Whenever I want to introduce someone to
Sailor Moon, I always use this movie as a starting point. It shows all the characteristics of Sailor Moon that I adore: wonderfully deep characters, great voice acting, and superb music. Of course, I am referring to the original Japanese version. The dubbed version, which is also included on this disk, leaves much to be desired.
The packaging of this DVD is gorgeous. The image is of Princess Serenity, who is standing in front of a pile of roses. She is looking over her shoulder and smiling. Surrounding her are red foil rose petals and a gold foil border. This DVD really sticks out on the store shelves.
The menus are very well done. Each menu has a colorful picture with some animation and some music for you to listen to while you make your selection. They are also easy to navigate. Very nice.
I always tell my friends that this movie is about flowers and loneliness. I think this generalization introduces both the physical and emotional aspects of the plot quite nicely. Flowers represent many important plot functions including the cause of the problem, the physical problem itself, the main antagonist, and the solution to the problem. This common factor binds the movie together. Another factor found throughout the movie is loneliness. Fiore's emotional problem is the loneliness he has felt throughout his life. The Sailor Soldiers each express how they have felt lonely in their lives. Near the end of the movie, Princess Serenity exclaims that she "won't let anyone be lonely again". These two themes that are reinforced in many forms help the movie to gel together, making it strong.
The animation quality of this movie is about average. There's nothing overly spectacular here, but the animators have made a few new attack sequences that are mixed in with the old ones used in the TV series. One interesting thing to note is that near the end of the movie, if you are watching the Japanese language version, there is an instance where Sailor Moon's mouth is moving, but Fiore is speaking. This is a problem that was fixed in a later Japanese release, but it appears the Pioneer was given the defective version. The dub has the characters speaking in the correct sequence. (Thanks to http://www.artists-website.com/ for the information regarding this glitch.)
Before I review the voice acting of both tracks, let me point out that I am a purist. Any dub fans should take this section of the review with a grain of salt.
The voices on the Japanese track are very good. Kotono Mitsushi puts out a wonderful performance as the bubbly Usagi. I am always amazed at how she can make Usagi sound so carefree and then turn around and make Sailor Moon sound so determined. Also, the inner soldiers are extremely heart wrenching when they beg Fiore not to kill Sailor Moon. One interesting thing to note is a small error on Pioneer's part. Megumi Ogata, my favorite voice actress, performs a minor role in this film as the voice of young Mamoru. The problem is that Pioneer has listed her in the credits as Emi Ogata. This is a common mistake because the kanji for the names "Megumi" and "Emi" are identical. It still irks me a little bit, even though I know it's not a big deal.
Let me make this statement before I continue: just because it says that a DVD is "uncut" doesn't necessarily mean it is unedited. The dub track on this DVD is the same edited dub track you will find on the VHS dub release. The only difference is that no scenes have been removed. In short, the English dub script is quite different from the subtitle script. However, even when you ignore the hacked script these actors have to work with, the voice acting still comes across as sub-par. Terri Hawkes (the voice of Sailor Moon) turned in a particularly lackluster performance. One of her lines "Silver Crystal, protect us in the name of the Moon" is a good example. This statement could be interpreted as either a command or a plea. Hawkes uses a commanding voice, but raises the pitch at the end of the line as if she were asking a question. This is just one of many examples of poor voice acting in the dub.
I find music to be one of the most important aspects of any production. Luckily, the musical score in this movie does not disappoint. Takanori Arisawa skillfully mixes brass and bass instruments to create a sense of excitement or danger. String instruments, especially the piano, add a melancholy atmosphere to scenes where sad memories are remembered. In all, the background music does an excellent job in setting the scene. The musical numbers that are sung are also very well performed, and you may find yourself humming them when you're done watching. The Japanese opening, Moonlight Densetsu, is cheerful and full of hope. The English opening (I don't think it has a title other than The Sailor Moon Theme) is upbeat and peppy. Moon Revenge is played on both tracks during the battle to return to Earth. This song is filled with energy and excitement. Wonderful!
There are some nice extras on this disk that are worth checking out. The opening sequence from the cut VHS dub and The Power of Love (The song that replaced Moon Revenge on the cut VHS dub release) are included. This is nice for people like me who love to compare different versions. In the character profiles section you can jump to each of the sailors' transformation sequences and to an example of each of the attacks they perform in this movie. There is also an image gallery.
In conclusion, this is a very solid movie. It is a wonderful place to start if you want an introduction to Sailor Moon.