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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What would today’s solar eclipse look like from the Moon? + Foolish people in the Sailor Moon anime don’t know how to look at an eclipse!

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 128 - Usagi watching the solar eclipse

This afternoon, August 21st 2017, there will be a solar eclipse, meaning that from the vantage point of the Earth the Moon will pass in front of the Sun. While there is usually one or more at least partial solar eclipse in a given year, this one is notable for being visible in North America with many parts of the US being able to observe the total eclipse. Here in Gatineau, Quebec I will be observing only a partial solar eclipse. How about you? Sailor Moon is no stranger to solar eclipses! The Dead Moon Circus first appears during a total solar eclipse which is visible from Tokyo. Unfortunately for fans in Japan, it will be night time during the eclipse and they will be unable to observe it as the Earth will be in the way.

Princess Serenity views a solar eclipse from the Moon

This got me to wonder about what someone on the Moon might see during a solar eclipse. I previously toyed with a similar idea when I wondered what a lunar eclipse would look like from the Moon. Since Princess Serenity lived on the Moon from birth to adolescence and always had a view of the Earth in the sky she likely observed quite a few lunar and solar eclipses during her life. Due to the nature of a solar eclipse it would always appear during a “full Earth” from the vantage point of the Moon and the shadow would always be visible from that side. In this case, as the digitally altered photo above illustrates, the observer on the Moon would see a small shadow on the Earth as only a part of it is obscured at any time. With most of the shadow still being partly illuminated by the sun which is only partially blocked by the Moon, there wouldn’t be a clear demarcation but rather a gradually darkening spot. To create the photo above I used an actual image of a solar eclipse seen from space which I got from NASA. Since this photo wasn’t of today’s eclipse, because time travel doesn’t exist yet, the image has the shadow on Australia even though the eclipse will not be visible from Australia this time around. Instead the shadow of this year’s eclipse will be seen on the United States, where the total eclipse will be visible.

Pat Rawlings' painting of the solar eclipse seen from the Moon

Artist Pat Rawlings imagined what the the August 2017 eclipse would look like if seen from the Moon back in 1989. (Print available here) It was his hope at the time that by now someone would be on the Moon to observe it, but sadly this is not the case.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 128 - A bunch of people looking at the sun

Looking back at Sailor Moon SuperS episode 128 I noticed a few humorous things. While many of the main characters are wearing the appropriate protective eye wear to view the eclipse, this is not true of all people. Usagi and others have a protective sheet to look through while some people have glasses. Indeed there are many such glasses, many made out of cardboard and a special film which blocks most of the sun’s rays, which are adequate for viewing an eclipse. As a tip if you can see pretty much anything with your shades, they aren’t fit for viewing the sun! This said there are quite a few people in this episode who appear to have no concern with staring at the sun. This is at once a bad idea and simply difficult to do. Staring at the sun during a partial eclipse is pretty much like staring at the sun during any normal time. It hurts your eyes and your instinct would be to turn away. With many of the business men and women in Sailor Moon seen simply putting their hand on near their forehead I wonder what exactly they’re looking at. This is a move that is usually done to protect one’s eyes from the sun, but the thing that they are conceivably looking at is the sun itself so something just isn’t adding up.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 128 - Business people looking at the sun

Luna and Artemis, usually the voices of reason in the series, appear to have no eclipse protection. Surely it would have been suspicious for a couple of cats to be wearing glasses but in this case they are simply staring at the fully eclipsed sun with no protection whatsoever. Shouldn’t they be going blind? Not really. It’s actually safe to look at the fully eclipsed sun however for most people this isn’t advisable as it isn’t terribly easy to tell when the sun is fully eclipsed and safe vs. when it’s only partially eclipsed and potentially damaging to one’s eyes.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 128 - Luna and Artemis lack eye protection

A reminder that I do a weekly science and skepticism podcast called The Reality Check. In the latest episode Cristina talks all about eclipse myths including the real and fictional risks of looking at the sun. I managed to slip a reference to the Dead Moon Circus into the show!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Viewing the eclipse

Are you watching the eclipse today? Be sure to check out the NASA web site for all the details about it.

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John Eric, Michael Yurchak and Erik Scott Kimerer are voicing the Amazon Trio in Sailor Moon SuperS

John Eric as Tiger's Eye

The cast of voice actors playing the Amazon Trio has been announced! This past weekend was Otakon, an anime convention in Baltimore Maryland. At the convention there was a Moon Panel held by Viz in which they have announced the voice actors who will be playing the Amazon Trio. This includes John Eric as Tiger’s Eye, Michael Yurchak as Hawk’s Eye and Erik Scott Kimerer as Fish Eye. The Amazon Trio are basically pick up artists who target men and women in order to peak at their mirror of dreams once they’ve succeeded, or failed, at seducing them. Tiger’s Eye targets young women, Hawk’s Eye targets older women and Fish Eye targets men of all ages.

Erik Scott Kimerer as Fish Eye

Having Erik Scott Kimerer play Fish Eye is a change as this character was previously voiced by Deborah Drakeford and portrayed as a woman in the original English dub of Sailor Moon. Fish Eye is a man in the Japanese version of the series but he looks quite feminine and often dresses like a woman which makes it easy for viewers to mistake his gender. He was likely made female to avoid having a gay character in the English dubbed version of the show as was done with Zoisite. Similarly Haruka and Michiru, Amara and Michelle in the dub, were made cousins to distract from their lesbian relationship. It is certainly good to see a gay character portrayed as it was originally intended. Seeing gay characters as villains is potentially concerning but in Sailor Moon when good and evil characters with varying sexuality are seen, this is not really a problem.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 145 - Fish Eye the Prima Ballerina

If there had been a woman provide the voice of Fish Eye would not necessarily have meant he wouldn’t be a man. Many male characters, usually children, have women providing their voices and it wouldn’t be out of character for Fish Eye to have a feminine voice. The character has been portrayed by women in numerous versions of the Sailor Moon musicals. Still it continues to be good that Viz’s new dub of Sailor Moon is more faithful to the original version with less changes to anger fans.

Michael Yurchak as Hawk's Eye

As with the announcement of Chris Niosi as Pegasus from a few weeks ago this applies to the Sailor Moon SuperS dub of the original Sailor Moon anime but, should the Dream arc of Sailor Moon Crystal ever be released in Japan and then dubbed by Viz, this will likely be the cast to voice these characters in that series as well. The last news out of Japan on that series is that the Dream arc will be released as two theatrical films.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 129 - The Amazon Trio - Hawks' Eye, Tigers' Eye and Fish Eye

Source: @Sailor_Moon_NA on Twitter

Chris Niosi will voice Pegasus in the new dub of Sailor Moon SuperS

Chris Niosi as Pegasus in Sailor Moon SuperS

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.

Mike Daniels of the Green Bay Packers

Also of note at the Moon Panel at Comic-Con was an appearance by Mike Daniels, a football player fro the Green Bay Packers. He attended the panel and then posed for photos with some of the staff.

Meet Mary Long, Roland Parliament, John Stocker and Todd Haberkorn at Fan World in Niagara Falls July 21st to the 23rd

Sailor Moon S episode 95 - Umino and Naru

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.

Sailor Moon episode 32 - Tuxedo Umino Kamen and Naru

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?

Sailor Moon episode 13 - Jadeite illusion over the city

Sailor Moon episode 7 - Cross dressing Umino with Naru

All three Sailor Moon movies will be released as a Blu-Ray set in Japan

Japanese Sailor Moon movie Blu-Ray set

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.

Japanese Sailor Moon movie Blu-Ray set

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?

Sailor Moon DVD-Box The Movie

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

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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