This past weekend was San Diego Comic-Con and, as is the case with many conventions which Viz Media attends, there was a Moon Panel. We didn’t get much in the way of new information at this panel but we did learn that the new voice of Pegasus from Viz’s new dub of Sailor Moon SuperS will be Chris Niosi. Chris Niosi is not only a voice actor but he has also done a great deal of fan and professional animation work. Check out his web site or Twitter feed for more of his stuff. Though nothing about Sailor Moon Crystal was mentioned, with the two movies which will cover the Dream arc having been announced in Japan, it seems only logical that Chris would also provide the voice for Pegasus and Helios once those films are released and ultimately dubbed for North American release.
Good news for Sailor Moon fans both sides of the border! This weekend is Fan World in Niagara Falls. This convention will be held at the Conference & Events Center at Niagara Falls on the New York side of the border but it’s close enough for fans on the Ontario side, which has the nicer falls, to attend as well. This events will include voice actors and voice directors from the original English dub of Sailor Moon! One of the series’ great couples, Melvin and Molly, will be there as Mary Long and Roland Parliament make an appearance. In addition to providing the voice of Melvin Roland Parliament was also voice director for the first 65 episodes of the dub. John Stocker, who was voice director for the rest of the episodes, that being the later half of Sailor Moon R as well as all of Sailor Moon S and SuperS, will also be at the convention. John Stocker also did a few voices in the series including Raye’s grandfather.
Also in attendance is Todd Haberkorn who voiced Jadeite in Viz’s new dub of Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal. Will any of you be at this convention this weekend?
The Sailor Moon movies are being released on Blu-Ray in Japan. The three film set will also include the Make Up! Sailor Guardians special which played with Sailor Moon R The Movie as well as the Ami’s First Love special which played with the SuperS Movie, referred to in Japan and in this set as the mouthful title “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole”. The set itself is being referred to as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray which as a name doesn’t really make much sense in English since there’s more than one movie included so it’s not really “The Movie” at all.
Why, you may be asking, should you be spending your hard earned money on this? The set will retail for 15,000 yen, about $130 US, and won’t include any English dub or subtitles. Meanwhile Sailor Moon R The Movie has already been released on an English DVD and Blu-Ray set for a fraction of that price. It seems like it’s only a matter of time, though likely a very, very long time, before the other two films are released as well. The R Movie release looked great on Blu-Ray and we should expect roughly the same quality from this Japanese release as they will actually go back to the film source to make a proper HD version rather than being lazy and using software to upscale standard definition video to HD as we’ve seen with all HD releases of the TV series.
The box art for this release is nothing too shocking. The sleeve has the art for the S Movie while the inner box has the art for the R Movie. This was used for the theatrical poster, the laserdisc and VHS releases back in the day as well as the DVD set of the films. We don’t see the art for the SuperS movie anywhere on here, though the discs themselves will likely have similar art on them. Many fans complained about the quality of the art on the Viz release. How much is nice box art worth to you? Over double the price?
Pictured above is the DVD set released in 2002. This set was titled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon DVD-BOX The MOVIE and retailed for 15,000 yen, which is the exact same price as this new Blu-Ray set. While these may be expensive keep in mind that DVDs and laserdiscs and any other home video medium has always been incredibly expensive in Japan. The DVD set used a different image for the cover and then had individual cases for each movie which used the original theatrical poster art. I find this approach more aesthetically pleasing and less confusing than having various movie posters as cover art that aren’t related to any single film. The nature of the Sailor Moon movies is that there is no single image that fully represents any of them. Even the cover for the DVD set includes Super Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon as well as Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto who aren’t in the first film as well as older costumes which don’t reflect the updated shoulder pads from the SuperS film.
Source: Sailor Moon Official Site
This past weekend was Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California. This event included Viz’s Moon Panel, showcasing all things Sailor Moon. The bulk of what we usually see at these panels is a recap of existing information but occasionally we get something new. In this case we have gotten details, including box art, of the third Sailor Moon Crystal Blu-Ray and DVD set. The set then became available to pre-order on Right Stuf’s web site. The set looks like the other two we’ve gotten from Viz, with box art reminiscent of the Japanese releases. Since we had less Japanese releases for this season, grouping together 4 episodes per disc instead of 2, we have less postcards included.
The set will include Acts 27 through 38 which, because of the split up Act 27, is actually 12 episodes. Not much in the way of details on the special features but it looks like we’ve got a booklet with art as we did with the other releases. Right Stuf pre-orders will also include a collectible suncatcher because nothing says Sailor Moon like a sun catcher! MSRP for the set is $79.99 US but Right Stuf has the pre-order up for $71.99. Will you be picking this one up?
The other “news” from the panel was about the Eternal Edition Manga which is coming out in January. We got some art of the covers and the colour pages inside but this is mostly information we knew or had inferred from previously available information. It is nice to have confirmation of what we had suspected though. These will look like the Japanese Compete Edition manga versions which came out recently. They have the same new cover art and a lot more colour pages than we’ve seen in previous releases.
Support the site by ordering the first two Sailor Moon Crystal sets or pre-ordering the Eternal Edition manga using the links below.
Image source: @NJ_ on Twitter.
The first of many Japanese Blu-Ray releases of the original Sailor Moon anime was out on June 14th. I got my copy from Amazon Japan and it is available in stores and via other online retailers. The set includes the first half of the first season, that being episodes 1 to 23, and sells for a whopping 15,747 yen which is $140 US. Why, you may ask, would someone bother to buy this release when they can get the Viz Blu-Ray release for a fraction of the price? I don’t have an answer which would convince most fans. This is a Japanese only release with no subtitles. There is however a significant improvement in picture quality over what we got from Viz, but this is no real surprise given what we’d had. Ultimately though this is a software upscaled HD version of a standard definition master. What this means is that they used video which was roughly DVD quality and extrapolated using software algorithms to make a 1080p HD video. While this will look better than a DVD to most people it’s still nothing close to what we would have gotten if Toei went back to the film source and made an HD transfer, like we recently got for the Sailor Moon R movie. Don’t take my word for it! Check out some sample screenshots.
In the above image, and many other samples included at the end of this post, we have a comparison between four versions of the same scene. The top two compare the Viz Blu-Ray to the new Japanese Blu-Ray, and it’s hard to see the differences with just a thumbnail but if you look at the full sized versions of each image you’ll see that there’s a difference. Also included for comparison are a screenshot from the Make Up! Sailor Senshi Blu-Ray which was included with Sailor Moon R The Movie and the original Japanese DVD. I include screenshots from Make Up! Sailor Senshi because when that special was done it used footage from the original film source which, in 1993, was not yet lost as it apparently is today. Since that film was then transferred to HD this gives us a look at what this release would roughly look like if we’d had the opportunity to have a better master. It’s not perfect as the aspect ratio was changed for cinema so we have a cropped image but it should give an idea of what we could have gotten. The Japanese DVD gives an impression of what the master likely looked like before software upscaling.
If you look closely at the fine details you’ll see that even with this new Japanese Blu-Ray there’s some blurriness to the image. We don’t actually see the imperfections in the lines that make these images and the backgrounds which aren’t using as solid colours as the foreground don’t look as nice as they could. All that said this looks nice on a TV. It doesn’t blow your mind when you’re sitting a few feet from your TV trying to put a crying 2 month old to sleep at 5:30am but if you’re sitting on a couch looking at the show it looks pretty good. In an alternate dimension where someone in the mid 90s knew better than to discard masters for a shows which, given the evolving nature of video and high definition TV, they should have known better than to do, we would have a nicer looking Blu-Ray. Unfortunately we don’t live in that dimension so this is what we have and it seems like this is the best looking version of Sailor Moon we’ll get. It’s not leaps and bounds above anything else we’ve seen but it is a mild improvement.
These are just a few comparison screenshots. Be sure to click them and then click the link that says “1920×1080″ to see the full image. I’ve included many more at the end of this post for reference. There will be some distortion due to jpeg compression on these but that should be minor.
Besides the image quality, what do we have here? Some pretty nice looking box art. Is it really classy and iconic to keep using the exact same laserdisc artwork or is it lazy? I think it’s a bit of both. Some people have criticized Viz for their Blu-Ray releases but I thought their artwork was on point. Here we’ve got art which has been used time and time again being recycled yet again. This was used in the 90s for the original laserdisc and VHS releases of the series, again when the DVDs were released in 2003, yet again when those DVDs were rereleased and once again with these. That art has been seen in other places over the years. This art is of course fantastic, as it was when it first appeared on those massive vinyl sized laserdisc covers which credit art director Kazuko Tadano for having made them. Once again the above image is just a sample. All of the disc art was reused from earlier covers and I’ve included photos of all of these comparisons at the end of this post.
The episodes included are… do I even need to talk about this? It’s episodes 1 to 23. It’s the first half of what might very well be the best season of anything ever produced on the planet in the history of history. This goes from Usagi becoming Sailor Moon right through her meeting Ami and Rei and fighting Jadeite and Nephrite. The next half will begin with Nephrite’s tear jerker final episode. Not a ton in the way of special features are included. On the fourth disc there are creditless lower quality versions of the opening and first ending theme as well as the 15 second commercials which played after every episode, promoting the next one. The laserdiscs for the first season actually had many more fun extras which have never been included in the DVD releases. Given what we see with the musicals it doesn’t seem out of the question to include a ton of silly bonus features. It would have been nice to see them here! I understand that there may have been no HD source for these but not every special feature in a Blu-Ray needs to be 1080p HD! The low quality credits and ads are proof of that.
The special booklet which is included gives episodes summaries for all of the episodes in this set. This is a nice addition. Each episode has one screenshot, some character art and a brief description to go with it. I would assume we’ll have something similar with the next set which comes out on August 9th.
So what’s the verdict? Is it worth spending so much money on this release? This is almost certainly not something anyone but a hardcore collector would want to bother getting. There are less expensive ways to watch Sailor Moon in a language you understand. If, however, you are a videophile that absolutely needs to have the best of the best, well go ahead and get that line of credit approved so that you can buy all of these!
Keep reading for more screenshots, images of the packaging and photos of all pages of the included booklet.
Yesterday there was a special live event to celebrate Usagi’s birthday, June 30th. The main news pertaining to new Sailor Moon Crystal, which is what everyone has been waiting for, was that the upcoming 4th story arc or 4th season will not be presented as episodes but as two theatrical films. These will be played in theatres in Japan but it isn’t clear at this time what that means for international fans. Will we get the films in theatres ourselves? Will it be streamed online at a later date, perhaps split into individual episodes? A free simulcast seems a bit unlikely as there wouldn’t be much of an incentive to get people into theatres if the movies were available online on the first day. We will have to wait and see for more details as we still don’t have any timeline of when this might happen. After the event this information was posted to the official site.
We’ve also learned that these two movies will be directed by Chiaki Kon, who was the director for the Infinity Arc of Sailor Moon Crystal. I really dug the animation style of the latest season so I’m happy to see her return, but it doesn’t look like all fans share that sentiment.
The rest of the live event wasn’t all that compelling. Since it was Usagi’s birthday there was a cake and Happy Birthday to You was sung, which it seems is now public domain and not subject to copyright.
There was also a new trailer shown for the upcoming Sailor Moon Le Mouvement Final. This included another look at the new characters from this musical. This trailer can be seen embedded below.
There was also a message from Naoko Takeuchi which was read by Sailor Moon’s voice actor Kotono Mitsuishi. No new information was included but it was about looking back at her time with the manga and thanking fans. This letter was also shared on the official site. This letter mentions that in 1992 she was 26 years old. This doesn’t match with many sources stating that she was born on March 15th 1967. If she was indeed 26 in 1992 this would put her year of birth at 1966. According to the Naoko Takeuchi Wikipedia talk page there are sources which indicate that she was born in 1966. It would seem plausible that this is in fact the case. This would mean that my most viral Tweet where I wished Naoko Takeuchi a happy 50th birthday in March of this year was in fact wrong as she would have turned 51 this year. Without confirmation of her year of birth we can’t be sure one way or another.
The most annoying part of the event was when they screened the intro and ending themes from the last story arc. This would have been a great time to see something new instead of something we’ve seen well over a year ago!
For now we must continue to wait for more details about these two movies and what they mean for North American fans or the possibility of a Stars story arc. Sailor Moon fans have certainly learned to be patient with Sailor Moon Crystal!