The voices may be different, but watching classic Sailor Moon in English still has the power to make you feel as if that DIC logo is going to pop up at any moment. It’s that white-hot nostalgia that makes serving the existing fans a tall order, but pretty much everyone responded with utter delight when Viz Media initially announced plans to bring the original anime adaptation of Naoko Takeuchi’s manga back to home video. The end result is a series that’s still fun on a format it hasn’t been perfectly cooked up for, but the magic is still there where it counts.
I’m no videophile, so the intermittent issues that make Sailor Moon‘s debut on Blu-ray less than perfect don’t bother me as much as they might others. You may have heard about the issues on Twitter, and Viz is certainly aware of them so it’s no big surprise. The company posted some details on the release over at the Neon Alley blog, citing imperfections inherent to the 2009 Japanese DVD masters, and you can read more on that if you’re interested. Charlene Ingram, Viz’s Senior Manager of Animation Marketing, recently hopped on ANNCast and fielded some questions about the Blu-ray release along with Julie McDonald, Viz’s Director of Animation Production, and there are currently no plans for reissues or fixes.
With that out of the way, just keep in mind that while this release of Sailor Moon is still something fans have been waiting for ever since ADV’s DVD sets went out of print and hit eBay for high prices, it’s still not definitive.
As for the show itself, it’s as enjoyable as ever. Since I had seen a few of the classic subbed episodes when they started streaming on Hulu, I decided to watch the entire set with the English dub, which Viz did a really fantastic job with. When something has already been dubbed, with so many voices firmly planted in the minds of fans as the absolute perfect incarnation, there can be a lot of pressure to stick to what worked and emulate it too closely. The new Sailor Moon dub does a good job of keeping things fresh while maintaining a similar tone, and Stephanie Sheh was the perfect choice for Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon.
The rest of the cast pulls it off nicely, as well, from Christina Vee as the fiery Sailor Mars to to Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask (check out our interview with Daymond). It’s not often I bother with dubs, but it just seemed appropriate with this set.
I appreciated classic Sailor Moon even more after following some of Sailor Moon Crystal, which left me a little cold. While I’m fine with the faster pace of Takeuchi’s source material, there’s something incredibly charming about all the monster-of-the-week action that takes over in the ’92 series. It’s that saturday morning flavor that kicks off with Usagi condemning the actions of the villains before the episode even begins. How dare they try and take advantage of a lady’s love for wedding dresses! How dare they nefariously twist the hopes and dreams of the lovelorn! No matter the scenario, Sailor Moon is on the case, and her team of Sailor Senshi starts filling out gradually over the course of the first 23 episodes.
The Sailor Moon Blu-ray set has a nice little collection of extras, most of which were taken from the original panel that announced the series’ license and the fan reactions that came about as a result. There’s also a video showcasing some behind-the-scenes dub action, an art gallery, and more. Completing the set is a limited edition booklet with an episode guide, character profiles, song lyrics, and plenty of art. All in all, it’s a mostly solid set that’s marred by some video quality issues that could turn some off or disappoint fans who were hoping for absolute Sailor Moon perfection. If you simply must own the show now regardless, though, this is the only way to go.
Distributor: Viz Media
©Naoko Takeuchi/PNP, Toei Animation
– Interview: Sailor Moon’s Tuxedo Mask Speaks!
– Sailor Moon Anime: Classic Flavor
– Anime First Impressions: Sailor Moon Crystal
– Over 250 Sailor Moon Fans Animate an Episode
– AKB48 Member Models Sailor Moon Lingerie