Watch these clips for Sailor Moon SuperS Part 1, out on home video April 24th

Sailor Moon SuperS Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD

Sailor Moon SuperS Part 1 will be out on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 24th. Those looking to pre-order it should be careful to get the right version. I often get these from Amazon however the Special Edition is hard to find on the site. The Amazon listing for the product only includes the DVD and Regular Edition Blu-Ray but there is a separate page with no box art which has the Special Edition Blu-Ray. This includes a box to house both volumes and a special booklet. The set can also be pre-ordered from Right Stuf. They have Special Edition Blu-Ray, Standard Edition Blu-Ray and DVD copies listed on their site.

As is often the case with such a release Viz has given us a sneak peak at a lot of the voices in the form of some videos. These ones were posted to the Viz Media Twitter account as well as their YouTube channel. This includes a full trailer showing various characters and a couple of clips of the Amazon Trio. You can watch them embedded below:

We also recently got cast information about Sailor Moon SuperS Part 2! Long ago we learned about the actors appearing in Part 1 but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago at Anime Boston that we finally got an announcement of who would be voicing Queen Nehelenia (now spelled Nehalennia) and the Amazoness Quartet. This was confirmed on Twitter. The Amazon Quartet take the place of the Amazon Trio as the season’s villains once their story arc is completed. The cast includes Laura Post as Queen Nehalennia, Erica Lindbeck as Ves-Ves, Xanthe Huynh as Palla-Palla, Erika Ishii as Jun-Jun and Cassandra Lee Morris as Cere-Cere. Cassandra Lee Morris previously voiced Calaveras of the Ayakashi Sisters in Sailor Moon R.

Cast info for Sailor Moon SuperS Part 2 - The Amazoness Quartet and Queen Nehalennia

Are you planning on picking up this set?

Sailor Moon SuperS Part 1’s DVD and Blu-Ray release has been delayed until April 24th

Sailor Moon SuperS Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD

Fans waiting for Viz’s next Sailor Moon TV series release will need to be a little more patient. The release had originally been scheduled for April 10th, as we mentioned back in November, however some readers have noticed that pre-orders were being delayed until April 24th. Indeed the listings on Amazon and Right Stuf’s web sites now show an April 24th release date. After some concern in our comments section reader Drew reached out to Viz for clarification and they confirmed that the new release date for Sailor Moon SuperS Part 1 is in fact April 24th. This is only a two week delay but I know some fans have been waiting quite some time for this one!

Sailor Moon SuperS Special - Haruka and Michiru during SuperS

I’m not aware of any reason given for the delay, though such things are not uncommon. Since there haven’t been any dubbed episodes released to stream yet this will be the first chance we get to hear Viz’s new Sailor Moon SuperS dub. It will also be the first time the Sailor Moon SuperS Special will be available in North America. This shows, amongst other things, what Haruka and Michiru were up to during the Sailor Moon SuperS season. Are you planning on picking up this set? You can pre-order it from Amazon using the link below.

Japanese Sailor Moon movie Blu-Ray set review

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray - Cover

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray, a set including all three of the Sailor Moon films, was released in Japan on February 7th. This is the first time the Sailor Moon S and SuperS films were released on Blu-Ray and the set looks really great. It also includes the Make-Up! Sailor Senshi and Ami’s First Love specials which played with the R and SuperS movies in theatres as well as a handful of special features. MSRP is 15,000 yen, about $140 US. You can order it from sites such as Amazon Japan or CD Japan. The set is Japanese only with no English subtitles. I believe the discs are region free as no region code is listed on the box but regardless Japanese Blu-Ray discs are region A which is the same region as North America. Fans looking to see the films in English can already buy Sailor Moon R The Movie from Viz which has similar video quality. Though the other films have not been announced they will likely be released eventually.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Princess Serenity

Japanese Blu-Ray (2018)

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Princess Serenity

Viz Blu-Ray (2017)

A lot of people were wondering what the video quality is like. This release looks fantastic. That said, so did Viz’s Blu-Ray release of the R movie. With such poor quality in Viz’s Blu-Ray releases of the original TV series many blame them for the job they did with it but their Sailor Moon Crystal and R Movie releases show that they are able to make a nice looking product with nice looking masters. These films are HD versions taken from the original film source and it shows. They look considerably superior to the TV series Blu-Rays which have been released in Japan as these were simply software upconverted versions of standard definition video sources.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Usagi gives Mamoru a rose

Japanese Blu-Ray (2018)

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Usagi gives a rose to Mamoru

Viz Blu-Ray (2017)

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Japense R2 DVD 2002 - Usagi gives a rose to Mamoru

Japanese DVD (2002)

Sailor Moon R The Movie - English Pioneer release - Usagi gives a rose to Mamoru

English Pioneer DVD (1999)

I’ve got a lot of comparison screenshots between this new Japanese release, Viz’s release of the R movie and the Japanese version. You can also compare it to the original English DVD release but this doesn’t have much value as that was such a poor quality release. Still the English version has an unmated 4:3 picture so there is a bit more of the image to see. For all of the images in this post just click on it to enlarge and then click on the hyperlink showing the image dimensions (for example, 1920×1080) to see the full picture. These suffer from minor compression artifacts because they’re uploaded as JPEGs but you should get an idea for the difference or rather lack of any difference in quality between versions.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Umino cameo

Japanese Blu-Ray (2018)

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Umino cameo

Viz Blu-Ray (2017)

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Japense R2 DVD 2002 - Umino Cameo

Japanese DVD (2002)

Sailor Moon R The Movie - English Pioneer release - Umino Cameo

English Pioneer DVD (1999)

These are just a few comparisons. I’ll include more at the end of the post with the rest of the images of the packaging.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Usagi and Mamoru

Now about the contents. The Sailor Moon films are really a great part of the series. Due to the nature of their release they’re often overlooked. Here in North America for example they were released fairly late with the original dub and with the entire series now released subbed to stream and coming out on home video we only have the first film which has been released theatrically and on video. Though it is often hard to fit the films into continuity, they still generally follow what’s going on with the associated series. Their standalone stories are enjoyable and an easy introduction to the series for new fans.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Young Mamoru and Usagi

First is Sailor Moon R The Movie. This is one of my favourite films of all time, let alone one of the better anime films and, in my opinion, the best of the Sailor Moon films. It centres around Fiore, a childhood friend of Mamoru’s who happens to be an alien. It isn’t explicitly mentioned in the film but Fiore is of the same alien race as Ail and An from the early episodes of Sailor Moon R. It’s full of all of what makes Sailor Moon great with emotional scenes, dramatic battles and of course Sailor Moon sacrificing herself and showing compassion for the enemy, which I consider to be her true strength. I’ve spoken at length about my love of this film before! It’s great.

Make-Up! Sailor Senshi - Chibiusa and Usagi

Japanese Blu-Ray (2018)

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Make Up! Sailor Guardians

Viz Blu-Ray (2017)

As a bonus feature with Sailor Moon R The Movie is Make-Up! Sailor Guardians, a short which was originally shown with the film in theatres. I don’t have a great amount of love for this feature since it’s mostly clips, but there is a bit of unique animation. The quality here is not quite that of the film but better than any release of the TV series, of which it features many clips. As I mentioned in my review of Viz’s release of the R movie it seems like the original footage, which is claimed to be lost, was available back when this special was put together because the TV series clips featured throughout are of good quality authored from film source and not converted somehow from a standard definition video source as all Blu-Ray releases of the TV series have been.

Sailor Moon S The Movie - Human Luna

Japanese Blu-Ray (2018)

Sailor Moon S movie - Human Luna - Princess Kaguya

Japanese DVD (2002)

Next we have Sailor Moon S The Movie. This is the only film which is based on the Sailor Moon manga as Naoko Takeuchi wrote a standalone story “The Lover of Princess Kaguya” following her trip to Cape Canaveral in the United States. It is the story of Luna who falls in love with a man and turns into a human herself. Also some ice villain. My feelings are mixed on this one. Simply put I don’t care for it all that much. When I first saw it on bootleg VHS back in the 90s I was fairly underwhelmed. I can never really pinpoint why though. Upon reflection I find the villain uninteresting and having little to tie into the story and I think Kakeru is generally annoying and unintelligent for a scientist. His conflict with Himeko is a bit forced. Still I find the drama around Luna’s feelings compelling and certain aspects of the film are enjoyable, such as Tuxedo Mask dressed as Santa Claus.

Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie - Sailor Moon in a Dream

Japanese Blu-Ray (2018)

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - Usagi choses reality

Japanese DVD (2002)

Finally we have Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. This is the only one of the films with a proper title and it’s a mouthful, hence I often just call it the SuperS Movie or SuperS The Movie, to keep with the convention set by the other films. It introduces us to Perle, or Peruru as I will always think of him due to the subtitles used on VKLL’s version of the film. Perle is a sort of fairy, possibly a bird animated through magic, who is defecting against Badiane, the villain who is possibly an alien who is attempting to enslave the world’s children into an eternal dream like state in which she syphons off their energy. Last year I wrote an article arguing that this film’s plot is similar to that of The Matrix, which was released a few years later. I really enjoy this film. The animation is good and the story interesting. It introduces us to some fun characters and concepts. The main plot is a sort of science fiction story and the idea of enslaving people into a perfect happy dream at the cost of their freedom presents interesting philosophical questions which are fun to think about. Perle’s character somewhat mimics that of Pegasus/Helios as Chibiusa has romantic feelings for him. Having seen this film before watching the later half of the Sailor Moon SuperS season it was this relationship which I was originally exposed to which is a bit backwards to be sure.

Ami's First Love - Ami in the bath

Along with the SuperS Movie is Ami’s First Love, a special which was included with the film in theatres. This short is entirely composed of new animation and tells the story of Ami receiving a love letter which she thinks is from a rival student but which turns out to be from a monster. Her “First love” in this case would be Mercurius though she doesn’t really have any direct interaction with this Umino looking guy. This is a funny special and well worth watching. It remains some of the last bits of animation, along with the SuperS Special, that we haven’t seen an official release for here in North America. I expect that if and when Viz gets around to releasing the SuperS film that it will include Ami’s First Love with it. I’m curious to see what rating it gets as it features a semi naked Ami getting out of the tub, but it really isn’t anything too explicit. Quality for this special is quite good and similar to that of the other films. As with the rest of the release the masters used appear to be the film source which means a high quality HD image.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Low quality creditless opening

Low quality “clean” opening

As bonus features go we have the same thing which was including in the laserdiscs and I do mean the exact same thing! All special features are standard definition source, converted fairly poorly to HD. This includes three commercials for every film, “clean” (no credits) opening and ending themes and an interview which is included with the R Movie. The commercials aren’t that great. Each has one which was clearly made before any animation on the films was done, in HD, another is a short one with clips and finally there’s a longer commercial with more clips.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Trailer - Mamoru in front of a billboard

Trailer

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Tuxedo Mask in front of a billboard

Completed scene

One interesting aspect of the commercial for Sailor Moon R The Movie is that it includes a clip of Tuxedo Mask when he first appears with a different billboard. In the film itself the billboard is of men in Tuxedos. Tuxedo Mask blends in with the billboard and then we see that he’s actually separate from it and standing on a lamp post. In the commercial there are no men in Tuxedos on the billboard which makes us wonder why he’s even perched so oddly in front of it. Was this unfinished animation where the Tuxedos weren’t filled in? An attempt to keep audiences unspoiled on the nature of this big Tuxedo Mask reveal? Given what I’ve seen from other Japanese film trailers not giving spoilers doesn’t seem to be a huge priority!

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Bonus feature - Kunihiko Ikuhara wearing Mamoru's jacket Sailor Moon episode 1 - Usagi and Mamoru

An interesting feature with the R Movie is an interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara, director of the film and one of the directors of Sailor Moon for which much of what made the series great is attributed. Unfortunately without subtitles there isn’t much to get out of this interview as is. I recall having seen this subtitled on my VKLL fan sub of the R Movie back in the day but what I never noticed previously was that he’s wearing Mamoru’s green jacket! This is a jacket which he wears consistently throughout the entire Sailor Moon series which makes me wonder if Kunihiko Ikuhara owned this jacket and based Mamoru’s jacket on it, if he went out of his way to get a jacket like Mamoru’s or if this is some sort of coincidence and green jackets are more common than I thought. I can’t take credit for noticing this! I believe it was something I saw on Twitter by Tuxedo Unmasked though I can’t pull up the original reference. As you can see in the caption of the photo on this blog post, he made a comment about the jacket at least as early as June 2017!

Sailor Moon R The Movie Laserdisc - Track listing Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Scene Selection Menu 1
Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Scene Selection Menu 2 Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Bonus Features Menu

An interesting thing I noticed while looking at the laserdiscs for the films is that the track listings are actually identical. The track numbers for each scene is the same on the old laserdiscs and the Blu-Ray. Similarly we can see from these comparisons that the special features are the same, just not always in the exact same order. The DVD release also had a lot of these special features included but the Kunihiko Ikuhara interview was previously only on the laserdisc release.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray - Booklet - Pages 2 and 3

The set also includes a cool booklet which is full of images and character art of all of the films. This is similar to the booklets which have been released with the Blu-Ray releases of the TV series. I’ve included photos of all pages of this booklet later in the post. While this is a nice thing to include I think the theatrical programs included with the DVD set were much better.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray - Comparison - Sailor Moon R The Movie

Finally let’s talk about the box art. With three movies there was no single image to use on the cover which covers all three and so for whatever reason the S Movie poster gets the cover. Inside we have the R Movie as the front and SuperS Movie as the back. I’m including photos of the laserdiscs for comparison but this is not the source of this artwork. The images used are the original theatrical posters for the films. I only have a poster for the R Movie myself! This art is also found on the insert for a U2 CD!

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray - Inside cover Sailor Moon R The Movie poster
U2 in front of a Sailor Moon R The Movie poster

All in all this is a great release. Do I recommend it? Well it’s in Japanese and has no English so as always that’s of limited value given the price point. These are films I’ve seen a couple of dozen times each so I don’t find it terribly hard to follow along. That said there will probably be releases of these films by Viz at some point. This may be in a few years so the set is still worth getting if you would expect to watch it a few times before that happens.

Keep reading for more pictures of this release including photos of the box art, screenshot comparisons between releases and photos of all pages of the included special booklet.

Continue reading

Japanese Sailor Moon R Blu-Ray Collection Volume 1 review

Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Cover

The Sailor Moon R Blu-Ray Collection Volumes 1 and 2 have now been released in Japan. These are my thoughts on volume 1, which was released on October 4th. I delayed getting this review up so long that volume 2 was since released on December 6th. Some of you expressed interest in seeing the quality, given some issues with the Viz Blu-Ray releases of Sailor Moon R, so I’ve included a lot of screenshots within the post and at the end of it. This collection includes Sailor Moon R episodes 47 to 68 in Japanese and Japanese only! There is no dub and no subtitle track on this release so it may have limited value to English speaking fans. Be warned!

Sailor Moon R episode 59 - Viz Blu-Ray - Young Ail and An

Viz Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon R episode 59 - Japanese Blu-Ray - Young Ail and An

Japanese Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon R episode 59 - Japanese DVD - Young Ail and An

Japanese DVD

The video quality in this release is what I would again call good but not great. To see examples just click through on the images and then on the 1920×1080 link to see the full picture. There is a bit of loss from JPEG compression but it should give a decent idea of the relatively quality of the releases. Basically, as with the first season, what we have is an upscalled or upconverted and cleaned up version of existing standard definition masters. So while the video here is 1080p, Blu-Ray resolution, this was not obtained from going back to the film source (film is used as an intermediate in animation from this era) but instead the old video sources were used and with various filters these were extrapolated into high definition video. I’m not a fan of this technique. I’d just as soon see a good quality standard definition release than pretend this is “really” HD, but your mileage may vary. The techniques used to upscale these is fairly impressive and the image we get is probably the best we’ve seen for the original Sailor Moon anime, but it still isn’t what we’ve seen for things like the Sailor Moon R Movie which was released on Blu-Ray earlier this year.

Sailor Moon R episode 61 - Viz Blu-Ray - Usagi cries

Viz Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon R episode 61 - Japanese Blu-Ray - Usagi cries

Japanese Blu-Ray

All that said Viz used a similar technique when they released their Blu-Rays a few years ago but they seem to have had significantly inferior quality master video sources to work with. The actual techniques they used to convert the video to high definition were likely different as well, as we’ve seen minor differences in the various releases they had as the series was, and continues to be, released. I don’t think it’s fair to put the blame solely on Viz for the poor quality release we got from them, as they have done great work with high quality source material as we’ve seen with their Sailor Moon Crystal releases and their release of Sailor Moon R The Movie on Blu-Ray which is considerably nicer looking than the Japanese DVD. That said their releases of the Sailor Moon TV series are so bad that the Japanese DVD release and many other international releases are of much nicer video quality.

Sailor Moon R episode 60 - Japanese DVD - Chibiusa points a gun at Usagi - Interlacing artefacts

Japanese DVD screenshot with visible interlacing artifacts

Sailor Moon R episode 60 - Japanese DVD - Chibiusa points a gun at Usagi

Japanese DVD screenshot without any visible interlacing artifacts

Sailor Moon R episode 60 - Viz Blu-Ray - Chibiusa points a gun at Usagi

Viz Blu-Ray

Sailor Moon R episode 60 - Japanese Blu-Ray - Chibiusa points a gun at Usagi

Japanese Blu-Ray

One reason for which I was more excited for the Sailor Moon R release than the first season was that the Japanese DVDs for Sailor Moon R and beyond had interlaced video. What does this mean? A standard TV signal is interlaced, meaning the signal is sent one field at a time. Every second scan line is refreshed every 30th of a second but only one field is sent every 60th of a second. This means when you look at a still you’ll often see these lines in it looking like saw teeth or a comb. The images above illustrate this by looking at the interlaced DVD image. This isn’t really noticeable on older TVs or even modern HDTVs but if you’re watching video on a computer screen, pausing, getting screenshots or trying to convert the files for download, like many fan subs you may have downloaded, this can be a problem. You probably noticed this back in the VHS days when you’d pause a film and sometimes there would appear to be a double image while other times there would not. For a show which was at some point on film, like Sailor Moon, this isn’t visible in all frames. For shows that were shot on video, like the live action series and the musicals, there’s no getting around the fact that every frame will have visible interlacing. Because of this I often need to find scenes with little motion for my live action screenshots or to use a filter to remove odd or even lines. The DVD standard supports progressive scan, which does away with this interlacing problem, and the first season DVDs were converted to progressive scan which made them look a bit nicer on an HDTV. The deinterlacing process does not negatively affect picture quality because all of the information is there. For whatever reason, probably cost related, this was not done for Sailor Moon R, S, SuperS or Sailor Stars on DVD. Now that the video is going through all kinds of post processing to upconvert to HD resolutions, removing any interlacing artifacts was the first thing that was done. So much to say this is one way in which these Blu-Rays are objectively better than the Japanese DVD release. The upconverting is a bit of smoke and mirrors but the deinterlacing is one aspect which is a real noticeable improvement.

Sailor Moon R Part 1 Japanese Blu-Ray - Easy to read credits!

As an indication of the quality of the video in this release we can finally read the text in the Sailor Moon R credits with some success! If you’re like me you pass the time listening to “Otome no Policy” while trying to read some of this text. I’ve always been able to make out some words on the laserdisc and DVD releases but it seems like much more is visible now. Note that the quality changes as the season goes on and while it was harder to see the words in the early episodes this becomes easier with some of the later episodes. So what does this text say? It’s mostly nonsense. These are sentences which are grammatically correct english which seems to have some meaning but the text has no bearing on Sailor Moon. “CONVERSATION is impossible as the open topped rail diesel car clatters into the 3/4 mile Trebelica tunnel” … “For Bedimir the Trebelica tunnel is a masterwork, three years in building”. Web searches for terms like “trebelica” and “bedimir” don’t identify this text as being anything important or even references to real people or places. Others, however, like Stari Bar in Montenegro, appears to be references to a real things. This could be an actual magazine or newspaper clipping but the exact source isn’t something that is terribly obvious, even when the text is mostly legible. Often in movies and TV shows fake newspapers are used and this could be an example of such a thing. This is not Lorem ipsum, which is a sort of real looking but totally nonsensical pseudo latin text which is often used for fake newspapers and such in films.

Sailor Moon R episode 59 - Japanese Blu-Ray - The Moonlight Knight

Japanese Blu-Ray

As for the content on these Blu-Rays we have pretty much the first half of Sailor Moon R, episodes 47 to 68. These are episodes I have some fondness and nostalgia for! I got into Sailor Moon when there were only 65 dubbed episodes which included the first half of Sailor Moon R and I didn’t see the second half until I got some fansubs some time later, before they were eventually dubbed. It’s probably due to this that I have a greater level of nostalgia for those episodes which include only the first half of Sailor Moon R. My bias makes me want to argue that they are somehow of better quality but I simply can’t trust my own opinion on this issue to be unclouded. The first half of this release is the Makaiju story arc, known as the Doom Tree saga in the original English dub. I really enjoy these episodes even if they aren’t based on any manga story like the rest of the season. Ail and An, the villains, are compelling characters and these episodes tie in nicely to Sailor Moon R The Movie, though no one present seems to notice the similarity between these nearly identical looking enemies. The rest of the episodes introduce us to Chibiusa, the time traveling girl lost in time, and some of the Black Moon Clan. This set includes episode 67, the swimsuit episode where Chibiusa somehow befriends a plesiosaur, which for a long time was not available to English speaking fans but this episode has since been released to stream and on Viz’s release so its inclusion is less exclusive than it once was.

Sailor Moon R Part 1 Japanese Blu-Ray - Disc 4 menu

Not much in the way of special features here! Aside from the episodes themselves we have the same usual extra. “Clean” opening and closing credits which means the opening and ending theme animations without the actual credits. The picture quality for these is not too great, and not as good as the rest of the Blu-Ray. Also included are the 15 second commercials! These originally played on Japanese TV to advertise the next episode and they are not the same as the next episode previews, though they are quite similar. These weren’t included in the Sailor Moon R laserdisc release, as the only special features in those releases were on the first season discs, but they were included in the Sailor Moon R memorial. These aren’t terribly exciting but it’s better than nothing as features go! I’m including the disc 4 menu above, which includes those extras. The rest are available at the bottom of the post. The menus are basic. Links to the episode with an image showing the disc art in nice quality.

Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Episode guide episodes 58 to 60

Also included is a booklet with episode descriptions. Each description includes a bit of production art for that episode which is a nice touch!

Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Disc 1 art comparison Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Disc 2 art comparison

The cover art for this release and the included discs is mostly reused from the laserdiscs which were again reused for the DVDs. I’ve included a lot of images showing what art was reused for what. One exception is the image of Chibiusa on the cover which is a bit awkwardly out of place as it’s not from any laserdisc art for Sailor Moon R. The main thing which I liked about this release was the inclusion of Ail and An as well as the Moonlight Knight. These characters, unique only to the first 13 episodes of Sailor Moon R, dominated three of the laserdisc covers but were completely absent from the DVD cover art. Similarly they are generally absent from other home video releases as it seems like most people would rather just treat Sailor Moon R as “Chibiusa and Black Lady”. Though they aren’t featured on the cover art itself we see them on the disc art which is quite a nice inclusion! These are characters featured in a quarter of the season after all! It’s half of this set!

Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Back Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Sailor Venus's shoe mistake on the Blu-Ray
Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Sailor Venus shoe mistake laserdisc Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Venus's show fixed on the DVD

Also of note is the return of a Sailor Venus shoe error on the image on the back of the box. This error dates back to the laserdisc days but it was corrected with the Japanese DVD release. For whatever reason this error creeped back up! It’s clear that the DVD art wasn’t actually reused here but that we’re seeing laser disc art. The DVD art had modified colours that aren’t seen here. Basically the shoe problem, as discovered by Twitter user Sailor Mikey, is that Sailor Venus should have an open shoe with the top of her foot exposed but in this image it’s orange across the top of the foot.

Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Inner back art comparison

Also notable is the art on the back of the box itself, inside the sleeve, which is actually an amalgam of two laserdisc covers. The individual art is used for the discs, which you can still see, but this image is a new composite of the two. We have Sailor Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter put together but the Ayakashi Sisters are removed. Again we don’t want the outside box art to actually represent characters restricted to these episodes! This was mostly seamlessly done as the Sailor Guardians were in front of the Ayakashi Sisters for the most part however if you pay close attention there is a bit of an odd point at the end of Sailor Jupiter’s hair as this was previously covered by Calaveras’s neck.

Sailor Moon R Japanese Blu-Ray vol. 1 - Inside back

All in all I’m not sure this set would appeal to most English speaking fans however if you’re a real completist and want the series in its best possible quality, and don’t have the Japanese DVDs or some other comparably nice looking international release, this might be worth picking up. It’s not cheap! Both collection 1 and collection 2 can be ordered from sites such as Amazon Japan. These will set you back about $150 US dollars plus shipping a piece! I’ve already gotten my second set in the mail though I haven’t had much of a look at it yet besides taking a few photos of the box art. It stands to reason that it’s more of the same but I’ll put together a nice review if I have a bit of time.

Keep reading for more screenshot comparisons, photos of the box art, the included booklet and the menus.

Continue reading

Sailor Moon SuperS Part 1 will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on April 10th

Sailor Moon SuperS Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD

Yesterday was Sailor Moon Day at Anime NYC in Manhattan. Viz Media held a Moon Panel with the cast of the English dub of Sailor Moon at which they revealed long awaited details about Sailor Moon SuperS on home video! The Blu-Ray and DVD release will be out April 10th and is currently available for pre-order from Right Stuf for $71.99. A Right Stuf exclusive coin is included for the Limited Edition. Though the release isn’t named “Part 1″ the episodes listed are only episodes 128 to 146, the first 19 episodes of the season, even though Sailor Moon SuperS runs up to episode 166, leaving 20 episodes for the eventual second part.

Sailor Moon SuperS Special - Haruka and Michiru during SuperS

Fans who attended the panel mentioned that the set would also include the Sailor Moon SuperS Special though this isn’t specified on the product listing. This special has never seen a release in English before. The Sailor Moon SuperS Special originally aired on Japanese TV between Sailor Moon SuperS episodes 131 and 132. Since it’s not standard episode length and doesn’t have an episode number it isn’t really considered to be part of the show proper. It also doesn’t continue the story of the Dead Moon Circus but instead involves a few flashbacks and some side stories. The first side story shows us what Sailor Uranus and Neptune were up to during this season and the other tells the story of a Vampire girl Lilica who is one of Chibiusa’s classmates. This story is an adaptation of the first of Chibiusa’s Picture Diary from the manga. It makes sense to include these with the TV series if that is indeed what is going on here. The Japanese DVD release included the SuperS Special along with the first SuperS DVD. One would expect they will be doing the same when Sailor Moon SuperS gets its upcoming Blu-Ray release in Japan.

Back of poster with confirmation that the Sailor Moon SuperS Special will be included

Update: A poster handed out at the event confirms that the “Never-before-seen TV Special” will be included in the set. This would be the Sailor Moon SuperS Special. This can be seen in photos of the pamphlet on Twitter. Thanks to Liza from our Facebook page for finding this confirmation.

Sailor Moon SuperS Special - Lilica Hubert

https://www.rightstufanime.com/Sailor-Moon-Super-S-Limited-Edition-Blu-ray-DVD

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III is now available to view in English on Hulu and Yahoo! View

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Sailor Saturn smiles

The latest season of Sailor Moon Crystal, covering the Infinity arc of the manga, will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray December 5th. The series had previously been released in Japanese with English subtitles as soon as it had aired on Japanese TV but until now the dub was not available. With the home video release only a month away these episodes are now also available to view with Viz’s English dub on Hulu and Yahoo! View. The series is restricted to paid members on Hulu but it can be viewed for free on Yahoo! View.

Sailor Moon Crystal volume 3 Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD set

Viz also put together a trailer for the English version of Season III. There shouldn’t be many surprises with these voices however as the same voice actors who provided the voices for Viz’s new dub of Sailor Moon S reprised those same roles for Sailor Moon Crystal. The Infinity Arc, like Sailor Moon S, introduces us to Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Saturn as the Sailor Guardians face off against the Death Busters. You can watch the trailer embedded below.

Will you be watching the series on a streaming service or will you wait for the video release next month?

Thanks to Kevin for the heads up on this!

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.

Continue reading

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

Sailor Moon Crystal season 3 will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD December 5th

Sailor Moon Crystal volume 3 Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD set

This past weekend was Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California. This event included Viz’s Moon Panel, showcasing all things Sailor Moon. The bulk of what we usually see at these panels is a recap of existing information but occasionally we get something new. In this case we have gotten details, including box art, of the third Sailor Moon Crystal Blu-Ray and DVD set. The set then became available to pre-order on Right Stuf’s web site. The set looks like the other two we’ve gotten from Viz, with box art reminiscent of the Japanese releases. Since we had less Japanese releases for this season, grouping together 4 episodes per disc instead of 2, we have less postcards included.

Sailor Moon Crystal volume 3 Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD set - Suncatcher

The set will include Acts 27 through 38 which, because of the split up Act 27, is actually 12 episodes. Not much in the way of details on the special features but it looks like we’ve got a booklet with art as we did with the other releases. Right Stuf pre-orders will also include a collectible suncatcher because nothing says Sailor Moon like a sun catcher! MSRP for the set is $79.99 US but Right Stuf has the pre-order up for $71.99. Will you be picking this one up?

Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Manga

The other “news” from the panel was about the Eternal Edition Manga which is coming out in January. We got some art of the covers and the colour pages inside but this is mostly information we knew or had inferred from previously available information. It is nice to have confirmation of what we had suspected though. These will look like the Japanese Compete Edition manga versions which came out recently. They have the same new cover art and a lot more colour pages than we’ve seen in previous releases.

Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Manga - Colour Pages

Support the site by ordering the first two Sailor Moon Crystal sets or pre-ordering the Eternal Edition manga using the links below.

Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Manga - Colour Pages

Image source: @NJ_ on Twitter.

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.

Continue reading