Check out cast information and images of this summer’s Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical

Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical - Team Moon and Team Star

A few weeks ago we got our first look at the Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical. This new musical will be playing in Tokyo this summer first at the Tennōzu Galaxy Theatre June 8th to the 24th and then at the TBS Akasaka ACT Theater September 21st to the 30th. What, you may ask, is this musical all about? Nogizaka46 is an all female pop band in Japan and this is a Sailor Moon musical featuring members of that band. As we can see from the promo image and the posts on the Sailor Moon official site and musical’s official site, 10 of the band members have formed two Sailor Teams. One is Team Moon and the other is Team Star.

Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical - Team Moon

The two teams seem to be identical in costume and appearance, though we can clearly see that the members in those costumes differ from one image to the other. With multiple shows being put on over a fairly short time the two teams are scheduled to perform on different nights. At first I imagined this was to give the other team a break on the off days but since a lot of the other cast of the musicals is only listed once it seems like not everyone is on that schedule. Perhaps this setup is simply meant to vary the performances to feature more of their talent. It remains to be seen if the performances themselves will vary depending on the team performing. Perhaps each team will have an exclusive song to encourage people to see multiple performances! At this point this is only speculation.

Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical - Team Star

Here’s a translated cast listing. I’m not good with Japanese names (since Google Translate messes them up) so I had a little help from this Anime News Network article for this list. I attempted to find a relevant link when possible. All members of Nogizaka46 have profiles from the official site and for others I tried to find a profile or social media link.

Team Moon:
Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino: Mizuki Yamashita (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno: Riria Itō (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Mars/Rei Hino: Kazumi Takayama (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Jupiter/Makoto Kino: Ami Noujo (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Venus/Minako Aino: Hina Higuchi (Nogizaka46)

Team Star:
Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino: Sayuri Inoue (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno: Miria Watanabe (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Mars/Rei Hino: Ranze Terada (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Jupiter/Makoto Kino: Minami Umezawa (Nogizaka46)
Sailor Venus/Minako Aino: Kana Nakada (Nogizaka46)

Naru Osaka: Yuka Yamauchi
Umino Gurio: Marina Tanoue

Kunzite: Chihiro Andō
Zoisite: Sari Kojima
Nephrite: Shin
Jadeite: Rina Takeda

Ensemble (I assume this means background dancers, various monsters and such):
Mayuko Kawamoto, Mayu Kaburagi, Kumiko Saitō, Ayuka Kurachi, Minami Watanabe, Mami Mitsuoka

Queen Beryl: Nami Tamaki

Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru Chiba: Mikako Ishii

Director: Worry Kinoshita

Sailor Moon Petite Étrangère musical - Sailor Pluto

Only the main cast of the Sailor Team will be composed of Nogizaka46 members. The rest of cast of characters are played by various musical stars and dancers, as was the case with other musicals. To me the most interesting casting decision here is that Mikako Ishii, who played Sailor Pluto in the last few musicals, will be playing Tuxedo Mask! It’s well established that Sailor Pluto has an unrequited love for King Endymion in the future! What better way to gain someone’s affection than to literally become them? Also returning is Chihiro Ando as Kunzite. She previously played Tiger’s Eye in the Amour Eternal musical. As we see from this an other casting we once again have an all female cast even including the male characters.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical - The Amazon Trio

It seems clear that the story will cover the Dark Kingdom story arc though beyond that it’s hard to get a sense of what the content or structure of the musical will be like. Given the cast and that we have two returning cast members I’m inclined to think that it will be a similar presentation to musicals we have seen in the past.

So … which Team are you rooting for? Is that how we’re supposed to be reacting to this? Go Team Star! No way Team Moon is the best! … and so forth.

You’ll need to shell out a lot of Moon Bucks to buy these gold and silver Sailor Moon coins

Sailor Moon Collectible Coins - Gold and Silver

Good news for exceptionally wealthy Sailor Moon fans who like to flaunt their money! A couple of official Sailor Moon coins are being minted to celebrate the 25th anniversary. There will be a gold and silver coin and despite their coming in $10 and $2 denominations they are significantly more expensive. The gold $10 coin costs 39,800 yen, about $375 US while the silver $2 coin is a mere 19,800 yen or $187 US. Yes it would appear, based on the amount listed on the coin, that the more expensive gold coin is the better value! In truth, the economics of these Cook Island coins are a bit more complicated as I’ll explain shortly.

Sailor Moon Collectible Coin - Gold

The gold coin features Super Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon SuperS on one side with the face of Queen Elizabeth II on the other. The silver coin has Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon S with her Spiral Heart Moon Rod as well as Sailor Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus with the Moon Palace in the background on one side and again the face of Queen Elizabeth II on the other. Both are dated 2017 which is not actually the year these coins are being sold in. They come in nice collectible boxes. The gold coin box features Super Sailor Moon with her Kaleidomoon Scope and the silver coin box shows the Space-Time Door. Queen Elizabeth II is featured on these coins, as she is featured on many pieces of currency around the world including those here in Canada because the Cook Islands has a free association with New Zealand and New Zealand, though they have a Prime Minister, still has Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Since Sailor Moon is technically royalty and the future Queen of Crystal Tokyo there really are two monarchs on these coins which seems like a bit of a conflict.

Sailor Moon Collectible Coin - Silver

What are the Cook Islands? Good question! I’d never heard of these before hearing about these coins. This series of small islands in the Pacific get their name from Captain James Cook and have a reputation for helping investors shelter their money, though not through investing in expensive Sailor Moon collectible coins. Since Cook Island’s Government allows private groups to mint commemorative coins for a fee they regularly produce this sort of collectible coin. Taking a quick look at the Japanese Mint’s list of collectible coins released to date we can see that unlike other countries they aren’t in the market of making anime and other pop culture based coins, which is likely why these are being made in the Cook Islands. What will the $10 and $2 coins actually be worth in Cook Island dollars then? The Cook Island dollar has a fixed exchange rate with the New Zealand dollar. The $10 gold piece has a value of about $7.30 US while the $2 silver coin is worth about $1.45 US … or at least they would be except for the fact that commemorative coins from Cook Island are not recognized as legal tender on the Cook Islands. That’s probably for the best since it would take you over 50 Sailor Moon gold coins to buy one Sailor Moon gold coin when exchange rates are considered.

Sailor Moon Collectible Coin boxes

As a Canadian I’m familiar with a number of collectible coins based on popular franchises being sold here for a fraction of this price with such coins often selling for $50 to $150 which seems cheap in comparison to these! Though only some of these are minted in Canada I was surprised, while looking into these, that some of them are produced by the New Zealand mint for places such as Nieu, near the Cook Islands. Since Canadian coins also feature Queen Elizabeth II such things are not always evident when examining a coin at face value. There is clearly a complex world of collectible coin politics I’ve only just scratched the surface of!

Are you a rich person who heats their home with the burning pages of Sailor Moon Volume Infinity art books who plans on getting these?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 and 20 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Usagi gazing at Mamoru

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Acts 19, Usagi’s Doki Doki Valentine, and 20, Hina was Mamoru’s Fiancée. These episodes once again focus a lot on Usagi’s reaction to Mamoru’s girlfriend Hina and the events surrounding Valentine’s Day as a new young friend of Usagi’s explores a romance with a young boy. The episodes originally aired on Japanese TV on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, and February 21st and because of this some of Act 19 actually takes place on Valentine’s Day as the title suggests. A note on the Act 19 title! Doki Doki is the Japanese noise for a heart beat so the title might read something like Usagi’s Thump Thump Valentine or Usagi’s Ba-dum Ba-dum Valentine. There isn’t really a single universally accepted English onomatopoeia for the sound of a heart beat as there is in Japanese. Considering the domestic name for the North American release of the Famicom video game Doki Doki Panic perhaps it would make sense to call it Usagi’s Bros. 2 Valentine.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Usagi completes her scarf

Act 19 continues with the saga of Usagi’s cursed scarf! This middle school teacher really did create a lot of drama when she suggested her students give their scarves to a boyfriend! Usagi, motivated by the power of love, completed her scarf and is glowing while looking at the completed product only to then become overcome with sadness. A little heartbreaking.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Hina and two jealous girls

Usagi is surprised when she walks into her dining room one morning to find that in Shingo’s place is a young girl! This is her mother’s friend Nozak’s daughter Hikari. Usagi isn’t sure how to entertain her but Hikari knows exactly what she needs help with! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and she wants to buy chocolate for a boy she likes, Daichi. The catch? He’s in love with another girl. The twist? It’s Hina! Hilarious! Usagi and Hikari are both trying to win over the affection of a boy who is in love with the same girl!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Usagi embarrassed

When the two run into Hina and Mamoru both Usagi and Hikari are treated the same way as she gives them both a lollipop! Mamoru laughs at this, as we see that Hina is treating them both as children. This naturally leaves Usagi a bit embarrassed. She’s already self conscious about the fact that Mamoru has a serious relationship with this older woman and this action, one of kindness from Hina, doesn’t help her case. This gets even worse when Usagi attempts to eat her sucker and sees that Hikari have given hers away to an even younger child. Looks like Usagi has a lesson to learn from her young friend!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Hikari gives chocolate to Daichi

Is there actually a chocolate which will make a boy forget about the girl he’s in love with? It looks like there is but it’s the 5000 yen chocolate, which is about $45 US, while Usagi was eyeing a chocolate which cost about 1/10th of that cost. Somehow giving this chocolate to Daichi totally wins over his heart! He says he’s got a new game, supposedly a video game, and invites Hikari over to… watch him play. I thought they would play together but in the next episode he makes reference to showing her how to play next time. Really bro? It’s a new game! You can both learn together! I wonder what kind of game this would have been in 2004. It’s probably a PlayStation 2 game, since they had the most market penetration in Japan, though it could have been a GameCube game or, much less likely, an Xbox game. The Gameboy Advance was also nearing end of live at the time but judging by the fact that Hikari goes to his home to play it, they’re probably not talking about a handheld.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Rei pretends she doesn't know Minako is Sailor Venus

Meanwhile Makoto knows all about Mamoru and Hina’s engagement but doesn’t want to tell Usagi about it because she’s already upset enough. Seems like a plot device to me! They also don’t want to tell Rei, who is also keeping Sailor Venus’s identity a secret. This is all just bad for the group! Rei also seems to be keeping Sailor Venus’s identity from Luna who has actually spoken directly to Minako in front of Rei so the show can’t seem to make its mind up on whether or not Luna knows what’s up. You would think she would be in a hurry to get together with Artemis so that they can share stories about how awkward it is to pretend to be a plush cat.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Minako loves Artemis

Luna has got some competition for Artemis’s affection though because Minako got him chocolate! As always I ship Minako and Artemis though this relationship is more heavily hinted at in the manga and more prominently the anime than it is here. Still Minako seems to have chosen Artemis as her Valentine, giving him first a jack in the box style gag box of chocolates and then real chocolates. Life, it seems, is like a box of chocolate. The real kick? Cats don’t actually like chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs, though it’s only really an issue for dogs who will eat pretty much anything they think might be food. Cats on the other hand are much more discriminating and don’t like sweet foods, like chocolate. Of course Artemis is a plush cat who can talk so I can’t really say what his tastes are like. In the manga and anime Luna enjoys star candies so perhaps these alien cats do like sweet foods after all.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Motoki and his scarf

More Makoto and Motoki shipping going on in this episode! First we need to get the turtle shipping out of the way. If you recall back in Act 15 Motoki was trying to hook up his turtle Kamekichi with some lady turtles. One of them was Maririn and I guess he liked that one since she got him chocolates in this episode. Having only seen turtles eat turtle food, some bugs and spiders I can’t say for sure this is something he’ll want to eat but it fits with Motoki’s odd fascination with turtles. I wonder if they’re chocolate turtles! Makoto, who has her sweater she made for her assignment, very nonchalantly gives it to Motoki claiming it doesn’t fit her style and he’d be taking it off her hands. Motoki, previously forever alone, is ecstatic at getting a Valentine’s gift but Makoto doesn’t seem to have put the same importance in it.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Sailor Moon gives chocolate to Tuxedo Mask

Sailor Moon gives her Valentine’s chocolate to Tuxedo Mask, who naturally isn’t her first choice. Tuxedo Mask, knowing fully well that Sailor Moon is Usagi, asks if there’s someone else she should be giving this too. When she tells him that “someone else” has a girlfriend he tells her not to give up! I know Mamoru has been acting a bit dense but he really should know that someone else in this case means his alternate identity who has a girlfriend and is engaged. If he doesn’t, he’s being really ignorant. If he does, well this is sort of infidelity. Is it unfaithful to encourage someone, via an alternate identity, to pursue a relationship with you even though you are unavailable? I would think so.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Minako continues to do her own photoshop work

Minako continues to do her own graphic design work! She’s using photoshop once again this time to superimpose herself on an image of a stadium as a trap for the enemy! Decent enough trick because the enemy seems to assume she’ll still be at this stadium by the time the photo is uploaded to her web site. Rei knows the score and tracks down the same building to find the generic monster. I can’t even tell when we are getting the same monster or if we’re getting “new” monster meaning an old costume with some feathers on the shoulder pads or something. This show’s strength isn’t its unique monster designs! Sailor Moon SuperS it is not! Anyway Sailor Mars finds Nephrite attacking Sailor Venus because they both fell for the same trap. He takes the Crystal! Oh no!!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Nephrite steps on Sailor Venus

Act 20 immediately follows Act 19! It’s convenient that these episodes seem to go in pairs which match the way I’m reviewing them. Anyway Venus makes the Crystal explode somehow and it turned out to be a fake! Oh look I have a whole suitcase full of fake Crystals!!! Rei is starting to suspect that Minako is trying to distract the enemy. She’s about to ask if she’s really… something but Minako cuts her off saying she’ll need to awaken first. We are meant to assume at this point that Minako has already awakened and the rest of the Sailor Guardians have not.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Mamoru, Daichi, Hikari and Usagi on a bus

The ridiculous double love triangle between Hikari, Daichi, Hina, Mamoru and Usagi is about to get much more ridiculous! Hikari and Daichi want to go on a date but they need chaperones. Who better than Usagi and Mamoru? Not an awkward situation in the least! Granted they are both participating as chaperones but one can not get past the idea that it’s kind of like they’re going on a date together themselves! Hina is unavailable for a change. It’s funny that for the first 15 episodes of the series Mamoru is always wandering the streets of Tokyo alone but since the Hina plot point was introduced they’re always always about town together!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Usagi walks awkwardly

Usagi is very awkward at this date, at one point walking with her arms and legs in unison. From watching various anime series I’ve learned that this is a sign of awkwardness or nervousness which isn’t really common in the west. Still it’s fairly easy to grasp the idea that a person be too focused on something to walk properly. Try to pay attention to exactly how your arms move in relation to your legs and you’ll probably mess it up. Consciousness isn’t good for everything! I’m not totally sure what the venue for this date it. It seems like a somewhat basic field and park but they actually pay for entry. In Canada one would never pay for such a place but perhaps in Tokyo where space is at a premium this makes sense. The venue has some zip line type of thing, badminton without an actual net and finally the gang settle down for a picnic in which Mamoru comments that the food is very good. Usagi is generally universally considered to be a bad cook in all continuities but it’s also some sort of important relationship indicator that a man find a woman’s food to be palatable in Japanese culture. Again something I know only because I watch a lot of anime.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Makoto cringes

Makoto is stalking to two on their date, planning to tell Usagi about Hina and Mamoru being engaged. She seems to have figured out that Tuxedo Mask is Mamoru and confronts him about this. I’m not sure when exactly this realization was meant to have happened but Usagi still has no idea. Makoto doesn’t get a chance to warn Usagi and when Hina shows up there is a comment made about the bride needing to sit next to the groom! Now it all comes crashing down again for Usagi! She sees a monster and says she has to leave which probably would seem awkward to Mamoru, the only one for whom this social situation is awkward, but he is actually Tuxedo Mask and has full knowledge of the existence of monsters and such so it’s not really a big deal!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Kunzite confronts Ami

The monsters, all repeats of earlier monsters, were just illusions to distract the Sailor Guardians. Early in the episode Kunzite, watching Sailor Mars and Venus’s building tension, decides that he wants a Sailor Guardian for himself! Conveniently everyone starts to ditch Ami not for any personal reason but just because they all have their own stuff going on. Ami sits quietly alone in the headquarters knitting mittens for everyone while Luna keeps her company. Now at the end of the episode Kunzite confronts Ami on the street and attacks her, at which time she transforms. He surrounds her with this black energy stuff. This is the start of one of the more interesting differences which is unique to the live action series and we’ll be seeing more of that in the next episode!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Kunzite attacks Sailor Mercury

Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on these two episodes. If you’re looking to watch along with the series you can get English subtitled fan subbed versions from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity. Fans looking to stream the show can do so from Dramanice and Kiss Asian.

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

Continue reading

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 and 18 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Hina

This is a review and discussion of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Acts 17, Minako Transforms in Front of Rei’s Eyes, and 18, At Last, All 5 Sailor Guardians Are Together. These episodes aired on Japanese television January 31st and February 7th 2004. They focus on the appearance of Mamoru’s girlfriend Hina and the shipping of Sailor Mars and Sailor Venus.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Mamoru checks out Usagi while Hina is jealous Distracted Boyfriend or Man Looking at Other Woman meme

Act 17 starts off where Act 16 ended with Usagi running into Mamoru and Hina. They do this awkward thing where they reshoot the events of the last episode which sort of already happened, having Mamoru react to seeing Usagi with Hina on his arm. I can’t help but notice how similar the scene of Mamoru looking at Usagi while Hina looks at him is to the recent meme of the “Distracted Boyfriend” or “Man Looking at Other Woman” which I’ve posted about a number of times. I’ve included both for reference. Hina asks if that girl is there to see him and Mamoru, being totally awkward and ignorant, assumes she is not because she didn’t speak up. He really should know better! The source of the conflict here is not Hina but Mamoru! Hina is portrayed by actress Moeco Matsushita who we’ll be seeing for a number of additional episodes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Minako faints

Meanwhile Minako continues to be on the run! We see that she’s hiding out in a hotel with a painting of a greek temple on the wall. Is she in Greece, like she did in the Sailor V manga? Almost certainly not as she quickly ends up hiding out in a Church in Tokyo and then back at the hotel, so it’s likely a local one. We see Minako faint, which is the first tangible indication of her mysterious illness which will be a plot point for most of the rest of the series. The specifics of this illness are never explicitly described but for the purposes of the show it’s some sort of supposedly terminal illness which she is suffering. In the interest of those who may not have seen the entire series I won’t get into more specifics until they play out.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Usagi chose the right yarn

At school Usagi’s home ec teacher, or whatever we call that kind of class in Japan, is giving the students a project to make a scarf and give it to someone special such as, and she actually suggests this, a boyfriend! This seems like a large amount of pressure to put on a bunch of young teenage girls but whatever I’m no educator! Usagi is clearly torn as she wants to make the scarf for Mamoru but that would be mildly inappropriate given he apparently has a girlfriend and so she instead decides to make the scarf for Tuxedo Mask because that’s a totally different person. She picks out the perfect yarn to match Tuxedo Mask, which is white, and proceeds to neglect her knitting as she drowns her sorrows in some very intense karaoke of, naturally, “C’est la vie”.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Hina is actually really nice

While the scarf is only partially complete Usagi literally runs into Mamoru and Hina. Hina’s reaction? She’s apologetic and deeply concerned that Usagi may have ruined her scarf which is clearly intended for a special person who she doesn’t realize is actually her boyfriend. A lesser show would have made Hina evil so that Usagi would be justified in trying to steal her boyfriend. This isn’t a lesser show! It’s Sailor Moon! By making Hina a kind and caring person it just complicates and puts a more realistic spin on this drama. Most love triangles don’t involve a “good guy” and “bad guy” pining after the same person. The real world is more nuanced! Usagi is devastated by this finally empathizing with Hina and realizing what a nice person she is.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Rei's mother Risa Hino's grave

It is the anniversary of Rei’s mother’s death, meaning that she died around January 31st. Her tomb stone notes that her name is Risa Hino and that she lived from 1963 to 1995. This puts her at about 32 years old when she died. Rei is about 14 at the beginning of the series, in 2003, so she would be about 6 when her mother died. This seems to roughly fit with the age of the various versions of young Rei we see in flashbacks when her mother dies. Rei would have been born when her mother was around 26 which also seems like a pretty reasonable age to have a child. No inconsistencies here from the prop department! Risa Hino is buried, or at least has a grave marker dedicated to her, at a Christian church in Tokyo. This seems a bit odd to me as I learned from a fantastic book, Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon, that only foreigners are usually buried in Japan as laws require Japanese born citizens to be cremated. Rei appears to be fully Japanese and Risa is a common Japanese given name not often found in other cultures. Still this church has an English speaking white priest who has an accent when speaking Japanese and occasionally says things in English. While speaking to the priest we learn that Rei hates her father for working while her mother was dying.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Rei prays to her mother at St. Juban Church

Speaking of this church, it’s clearly not a real church! Well not all of it. The various signs refer to it as “St. Juban Church”. How to break this down… a Saint is a person, generally a human, who is determined by in this case the Catholic church to be holy and given the title of Saint. Juban is a place, not a person. It is a reference to Azabu-Juban (or Juuban). It is a neighbourhood in the Azabu district in Tokyo. One might wonder if Juban is named after a person who might be the Saint this church is referencing? Not really possible. Juuban means “10th” or “Number 10″ so it’s like saying the 10th neighbourhood in Azabu which means it isn’t named after a person. St. Juban is not only not an actual Saint but the concept of such a Saint doesn’t make much sense.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Sailor Mars and Sailor Venus in the St. Juban Church gymnasium

Further a lot of the shots of this church are clearly just taking place in a gymnasium which looks like a school gymnasium. It actually looks very similar to the gym that Minako plays volleyball in Sailor Moon S episode 100, I Want to Quit Being a Sailor Guardian: Minako’s Dilemma. I know there is a school gym later in the series but I don’t recall if it’s the same set. Do some churches include school type gymnasiums? This seems plausible but I’m not expert in the Japanese Christian Church scene. The area, which has a podium and projected cross on the stage, clearly has basketball nets visible as well as lines on the ground for various sports. My primary school and many others I’ve visited had this sort of gym/stage set up so that large gatherings such as graduations or school plays could be held in the gymnasium rather than requiring the school to have a large and expensive auditorium. Another variant on this type of amalgam is the cafetorium, which is a mix of a cafeteria and auditorium. While a lot of the action in Act 17 takes place in the gym there are also other parts to this church including a proper chapel. While these could all be part of a real church in Tokyo, which I couldn’t find any specific information on, it may also be the case that these are just a number of locations used for these episodes that were dressed up with a few prop crosses and Christian decorations to make them seem like part of a single church. Alternatively the gymnasium may have been part of a school affiliated with the church. As a child I attended cubs at a Christian school which was next door to an affiliated church which I also attended at Christmas time. The school and church shared and name and both had crosses and Christian imagery displayed throughout. That school’s gym also had a stage in it!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Minako recognizes Sailor Mars

This church is the stage of major Minako/Rei shipping! This is a prominent friendship and somewhat complex relationship of the series and this is just the beginning. Minako nearly immediately notices that Rei is Sailor Mars, because she’s good at that, but Rei can’t do the same. Instead she seems to notice something but it’s actually that Minako is well known pop idol Minako Aino, something that almost any other girl her age would have noticed. This reminds me a bit of Usagi who fails to recognize who Seiya of the Three Lights is despite the fact that he’s a big star. Minako was at the Church praying which may insinuate that she is Christian in this continuity. Though Rei is visiting her mother it’s not clear how much she may be an observing Christian. She attends a Catholic girls school in the manga and anime despite being a Shinto priest. She may simply be visiting her mother’s grave though she is kneeling and praying in a Christian fashion. I wonder if either Minako or Rei feel that their own godlike powers are at odds with their various religious beliefs. My understanding of religious beliefs in Japan is that many people will simultaneously observe certain practices of conflicting religions without any real concern. There is a lost sick dog which shows up at the Church and Minako and Rei seem to think it’s their responsibility to care for him which is the excuse for them to remain around and interacting with each other for a couple of episodes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Dancers make Sailor Venus blonde

After the monster attack Rei immediately transforms but Minako hesitates, unwilling to give up her secret identity. Finally she does and we are exposed to the most ridiculous of transformation sequences to date! The best part is when these gymnastic dancers frolic through her hair to make it blonde! I guess in the continuity of the show this is their actual hair and not awful wigs! During the fight Sailor Venus is injured by an exploding sword and Sailor Mars stops to help her, still under the impression that she is Princess Serenity. Sailor Venus chastises her for this and so we are introduced to the Venus/Mars conflict which just make this ship that much better!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars face off

Act 18 again starts where we left off, with Sailor Mars and Venus fighting! Sailor Mars doubles down saying she wouldn’t have had to stick around if Venus had been better in battle! Venus insists that she doesn’t want to be protected by the rest of the Sailor Guardians. How odd! She’s the Princess, isn’t she??? Later in the episode she clarifies to Sailor Mars that she should never leave Sailor Moon’s side and that this is an order from the Princess! What a curious order from someone who we should suspect is the one that should be protected!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Rei is jealous of Minako's poster

The Rei/Minako feud continues in the form of taking care of the dog! Rei shows up with a big bag of cheap dog food so moneybags Minako goes out and buys premium healthy canned dog foot! All well and good but he’ll get sick if he’s not used to eating wet food. Rei refers to the dog as Taro and Minako refers to him as Riki. In order to help find Taro/Riki’s owner the two make signs. So they make a little flyer with a photo of the dog on the computer and make some photocopies because it’s 2004 and such a thing is easily done? We did see Minako use Photoshop Elements not long ago! Well no. Each of them hand paints a lost dog sign complete with a painting of the dog! Rei puts up her small but fairly elaborate sign and Minako, who should be working on her new album, hangs a much larger sign! Humourous if not completely ridiculous! This of course is a proxy fight taking the place of their actual argument which is rooted in misunderstanding. We can note here that Luna seems to share knowledge of Sailor Venus’s identity as she is there at the poster feuding and speaks to Minako. When speaking to Artemis Minako seems to regret what she said to Rei but the next time she sees her she spews out the exact same arguments! Why don’t these two just get along?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Usagi images placing a scarf on Mamoru

Meanwhile Usagi’s scarf isn’t going well. Her teacher calls her out and says it’s more like a handkerchief. Hilarious! She’s already given two handkerchiefs to Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru. Why not a third to go with his collection that he has going on his nightstand? While confiding in Makoto and Ami she reveals what we’d all figured out. She wasn’t really thinking of Tuxedo Mask when she was making this thing. She was thinking of Mamoru. Well okay she was actually thinking of Tuxedo Mask anyway but she didn’t actually know that. In her mind they are still separate entities.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Makoto empathizes

Makoto’s reactions to Usagi’s unfolding emotions are impressive. Just seeing the look in her face shows so much. She’s really feeling Usagi’s pain and, knowing what we do about her recent unrequited love, I like to think this also played into the way she acts and feels here. Ami similarly feels pain for Usagi but she doesn’t have the emotional baggage to really feel it like Makoto does.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Motoki and Makoto on a pseudo date

Makoto has some advice for Usagi! Don’t give up even if he has a girlfriend! She might not stick around! This reminds me of episode 30 of the original Sailor Moon anime, Total Chaos: the Messy Love Rectangle, in which Usagi and Makoto find out that Motoki has a girlfriend and Makoto is unphased! Of course in this continuity Motoki is quite single, so Makoto arranges a meeting with him to grill him about Mamoru’s girlfriend. Have I mentioned I’m shipping these two? This isn’t the first hint at a relationship between these two we’ll see and there’s more to come! Motoki is disappointed that Makoto wasn’t interested in a date with him, but Makoto gives him some turtle food and all is well. Motoki confirms that Mamoru indeed has a girlfriend and that her name is Hina. He says that Usagi should give up on Mamoru since he and Hina are in love. That’s great Motoki! Where was this wisdom when Naru asked him for Mamoru’s contact information so that she could set Usagi and him up? I guess Motoki just isn’t that great with women.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Young Hina and Mamoru

Now that we know a bit about Hina, we get a bit of backstory. Hina and Mamoru have known each other since they were children when Mamoru said that one day he’d marry Hina! I used to say stuff like this to girls when I was like 5 years old as well but I never married any of them! If you liked it, Mamoru, then you should have put a ring on it. With all the jewellery theft he does in his night life he had ample opportunity to make it official! Right so we see young versions of Hina and Mamoru in this one scene and as luck would have it the Church that Hina wants to get married in is none other than St. Juban Church, home of the holiest church gym in all of Tokyo! In this case they are in a legit church, where the priest turns out to be the monster who actually was a separate entity in episode 17 but whatever. The monster probably possessed the priest. Everyone is knocked unconscious except for Mamoru and Hina who escape to the church gymnasium and pass out!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - The Sailor Guardians with Sailor Venus in the middle Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - The Sailor Team with Sailor Moon in the middle

Everyone is called to the church gym and for the first time in the series all five of the Sailor Guardians are together! There’s a cool series of shots that takes place here showing all of the Guardians in order with Sailor Venus, the Princess, in the middle. Seen from a different angle however we see the Sailor Guardians with Sailor Moon in the middle. The camera lingers on this shot for a moment. What could this mean??? If you haven’t figured it out you probably aren’t paying attention and aren’t familiar with any other continuity! This is the part in the series where the online arguments between the Sailor Venus is the Princess and Sailor Moon is the Princess camps became really heated. I recall someone at the Genvid forums pointing out this fact and it seemed like a slam dunk to me. There’s even a basketball net in the background! Dunks for Jesus!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Mamoru and Hina holding hands

The monster is dispatched and afterwards the gang find Mamoru and Hina unconscious, holding each other’s hands. Sailor Moon mentions that love is always a good thing, and so she’s accepted Hina’s feelings but also accepted how she feels about Mamoru. Amazing. How many people would look at such a situation with such optimism? Once again we see that the strength of Usagi’s heart, rather than that of Sailor Moon and her Crystal, are what really make her the exceptional hero that she is! Sailor Moon quickly heals the two which makes me wonder… could she heal someone’s terminal illness with that thing? She is seen regularly healing people who have had their energy drained by the Dark Kingdom but could she heal cancer or pneumonia with that thing too? Seems relevant since …

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Minako only has 6 months

Back at the hotel room Minako is chatting with Artemis. He suggests that she may be pushing away the other girls in order to spare their feelings. She mentions that she only has 6 months left. Six months until what exactly?

Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on these two episodes. If you’re looking to watch along with the series you can get English subtitled fan subbed versions from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity. Fans looking to stream the show can do so from Dramanice and Kiss Asian.

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

Continue reading

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 and 10 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Many Tuxedo Masks

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Act 9, I’ll Protect the Legendary Silver Crystal, and Act 10, I am Queen Beryl, Queen of Darkness. These originally aired on Japanese TV on November 29th and December 6th 2003. These two episodes follow a story similar the manga Act 6, Tuxedo Mask. In this story in the manga Tuxedo Mask tries to solicit the help of the people of the city in order to find the Crystal, as occurs in Act 9, and then after Zoisite attacks them Sailor Moon heals the people of the city with her Moon stick, which resembles the end of Act 10. Though Act 9 and 10 as Live Action episodes don’t really have much to do with each other they both take elements from this manga story.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - The Icy Queen looks like the Silver Crystal from the Anime

The Icy Queen from the live action series

Sailor Moon - Chibiusa with the Silver Crystal

The Silver Crystal from the original anime series

Act 9 is all about Tuxedo Mask and the hunt for the Silver Crystal! What does this Crystal look like? We don’t really know but a couple of depictions in this episode remind of of what it looked like in the original Sailor Moon anime, as opposed to what it looked like in the manga. In the opening scene we see a child looking at a round gem called the Icy Queen that looks like the Crystal in the original anime. A depiction on television mentions that it would glitter in rainbow colours, and this includes 7 distinct colours shining. This is reminiscent of the 7 Rainbow Crystals from the original Sailor Moon anime, which were shards of the Silver Crystal which when assembled formed the complete Crystal.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - The Silver Crystal with 7 colours

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Minako in London

For this episode Minako is off in London to record a new song. This again reminds us of the original Sailor Moon anime which had Minako spending time in London while she was Sailor V, though it’s unlikely she’s fighting any crime in London as this would be incredibly suspicious, like how Batman always shows up in Metropolis when Bruce Wayne is there for business. This keeps Minako out of the picture for Act 9 and 10, which serves the plot well.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - The Moon Princess, whoever that is

We get a bit of an idea as to why Tuxedo Mask is looking for the Crystal! We see a dream of his where the Princess is asking him to find the Crystal. We don’t see any real details of her as her hair style is fairly normal however her voice is closer to that of Miyuu Sawai, who plays Usagi, as opposed to that of Ayaka Komatsu, who plays Sailor V.

Live action Sailor Moon episode 9 - News broadcast looking for the Silver Crystal

Reporters talking about the Silver Crystal in the live action series

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 6 - Zoisite dressed as a woman

Zoisite looking for the Silver Crystal in Sailor Moon Crystal

In order to try to flush out the Crystal Tuxedo Mask makes a very public statement telling people what to look for and that it’s worth a billion yen, roughy 9 billion US dollars. This is similar to the plot of the manga Act 6, Tuxedo Mask, where Tuxedo Mask does the same. Sailor Moon Crystal Act 6 more specifically based one scene on the live action series. When Zoisite appears on a large TV in the street asking people to find the Crystal this is nearly identical to a scene in this episode where two reporters are asking the viewers to find the Crystal.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Mamoru finds Usagi's handkerchief

Tuxedo Mask is looking through his coat and sees the handkerchief that Sailor Moon patched his hand with. Odd that this would be in his Tuxedo jacket since he was clearly still wearing it after changing back into his civilian clothes in the last episode! Plot hole or did Mamoru just put it in his jacket after he removed it? Doesn’t this thing go to hammer space like any respectable superhero costume?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Luna doesn't want Usagi hanging around with Tuxedo Mask

The gang don’t like Tuxedo Mask one bit! He’s a thief and he’s competing for the Crystal. Rei suggests he may save Sailor Moon as a trick! Usagi of course doesn’t want to hear any of this as she’s totally in love with Tuxedo Mask! This is the worst kept secret however she is only able to admit it to an empty room! Usagi is conflicted about what to do with Luna and her friends against him on one side but Naru, who only has vague details about the situation, cheering her on from the other.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Jadeite is jade

Queen Beryl turns Jadeite into a rock in this episode. It’s probably jade. In the manga when a Shitennou gets turned into a gem they’re essentially dead only returning as ghosts to talk to Mamoru, but this is not the last we will see of Jadeite!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Ami the Shinto Priestess

As the city is furiously looking for the Crystal a rich man, Masanobu Narita, believes he’s found it and wants to hire Rei to protect it for him! Rei, not being hired to appear at this episode’s location shoots, isn’t interested at all and so Ami volunteers to go on her behalf, posing as her top apprentice, a fellow Shinto Priestess. She keeps doing this weird thing with her glasses which makes them squeak. A tick that she gave her fictional character which doesn’t actually do anything? It’s kind of odd.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Two people who aren't Tuxedo Mask

Usagi and Makoto come along to help Ami and transform. Makoto becomes a police officer and Usagi a worker who is trimming trees. When a ton of Tuxedo Masks show up though, Usagi thinks she sees the real one! Why, I wonder, is everyone dressing up as Tuxedo Mask? They want the Crystal, sure, but does this incredibly conspicuous costume help anyone? What’s one more Tuxedo Mask? Usagi uses her phone to make herself dressed as Tuxedo Mask in order to distract the real police from who she thinks is the real Tuxedo Mask. He turns out to be a weird kind of pervert who gets off on touching Usagi’s wrist which is a very odd form of intimacy.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Usagi dressed as Tuxedo Mask

When Tuxedo Mask Usagi gets cornered the real Tuxedo Mask tells her to transform! How does this help the situation at all? We don’t know. She transforms, we see her stock footage, and then the problem is somehow resolved! There’s no scene of her escaping or anything, she just transforms and we don’t deal with that problem anymore. Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon have a little heart to heart. She expresses that she wants to know who he is but he doesn’t want to share.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 - Not the Silver Crystal. Not even close. Possibly made out of glass.

Meanwhile the supposed Silver Crystal is so fake that it breaks from being dropped. This means it’s what, made of glass? It looks like something that would hang off of a cheap chandelier. The gem was appraised as having qualities similar to the Silver Crystal yet… it just breaks when it’s dropped? Very lame! What do these people do to test them? Does Tuxedo Mask really need to steal all of these to find out if they’re legit? Does he look at it with one of those little monocle microscope thingeys or can he just sense it after having illegally repossessed it and held it a bit?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - A drawing of Princess Kaguya returning to the Moon

Act 10 is all about the story of Princess Kaguya, known in Japan as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. It’s difficult for a North American viewer to completely appreciate the episode without having the expected understanding of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter that most Japanese children would have. Just another example of why this show is not very accessible outside of Japan. This story is well known in Japan and was recently adapted as a 2013 Studio Ghibli film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. I would recommend checking out the film which presents a fairly straightforward adaptation of this ancient tale as it is something that is referenced frequently in Sailor Moon. As we learn in this episode it is the story of a young girl who is born from a bamboo shoot and raised by her adoptive parents until she finally learns that she is from a Kingdom on the Moon and must return home. Sound familiar? There are certainly a lot of parallels to Usagi’s story as told in the original manga and anime, as she is a Princess who originally comes from a Kingdom the Moon and was reincarnated on Earth to finally return to the Moon to meet her real mother. It seems likely that the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter served as some inspiration for the story of Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon S movie - Human Luna - Princess Kaguya

In addition to this episode The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is related to the manga side story The Lover of Princess Kaguya, which was adapted as the Sailor Moon S movie. The film itself doesn’t actually have much to do with the story. Kakeru, the man who Luna falls in love with, is a romantic who believes in the legend of Princess Kaguya and who, despite being a brilliant astronomer, believes that what he sees in space relates to such magical things. When Luna finally takes human form in the story she identifies with Princess Kaguya but her character or journey in the story doesn’t have much to do with Princess Kaguya beyond the superficial fact that she’s going to space. The villain of this story Princess Snow Kaguya also doesn’t have much in common with the Princess Kaguya from the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Kakeru’s girlfriend Himeko, who based on the title would be the lover of Kakeru, who is Princess Kaguya’s lover, also doesn’t have much in common with Princess Kaguya, aside from the fact that she goes to space.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Young Rei

This episode has Rei dealing with the loss of her mother. In the opening scene we see her at the hospital shortly after her mother died, with a children’s story book about Princess Kaguya left on her mother’s bed. This leads into a unique transition to the opening credits as Rei stares at the Moon as it leads into the opening. Rei believed, and still seems to believe to some extent, that her mother is still alive on the Moon, like Princess Kaguya from the story which her mother frequently read to her as a child. She befriends a young girl, Erika, who also believes that her recently deceased mother is still living on the Moon. The two are working on a picture story of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, with Erika and Rei working on the final page where Princess Kaguya leaves for the Moon on her chariot. Young Rei, as seen in this episode, is not the same young Rei we will be seeing in the future!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Usagi, Erika and Rei paint Princess Kaguya images

While Rei is sad about her mother dying Usagi has a really pointless argument with her own mother about whether or not to put cheese on her omelette. She tries to run away first to Crown Karaoke, then to Naru’s, then to Ami’s, then to Makoto’s and finally, as a last resort, to see Rei at her shrine. When she shows up Rei asks if Usagi had a fight with her parents, which is humorous since Usagi’s father is as unseen in this series as Princess Serenity’s father! Rei is happy to let Usagi stay there for a while, which doesn’t even end up being overnight, though when Usagi realizes that Rei’s mother is dead she feels particularly bad about her comparatively silly problem!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Princess Kaguya's image burning

Zoisite, meanwhile, is working on his latest song! This one creates a monster which sings and makes any Princess, be it an image, a person, or someone who just sort of feels like a Princess, burn up! This causes all sorts of non Princesses to have problems and seems to cause few problems to the actual Princesses we care about! The image of Princess Kaguya that Rei and Erika are working on lights on fire. So does a young girl’s doll. Erika, who thinks of herself as Princess Kaguya because of her thing with her mom, gets a fever, which is convenient since it would have been really extreme if she just spontaneously combusted. There’s also an actual Princess who falls ill on TV, which is how Makoto knows something is up. Who isn’t affected by this? Minako, who we are meant to believe is the Princess, who is away in London supposedly out of Zoisite’s range. Usagi isn’t affected. This could either mean that people who are Princesses but don’t know it aren’t affect or that Sailor Moon is not Princess Serenity in this continuity, as some fans legitimately believed at this point in the series and I’ll never let them forget it.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Sempai?

Makoto’s Sempai from Act 6

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Makoto's Sempai

Mysterious man at the library from Act 10

Ami is at the library and she sees a Princess from a young girl’s story book catch fire. The other notable thing about the library? Makoto’s “Sempai” is there! Back in Act 6 we learned that Makoto left her old school after having an unrequited love for a student in another grade, frequently referred to as her “Sempai”. When we see her flashback about people leaving, such as her parents, the last person we see leave is the person who I assume is this older boy who she was in love with. This guy is in the library! We are made to believe that Makoto moved and changed schools to get away from this guy. Did Ami go to a really far away school? Did this guy go to a far away library that she thought might have a book with information helping her to find Sailor V? Did they just reuse an extra and not expect some overly analytical fan to notice some 14 years later?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Sailor Moon heals the city

So the gang fights the monster by dancing to dodge her musical notes and it’s all silly. Finally Sailor Moon uses her Moon Stick to heal everyone, real or paper, who has been negatively affected by this weird thing which attacks anyone who isn’t a Princess. This is similar to the end of Act 6 of the manga where Sailor Moon uses her Moon Stick to resurrect the people of Tokyo, though not much else from this episode resembles that story.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Usagi crying about her mother

The gang are then confronted by Queen Beryl who gives them a bit of information about their past which Luna was hesitant to share. She tells them that they all come from the Moon! What a shocker! Later at the Princess Kaguya picture show Usagi breaks down crying due to the fact that her birth mother may not actually be her mother! This is something I’ve mentioned in the past as a potentially confusing plot point of the series. Unlike Princess Kaguya these girls were born from the wombs of their Earth mothers, not cut out of a bamboo shoot. Is Usagi Tsukino genetically identical to Princess Serenity of Silver Millennium? If so, does she actually share any genes with her mother and father who live in present day Tokyo as most human children do or was there a magical cloning or embryo implantation done at conception? Does she share roughly 1/2 of her genes with her brother Shingo who was also born from those parents? Does he have a Silver Millennium equivalent that he’s reincarnated from? If not, is it actually creepy when Shingo has a crush on Sailor Moon in the original Sailor Moon anime if they don’t actually have any genetic similarities? This very significant and meaningful observation by Usagi, which is mostly ignored by her friends who are in a similar situation, is atypical for her to catch on to. Shouldn’t Ami, the genius child of a doctor mother who’s career path she aspires to follow in, be wondering where her intelligence comes from if it’s not inherited? Shouldn’t Rei, who hates her father, be glad to be potentially the genetic equivalent to being adopted by him through magical reincarnation? What link does she have to her mother who she misses? Regardless of genes she may have she was still raised in her womb as that prenatal environment affects her development. She seems to have some concern about some aspect of this as she’s also brought to tears by the sentiment. Should Makoto be pleased at the prospect of having parents on the Moon or are they also dead? Will we ever get answers to any of these questions? No we really don’t. Queen Serenity or any other inhabitants of Silver Millennium aren’t really seen in this series, not that we’d likely get answers to such specifics questions if they were.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Minako attacked by a truck

In the final scene Minako, who’s been away in London for the past two episodes, arrives back in Tokyo. Zoisite plays his song which instead of directly attacking her seems to be controlling the driver of a truck which is swerving towards her! End of episode! Cliffhanger! This is almost identical to the final scene from the fantastic Street Fighter II animated movie which has Bison trying to run a truck into Ryu! Coincidence? Certainly!

Street Fighter II The Animated Movie

Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on these two episodes. If you’re looking to watch along with the series you can get English subtitled fan subbed versions from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity. Fans looking to stream the show can do so from Dramanice and Kiss Asian.

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

Continue reading

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 and 6 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars

This is a review and discussion of Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5, Is Usagi a True Friend?, and Act 6, The Transfer Student is Sailor Jupiter. These episodes aired on TV in Japan on November 1st and 8th respectively and, as with earlier episodes, those dates seem to match dates in the show as a calendar in Usagi’s room shows that the month is November. For the first time we get a live action original story with Act 5 and Act 6. While Act 6 is somewhat close to the manga Act 5, is still its own original story. While it may have seemed at first like this would be an episode per episode adaptation for the manga, this is no longer the case and the series will continue to deviate from the source material as it goes on. Want a faithful adaptation? Watch Sailor Moon Crystal! This series is about to do its own thing!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 - Usagi shoots Ami

Act 5 is all about Ami doubting her friendship with Usagi. There’s a monster in here somewhere, but that small aside is almost unnecessary to the story. This is a pure drama episode focusing on the friendship between Usagi and Ami. In earlier episodes it seemed as if things were going well for those two, but we are quickly learning that for Ami, making friends doesn’t come all that naturally. As she goes through her daily life she sees a number of examples telling her that many friendships are not as they appear, and so she begins to doubt the strength of her bond with Usagi. This goes so far as to having her imagine being shot by Usagi! Like mother, like daughter! Though my mind always goes to Chibiusa when I see Usagi with a gun, there is an early image of Usagi drawn by Naoko Takeuchi which similarly shows Sailor Moon wielding a gun. This was drawn before the concept of Sailor Moon was completely figured out.

Usagi with a gun

Sailor Moon R episode 60 - Chibiusa pointing a gun at Usagi

Ami buys a book, “How To Be A True Friend” which gives advise that she doesn’t really follow all that well. This causes her to act atypical in a number of ways. She speaks to Usagi more casually, using the honorific “chan”, which was something Usagi had mentioned she wanted her to use. The “chan” honorific is used between friends while the “san” honorific is more formal. When other students boo the teacher because of a surprise test, she boos along! She even intentionally fails the test (or pretends to have failed the test) in order to help out with chores as punishment. She even skips her cram school in order to go to a pyjama party with Usagi and Naru. This is not the Ami we are used to, and it’s not one we will see for long!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 - Ami the clown

This pyjama party is some weird stuff. It’s no one’s birthday, but it’s full of streamers! The girls sing karaoke and Ami claps along in a robot like motion and finally joins in. When it comes to trying on makeup however things are not as easy as screaming a catch phrase and transforming. Ami ends up looking like a clown causing Usagi and Naru to laugh, which Ami perceives as laughing at her. Distraught she tries to wash it off and collapses out of exhaustion. Usagi finds the book and is upset that Ami is trying to be someone she’s not. She tells her that lying is the one thing friends don’t do! Usagi, of course, is a good friend through all of this but Ami only sees evidence that their friendship is eroding as she basically is hearing her state ways in which they aren’t real friends. She doesn’t say “chan” and they lie to each other.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 - Rei is the voice of reason

Meanwhile Rei, who herself has been shown to be very antisocial in past episodes, is very socially aware and the voice of reason. She tells Usagi not to push things and she’s totally right! What we have in Ami and Rei are a girl who doesn’t have friends because she’s bad at it and a girl who doesn’t have friends because she doesn’t want any!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 - Poser Ami with her fake glasses

There’s a whole glasses sub plot. Ami wears fake glasses, which is pretty odd. Do people really do this? I’ve recently started wearing real glasses and it’s a real pain to get used to. As I type this I’m distracted by the visible frames and twitching my nose, but Ami feels some sort of comfort from them. This makes me wonder… what if she really needed glasses? Ami wears glasses but Sailor Mercury doesn’t! Does transforming somehow heal all physical limitations? In the not at all canon Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon series which only ever had a pilot which never went to air, Sailor Mercury was in a wheel chair but when she transformed she still needed a special flying vehicle (which we can’t call a wheel chair because it doesn’t have wheels) to move around. Would a Sailor Guardian with glasses have something like Sailor Mercury’s visor? Regardless, they’re fake, and by the end of the episode Ami finds she isn’t wearing them anymore which is a sign of her gradual transition into the person she was pretending to be.

Toon Makers' Sailor Moon - Sailor Mercury

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 - Sailor Moon, Mercury and Mars

Ami also manages to call Usagi by her given name “Usagi” by the end, though there is no “chan” honorific included. This is an upgrade from the “Tsukino-san” she would usually say. Moreso Naru and Usagi’s other friends refer to Ami as the more informal “Ami-chan” instead of the formal “Mizuno-san” they had been using. This was a small change none of them had noticed, but indicative of an overall acceptance on their part that they were seeing Ami differently. The use of honorifics in this show and anime in general isn’t something that is always obvious to western viewers who don’t use such terms, but this episode in particular illustrates how different honorifics can be used even between classmates at the same level and that this can tell us something about their relationship. Throughout the series it is notable that Usagi very quickly uses the “chan” honorific when she first encounters the Sailor Guardians. This is an example of how easily she makes friends and is reflective of her genuine kind heart.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5 - FM 77.7 doesn't exist

A bit of trivia. Early in the episode when Ami is listening to the radio she’s tuned to the FM frequency 77.7. This would refer to a 77.7 MHz carrier frequency. The problem? This is out of the normal range for FM radio which is in the range of 87.5 to 108 MHz. So what’s at 77.7 MHz? Pretty much nothing! A bit of reading at Wikipedia tells me that in the US and Canada radio controlled devices generally use between 72 and 76 MHz, putting this frequency between those that are commonly used. I don’t know why Ami isn’t just tuning in to everyone’s favourite radio station, FM no. 10!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Sailor Jupiter transforms

Act 6 introduces us to Makoto Kino, Sailor Jupiter. She’s played by Mew Azama who I feel perfectly captures the character both in the way she looks and acts. The immediately evident thing about her is that she’s incredibly tall, and we’ll notice that whenever we see a group shot of the girls either posing in the show or in promotional material. Check out the new banner I’m using for the site and you’ll see that she’s leaning in and still taller than everyone else! This episode once again has a lot of drama and emotion and to me is one of the high points of the series. One might be inclined to say that, like with the episodes introducing the other characters, that this episode follows the manga Act 5, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, but upon some reflection the only resemblance is the appearance of Makoto. While the Manga story centres around a wedding dress shop this episode is about basketball and no more resembles it in any way than the anime episode 25, Jupiter – the Powerful Girl in Love, with Crane Game Joe follows it. The anime, similarly, introduces Sailor Moon, Mercury and Mars in similar ways to the manga, but did not do the same for Sailor Jupiter or Venus.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Takeru is not properly dressed to play basketball

Basketball is a major theme here and I wonder if anyone working on the show ever actually played the game. I’m no pro myself but at 6’2″ it was inevitable that I end up shooting a few hoops from time to time in my day, although a general lack of coordination and athleticism kept me from excelling at the sport. The superstar basketball player that all the girls show up to watch play is Takeru and this dude is not at all well equipped to play basketball! He’s wearing a really inappropriate hat and his scarf can’t possibly be doing him any good. Instead of basketball shoes he’s got these old and busted boots. Nice superstar! I wonder, do people really do this kind of thing in Japan? Just hang around a basketball court fawning over a run of the mill street player and taking photos? It reminds me a bit of episode 14 of the anime that centred around tennis where everyone turned out in droves to watch a player.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Makoto defends Usagi

Usagi, creeping around the court to watch this Takeru guy, gets confronted and intimidated by a few jerks. Makoto shows up, protects her, and beats the crap out of them! How fantastic. Makoto is a transfer student from another school where, rumour has it, she got in a fight and so she got kicked out! As always Makoto is wearing the wrong school uniform and although it isn’t mentioned the idea is that she continues to wear this because she’s so tall and that her new school doesn’t have a uniform in her size. I don’t know how sizes work in Japan but as I understand it in North America women’s clothes sizes only affect width and for height you get petite, grande and venti clothes. I think that’s right…

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Makoto and Usagi

Makoto has no friends, and so she hangs out on the roof at lunch time in the no friends club with Ami! As always though, Usagi is there to become her friend! This seems natural at this point as Makoto helped defend her. While walking on a bridge Usagi walks on a ledge to compensate for the fact that Makoto is so tall! Shopping montage! The two go shopping and try on various humorous clothes. The store they go to is Claire’s which is a chain which has locations here in Canada. A good place to buy gloves during prom season which work for Sailor Moon cosplay! Makoto is new to the area, having not only changed schools but also having moved in to a new place. She lives on her own since, as she states, her parents died when she was 10. These backstories keep getting more tragic! More important than that, as we eventually learn, is that she left because of her “Sempai”, a theme which is always around for Makoto. She compares various boys she finds attractive to her “Sempai”, a term which here means a student of a higher grade, something which in the English dub was a reference to her “old boyfriends” though in reality it does not seem like they ever dated. We see a number of people leaving Makoto at one point and it seems like one of them is likely her Sempai. There are two teenaged boys in the mix but I imagine the last one to leave, the well dressed one, is meant to be him.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Makoto in the rain

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 147 - Makoto in the rain

When Makoto arrives home at her apartment one night she finds a love letter from Takeru inviting her to show up at a fountain at 10. Makoto arrives early in the morning, but hours and hours go by and no one shows up. This bears a striking similarity to episode 147 of Sailor Moon SuperS, Destined Partners? Makoto’s Innocence, in which Makoto waits for hours in the rain for Tiger’s Eye who has stood her up. Inspiration for this series from the anime is certainly possible, as that series had completed airing years before this series began production. In this story however, Takeru did not stand her up at all. The letter was a cruel prank by the three basketball jerks which causes great heartbreak to Makoto. Luckily Luna sees this and, somehow, is able to alert the girls via their cell phones. I expect she could communicate with them when in the headquarters but she’s clearly on the go when she sees this which makes me once again wonder if Luna’s powers have any limit!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Ami, Usagi and Rei ready for basketball

This leads to a completely ridiculous and hilarious scene in which Usagi, Ami and Rei seek to take revenge on the basketball jerks by somehow using their phones to transform into basketball players? Does using a magic phone to make yourself wear basketball clothes make you better at basketball? This episode seems to suggest that yes it does, which makes us wonder why this isn’t used for actual saving the world purposes! So the girls show up looking all bad ass and totally cream these jerks at basketball using seemingly superhuman abilities to do things like jump super high. Justice?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Rei doesn't like boys

Meanwhile through a conversation with Rei she mentions that she doesn’t like boys. Does this mean she likes girls? The interpretation from the manga would more mean that she’s not interested in boys, not that she’s interested in girls instead. In this way she’s quite unlike her boy crazy anime counterpart, though in other ways she is much like she was in the anime. In the manga it is mentioned by Rei and Minako that as Sailor Guardians their dedication to protecting the Princess precludes them from pursuing romantic relationships. Though this passage somewhat resembles the sentiment Rei mentions here, it can’t be said that it’s for the same reasons. Rei has only been a Sailor Guardian for a brief time, around a month by my estimate, and does not know who the Princess is or have full access to her memories of her previous life. It seems like this attitude about men is one she had before meeting Usagi. Further, without getting into specifics, the girls continue to pursue romantic relationships and it’s strongly indicated that far in the future at least one of the Sailor Guardians, besides the Princess, will herself be getting married.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Makoto cries

Finally Takeru seemingly shows up at Makoto’s apartment but he’s actually possessed by a monster and he takes her to a dimension filled with candles. Makoto is so hardcore that she resists his charm and decks him. Woo! We get a real sad montage of everyone who’s left her, but Sailor Moon comes in to take Makoto’s hand, perfect symbolism of Usagi’s friendship which saves Makoto from a life of loneliness. Takeru, it turns out, is a bit of a wuss as he flees from the monster in terror while hardcore Makoto faces him. He’s quickly dispatched and the four Sailor Guardians are finally together as a team! Now there’s just that pesky business of finding the Princess…

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Zoisite

We get a glimpse of Zoisite as the episode ends. Again, he looks very little like his manga and anime counterpart, except for the pony tail.

Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on these two episodes. If you’re looking to watch along with the series you can get English subtitled fan subbed versions from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity. Fans looking to stream the show can do so from Dramanice and Kiss Asian.

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

Continue reading

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 and 4 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Sailor Mars, Mercury and Moon

This is a review and discussion of Live Action Sailor Moon Act 3, The 3rd Senshi is Miko Rei, and Act 4, Sneaking into the Party! These episodes originally aired on TV in Japan October 18th and 25th 2003. Since Act 3 includes a date of October 22nd on a blackboard and Act 4 takes place at a Halloween party, it is safe to conclude that these episodes of the series were intended to take place roughly during the same dates in which they were aired. Assuming this trend was meant to continue we can estimate that roughly a year of time is elapsed over the course of the series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Sailor Mars

Act 3 introduces us to the Miko, or Priestess, Rei Hino who becomes Sailor Mars. Once again this episode quite closely follows the equivalent manga story for Act 3, which has a plot by the Dark Kingdom around Hikawa Shrine causing the disappearance of girls, where Rei is suspected, and where ultimately she travels to a pocket dimension and transforms into Sailor Mars. Rei is played by the lovely Keiko Kitagawa. Though most of the actresses have had minor acting and modelling careers following the series Keiko Kitagawa has without a doubt had the most success. She is a very accomplished model and has acted in many movies and TV series in Japan.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - A game show at Karaoke Crown HQ

The episode opens with a game show hosted by Luna. A lot of the sense of realism becomes a bit hard to grasp with some of the things which take place at Karaoke Crown. How does Luna, a cat with no opposable thumbs, do any of this? How did she create the forged year long passes that the girls use to freely come and go? How did she set up the headquarters? How does she set up things like gameshow buzzers on a whim? All magic, perhaps? There’s no evidence that she’s able to transform into a human to do this work… yet. Luna quizzes the girls and the answers we get are at best intentionally misleading and at worst, completely false. In an answer to the question of how many more Guardians there are, the correct answer is given to be 2. Let us ignore Sailors Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Saturn as they do not appear in this series, but the answer is still incorrect. There are 4 Sailor Guardians who protect the Princess. Okay let us assume, for argument’s sake, that one of the remaining 3 Sailor Guardians is the Princess, meaning two more to protect her, but there’s still this pesky business of a 6th Sailor Guardian which appears in the later half of the series. Without getting into specifics, this is perhaps something Luna should have some knowledge about! Little things like this, and the general way the show plays out, lead me to believe that even with a relatively short run of the show, a lot of the plot points were not known ahead of time but instead were a bit made up as the show goes on. Minako in the opening, for example, is seen interacting with the others and wearing a school uniform that never appears in the series, but resembles what is seen in the manga and anime.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Umino?

A bit of probably pointless trivia. This guy in Usagi’s class… doesn’t he look a bit like Umino? Perhaps it’s just a guy with glasses.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Ami doesn't want to have lunch with Usagi

In class Usagi invites Ami to eat with her and her friends. She is at first excited but, upon seeing her friends looking at her oddly, declines the invitation stating that it would be too suspicious if all of a sudden they were friends. This seems to be a fabricated excuse on Ami’s part because of a potentially uncomfortable situation with Naru and Usagi’s other friends. Usagi and Ami bonded quickly before it was even known that she was Sailor Mercury, simply because they ran into each other on a bridge. They could have stated that, perhaps leaving out the part about the magical talking stuffed cat which can arrange game shows without thumbs, and it should be good enough!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Usagi's mom is a bit nuts

Meanwhile Ami visits Usagi’s house, and their friendship appears to be developing, but we will eventually see that things aren’t all that easy. We learn in the process that Usagi’s mother is a bit nuts.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Rei Hino

Enter Rei! She first bumps into Usagi on a bridge, leaving behind a bracelet which leads Usagi to try to track her down. With all of the disappearances and rumours about Hikawa Shrine, Usagi gets scared when she hears a couple of crows. These crows aren’t named however they could be Phobos and Deimos, Sailor Mars’s two pet crows.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Usagi and Rei

Some girls show up at the shrine and bully Rei, taking her weird birdhouse looking thing and even pushing her to the ground. Usagi to the rescue! It doesn’t take much for her to befriend someone, and she immediately tries to be kind with Rei, again not knowing that she’s really a Sailor Guardian. It seems like the series constantly assures us that Usagi would get along with these girls if they didn’t have super powers, so that we don’t think they are just together for convenience.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Rei attacks

In a classic Terminator move it looks like Rei is about to attack Usagi and Ami with a charm but it turns out she’s attacking a pack of leaves turned monster behind her. Kyle Reese does this to Sarah Connor in the first film. The Terminator does this to John Connor in the second. Usagi and Rei get whisked away to this pocket dimension type thing where everything has a blue haze to it. The fight goes on as expected with Rei becoming Sailor Mars and using Youma Taisan, which is an attack unique to the live action series similar to her Fire Soul from the anime and manga.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Where did Tuxedo Mask come from?

The fight is won and everyone starts leaving the blue pocket dimension thanks to Sailor Mercury. Sailor Moon gets cut off and … Tuxedo Mask… is in the blue dimension? Where did he come from? Jadeite mentioned 6 girls were kidnapped. Did he kidnap Tuxedo Mask as well? Did he sneak in at some point? It seems plausible that he snuck in through the portal as it was closing, but this isn’t clearly demonstrated.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Rei snubs Usagi and Ami

The episode concludes when Usagi, happy to have her friends together, suggests a karaoke party. Rei says that she hates karaoke and doesn’t intent to join them! Big spooky music, this is clearly the conflict to be dealt with in Act 4…

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Tuxedo Mask and Usagi the bear

Act 4 on its surface appears to be a story unique to the live action series, but it actually has some similarities to the manga Act 4, Masquerade – Dance Party. This is also somewhat similar to episode 22 of the original anime, Romance Under the Moon: Usagi’s First Kiss. In these there is a gem to be revealed at a masquerade party which invites the attention of the Sailor Guardians, Nephrite and Tuxedo Mask, who all fight to get the crystal. Here the masquerade is instead a Halloween themed disguise birthday party for a girl who is again revealing a gem with all parties interested in getting it.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Nephrite

This episode introduces us to a great relationship of the series, and that’s Queen Beryl and Jadeite! She point blank says to Jadeite that if he loves her, he should be of some use to her. It seems that Jadeite’s motivation is his love for Queen Beryl. This dedication, as we will see throughout the series, is beyond that of the other Shitennou. With that we are introduced to Nephrite, the second of the Shittennou, who looks nothing like his manga or anime counterparts! He has short red hair and a reddish uniform. While Jadeite looks much like other versions of Jadeite, we will see that this similarity is not there for the rest of our Dark Kingdom villains!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Skirt pants

Another first of the series we see here is Rei and her skirt pants! Back in 2003 when this show was first airing I had never seen a person wear a skirt and pants at the same time. This was a fashion trend that eventually became somewhat common, but whether this was due to my ignorance of high fashion or not, this was the first time I saw it and I thought it was weird! I’ve since come to accept and appreciate Rei’s shirt pants and pretty much anything she wants to wear to be honest.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Rei and Ami

The tension with Rei continues. Not only does she not like karaoke but she doesn’t want to attend the party with Ami and Usagi. Ami confronts Rei alone about this and insightfully suggests that perhaps Rei is afraid of friends. This seems right on the mark as Rei says that friends and family eventually abandon a person, and we get some insight into her past that we will be seeing more of as the series goes on. By the end of the episode Rei warms up to Usagi and Ami a little, stating that even though she still hates karaoke, she would be okay with a get together if it didn’t involve karaoke. If only all social problems were this easily resolved!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Usagi transforms in public

In two cases in this episode Usagi does a terrible job of hiding her super powers. In the first case, while looking for fancy dresses for the party, Usagi uses her magical clothes changing phone in front of a crowded street full of traffic to change her outfit a number of times. In the second case, at the end of the episode, Ami calls out “Tsukino-san” to Sailor Moon in front of Tuxedo Mask. Sailor Moon responds by calling Sailor Mercury “Ami-chan” and Sailor Mars “Rei-chan”. Tuxedo Mask appears to be too dense to notice this, as the eventual revelation of Usagi’s identity much later in the series is a total surprise to him.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Ami as a cat

Ami shows up at the party wearing a ridiculous cute/sexy cat costume. Luna makes a comment asking how they could have known it was a Halloween party. This is ridiculous for a few reasons. For one, they clearly seem to know as Ami and Usagi both came with costumes. Sure they have those phones which can copy another person’s costume, but there do not appear to be any other sexy cat or ridiculous furry bear costumes present at Yuka’s party. The other reason should be obvious and that’s that it’s Halloween! During Act 3 we see a date of October 22nd on a blackboard. Act 4 aired on October 25th, within a week of Halloween. It stands to reason, based on this and the fact that this is a Halloween party, that it is in the whereabouts of Halloween at this point! Why, then, is a Halloween costume party so out of the question?

Adam dressed as Jadeite

Back in 2002 I was invited to a Halloween party at a friend’s house. This friend had Halloween parties every year and they were always dress up parties. I made my own Jadeite costume for this party and, upon arriving, was informed by all my friends that it wasn’t a costume party! The correct question is not how one could have known it was a costume party, but how anyone in their right mind could expect that one wouldn’t think such a thing was a Halloween costume party! I spent the night ignoring my friends and talking with people at the party who I had never met. They, having no prior contact with me, did not have the social responsibility of explicitly informing me that this was not a costume party and so I was not upset at any of them.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Sailor Mars, Moon and Mercury

Much like in the manga and anime versions of the episode, the guest of honour of the party, in this case Yuka, is possessed by a monster so that she can steal her own gem. The monster, in this case, is a ridiculous looking cactus. It splits into 3 pieces requiring precise timing of three attacks to defeat him. The trick? The three girls sing Minako’s hit song “C’est la vie” in unison. This was a trick used in the film Hudson Hawk by a bank robber played by Bruce Willis and his partner. They sang a song of a particular length to get the timing of their job just right, and like in Sailor Moon, the trick worked! As Rei sang along with “C’est la vie” all I could think was “Who hates karaoke now, Rei?”. This will not be the last time we hear Rei sing in this series!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Tuxedo Mask holds Sailor Moon

With the fight completed Usagi leaps to catch the jewel, in doing so nearly falling off the ledge of the building. Tuxedo Mask grabs her and in doing so puts her in a much more favourable position that Sailor Moon and Ami were in Act 2. Tuxedo Mask, in this case, is fully stable on the roof. Although Sailor Moon told Ami not to give up when in a much worse position, she tells Tuxedo Mask it’s no use. Where did that optimism go? They both fall and Sailor Moon creates a magic bubble to float to the ground. In the manga and anime equivalent stories, the two fall off of a balcony and Usagi uses her disguise pen to create an umbrella which allows them to defy physics and float to safety. Since the disguise pen in this series is a cell phone app, things needed to be switched up a bit.

Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on these two episodes. If you’re looking to watch along with the series you can get English subtitled fan subbed versions from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity. What does everyone think of the new banner?

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

Continue reading

Viz’s Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray looks fantastic and is well worth buying despite the unpopular cover art

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Princess Serenity

Sailor Moon R The Movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray April 18th and it looks amazing. I’m not talking about the lacklustre cover art which everyone seems fixated on but rather the video quality of the actual Blu-Ray. This is a top quality release which seems to come from the film source. The level of detail is absolutely not something which could have simply been gotten from software upscaling, which is what has been used for all of the home video releases we’ve seen for the Sailor Moon TV series to date. But don’t take my word for it! Look at these screenshots to see the difference. Prior to this release I watched the Japanese DVD as my gold standard. The French DVD release which came out in 2014 looks great too, but is still in the same ball park. It has a slightly cleaned up image and a higher resolution due to them having different TV standards. The old DVD we got from Pioneer in 1999 is borderline VHS quality, but it is an unmated full screen so there’s a bit more to the picture. This new Blu-Ray is in a league of its own. View the full sized versions of these pictures to see the difference. There’s a small amount of loss of quality from the JPEG compression on these uploads but it should give you a good idea of the difference.

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 - French DVD - Usagi gives a rose to Mamoru

French DVD (2014)

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

English Pioneer DVD (1999)

Pay attention to small details in the image like Fiore’s nose or the lines on Mamoru’s face. This new Blu-Ray image is not something which could have been extrapolated through software from any of the standard definition masters. This is a high quality HD transfer from film source and it looks as good as we could hope for! Fans who were lucky enough to have seen the film in theatres probably noticed that they could see a lot of detail in the image and we see that in this release as well. Look at another comparison between a wide shot of the street which gives us a lot of small details of individual characters.

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Wide shot of the street

Viz Blu-Ray (2017)

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Japense R2 DVD 2002 - Wide shot of the street

Japanese DVD (2002)

It’s really refreshing to see such a nice quality release from Viz considering some of the earlier stuff we’ve gotten from them. I’ve always said that they’re doing the best that they can with low quality masters and this seems to confirm that idea. They’ve gotten a lot of criticism for using too much post processing and such but at the end of the day if you start off with a low quality master there’s really only so much you can do to try to make it look nice. The minor differences between the different releases of the original anime don’t add up to much but this release is on another level. This is a great movie, part of the best of what Sailor Moon has to offer, and at the relatively low price it’s being sold for it’s a no brainer to pick it up.

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray  - Cover

But wait, you’re all thinking, what about this terrible box art??? Indeed, the cover art isn’t the best. For weeks fans have been criticizing it. I’ll agree that it isn’t the best box art compared to their other releases but is that what’s most important? We’ve gotten a lot of really nice looking boxes with great little booklets and the video content always looked kind of terrible. Here we have the opposite, a box which isn’t that nice and a top quality release inside! All things considered I’d rather we get a release with a cover drawn by 3 year old with crayons if we could somehow keep getting quality releases like this!

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Sailor Moon returns to life

Let’s look at what else is in this release. First off is the feature, which is only 1 hour long. This is the first of the Sailor Moon movies and it includes both a new English dub by Viz and a Japanese audio track with English subtitles. Sailor Moon R The Movie is one of my all time favourite films and my favourite of the Sailor Moon movies. It includes some of the best animation seen in the series. I watched the film in Japanese with English subtitles as I’d already heard the dub in theatres and found it to be good. Having seen a number of different versions of the film countless times I didn’t notice anything amiss with the translation, but as I don’t speak Japanese I can’t comment on it more than that.

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

Also included is the Make Up! Sailor Guardians special. This originally aired with Sailor Moon R The Movie in theatres in Japan. It was also included in North American theatres when it played here. This is a fun little extra, running at only 16 minutes, with some new animation but mostly recycled clips from the TV series. This extra feature also looks great. This makes me wonder what kind of masters TOEI had access to when they put it together! This release was obviously mastered from a film source but the TV clips included also seem to come from a higher quality source even than we’ve seen with the Japanese DVD releases. With the upcoming Blu-Ray release of the original Sailor Moon anime in Japan being advertised as being software upscaled from standard definition sources I wish they had access to the same source material they used in 1993 when this special was put together. Just look at this shot of Ami from her first appearance early in the first season with the fine detail in the lines. It isn’t the best but it’s nothing like what we’ve gotten in any other TV release of the series. Let’s hope the Japanese release we get in June looks something close to this!

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Make Up! Sailor Guardians - Ami from the TV series

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Cast Interview

There are a few extras on this disc. When Sailor Moon R The Movie played in theatres it was introduced by an interview with the cast. This included Stephanie Sheh, Sailor Moon, Ben Diskin, Fiore and Robbie Daymond, Tuxedo Mask. When I saw this in theatres I thought it was a bit silly to have it before the main feature. I was there to watch the movie, not see something which wasn’t more thrilling than your run of the mill DVD extra. Having it as an extra like this however is totally reasonable. This feature is about 10 minutes.

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - LA Premiere Q & A

Also included is an interview which followed the LA Premiere. This included nearly all of the voice actors from the film, Viz’s Charlene Ingram and the ADR voice director for the film, Suzanne Goldish. The cast present included Carrie Keranen, the Xenian flower, Ben Diskin, Fiore, Cherami Leigh, Sailor Venus, Amanda Miller, Sailor Jupiter, Cristina Vee, Sailor Mars, Michelle Ruff, Luna, Sandy Fox, Chibiusa, Robbie Daymond, Tuxedo Mask, and Stephanie Sheh, Sailor Moon. The only main actors not present were Kate Higgins, Sailor Mercury, and Johnny Yong Bosh, Artemis. The interview included your standard kind of banter about how mind blowing it is to see Sailor Moon the big screen and the fan reaction. Suzanne Goldish, ADR director, tells a humours story about how her notes had her flip flopping from calling the villain Fiole, which means nothing, and Fiore, the objectively correct character’s name and the Italian word for flower. This explains why the voice actors refer to him as Fiole in the pre-movie interview. ADR directors don’t have the star power of the voice actors but they usually have some good insight into the production which makes for interesting stories.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Character art

Note that this book is not included with the film.

There is also some character art on the disc itself. I wanted to grab some screenshots but this feature wasn’t included on the DVD and the tool I used to get Blu-Ray screenshots doesn’t support menus. I’ll spare you photos of my TV and assure you these are character designs for the film similar to those seen in the above photo from the Japanese art book. It would have been nice to see a booklet with some character bios and maybe some of this kind of art but there’s nothing in the way of inserts with this release. The Japanese Sailor Moon R The Movie art book includes over 100 pages of content. It would have been easy for Viz to put together 20 or so pages to accompany this film!

Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray - Discs

We also get the standard trailers which are included in all Viz releases. If you haven’t been convinced to buy the remastered uncropped Ranma 1/2 Blu-Ray release at this point it’s just not going to happen.

So what’s my final verdict? Isn’t it obvious? Just buy the movie! Don’t bother with the DVD as it doesn’t showcase the high quality video of the HD transfer. Buy the Blu-Ray which includes the DVD if you somehow don’t have a Blu-Ray player in 2017. I got mine on Amazon. You can also get it from other retailers like Right Stuf. If you don’t want a physical copy you can save a few bucks by getting it digitally on iTunes or Amazon Video, but be warned that the digital version is currently only available in English. This is a high quality release of a great movie which every fan should own. Go get it!

Now that we’ve agreed that it’s worth getting whether you have another copy of the film or not a practical question is whether or not it supersedes any other release. Should you just throw your old copy out? The old Pioneer release has some advantages, mainly the old dub which some people have nostalgia for an the unmated full frame image. For most people in 2017 with widescreen displays this has limited appeal, but to this day the English release is the only way to get this full pictured version. Even the original Japanese laserdisc version was presented in widescreen. As for the Japanese release it still has some special features which are nice. A rare DVD feature that all of the Japanese Sailor Moon movies have is an isolated music only track which is a nice addition which isn’t on this release.

Keep reading for more photos.

Continue reading