Kazuko Tadano returns to Sailor Moon after nearly 25 years as the animation director of Sailor Moon Crystal

Kazuko Tadano from the Sailor Moon anime

Today, June 30th, is Usagi’s birthday! As is often the case this meant a special live event was held in Japan. Many fans were hopeful to get some small tidbit of information about the upcoming two Sailor Moon Crystal films and we sure did get the smallest tidbit. Kazuko Tadano, character designer and animation director from the first two seasons of the original Sailor Moon anime as well as the Sailor Moon R movie, will be returning to be the animation director for the 4th story arc of Sailor Moon Crystal! As we have previously learned the Dream arc of Sailor Moon Crystal won’t be individual episodes as we had in the past but it will instead be two theatrically released movies. Not much else of interest seems to have been revealed today. This news was confirmed on the official Sailor Moon site.

Kazuko Tadano and Hiromi Matsushita from the Sailor Moon anime

Kazuko Tadano does fantastic work. The box art she did for the Sailor Moon laserdiscs is still used in releases in Japan to this day. Her designs from the first two seasons of the anime are the image of Sailor Moon that most people remember and certainly the one I have the most nostalgia for. The episodes she was animation director for are some of the best looking episodes of the series. I am looking forward to seeing what this new season will look like! I just wish we had a better idea of just when this would finally be released! Until then, we will just have to be patient. If nothing else this is some indication that things are progressing on the series. All indications seem to be that this is happening and fans should be used to waiting at this point. It has been over two years since the last episode of Sailor Moon Crystal aired. Let’s hope we don’t make it to three!

Sailor Moon Japanese Blu-Ray Vol. 1 - Comparison between Laserdisc and Blu-Ray

Fans interesting in watching the live event for Usagi’s birthday can check out this stream from the official Sailor Moon Twitter account. It includes a number of song performances, information presented by Fumio Osano and a teaser for the upcoming Sailor Moon Super Live musical.

Kazuko Tadano and Hiromi Matsushita as students from the Sailor Moon anime

Kazuko Tadano and her husband Hiromi Matsushita were both animation directors during the early episodes of the original Sailor Moon anime. They both worked on episode 21, Protect the Children’s Dreams: Friendship Through Anime, in which a version of them appeared as the two primary characters in that episode, named Kazuko and Hiromi. I was lucky enough to meet them when they made an appearance at Otakon in 2008! I asked them a question about the episode but unfortunately due to technical issues with the video camera I used at the time, I lost the footage of that panel. When I asked the two to sign my Volume Infinity Art Book they were surprised I had such a thing. When I told Hiromi Matsushita what I’d paid for it he called me “rich man”. This is of course not true as a substantial portion of my income goes to Sailor Moon merchandise!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29, Infinity 3 – Two New Soldiers, Review

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Genderbent Minako

The latest episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal aired on Japanese television on April 25th at 11pm Japan Standard Time and was available to stream on Crunchyroll, Neon Alley and Hulu following that around 10:30am Eastern Time that same morning. I watch the show on Crunchyroll due to the quality of their feed and the fact that as a Canadian it’s my legal option. This week’s episode, Act 29, Infinity 3 – Two New Soldiers, has Usagi struggling with the kiss she shared with Haruka.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Sailor Moon blushing

The kiss is meant to occur early in Act 29 of the manga but, like most of this story arc’s episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal, the last episode ended with a scene from the next act. The clip before the bumper however shows us the kiss again and we see this time that Sailor Moon has a blushing reaction to it. This insinuates that she liked it and Usagi will be dealing with these feelings throughout this episode and the rest of the season. Is Usagi gay? Classifying her as such doesn’t seem to be terribly helpful. Sexuality is fairly fluid amongst the characters in Sailor Moon, which reflects real people’s feelings quite well. Usagi loves Mamoru and her dedication to him doesn’t really waver. She has also been shown to find other girls in the series attractive, most prominently Rei when she first showed up, and here she is clearly attracted to Haruka as well. Beyond this other girls in the series have feelings of attraction to other girls. Haruka seems to exclusively like girls. Michiru loves Haruka but also seems attracted to other men. While many of the women in the series are attracted to men, they are comfortable in also being attracted to women. This really is a great way to portray characters as they aren’t terribly bogged down by labels or preconceptions. No doubt viewers and readers dealing with similar feelings appreciate seeing such things portrayed in a series they watch.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Haruka in Usagi's dreamSailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Haruka in Usagi's dream

Everyone is sharing the same dream in this episode. Last week we had a few people having a shared dream, voiced by Hotaru, but it was somewhat limited. Here all of the main Sailor Guardians are getting the same dream this time voiced by Haruka. Things are so different in an anime series than in a manga. If we see a statement made on the pages of a comic we don’t really know who is saying them. In a series with voice actors there’s a bit more revealed. The dreams are all about talismans, and no one seems to know if they are good or bad, or what they should do about them. Not really useful. The real prophetic dream which we see is Usagi’s vision of Haruka. She’s dreaming about her kiss and seems to have a good idea that Haruka is the Sailor Guardian who kissed her. She sees here as male and female but the female version she sees has a scarf and vest which aren’t actually seen until later in the episode. Sounds like some magic dreaming prediction! Of course in a series full of magic with dreams already predicting the future in this episode, this explanation doesn’t seem to be terribly out of place.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Haruka kissing Usagi

While discussing Mugen Academy the cats mention the Tokyo Bay reclamation project. I didn’t really understand what this term meant at first so I looked it up and in this context it’s referring to filling up the Bay with some sort of fill to make new land and building that up. This certainly makes sense in the context of what is going on. We’re in downtown Tokyo which is space which has been inhabited in some form or another for hundreds of years. It doesn’t make sense that there would be room for all of these new constructions but if Tokyo Bay was filled in to do this, we understand where all of these buildings are coming from. There is a lot of precedent for this in the real world as a lot of Tokyo Bay is reclaimed land, which has changed the shape of the shore line over time. About 250 square km (100 square miles) have been reclaimed from Tokyo Bay.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Chibiusa and Hotaru make a promise

Kazuko Tadano and Hiromi Matsushita make a promise in the Sailor Moon anime

Chibiusa is all about secrets this week! Hotaru totally knows her secret and then Hotaru basically tells her that her father is making monsters. This should be a big deal and if Chibiusa acts on this it’s game over for the season but she doesn’t. When she seals the promise with Hotaru they lock their pinkies. This reminds me of Kazuko and Hiromi from episode 21 of the original anime, Protect the Children’s Dreams: Friendship Through Anime. When Chibiusa goes on a helicopter ride she promises not to divulge what she discusses with Haruka or Michiru. Why are these two even taking this gamble? We will see next week how well she hides this. Chibiusa seems really impressed with flying in a helicopter. Normally I would agree that this is a big deal but let’s not forget that Chibiusa literally flies through time, so I’m thinking a helicopter ride to her would be like me going for a horse pulled wagon ride through an overgrown pumpkin patch. The helicopter drops Chibiusa off in the middle of the street and the townspeople are rightfully disturbed by this.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Won't this cause noise problems?

There’s a concert. Actually there are two concerts. These are in the same building on different floors at the same time. How practical is this? You know when you’re in a movie theatre watching a quiet drama and in the next theatre there are a bunch of Autobots killing Decepticons and you can hear the vibrations from the explosions coming through? I imagine Mimete’s loud pop music in a massive auditorium might have some bleeding out onto the classical violin performance that Michiru is doing. Anyway there’s a bunch of drama over tickets here! Haruka gives Usagi a bunch, which she shares with her friends, but in comes Mamoru who got tickets from Michiru. He was going to share them with his girlfriend, but she’s already going so he takes Chibiusa. Rather than communicate, which good couples should do in order to avoid misunderstandings and conflict, he just doesn’t say anything and runs into her at the event. Good plan bro! There are all sorts of concerns going on now with Usagi having been kissed by a girl and Mamoru maybe doing something with Michiru.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Minako's Sailor V compact

While everyone but the cats seemed covered with tickets for Michiru’s concert, the real show that Minako wants to see if Mimete’s. This is a concert which is offered free to Mugen Academy students and in order to prove your attendance to that school you seem to only be required to wear a school uniform. Minako has a plan which involves using her old compact from her Sailor V days. The Sailor Moon manga follows the Sailor V manga, but Sailor Moon Crystal hasn’t really touched on this much. In Codename: Sailor V Minako would use this to transform into various things much like Usagi does with her transformation pen. In the original Sailor Moon anime Minako does not have access to such an item as when she disguises herself as Sailor Moon in Sailor Moon S she states that she borrowed Usagi’s pen to do so, which she should not need to do if she had the ability to do so with her compact. This makes one wonder where old transformation items end up. The ones that aren’t hurled into masses of evil energy or dropped in alternate dimensions before the world is recreated I mean.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Minako as a boy from Mugen Academy

Anyway Minako decides to transform into a boy. An odd decision since there are a lot of female fans at the concert, but this is something she choses to do. It was nice to see this scene actually remain in Sailor Moon Crystal. Back in Act 5, when Sailor Jupiter first appeared, the manga had Usagi transforming into a man at the bridal shop. For whatever reason this transformation was not included in Sailor Moon Crystal and some fans speculated that it was because it had a character changing their gender. Whether or not this was truly the reason this does not seem to have been a problem with this episode. While posing as a boy Minako is clearly attracted to Mimete, complete with the hearts all around. Mimete of course is evil and part of the Witches 5. They don’t mention her power level but it’s 40. Why are we sending the weakest one second? This is a messed up RPG strategy.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Mimete of the Witches 5

Finally the two new Sailor Guardians reveal themselves to be Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. Did anyone not know these names at this point? They also use their attacks which is cool enough.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 29 - Sailor Neptune

Next week is Act 30, Infinity 4 – Sailor Uranus – Haruka Tenoh – Sailor Neptune – Michiru Kaioh. In it Sailor Mercury faces off against Viluy of the Witches 5. She’s power level 202 if that seemed important to you.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 30 Preview - Mamoru and Usagi

Keep reading for more screenshots from this episode and the next episode preview for Act 30.

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Sailor Moon SuperS episodes 134 and 135 are now available on Hulu

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 135 - Chibiusa the artist

The two latest episodes of Sailor Moon SuperS, episodes 134 and 135, have been added to Hulu and Neon Alley this morning. This week we get a couple of episodes focusing on some artists first as Makoto’s friend writes a novel about Pegasus and next as Chibiusa deals with a teacher who’s lost her groove.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 134 - Rei has 3 books for autographs

Episode 134, Makoto’s Friendship: The Girl Who Admired Pegasus, has the Sailor Guardians excited about a new book release by a local writer. As the gang are ready to get autographs we once again see that Rei takes her autographs seriously, bringing three copies of the book to get signed. We previously learned about this obsession way back in episode 21 when she brought a bunch of autograph paper to the animation studio working on the Sailor V movie. The book, which is all about Pegasus, was written by author Tomoko Takase who turns out to be Makoto’s friend. Who knew the Sailor Guardians had friends who weren’t each other? The girls have always been presented as having been lonely prior to encountering Usagi. In a flashback we see that Makoto and Tomoko befriended each other while Makoto was at her old school so this is prior to us seeing her in the series. Her relationship with Tomoko began somewhat like her relationship with Usagi had, as she help protect her from a bunch of bullies, which leads her to read the story she’s writing. I guess Makoto didn’t remember having dreamed of Pegasus as a child at this point, something we later learn all of the Sailor Guardians did but mostly forgot. Tomoko has lost her motivation after seeing a boy she likes with a girlfriend. Chibiusa is shocked at the book, as it’s all about Pegasus who comes and fights with her and sometimes shows up by her bedside, and tells Tomoko about it. Tomoko is targeted and in the ensuing fight sees Pegasus which helps her get her groove back.

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 134 - Makoto and Tomoko

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 135 - Kyuusuke, Chibiusa and Momoko badmouth Morino

Episode 135, Connecting Hearts: Chibi-Usa and Pegasus, is not the most feminist episode. Chibiusa and her friends are painting in a park, and Chibiusa is all about doing crazy crap. She has a moustache, because she thinks artists should have moustaches, which doesn’t say much for female artists! She also draws Pegasus into the landscape because she’s a free thinking hippie who can’t follow the assignment. Her teacher, Morino Sensei, is not happy about this one bit and threatens to fail her for it. Kyuusuke gives Morino a bit of trouble mocking her singleness and blaming her stubbornness for not having a man. Harsh criticism from a little runt. Momoko also appears here and we see that her hair colour has somehow changed from a natural brown to a less normal looking purple. She still has normal looking hair when compared to her friend! When Usagi and Chibiusa run into Morino this triggers and unusual parental reaction in Usagi, who otherwise usually does no such thing. This whole exchange is quite humorous. Ultimately Morino is targeted by Tiger’s Eye, which would make her his oldest target to date. In the final scene of the episode we get a sort of weird scene in which Chibiusa changes in front of Pegasus which makes him blush, insinuating there is some sort of attraction there not typical of a human/horse relationship. There seems to be more to this winged horse than meets the eye!

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 135 - Moroni, Usagi and Chibiusa

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Sailor Moon SuperS episode 134 - Chibiusa sees Pegasus

Sailor Moon SuperS episode 134 - Tomoko sees Pegasus

Sailor Moon episodes 21 and 22 are now available on Hulu

Kazuko Tadano and Hiromi Matsushita from the Sailor Moon anime

As of this morning, July 21st 2014, episodes 21 and 22 of the original Sailor Moon anime have been added to Hulu and Neon Alley. These subbed episodes by Viz will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 11th along with their new English dub. For now two new episodes are released every Monday.

Kazuko Tadano and Hiromi Matsushita as students from the Sailor Moon anime

Episode 21, Protect the Children’s Dreams: Friendship Through Anime, takes place at an animation studio working on the Sailor V anime. This episodes provides a meta look at the making of Sailor Moon, as many characters included are based on those who worked on the Sailor Moon anime. The two main characters Hiromi and Kazuko are themselves inspired by two of Sailor Moon’s animation directors Hiromi Matsushita and Kazuko Tadano. Though both characters are female, Hiromi Matushita is actually a man. I had the priveledge of meeting these two at Otakon 2008 and they had fond memories of this episode and mentioned that the designs of those characters were loosely based on themselves. When Nephrite targets Hiromi it tears her and Kazuko apart. Their friendship is put to the test as they are both tempted by the power of magic pencils!

Sailor Moon episode 22 Nephrite and Naru dancing

Episode 22, Romance Under the Moon: Usagi’s First Kiss, has everyone who’s anyone crashing a ball to try to steal what they think is the Silver Crystal. Princess Diamond is holding an event to show off her jewels and that attracts everyone including Nephrite, Naru, Usagi and Tuxedo Mask. It turns out Princess Diamond is a dead ringer for Naru, which Nephrite takes advantage of in order to try to steal the jewel. This episode furthers Naru and Nephrite’s completely dysfunctional relationship, but that’s not the only terrible behaviour that happens between future lovers! Usagi, who crashes the party more to have a good time than to do her duty in searching for the crystal, gets drunk and is found passed out by Tuxedo Mask who takes advantage of the situation to kiss her. Is this romantic, assault or a little of both? Ultimately the jewel was only pricessless, so everyone went home empty handed. This episode follows an act of the manga fairly closely, which has become pretty rare at this point in the series.

Sailor Moon episode 22 - Naru attacking Princess Diamond

Episode 1 through 23 had previously been released for digital download. Next week with episodes 23 and 24 we’ll start to get into new episodes which are not currently available.

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