Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
In a recent interview with Parents Magazine Kristen Bell made some comments about Snow White which have been making headlines. Basically she talked about how, while reading stories to her children, she asks them to think about the implications of certain actions in fairy tales and what they mean. One particular example which is relevant to Sailor Moon, as I’ll get to shortly, is Snow White. She asks her children to consider if it’s wise to take an apple from a stranger and if it’s okay to kiss a sleeping person. Various media outlets picked up on this by saying that she is calling out older Disney films, which is surely helped by the Parents Magazine article headline “Kristen Bell Worries Disney Princesses Teach Her Daughters Bad Lessons”. In reality she is specifically speaking to fairy tales in books, many of which happen to have been adapted as Disney films. Though Snow White includes a few questionable life choices the fairy tales of the likes of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm are ancient tales full of gruesome violence as they are products of an older and much more violent period in human history. Modern versions such as the story books we may see in stores and the Disney films we enjoy will often sanitize these to appeal to our modern sensibilities. Kristen Bell is herself the voice of Anna in Frozen, a film which sets itself apart from other Disney films by calling out tropes like marrying someone you just met, the evil queen and acts of true love coming from a newly acquainted love interest. I’ve probably watched Frozen with my daughter roughly 50 times in the past year so I’ll just stop myself from elaborating on my many thoughts on this film and its relation to other Disney classics. So much to say Kristen Bell has the privilege of having worked on a Disney film which questions the status quo of films that came before it and has a number of positive progressive messages.
All of this brings us to Sailor Moon! I’ve mentioned this time and time again and it always seems to be divisive amongst fans. The idea is that a number of non consensual kisses given to sleeping people in the series are inappropriate due to the sleeping person’s inability to give consent. I am aware of the risk of applying a modern lens to an older work as these weren’t things I thought of in the 90s but I don’t think there’s much harm in discussing these. I am certainly not calling to ban or boycott Sailor Moon but instead, as with the conversations Kristen Bell has with her children, use it as a reason to discuss issues.
Ultimately I think it may be a little simple to give a blanket statement like saying kissing someone who is sleeping is wrong. If I kiss my baby daughter or wife while they sleep this isn’t the same as kissing a stranger. People generally kiss babies when they are too young to give overt consent, though not on the mouth. There’s nothing terribly dangerous about this. That said if I try to kiss my daughter and she says no, I will respect that request and stop. The Snow White example is perhaps not such and open and shut case. It’s not that kissing a sleeping person you’ve never met without consent is okay, however, if there is a good expectation that this will cause the person to be brought out of a comma, one could easily argue that it is morally justifiable. Similarly it may be completely inappropriate to rip a stranger’s shirt off because they are attractive however in an emergency situation it is certainly justifiable to touch someone and remove a piece of their clothing in order to perform life saving intervention. An EMT of course shouldn’t be groping a patient for sexual gratification or go around kissing people they are treating. The motivation behind these actions are the important distinction here. Most adults appreciate this nuance though children may not, hence the value in talking about the stories and media you share with them.
There are two examples in Sailor Moon where a sleeping person is kissed and, to me, it does not seem appropriate. The first falls into a bit of a grey area because of reincarnation and that is the kiss following the Masquerande in the Dark Kingdom story arc of the manga and Sailor Moon Crystal which also takes place in episode 22 of the original anime, “Romance Under the Moon: Usagi’s First Kiss”. In this case Usagi accidentally drinks alcohol thinking it is juice. She passes out drunk after which Tuxedo Mask kisses her. This looks particularly creepy in the original anime as the animation in this particular episode is a bit cheap. The issue here is, as the title of the anime episode title suggests, this is Usagi’s first kiss. Had Mamoru and Usagi been in an established relationship in which this kind of exchange was commonplace enough to be considered normal and he kissed her while she slept, this would not have been the same kind of breach of etiquette however in this case no such relationship existed… well not in this lifetime. The complication of course is that Mamoru and Usagi are reincarnated versions of Endymion and Princess Serenity. They had a relationship in the past and are dealing with fragments of memories of that. In the real world if someone used this as a defense for kissing a person who was passed out drunk they would rightfully be chastised for it as reincarnation isn’t real however in Sailor Moon it’s a real thing so it’s a bit more complicated. That Usagi is herself infatuated with Tuxedo Mask doesn’t really clear him of any wrongdoing as one can’t just assume someone else’s feelings though I think this may be why people feel more comfortable about this exchange. The fact that Usagi and Mamoru ultimately do end up in a relationship makes this seem okay in but this logic only works in retrospect. Mamoru and Rei were actually in a relationship at this time, though that infidelity isn’t even factoring into my objections to this. If you’re not convinced that this is a problem then instead consider if Umino, or anyone else, had found a drunk Usagi and done the same.
This seems to have been a concern for someone at DiC when the original Sailor Moon anime was first dubbed. Episode 22 was heavily edited for a number of reasons, including adding some backwards footage to make it appear as if Serena went back and took the stairs instead of falling off the balcony. In this particular there is no alcoholic punch, Serena never gets drunk and never passes out. The “first kiss” between her and Tuxedo Mask doesn’t really take place. The scene is shown but a voice over by Tuxedo Mask states that it’s simply his dream. So much to say it’s generally considered okay to kiss pretty much anyone in your dream. As a result of this the first on screen kiss for the Sailor Moon English dub takes place in Sailor Moon R right before Rini drops in from the future. This momentous occasion is spoiled by an awkward joke about Darien tasting peanut butter and getting stuck.
Next we have a series of kisses from Sailor Moon S The Movie. These are fresh in my mind having just watched the recently released Blu-Ray release of the film. Many fans would have seen the film in theatres this summer. In this film Luna falls in love with a human. After asking Usagi what a kiss tastes like she takes advantage of Kakeru, the source of her affection, by kissing him while he is asleep. There is no past life relationship between Luna and Kakeru. In fact Kakeru himself has a love interest in Himeko. This isn’t cool! Kakeru does not consent to the act and is in no state to do so. The situation is a bit complicated by the fact that Luna is a cat. I have cats and I have been known to kiss them on occasion. Dogs enjoy licking people’s faces and this is generally not considered to be some violation or assault, but then dogs are animals without human intelligence. Luna is a cat, yes, but a cat who essentially has a human equivalent mind. As an aside there is very little that resembles consent in the animal kingdom as most sexual interactions are forced. This is more or less true of humans until recent history as well, but we’ve come a long way and we should all be glad to live in a world where a person’s autonomy is respected. This isn’t the only kiss in the film as Luna later kisses Kakeru while she is in human form and the two fly around space for a while. Kakeru may believe this surreal experience to be a dream but it is real and Luna doesn’t ask if it is okay to kiss him, but he is awake and he doesn’t back away. This is probably similar to how a lot of human on human kisses take place so I won’t harp on that one too much. In the 90s I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at this but in 2018 some people might take issue with such behaviour.
There are a few Snow White style kisses in the series. The first takes place during Sailor Moon R episode 69 “Awaken the Sleeping Beauty: Mamoru’s Distress” in which Sailor Moon is very much trapped in a Snow White style sleep which Mamoru wakes her up of with a kiss. Something similar occurs in Sailor Moon R The Movie when Sailor Moon literally dies, again, but can be healed through the nectar of the Kisesian Flower. Mamoru sucks up the nectar and gives it to Sailor Moon in a kiss. In both cases this resembles Snow White in that it is a necessary life saving intervention but, unlike in the story of Snow White, Mamoru and Usagi have an established relationship when this happens.
Snow White style kiss that never quite happened however is the kiss between An and Mamoru in Sailor Moon R episode 56 “Steal a Kiss from Mamoru! An’s Project Snow White”. In this episode An orchestrates things so that she will play Snow White in a play and get a chance to kiss Mamoru, who is playing Prince Charming. Things don’t go as planned however as her attempt to kiss him during rehearsal fails and the play is cut short by an attack by a Cardian summoned by none other than her brother lover.
Finally we have the kiss between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Moon in the manga and Sailor Moon Crystal. This a sort of surprise kiss that Sailor Moon doesn’t expect and doesn’t have time to consent to one way or another. This in turn opens up the story to all sorts of interesting questions about sexuality which are quite worthwhile but it’s something I felt was worth pointing out.
All said I think Kristen Bell’s attitude of simply wanting to discuss what she’s reading with her children to be completely reasonable. She’s hardly arguing that Snow White is responsible for all of the ills of society and banning them in her household but rather finding a way to allow her children to consume media which she might not be totally okay with all while using it as a way to start a conversation about a serious topic. This isn’t quite the same attitude that Keira Knightley has, as her recent appearance on Ellen illustrated. She bans certain movies in her house, even some she quite enjoys, such as the Little Mermaid, because she’s concerned they might present a negative message. Far be it for me to tell someone else how to raise their kids! If this works for her than so be it. When I watch The Little Mermaid with my daughter I keep in mind the simple lesson this movie teaches. Don’t make a deal with a Sea Witch to get something you can get from your daddy for free if you’d just learn to communicate. I don’t think Disney is too upset about this either. If it bothers them they can wipe away their tears with some of that Pirates money.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you believe some of these kisses are inappropriate? Am I just overreacting and applying a modern lens to a harmless story? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
Last month Sailor Moon S The Movie and Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie played in theatres here in North America. Unfortunately many fans who attended showings of these films had negative experiences, mostly due to technical issues. One of the more common complaints was that the wrong movies were played. The first weekend was meant to show an encore showing of Sailor Moon R The Movie, originally shown in theatres in January of 2017, along with a first time presentation of Sailor Moon S The Movie. Many theatres instead played Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie as well as the Ami’s First Love special, which should have been a week later. This may not seem like a big deal but amongst many fans Sailor Moon S holds a special place, being the only one which is based directly on a manga story. Others had issues with the sound in the theatre being far too loud. In some cases the movie failed to play. One user got the photo which I posted above showing an error with the satellite connection which appeared to be streaming the film. In another case the screen’s subtitles were too low making them hard to read. Others who planned to watch it dubbed instead got a subbed version.
Some have asked why the film wasn’t simply played on film or some other kind of physical media to avoid this kind of problem. This was likely a cost savings measure. For a wide release movie it makes sense to send hard drives or film reels across the country but for a one time only or weekend long release like this such a thing isn’t feasible. Traditionally smaller release movies would have reels going from city to city with those showings happening at different times in different places. Digital technology allows us to have these kinds of releases taking place across the country simultaneously. In this case there were some issues doing so. I’m not an insider in the world of movie theatres so it’s hard to say if these problems are due to a new system that some places aren’t experienced with, limitations of the technology or something completely different such as inadequately labeled movie titles. It’s very difficult for me to get a feel for just how widespread these problems are. I don’t have specific metrics on who had a great experience and who didn’t, though when I asked about it on Twitter and Facebook and got a number of responses just from my own followers, this seemed to me to be an indication that the problems were fairly widespread. To be clear I saw a showing of the SuperS film with Ami’s First Love and did not experience any technical issues.
Many fans also commented on how few people attended their showings compared to the better turnouts for Sailor Moon R The Movie last year. I was excited to attend the R Movie with a packed theatre and was a bit surprised to see that there was only myself and one other group of fans in attendance to see Sailor Moon SuperS and Ami’s First Love. The fact that I went to a late addition evening showing may have been a factor but from what most fans are saying, there wasn’t the same kind of turn out anywhere for these. It’s hard to say exactly why this might be but many seem to feel that this was not marketed as well as the R Movie had been. Again I don’t have any specific metrics for this. Box Office Mojo has numbers indicating that last year’s showings of Sailor Moon R The Movie grossed $452,053. They unfortunately don’t have any numbers listed for the S and SuperS films and I was not able to find specific numbers elsewhere.
Did you have issues seeing the film?
Following its recent theatrical release Sailor Moon S The Movie is coming to home video on October 2nd! Listings for the Blu-Ray/DVD Combo pack as well as just the DVD have shown up on the Viz web site, Right Stuf (Blu-Ray, DVD) and Amazon (Blu-Ray, DVD). MSRP for the combo set is a reasonable $29.99 with some sites selling it for a few dollars less. This is a good price for anyone who remembers spending more than twice that for coloured VHS tapes back in the day! The DVD is quite a bit cheaper but given the quality of the Blu-Ray this seems like it would be a poor choice for fans. Even if you don’t have a Blu-Ray player it’s worth the extra $10 to get the combo pack and have it for the future. If you’re planning on buying the set on Amazon you can support the site by using the links below.
With the back of the packaging we get details of what’s included in this release though there isn’t much that’s surprising here. The technical specs say it’s 1080p and 16×9 aspect ratio which is the standard as Blu-Ray and what we saw with Sailor Moon R The Movie. This is also likely the same quality video for what fans saw in theatres. Though I didn’t get a chance to see Sailor Moon S The Movie theatrically I would say it’s likely the video quality was high. The master used for the Japanese movie release was of a very high quality and the Sailor Moon R The Movie Blu-Ray we got was comparable in quality. These are mastered from the original film source, not upscaled using software like the TV series releases, which means a very high level of detail in the image. Also mentioned are the English and Japanese audio for those wanting to see it in English or to experience the original film with subtitles. This is Viz’s new dub of the Sailor Moon S movie including the cast we previously reported on. This includes Chris Hackeny as Kakeru, the human Luna falls in love with, Claudia Lenz as Himeko, his love interest, and Melissa Fahn as Princess Snow Kaguya, the alien who’s trying to kill them and everyone else on Earth. Also included are interviews with that English cast, trailers and more. The statement “Remastered for the first time in high definite!~” conveniently ignores the recent Japanese release.
No mention at this time of when Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole will be released on Blu-Ray along with the Ami’s First Love special though, given both were released in theatres within a week, it shouldn’t be too long. Do you plan on picking up this release?
Last weekend was Anime Expo in Los Angeles and, as has occurred at past conventions, Viz had a Moon Panel on Sailor Moon Day. One thing which was announced at this panel was the cast for the upcoming English versions of Sailor Moon S The Movie, Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie and the Ami’s First Love special which plays with Sailor Moon SuperS. The films will be showing in theatres in late July and early August. The cast is a mix of new voice actors, a few who are returning after minor roles and some main cast members doing minor roles in the films.
First up is the cast of the Sailor Moon S Movie which has Kakeru, the man who Luna falls in love with, Himeko, an astronaut and part of Kakeru’s love triangle, and Princess Snow Kaguya, the villain of the film.
Himeko is voiced by Claudia Lenz, who also goes by the name of Eden Riegel, who previously voiced Koan in Viz’s new dub of Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon Crystal.
For the long titled Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole we have a cast which includes Poupelin, Banae and Oranja, the three villain henchmen, Perle, the reformed villain and love interest for Chibiusa, the Bonbon Babies, giant candy looking monsters, and Badiane, the main villain seeking to imprison the Earth’s children into an energy dreaming eternal slumber not unlike The Matrix.
We have a few returning cast members here! Banane is voiced by Ben Diskin who is Umino in the series and the Ami’s First Love special as well as Fiore from Sailor Moon R The Movie. Oranja is voiced by Robbie Daymond who plays Tuxedo Mask in the series and all of these movies. The Bonbon Babies are voiced by Erica Mendez who Sailor Uranus in the series and films and also voiced Reika. Badiane is voiced by Tara Sands who has played a number of single episode roles in Sailor Moon and was also Bulbasaur in Pokémon.
Finally we have the Ami’s First Love short which plays with the Sailor Moon SuperS film. The only new voices here are Bunnun, the voice of the monster, and Mercurius, Ami’s rival.
Both of these actors were also in Sailor Moon SuperS. The voice of Bonnun, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, is also Perle in the SuperS film. The voice of Mercurius, Kyle McCarley, was also Poupelin in the SuperS film.
For show times and a list of participating theatres be sure to check out the Fathom Events web site. The Sailor Moon S movie will be shown with the R movie dubbed on July 28th and subbed on July 30th. The Sailor Moon SuperS movie will be shown with the Ami’s First Love special dubbed on August 4th and subbed on August 6th.
Though the Fathom Events site only lists US theatres Canadians will also have a chance to see these films on those same dates at select Cineplex theatres. Though show times and theatres are not yet listed on their site keep and eye out on their listings for dubbed and subbed showings of Sailor Moon R and S as well as dubbed and subbed showings of Sailor Moon SuperS and Ami’s First Love.
Are any of you going to be able to see these films in your cities? It was a real treat to see Sailor Moon R in theatres a couple of years ago and I hope to be able to get out to see the other films as well!
Great news! The 2nd and 3rd Sailor Moon films, Sailor Moon S The Movie and Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie, are coming to theatres in North America this summer. Sailor Moon S The Movie will be shown with an encore presentation of Sailor Moon R The Movie Saturday July 28th and Monday the 30th while Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie will be shown with the Ami’s First Love special Saturday August 4th and Monday the 6th. The Saturday showings will have Viz’s new English dub of the film while the Monday showings will be in Japanese with English subtitles. This was announced earlier today at Viz’s Moon Panel at Anime Central in Rosemont, just outside of Chicago. A trailer has been uploaded to YouTube and can be seen below:
The movie posters for these two movies are similar in style to what we saw when Sailor Moon R The Movie was released in theatres.
Fans will be able to get tickets and a complete list of participating theatres from the Fathom Events web site. Currently no theatres are listed but there will surely be more added as we get closer to the dates. It seems practical to refer to the SuperS film as Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie rather than it’s full official title Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. I hardly hold this against Viz as I’ve been known to do the same myself! This will be the first time Ami’s First Love is released here in North America. This short animated special, which was originally shown alongside the SuperS film in Japan, tells the story of Ami receiving a love letter which she suspects is from her intellectual rival Mercurius.
Sailor Moon S The Movie is adapted from a manga story The Lover of Princess Kaguya which focuses on Luna and her infatuation with a human man. It is well known for featuring Human Luna.
The Sailor Moon SuperS film is an original story not based on any manga chapter. It has Chibiusa befriending Perle, a sort of fairy boy who’s rebelling against Badiane, a villain who is attempting to put the Earth’s children into an eternal sleep in the Black Dream Hole. The film’s story has some similarities to the film The Matrix, which was made a few years after it, though these may be a simple coincidence.
Do you plan on checking out these films?
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray, a set including all three of the Sailor Moon films, was released in Japan on February 7th. This is the first time the Sailor Moon S and SuperS films were released on Blu-Ray and the set looks really great. It also includes the Make-Up! Sailor Senshi and Ami’s First Love specials which played with the R and SuperS movies in theatres as well as a handful of special features. MSRP is 15,000 yen, about $140 US. You can order it from sites such as Amazon Japan or CD Japan. The set is Japanese only with no English subtitles. I believe the discs are region free as no region code is listed on the box but regardless Japanese Blu-Ray discs are region A which is the same region as North America. Fans looking to see the films in English can already buy Sailor Moon R The Movie from Viz which has similar video quality. Though the other films have not been announced they will likely be released eventually.
A lot of people were wondering what the video quality is like. This release looks fantastic. That said, so did Viz’s Blu-Ray release of the R movie. With such poor quality in Viz’s Blu-Ray releases of the original TV series many blame them for the job they did with it but their Sailor Moon Crystal and R Movie releases show that they are able to make a nice looking product with nice looking masters. These films are HD versions taken from the original film source and it shows. They look considerably superior to the TV series Blu-Rays which have been released in Japan as these were simply software upconverted versions of standard definition video sources.
I’ve got a lot of comparison screenshots between this new Japanese release, Viz’s release of the R movie and the Japanese version. You can also compare it to the original English DVD release but this doesn’t have much value as that was such a poor quality release. Still the English version has an unmated 4:3 picture so there is a bit more of the image to see. For all of the images in this post just click on it to enlarge and then click on the hyperlink showing the image dimensions (for example, 1920×1080) to see the full picture. These suffer from minor compression artifacts because they’re uploaded as JPEGs but you should get an idea for the difference or rather lack of any difference in quality between versions.
These are just a few comparisons. I’ll include more at the end of the post with the rest of the images of the packaging.
Now about the contents. The Sailor Moon films are really a great part of the series. Due to the nature of their release they’re often overlooked. Here in North America for example they were released fairly late with the original dub and with the entire series now released subbed to stream and coming out on home video we only have the first film which has been released theatrically and on video. Though it is often hard to fit the films into continuity, they still generally follow what’s going on with the associated series. Their standalone stories are enjoyable and an easy introduction to the series for new fans.
First is Sailor Moon R The Movie. This is one of my favourite films of all time, let alone one of the better anime films and, in my opinion, the best of the Sailor Moon films. It centres around Fiore, a childhood friend of Mamoru’s who happens to be an alien. It isn’t explicitly mentioned in the film but Fiore is of the same alien race as Ail and An from the early episodes of Sailor Moon R. It’s full of all of what makes Sailor Moon great with emotional scenes, dramatic battles and of course Sailor Moon sacrificing herself and showing compassion for the enemy, which I consider to be her true strength. I’ve spoken at length about my love of this film before! It’s great.
As a bonus feature with Sailor Moon R The Movie is Make-Up! Sailor Guardians, a short which was originally shown with the film in theatres. I don’t have a great amount of love for this feature since it’s mostly clips, but there is a bit of unique animation. The quality here is not quite that of the film but better than any release of the TV series, of which it features many clips. As I mentioned in my review of Viz’s release of the R movie it seems like the original footage, which is claimed to be lost, was available back when this special was put together because the TV series clips featured throughout are of good quality authored from film source and not converted somehow from a standard definition video source as all Blu-Ray releases of the TV series have been.
Next we have Sailor Moon S The Movie. This is the only film which is based on the Sailor Moon manga as Naoko Takeuchi wrote a standalone story “The Lover of Princess Kaguya” following her trip to Cape Canaveral in the United States. It is the story of Luna who falls in love with a man and turns into a human herself. Also some ice villain. My feelings are mixed on this one. Simply put I don’t care for it all that much. When I first saw it on bootleg VHS back in the 90s I was fairly underwhelmed. I can never really pinpoint why though. Upon reflection I find the villain uninteresting and having little to tie into the story and I think Kakeru is generally annoying and unintelligent for a scientist. His conflict with Himeko is a bit forced. Still I find the drama around Luna’s feelings compelling and certain aspects of the film are enjoyable, such as Tuxedo Mask dressed as Santa Claus.
Finally we have Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. This is the only one of the films with a proper title and it’s a mouthful, hence I often just call it the SuperS Movie or SuperS The Movie, to keep with the convention set by the other films. It introduces us to Perle, or Peruru as I will always think of him due to the subtitles used on VKLL’s version of the film. Perle is a sort of fairy, possibly a bird animated through magic, who is defecting against Badiane, the villain who is possibly an alien who is attempting to enslave the world’s children into an eternal dream like state in which she syphons off their energy. Last year I wrote an article arguing that this film’s plot is similar to that of The Matrix, which was released a few years later. I really enjoy this film. The animation is good and the story interesting. It introduces us to some fun characters and concepts. The main plot is a sort of science fiction story and the idea of enslaving people into a perfect happy dream at the cost of their freedom presents interesting philosophical questions which are fun to think about. Perle’s character somewhat mimics that of Pegasus/Helios as Chibiusa has romantic feelings for him. Having seen this film before watching the later half of the Sailor Moon SuperS season it was this relationship which I was originally exposed to which is a bit backwards to be sure.
Along with the SuperS Movie is Ami’s First Love, a special which was included with the film in theatres. This short is entirely composed of new animation and tells the story of Ami receiving a love letter which she thinks is from a rival student but which turns out to be from a monster. Her “First love” in this case would be Mercurius though she doesn’t really have any direct interaction with this Umino looking guy. This is a funny special and well worth watching. It remains some of the last bits of animation, along with the SuperS Special, that we haven’t seen an official release for here in North America. I expect that if and when Viz gets around to releasing the SuperS film that it will include Ami’s First Love with it. I’m curious to see what rating it gets as it features a semi naked Ami getting out of the tub, but it really isn’t anything too explicit. Quality for this special is quite good and similar to that of the other films. As with the rest of the release the masters used appear to be the film source which means a high quality HD image.
As bonus features go we have the same thing which was including in the laserdiscs and I do mean the exact same thing! All special features are standard definition source, converted fairly poorly to HD. This includes three commercials for every film, “clean” (no credits) opening and ending themes and an interview which is included with the R Movie. The commercials aren’t that great. Each has one which was clearly made before any animation on the films was done, in HD, another is a short one with clips and finally there’s a longer commercial with more clips.
One interesting aspect of the commercial for Sailor Moon R The Movie is that it includes a clip of Tuxedo Mask when he first appears with a different billboard. In the film itself the billboard is of men in Tuxedos. Tuxedo Mask blends in with the billboard and then we see that he’s actually separate from it and standing on a lamp post. In the commercial there are no men in Tuxedos on the billboard which makes us wonder why he’s even perched so oddly in front of it. Was this unfinished animation where the Tuxedos weren’t filled in? An attempt to keep audiences unspoiled on the nature of this big Tuxedo Mask reveal? Given what I’ve seen from other Japanese film trailers not giving spoilers doesn’t seem to be a huge priority!
An interesting feature with the R Movie is an interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara, director of the film and one of the directors of Sailor Moon for which much of what made the series great is attributed. Unfortunately without subtitles there isn’t much to get out of this interview as is. I recall having seen this subtitled on my VKLL fan sub of the R Movie back in the day but what I never noticed previously was that he’s wearing Mamoru’s green jacket! This is a jacket which he wears consistently throughout the entire Sailor Moon series which makes me wonder if Kunihiko Ikuhara owned this jacket and based Mamoru’s jacket on it, if he went out of his way to get a jacket like Mamoru’s or if this is some sort of coincidence and green jackets are more common than I thought. I can’t take credit for noticing this! I believe it was something I saw on Twitter by Tuxedo Unmasked though I can’t pull up the original reference. As you can see in the caption of the photo on this blog post, he made a comment about the jacket at least as early as June 2017!
An interesting thing I noticed while looking at the laserdiscs for the films is that the track listings are actually identical. The track numbers for each scene is the same on the old laserdiscs and the Blu-Ray. Similarly we can see from these comparisons that the special features are the same, just not always in the exact same order. The DVD release also had a lot of these special features included but the Kunihiko Ikuhara interview was previously only on the laserdisc release.
The set also includes a cool booklet which is full of images and character art of all of the films. This is similar to the booklets which have been released with the Blu-Ray releases of the TV series. I’ve included photos of all pages of this booklet later in the post. While this is a nice thing to include I think the theatrical programs included with the DVD set were much better.
Finally let’s talk about the box art. With three movies there was no single image to use on the cover which covers all three and so for whatever reason the S Movie poster gets the cover. Inside we have the R Movie as the front and SuperS Movie as the back. I’m including photos of the laserdiscs for comparison but this is not the source of this artwork. The images used are the original theatrical posters for the films. I only have a poster for the R Movie myself! This art is also found on the insert for a U2 CD!
All in all this is a great release. Do I recommend it? Well it’s in Japanese and has no English so as always that’s of limited value given the price point. These are films I’ve seen a couple of dozen times each so I don’t find it terribly hard to follow along. That said there will probably be releases of these films by Viz at some point. This may be in a few years so the set is still worth getting if you would expect to watch it a few times before that happens.
Keep reading for more pictures of this release including photos of the box art, screenshot comparisons between releases and photos of all pages of the included special booklet.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
The Sailor Moon movies are being released on Blu-Ray in Japan. The three film set will also include the Make Up! Sailor Guardians special which played with Sailor Moon R The Movie as well as the Ami’s First Love special which played with the SuperS Movie, referred to in Japan and in this set as the mouthful title “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole”. The set itself is being referred to as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Movie Blu-Ray which as a name doesn’t really make much sense in English since there’s more than one movie included so it’s not really “The Movie” at all.
Why, you may be asking, should you be spending your hard earned money on this? The set will retail for 15,000 yen, about $130 US, and won’t include any English dub or subtitles. Meanwhile Sailor Moon R The Movie has already been released on an English DVD and Blu-Ray set for a fraction of that price. It seems like it’s only a matter of time, though likely a very, very long time, before the other two films are released as well. The R Movie release looked great on Blu-Ray and we should expect roughly the same quality from this Japanese release as they will actually go back to the film source to make a proper HD version rather than being lazy and using software to upscale standard definition video to HD as we’ve seen with all HD releases of the TV series.
The box art for this release is nothing too shocking. The sleeve has the art for the S Movie while the inner box has the art for the R Movie. This was used for the theatrical poster, the laserdisc and VHS releases back in the day as well as the DVD set of the films. We don’t see the art for the SuperS movie anywhere on here, though the discs themselves will likely have similar art on them. Many fans complained about the quality of the art on the Viz release. How much is nice box art worth to you? Over double the price?
Pictured above is the DVD set released in 2002. This set was titled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon DVD-BOX The MOVIE and retailed for 15,000 yen, which is the exact same price as this new Blu-Ray set. While these may be expensive keep in mind that DVDs and laserdiscs and any other home video medium has always been incredibly expensive in Japan. The DVD set used a different image for the cover and then had individual cases for each movie which used the original theatrical poster art. I find this approach more aesthetically pleasing and less confusing than having various movie posters as cover art that aren’t related to any single film. The nature of the Sailor Moon movies is that there is no single image that fully represents any of them. Even the cover for the DVD set includes Super Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon as well as Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto who aren’t in the first film as well as older costumes which don’t reflect the updated shoulder pads from the SuperS film.
Source: Sailor Moon Official Site