The new Japanese Sailor Moon Blu-Ray sets look good but not great in HD

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Vol. 1 - Cover

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.

Sailor Moon episode 8 - Viz Blu-Ray - Ami

Viz Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon episode 8 - Japanese Blu-Ray - Ami

Japanese Blu-Ray

Make Up! Sailor Senshi - Ami

Make Up! Sailor Senshi Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon episode 8 - Japanese DVD - Ami

Japanese DVD

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.

Sailor Moon Episode 1 - Viz Blu-Ray - Sailor Moon shocked by her transformation

Viz Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon Episode 1 - Japanese Blu-Ray - Sailor Moon shocked by her transformation

Japanese Blu-Ray

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.

Sailor Moon Episode 1 - Viz Blu-Ray - Sailor Moon poses

Viz Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon Episode 1 - Japanese Blu-Ray - Sailor Moon poses

Japanese Blu-Ray

Make Up! Sailor Senshi - Sailor Moon poses

Make Up! Sailor Senshi Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon episode 1 - Japanese DVD - Sailor Moon poses

Japanese DVD

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.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Vol. 1 - Comparison between Laserdisc, Japanese DVD and Blu-Ray

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.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray disc 1 menu

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.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Vol. 1 - Booklet - Episodes 8 to 10

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.

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Vol. 1 - Back

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.

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Even more Sailor Moon merchandise is coming as Toei Animation strikes more deals!

Toei Animation

A press release from License Global gives us an indication of upcoming Sailor Moon merchandise. There was certainly a time when we would go years without any official Sailor Moon merchandise being available in North America, requiring fans to look in niche comic book and hobby shops to find anything, but this is far from being true today! It seems like the ongoing trend of a lot of new merchandise being available in some fairly mainstream stores like Toys R Us, HMV, Hot Topic and GameStop will only continue. Toei Animation has merchandising deals with the following companies for the original Sailor Moon anime:

For whatever reason they’ve made a different set of deals for Sailor Moon Crystal merchandise which includes:

Fans will probably notice that most of these are brands which already sell Sailor Moon products, such as Great Eastern (GE) and Funko, but some of these are companies which haven’t previously sold Sailor Moon products such as Dyskami which is producing a couple of Sailor Moon games soon or Mimoco who’s battery charging devices have not previously been Sailor Moon branded.

Hold on to your wallet! Or don’t. Throw it away! You’ll probably find a Sailor Moon wallet soon.

Two new tabletop Sailor Moon games, Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge and Truth or Bluff are coming to stores in 2017!

Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge

Great news for fans of Sailor Moon and tabletop games! Dyskami Publishing Company has acquired the rights to release two Sailor Moon Crystal games this year! The first, Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge, will be out this summer while Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff, a tile based game, is set to be release in the Fall. Details about both of these games can be found on the Dyskami official site.

The first game we’ll be getting, Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge, is a game of dice and cards. Players will be one of 24 characters, who are each represented by a card, and will use a number of different dice to face off against each other. The game comes with a total of 24 dice, 6 different types, as well as tokens and challenge cards. The box art says it’s for 2 to10 players though the site lists it as being for 2 to 8 players. It’s for players aged 10 and up and will retail for $29.99 US.

Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge - Tuxedo Mask challenge card

Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff

The other game which will be released in the Fall is Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff. This game will have players laying down tile cards showcasing heroes, villains and ending tiles. It will also include tokens, tile holders, privacy shields and a cloth bag for portability. The title made me think this might be a Truth or Dare kind of social game but based on the description it seems to be about bluffing with what tiles you’re using. This game is for 3 to 10 players and again is for players aged 10 and up. It will also retail for $29.99 US. Check out some of the tiles below! They feature Super Deformed or Chibi type characters in a Sailor Moon Crystal style.

Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff - Character tiles

Both games are priced affordably and seem to be quite portable. I’m looking forward to seeing these games in action! It’s great to see this come from a Canadian company! Dyskami Publishing is based in Guelph Ontario.

Sailor Moon Web of the Negaverse game

This is not one of the upcoming games!

I was tempted to say that these were the first Sailor Moon board games available in North America but I had a vague memory of having seen one before. Indeed a quick search reminded me that there was a Sailor Moon Web of the Negaverse game released in the 90s! I never had the pleasure of playing it. There was also the popular Sailor Moon Trading Card Game and the Sailor Moon pen and paper RPG released back in the day. These last two were actually designed by Dyskami’s founder and CEO Mark MacKinnon. Many other Sailor Moon games were released in other countries around the world.

Check out the full press release below for more details. We’ll be sure to have more on these games when they come out!

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Check out the box art for Sailor Moon R The Movie on home video

Sailor Moon R The Movie DVD

We previously announced that Sailor Moon R The Movie, recently released to theatres in North America, was coming out on home video April 18th. We now have a look at the box art for this release! The above image showing the cover art and the image showing a bit of the spine are on Right Stuf’s listing for the DVD. This is new art likely made by artist Marco Albiero who did cover art for many international releases of the original Sailor Moon anime. (Update: Marco Albiero has confirmed that he did not in fact make this cover) It includes Tuxedo Mask, Fiore and the Sailor Guardians. Some fans have some not terribly wonderful things to say about this art. What do you think?

Sailor Moon R The Movie DVD

The Blu-Ray version is also posted on Right Stuf’s web site but the cover art isn’t included. It seems likely that the image used will be similar.

Sailor Moon R The Movie poster

Some fans have said that they’d prefer to have seen the original Japanese poster for Sailor Moon R The Movie used. An image of that poster is included above. This poster has the distinction of being included in the liner notes of a U2 CD.

U2 in front of a Sailor Moon R The Movie poster

The Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 video release has been delayed a week to February 28th

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Limited Edition Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2, covering the Black Moon story arc, was meant to be released yesterday, February 21st, on DVD and Blu-Ray. Unfortunately fans will have to wait up to an additional week to see the set which now has a release date of February 28th. The release date has been updated on sites such as Amazon and Right Stuf.

Update: This delay only affects the Blu-Ray version. Fans have already found the DVD version on store shelves.

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Limited Edition Blu-Ray

Right Stuf posted an updated to their Twitter account on February 21st stating that the release was delayed due to a manufacturing issue. The following day, February 22nd, they posted again saying that the sets were in and would be shipping shortly. I would expect that stores will also be getting their sets early next week, around February 28th. Let us know when you get yours!

If you haven’t pre-ordered your set yet you can support the site by buying it from Amazon using the links below.

Get this “Choose Your Sailor” t-shirt at OtherTees for just $10

Choose Your Sailor T-Shirt at OtherTees

This great looking Sailor Moon shirt is available today at OtherTees. Like many shirt a day sites this shirt is available for a low price of $11 but only for a limited time. Seem cheap? It get’s better! You can save an extra 10% off your order by using the discount code SMNEWS.

Sailor Moon Super Famicom Game Character Select

The theme of the shirt “Choose Your Sailor” is inspired by video game character select screens. This is a fictional game screen but we don’t have to imagine what such a thing would look like! Above is a screenshot from the character select screen for the Sailor Moon Super Famicom game from 1993. The shirt’s design shows silhouettes the main set of five Sailor Guardians Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Moon, Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus all complemented by their own colour and planetary symbol.

The shirt is designed by Skullpy. Check out more of the artist’s work on Twitter or Facebook. Get it now because the shirt will only be on sale for this price until 4pm Eastern Time tomorrow, February 17th.

Queen Beryl and the Shitennou Petit Chara figures are coming in May

Dark Kingdom Petit Chara figures - Jadeite, Nephrite, Queen Beryl, Kunzite, Zoisite, Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity

We’ve got some great villain Petit Chara figures coming in May! The latest set includes Princess Serenity, Prince Endymion, Queen Beryl, Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisyte and Kunzite. These were announced on the official site and are also listed on the Premium Bandai and Kiddy Land sites. This is being called the Dark Kingdom set though I would say the Silver Millennium set might be a more accurate title with the inclusion of Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion. Regardless the Dark Kingdom characters are the big appeal of this set as we’ve already gotten a number of Sailor Moon variants including Princess Serenity, though this is the first time we get Prince Endymion himself, rather than Tuxedo Mask or Mamoru. I’m still waiting for a Moonlight Knight figure perhaps bundled Ail and An.

Dark Kingdom Petit Chara figures - Jadeite, Nephrite, Queen Beryl, Kunzite, Zoisite

These aren’t the first villains we’ve seen in this line of toys, which previously saw the release of the Ayakashi Sisters, the Black Moon Clan and the Amazon Trio. I’ve already gotten a few of these figures and look forward to adding these to my collection.

Dark Kingdom Petit Chara figures - Nephrite and Jadeite

Seeing Jadeite from this set reminds me of the super deformed version so of various characters we saw in Sailor Moon R episode 58. We only need Morga to be able to recreate this whole scene!

Sailor Moon R episode 58 - Sailor Moon stage show with Jadeite, Morga, Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask and Luna

Dark Kingdom Petit Chara figures - Kunzite and Zoisite

Support the site by purchasing some of the other sets from Amazon using the links below:



Dark Kingdom Petit Chara figures - Jadeite, Nephrite, Queen Beryl, Kunzite, Zoisite, Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity

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.

Sailor Moon R: The Movie will be released on video April 18th

Sailor Moon R The Movie on DVD

As Sailor Moon R: The Movie premiered in Los Angeles tonight anime retailer Right Stuf added the film to their online store. The listing, currently only including a DVD option priced at $17.98, lists a release date of April 18th 2017! The film will include Japanese and English audio tracks with English subtitles. For now we only have a promotional image for the cover. (Update: a Blu-Ray DVD combo option has been added to Right Stuf’s web site for $26.98)

The film will be playing in theatres starting next weekend. A full list of theatres can be found on the Eleven Arts web site. If you’re not lucky enough to have the film showing in your city you will still have a chance to see it when it’s released on video in April. Do you plan on picking this release up?

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray February 21st

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Limited Edition Blu-Ray

It’s been a while since the first story arc of Sailor Moon Crystal was released on home video back in August. Fans have been waiting for news about Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2, including the Black Moon story arc, being released on home video. Amazon and the Right Stuf have listed the product for a February 21st release. Amazon has listing for the regular and limited edition with box art included. The Right Stuf also has the limited edition Blu-Ray, regular edition Blu-Ray and DVD listed with prices. They’re selling the limited edition Blu-Ray for $62.99, the regular edition Blu-Ray for $54.59 and the DVD for $31.22. Who sets a price ending in 22 cents? Mind boggling.

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Limited Edition Blu-Ray

North American Blu-Ray cover for Set 2’s Limited Edition


Sailor Moon Crystal Blu-Ray vol. 13 cover

Japanese Blu-Ray cover for Volume 13

The box art seems consistent with the first release. The limited edition cover features Sailor Moon’s third transformation brooch, the Cosmic Heart Compact, which only shows up at the end of the second story arc. This is because this is the cover from the final volume from the original Japanese Sailor Moon Crystal releases. I’ve included a picture of that cover above for comparison. I’d uploaded this picture to a post that I never actually finished reviewing that set. This set will include the English dub of Sailor Moon Crystal which we’ve already heard for these episodes.

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Standard Edition Blu-Ray

The regular edition box art will also likely be that shown on the case which is included inside the special edition set. Details of the release are included on the packaging. We see that this will include episodes 15 to 26. A special feature mentioned is an interview with Momoiro Clover Z, the band which performed Moon Pride, the Sailor Moon Crystal theme. The set is rated TV 14 in the US and PG in Canada. Maybe it’s the whole making out with her dad thing. The set includes art of the original Japanese covers and a full colour special booklet.

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Standard Edition Blu-Ray

For now you can’t actually preorder the set using the links below, but at some point in the future you should be able to. The set is coming out next month after all!