Did Doctor Who’s season 10 premiere draw inspiration from Sailor Moon?

Mamoru from Sailor Moon and Heather from Doctor Who obsessed with mirrors with a star in one eye

A number of similarities occur between a recent episode of Doctor Who and a story arc in Sailor Moon Sailor Stars! More specifically both stories revolve around obsessions with gazing at mirrors which actually house some sort of monster by people with a yellow reflecting star in one eye. The episode of Doctor Who in question is the season premiere of season 10, The Pilot, which aired this past weekend. In this episode a character, Heather, has a defect in her eye which causes it to have a yellow shine in it. The Doctor’s new companion Bill refers to it as a star and the episode’s original title was “A Star In Her Eye”. In the episode Heather is obsessed with staring at her reflection in a puddle as she gazes at it and invites Bill to do so too. Ultimately the reflection is actually an alien which sucks her into the mirror and then attacks others through reflections. Sound familiar?

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 01 - Heather looking at her reflection

I was struck by a surprising similarity to a few episodes of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. In the first 6 episodes of this season, with the similarities more specifically being during episodes 167 through 169, there was a brief story arc where Mamoru got a shooting star in his eye which was actually a piece of mirror from space. This caused him, and a number of other people, to become obsessed with mirrors gazing at them day and night. The bit of star in their eye caused a yellow shimmer which looks just like that seen in Heather’s eye in Doctor Who. Ultimately Nehelenia was in the mirror, as the shooting star was actually a bit of the Mirror of Dreams which had been confining her and the reflection pulls Mamoru in just like we’d seen in Doctor Who.

Sailor Moon SailorStars episode 168 - Mamoru and Nehelenia

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 01 - Heather's alien hijacked reflection

Coincidence? I like to joke about these similarities being intended but I’m not convinced anything more than coincidence is really necessary at this point given the countless hours of TV produced every week. It is possible that Steven Moffat, who wrote the episode, had seen the episodes of Sailor Moon in which this took place and used it more for a visual inspiration. The specific story details beyond the superficial don’t really add up.

Sailor Moon SailorStars episode 169 - Usagi's classmate gazing at a mirror

Looking for more of a Doctor Who/Sailor Moon link? Sailor Iron Mouse, also appearing in Sailor Stars, travels around in a phone booth. Doctor Who travels around in a TARDIS which is disguised as a Police Box which is a specialized kind of phone booth/panic room that a person can use to call the police. This is similar to Bill and Ted’s phone booth which was itself likely inspired by Doctor Who. Whether Sailor Iron Mouse’s phone booth was directly inspired by the TARDIS or through the intermediate of Bill and Ted’s phone booth isn’t something I can definitively determine. Regardless it’s nice to see Doctor Who finally has a Bill in their phone booth. Let’s get a Ted in there too!

Sailor Moon Sailor Stars episode 175 - Sailor Iron Mouse and her phone booth

Continue reading

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal DVD impressions

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Cover

The latest Sailor Moon musical, Sailor Moon Amour Eternal, was released on DVD on March 15th. What’s that? Still not on Blu-Ray? No. This is a DVD only release despite the fact that there is an HD streaming version available in Japan. The set includes two discs, the main feature and some special features, as well as a special booklet which is a sort of program. Photos of all pages of that booklet will be included at the end of this post. This is a Japanese only release so don’t expect to be able to follow too well if you only speak English. Fans looking for a subtitled version of the musical should check out the fan subbed version by Miss Dream.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Usagi, Mamoru and Chibiusa

First off let’s talk about the main feature, coming in at a whopping 2 hours and 43 minutes, the 4th of the recent wave of Sailor Moon musicals, Sailor Moon Amour Eternal. This was a decent musical with the most notable change to me being the inclusion of the birth of Princess Serenity back in the days of Silver Millennium. We never got much about this time of her life in other series and it’s interesting to see the other Sailor Guardians fully grown at this time in this particular continuity. The main cast of the 5 actors playing Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus were replaced for this musical. They will all be returning for this Fall’s upcoming musical.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Queen Serenity and Princess Serenity

DVD

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical HD Version - Queen Serenity and Princess Serenity

HD download

The bad part about this release is sadly the terrible video quality. As with the three prior releases this DVD is 480i video. What this means specifically is that it’s interlaced video, something like the signal we’d get for a standard definition TV broadcast or VHS tape. Oddly the release is still 16:9 widescreen optimized for widescreen displays but somehow not optimized for a progressive scan display, which is what almost everyone would be watching this on. For prior releases I gave Evil Line Records the benefit of the doubt, assuming the release was of low quality due to older cameras used for the recording. Now that we’ve seen 1080p HD releases available to stream in Japan for not only this musical but the last three, it is obvious that this is not the case. This DVD is poorly authored and the company that released it is to blame. Just look at the comparison screenshot between the download version and the DVD version to see the drastic difference in quality. Even if a Blu-Ray release was not viable, a progressive scan release has been the standard for movies released on DVD for nearly 20 years. Many older TV shows are released interlaced simply because that was the limitation of TV at the time but even most early DVDs of movies are progressive scan. No excuses for this one.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Taking a bow

Also included with the main feature is a full length audio commentary! This includes the main cast of Hotaru Nomoto, Sailor Moon, Yume Takeuchi, Sailor Mercury, Karen Kobayashi, Sailor Mars, Kaede, Sailor Jupiter, and Rimo Hasegawa, Sailor Venus

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Special features - Interview with Hotaru Nomoto and Yuga Yamato

The second disc includes over an hour of special features which aren’t terribly appealing. We start out with a 30 minute interview between Hotaru Nomoto, who played Sailor Moon, and Yuga Yamato, who played Tuxedo Mask. As I don’t speak Japanese I can’t really elaborate on the actual content.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Special features - Special Performance

Next is a stage presentation for a Birthday Night special event, likely held on Usagi’s birthday of June 30th. This is only a few minutes long.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Special features - Audio commentary recording

We then have over half and hour of video showing the recording of the audio commentary. Here we get a picture in picture view of the musical with the five cast members giving their thoughts. Not terribly useful to those who would also watch the entire commentary.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Special features - Intermission

Finally we have an alternate take of the Amazon Trio talking with the audience during the intermission. This one is from the November 6th show. Since these involve audience interactions the intermission for each show would be unique.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Menu in Comic Sans

A note about the various menus on both discs! They use a hilariously cheesy Comic Sans font. Comic Sans is the kiddy or comic style font that you’ll see in a lot of older web sites or perhaps some that are just a little cheap. Over the years it’s gotten a reputation for bad design. In this DVD’s defense however let’s remember that in Japan Comic Sans wouldn’t have the same reputation. I would simply ask our native English speaking fans, what kind of font is any Japanese text written in? Would you be able to tell a fancy and trendy Japanese font vs. a cheap and dated one? Not likely.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Booklet - Cover

Also included is a 20 page booklet which is similar to what you might see in the program sold with the musical. This includes bios for the characters and the lyrics for all songs.

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical DVD - Booklet - Pages 13 and 14

That’s about it. Is this worth it? Costing the equivalent of over $50 US and having abysmal video quality and some fairly lack luster extras this release isn’t terribly appealing to fans who might not actually speak the language. It really would have been nice if this physical release was at least of equivalent or comparable in quality to the relatively cheap digital copies which are available for a fraction of the price in Japan. All said I can’t really recommend buying this, but hard core fans might want to anyway!

Keep reading for more images of the box art, menus and photos of all pages of the included special booklet.

Continue reading

Karin Takahashi, Sailor Saturn, will not be returning for the next Sailor Moon musical

Sailor Moon Un Nouveau Voyage DVD - Sailor Saturn

An announcement has been made on the official Sailor Moon site stating that most of the cast of the Sailor Moon Amour Eternal musical will be reprising their roles for the next musical which will be taking place in the fall. The exception to this is Karin Takahashi, who was also Sailor Saturn and Hotaru in the Un Nouveau Voyage musical, who will not be returning for the next musical. I thought she did a great job in the last couple of musicals and am sorry to see her go. (Update: The new actress who will be portraying Sailor Saturn is Mirai. I was originally confused by the statement thinking it meant she will be announced in the future, as Mirai is the Japanese word for “future”.)

Sailor Moon Un Nouveau Voyage Musical - Professor Tomoe and Hotaru

Returning cast members include Hotaru Nomoto as Sailor Moon, Yume Takeuchi as Sailor Mercury, Karen Kobayashi as Sailor Mars, Kaede as Sailor Jupiter, Rimo Hasegawa as Sailor Venus, Shuu Shiotsuki as Sailor Uranus, Sayaka Fujioka as Sailor Neptune, Mikako Ishii as Sailor Pluto, Airi Kanda as Sailor Chibi Moon, and Yuga Yamato as Tuxedo Mask. We don’t have any specifics about the musical at this time but it seems only logical that this 5th in the recent set of musicals would cover the Stars story arc of the Sailor Moon manga. With the musical taking later this year there is always the chance of other cast changes between now and then, but for the moment only one change in casting is anticipated.

Sailor Moon R The Movie screening impressions

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Envelope and contents

This past Wednesday, March 1st 2017, I was lucky enough to see Sailor Moon R The Movie in theatres. I consider myself lucky for many reasons! For one I was lucky enough to live in a city in which the film was playing but more importantly to me because this was something I’d wanted to do for decades. I always hoped I would be able to see this, one of my all time favourite movies, on the big screen but as a Sailor Moon fan in the 90s this never seemed realistic. Because of this I am thankful that Viz Media and Eleven Arts brought this movie to select theatres for these special screenings. A lot of additional showtimes have been added for many Canadian cities. Fans should check out the Cineplex site for more information if they’re looking to watch it or watch it again.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Envelope

I saw the film at South Keys movie theatre in Ottawa. This was the theatre I spent the most time at as a teenager, in the years when I first watched Sailor Moon, as I would see one or two movies a week here for a number of years. There was no end to my nostalgia last night! As I entered the theatre I was given a gift of an envelope with a postcard sized card inside. Mine featured Sailor Moon, though there were also some featuring Sailor Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus. This was a nice touch as fans could be heard chatting about who they’d gotten, who they wanted and looking for people to trade. My girlfriend and myself both got Sailor Moon, as did many people around us, which makes me suspect that perhaps these weren’t shuffled or randomized terribly well. The envelope also contained a few ads. The ad for the manga featured an image of volume 12 of the recent manga release. The ad for the Sailor Moon R The Movie home video release also had an ad for the TV series Blu-Ray and DVD releases on the back.

Sailor Moon R The Movie - Sailor Moon Card

The event itself was billed at being 90 minutes long, which didn’t ad up for an hour long movie and short special, but a bonus featurette filled out the time. Before the film the audience was presented with an interview with three of the actors from the film. Stephanie Sheh, the voice of Sailor Moon, Robbie Daymond, the voice of Tuxedo Mask, and Ben Diskin, the voice of Fiore, answered questions about the film. One oddity about the interview was that the voice actors called Fiore “Fiole” despite it clearly being pronounced Fiore throughout this English dubbed version of the film. Sure the R and L sound are interchangeable in Japanese but Fiore is the Italian word for flower which seems to be its meaning. Though I’ve seen this film some 50 times the occasional spoilers from this interview didn’t bother me, but I wondered if everyone else in the theatre felt the same. Audience reactions from some twists in the film made me think some of them may not have seen it before. Sailor Moon played on TV a lot back in the 90s here in Canada but the films were released a few years after the theatrical run. Though I’ve seen them play on TV they would have been more readily available to viewers on home video, so it seems likely that more casual fans or those that didn’t follow the show much after it was on TV may not have gone out of their way to see this film before last night. Overall the interview was nice and had some decent insight, but I’m not sure playing it before the feature was the best idea.

Make Up! Sailor Senshi - Chibiusa and Usagi at the Dam Dam Hamburger and Coffee Restaurant

Next was the “Make Up! Sailor Guardians” special which originally played with Sailor Moon R The Movie in Japan. This had not previously been released domestically so it is likely that many fans hadn’t seen it before. I’d seen it on the Japanese DVD release and fan subs so I was familiar with the dialogue and it seemed to be mostly accurate to the dub. This special is a series of clips from the series featuring the various Sailor Guardians inter spliced with footage of two girls at a cafe who are chatting near Chibiusa and Usagi. It’s funny because Chibiusa is on a poster behind them and they don’t really seem to notice. The quality of this film was great, despite using visuals from the TV series which were never intended to be seen on the big screen.

Sailor Moon R: The Movie - Mamoru and Fiore

Finally there was the main feature, Sailor Moon R The Movie. The film itself is fantastic, a story of Mamoru’s childhood friend who’s being manipulated by a magical and evil flower into doing all sorts of terrible thing. It’s full of action and drama and to me represents the Sailor Moon anime at its finest, keying in on elements which make the show what it is. It showcases Usagi’s strength, which is her ability to be a true friend and to save those around her from loneliness. I wasn’t sure what to expect as video quality goes. The video releases of the original Sailor Moon series have pretty marginal quality, but this film is nothing like that. The presentation was likely using some sort of HD video projector, likely with a 1080p Blu-Ray equivalent source. I’ve seen this movie a number of times on the Japanese DVD release, which had previously been the best quality transfer of this film, and the level of detail I could see on the screen was far beyond anything I’d seen before of Sailor Moon. The quality of the lines and small bits of animation showed me detail that was drastically better than the DVD version. It seems like this was an HD transfer of the original film source that had likely gone through some remastering work as opposed to a software upscale of a standard definition source like we’ve seen for the TV series. This is promising for the Blu-Ray release which is currently planned for April 18th.

Tuxedo Mask Kisses a dead Sailor Moon in the Sailor Moon R Movie

All in all seeing a Sailor Moon movie in theatres was a wonderful experience for a Sailor Moon fan and aside from the volume being a bit loud I though the whole event was handled quite well. I sincerely hope that there was enough fan interest that Viz and Eleven Arts are planning to do something similar with the Sailor Moon S and SuperS movies. Considering the turn out and extra showings which were added I am optimistic that we will be seeing Human Luna and Perle (Peruru?) on the big screen over the next couple of years.

What was your experience like watching the film?

Continue reading

The Sailor Moon Amour Eternal musical will be performed at Anime Matsuri in Houston in April

Sailor Moon Amour Eternal poster for Anime Matsuri

The first ever North American performance of a Sailor Moon musical will be taking place in Houston Texas during the Anime Matsuri convention in April. The news of this special performance of the Sailor Moon Amour Eternal musical was posted on the official Sailor Moon site and Anime Matsuri site last month. The specific date of the musical performance has not yet been announced but it will be during the convention weekend which takes place from April 7th to the 9th at the George R. Brown convention centre in downtown Houston, Texas. This may be a slightly modified version of the musical as the entire cast will not be present. At this time only the Sailor Guardians and Tuxedo Mask, with the exclusion of Chibiusa, will be in attendance. Notice that the poster specifically made for this event features all regular cast members but Airi Kanda who plays Chibiusa.

Fumio Osano aka Osabu aka Osa-P

In addition to the musical there will be many Sailor Moon themed guests. This includes Fumio Osano, Osabu, who is best known as the editor of the Sailor Moon manga. Also appearing are voice actors from the English versions of Sailor Moon Crystal and Viz’s new dub of the original Sailor Moon anime Cristina Vee, who plays Sailor Mars, and Christine Cabanos, who plays Sailor Saturn.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Amour Eternal Musical - The Sailor Team

Confirmed guests for the musical are Hotaru Nomoto, Sailor Moon, Yume Takeuchi, Sailor Mercury, Karen Kobayashi, Sailor Mars, Kaede, Sailor Jupiter, Rimo Hasegawa, Sailor Venus,
Syu Shiotsuki, Sailor Uranus, Sayaka Fujioka, Sailor Neptune, Mikako Ishii, Sailor Pluto, Karin Takahashi, Sailor Saturn, and Yuga Yamato, Tuxedo Mask. Also attending are dancers Risa Kawamura, Yoshimi Hidano, Ayano Nagasawa and Ayumi Sagisaka.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray Review

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Contents

Sailor Moon S Part 1 is finally out on DVD and Blu-Ray! These sets were released on November 15th and are available from stores and online retailers. This was also the first time Sailor Moon S episodes were released with Viz’s new English dub. With other releases some of the episodes came out prior to the home video releases on Hulu but this was not done this time around.

Support the site by buying the set with the links below. This could be a nice Christmas gift for a Sailor Moon fan in your life!

There are a number of options to purchase it. I got the Limited Edition Blu-Ray set, which comes with a number of extra I’ll get into below. You can also get the regular edition Blu-Ray or DVD releases or, if you’re not into physical copies, you can get the series from Amazon Video. Previous releases were available in standard definition and HD from Amazon Video but this release is only available in HD for $39.99 for the season.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Cover unwrapped

As with other sets I have pretty much the same to say. A good effort by Viz and some nice packaging, decent extras and a nice looking booklet but ultimately the set suffers from poor video quality likely mostly due to the fact that they had bad masters. Since it’s been so long since these episodes have been available here in North America and this is the only way to hear the new dub, fans will probably want to check it out.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Discs

I didn’t watch the entire set yet, but did watch it a bit to get an idea of the dub and video quality. I watched episode 96, Cold Hearted Uranus? Makoto in Trouble, specifically because it had a lot of lesbian references and if there was anything changed on the set this is the kind of episode we’d likely see changes in. I also had a taped off of Japanese TV fansub of this episode years before I got around to seeing the whole season so I was more familiar with it than others. All around I was quite pleased with the dub quality. While I miss the old cast I think the new actors do a decent job of providing an accurate dub of the show. References to lesbianism weren’t glossed over, though they are mostly heavily hinted at rather than outright stated even in the original version of the show. The only real change I noticed is that Rei referred to her magazine with a moustached woman on the cover as her “First edition Sailor Dudettes” which is just kind of weird and not consistent with anything from the original Japanese version.

Original Japanese credits are used. The Sailor Moon S credits changed throughout the series and here we see different intros being used as different characters are introduced. This was a change from the Pioneer and Geneon releases of the series that always used the same opening theme throughout the series. The “today on Sailor Moon” clip plays after the opening credits rather than before it as with the Japanese TV airing of the show and Japanese releases. A minor change all considered.

The video quality isn’t great. Viz appears to have gotten a fairly low quality standard definition interlaced video source. They upscaled it to 1080p using software and then used some filters to try to clean it up. What we’re left with is a fairly poor job which leaves us with video quality that is worse than what we’ve seen with the Japanese releases which I still use as the gold standard for quality for the series. Other releases, like the Italian and French releases, weren’t perfect but look better than this. Some people say it’s worse than VHS, but I think some people don’t remember the days of VHS! Still I think a faithful straight standard definition DVD version of this release would have looked better than what we got, but this is quite subjective. Viz does a good job with other series for which they have better masters. Their Sailor Moon Crystal release was fantastic looking. Because of this I am quite confident that they tried their best with what they had to work with but can only do so much. There are obvious artifacts from interlacing which are mostly visible between narrow lines which can be seen for tiaras and uniforms throughout every episode.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 - Interlacing artifacts in Makoto's tiara

There are some extras on the Blu-Rays, mainly about the new cast, which are not on the DVDs. The main feature is the “Sailor Moon Day 2016 Interview with English Cast”. Included in this interview are Ben Diskin, Umino, Cristina Vee, Sailor Mars, Amanda Miller, Sailor Jupiter, Robbie Daymond, Tuxedo Mask, Stephanie Sheh, Sailor Moon, Cherami Leigh, Sailor Venus and Sandy Fox, Chibiusa.

The rest of the extras are kind of lame. There are short galleries with some images for the characters. Clean opening and ending themes, that being without any credits, include the final version of the opening and the end theme Tuxedo Mirage. The trailers are similar to what we’ve seen in other releases which are ads for other Sailor Moon releases and other anime series released by Viz like Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Limited Edition Book - Rei bio

The booklet which is included is quite nice. There appear to be 96 pages, which aren’t numbered, and this includes episode summaries for each episode, including those from the currently unreleased second part of Sailor Moon S, credits, lyrics, character art and bios. It also includes an ad stating that Season 3 Part 2 is coming in Spring 2017. After long delays in this release let’s hope the next one comes as quickly as they say! The outer box made of sturdy cardboard has room for the second set, as other releases did.

Sailor Moon S Part 1 Blu-Ray - Ad for Sailor Moon S Part 2

Overall I’d recommend this set if you’re looking to see the new dub. Since these episodes are not available to stream in English anywhere, this is the only way to get them legally. The quality isn’t great but it’s watchable if you don’t mind a Blu-Ray that looks worse than a lot of DVDs. The booklet is a nice extra but the bonus features on the set aren’t terribly fantastic. I’m not sure my recommendation matters much though. If you bought the other sets you’ll probably buy this one and if you didn’t, you probably won’t. Viz has been somewhat consistent with the quality of their original series releases. Though quality issues have improved a bit, the release is still in the same general ball park as the others.

If you’re curious about the contents you can watch this unboxing video which Viz put together:

Keep reading for more images of the packaging and the special booklet.

Continue reading

Usagi and Luna dream of the Ford Fusion constellation in a bizarre Ford commercial

Sailor Moon Dreams of the Ford Fusion Constellation

You thought the Japanese Sailor Moon merchandise was expensive? Has your love of Sailor Moon made you buy a car?! In the latest in Ford’s “Overdubs” ad campaign they have remixed a clip from Sailor Moon to have it look like Usagi and Luna are daydreaming about the Ford Fusion car complete with specs that only a car salesmen would bother quoting. Commercials don’t have credits but it sounds like Stephanie Sheh and Michelle Ruff, the new voices of Usagi and Luna, are reprising their roles here. Watch the clip below!

The original clip which was edited here is from episode 13 of the first season. It has Usagi stargazing at the Motoki and Tuxedo Mask constellations. I know what you’re thinking! We don’t have Motoki and Tuxedo Mask constellations! That’s because Japan is more down south than many parts of the US and Canada so they have Motoki and Tuxedo Mask constellations over there. That’s also why they see the rabbit on the Moon and we only see a face. QED.

Sailor Moon episode 13 - The Motoki constellation

At this point in the series, which is quite early, Usagi imagines that Motoki and Tuxedo Mask are the same person. Eventually Jadeite shows up to challenge her, her friends, and most of the city to come fight at the airport.

Sailor Moon episode 13 - The Tuxedo Mask constellation

So … will you be buying a Ford Fusion? As much as I’d love to spend my hard earned money on a car that one of my favourite anime characters endorsed I just bought a van because I’m going to need room for a car seat and stroller in April.

Sailor Moon episode 13 - Motoki as Tuxedo Mask

Meet Linda Ballantyne, Katie Griffin, Susan Roman and Toby Proctor at Realms Con this weekend, September 30th to October 2nd, in Corpos Christi

Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon) Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask) Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars) Adam Gardner (Sailor Moon News web master) Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter) and John Stocker (voice director)

This coming weekend Sailor Moon fans in Texas will be able to meet some of their favourite voice actors from the original English dub of the Sailor Moon anime at Realms Con at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. Fans will have a chance to meet Linda Ballantyne, the voice of Sailor Moon, Katie Griffin, the voice of Sailor Mars, Susan Roman, the voice of Sailor Jupiter and Toby Proctor, the voice of Tuxedo Mask.

Realms Con is a yearly multimedia convention focusing on anime, comics, gaming and horror. The convention will run Friday to Sunday, September 30th to October 2nd. Will any of you be attending this weekend?