The month of July has arrived which means the new anime reboot of Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Crystal, has also made its debut online over the Fourth of July weekend. The moment you watch the first few minutes of the opening sequence and have been a long time fan of Sailor Moon, you know this isn’t going to be your old school ’90s Sailor Moon anime you grew up with.
There’s a lot that’s different about this new series in both look and tone. The animation style does replicate the art style of Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga. Watching each scene does make it feel as if you’re reading the manga and all of a sudden the pages decide to come alive right in front of your eyes. Even the color palette of the anime somehow feels softer than its classic anime counterpart. The opening theme’s lyrics focuses more on female empowerment, while the older Sailor Moon opening theme from the Japanese subbed version sings more about romance and a plea to remember a past long forgotten. Finally, the Usagi of this anime isn’t as goofy or too much of a crybaby in Crystal compared to the original anime. This newer Usagi already seems to channel the grace of the princess she really is, while the Usagi of the ’90s anime has some ways to go before she can live up to being the wise and regal ruler of Neo-Crystal Tokyo.
The first episode of Crystal plays out the same way as the classic anime’s first episode does––we are introduced to our blonde, blue-eyed heroine and how a talking black cat named Luna chooses her to be the Guardian of Love and Justice Sailor Moon. Watching the first episode may feel like something you’ve seen before, especially if you’ve watched the original dubbed version as a kid growing up in the ’90s, but it is a different anime entirely. Being able to watch both the classic Sailor Moon anime and Crystal simultaneously on Hulu, it’s easy to see the differences.
It may be hard to say so early on into the series, as there’s only one episode of the show up at the time of this writing, but the comedy aspect seems to be toned down in Crystal, while the classic version has comedy spread out all over the place. Usagi’s comedy in the classic anime almost reminds you of Lucille Ball’s brand of comedy––a lot of physical laughs, being extremely goofy, and charming. The Usagi of Crystal may still be a klutzy, crybaby 14-year-old girl, but there’s more maturity underneath the surface of all that. It is true that Takeuchi’s manga has more of a sophisticated and at times, a mature tone to her story, but I do miss the silly laughs the ’90s anime has.
We’re reminded that classic Usagi isn’t a perfect girl and she’s acting exactly as she should––a teenage girl who loves to eat, play video games, and dreams of being a big star. Being the savior of the world isn’t something she expected to be. Her first battle with a Dark Kingdom monster has her being both scared and bumbling along in the fight. Crystal Usagi, while also scared and new to the responsibilities of a guardian, has a confidence in her that immediately surfaces from the moment she declares she’s Sailor Moon and Luna tells her how to defeat her first monster. There’s a sense of knowing exactly what she needs to do. It almost seems like Crystal Usagi will have an easier time becoming the soldier and princess she’s meant to be, while classic Usagi takes time to get there. To me, it’s a very human and relatable feeling and one that’s kind of absent in this new reboot.
I have mentioned before that I do prefer the manga over the original anime overall in story, but watching both shows back-to-back and seeing what’s different about both series, it has made me realize how I’ll miss the more comedic and silly aspects of the original anime. Seeing the reboot in action and following it more along the lines of the original manga, Usagi of Crystal is almost too perfect and nothing like how a girl her age should be acting. The Usagi of Crystal and the manga acts more like a grown woman stuck in a teenage girl’s body in a lot of ways. Classic anime Usagi is acting as she should be, which is an immature teenage girl who is trying to shape her own identity while dealing with the responsibilities of being Sailor Moon. Even the animation style of this newer series will take some time getting used to.
Crystal‘s animation is lovely to look at, but there’s something odd about watching it in motion. All the characters do look as if they’re anorexic––arms and legs just a tad too skinny and elongated compared to the classic Sailor Moon, where all the characters look better proportioned and healthier in general. I’m starting to think the animators maybe shouldn’t have copied everything from the manga exactly. Just a minor caveat I have about the new style.
Overall, Sailor Moon Crystal has an enjoyable first episode. What hasn’t changed is my excitement over seeing the original story being told as an anime and being able to see the rest of the scouts and Mamoru keep the personalities they have in the manga. I rather see Rei as the mysterious, serious woman who has no time for men. I always found manga Rei to be much more interesting than the classic anime Rei. There’s a lot of layers and depth to her character in the manga and I can’t wait to see how she is in animated form when we eventually get to her episode.
Are you a Sailor Moon fan? What’s your own personal impressions about Sailor Moon Crystal’s debut?