Sailor Moon Crystal: First Impressions About The First Episode

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.

smcrystal_usagiThe 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.

sm_classic
The ’90s Sailor Moon anime.

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.

I think it would do you some good, Usagi, if you ate a sandwich. You looking too skinny, girl!
I think it would do you some good, Usagi, if you ate a sandwich. You looking too skinny, girl!

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?

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4 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Crystal: First Impressions About The First Episode

  1. I’m excited with Crystal since this is my first time I’ll get to watch a Sailor Moon series. I had seen random episodes of the original sporadically through my childhood whenever I stumbled across them on television, but I never actively sought them out, nor watched any consecutively. I think I’m lucky in a way that I won’t be comparing the two series constantly. But I do think I want to see the original sometime–maybe after Crystal.

    You say that Usagi isn’t as whiney in this new series, but I found her plenty whiney enough! I was reminded in a way of Cardcaptor Sakura, but even there, a girl younger than Usagi didn’t whine nearly as much. I can’t imagine her being even more childish in the original!

    1. That’s probably one of the downsides of having grown up watching the original Sailor Moon anime before they ever decided to make Crystal–you’ll be seeing a ton of differences.

      Usagi in Crystal is still a crybaby, but I really do think it’s less so in this anime compared to the original. The original Usagi takes being a crybaby to a whole other level! I do think there’s much to appreciate with both different versions of the anime. More Sailor Moon is still good in my book!

  2. I think your post is spot on. I saw the original series back in the 90s and read the manga five years ago. I liked the old anime very much but when I read the manga I immediately fell for it. I completely agree with you in that the manga is much more mature and, having left well behind my teenage years, I’m more than happy with a more mature anime too 🙂

    I love the old one and from time to time I still watch a handful of episodes out of nostalgia but I am very eager to watch a more faithful adaptation. Rei was my favorite in the manga too, so I’m very excited for seeing that version on screen.

    I wonder who is the target audience for this show.

    1. I’m thinking maybe Crystal might be catering to a slightly older audience? The original anime was aired and supposedly geared for much younger kids in Japan, but I do question that decision when you watch certain scenes in certain episodes which never made it to the U.S. for a reason. I also think the original manga is meant to be read by teen girls than kids much younger than that.

      Either way, I’m excited to see everyone else in action when we’re introduced to the other scouts. I think out of all the scouts, I found manga Rei’s backstory and personality much more interesting. I did find anime Rei from the original way too immature and bitchy. Nothing at all like the girl Takeuchi introduced in her story.

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