An official Sailor Moon Store is opening in Japan this Saturday, September 23rd

Sailor Moon Store - Logo

Japan is getting an official Sailor Moon store! The store will be opening in the Laforet Harajuku mall in Tokyo and will sell a lot of exclusive goods, some of which have already been announced on the official Sailor Moon Store site. You can also follow the Sailor Moon Store Twitter account for more photos of their merchandise. The opening is tomorrow, Saturday September 23rd, which means that it will be open in Japan by the end of today because of how time zones work.

Sailor Moon Store - Goods

Of the goods which have already been revealed we have bags, phone cases, key chains, tea and various other such knick knacks. These items seem to be reasonably priced. I find these kinds of products more appealing than the very expensive and limited selection we’ve gotten with the Sailor Moon Official Fan Club. More products will be shown on the Sailor Moon Store site and Twitter account as they are released.

Sailor Moon Store - Goods

I saw no statement that this was a limited time store so it may be intended as a somewhat permanent place, or at least remaining open from now until the store becomes unprofitable. If any of you are lucky enough to check out this store let us know what it’s like!

Sailor Moon Store - Banner

Keep reading for individual photos of some of these products.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 and 2 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury

This is a review and discussion of the first two episodes of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series. Act 1, I am Sailor Moon!*, and Act 2, Ami Became a Friend*, which originally aired in Japan October 4th and 11th 2003.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Luna and Usagi

Act 1 mainly introduces us to Usagi, played in this series by actress Miyuu Sawai. Fans may notice the considerable similarities between this episode and the first episode of the original anime series and the first act of the manga. Don’t let that fool you! The first few episodes may go along closely with the manga, in a similar way to how Sailor Moon Crystal did it, but this doesn’t last terribly long as the series will go in its own direction soon enough. That said, this one is a lot like that first story. We have Usagi meeting Luna, getting her powers and thwarting a monster, controlled by Jadeite, which is attacking Naru’s mother at her place of business. Sound familiar? It should!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Sailor V

The episode starts out with Sailor V confronting Tuxedo Mask. Here’s one great change from the original anime in that we get to see Sailor V in action rather than just in a few posters and video games. As with other continuities Minako Aino is not yet Sailor Venus but instead fighting as Sailor V. We already get a look at the real life Minako though. She’s not an aspiring idol at all, she’s a full fledge pop star! She’s really hiding in plain sight with her career too. Her new hit song is “C’est la vie” (French for “That’s life”) which is a bit of a pun as it also sounds like “Sai-la V”, a close approximation to how a Japanese person would pronounce Sailor V. Further her new album is called Venus. She’s not even trying! This hit song is popular with Usagi. She plays it on her alarm clock to wake up and even performs it with her friend Naru at Karaoke Crown. That’s right! The Crown arcade has been updated to be a Karaoke parlour in this series! What a great opportunity to sell music along with the show!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Act 1 - Plush Luna

On her way to school in the morning, late as usual, Usagi is confronted with a plush cat which falls from the sky. That’s right, Luna is a stuffed plush toy in this version! This seems a bit odd. A talking cat? Suspicious. A cat that moves around however is not that suspect. A plush on the other hand that does anything but be completely immobile is incredibly suspicious! Beyond this Luna the plush cat is CG in some scenes but a toy with swappable eyes in others! This is probably the cheapest part of the show. Easy to animate a real cat but having a realistic looking CG or even animatronic cat, like in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, would have been even harder to pull off! When Usagi runs into Luna, the talking plush, at home, she suspects she might be dreaming. I’ve often been unsure if I was dreaming or awake during a dream but I’ve never had this sensation while actually awake, but then I’ve never talked to a plush cat. Luna gives her a cell phone which looks identical to the toy. Using the camera Usagi can use it to change her clothes. Now that’s an app that would be popular with the kids!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Naru confronts her mother

Naru, as in the anime and manga equivalents, plays a prominent role in this story as the plot features around her mother’s Jewelery store. In this particular incarnation it’s not a sale but rather a fashion show that is taking place. Amongst the signs we see the name Mayumi Osaka, the name of Naru Osaka’s mother. This is the only version of Sailor Moon in which her mother has a family name! Naru’s mother is taken over by a monster in this version, not replaced as she usually is. When Naru confronts her mother she doesn’t recognize her daughter at all. How was her total lack of any memories of the woman she’s replacing not an issue before? Imagine being dropped in at your workplace with no memory of your job, you coworkers’ identity or even where you desk is! Naru calls her out on it and is immediately suspicious, which in itself is suspicious. This girl is ready for invasion of the body snatchers, shape shifters, robot doubles from the future or whatever problem it could be! Instead of assuming her mother is having some critical and medically concerning memory loss, it’s “Who are you?”. Wolfie’s fine Naru. Your step parents are dead. This borderline paranoid preparation however, does not stop her from being knocked unconscious. Poor Naru.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - The Moon Stick

The fact that Naru’s mother was possessed rather than replaced however meant that the monster of the week couldn’t be straight up killed but needed to be healed. This means that Usagi couldn’t use Moon Frisbee now renamed Moon Tiara Boomerang as it would leave Naru orphaned, assuming she doesn’t have a father around because well dads in this show are mostly dead or not around themselves. Instead Usagi gets her Moon Stick right off the bat and uses Moon Healing Escalation to purify the monster and restore Naru’s mother. You’ll eventually see the pattern but the Moon Stick is also just like the toy.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Sailor Venus and Sailor V in the same image?

And so the bad guy is beat and we are briefly introduced to Tuxedo Mask. This show is all about trying to confuse the audience on the expectation that they have no idea what Sailor Moon is about. When Luna tells Sailor Moon that she’s one of the four guardians of the princess we see Sailor Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and … Sailor V! Yes we see Sailor Venus and Sailor V next to each other. Perhaps they’re different people in this version? Many fans at the time of the series first airing were convinced that Sailor Venus was the Princess in this version.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Sailor Mercury

Act 2 once again follows its equivalent manga counterpart quite closely. It’s all about Ami Mizuno, the genius from Usagi’s school, who attends a cram school which is targeted by a monster and eventually becomes the second guardian, Sailor Mercury. Still some of the details varie considerably as we’ll see. Ami Mizuno is played by Rika Izumi, but you wouldn’t have known it in 2003. The actress went by the name Chisaki Hama at the time, changing her professional given name to Rika and eventually using her birth name Rika Izumi in all aspects of her life. She is younger than the rest of the main cast and was only 14 in this and other early episodes of the series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Motoki and Kamekichi

During the previous episode we got a look at Karaoke Crown and here we learn that it’s the new hideout! Always working at the front counter is Motoki who in this version is fanatical about turtles, including his pet Kamekichi which, at least during the day, is kept at his place of employment. Usagi has a special yearly pass which was forged by Luna who is “borrowing” a bit of Karaoke Crown’s space for a massive headquarters. Space in downtown Tokyo is at a premium so I imagine this headquarters is hurting the owner’s bottom line quite a bit! As long as Motoki can afford to feed his turtle I guess everything will turn out all right.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Ami and Luna

Luna suspects that Ami is a Sailor Guardian, and so she ambushes her on the bridge, leading Usagi, who has no idea what’s up, to start a conversation with her and immediately become friendly. Ami, as we’ve learned, has a lot of phonies trying to be her friend because she’s smart and because her mother is a doctor because I guess in Japan these are good reasons to want to be someone’s friend? My best friend in high school is smart and his father was a doctor but I we probably became friends because we both played a lot of Super Nintendo, which was important to me when I was 14. Usagi is delighted to hear that Ami is a fellow Sailor Guardian, but Ami is not happy to hear the news. She thinks Usagi is a poser who just wanted to be her friend so that they could save the world and stuff. This is nonsense of course, as Usagi had no idea about Ami’s Sailor Guardian status at the time. While Luna thinks it’s important to force Ami to be a Sailor Guardian, Usagi doesn’t want to force her to do anything. Here we see where Sailor Moon’s true strength comes from. It’s not about the power of her crystal or anything like that. It’s that she’s has a big heart and is a good caring friend. There’s a recurring theme about her befriending lonely girls who happen to be superheroes and this is the real difference she makes in their lives.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - A MiniDisc

Fans of the various incarnations of the manga and anime will notice that there is no floppy disk or CD rom in this version. Instead there is a side plot where Ami borrows a MiniDisc of Minako’s new album from Usagi. What in the hell, you may be asking, is a MiniDisc? It was a format for recording and playing music which was fairly popular in Japan, a bit popular in Europe and not that well adopted here in North America. It stored music digitally, like a CD, so it had better sound quality than a cassette tape, but could easily be written and rewritten to which kept some of the convenience of an audio tape. Usagi’s copy of Venus by Minako Aino has a hand written label suggesting this is not a store bought album. Perhaps we should be referring to Usagi as Pretty Guardian Pirate Moon!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Sailor Moon holds Ami

The enemy attacks the school where the next Sailor Guardian happens to be. Ami starts to fall off a ledge and Sailor Moon catches her. Now we have a fairly unfortunate situation where Sailor Moon is holding the ledge with one hand and Ami with the other. Have you ever done a pull up? That’s not that hard. How about a muscle up, which is when you pull yourself right over the pull up bar? Quite difficult. I’ve done very few in my life and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Well if you’re hanging off a ledge and you want to pull yourself up without using your feet, you pretty much need to do that. Here Sailor Moon can only pull herself up with one arm and she is holding all of Ami’s weight with the other. Does Sailor Moon get super strong when she transforms? If not, there was really no way out of this situation. Some rare people can do a one armed muscle up but I don’t imagine anyone can do it with an extra hundred or so pounds of weight to drag. It reminds me of a similar scene in the film “This Is The End” which did not end well for the person hanging for their life. So Ami says she’ll transform to get out of it but Sailor Moon is convinced that they’ll figure something out. Maybe she could use her Moon Stick to create a bubble around them so that they slowly float to safety. Oh I’m getting ahead of myself…

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - The monster of the week and the teacher

This episode’s monster is a double monster! The main humanoid part is an actor in a suit while the dog part is CG. The humanoid part possesses the teacher but leaves her body at one point. This helps free up the monster to be killed by Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury, who use a synchronized combination of Moon Twilight Flash and Mercury Aqua Mist. This is the first time Mercury Aqua Mist gets used. There is an unnamed move in the original manga which resembles this. It is first named here in the live action series and is later written in as Mercury Aqua Mist for new versions of the manga and this was adapted in Sailor Moon Crystal. Sailor Moon’s Moon Twilight Flash is done with her Moon Stick here. In the manga this was done using her tiara in Act 4.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Rei Hino

The episode wraps up with a teaser for Act 3. We see Jadeite leave a gem at the Hiyakawa Shrine and get our first look at Rei Hino!

*A note on titles. The live action series had no titles included when it originally aired on TV. Episodes were simply titled Act 1, Act 2 and so forth. After the series aired in its entirety a Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Memorial Book was released in Japan which, among other things, included a list of titles for the episodes. I have this book but I can’t read any of it since it’s in Japanese and so I will be using this episode title list from Genvid. I would have been happy to just call the episodes by their Act number but it seems this relatively obscure list of titles is now commonly referenced when people discuss the show and so I am including them. Just keep in mind that back when the show first aired, no one knew anything of their titles beyond the number.

Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on these episodes. Looking to watch along with the series? Though there is no official international release of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series you can get English subtitled fan subs from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity.

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

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A Sailor V Funko Pop! Vinyl will be a New York Comic Con exclusive

New York Comic Con exclusive Sailor V Funko Pop! Vinyl

Funko has announced some of their 80s and 90s themed Pop! Vinyl exclusives for New York Comic Con and they include Sailor Venus’s alter ego Sailor V! The convention will take place in Manhattan at the Javits Center the weekend of October 5th to the 8th. This is great news for those that have done the full physical, psych evaluation and DNA testing required to get the NYCC Fan Verification™®© status required to attend the event.

New York Comic Con exclusive Sailor V Funko Pop! Vinyl

So what’s involved in getting an exclusive Funko Pop! Vinyl at New York Comic Con? You just walk up to a booth and buy one, right? In past years Funko has run a lottery ahead of the convention for time slots where attendees can buy things from their booth. It seems that this is the case this year as well. The Funko Twitter account pointed fans to the NYCC Lottery page where they can go into lotteries for certain events. I don’t have a Fan Verified™®© account but it seems like the Sailor V Funko Pop! Vinyl should be showing up there.

Funko made a video showcasing their 80s and 90s themed Pop! Vinyls including Sailor V. Check it out below.

Funko Pop! Vinyls are an overly simple cheap and fairly ugly line of nearly identical looking figures covering pretty much every franchise to ever exist in the history of time. Their business model seems to be to make toys based on as many brands as possible and it’s going quite well for them. They can be found at pretty much every booth at every comic, anime, gaming or pop culture convention as well as on most of the shelf space at GameStop, a novelty toy store that used to sell video games. All said I sure would like to get my hands on one of these figures but unfortunately I have no plans to attend New York Comic Con. Will any of you be lucky enough to be attending?

New York Comic Con exclusive Sailor V Funko Pop! Vinyl

Keep reading for more images of this figure and the box.

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Episode reviews for the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series are coming soon to this site

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Act 1 - Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask

I have decided to rewatch the live action Sailor Moon series commonly referred to as PGSM or Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Since there hasn’t been much going on with this site lately it seemed like a good opportunity to do some episode reviews as I watch them. I always enjoyed doing episodes summaries for Sailor Moon Crystal and for the original Sailor Moon anime episodes as they were released on Hulu. To categorize these as reviews or even summaries doesn’t seem totally accurate as I’ll neither be giving any sort of rating on the episode or giving anything resembling a coherent summary of events but instead I’ll discuss some of the content as I find it relevant as I’ve done with the other series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Act 1 - Plush Luna

While the show was relatively popular amongst fans it seems like some of you have never actually watched it! Might I suggest that this would be a good time to get caught up? Old or new fans interested in watching the series for the first time or rewatching it like myself can download episodes from either TV-Nihon or Miss Dream. TV-Nihon originally fan subbed the series as it was released on TV back in 2003-2004. They are a group that primarily subtitles Sentai series such as Power Rangers, which the live action Sailor Moon series has some things in common with. Miss Dream on the other hand is a Sailor Moon fan subbing group with more experience with the anime, musicals and manga. Both have authored their releases from DVD source material so you won’t have to deal with those annoying time stamps that came with the TV broadcast version of the show.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Act 1 - Ami Mizuno

I know I’ve earned myself a bit of a reputation as a cynic for some of my critical or mocking comments about the series so let me assure you that I absolutely adore this series. As Sailor Moon goes I think it rivals only the first season of the original anime in quality. It has great character drama and a lot of original elements unique to this series. Fans who have passed on this show for being too cheap looking should really give it a shot!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Opening - Rei Hino

If you’re watching along at home, remember the series from a while back or are just curious as to what this series was about, feel free to join the community in the comments of these blog posts to discuss the episodes. I don’t anticipate have any fixed schedule for posting these and haven’t really settled on a format, but I’m leaning towards two episodes per post. I’m at the whim of a 5 month old’s naps at this stage in my life so as always the content will be there when it’s there!

Japanese Sailor Moon Blu-Ray Collection set 2 review

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Cover

The second Japanese Blu-Ray set of the original Sailor Moon anime was released on August 9th. This includes the second half of the first season of Sailor Moon remastered in HD for Blu-Ray. This is a Japanese only release, meaning no English dub or subtitles. I got a copy and wanted to provide some thoughts on it. I previously did a more thorough review of the first set, which includes screenshot comparisons between various versions. I would recommend checking out that post to get an idea of the quality if you are interested in picking up this release. The set is available through online retailers such as Amazon Japan and CD Japan but beware that the cheapest you’ll find it for is about $150 US. This is considerably more expensive than the North American Blu-Ray releases from Viz.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Episode 46 - Princess Serenity attacks Queen Beryl

So why would someone want to get this set instead of buying the English version? It really comes down to minor improvements in video quality. I don’t have many nice things to say about the Viz Blu-Ray releases. The picture quality in these is pretty low due to being authored from some pretty bad masters. This Japanese version has better source material which leads to a better final product. The catch? No matter how much software they throw at it, this is still an upscaled version of a standard definition source. What this means is that a DVD equivalent 480p quality source was used and using software algorithms it was extrapolated into a 1080p HD video which is used for the Blu-Ray. Does this look better than a DVD? That’s a somewhat subjective question but it certainly doesn’t look like it would if the original film source was used to get an HD version, as has been done with the recently released Sailor Moon R movie. Still, this is pretty much the best quality version of Sailor Moon you’ll find. If you’re such a perfectionist that you absolutely need to have the original Sailor Moon anime in the best quality possible, then you’ll want to buy this set. Most people won’t find this to be necessary.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Episode 31 - Rhett Butler

I’ve included a few screenshots in this post, with more at the end if you scroll down, to give an idea of the quality. Again, check out my first volume review for specific comparisons. This second half of the first season contains some great episodes with some fantastic animation. Seeing them in good quality is a real treat. The episodes included start with episode 24, Nephlite’s final episode, and continue until episode 46, the season finale for the first season. It begins and ends with people dying and there’s a bunch of dying in between as well! This is indeed a heart wrenching half season to watch but to me it’s anime at its best.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Cover art comparison

As with the first set, and pretty much all releases of the original Sailor Moon anime, the box art used on the cover art and discs is reused from the first video releases of Sailor Moon on VHS and laserdisc back in the 1990s. This is great iconic art which continues to hold up with this release. There seems to be no need to replace it. Featured in this art are Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus, both of whom first appear in this set, as well as group shots and images of Serenity and Endymion, two characters who are especially relevant in these episodes.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Disc 1 art comparison

There isn’t a ton in the way of special features in this release. We have creditless opening and ending credits and the 15 second commercials which were shown on TV when this originally aired. This is something which has been included time and time again with Japanese releases of the Sailor Moon anime. While there were many, many other special video features included in the first season laserdisc video releases none of these appear in this or the previous set. This seems like it would have been something fairly easy to include in this set but there seems to be little interest in resurrecting this old footage.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Booklet episodes 29 to 31

A nice looking booklet of episode descriptions is included. These short descriptions include a single screenshot per episode as well as pieces of production art that pertain to characters introduced in those particular episodes. I’ve included a sample page above and will include a few more later in the post.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Episode 31 - Sailor Jupiter look at Sailor Mercury's butt

All considered I stand by my assessment of the last set that the quality is “good but not great” and it won’t be worth buying for most fans who are either really picky about quality or don’t like having money. While the available English versions don’t have terribly good video quality this is not a huge improvement over the original Japanese DVD releases and many other international releases of the series. It would have been really great to see a better quality release for these Blu-Ray sets but for whatever reason this doesn’t seem feasible at this time.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Collection Volume 2 - Episode 32 - Tuxedo Umino Kamen

Sailor Moon R part 1 will be released next month. It can be preordered from Amazon Japan and CD Japan. Since this season was originally only released in interlaced video quality on the original Japanese DVD I anticipate a more significant video quality improvement with this set.

Keep reading for more screenshots, as well as photos of the box art and the included booklet.

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The Sailor Moon Le Mouvement Final musical, which is now playing in Japan, will be released on DVD March 14th

Sailor Moon Le Mouvement Final banner

The latest Sailor Moon musical, Sailor Moon Le Mouvement Final, began being performed in Japan yesterday, Friday September 8th! The DVD has now been announced and it will be released on March 14th 2018. This DVD will have an MSRP of 7,800 yen, about $72 US and is currently available for pre-order from online retailers such as Amazon Japan and CD Japan.

I haven’t generally had anything good to say about these DVD releases in the past. This is a Japanese only DVD with no English subtitles or audio. The video quality of the last 4 musicals has been an embarrassingly sub par 480i which seems especially disappointing given there are HD versions of the musical available online in Japan. This is the kind of stuff we would have expected in the 90s but in 2017 there’s no excuse! There will be no Blu-Ray version of this release. Instead the DVD will simply have a Blu-Ray equivalent price! Will they somehow make this DVD a bit better and at least have progressive scan video? Seems unlikely.

There are currently no specifics about what special features may be included but these usually include a number of bonus features including interviews and other behind the scenes featurettes. Check out my reviews for the La Reconquista, Petite Étrangère, Un Nouveau Voyage and Amour Eternal DVDs to see what kind of special features those included.

Sailor Moon Le Mouvement Final DVD ad

Additionally, as has been done in the past, some special covers for the previous DVD releases will be available exclusively at the venues where the musical is being performed. These exclusive covers feature manga art corresponding to the story arc being covered by the particular musical.