely not the art, nor the animation, both of which falter in quality. The art is inconsistent and has overly simplistic, yet somehow cluttered backgrounds and characters. To explain this, the art is very simplistic in its shading and lack of detail, which to be sure is a fault of the animation, and not the original manga from which the series is based. Yet, the lines that are used in the art clutter the screen, as there are a variety of extraneous lines, such as in the backgrounds or the characters' faces. The animation is also sub par, with very choppy movements, as well as jerky camera panning. To make it worse, every single episode carries the same exact transformation and battle sequences, making it exasperating to watch more than two episodes in a row. Granted, being a magical girl series means that there will be overused transformation sequences, but at the very least, the animators could have varied the backgrounds at once every four episodes. As it is, the only things that make the episodes discernable from each other are the individual story lines and the new characters used.
As for the English language dub, it's done rather well, with the exception of a few characters such as Serena's friend Molly, whose voice is able to grate on auditory nerves every time she speaks. The dub is from the days before Serena's voice actor was changed, so the dub is still cute enough to listen to. The characters possess a wide range of emotions, and overall exert the effort needed to not make the dub a hindrance to enjoying the series. On the downside, of course, are the names that the characters were tagged with, but those complaints are already widely known in the fan community.
Another characteristic of the series that has the potential to become annoying after long exposure is the music. The English language version of the opening theme is an unpleasant thing to hear, but that is already old news. The instrumentals in the series are somewhat interesting, though. While the background music sports only a few tracks that are played incessantly, they are vague and similar enough that there is no one piece that can be identified with any particular plot sequence. This allows the episodes to follow the same formula repeatedly without the annoyance of recognizing one song that is played every time the antagonist enters the scene, or when Serena runs to school or the suchlike, a practice that is annoying in later Sailor Moon series.
Sailor Moon is one of those series with a large group of anime fans that hate the series, but an even larger group of anime fans that loves it. It is hard to decide what parts of the series make it appeal or disgust certain fans, but it a series that virtually every fan has heard of. With a strong message of friendship and loyalty woven into the storyline, Sailor Moon is magical girl show that almost defines all series of its kind. What better way to find out more about the series than to start from the beginning? Now you can.
Overall (dub) : C+
Story : D
Animation : D
Art : D
Music : C-
+ Hey, the original Sailor Moon TV series on DVD!
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