Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We have finally gotten an update about the next Sailor Moon musical! According to an update on the official Sailor Moon site it will be coming next summer, in 2020, and it will be following the manga side story Princess Kaguya’s Lover. Fans may be most familiar with this story as Sailor Moon S The Movie, the film adaptation of the manga. This covers the story of Luna falling in love with a human while the earth is attacked by the evil ice alien Princess Snow Kaguya.
Though we don’t have any real details on the musical we can be fairly certain that it will have Luna transforming into Human Luna. As Luna features heavily in the manga story I am curious to see how they handle cat Luna before her human transformation in the final scenes. The recent Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical featured a fairly detailed puppet Luna which, aside from the somewhat distracting puppeteer, made for a very convincing effect. Could this technique have been done in anticipation of this musical? This would probably be a better choice than to just have people dressed up as cats as they did in the first Sailor Moon musical.
It’s worth mentioning that this was the third “New Musical” which was announced in early 2018 along with the Nogizaka46 x Sailor Moon musical and The Super Live musical. At the time we had no details about what this third musical was about and it was simply referred to as “New Musical”. It was originally scheduled for summer 2019 but we now have confirmation that the musical is delayed until next summer. Without any other news about upcoming musicals it seems like we may not be getting a musical in 2018 which would make this year the first year without a Sailor Moon musical since 2012.
The name “New Musical” was almost certainly a placeholder so we should expect a better title to be announced at some point! We have quite a bit of time to wait for this musical so there’s no telling how much longer we’ll have to wait until we get more specifics on this one. Hopefully it won’t be too long! Will we be seeing those Dream Arc Sailor Moon Crystal movies before this musical is out? I won’t be holding my breath for either!
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!