The reboot of the Sailor Moon anime, formally known as Sailor Moon Crystal, put out its first episode last week and this wannabe Moonie is super excited about it. I have always wanted to be a fan of the series, but I didn’t grow up watching it and the length of the anime always put me off. The return of the series has given me a pleasant excuse to actually sit down and watch both the original and the new show, and having seen exactly one episode of each so far, I’d say it was off to a good start.
Both the original premiere and Crystal’s premiere use the same basic plot. First, we’re introduced to Tsukino Usagi, a bumbling high schooler with terrible grades. She runs into a strange and friendly black cat on her way to school, but thinks nothing of it because she’s running late. After school, she and a friend head to her friend’s family jewelry shop, where the friend’s mother is having a huge blowout sale. Unfortunately Usagi doesn’t have any pocket money due to her awful grades, so she just heads home. There, she runs into the same cat from that morning. It had a band-aid stuck on its forehead, and when Usagi removes it, it begins to speak. The cat introduces herself as Luna, and tells Usagi that she’s destined to become a fighter and guardian named Sailor Moon. To this end, Luna gives her a magical brooch that grants her the power to transform.
Handily enough, it turns out that Sailor Moon’s powers are needed ASAP: the jewelry store sale was actually a front for evil. A sinister doppelganger of Usagi’s friend’s mom has been selling enchanted discount jewelry, and when she activates the spell, it turns anyone wearing it into zombies. Usagi arrives on the scene and, although she’s terrified of fighting at first, she defeats the baddie and saves the day (with a little encouragement from a masked hottie in a tuxedo, of course).
Although evil discount jewelry is always going to make for a silly pilot, it’s a simple enough premise as far as establishing Usagi’s character and powers is concerned. On one hand, I sort of wish they had updated it for the Crystal premiere, but on the other hand, it was kind of cool that they stuck to the original series’s beginning for their pilot as well.
There are a few things in Crystal that I was disappointed by, although I’m sure I’ll eventually get over them. First of all, the character designs are, obviously, still basically the same as the original series, but it’s very strange to see characters with very stereotypically nineties-anime hairstyles and fashion sense animated in 2014-typical high definition and with supplemental computer animation. The CG was particularly evident in the transformation sequence, and while it would have been really impressive graphically in a video game, it was kind of jarring in an anime episode.
Another thing I was sad about is that, despite rebooting the series for a new generation, the series still appears to be set in the nineties technology-wise. All I want in life is Sailor Scouts Instagramming their battles and Tweeting about their villains and gaming on their laptops in their free time, but I guess I’ll have to leave that one up to fandom.
Finally, the new opening song, “Moon Pride”, is awesome and has empowering lyrics like “We will fight on our own without leaving our destiny to the prince” and “We are not helpless girls who need men’s protection”. However, the one Sailor Moon-related thing I did grow up knowing was the original opening (“Moonlight Densetsu”) and it’ll take me a bit to get used to the new song.
Both the original series and Sailor Moon Crystal are available to legally stream for free online. The second episode of Crystal airs at the end of this week, so I suggest you make like me and start getting yourself up to speed on this awesome series!