Reactions While Watching Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 1

I’ve decided, since there are going to be new episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal every other week, to start posting my reactions while watching it the following Wednesdays. Utena commentary will therefore be every other week until I finish.

So, here’s my complete knowledge of Sailor Moon:

  • It’s really, really long.
  • I have watched the first season of the Abridged Series, so I have a general idea of the premise and plot for that arc. Ish.
  • There’s a short-haired blonde and a green-haired scout who are a lesbian couple. They were going to get a movie, but it got canned. Some of the ideas for it were recycled into Revolutionary Girl Utena, which I am on the record as calling the best anime series ever.
  • It’s a seminal magical girl series for combining the standard chosen-by-the-other-world-to-wield-the-power-of-love stuff with sentai elements to create a team of girls that fight more directly and actively than was the previous norm.
  • A LOT of people who worked on it ended up working on anime near the top of my favorites list.

Observations while watching:

The opening credits are interesting. The girls are fairly sexualized and described in stereotypically feminine terms, but also outright state in the song that they can fight for themselves and don’t need male protection. In other words, their gender and sexuality both are being tied directly into their power in a way that is the norm for male characters, but extremely rare for women. Also, wow is the art and animation on this seriously excellent. If only the song were up to previous standards—the show set a REALLY high bar for itself on that front in the 90s.

Ominous Usagi’s mom comment is ominous.

So… where DID Luna get those bandages? Why does she want them off?

Usagi gets bad grades because… she’s hungry? In seriousness, her clumsiness is a little too standard-issue Twilight/moe BS for my tastes, but hunger/appetite/gluttony makes a great flaw for a hero—see Ron Weasley, any hobbit, Ed Elric, and the queen of them all, Lina Inverse.

Wait, so Usagi’s mom knows about Sailor V, wants Usagi to learn from Sailor V… and has never mentioned it to Usagi? “Gee, I hope my daughter learns about this thing I consider important. Maybe I should tell her about it? Nah, let’s rely on cultural osmosis. Mom of the Year Award, here I come!”

Dundundun, Tuxedo Sunglasses is also looking for the Silver Moon Crystal! So… do he and Usagi know each other and he has Pseudo-Big Brother Figure Teasing Rights, or is he just an asshole who randomly insults girls on the street about their choice of hairstyle? Because I’m not really comfortable with what I know about their relationship-to-come if it’s the latter.

Usagi and Motoki, on the other hand, that’s really cute. I like how completely open she is. “Yep. I have sexual/romantic desires, I like this guy.” It’s neither romanticized or problematized by the text; she’s being a normal teenage girl.

Yep. Best mom ever. That’s totally a proportional response. What would should do if Usagi were caught shoplifting or joyriding or skinny-dipping or something? Hire assassins?

…why is there a tiny male Usagi?

SHE HAS A BROTHER?

No seriously, outside of the scouts, Tuxedo Mask, her mom, and the two classmates, I had NO idea there were any other characters. How tiny is her brother’s part that he’s never mentioned in anything ever?

Okay, from whatsername’s point of view, seeing your mom hunched over some weird red glowing thing, and then she looks at you with a grin full of pointy teeth? Pretty nightmarish image, yeah.

…is Luna implying that local kids have MAGIC BANDAIDS that suppress her powers?

Shingo is secretly the main villain, isn’t he? Leader of the super-powered cat-tormenting demon-children of the city?

Um… how did Luna produce that charm? Or hand it over? Where was she carrying it?

I like the new transformation sequence. The focus is much more on the costume than on nekkid!Usagi.

Wait. Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. Her hair-thingies have a FUNCTION? And blink? That’s HILARIOUS!

Either this is a change or I forgot, but the fact that she has to actually fight real people under the monster’s control is pretty heavy for a teen.

…are you fucking kidding me? One of her powers is LITERALLY being super-whiny? I call shenanigans!

Usagi has no idea that’s not really Naru’s mom. For all she knows, she has the power to turn people to stone and then crumble them. She’s taking that discovery pretty well in stride.

Oh no! Who could the mysterious Tuxedo Mask be? Could he be the tuxedo-clad jerk who’s his height and build and has his haircut? Maybe it’s that girl with the blue hair!

Maybe it’s USAGI HERSELF. (Spoooooooooooky twist!)

Ending credits are pretty boring, especially by comparison to the opening.

Overall… eh, this is okay, but a pretty by-the-numbers opening episode. Very pretty, though. I’ll give it the three episode test, but so far this isn’t grabbing me.

0 thoughts on “Reactions While Watching Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 1

  1. I watched the first three seasons of the original series, and all three movies. So far, I'm on the fence about this new series, largely because the debut episode is so incredibly similar to the debut episode of the original anime (which is understandable) that I can't make any particular judgments about the new one unto itself yet.

    A few points on what you wrote:

    I'd never once heard that there was supposed to be a movie about Haruka and Michiru. That'd be rather awkward, simply because it wouldn't fit the dynamic of the show at all – the series is staunchly about the team as a whole, with Usagi as first among equals. Focusing just on Haruka and Michiru would be surprisingly different.

    Luna's various schticks are never questioned nor explained in any greater detail. Bandages over her moon-stymbol reduce her to little more than an ordinary cat. She can produce magic items from…somewhere (as I recall, in the original series she did a backflip to make them appear).

    It's the same thing for some of the powers Sailor Moon has in this episode. Her “sonic whine” and her hair-jewels focusing sounds never come up again that I remember.

    Shingo's entire existence is utterly meaningless, no matter how you look at it. He has absolutely no relevance in any regard throughout the life of the show. He makes Jimmy Olsen look like the most important man in the universe.

    Usagi's blase reaction to killing her enemies always annoyed me. I get that she's supposed to be self-centered and largely oblivious, but the fact that she kills a monster every week and never once wonders “do these things have souls?” started to grate on me after a while.

    Mamoru and Usagi have no prior relationship (notwithstanding the whole past lives thing) before he randomly starts being an asshole to her on the street for no reason at all. He's long since become a stereotype, but seeing him here reminds me of all the reasons why I've never liked his character.

  2. Huh. I was interested in anything you had to say about Crystal–you always have something interesting to say–but the fact that this has been the first blogpost / review I've seen by someone who hasn't watched the original series, makes it exponentially more intriguing.

    Things to note: Sailor Moon the anime was long. Sailor Moon the manga (and by extension Crystal, probably) is not. To me, the original manga felt like a concept born in the wrong medium, and which only reached its full potential once the anime added things like stock animation, monsters of the week, and expanded upon the various character relationships. A series that intentionally eschews all that in favor of being like the original manga is therefore probably the last thing that I would have done had I been in charge, and something I would probably consider more interesting than enjoyable.

  3. The episode is a pretty faithful reconstruction of the first chapter of the Sailor Moon manga.

    Usagi has pretty much always been portrayed as a ditzy teenage girl. When questioned about it the manga creator Naoko Takeuchi said she based Usagi off herself.

    I suspect that most of the things going on with Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask) and Usagi's mom can be summed as “Japan”, given that they were present in the original manga.

    Yes, Usagi has a brother. Most of the “normals” get sidelined later in the series.

    Where the charm came from bugged me too.

    Most of Usagi's powers in this episode can be chalked up to what tvtropes calls “Early Installment Weirdness”. I think that Takeuchi (and maybe her editor – I heard editors have a lot of say in how manga stories go) were to some extent making it up as they were going along. Remind me to tell you about the initial concept of Mercury next episode.

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