Sailor Moon the Movie (Independent Short)

Hello! Fiyero3305 here, making my first post. If I mess up any formatting with my links and photos, please forgive me. I am writing about this movie as my first post, even though it’s somewhat old news, because it needs to be discussed (LGG told me she never wrote about it because she knew I’d want to do so when I started posting. Isn’t she sweet?), but to make it more current I’ll review not only the film but also the DVD, which only recently came out.

First, the film:

My thoughts:

Overall, I’m a fan. I think the pacing and acting leave plenty to be desired but the look of the movie and the effort that went into it are great. I think it’s definitely a film which benefits from repeat viewings so it doesn’t seem so rushed and abrupt in its direction changes and ending.The quality of acting in the film varies greatly from performer to performer but overall I must say this aspect is the film’s greatest weakness. Avery Danielle as Princess Serenity starts off with a rather overwrought performance but her portrayal has promise. It seems clear that she is a theatre-trained actress and she’s broadcasting her emotions to the back of the house, but the problem is she’s on film and the camera doesn’t need or appreciate that grandiose of a performance. Still, I like her and hope that if the project continues she stays on and internalizes the role more because she somewhat reminds me of my favorite Sailor Moon actress from the musicals, Kanbe Miyuki.

Miyuki started off a bit overdone but quickly progressed into a natural and beautiful performer, so I hope Avery does the same. Nick Uhas as Endymion is sadly the weakest link. He just seems to be saying words, rather than acting, and his underdone performance is made even more apparent by Avery’s overdone performance. I feel they both accentuate each other’s flaws, unfortunately.

As the movie progresses, however, they both improve. The montage of their relationship is cute and their performances as Darien and Bunny in the present day feel much less forced. Kris Woodside plays Naru very nicely and she seems the most at ease on camera than anyone in the film. I will say though, she seems a bit… pushy? I don’t know how to describe it but she seems like she’s on uppers and/or a sugar high all day and doesn’t even really listen to Bunny when they’re talking. It makes her dismissal of Melvin (played equal parts creepy and funny by Eric Pietrangolare) in the arcade scene seem really bitchy.

Speaking of, the arcade scene is easily my favorite in the movie. It has the most natural dialogue and acting in the whole thing and Naru and Bunny really do seem like friends.

The fight scene in which Bunny finally becomes Sailor Moon is a bit underwhelming but fight scenes are difficult to direct (very few in the live action series or musicals ever came off as thrilling) and the finished product isn’t bad. I must say I loved the transformation and was glad it occurred in real-time even though I would have loved to see a transformation sequence. I know some people take issue with them but I think the stock footage for the transformation and attack sequences made the anime and will defend them to the death. The battle ends a bit flat but Bunny’s return home, the reappearance of Luna, and finally getting to hear the iconic Sailor Moon speech ends the film on a strong note.

There have been some fans who’ve taken issue with the mixture of Japanese names with English ones. To this I would like to point out that Naru is the only character with a Japanese name in the film. The arcade worker, unnamed in the dialogue, is listed as Moto in the credits which could be a given name or a nickname. As for Naru, I would have preferred something more Anglicized. Originally the character was going to be called Nara which I thought was a good nod to her original name while still sounding like something an American girl would be named. Still I justify it as saying that America’s a mixed bag of cultures and maybe this girl has some distant Japanese in her heritage, or maybe her parents are in love with the culture, or maybe they just liked the name. It may not be likely but you can’t say it’s not possible.

Another complaint I’ve heard is that Bunny says “Oh shit!” to which I reply: “Um, so?” I keep seeing people say that Usagi would never say something like that so one thing I need to point out to my fellow moonies:

Tsukino Usagi: 14 year-old Japanese girl from 1992.

Bunny T: Unidentified age (though likely 15-17) American girl from 2011.

They’re not the same person. Besides, according to Miss Dream, Usagi does use this word: On the DVD (which was made available to anyone who donated ten dollars or more to the production’s campaign on there are some nice bonus features including a battle between Sailor Moon and Dark Endymion which is very well-choreographed. There’s some ballet-fu reminiscent of the live action series and nice special effects. I’m not fond of the design for Sailor Moon’s weapon though. Eric Pietrangolare (Artistic Director) has described his aesthetic as organic and earthen and while I love that for Queen Beryl’s design I don’t for Sailor Moon’s. She is very much a pristine, heavily-designed heroine and her weapons should match that. Also, I think it would make a great contrast between her and Beryl if Beryl’s designing is dark and earthy and Sailor Moon’s is glittering and polished.

There are behind-the-scenes videos which help develop an appreciation for how hard the cast and crew worked and all that went into production, bloopers for fun, and a music/lyric video for the beautiful song “Story” by Nishi Rajan used in the opening of the film.

My favorite special feature by far, however, is the Q&A with Eric, Kris, and Avery who answer select questions from the production’s formspring page. This section really shows how much thought and care went into this film, especially from Eric and Kris who are primarily responsible for the look of the film and the film’s existence in the first place. They give credit to Takeuchi Naoko for all of her designs and story ideas which they used, Toei for the anime, and even the musicals and live action series from which they took some inspiration. These are clearly people who love Sailor Moon in all her forms and presentations and did their level best to create something worthwhile and interesting for the fandom. I think they succeeded.

Sorry if this ran long but since I had some complaints with this project I wanted to give them some explanation and make it clear that I do think this is a good film worthy of support. I hope they continue their work and flesh out their ideas further!