The original Sailor Moon anime is coming to Blu-Ray in Japan starting this summer

Sailor Moon Blu-Ray Collection vol. 1

Great news for completists who want to have Sailor Moon in the best possible quality! The original 90s Sailor Moon anime is coming to Blu-Ray in Japan with the first half of season 1 coming out on June 14th 2017 and the rest of season 1 coming August 9th. These are Japanese language releases with no English audio or subtitles. Following the release of the first season Sailor Moon R and then the 3 movies will be released. These sets won’t be cheap! This first volume, containing episodes 1 to 23, is being sold by Amazon Japan for 15,903 yen, about $140 US. Set 1 and set 2 are also available from CD Japan for $175 US a piece. This is also listed on the Sailor Moon 25th Anniversary page. Why, you might ask, would I buy this set when Viz already released a less expensive Blu-Ray set of the Sailor Moon anime and I can watch these episodes for free in HD on Yahoo! View? Quality! The Viz release didn’t look great and to this date the Japanese region 2 DVD releases remain the gold standard of video quality. Some other international releases have been comparable in quality but nothing released in North America has really been close.

Sailor Moon Blu-Ray Collection vol. 2

The HD version of the original Sailor Moon series has been aired on Japanese TV since April 6th 2015. Unfortunately we shouldn’t expect anything too mind blowing in the way of quality. This won’t look like Sailor Moon Crystal or any other recently made anime series on Blu-Ray. The product description on the Amazon Japan listing and the official site clearly state that the HD video source was upconverted from SD source material, that being a standard definition of 480 lines of horizontal resolution. What this means is that this isn’t a high definition transfer of some analog film source but instead a software upgrade of the source material which had DVD equivalent resolution. This may be a practical consideration. I don’t know if Sailor Moon ever existed on film or if the cels were recorded directly to standard definition video. You can’t get something from nothing. While the software scaling to improve the video will likely appear nicer than anything else we’ve seen, it’s still just software tricks to resize, resample and smooth out the picture, something that TVs and Blu-Ray players are also able to do with a good quality DVD. I don’t expect this video quality to be a significant improvement to the Japanese DVDs that are already on the market, but this is always a bit subjective.

It should be noted that up until now only the first season of Sailor Moon and the movies were ever released in progressive scan (480p). Sailor Moon R, S, SuperS and SailorStars were only ever released in lower quality interlaced video (480i). These releases will almost certainly have gone through a software deinterlacing process which will make them appear nicer on a more modern flat panel display instead of the CRT TVs that were common in the 90s when Sailor Moon was originally produced. The movies may also be of a higher quality if the original film source is used. When the region 2 Japanese DVD releases of the films were released they went back to the film source to create anamorphic widescreen releases rather than using the matted standard definition source material. I’m hopeful that this release, and perhaps even the Sailor Moon R movie Viz will be releasing in April, will have a legitimate high definition transfer.

Sailor Moon episode 1 and Sailor Moon R episode 47 on YouTube

To advertise this, as part of TOEI’s 60th Annivesary, the official Sailor Moon site has announced that fans in Japan can watch the first episodes of Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon R on TOIE’s YouTube channel. These videos, however, are not available to view outside of Japan.

These discs appear to be free of region restrictions, meaning that they will play in any country’s Blu-Ray players. Note that Japanese Blu-Ray coding is a non issue for North Americans who share region A with Japan. The lack of English, however, may be more concerning.

Do any of you moneybags have enough disposable income to justify this purchase? By this summer I’ll be knee deep in diaper and formula bills but I’ll likely still scrounge up the many hundreds needed to buy these sets.

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18 thoughts on “The original Sailor Moon anime is coming to Blu-Ray in Japan starting this summer

  1. god US and Japan are lucky we dont get this kind of stuff here in uk in less we pay for it to be imported which can be a lot since i would have to buy a region free blu ray player

    • The disc is stated to be region free on the product page on Amazon so you might be okay on that front. NTSC/PAL issues aren’t a problem for HD as far as I understand. I have a British Transformers animated movie Blu-Ray which wasn’t region coded and it plays fine here.

  2. Why would I buy something when I don’t understand what’s being said? I’m actually surprised they don’t have English subs on them. Japan has English as its second language after all.

  3. I LOVE how they started using the new logo right after they announced tthat they were going to make a new logo
    Adam, it would be pretty cool i you made a blog for Sailor Neptune Figuarts Zero cuz they already announced it in the Sailor Moon Official page :)

  4. Since it’s bascally Toei’s fault Viz gets garbage quality, no way I’m paying them for a half-butt release like this for that much money. If I ever watch it, I will just watch it subbed online and support it in America by buying the Viz releases.

    • Well I doubt it is Toei fault. Many countries releases Sailor Moon, the recenet one being Australia and none of them has such a terrible quality. Viz just don’t know how to use what they have been given.

    • It was the Japanese version, but Viz did a poor job at upscaling the Standard Definition materials to High Definition. Toei just has better software. Viz obviously didn’t want to wait and got the non-upscaled version for a bargain.

  5. This is both good and bad news. The good is that they finally have a Blu-ray in japan for sailor moon. Bad news is that it is just an upscale it’s not even a High definition remaster of the film to make it wide screen or something. I am just waiting on news for Crystal. There is no real news about it yet aside from the fact that they would continue.

    • High Definition doesn’t mean widescreen. The original TV series was drawn at a 4:3 ratio, so even if it was a new HD master, it would still be 4:3. High Definition just means 1080p in height, it doesn’t always 1920p wide. It would be blasphemy to crop the TV show to widescreen when they animated it for Standard TV size. You’d lose so much beautiful animation! To get the best quality for any HD release, you need to keep it in its original aspect ratio. Cardcaptor Sakura looks amazing in HD & it’s only 4:3 (Standard) not 16:9 (Widescreen). I really just wish they could rescan it at a higher rate. I’ve seen the quality which aired on Japanese TV recently. It’s not bad… just nowhere as good as how the R movie looked that Toei re-scanned from the original film negatives.

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