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

Sailor Moon Collectible Coins - Gold and Silver

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

Sailor Moon Collectible Coin - Gold

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

Sailor Moon Collectible Coin - Silver

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

Sailor Moon Collectible Coin boxes

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 and 22 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Dark Mercury

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Acts 21, What Did You Do To Ami?, and 22, Ami Becomes An Enemy. These aired on February 28th and March 6th 2004. These episodes introduce us to Dark Mercury, the evil version of Sailor Mercury, which is a unique character to the live action series. I think this story arc is a lot of fun and this very cool character is one of the key differences between other incarnations of the Sailor Moon story and the live action series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Makoto punches Tuxedo Mask

Act 21 starts out with a ton of flashbacks. Naturally we need to focus on what just happened, as something happened to Ami we just don’t yet know exactly what it is. Along with these flashbacks we see a scene of Makoto punching Tuxedo Mask which takes place during Act 20 but that we didn’t actually see in Act 20. Perhaps it just didn’t fit in that episode so they spliced it in as a flashback? She’s angry that he’s using Usagi which isn’t a great characterization of what’s happening but that’s not to say that she doesn’t have good reason to be upset that this man who clearly has a fiancé is stringing her friend along. Makoto is the central character for the early part of this episode for whatever reason.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Ami pretends to be sick

Usagi is not at school. She claims to be sick but it’s actually because she’s a bit heartbroken, again, because of this whole Mamoru’s fiancé situation. Ami is also not at school, prompting Makoto to go check out her home. When she first rings the doorbell we clearly see that Ami’s bed is empty but upon entering Makoto finds Ami passed out sick barely able to wake up. What this likely means is that Ami isn’t really sick and that she’s just messing around with Makoto at this point. Considering that Makoto’s is showing constant and legitimate concern for Ami this ruse is very cold and calculated. Makoto makes her some food to help her out. What is that food? It looks like soggy rice. A bit of searching tells me that it’s kayu, called congee in other countries, a sort of rice porridge which is typically served to a sick person. As a write this I have a cold and recently ate chicken soup, a staple sick person food in western countries, but it seems like such a thing is not universal! Ami chows it down, seems to make a miraculous recovery and wishes to go to the amusement park! How atypical!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Ami and a bear which looks like Usagi's costume

Act 21

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

Act 4

At the amusement park we see a bear that looks just like Usagi’s costume from Act 4. In fact if I didn’t know better I’d say they were reusing props!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Kamekichi

Just hanging around the amusement park is Motoki. Who works at Karaoke Crown when he’s out doing this kind of thing anyway? He always seems to be at the counter when the girls are there yet is frequently seen outside as well. Motoki claims to be taking Kamekichi, his turtle, out for some fresh air. This seems to be a colossally inefficient way to give your turtle fresh air. Although last time we learned that you have to pay for some parks in Japan an amusement park generally carries a heavy price of admission. Did Motoki really pay to come and give his turtle fresh air, a thing which is more of less available outdoors on the entire surface of the Earth? Perhaps he got more free tickets like he did earlier in the series!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Motoki gives Makoto a cup of coffee

After Ami passes out on the ferris wheel Motoki comes to the rescue! He has his car there because apparently he even drove his turtle to a place to give him some fresh air. His car naturally is green and looks a bit like a turtle. It is filled with turtle decorations. Do I judge him for this? Not with the amount of Sailor Moon merchandise I own! Motoki is wearing Makoto’s scarf and mentions that it was the only valentine’s gift he received! Makoto, trying to deflect the implication, says that it wasn’t meant to be that big a deal. Motoki, being the great guy that he is, accompanies Makoto to the hospital and only reluctantly leaves, giving her a bunch of magazines and snacks to help her pass the time. Makoto and Motoki’s fingers touch when he hands her a coffee. I usually wouldn’t make a big deal about this kind of thing however when Motoki went to the amusement park with Usagi he made a point of only holding her hand with a handkerchief as an intermediary showing perhaps a more intimate relationship between him and Makoto!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Nice guy Shingo

Shingo is actually not terrible in this episode! He realizes that Usagi is down and so he gets her… a meat bun! This is a bit like getting anime Naru a chocolate parfait to cheer her up as the meat bun reminds her of the one she got Mamoru on their romantic not date along the coast back in a time before Hina was in the credits for the show.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - University of Saintford

Meanwhile Mamoru is getting ready to study abroad! He mentions that there’s only one month and he has material from “Saintford College” which is also written in English as “University of Saintford”. There is no such place in the real world. A bit of searching only uncovered an unfinished piece of fan fiction which uses such a name. The name is likely a reference to the real life Stanford University. Anyway Mamoru going abroad to study. Sound familiar? It should! This was a theme in the manga and original Sailor Moon anime where Mamoru left during the Stars or Sailor Stars story arc leaving room for Seiya to saunter in and try to steal his girl! Turns out he never really made it to the United States. Will he make it this time?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Ami beat these guys up for fun

Well it turns out Ami went missing from the hospital. This is a lot like when Usagi was being turned evil by Kunzite and ended up disappearing as well. Ami runs into some thugs and she seems to beat them up off screen. Makoto listens to the trees in order to track down her friend which seems to work.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Dark Mercury's tiara

And then the big moment! Ami transforms but not using Mercury Power. Instead she calls out “Dark Power Make Up!” and transforms into an evil goth looking version of Sailor Mercury known as Dark Mercury or Darkury for short. This character is somewhat of an opposite in appearance and behaviour of Sailor Mercury. Simply put this is the evil version of Sailor Mercury and she’s out to attack her former friends! This is a great story arc showing some great drama between Ami and her friends who’s friendship started out rocky but seemed, until recently, to be pretty solid.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Dark Mercury and her sword

Act 22 continues where we left off with Sailor Mercury attacking her friends. First she turns an icicle into a cool looking sword. This reminds me a bit of the sword that Sailor Mercury created when she was defending Usagi, who Kunzite was turning into a monster. Now Sailor Mercury finds herself in a similar situation to Usagi’s in that episode except with one important difference! When Usagi was on the verge of being turned evil by Kunzite it was Ami who brought her back. Ami can’t bring Ami back because she’s herself! It is the abandonment that Ami is feeling by her friends which has precipitated this transformation and it doesn’t look like there’s any coming back from it! Sailor Moon attempts to heal Sailor Mercury with her Moon Stick but Mercury quickly strikes down the attack! The fight is only halted by Kunzite who seems to be calling the shots, but not for long.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Mamoru and Hina discuss their legal romantic relationship

Back at what seems to be Hina’s place she has made hamburger for the two which Mamoru doesn’t seem to be eating. We learn a bit more about the arrangement. Mamoru has agreed to study abroad, presumably at Saintford University, and promised Hina’s father than he would marry her. This whole arrangement seems odd to me from a Western perspective but a few readers have pointed out that this kind of thing isn’t terribly uncommon in Japan. The concept of mukoyoshi has a family adopting an adult son in law by having him marry the daughter. In many such cases the man will take the daughter’s family name. Does this mean Mamoru would end up as Mamoru Kusaka?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Evil Ami and her posse

Usagi is stressing about how to cover for Ami becoming evil to her teacher and it turns out… she actually came to school! She may be evil but no need to let her grades and attendance record suffer needlessly! Ami has also brainwashed her classmates, including Naru, against Usagi who is stuck eating on the roof like a reject! We’ll remember that both Ami and Makoto spent some time eating their lunch on the roof in earlier episodes, as it seems to be the place for people without friends to go to pass their lunch break. Usagi uses this moment to reflect upon how Ami must have felt herself being abandoned by her friends.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Luna and Artemis

The opinion of the cats seems to be that the gang will have to fight Sailor Mercury but Usagi doesn’t want to have anything to do with that. Unfortunately they will be forced into that situation! A monster appears at the amusement park and the setting for the combat is an odd stage in or close to an aquarium.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Dark Mercury defeats Sailor Venus

Sailor Mercury quickly dispatches Sailor Venus who’s happy to fight a fellow Sailor Guardian. When it comes to Sailor Moon though she won’t fight but instead transforms back into Usagi. This is Usagi at her finest. Her true strength does not come from her ability to fight but from her compassion for her enemy, who in this case is one of her closest friends. This doesn’t convince Dark Mercury as she slashes the mittens that she’d made! This is a symbolic gesture to demonstrate her severing their friendship.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Sailor Moon's light briefly heals Dark MercuryLive Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Sailor Moon's light briefly heals Dark Mercury

Usagi cries and the tear lands on her broach causing a bright cleansing light. Ami appears briefly, calling Usagi’s name, but Kunzite takes her away before this can go anywhere. This Dark Mercury story arc could easily have been ended here. Usagi essentially put fighting aside and showed her feelings to Ami and then there was some magic stuff to make the bad magic go away, which wasn’t really the problem. The issue was between Ami and her friends and it is essentially resolved through their feelings but we can get more out of this story arc by having Ami remain evil and I’m all for it since I dig the character. It reminds me a bit of what they did with Black Lady in the original Sailor Moon anime. She shows up, there’s a little fight, then Sailor Moon pretty much heals her but they needed to do a big finale episode later so Wiseman sweeps her away.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Usagi's tear on her locket

Sailor Venus mentions that Sailor Moon has begun to awaken with that bright light. It’s easy to see the parallel of the tear to other incarnations. In the manga as well as both Sailor Moon anime series the Silver Crystal appears from Sailor Moon’s tear. At this point in the series we have still not seen the real crystal, just fakes put on by Sailor Venus who is absolutely Princess Serenity in this series. The light wasn’t a total waste of time though. Those mittens were repaired which is again symbolic. If the mittens which were cut can be fused together then perhaps there is still hope for Ami’s friendship. The gang are dedicated to getting her back.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Mamoru doesn't think he left the CD player on

Back to Mamoru and Hina, who are otherwise not really interacting with the rest of the cast in these episodes, they arrive back at Mamoru’s apartment and there is music playing! Hina wonders if he left a CD on, which seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation! I would think a radio or TV could also fit the bill! Mamoru, being no stranger to monsters and all sorts of terrible things, assumes the worst! It’s also worth mentioning that Mamoru is a thief who regularly breaks into jewellery stores to steal expensive gems. A person like that probably assumes some illegal break in could be a real possibility! Alternatively as a fairly unfaithful man perhaps he suspects there is a lady in his apartment! He goes in alone, which serves the plot well because Hina would not know how to react to seeing Zoisite’s ghost. He again refers to Mamoru as Master Endymion. Endymion is Princess Serenity’s lover! Looks like Mamoru’s juggling three women since it’s well established that Minako, and not Usagi, is actually Princess Serenity.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Zoisite

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.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 and 20 discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Usagi embarrassed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Makoto cringes

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 and 18 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Hina

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

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Minako faints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Makoto empathizes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 and 16 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Tension grows between Ami and Naru

This is a review and discussion of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Act 15, I’ll Punish the Thief!, and Act 16, I Must Save Osaka! These episodes aired on Japanese television on January 17th and 24th 2004. A date of January 26th is written on the blackboard during Act 16 and by the general winter wardrobe choices we again see that the series takes place in real time as the episodes aired. Mamoru, while talking to Motoki, refers to events in Act 7, which took place around November 15th, as being “last year”. This is an odd way to reference an event a bit over 2 months old but it is not itself an incorrect assertion. To me it seems a bit like, on a Monday, referring to the events of the weekend that has just passed as “last week”. The events of these two episodes largely revolve around a relationship conflict between Ami and Naru as well as Usagi and Mamoru’s blossoming romance which leads us to the introduction of his… girlfriend?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Minako and Artemis

We start out the episode with a look at Minako’s house. She says goodnight to someone. Is she entering her house, saying goodnight to one of her work colleagues or maybe her manager, or is she entering her room and saying goodnight to a parent? Her parents aren’t seen in the series so we don’t really get confirmation. She talks about it being a lot of work being chased and then we learn that her house gets burglarized! While Minako and Artemis look out the window they see a monster outside. How does this fit into the episode’s story? Thieves steal her jewels which are then taken by a monster posing as a cop. If the thieves weren’t monsters what is this monster doing outside? Was the place being double staked out?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Mamoru receives a phone call

Mamoru receives a cryptic call. What’s going on? He asks if the agreement is by graduation. Who’s this? It seems, later events considered, that this is likely Hina’s father. We’ll see Hina in Act 16 and beyond! She’s like a female Seiya only Usagi’s not dead. Actually that’s probably not a very good analogy.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Nephrite and Kunzite argue in front of Queen Beryl

Fun exchange between Kunzite and and Nephrite. Nephrite makes fun of Kunzite and he, all while insulting Nephrite, suggests that if Nephrite is calling out Kunzite as being a mistake that this means that Beryl made a mistake! A sort of funny play on the idea that if God is all knowing and all seeing than that every bad thing that happens in the Universe is really his doing. Does this mean that Beryl is responsible for fully creating all of the Shitennou? This is not at all accurate given what we will learn about them later making this line of thought pretty weak but still funny on Kunzite’s part!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Ami Mizuno

There’s a bunch of Ami/Naru tension going on in this episode mostly as a fall out of Ami basically physically assaulting Naru in the last episode. Ami senses Naru’s discomfort and intentionally excludes herself from hanging out with all of them together. We’ll see more of that in Act 16. We’re kind of putting that storyline on the back burner while we can focus on Usagi and Mamoru for a bit.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Motoki tries to get a date for Kamekichi

Motoki is looking for a girlfriend for his turtle, Kamekichi. At least that seems to be his plan as he’s showing him photos of turtles. Is this some really weird turtle dating service or did he just find photos of turtles to make Kamekichi think he had a girlfriend? Strangely, this might work. I used to own a turtle named Tommy. We noticed at some point that when he’d see the colour yellow he would do this weird thing where he put his hands in front of his face and vibrated them. We joked about it and used to put Lego men in front of his aquarium sometimes for days at a time. I later learned what was really going on! Tommy thought the yellow was the belly of a female turtle and he was trying to mate with her! He would be perpetually stuck in this seduction loop never actually getting any satisfaction!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Mamoru and Motoki talk about Usagi

Mamoru, observant as usually, recommends that Motoki get a girlfriend for himself before he hooks up his turtle, asking about what’s going on with Usagi. This is supposedly to try to clear up that Mamoru is not a total jerk for going after this girl that his friend had a potential romantic situation with. Motoki mentions that this isn’t a thing anymore, so Mamoru is fine to pursue a relationship with her. Naru seems to see the same going on as she, through Motoki, gets Mamoru’s various contact info and sets Usagi and him up for a romantic date at the jewellery auction.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Luna at the computer

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 17 - Luna and Artemis typing on a computer

Luna using a computer

At the headquarters wee see Luna using a computer! We’ve seen Luna using a computer in many adaptations of the story to date!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Usagi and Mamoru talk to an incompetent cop

While neither Usagi or Mamoru are particular into this set up date thing, they are into trying to stop some Yakuza looking guys who seem to have Minako’s jewels! Usagi recognizes some jewels in a briefcase from what Minako was wearing on TV. Mamoru, a vigilante, suggests that it is a cop’s job. She tells a lazy cop about it and he suggests that more than one piece of jewellery could look the same which is actually a completely reasonable thing to say! Even if it’s from an expensive store and collection Minako’s jewellery, except for her tiara, are probably not one of a kind! Mamoru and Usagi both think this is unreasonable and so they take justice into their own hands. Usagi suggests she could do it herself by transforming into Sailor Moon and then cuts herself off. The two pretend not to have noticed! Mamoru of course knows fully well that Usagi is Sailor Moon but she is still none the wiser about his secret identity!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Usagi is torn, much like Mamoru's jacket

Mamoru throws a lit flare into the theives’ car and Usagi steals the briefcase! Somehow they don’t get killed. The cop? Turns out he’s a monster. The monster cuts Mamoru’s sleeve and then he falls off of this bridge type thing and Usagi… uncharacteristically runs after the monster instead of staying with Mamoru. This is actually a completely reasonable thing to do but very unlike Usagi who would generally prioritize this nice action of staying with this guy instead of chasing the monster.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Usagi bandages Mamoru

Once the monster is defeated Usagi once again patches up Mamoru’s arm, or in this case his jacket, with her handkerchief. This reminds me a bit of Cloud in Final Fantasy Advent Children who wears Aereth’s ribbon but even though that come out a year after this I imagine this to be a coincidence. So does he have two handkerchiefs now? This increases the chances of Hina finding one by about 100%! Well not really if he keeps them together but it’s still very reckless. “It’s not what you think she’s actually a superhero.”. Is Mamoru upset about the whole Usagi running off after the monster? Of course not! He’s knows she’s Sailor Moon! He invites her on another bike ride this time to the police station where, supposedly, those cops would not be as dismissive as the others. If the police are at all reasonable they would chastise these citizens for risking their lives for jewels that they only suspected belonged to someone who can certainly afford to lose them.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Makoto falling into the Sarlacc Pit

To wrap up the episode there’s this big Sarlacc Pit type of hole that opens up in the ground and almost sucks in Makoto, who I should clarify was clearly sick and sneezing prior to getting attacked by this thing!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Sailor Mercury and Mars save Makoto

Act 16 takes off where 15 left off with Makoto falling into a hole! Turns out… she’s fine. She does this weird sneezing thing which makes the whole screen shake. This appears to be done in post instead of using the old Star Trek trick of shaking the camera. She comments about how she probably got sick when the monster tried to suck her into that hole which is of course nonsense since she was sneezing before it happened. It’s just a plot device to keep Sailor Jupiter out of most of the episode as a cost saving measure. I joke about that but there may be other reasons for not including all actresses in all scenes that I’m just not aware of. It seems like the show tries as much as possible to have only 2 or 3 actresses on the location shoots at a time.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Naru judging Ami

This episode is all about the growing tension between Naru and Ami! This started in Act 14 when Ami shoved Naru and denied her access to Usagi, who in fairness was turning into a monster. We get all sorts of elaboration on that here. First there’s the issue with teaming up in class, in that Usagi can’t actually go with both Ami and Naru. The solution? The teacher pairs people up! Ami and Naru are with Usagi’s two other friends and Usagi is paired with … Hikeomon. Who’s that? Just some awkward looking dude with a really low voice!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Naru falling into the Sarlacc Pit

Naru is sucked into the Sarlacc Pit while Ami makes a legitimate effort to save her. She later confesses that deep inside she was jealous of Naru and that it made her hate her a little and so she wondered what it would be like if she was gone. Rei doesn’t think that’s a big deal and says everyone has a dark side! She shouldn’t worry about it. Terrible? Well it would have been pretty bad if she’d, say, intentionally dropped Naru into the Pit or otherwise just not done a good job of trying to save her but as we see in the scene she really did all she could! She may have some negative feelings but she doesn’t let them affect her actions so that’s fine. As for Ami’s dark side, we haven’t seen anything yet!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 Preview - Usagi hits a window

Turns out these people are sucked into the Sarlacc Pit and then they end up in an energy farm. They’re basically zombies walking around in a building while their energy is slowly drained. Reminds me a bit of the plot of the Matrix where humanity is being used for their energy while they live in a computer simulated reality. This particular version lacks the computer simulation so it’s much less elaborate. When the gang go to break in there’s a “barrier”. Some kind of force field. In the next episode preview at the end of Act 15 Usagi runs into it and it seems like she just hits a pane of glass. In the episode proper a few effects are added to make it actually look like a proper force field.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Sailor Mercury

During the fight with the monster Sailor Mercury does this amazing move. She jumps over the monster, stomps on her head and then does a finger wagging move to her following it up with a deadly attack. Sailor Mercury sure is getting bad ass!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Ami and Naru make up

Ami and Naru eventually make up! Ami comes clean about her feelings of jealousy and … Naru is totally cool with it because she feels the same way! The two pair up. What a nice change from the manga where Naru pretty much only interacts directly with Usagi which results in her being dropped as a character when more of her friends show up. Usagi this time gets paired with … the teacher. I guess this is bad but it seems like a nice way to do well on the assignment!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Jadeite lives

Meanwhile in the Dark Kingdom Queen Metalia is resurrected and… Jadeite’s back! Hooray!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Usagi sees Hina and Mamoru

Finally Usagi goes to Mamoru’s place to give him some cookies which she made. In the Sailor Moon SuperS movie her cookies are terrible but in this case she made them in class with the teacher so they’re probably actually pretty good. She has his address because of the plot device where Naru got it for her in the last episode. There she finds … him with a girl hanging off his arm! Mamoru notices this and it’s damage control time! He basically shrugs off Usagi as being nobody and goes off with this girl. This is Hina, the one I’ve been making jokes about this whole time. Her and Mamoru are in a relationship. This is a fitting plot device because things were moving far too quickly between him and Usagi. You don’t put Ross and Rachel or Lois and Clarke together right away, you have to drag the drama out a little! This character and story arc are unique to the live action series and it’s certainly an interesting twist. I can’t help but notice the similarity between the scene when Usagi shows up and the meme of the man and his partner being distracted by another woman so I had to put this together…

Mamoru checking out Usagi while Hina is upset

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.

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

Sailor Moon Day at Anime NYC

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

Yoko Ishida

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 and 12 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Sailor Venus

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Act 11, We Got to Meet the Real Minako!, and 12, Sailor V’s True Identity Was The Princess. These episodes introduce us more personally with the character of Minako and reveal Sailor Venus and Artemis for the first time! Since these two episodes aired in Japan just before Christmas in real time, that being December 13th and 20th, they also include a decent amount of Christmas content. Karaoke Crown and many other locations are decorated with Christmas decorations and in Act 12 Usagi transforms into Santa Claus and buys Minako some cake, which appears to be some sort of strawberry shortcake, and wishes her a Merry Christmas. We also have discussion of a Christmas pageant and Minako is redecorating Nako Nako in a Christmas style. Once again this confirms that these episodes come close to real time.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Minako judging Usagi

Though we have seen her previously as Minako and Sailor V Act 11 gives us our first elaborate scenes featuring Minako Aino as portrayed by Ayaka Komatsu. This character is really the polar opposite of Usagi in nearly every way as we’ll see in both of these episodes. While Rei is generally portrayed as being the voice of reason, keeping Usagi’s impulsive light heartedness in check, Minako is the same on a whole other level! In her we see a serious, mission driven and broody character who, though in contrast to others in the series, is incorporated well and makes for an interesting dynamic. It took a while for Rei to come around but ultimately she fully integrates into the group hanging around HQ and in social situations. We won’t be seeing the same for Minako.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Minako and her Sailor V costume

The plot for Act 11 is straightforward. Minako was injured and taken to a hospital and Usagi is looking to crash it. She mentions that she is only superficially wounded. I wonder how one gets superficially wounded by getting hit by a truck? This seems like an all or nothing type of thing where either the truck doesn’t hit you, and you’re totally fine, or the truck hits you and you have a bunch of broken ribs, a concussion and possibly end up dying. Perhaps it is Minako’s super strength and powers, which she exhibits even in civilian form, which account for her coming out of this relatively unharmed. I wonder what the truck looks like!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Minako's annoying manager

Minako has a couple of handlers in this episode and neither of them is the guy who was with her when the car accident occurred. Did he get killed? One of them brings her the Sailor V outfit from the trunk. Does this mean that Sailor V brought her Sailor V outfit to London in case she needed to fight crime? Perhaps it was simply in the car when she landed! I wonder why the uniform is even removed. Most Sailor Guardians transform and don’t actually keep their uniforms separate. Minako clearly has Sailor V’s compact which allows her to transform in the manga so why does her costume persist after reverting to her civilian form? Assisting her starting in this episode is her ridiculous cartoon character of a manager who looks like some drop out from a Japanese variety show which isn’t worth watching.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Artemis

Artemis is seen but not heard in this episode, though his identity isn’t revealed. He is voiced by veteran anime voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi who has voiced iconic characters such as Ranma in Ranma 1/2, InuYasha in InuYasha and many, many more. They discuss Minako’s decision to become Sailor V and the Princess. Odd… isn’t the Princess already the Princess???

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Mamoru keeps Usagi's handkerchief on his nightstand

Mamoru still has Usagi’s handkerchief on his night stand. Has Hina noticed this? He’s playing a very dangerous game!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Nurse Makoto and Usagi

So Usagi wants to find Minako and offer her some kind of well wishes, and get an autograph, but no one knows which hospital she’s at! Luckily her father, who we don’t see in this episode or ever, somehow found out that she’s at the Juuban Hospital. This is relayed through Usagi’s mother, with whom she has actual contact and an actual relationship. Usagi and Makoto go to the hospital and abuse of their powers to disguise themselves as nurses. Not a bad trick! They see Minako’s annoying manager chasing her at the hospital and assume he is a monster! Hilarity ensues, Usagi blows Minako’s cover and somehow they end up getting pushed into a room alone with Minako and horrible manager.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Usagi wants Minako's autograph

Minako immediately notices that Usagi is Sailor Moon, though neither Usagi or Makoto can do the same. Her impression of Usagi is complete disappointment, as Usagi is a star crazy fan looking for a signature who seems to put no priority into her missions, the exact opposite of Minako. Usagi actually mentions looking for Sailor V and the Princess along with other less important things than chasing idols, because she is very bad at masking her secret identity. Minako is so completely upset by who Usagi is that she choses not to show up to this week’s conflict in order to fight bad guys instead simply asking herself why this girl is Sailor Moon. Why, we must ask, does Minako care so much about one of the four Guardians? She is the Princess, as we are meant to believe at this point, and Sailor Moon, who the show is named after, is one of her guardians and not the other way around! The truth, as you may suspect, is a bit more complicated.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - A clue!

Back at the HQ we get an actual look at just what it is that Ami is doing when she’s “looking for Sailor V”, as she’s apparently been doing for the past month and a half. She’s at a computer doing web searches on the Internet! Fair enough! It seems to work! They find a hit for a Planetary Festival which includes Moon, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter in the description and mentions that the guest is V. This is sadly not a great lead as Minako actually flakes on showing up but it is a great trap set up by Zoisite, who does a really good job of hypnotizing everyone!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Luna magically removing tape

Luna, it seems, can’t be hypnotized and it tied up and has tape put on her mouth. How can she get out of this? Band aids on her forehead was literally a thing she could not get out of in the manga and anime series! Still we see Luna effortlessly remove the tape from her mouth by, if you look closely, simply touching her paw to the non sticky side of the tape. This is not how tape works! Shortly after Luna’s struggling seems to have completely removed the ropes. How is this possible? It must have been done in the same way that she tied a clock to herself in the anime.

Sailor Moon episode 9 - How did Luna tie this clock to herself?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 11 - Tuxedo Mask and the Princess

At the climax of the battle Zoisite and Tuxedo Mask touch each other, which causes and a big flash and a revelation. Zoisite also sees Tuxedo Mask and the Princess! Unfortunately the silhouette of the Princess we see can’t be accurately identified as anyone. It seems that it’s neither Miyuu Sawai, who plays Sailor Moon who isn’t actually the Princess as far as we know, or Ayaka Komatsu, who plays Sailor V who at this point we are to believe is totally the Princess. Why is this? Is it some third person? Actually it just seems that they hired an actress to play this silhouette in order to keep the worst kept secret a secret from fans. To be fair, this was probably effective amongst young fans, first time viewers and that odd subset of watchers who were convinced that Minako was the Princess who I will never stop harping on.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Minako disappointed with Usagi

Act 12 starts where Act 11 left off, with Minako being disappointed with Usagi! It really is a continuation and follow up to the last episode as Usagi goes back to the hospital to get the autograph she forgot, and we go through a lot of the same motions again! This time she seems to be more of a doctor than a nurse in her disguise and when she see the manager, who’s actually a monster this time, she suspects that he’s just a manager unlike the last time where he was just a manager and Usagi assumed he was a monster! Life is hard for a superhero teenager!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Minako works on a Nako Nako logo in Photoshop Elements

Meanwhile Minako is using Photoshop Elements to work on a Nako Nako graphic. I’m really surprised she isn’t getting someone else to do this or perhaps farm the work out to some outside company. Never a moment’s rest for an idol I suppose!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Chibi Chibi

Sailor Moon Sailor Stars episode 187 - Sailor Chibi Chibi Moon

Let’s talk about this manager monster for a moment, and not just the fact that they found a way to make an annoying actor even more annoying by making him a monster. The odd thing I always noticed was that this monster’s shadow looks like Chibi Chibi! Chibi Chibi isn’t actually anywhere near this series and I doubt the resemblance is intentional.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Usagi as a doctor

Minako ends up doing normal person for a day! This wasn’t why she was running away from her manager but that’s what Usagi thought, noting that this kind of thing happens in comics all the time! Totally legit. In fact an episode of the original Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Moon SuperS episode 146, Juban Holiday: The Carefree Princess, had just this plot when Princess Ribuna shrugs off her responsibilities to be normal for the day. Minako is upset that Usagi doesn’t notice that her manager is a monster and thinks her idea that she just wants to escape is dumb, even though that’s exactly what she was doing when Usagi found her in the last episode! She was trying to escape the hospital without her manager knowing!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Minako tries on clothes

Minako gets her clothes dirty on wet paint and so her and Usagi go clothes shopping, a great excuse to bond! They get ambushed by fans at the store and Usagi dresses herself up as Minako, using her clothes and not her magic phone, and distracts the crowd. Minako thinks this is stupid because she could just have taken the back door. This reminds me of myself, a cynic calling out something ridiculous from this show! This would have been a perfect time to ditch Usagi completely but I guess Minako wanted her hat back and so she meets up with Usagi again!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Minako and Usagi getting along

Finally the two end up in a ferris wheel, why not, and Usagi gives Minako a cake for Christmas. To their surprise the two eat it the same way which they find quite funny and in this, Minako finally allows herself to laugh and relax for the first time in ages. Indeed even Minako, originally dismissive of Usagi’s simple mindedness and lack of focus on her mission, warms up to Usagi’s kind hearted optimism! All of the girls are lonely and find friendship in Usagi and Minako is no different. In her case she secluded herself for the purpose of her important mission. With this she finally decides it’s time to reveal herself to the gang.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Princess Sailor Venus

Following the battle with Minako’s manager monster Sailor V shows up and transforms into Princess Sailor Venus. She’s got a tiara! Oh wait they all have tiaras… She has a tiara fitting of an actual Princess! She also has a crescent Moon on her forehead in the style of Princess Serenity. Artemis the cat shows up and presents Sailor Venus as the Princess of the Silver Millennium! Looks like the gang’s all together and there are no more mysteries! Sailor “Venus” is the Princess of the “Moon” Kingdom and Sailor Moon is just another guardian. Makes sense! Case closed. This revaluation somewhat resembles the appearance of Sailor Venus in the manga which takes place at the end of Act 7, Mamoru Chibi – Tuxedo Mask, and beginning of Act 8, Minako – Sailor V, but the rest of these manga chapters have little relevance to this story and we the big Princess switcheroo from early in Act 8 doesn’t happen for a while or possibly ever!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - Zoisite and Tuxedo Mask

There’s another confrontation between Zoisite and Tuxedo Mask but this time Zoisite remembers something important! Tuxedo Mask is Endymion! Mamoru recognizes this name too, but what does it mean? Maybe it was his name back when he was courting the Princess. You know Sailor Venus who is the Princess! It’s in the episode title “Sailor V’s True Identity Was The Princess”. During this confrontation Sailor Venus attacks Zoisite with an unnamed attack which appears to be crescent beam and he turns into a rock. They’re running out of Shittennou. Maybe they should bring in Kunzite!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 12 - The whole gang is together ... except Sailor Jupiter isn't here

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.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 9 and 10 discussion

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

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

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

The Icy Queen from the live action series

Sailor Moon - Chibiusa with the Silver Crystal

The Silver Crystal from the original anime series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reporters talking about the Silver Crystal in the live action series

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 6 - Zoisite dressed as a woman

Zoisite looking for the Silver Crystal in Sailor Moon Crystal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sailor Moon S movie - Human Luna - Princess Kaguya

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Young Rei

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

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

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

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

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

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Sempai?

Makoto’s Sempai from Act 6

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

Mysterious man at the library from Act 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Street Fighter II The Animated Movie

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

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

Continue reading

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 and 8 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Mamoru sees Sailor Moon transform

This is a review and discussion of Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7, He Saw Me Transforming, and Act 8, Rei and Her Father. These episodes originally aired on TV in Japan on November 15th and 22nd respectively. The date on the amusement park tickets for Act 7 show November 15th, which again confirms that the events of the series are taking place in something that resembles real time. Both titles are objectively incorrect because the phrasing of “He Saw Me Transforming” suggests that Usagi had awareness of this fact, which she did not, and “Rei and Her Father” does not actually feature Rei’s father, though the story is influenced by his actions where most of the action and plot takes place.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - A rare appearance by Ami

Sailor Mercury fans won’t be seeing much of Ami in these episodes. The excuse? She’s “Looking for Sailor V”. It isn’t really clear how she’s doing this exactly. Internet research? Looking it up at the library? Listening to police frequencies on the radio? Sailor V isn’t hard to find! She’s around Sailor Moon all the time! Ami should just do some fighting if she wants to find her. Ami’s scenes in these two episodes are confined to scenes filmed either at Karaoke Crown or the school. These are probably scenes filmed along with other episodes. The actress doesn’t go to any of the location shoots used in these episodes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Motoki with Tuxedo Mask's jacket

Act 7 is all about someone finding out someone’s identity, but it isn’t who we think it is! In the set up for the episode we see a monster fight in which Sailor Moon sees Tuxedo Mask have his tuxedo jacket ripped in the shoulder. Usagi then, very observantly, noticed that Motoki has this exact jacket ripped in the exact same place! Usagi’s conclusion, which is not completely unreasonable, is that Motoki is actually Tuxedo Mask! This is humorous as, in the Sailor Moon anime, Usagi also believed at one point that Motoki might be Tuxedo Mask! She imagines this in anime episode 13, Girls Unite: The End of Jadeite, while looking at various constellations, including the Motoki constellation and the Tuxedo Mask constellation which I have honestly never seen but I guess they are visible from Tokyo?

Sailor Moon episode 13 - Motoki as Tuxedo Mask

It seems we didn’t even get Motoki’s name prior to this, as Usagi has to ask him what it is. She’s starting to think she’s in love with Tuxedo Mask, and so she makes an attempt to get closer to Motoki by buying him food for his turtle! Another fantastic observation on Usagi’s part as Motoki is absolutely obsessed with Kamekichi and offers her amusement park tickets on the spot to thank her for them! The twist? She must bring two other friends! Sounds like a plot device!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Motoki returns Mamoru's jacket

Usagi brings Makoto and Rei! Rei, naturally, is not happy to be there. Motoki brought along Mamoru and Takai, his fellow turtle lover who in contrast makes Motoki seem like a cool ladies man! Takai is like an unrealistic joke character out of a cartoon or the Big Bang Theory in that he gets hiccups when he’s around girls. If anime has taught me anything many boys and men are completely incapacitated around women leading to nosebleeds and all other sorts of reactions which people never have in the real world which I inhabit. The viewer, at this point, already knows that Mamoru is Tuxedo Mask. Motoki, it turns out, had Tuxedo Mask’s jacket so that his mother could fix it for Mamoru. Mamoru is an orphan as we later learn, with no mother to sew a busted tuxedo jacket. I wonder why he didn’t get Hina to do it? Another reason for which I believe some elements of this series were made up as they went along and not planned from the beginning!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Motoki and Usagi on a boat

When the gang needs to split up into couples they do so using rock paper scissors and we first have Makoto with Motoki, Takai with Rei and Mamoru with Usagi. Aside from Takai and Rei, the biggest mismatch in the history of television, these are all big couples of the series! This is the first hint at the Makoto/Motoki relationship and yes I am absolutely shipping these two! Makoto gets what all of this is about and offers to switch partners with Usagi so that she can be with Motoki. They go on a roller coaster ride and then ride some boats in a pond which reminds me of… Usagi and Umino’s date in anime episode 15, Usagi’s Panic: Rei’s First Date! When Motoki again expresses his love of turtles Usagi notes that the two of them are like the tortoise and the hare! These aren’t lovers but it’s a neat idea! Things aren’t going great for Usagi however as she doesn’t feel that something something she does when Tuxedo Mask is around. Very observant once again! Usagi is on a roll!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Usagi and Motoki separate in a house of mirrors

Usagi and Motoki enter a house of mirrors. Have you ever been in one of these? I’ve been in a few and they can be a bit confusing but not as bad as this episode makes us think! Motoki, hesitant to make any sort of physical contact, has Usagi hold the same handkerchief as him so that they don’t get lost which of course means he immediately lets go and they get separated. When Mamoru comes by to help Usagi he’s not having any of this handkerchief nonsense and grabs her hand assertively! Usagi senses the same thing she does when Tuxedo Mask is around, but isn’t able to put the whole puzzle together! For that we will need a Batman Returns type moment which is some time away. Since Motoki is claustrophobic, he needs to be rescued by Makoto, which is cute, but she immediately abandons him when the monster is about. It’s a bit ironic that Motoki, a turtle lover, is claustrophobic. If he was ever an actual turtle he’d probably be afraid to hide in his own shell!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Sailor Moon transforms

When Usagi finally gets a call about a monster attack she thinks no one is around and transforms. Mamoru is able to see her in a mirror. This is not only not how house of mirrors’ work but it’s also not how mirrors work! The general rule, one way glass aside, is that if you can see a person, they can see you! It doesn’t matter how many mirrors you bounce your gaze off of. If you look at a person they can see that you’re looking at them! Since there’s no one way glass involved, as this is actually just an effect of a light room and a dark room on either side of a sheet of glass which is not the case here, there is really no plausible reason for which Usagi would not be able to see Mamoru but that he could still see her. Regardless, the plot requires Mamoru to learn of Usagi’s secret identity before Usagi learns his, and so that is how this magic house of mirrors works. Maybe Luna made it with her magic!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Moon in front of a mural

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7

Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger episode 5 - Pink Ranger in front of mural

Zyuranger episode 5

All of the fighting goes down at this familiar looking stage. We have coloured benches around an outdoor stage with some unique windows and a mosaic. Though I did not make the connection when I first saw this episode I later noticed that this same location was used in a number of episodes of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, the Super Sentai show which was adapted as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. This location appears in two episodes of the English Power Rangers show, which is where I first noticed it, but it also features more prominently in the equivalent Zyuranger episodes. The location is first featured in Zyuranger episode 5, Scary Riddles, in which the Zyurangers face off against the Sphynx. This was adapted as the 5th episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, A Pressing Engagement. The location is again used in Zyuranger episode 16, The Great Sneeze Plot, which was adapted in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as episode 11, No Clowning Around, in which the gang fight Pineoctopus, a pineapple octopus monster.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Moon in front of windows

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7

Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger episode 5 - Red Ranger

Zyuranger episode 5

Zyuranger aired in 1992 while Sailor Moon aired in 2003 and we can see that this area has been cleaned up considerably. Back in 1992 there were broken windows, graffiti on the walls and the paint on the benches seems faded, though this last point may simply be differences in video quality. By 2003 there seems to be no graffiti, restored windows and freshly painted or perhaps simply cleaned benches. I wonder what it looks like today! I haven’t been able to tell specifically where around Tokyo this location is. A reverse image search said it was a “wall”. If any readers know more about this location I’d love to hear about it. The live action series has a lot in common with Super Sentai series, and this is just one of those similarity. We will see reused costumes and even footage directly lifted from this series in future episodes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Rei in front of stands

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7

Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger episode 16 - Grifforz, Dora Endos, Totpat and Bookback

Zyuranger episode 16

After the fight Sailor Moon uses her handkerchief, which she has shown to both Motoki and Mamoru, to bandage Tuxedo Mask’s injured hand. When he untransforms Mamoru, who has already seen Usagi transform into Sailor Moon, recognizes the handkerchief. This is an odd double reveal of her identity. If he hadn’t seen her in the house of mirrors, he would certainly have figured out her identity here! The handkerchief also appears in the manga as Usagi, dressed as a Princess, drops it in Act 4, Masquerade Dance Party. That one had her name on it though.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Sailor V warns Sailor Moon against seeing Tuxedo Mask

Sailor V tells Sailor Moon to stay away from Tuxedo Mask twice in this episode. After Sailor Moon ignores the first warning she later states that she can’t stay away from him for obvious reasons. Sailor V, who the audience is meant to believe is the Princess, says that destiny can not be avoided. The natural interpretation of this is that, like in the manga, the tragedy that is unavoidable is the murder suicide of Princess Serenity and Endymion. I believe this is what the line was meant to indicate when it was originally spoken, but the true meaning will turn out to be much more complicated as the series progresses. At the time that this series was airing there was a group of fans who, even though they were familiar with other continuities, were convinced at this point that Minako was the Princess. That somehow the live action series was totally mixing things up and that Sailor V would be Sailor Venus and she would be the Princess. I’m not going to say at this point that this isn’t true, because that’s what the show is trying to have us believe, but let us try to think about what Sailor V is saying here in the context of this. What tragedy is it that Sailor V, as the Princess, would be aware of which is not going to be avoided if Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask pursue a romantic relationship? If Sailor V is indeed the Princess, then this can not be the Serenity/Endymion murder suicide or anything related to the Princess at all. After all Sailor V is the Princess. If Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion were a thing in some past life, then Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask being in a relationship is great news! The tragic events of the past, which in this case would have taken place between Sailor V and Endymion, will not be repeating themselves! Well I’m just ranting. Maybe Minako really is the Princess! Let’s wait and see…

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - Rei and Makoto fight

Act 8 is about Rei’s relationship with her father but it’s also about Nako Nako, Minako’s mascot! There is an absurd contest going on where people can cosplay as Nako Nako, a sort of flying blue horse, and compete in order to win a plush Nako Nako toy. A lot of effort goes into this which makes me wonder if this is perhaps some one of a kind plush not available at retail? The cost and effort put into any of these costumes is much more than I would have expected a plush toy to cost. So Usagi calls in her friends to help with her costume because she didn’t properly prepare for a test. Rei thinks helping her will make her weak while Makoto things helping her will make her stronger. This is sort of a proxy argument for both of them dealing with some other psychological baggage in their lives. Rei thinks she did well on her own and thinks it’s good for a person, but Makoto who was also on her own and wishes for more relationships in her life, believes that’s the way to go. They fight!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - Rei using up her minutes

Rei is asked to join her father for a meal, a sort of formality they do once a month. She has this conversation on her magical clothes changing phone which makes me wonder… is she using this as a personal phone? Her father’s assistant, who she wants nothing to do with, has this number somehow? Is it listed? Maybe she took her personal phone’s sim card and put it in her magic phone? She doesn’t want to go with her father and is basically forced into doing it, which Makoto believes is a kidnapping! It turns out Rei’s father, the politician, is having an article written about the ideal parent and child relationship, which Rei is pissed about since he abandoned her when her mother died and he’s scared of her magic powers. I wonder how he’d react to her phone and newfound abilities? Some serious themes going on here in this children’s show!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - A vandalized room service cart

Makoto to the rescue! She sees Rei being taken and literally runs after a speeding car all the way to a hotel. Impressive! When she learns this wasn’t really a kidnapping, though it sort of is, she’s all about being on team Rei and proceeds to be violent with people in order to protect her! You would think Makoto, who’s parents are both dead, would want Rei to have a good relationship with her still alive father but instead she basically says she doesn’t get family stuff because she doesn’t have one and supports Rei. They order room service, perhaps using their magic phones, and then Makoto puts on the room service lady’s clothes and escapes with Rei under the table. Did they like… beat up and strip the room service lady or did they have a nice heart to heart and maybe she had some daddy issues so she offered to trade clothes? Did they expose their identities by using their magic phones to change into her clothes? Where did Makoto’s uniform go? If she left it in the hotel room she’ll probably have trouble replacing it since it’s from her old school which she moved away from and isn’t enrolled in anymore. Also they somehow cut a perfectly circular hole in the room service cart so that we can do a gag where the little cover thing is lifted and Rei’s head is underneath. What sort of tool did they do this with? Oh… it was probably Luna!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - Zoisite and Jadeite

Meanwhile Zoisite has a pretty decent plan. He can play music which plays through FM radio which can project someone to where a target is. Genius! He uses this on Jadeite to send him to where Sailor Moon is and it works! Does her identity get compromised? Well Usagi is actually wearing a kind of bad Nako Nako costume so I guess Jadeite can’t see through that? The contest is held at a hotel. Rei and Makoto are also at a hotel. Is the same hotel? That’s not really clear but they do get there pretty quickly and when things get serious with Jadeite he is snapped back to Zoisite’s room.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - Zoisite attacks Minako

Zoisite tries his trick again to find Sailor V. He targets Sailor V who he thinks in the Princess. I wonder could he just have targeted the Princess instead? Who knows. The solution it seems is to turn off the FM radio. Great! Unfortunately Zoisite never tries this trick again, as it seems like it would be a fairly easy way to figure out one of the Sailor Guardians’ identities and then using that information kill all of them, assuming they could be caught off guard while they weren’t in super powered basketball mode or something.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - A man of no consequence

After Minako gets attacked there’s a man in the car with her that asks her if everything’s okay! Who is this? Could it be Alan, her old love interest from her days as Sailor V in the anime as featured in episode 42? Could it be Kaitou Ace or one of her other half dozen first loves from the Codename: Sailor V manga? No. He’s is of no consequence and we never learn more about him. In fact she later has a flamboyant cartoon character manager who isn’t this guy at all. Abandoned character and plot line or bit actor who was never meant to be anything special? No idea.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - Rei posing dressed as Nako Nako

Finally both Rei and Makoto enter the Nako Nako contest on Usagi’s behalf. They both have cute and out of character costumes and they both receive consolation prizes for their effort. The two have settled their differences and are now good friends! Rei’s relationship with her father however, is still terrible and that might be fine since he seems to be a bit of a jerk. I don’t think anyone in this show has a good father who is not dead.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 8 - Makoto dressed as Nako Nako

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.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 and 2 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury

This is a review and discussion of the first two episodes of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series. Act 1, I am Sailor Moon!*, and Act 2, Ami Became a Friend*, which originally aired in Japan October 4th and 11th 2003.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Luna and Usagi

Act 1 mainly introduces us to Usagi, played in this series by actress Miyuu Sawai. Fans may notice the considerable similarities between this episode and the first episode of the original anime series and the first act of the manga. Don’t let that fool you! The first few episodes may go along closely with the manga, in a similar way to how Sailor Moon Crystal did it, but this doesn’t last terribly long as the series will go in its own direction soon enough. That said, this one is a lot like that first story. We have Usagi meeting Luna, getting her powers and thwarting a monster, controlled by Jadeite, which is attacking Naru’s mother at her place of business. Sound familiar? It should!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Sailor V

The episode starts out with Sailor V confronting Tuxedo Mask. Here’s one great change from the original anime in that we get to see Sailor V in action rather than just in a few posters and video games. As with other continuities Minako Aino is not yet Sailor Venus but instead fighting as Sailor V. We already get a look at the real life Minako though. She’s not an aspiring idol at all, she’s a full fledge pop star! She’s really hiding in plain sight with her career too. Her new hit song is “C’est la vie” (French for “That’s life”) which is a bit of a pun as it also sounds like “Sai-la V”, a close approximation to how a Japanese person would pronounce Sailor V. Further her new album is called Venus. She’s not even trying! This hit song is popular with Usagi. She plays it on her alarm clock to wake up and even performs it with her friend Naru at Karaoke Crown. That’s right! The Crown arcade has been updated to be a Karaoke parlour in this series! What a great opportunity to sell music along with the show!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Act 1 - Plush Luna

On her way to school in the morning, late as usual, Usagi is confronted with a plush cat which falls from the sky. That’s right, Luna is a stuffed plush toy in this version! This seems a bit odd. A talking cat? Suspicious. A cat that moves around however is not that suspect. A plush on the other hand that does anything but be completely immobile is incredibly suspicious! Beyond this Luna the plush cat is CG in some scenes but a toy with swappable eyes in others! This is probably the cheapest part of the show. Easy to animate a real cat but having a realistic looking CG or even animatronic cat, like in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, would have been even harder to pull off! When Usagi runs into Luna, the talking plush, at home, she suspects she might be dreaming. I’ve often been unsure if I was dreaming or awake during a dream but I’ve never had this sensation while actually awake, but then I’ve never talked to a plush cat. Luna gives her a cell phone which looks identical to the toy. Using the camera Usagi can use it to change her clothes. Now that’s an app that would be popular with the kids!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Naru confronts her mother

Naru, as in the anime and manga equivalents, plays a prominent role in this story as the plot features around her mother’s Jewelery store. In this particular incarnation it’s not a sale but rather a fashion show that is taking place. Amongst the signs we see the name Mayumi Osaka, the name of Naru Osaka’s mother. This is the only version of Sailor Moon in which her mother has a family name! Naru’s mother is taken over by a monster in this version, not replaced as she usually is. When Naru confronts her mother she doesn’t recognize her daughter at all. How was her total lack of any memories of the woman she’s replacing not an issue before? Imagine being dropped in at your workplace with no memory of your job, you coworkers’ identity or even where you desk is! Naru calls her out on it and is immediately suspicious, which in itself is suspicious. This girl is ready for invasion of the body snatchers, shape shifters, robot doubles from the future or whatever problem it could be! Instead of assuming her mother is having some critical and medically concerning memory loss, it’s “Who are you?”. Wolfie’s fine Naru. Your step parents are dead. This borderline paranoid preparation however, does not stop her from being knocked unconscious. Poor Naru.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - The Moon Stick

The fact that Naru’s mother was possessed rather than replaced however meant that the monster of the week couldn’t be straight up killed but needed to be healed. This means that Usagi couldn’t use Moon Frisbee now renamed Moon Tiara Boomerang as it would leave Naru orphaned, assuming she doesn’t have a father around because well dads in this show are mostly dead or not around themselves. Instead Usagi gets her Moon Stick right off the bat and uses Moon Healing Escalation to purify the monster and restore Naru’s mother. You’ll eventually see the pattern but the Moon Stick is also just like the toy.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 1 - Sailor Venus and Sailor V in the same image?

And so the bad guy is beat and we are briefly introduced to Tuxedo Mask. This show is all about trying to confuse the audience on the expectation that they have no idea what Sailor Moon is about. When Luna tells Sailor Moon that she’s one of the four guardians of the princess we see Sailor Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and … Sailor V! Yes we see Sailor Venus and Sailor V next to each other. Perhaps they’re different people in this version? Many fans at the time of the series first airing were convinced that Sailor Venus was the Princess in this version.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Sailor Mercury

Act 2 once again follows its equivalent manga counterpart quite closely. It’s all about Ami Mizuno, the genius from Usagi’s school, who attends a cram school which is targeted by a monster and eventually becomes the second guardian, Sailor Mercury. Still some of the details varie considerably as we’ll see. Ami Mizuno is played by Rika Izumi, but you wouldn’t have known it in 2003. The actress went by the name Chisaki Hama at the time, changing her professional given name to Rika and eventually using her birth name Rika Izumi in all aspects of her life. She is younger than the rest of the main cast and was only 14 in this and other early episodes of the series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Motoki and Kamekichi

During the previous episode we got a look at Karaoke Crown and here we learn that it’s the new hideout! Always working at the front counter is Motoki who in this version is fanatical about turtles, including his pet Kamekichi which, at least during the day, is kept at his place of employment. Usagi has a special yearly pass which was forged by Luna who is “borrowing” a bit of Karaoke Crown’s space for a massive headquarters. Space in downtown Tokyo is at a premium so I imagine this headquarters is hurting the owner’s bottom line quite a bit! As long as Motoki can afford to feed his turtle I guess everything will turn out all right.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Ami and Luna

Luna suspects that Ami is a Sailor Guardian, and so she ambushes her on the bridge, leading Usagi, who has no idea what’s up, to start a conversation with her and immediately become friendly. Ami, as we’ve learned, has a lot of phonies trying to be her friend because she’s smart and because her mother is a doctor because I guess in Japan these are good reasons to want to be someone’s friend? My best friend in high school is smart and his father was a doctor but I we probably became friends because we both played a lot of Super Nintendo, which was important to me when I was 14. Usagi is delighted to hear that Ami is a fellow Sailor Guardian, but Ami is not happy to hear the news. She thinks Usagi is a poser who just wanted to be her friend so that they could save the world and stuff. This is nonsense of course, as Usagi had no idea about Ami’s Sailor Guardian status at the time. While Luna thinks it’s important to force Ami to be a Sailor Guardian, Usagi doesn’t want to force her to do anything. Here we see where Sailor Moon’s true strength comes from. It’s not about the power of her crystal or anything like that. It’s that she’s has a big heart and is a good caring friend. There’s a recurring theme about her befriending lonely girls who happen to be superheroes and this is the real difference she makes in their lives.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - A MiniDisc

Fans of the various incarnations of the manga and anime will notice that there is no floppy disk or CD rom in this version. Instead there is a side plot where Ami borrows a MiniDisc of Minako’s new album from Usagi. What in the hell, you may be asking, is a MiniDisc? It was a format for recording and playing music which was fairly popular in Japan, a bit popular in Europe and not that well adopted here in North America. It stored music digitally, like a CD, so it had better sound quality than a cassette tape, but could easily be written and rewritten to which kept some of the convenience of an audio tape. Usagi’s copy of Venus by Minako Aino has a hand written label suggesting this is not a store bought album. Perhaps we should be referring to Usagi as Pretty Guardian Pirate Moon!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Sailor Moon holds Ami

The enemy attacks the school where the next Sailor Guardian happens to be. Ami starts to fall off a ledge and Sailor Moon catches her. Now we have a fairly unfortunate situation where Sailor Moon is holding the ledge with one hand and Ami with the other. Have you ever done a pull up? That’s not that hard. How about a muscle up, which is when you pull yourself right over the pull up bar? Quite difficult. I’ve done very few in my life and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Well if you’re hanging off a ledge and you want to pull yourself up without using your feet, you pretty much need to do that. Here Sailor Moon can only pull herself up with one arm and she is holding all of Ami’s weight with the other. Does Sailor Moon get super strong when she transforms? If not, there was really no way out of this situation. Some rare people can do a one armed muscle up but I don’t imagine anyone can do it with an extra hundred or so pounds of weight to drag. It reminds me of a similar scene in the film “This Is The End” which did not end well for the person hanging for their life. So Ami says she’ll transform to get out of it but Sailor Moon is convinced that they’ll figure something out. Maybe she could use her Moon Stick to create a bubble around them so that they slowly float to safety. Oh I’m getting ahead of myself…

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - The monster of the week and the teacher

This episode’s monster is a double monster! The main humanoid part is an actor in a suit while the dog part is CG. The humanoid part possesses the teacher but leaves her body at one point. This helps free up the monster to be killed by Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury, who use a synchronized combination of Moon Twilight Flash and Mercury Aqua Mist. This is the first time Mercury Aqua Mist gets used. There is an unnamed move in the original manga which resembles this. It is first named here in the live action series and is later written in as Mercury Aqua Mist for new versions of the manga and this was adapted in Sailor Moon Crystal. Sailor Moon’s Moon Twilight Flash is done with her Moon Stick here. In the manga this was done using her tiara in Act 4.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 2 - Rei Hino

The episode wraps up with a teaser for Act 3. We see Jadeite leave a gem at the Hiyakawa Shrine and get our first look at Rei Hino!

*A note on titles. The live action series had no titles included when it originally aired on TV. Episodes were simply titled Act 1, Act 2 and so forth. After the series aired in its entirety a Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Memorial Book was released in Japan which, among other things, included a list of titles for the episodes. I have this book but I can’t read any of it since it’s in Japanese and so I will be using this episode title list from Genvid. I would have been happy to just call the episodes by their Act number but it seems this relatively obscure list of titles is now commonly referenced when people discuss the show and so I am including them. Just keep in mind that back when the show first aired, no one knew anything of their titles beyond the number.

Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on these episodes. Looking to watch along with the series? Though there is no official international release of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series you can get English subtitled fan subs from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity.

Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.

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