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.

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Anime NYC will include Sailor Moon Day on November 18th!

Sailor Moon Day at Anime NYC

Next weekend, November 17th to the 19th, is Anime NYC in at the Javits Center in Manhattan. This event will include an entire day dedicated to Sailor Moon on Sailor Moon Day November 18th! Attending will be the English cast of Viz’s new dub of Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal. This includes Stephanie Sheh, Sailor Moon, Kate Higgins, Sailor Mercury, Cristina Vee, Sailor Mars, Amanda Celine Miller, Sailor Jupiter, Cherami Leigh, Sailor Venus, Sandy Fox, Chibiusa, Erica Mendez, Sailor Uranus, Lauren Landa, Sailor Neptune, Christine Marie Cabanos, Sailor Saturn, Robbie Daymond, Tuxedo Mask, and Chris Niosi, Pegasus. Viz Media will also be in attendance. This convention is sponsored by many leading companies in North American anime including many who are associated with Sailor Moon, so it seems likely that they will also be involved with the event. Sponsors include Crunchyroll, who stream Sailor Moon Crystal, Viz Media, who licenses and releases Sailor Moon in North America, Kodansha Comics, who are releasing the English Sailor Moon Manga, and Tokyo Otaku Mode, who run the Official Sailor Moon Fan Club.

Yoko Ishida

Also attending as a musical guest is Yoko Ishida who performed a number of songs for the original Sailor Moon anime! She sang Otome No Policy (Maiden’s Policy), the ending theme for Sailor Moon R, Ai No Senshi (Guardian of Love), and Suki to Itte (Say You Love Me).

Are any of you planning to attend this convention? Unfortunately at this point Saturday and weekend tickets are already sold out. Friday and Sunday tickets are still available but those attendees will be missing Sailor Moon Day.

Karin Takahashi, Sailor Saturn, will not be returning for the next Sailor Moon musical

Sailor Moon Un Nouveau Voyage DVD - Sailor Saturn

An announcement has been made on the official Sailor Moon site stating that most of the cast of the Sailor Moon Amour Eternal musical will be reprising their roles for the next musical which will be taking place in the fall. The exception to this is Karin Takahashi, who was also Sailor Saturn and Hotaru in the Un Nouveau Voyage musical, who will not be returning for the next musical. I thought she did a great job in the last couple of musicals and am sorry to see her go. (Update: The new actress who will be portraying Sailor Saturn is Mirai. I was originally confused by the statement thinking it meant she will be announced in the future, as Mirai is the Japanese word for “future”.)

Sailor Moon Un Nouveau Voyage Musical - Professor Tomoe and Hotaru

Returning cast members include Hotaru Nomoto as Sailor Moon, Yume Takeuchi as Sailor Mercury, Karen Kobayashi as Sailor Mars, Kaede as Sailor Jupiter, Rimo Hasegawa as Sailor Venus, Shuu Shiotsuki as Sailor Uranus, Sayaka Fujioka as Sailor Neptune, Mikako Ishii as Sailor Pluto, Airi Kanda as Sailor Chibi Moon, and Yuga Yamato as Tuxedo Mask. We don’t have any specifics about the musical at this time but it seems only logical that this 5th in the recent set of musicals would cover the Stars story arc of the Sailor Moon manga. With the musical taking later this year there is always the chance of other cast changes between now and then, but for the moment only one change in casting is anticipated.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray Review

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Contents

Sailor Moon S Part 1 is finally out on DVD and Blu-Ray! These sets were released on November 15th and are available from stores and online retailers. This was also the first time Sailor Moon S episodes were released with Viz’s new English dub. With other releases some of the episodes came out prior to the home video releases on Hulu but this was not done this time around.

Support the site by buying the set with the links below. This could be a nice Christmas gift for a Sailor Moon fan in your life!

There are a number of options to purchase it. I got the Limited Edition Blu-Ray set, which comes with a number of extra I’ll get into below. You can also get the regular edition Blu-Ray or DVD releases or, if you’re not into physical copies, you can get the series from Amazon Video. Previous releases were available in standard definition and HD from Amazon Video but this release is only available in HD for $39.99 for the season.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Cover unwrapped

As with other sets I have pretty much the same to say. A good effort by Viz and some nice packaging, decent extras and a nice looking booklet but ultimately the set suffers from poor video quality likely mostly due to the fact that they had bad masters. Since it’s been so long since these episodes have been available here in North America and this is the only way to hear the new dub, fans will probably want to check it out.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Discs

I didn’t watch the entire set yet, but did watch it a bit to get an idea of the dub and video quality. I watched episode 96, Cold Hearted Uranus? Makoto in Trouble, specifically because it had a lot of lesbian references and if there was anything changed on the set this is the kind of episode we’d likely see changes in. I also had a taped off of Japanese TV fansub of this episode years before I got around to seeing the whole season so I was more familiar with it than others. All around I was quite pleased with the dub quality. While I miss the old cast I think the new actors do a decent job of providing an accurate dub of the show. References to lesbianism weren’t glossed over, though they are mostly heavily hinted at rather than outright stated even in the original version of the show. The only real change I noticed is that Rei referred to her magazine with a moustached woman on the cover as her “First edition Sailor Dudettes” which is just kind of weird and not consistent with anything from the original Japanese version.

Original Japanese credits are used. The Sailor Moon S credits changed throughout the series and here we see different intros being used as different characters are introduced. This was a change from the Pioneer and Geneon releases of the series that always used the same opening theme throughout the series. The “today on Sailor Moon” clip plays after the opening credits rather than before it as with the Japanese TV airing of the show and Japanese releases. A minor change all considered.

The video quality isn’t great. Viz appears to have gotten a fairly low quality standard definition interlaced video source. They upscaled it to 1080p using software and then used some filters to try to clean it up. What we’re left with is a fairly poor job which leaves us with video quality that is worse than what we’ve seen with the Japanese releases which I still use as the gold standard for quality for the series. Other releases, like the Italian and French releases, weren’t perfect but look better than this. Some people say it’s worse than VHS, but I think some people don’t remember the days of VHS! Still I think a faithful straight standard definition DVD version of this release would have looked better than what we got, but this is quite subjective. Viz does a good job with other series for which they have better masters. Their Sailor Moon Crystal release was fantastic looking. Because of this I am quite confident that they tried their best with what they had to work with but can only do so much. There are obvious artifacts from interlacing which are mostly visible between narrow lines which can be seen for tiaras and uniforms throughout every episode.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 - Interlacing artifacts in Makoto's tiara

There are some extras on the Blu-Rays, mainly about the new cast, which are not on the DVDs. The main feature is the “Sailor Moon Day 2016 Interview with English Cast”. Included in this interview are Ben Diskin, Umino, Cristina Vee, Sailor Mars, Amanda Miller, Sailor Jupiter, Robbie Daymond, Tuxedo Mask, Stephanie Sheh, Sailor Moon, Cherami Leigh, Sailor Venus and Sandy Fox, Chibiusa.

The rest of the extras are kind of lame. There are short galleries with some images for the characters. Clean opening and ending themes, that being without any credits, include the final version of the opening and the end theme Tuxedo Mirage. The trailers are similar to what we’ve seen in other releases which are ads for other Sailor Moon releases and other anime series released by Viz like Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Limited Edition Book - Rei bio

The booklet which is included is quite nice. There appear to be 96 pages, which aren’t numbered, and this includes episode summaries for each episode, including those from the currently unreleased second part of Sailor Moon S, credits, lyrics, character art and bios. It also includes an ad stating that Season 3 Part 2 is coming in Spring 2017. After long delays in this release let’s hope the next one comes as quickly as they say! The outer box made of sturdy cardboard has room for the second set, as other releases did.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Ad for Sailor Moon S Part 2

Overall I’d recommend this set if you’re looking to see the new dub. Since these episodes are not available to stream in English anywhere, this is the only way to get them legally. The quality isn’t great but it’s watchable if you don’t mind a Blu-Ray that looks worse than a lot of DVDs. The booklet is a nice extra but the bonus features on the set aren’t terribly fantastic. I’m not sure my recommendation matters much though. If you bought the other sets you’ll probably buy this one and if you didn’t, you probably won’t. Viz has been somewhat consistent with the quality of their original series releases. Though quality issues have improved a bit, the release is still in the same general ball park as the others.

If you’re curious about the contents you can watch this unboxing video which Viz put together:

Keep reading for more images of the packaging and the special booklet.

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Sugar Lyn Beard, the voice of Rini, to appear at Unplugged Expo October 15th and 16th in Toronto

Sugar Lyn Beard - The Zone

Stephanie “Sugar” Lyn Beard, the voice of Rini and Sailor Mini Moon from the original dub of Sailor Moon S and SuperS, will be appearing at Unplugged Expo at the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre in Toronto October 15th and 16th.

Sailor Moon S episode 103 - Sailor Chibi Moon and her Pink Moon Stick

Canadian Sailor Moon fans will not only remember Sugar as the voice of Rini but also as one of the PJs from YTV’s The Zone, the after school zone programming block which played many shows, including Sailor Moon, here in Canada. Sugar will be appearing with her fellow PJ Carlos who hosted the Zone during the same time frame.

Sugar and Carlos on YTV's The Zone

YTV, like the company which produced the first English dub of the original Sailor Moon anime, is based in Toronto where this convention takes place. It’s no coincidence that so many voice actor appearances occur in Toronto!

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 135 - Chibiusa the artist

I won’t be able to attend Unplugged Expo this year but I have fond memories of my time at the convention 3 years ago during Unplugged Expo 2. Will you be attending this one?

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III volume 2 Japanese Blu-Ray review

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III Blu-Ray - Vol. 2 - Contents

The latest Blu-Ray release for Sailor Moon Crystal’s Infinity Arc was released on July 27th in Japan. This is the second of three releases covering this story arc and includes episodes 30 through 33. The set also includes a 24 page booklet with episode descriptions, interviews and character art. This is a Japanese only release with no English subtitles. You can order it from online retailers such as Amazon Japan for 6516 yen, about $65 US.

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III Blu-Ray - Vol. 2 - Front

The packaging for this release highlights Sailor Uranus and Neptune with a great cover image on the Blu-Ray itself. The colours on the box match Sailor Uranus’s Sailor Fuku with a yellow bow.

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III Blu-Ray - Vol. 2 - Disc

Episodes included in this release are Act 30, Infinity 4 – Sailor Uranus – Haruka Tenoh – Sailor Neptune – Michiru Kaioh, Act 31 – Sailor Pluto – Setsuna Meioh, Act 32 – Infinity 6 – Three Guardians, and Act 33 – Infinity 7 – Transformation – Super Sailor Moon. These cover the Witches 5’s Viluy, Tellu, Cyprine and Ptitlol, the appearance of Setsuna Meioh and Sailor Pluto as well as the origins of the Holy Grail and Sailor Moon’s transformation into Super Sailor Moon. Also included is the first appearance of Sailor Saturn, but only in flashback form, and a brief appearance by Mistress 9.

I watched all four episodes and didn’t notice any changes in animation from the original streaming release as had been done with the first 26 episodes. As there were no changes to the last release either I suspect we won’t be seeing any changes to the episodes of this story arc.

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III Blu-Ray - Vol. 2 - Special Booklet 2 - Pages 12 and 13 - Interview with Yukiyo Fujii, the voice of Sailor Saturn

The packaging advertises a 28 page booklet. Funny I only counted 24. I suppose we could be really creative and count the cover page and back cover as “pages”? Like with other booklets this includes episode summaries, interviews and character art. This one includes interviews with five voice actors Misato Fukuen, Sailor Chibi Moon, Junko Minagawa, Sailor Uranus, Sayaka Ohara, Sailor Neptune, Yukiyo Fujii, Sailor Saturn and Ai Maeda, Sailor Pluto.

Some audio commentaries are also included with the episodes themselves. The same voice actors appear for all four of the commentaries. This includes Hisako Kanemoto, Ami, Rina Sato, Rei, Misato Fukuen, Chibiusa and Yukiyo Fujii, Hotaru. I don’t speak Japanese so I don’t know what they talk about.

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III Blu-Ray - Vol. 2 - Blu-Ray

It’s a bit hard to justify buying this Japanese only release at this price which is close to what you’d pay for the entire 14 episode Dark Kingdom story arc in Japanese and English. Surely the four episodes per disc is a better deal than with earlier releases but since there are no changes to the animation this time around you can still watch the streaming version for free instead of buying this.

The third volume, including the final five episodes of this story arc, will be released on Blu-Ray on August 31st. You can preorder it online from sites like Amazon Japan. It costs a bit more, with an MSRP of 10,584 yen, about $105 US dollars. This post on the Sailor Moon official site indicates that the version will include a box to store all three volumes in, which seems to justify this roughly 50% increase from the previous volumes.

Keep reading for more images of the packaging including photos of all pages of the included special booklet.

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Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38, Infinity 12 – Infinite – Journey, review

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - The 10 Sailor Guardians

The entire Infinity arc of Sailor Moon Crystal is now available to view online. The final episode we’ll see for a while, Act 38, Infinity 12 – Infinite – Journey aired on Japanese television on Monday June 27th at 11pm Japan Standard Time. Immediately afterwards it was available to view on Crunchyroll, Neon Alley and Hulu, starting at 10:30am Eastern Time. This week is a bit of a mixed bag as we wrap up the story of Sailor Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Saturn and then move on for a teaser of the upcoming Dream arc. We still have no official confirmation that this new arc will be adapted. This episode is just doing exactly what the equivalent manga chapter did. While it seems likely at this point that we will be seeing more episodes this would certainly not be the first show to have a really awesome cliffhanger final episode which we never saw a follow up to.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Title Screen with Sailor Saturn

As always we start with an unreasonably long flashback! This week’s spans 3 minutes and 13 seconds which covers half of the last episode! At least we see a lot of Sailor Saturn. The opening theme, In Love With the New Moon, is the first version sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru. The full length version of this song is also heard in the episode itself. This is my favourite version of the opening so it was nice to hear. The ending theme used is Eternal Eternity sung by the voices of Sailor Uranus, Junko Minagawa and Sailor Neptune, Sayaka Ohara.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Super Sailor Venus

Sailor Moon blasts out of the Pharaoh 90/Mistress 9 monster juice thing and in doing so causes some damage. She gives everyone super transformations! Well almost everyone. How come Tuxedo Mask doesn’t get an upgrade? He’d look great in some transparent shoulder pads! Poor guy. At least he has his male privilege to fall back on.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Sailor Saturn smiles Sailor Moon Crystal Act 37 - Super Sailor Moon going to her death

Sailor Saturn, who was supposed to be destroying the world at the end of the last episode, decides to attack Pharaoh 90 and go to her death. She turns and smiles to her friends just like Sailor Moon had last week. This was a nice touch, as both seem willing to sacrifice themselves to save others.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Three Women and a Baby

Unfortunately Sailor Saturn has to die. Sailor Pluto is the one to do this. She’s upset about it, although this was kind of the plan all along. Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were ready to kill Hotaru in order to save the world. The solution now is to lock her, Pharaoh 90 and the Tau Star System away forever. Sailor Pluto does this with the Dark Dome Close attack. Her penance for killing Sailor Saturn? Her and her friends have to raise the reincarnated baby version of her! There’s some sort of odd justice here. This will be a tough conversation when she gets a bit older and asks why she has three moms! This is basically a genderbend version of Three Men and a Baby, a mediocre 80s comedy movie by Leonard Nimoy. “Well you see we helped killed your Dad and then killed you, so you’re adopted. Sorry not sorry.”

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - The Messiah

Sailor Moon becomes Neo Queen Serenity. OMG she was the one we saw in the visions. This isn’t the future version of Neo Queen Serenity possessing Sailor Moon in some way. This is Usagi in full control of her faculties. There’s no other consciousness in there. So I wonder why she doesn’t seem to remember what happens. Sailor Moon asks where this baby came from, and Sailor Uranus basically says it’s “From precious you”, which no doubt is a terrible translation, but basically she believes that Neo Queen Serenity caused Sailor Saturn to reincarnate as baby Hotaru. Sure. The original Queen Serenity is the one that sent everyone to reincarnate in the present time after they were all killed. Future Neo Queen Serenity is the one who sent Sailor Pluto back in time to reincarnate as Setsuna. It stands to reason that Sailor Moon, the present version, is the one that did this. There’s no other consciousness which is doing stuff here. It’s not insinuated that old lady uploaded consciousness computer simulated Queen Serenity on the Moon has any real power here. Why doesn’t Sailor Moon have full memory of doing this? It doesn’t really add up to me.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Super Sailor Chibi Moon

Sailor Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Saturn leave and then we have a commercial break. There’s meant to be a massive passage of time here but I don’t feel that this is well conveyed at all. In the original manga the Infinity arc concludes here which is the end of a chapter. Following this we get The Lover of Princess Kaguya side story which is a full manga book which is the equivalent of the Sailor Moon S movie, which then has a side story about Rei. There are a bunch of other side stories published later which are understood to take place during this break which is basically the time when the girls are preparing for their high school entrance exams. Ami’s First Love, which was adapted in an anime special, falls into this period as well. The first three story arcs all follow one another directly, but the Dream arc was never meant to do so. When the manga was rereleased in 2003 the chapters were broken up differently so they ended up breaking this particular Act up very poorly so that this passage of time isn’t properly demonstrated and happens between pages of the same story. I think Sailor Moon Crystal had a good chance to pace things out a bit differently and have the season end here, but they didn’t do that and instead, it’s time to go to high school.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - High school girls

This episode is kind of like the first episode of Sailor Stars from the original Sailor Moon anime. Those first 6 episodes of Sailor Stars basically fix the problems that the SuperS season skipped, including some characters which will be returning later in the Dream arc. The girls are supposed to be in high school before meeting Pegasus as we see here. Most of the girls have Juban High School Uniforms. Rei does not, as she goes to her own school which does not use high school entrance exams. We don’t really have an equivalent to these in the West. I suppose maybe the SATs are something similar but as a Canadian this is also something I only know of through TV and movies. I’ve never had a test so important in my schooling that it required me getting addicted to caffeine pills like Jessie Spano. So much to say Japanese high school entrance exams are a big deal and the source of a lot of stress, and the girls are meant to have been preparing for this during the long period covered by the commercial break which we don’t even get in the streaming version.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Solar Eclipse

Chibiusa says she’s going to leave on April 1st, at the time of a Solar Eclipse. The next Solar eclipse that will occur on April 1st is in 2098 and there certainly wasn’t one in the 90s when the manga was written, but this is pretty nitpicky even for me. She mentions in her letter to her mother “Please come to pick me up”. How exactly does this work? Is Neo Queen Serenity from the future going to travel to the 30th century to come pick up Chibiusa? Who’s guardian the Space-Time Door with future Sailor Pluto dead and Diana in the past?

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Artemis and Luna cry for Diana

Speaking of Diana! Usagi says to Luna, who isn’t present when this is said, that she will see Diana “very soon”. What does this mean? From the frame of reference of Diana then she would see her parents soon, in the future. From Luna and Artemis’s point of view they won’t see her soon at all. Diana is a kitten. Chibiusa, who is born in less than a decade, is 900 years old in the 30th century. Is Diana a permakitten born in the 20th or 21st century and never aging? Permakittens would revolutionize the pet industry! Kittens are most of the reason people have adult cats!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38 - Usagi and Chibiusa see Pegasus

So the gang are watching the eclipse and they hear a bell. They turn around to see… Pegasus! Well we don’t see Pegasus but in the manga version of Act 38, the final image has Usagi and Chibiusa seeing Pegasus. There’s no preview for another episode, but we will likely at some point be seeing Act 39, Dream 1 – Eclipse Dream. This will be part of the 4th story arc which, if current trends continue, will likely be referred to as Season 4 or Season IV in Japan. I’ve still been calling them arcs or phases but I may start using the term season if that becomes well established. We have no specifics on if and when we might get new episodes but perhaps we will learn something tomorrow at the live event to celebrate Usagi’s birthday.

Keep reading for more screenshots from this episode.

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The next Sailor Moon musical, Amour Eternal, has a terrible name

Amour Eternal - Did you mean Amour éternel?

An update has been posted to the official Sailor Moon site which reveals the name of the latest musical, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Amour Eternal, as well as a complete cast listing. The new musical has been confirmed to be covering the Dream arc of the manga, adapted as Sailor Moon SuperS in the original Sailor Moon anime. This title is just the worst! Amour, as most probably know, is the French word for love. Eternal however is not French at all. It’s a full on English word. What the hell? Why not Amour éternel, which would actually be proper French? Are we supposed to pronounce it in French? It just sounds gross to say Amour Eternal. It’s just bastardizing two languages. It’s gross. The last two musicals all had fully French names. Is this supposed to be a misspelled French word or is this intentionally terribly mismatched English and French words? This is just bad and it will not stop bothering me and I will probably not be able to avoid mentioning how terribly stupid it is at least once in any post referencing this musical. This offends me as both and English and French speaking person and it should bother you too.

Everlasting love translates to Amour éternel

This title will just lead to more confusion on what the name means. Amour éternel would translate roughly to everlasting love or eternal love. I guess eternal is more the word we’re going for since it’s the actual English word in the horrible title.

Here’s an English translation of the cast, courtesy of Wikimoon:

Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon: Hotaru Nomoto
Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury: Yume Takeuchi
Rei Hino/Sailor Mars: Karen Kobayashi
Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter: Kaede
Minako Aino/Sailor Venus: Rimo Hasegawa
Haruka Tenou/Sailor Uranus: Syu Shiotsuki
Michiru Kaiou/Sailor Neptune: Sayaka Fujioka
Hotaru Tomoe/Sailor Saturn: Karin Takahashi
Sailor Pluto: Mikako Ishii
Sailor Chibi Moon/Chibiusa: Airi Kanda
Helios: Hikaru Hiyama
Queen Nehellenia: Sayu Otsuki
Zirconia: Kanami Sakai
Tiger’s Eye: Chihiro Ando
Hawk’s Eye: Riona Tatemichi
Fisheye: Yumi
Dead Moon Circus: Yoshika Kobayashi, Risa Kawamura, Yoshimi Hidano, Chiemi Doi, Ayano Nagasawa, Ayumi Sagisaka
Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask: Yuga Yamato

Some newcomers and some repeat performances here. Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus are all new actors, as we’ve seen announced previously. We already saw that Yuga Yamato would return as Tuxedo Mask. Shuu Shiotsuki, Sayaka Fujioka, Mikako Ishii and Karin Takahashi will be reprising their roles as Sailor Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Saturn. Airi Kanda will also be returning as Chibiusa. Riona Tatemichi, who previously played Rubeus in the Petite Étrangère musical, will be playing Hawk’s Eye. The rest of the cast are newcomers to the musicals, as those characters have no appeared before.

We Are The New Pretty Guardians - The cast of the next Sailor Moon musical

We previously reported that Hikari Kuroki would play Ami Mizuno, Sailor Mercury. This role is now credited as Yume Takeuchi. I don’t know what prompted this change in casting, but this replacement was posted as a separate update on the Sailor Moon official site on the same day as this updated cast listing was shared.

Does a Chibiusa and Pegasus Figuarts Zero statue confirm that more episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal are coming?

Pegasus and Chibiusa Figuarts Zero statue

The International Tokyo Toy Show is on now, running from June 9th to the 12th. One thing which has been revealed is this great looking Figuarts Zero statue featuring Chibiusa and Pegasus from the Dream arc of the Sailor Moon manga. This on its own is not odd as we’ve gotten a lot of figures from throughout the Sailor Moon series in the past couple of years, not all of them tied to stories being told in Sailor Moon Crystal. Something important to note though, as noticed by the Moon Sisters Facebook page, is that the sign for this statue refers to it as a Sailor Moon Crystal figure. We are currently seeing the Infinity arc of Sailor Moon Crystal and we’ve had no official confirmation of episodes covering the next story arc, the Dream story arc, which covers the manga chapters which were adapted as Sailor Moon SuperS in the original Sailor Moon anime.

Pegasus and Chibiusa Figuarts Zero statue

This isn’t just branding. The Figuarts Zero statues have had two distinct lines of figures. The Sailor Moon figures are in a style closer to that of the original anime and the Sailor Moon Crystal figures have designs that colours that match those used in Sailor Moon Crystal. It’s hard for me to tell what style this figure is in. The main indicators of a Sailor Moon Crystal specific Figuarts Zero statue are the colours, such as Sailor Moon being a bit more pink in her reds, and some proportions. Without two Chibiusas to compare this figure to there isn’t much to go on. Her dress does not use standard colours. Her legs are hidden so we can’t see their shape. The face does look a bit more like the rounder Sailor Moon Crystal Figuarts Zero statue than the normal Sailor Moon statue. Have a look at both below to see the difference.

Sailor Moon Crystal Sailor Moon Figuarts Zero

Sailor Moon Crystal Figuarts Zero figure

Sailor Moon Figuarts ZERO figure size comparison to the S. H. Figuarts figure

Sailor Moon Figuarts Zero figure

Is this conclusive? Absolutely not. Many things could mean this does not actually indicate that the Dream arc of the manga will be adapted in Sailor Moon Crystal. Perhaps someone just made the sign incorrectly. Note that it says Chibi-Usa and Helios but this is clearly Helios in his Pegasus form. We don’t call something an Usagi figure if she’s in her Sailor Moon form. Perhaps the toy is done in a Sailor Moon Crystal style but does not reflect any plans to actually adapt these particular episodes. Figures take a long time to sculpt and approve. Perhaps when this figure was originally conceived and approved there was no indication of what the future of Sailor Moon Crystal might bring. Perhaps when the figure was planned there was an expectation that the Dream arc would be adapted but since then any number of complications has put a halt to development of those episodes. Perhaps there’s some other scenario I’m not even thinking of that is causing a disconnect between what this figure represents and what we will see in the show. There are a lot of unknowns so we should always wait for official confirmation before jumping to conclusions. That said, we may very well be getting our very first look at Pegasus from Sailor Moon Crystal!

Pegasus and Chibiusa Figuarts Zero statue

The figure is due out in January and will sell for 6912 yen, about $65 US.

Image source: Hobby Maniax (Twitter) via Sailor Moon Italy

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35, Infinity 9 – Infinite Labyrinth 2, review

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Hotaru in thorns

The latest episode of Sailor Moon Crystal premiered on Japanese TV on Monday June 6th at 11pm Japan Standard Time. Shortly afterwards, starting at around 10:30am, it was available to stream first on Crunchyroll and later on Neon Alley and Hulu. Act 35, Infinity 9 – Infinite Labyrinth, mostly takes place inside of Mistress 9 and in an elevator.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Chibiusa and her Crystal

Mistress 9 ate the Silver Crystal of the future. This is the one Chibiusa stole from her mother in the 30th century and has been using to fight as Sailor Chibi Moon. More importantly, Chibiusa’s soul is now fundamentally tied to this Crystal which causes all sort of problems, mainly that she’ll die if it’s apart from her body and consumed by an evil entity. How exactly does this work? Sailor Moon’s Silver Crystal of the present is similarly tied to her soul. It’s her Star Seed and all that fun stuff. What’s Neo Queen Serenity doing in the future? In the last story arc Neo Queen Serenity still seems bound to the Silver Crystal of the future so what happened to her when her daughter went gallivanting around time with it? Sure she was dormant for most of the last season but now that her daughter is gone on her training is Crystal Tokyo defenseless? Did Neo Queen Serenity need to somehow disassociate herself from the Crystal? If I take a powerful Crystal and keep it in my pocket for too long will my soul get tied to it like Golum being bound to the one ring?

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Hotaru and Chibiusa

My favourite part of this episode takes place within Mistress 9. Chibiusa, bound to her Crystal, is lost inside of Mistress 9 who basically ate her. Hotaru goes out of her way to protect her and her Crystal. These are two sort of ghosts or spirits stuck inside of this body which has been controlled by this evil entity. Hotaru hasn’t known Chibiusa that long, but she has strong feelings for her and is protecting her with everything she has. It seems like Mistress 9 won’t be getting full access to that Crystal just yet, which is unfortunate since she immediately destroys the Taioron Crystal once she gets something better. This is kind of like getting a new phone, deciding you don’t need your older out of date phone, and destroying it only to realise there’s some software problem with the new one and you can’t use it but oops I obliterated the iPhone 4s. Too bad so sad.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - A terrible directory

A lot of this episode takes place in an elevator which somehow leads to a bunch of weird mistakes. Let’s see what we know. The gang starts on the 56th floor, obvious from the sign we see and what is mentioned, and Sailor Venus decides to take one group and go down floor by floor while Sailor Moon and the people who want to kill Hotaru are going to take the elevator to the basement. Look at this chart. How terrible is this thing? It has a column with floor numbers, a column with descriptions, a second column with floor numbers and … that’s it. There are no descriptions for the second column! What’s on floors 31 to 60? The manga equivalent pages show an extra column there with descriptions of what’s on those floors, but there’s nothing here. Minor nitpick but that’s how it is.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Elevator

Sailor Moon gets in an elevator with Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and in doing so they go down. All indications from shots in the elevator shaft seem to indicate that it is going down at incredible speeds. A line in the manga, omitted from this version, speaks about the effect of the acceleration that Sailor Moon is feeling. Watching the floor numbers we seem to go from 50 to 40 in a number of seconds. Then we go from 30 to 20 in nearly a minute. It’s a few minutes more until we get to 6. Following this things get weird, we go into this weird other dimension, and then we arrive at floor zero. Or is it? There is clearly space for two digits on the display however when we are in single digit floors, like 6, we don’t have a preceding zero. It’s “6” not “06”. Also the numbers take up the full height of the display while the display on the final floor takes up half. The manga chapter has the gang travel down to floor negative infinity. With the infinity symbol, ∞, being like a horizontal 8. The manga has them mostly travel through basement floors to get there though. Here the floor indicator, which looks like “oo” could be taken to mean infinity. There is no negative floor indicator on the display. The reason for which those two os aren’t touching could be an artifact of the display. The show have easily avoided ambiguity by just putting another row of dots between the two numbers and having oo display as ∞. Also notable is that there are 60 buttons shown and 60 floors in the directory, so any basement floors don’t seem to be listed. If there really are on the minus infinity floor what does this even mean? If they go down infinity floors they would go through the earth, outside of our solar system and galaxy and beyond the reaches of the known universe.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Floor infinity and Professor Tomoe

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Hotaru has a messed up face

There is a flashback to when the Death Busters arrived. We see the accident once again and Hotaru’s face is real messed up in one shot! Koalinite is called Kaori, as she appears to have been a normal human woman working for Professor Tomoe before this incident. She was infected by an egg and then Professor Tomoe decided to infect himself with one. We also learn that Mistress 9, who was placed inside of Hotaru, was once Pharaoh 90’s partner. This seems to be new to Sailor Moon Crystal. The other Witches 5 however were created artificially.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Sailor Uranus on Uranus

For the second time we see Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto on their home planets. Uranus seems tiny. We can actually see the curvature of the planet. Uranus has a diameter of about 4 times that of the Earth. That means its surface is much flatter than the Earth’s surface. Do you ever find yourself gazing out at the horizon and actually noticing the curvature of the Earth? Probably not. Based on the curve we see here Uranus should be roughly the size of The Little Prince’s asteroid. Just imagine tracing out a circle from that thumbnail image and it wouldn’t even be larger than your computer screen. Alternatively if Uranus is the right size Sailor Uranus could be huge. She’d probably be about the size of the Earth’s Moon for this to work. Sailor Pluto appears to actually be on Pluto. Previously we saw her guarding the Space-Time Door but it wasn’t clear exactly where it was. What’s the deal with this thing? In Crystal Tokyo when there was this door at the end of a long hall which led to the Space-Time Corridor, were people traveling to Pluto as an intermediate before going back in time? Did the door itself move at some point? Who’s even protecting this door in the 30th century now that Sailor Pluto is dead, Diana went back in time and Neo Queen Serenity has no Crystal? Maybe it’s that pink haired kid who isn’t Chibiusa. How rare would children be in a world where humans live 1000 years? Pretty rare.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Princess and Queen Serenity

We learn that when they were bored and alone Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto would look at Queen Serenity and Princess Serenity. For some reason Princess Serenity is pointing to her bracelet in this image. It must have been new at the time.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 35 - Professor Tomoe

Bad news for Professor Tomoe, who turns into this big monster thing. Sailor Moon hesitates to kill him because he was Hotaru’s father a few minutes earlier. Realistically he hasn’t been Hotaru’s father for some time, though I wonder if Kaolinite and Professor Tomoe have little spirits of themselves wrapped up in thorns inside their minds somewhere. Oh well. He gets killed.

Sailor Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus are attacked and Super Sailor Moon transforms back into normal Sailor Moon. She seems to think this is because something happened to her friends. Not a great omen.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 36 Preview - Hotaru

Next week is Act 36, Infinity 10 – Infinite – Upper Atmosphere. There’s more of Hotaru’s ghost resisting Mistress 9 and being all bad ass. With only three more episodes the story arc will be done soon. These next three episodes were originally one massive manga chapter!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 36 Preview - Hotaru

Keep reading for more screenshots from this episode and the next episode preview for Act 36.

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