The cast of the live action Sailor Moon show got together for Keiko Kitagawa’s birthday

Rika Izumi, Mew Azama, Keiko Kitagawa, Miyuu Sawai and Ayaka Komatsu

Here’s a great look at what the cast of the live action Sailor Moon series look like now, 10 years later. The whole recently got together to celebrate the 28th birthday of Keiko Kitagawa, Sailor Mars in the series. From left to right are Rika Izumi, Sailor Merucry, Mew Azama, Sailor Jupiter, Keiko Kitagawa, Sailor Mars, Miyuu Sawai, Sailor Moon and Ayaka Komatsu, Sailor Venus. The photo was posted to Keiko Kitagawa’s official blog and Facebook page.

It’s great to see that these girls are still getting together nearly 10 years after the last episode aired. Just a short while ago they also got together to celebrate Ayaka Komatsu’s birthday.

Some Sailor Moon Crystal scenes will be reanimated up for the DVD and Blu-Ray release

Streamed version to Blu-Ray comparison - Sailor Moon Crystal Act 2 - Ami and Luna

Top: Original streaming version.
Bottom: New Blu-Ray version.

The upcoming Blu-Ray and DVD release of Sailor Moon Crystal, coming October 15th in Japan, will include some touched up scenes. A lot of fans had issues with the quality of some of the animation in Sailor Moon Crystal when it was first streamed and now some of these scenes have been reanimated. A video has been released on the official Sailor Moon YouTube Channel showing new scenes.

This video on it’s own doesn’t show anything obvious but when we compare these clips to the original version we see the difference. Screenshots included in this post show that some scenes seem to have been completely redrawn though many others have not been modified at all. The footage only contains scenes from the first two episodes as there are only two episodes included in each volume of the DVD and Blu-Ray release. There has not been any announcement about a North American video release. Pre-order the volume 1 deluxe limited edition Blu-Ray (Amazon Japan, CD Japan), regular edition Blu-ray (Amazon Japan, CD Japan) or DVD (Amazon Japan, CD Japan).

Streamed version to Blu-Ray comparison - Sailor Moon Crystal Act 2 - Usagi and Mamoru

Top: Original streaming version.
Bottom: New Blu-Ray version

How do you feel about these changes? Many fans are happy with them though this brings up an age old debate amongst fans of all things about the state of a work of art as either a fixed event in time or a constantly growing and evolving work. Certainly many movies will have a “director’s cut” or include a few new scenes in a video release, often including the original version. The extreme example of this would be something like the Star Wars Special Editions including drastic often unwelcome changes and who’s director is openly hostile towards fans of the original unaltered versions. Somewhere in between are things like the Final Fantasy Advent Children Complete Edition. I consider myself a bit of purist, as can be inferred from my less than kind reviews of these Star Wars DVDs or the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 Blu-Ray. That said, I understand these changes to be minor and generally positive without any major change to the original work. All redrawn scenes have the same poses as the originals, just with slightly more polish. No guns replaced with walkie-talkies here!

Streamed version to Blu-Ray comparison - Sailor Moon Crystal Act 2 - Ami and Usagi

Top: Original streaming version.
Bottom: New Blu-Ray version

One has to wonder what motivates this change? Why not just do it right the first time? It’s no secret that the show’s production was quite rushed, including a number of delays. With a twice monthly release schedule there are obvious time constraints with making this show. Perhaps there was just a shortage of time with the first few episodes. It’s also possible that the show’s success was underestimated and with a higher budget it’s now possible to go back and put more polish on some of the more sloppily done scenes. It remains to be seen if such changes will continue for many of the later episodes or if the higher quality of animation will simply become commonplace in the future. Act 3 had some pretty questionable scenes but the latest episode looked quite good.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, Review

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Sailor Jupiter pose

Saturday September 6th the 5th episode of Sailor Moon Crystal, Act 5, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, became available on Crunchyroll, Hulu and Niconico. This episode marks the introduction of Makoto Kino, Sailor Jupiter. Once again it follows the manga fairly closely but there are a some differences to note this time around.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Makoto saves Usagi

This episode is all about Usagi getting herself into trouble and Makoto saving her! First it’s from a car which almost hits her, which may very well have killed her. The second time Makoto stops a baseball from almost hitting Usagi in the face. We know from the original Sailor Moon anime that Sailor Moon can take a high speed tennis ball to the face so that’s no big deal. Usagi and Makoto become instant friends, despite the fact that many of the student are scared of Makoto having heard she got kicked out of her last school for fighting. Once again we see Usagi’s greatest quality, her easy ability to make friends. Even without knowing her new classmate has super powers, she’s immediately nice to her, offering to show her around the arcade and such.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Makoto and Motoki

While at the arcade Makoto runs into Motoki and she is instantly smitten by him. Motoki is later used by the enemy to lure in Makoto which is a very effective ploy, as he reminds her of her old “sempai” or rather another student at her school from a higher grade. This idea of Makoto’s sempai recurs in many series. She did not leave her old school for fighting but rather because her heart was broken by this boy. Here we get to see Makoto’s sempai in a flashback scene and we learn that he broke Makoto’s heart because he had a girlfriend. During this scene I kept waiting for her Rainy Day Man to show up, but alas there was no such person to console her.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Makoto and her sempai

There is no cross dressing in this episode. For shame! In the manga when Usagi visits the Bridal Boutique she disguises herself as a well dressed groom before transforming into Sailor Moon. Here we have Usagi getting lured from her bedroom by Tuxedo Mask and remaining in her pyjamas when she gets to the action! Luna calls Rei and Ami and while Rei is wearing her standard Miko Robe Ami is wearing some sort of comfortable night clothes that may very well be pyjamas. Girls! Don’t leave home like this. Take a hint from Optimus Prime. Transform and Roll Out. These girls are always waiting until they’re in front of the monster to transform. This is a terrible way to keep a secret identity. Oh and yes the implication with Mamoru at Usagi’s window is that Mamoru knows that she is Sailor Moon. I think the handkerchief from the last episode gave her away.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Pyjama party

Sailor Jupiter does two attacks in this episode. The first is Flower Hurricane, which cuts clothes and paralyses opponents. The second is Jupiter Thunderbolt which in the manga kills Nephrite but here it does not finish the job. This follows Jadeite not being killed by Rei in act 3, a change from the manga. Clearly something is being planned by keeping them all alive. All four Shitennou are shown to be alive and well in the next episode preview for act 6. Nephrite also makes the comment “I’ve seen this look before” as Sailor Jupiter charges up her Thunderbolt. In an image in the manga it’s insinuated that Sailor Jupiter and Nephrite had a romantic relationship during Silver Millennium. Similarly in act 3 Jadeite made a comment about how beautiful and familiar Sailor Mars’s face looked, and they are also paired together in the manga. Surely there has not been much deviation from the source material to date but this small change may be indicative of something substantial to come in the future.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Nephrite not dying

Finally we see the first appearance of the new Moon Stick in this episode! At this point we’ve seen it in other places, such as the cover art for the first Blu-Ray (which does not include episodes where Sailor Moon actually has the Moon Stick…) but it’s nice to see it in the show. It’s a bit different from the original anime Moon Stick or even the one seen in the manga. The silver crescent moon is a bit similar to the live action series Moon Stick but there are differences from that one too. Surely we will be getting a toy of this Moon Stick in time!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 - Luna gives Usagi the Moon Stick

The next episode, airing September 20th 2014, will be Act 6, Tuxedo Mask. As the title suggests it’s all about Tuxedo Mask. Will we see Mamoru with his shirt off like we do in the manga? Find out in two weeks!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 6 - Tuxedo Mask

Until then here are more screenshots from the episode.

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Watch Act 5 of Sailor Moon Crystal, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, starting September 6th at 6am EST

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 Preview - Sailor Jupiter

Tomorrow, Saturday September 6th at 7pm Japan Standard Time, Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, will be available streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu and Niconico. This coincides with 6am Eastern Standard Time and 3am Pacific Standard Time.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5, Makoto, Sailor Jupiter

This episode introduces us to Makoto Kino, Sailor Jupiter. Makoto is a new student at Usagi’s school who everyone is afraid of because of rumours she was kicked out of her old school for fighting. Meanwhile the Dark Kingdom targets a local bridal boutique which causes people to believe it’s haunted.

Sailor Moon content added to the Line Play mobile game

Sailor Moon in Line Play - Sailor Moon Crystal room

Sailor Moon Crystal content has been added to Line Play. What’s Line Play? It’s an avatar based mobile game where you can dress up your character, buy furniture for your house and interact with other players all while doing menial tasks (or paying money…) to get gems to buy more items. I’d never heard of this game when this news was announced on the Sailor Moon official site so I downloaded it to see what it was all about.

Sailor Moon in Line Play - Sailor Moon Crystal room

Line Play is a Japanese game but there is an english version. It is available in the iTunes store for iOS devices and the Google Play store for Android devices. I have heard people had issues getting the iOS version in English speaking countries but I had no issue installing it on my Android device. To say the game isn’t really for me would be somewhat of an understatement but it seems to appeal to some people. The Sailor Moon content is interesting enough. You can add Sailor Moon Crystal as a friend and after doing so you can travel to Sailor Moon Crystal’s room which is totally filled with cool Sailor Moon Crystal gear! Sailor Moon themed furniture and decorations as well as costumes. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some of these items for yourself? Indeed you can! Using the “Gacha” in the Sailor Moon Crystal room you can use 2500 gems to get a random Sailor Moon item. With the 10000 gems you start with you can get four such items. You gain gems at a slow rate while playing or, naturally, you can pay real money to buy some!

Sailor Moon in Line Play - Serena School Uniform

I played all of my gems and got four items. First I got two copies of Usagi’s school uniform which is called “Serena School Uniform”. This is a curious choice of names given Serena is the name from the old English dub, not that used in the English adaptation of Sailor Moon Crystal or for the new dub of Sailor Moon which will soon be released by Viz. Still, many fans of the series from back in the day may be used to that name and so she is referred to as Serena. Next I got Serenity’s dress, which is a rare item. Both of these are clothing items which can be equipped through your closet. Next I got a Moon Stick Chair which is a furniture item you can place in your house. Finally I got Luna which is a fashion accessory which can be placed on your head.

Sailor Moon in Line Play - Serenity Dress

While playing Sailor Moon also took a number of baths. So scandalous!

Sailor Moon in Line Play - Usagi taking a bath

Keep reading to see more images from the game.

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Pre-order the first Sailor Moon Crystal visual book

Sailor Moon Crystal visual book

This Friday, August 22nd 2014, a Sailor Moon Crystal visual book will be released in Japan by Kodansha. This book will include information and images from the new Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Moon Crystal, including voice actor and staff information as well as a number of bonuses. Included will be a sleeve for the previously released Moon Pride single by Momoiro Clover Z and a DVD featuring the TV sized version of Moon Pride and a trailer for Sailor Moon Crystal. This DVD will be region 2, viewable only on Japanese DVD players or for those who have a region free DVD player or drive.

The art book, likely the first of many of it’s kind, can be preordered from Amazon Japan or CD Japan. Once I receive my copy I’ll post more information and images.

Source: Moonkitty, Sailor Moon: The Moonieverse and the Sailor Moon official site

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4, Masquerade Dance Party, Review

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4 - Usagi and Mamoru dancing

The 4th episode of Sailor Moon Crystal became available on Saturday August 16th. You can watch it on Crunchyroll, Hulu or Niconico. Act 4, Masquerade Dance Party, has everyone crashing a party put on by the D Kingdom in order to steal their jewels, hoping to find the Silver Crystal. While this is an early story in the manga it is somewhat similar to episode 22 of the Sailor Moon anime, Romance Under the Moon: Usagi’s First Kiss.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4 - Jadeite lives

The episode largely follows act 4 of the original manga with one major exception, Jadeite is still alive. In the manga Sailor Mars kills Jadeite at the end of act 3 however in the last episode it was unclear if Jadeite actually died during the fight. Indeed Jadeite is still alive which is the biggest change to the story we’ve seen to date. Perhaps this change will lead to more differences down the line, as all of the Shitennou are still alive at this point leaving things open for different stories. In act 3 Jadeite made comments about how beautiful he thought Sailor Mars was, which may be related to a past and future relationship between the two of them. Manga art from the final Dark Kingdom story shows pairings between the Shintennou and Sailor Guardians during Silver Millennium. Sailor Mercury was with Zoisite, Sailor Mars is with Jadeite, Sailor Jupiter was with Nephrite and Sailor Venus was with Kunzite, a relationship which was also alluded to in the Sailor V manga. This may seem odd to anime fans who have only seen the Shintennou as villains however in the manga they were all friends of Endymion and good people from Earth prior to being corrupted by Queen Metalia. While we’ve followed the manga closely to date this may not last forever. By act 4 of the live action series we were still following the manga episode by episode but major changes were just around the corner.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4 - Newspaper from the future showing Sailor Moon doing Moon Twilight Flash

Sailor Moon gets a new tiara and attack this week! Her last tiara was destroyed by Sailor Mars as she burned Jadeite and so she gets a new upgraded one and with that has a new attack which she uses to destroy Nephrite’s shadow. The attack she uses in the manga is Moon Twilight Flash, seen frequently in the live action series, though the attack is not named in this episode. Strangely enough an image of Sailor Moon using this attack is seen in the newspaper on the morning before she gets her tiara upgrade and is first able to use this attack.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4 - Creeper Umino

Another fun moment has Umino acting like a total creeper when he reveals a photo of Princess D. Indeed Umino always having images of women at hand when needed is in itself creepy but something about the way he acts and speaks in this scene is particularly funny.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4 - Tuxedo Mask kissing Sailor Moon without consent

And speaking of creepy, the final scene of the episode needs to be addressed. Sailor Moon, after a long day at the party, passes out. In the manga she does this after consuming alcohol. While unconscious Tuxedo Mask approaches her and kisses her, causing fans to swoon at this romantic moment. She is unconscious and unable to consent to his advances. This behaviour is completely inappropriate. Luckily Luna shows up and comes to Sailor Moon’s defence.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4 - Makoto Kino

Unfortunately we have to wait 3 weeks for the next episode! We’ve gotten used to seeing shows every two weeks but Sailor Moon Crystal is released on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month, not every two weeks. The next episode will be available on Saturday September 6th. Act 5, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, will introduce us to Makoto Kino who becomes Sailor Jupiter. We see a shot of her at the end of the episode and more of her during the next episode preview. This again follows the manga schedule with Sailor Jupiter appearing in act 5.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 5 Preview - Sailor Jupiter

Keep reading for more images from this episode and from the next episode preview.

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Watch Act 4 of Sailor Moon Crystal, Masquerade Dance Party, starting August 16th at 6am EST

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4, Masquerade Dance Party - Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask

Set your alarms! The 4th episode of Sailor Moon Crystal, Act 4: Masquerade Dance Party, will be available online streaming starting August 16th at 7pm Japan Standard Time. This is 6am Eastern Standard Time and 3am Pacific Standard Time. You can watch the episode on Crunchyroll, Hulu or Niconico.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 4, Masquerade Dance Party

This episode has the Sailor Guardians, Tuxedo Mask and the Dark Kingdom crashing a masquerade party in order to investigate a gem which may be the Silver Crystal. Once again we follow a story straight from the manga as was the case for the previous three episodes.

Unazuki and Reika’s hidden appearance in Sailor Moon Crystal Act 3

Reika and Unazuki in Sailor Moon Crystal

There’s a neat little easter egg in the third episode of Sailor Moon Crystal in the appearance of two characters who will likely show up later in the series. I would never have noticed it at first but it was pointed out to me by Yosenex of Go Robo Now. Check out his review of act 3 for his thoughts on the episode. What we can see in this screenshot are two girls standing on the sidewalk which bear a striking resemblance to Unazuki and Reika. Unazuki Furuhata is Motoki’s younger sister and Reika Nishimura is his girlfriend. Both appear in a number of episodes of the anime and throughout the manga.

Unazuki Furuhata

Reika’s hair is fairly generic but Unazuki’s is more specific and recognizable which leads me to believe that this similarity was intended. What you you think?

Reika Nishimura

Here is an undoctored screenshot of the scene which appears right before the commercial break, at about 11:27, right after Usagi and Mamoru’s encounter on the bus.

Reika and Unazuki in Sailor Moon Crystal

Source: Go Robo Now

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Meet Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice of Sailor Moon, at SMASH! 2014 in Sydney Australia August 9th and 10th

Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice of Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon Crystal

This weekend in Sydney Australia Sailor Moon fans will be able to meet Kotono Mitsuishi at SMASH!, the Sydney Manga and Anime Show. Kotono Misuishi provided the voice of Sailor Moon in the Japanese version of the original Sailor Moon anime and is reprising her role in the new Sailor Moon anime Sailor Moon Crystal.

Toru Furuya and Kotono Mistuishi in 1992

Kotono Mitsuishi will be holding three panels throughout the weekend. The main panels will be Saturday and Sunday at 11am with a mini panel on Saturday at 4pm.