Act 1 - Usagi, Sailor Moon Review

Originally posted elsewhere by myself before posting here

By now I’m sure many of you have watched the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal a couple of times so let’s dive into the differences between this new anime version and the previous anime and manga. SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODES!

First major difference between the three mediums is how they open and how these openings set different tones and expectations for the audience. The manga starts us off with Usagi running late & running over Luna; the classic anime begins with the opening theme song; and the new anime starts off with Usagi’s dream of the audience gazing at the beauty of the universe before traveling to Earth and seeing a mysterious Prince and Princess interacting with each other.

The manga’s opening tries to be as normal for a 14 year old as possible. Who can’t relate to running late to school (or work) once or twice in their lives? It sets up for the audience that Usagi has a fairly normal life before unveiling the curtain slowly that will change everything for her. Oh her life changes in OHHH soo many ways, but for now, its just her becoming a crime fighter against the forces of evil and needing to find her allies and a mysterious Princess.

The classic anime, on the other hand, starts with the opening of the theme song. The visuals of the opening suggests to the audience that this will be about 3 young girls fighting evil monsters, with the series focusing on the blond hair character, who seems to be struggling with her civilian identity and her superhero one, and a mysterious guy in a tuxedo who the main character probably has a crush on. It is odd to include Ami and Rei in the opening since (depending on if you go by the classic dub or original Japanese airing), they don’t even appear for 7 (or 4 by the dub) episodes. And since the opening does change a couple of times in the first season alone to include new characters, I am surprised they didn’t create an opening to focus on just Usagi and once Ami and Rei joined, go to this opening. Perhaps it was a cost cutting measure? Who’s to say.

The new anime takes a slightly different approach with starting with Usagi’s dream. By focusing on the dream of the mysterious kingdom and of the Prince and Princess, it lets the audience know that the story will focus on unraveling this mystery of this kingdom and the relationship of these two individuals. Even the manga doesn’t start hinting at the Prince/Princess relationship until act 4/5 and even then it is very vague at best. This puts the focus of the story on romance rather than being about superheroes fighting a mysterious enemy. The dreams also add more characterization to the mysterious Prince and Princess, something both lacking in the manga and the classic anime in my opinion.

So after the dream, we get the opening and introduction of Usagi running late to school and we jump into the opening song. The visuals in the song also reinforces that the story will be focusing more on love, both with Usagi and Mamoru and the love of her friends, rather than the battling of the mysterious enemies. We get more glimpses of the mysterious kingdom, and Prince and Princess, but also the hinting at a romance between Usagi and Mamoru. Unlike the classic series, we see all of the inner senshi both in their civilian and senshi forms. It is interesting to note that Sailor Venus does not seem to be wearing her red glasses. I wonder if that means when she is introduced, she won’t be wearing them. Food for thought.

After the opening, we have Usagi run over Luna and remove the bandages from her forehead, before resuming her mad dash to school. Off somewhere else, we get a brief scene Jadeite summoning a demon monster to start looking for a Legendary Silver Crystal and disappears. Sadly, Usagi is late for class so is forced to wait outside the classroom. She remembers the Princess in her dreams, and the audience gets the feeling that Usagi may be dreaming about her a lot lately and this could be why she is so sleepy lately. Usagi decides that while she waits to be let into class, she’ll grab some food but before she can get a bite in, her teacher comes out and we meet her English teacher, Haruda. Its interesting to note that in the classic series, despite how much time we got to see Haruda and her interactions with Usagi, we were never really told what class she taught or even what the subject of Usagi’s failing grade was in. She was always a teacher and it was just a random test.

Usagi re-enters the classroom and we get a proper introduction and a bit of characterization of her fellow-classmates Naru-chan and Umino. The characterization we see her between them, and in the following scene with Usagi’s other friends, is more characterization then they get in the same scene in the classic series. In the classic series, we never are explicitly told that Naru is an excellent student in the early episodes so are left to assume she has a similar performance as Usagi, which is unfair to her character.

When the girls go to Naru’s jewelry store, OSA-P, we see that Naru is immediately suspicious of the discounts and sales her mother is throwing lately, something lacking in the classic series. Also, Naru makes a point to mention that not everything was on sale, unlike again in the classic in which is seemed everything was on sale. This again seems to hurt Naru’s character as it makes her very unobservant of her mother’s behaviour. I mean, if your mom was offering your friend something that normally costs $50,000 for $3000, wouldn’t alarm bells be going off for you??

Even with the amazing deals going on (there’s a few flyers on the wall saying 95% off), Usagi can’t afford a piece for herself and knows that asking her mom for money after her test won’t go well. In the classic series, she mentions asking money from her dad, so the change in which parent she would be asking for suggests that unlike her classic counterpart, she is not a daddy’s girl. This may be more of a surprise to fans who haven’t read the manga since we rarely see him in the series nor does he get referred to a lot.

Usagi steps out of the store, feeling defeated about her test score and not being able to buy some sale jewelry, throws her crumpled up test behind her and hits Mamoru. This is the first meeting between Usagi and Mamoru and is handled VERY differently from its classic counterpart. In the classic series, Usagi and Mamoru’s first encounter is nothing but a verbal sparing match between them, with Mamoru ends up being more of a dick in the whole event. His fashion sense certainly did not HELP. My friend and I both felt that on our first viewing (oh so many years ago) that even back then, he had bad fashion sense (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t get better later in the series). The romance of their relationship doesn’t show up until much later. In this meeting, however, there is some verbal sparing however when they both get a proper look at each other, they both are affected by the seeing the other. Since both are having similar dreams at this point, they both have a similar silhouette to the people in those dreams. It’s important to point out that Mamoru is as affected by this first encounter as Usagi. Both recognize the other and both feel some sort of attraction to the other, but aren’t sure what to make of it.

Traditionally in shoujo, we see that the girl is the only one to be affected at this first encounter in such a manner, and if the boy is affected, it is when the girl is unaware of his gaze. Because both are going through the emotions of seeing the other, the audience feels the tension in the scene all that much more and Usagi’s reaction of slowly backing away adds to the feeling that she is still a typical teenage girl and makes her relateable to the viewers. It also adds to the sweetness of their (eventual) relationship. After Usagi leaves, Mamoru recovers from his encounter with her and checks out OSA-P, mentioning that he too is looking for the Legendary Silver Crystal. By making it clear to the audience at the start that Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask is a jewelry thief, his search of the same crystal as the bad guys, and allowing us to see his later visit to OSA-P before Sailor Moon arrives sets up his crossovers with the Scouts as less random and sudden.

I would also like to take the time to stop and point out something to fans of the manga: just before Mamoru catches Usagi’s paper test ball, you can clearly see he is wearing the Star Locket. I didn’t notice the first time I watch it, but when I did later, OMG!!! SOOOO HAPPY!!! ^__^ Moving right along~

Usagi makes her way to the Arcade and we are introduced to Motoki and Usagi’s small crush on him. I’m gonna have to level with you guys. Not really a fan of Motoki in the classic anime or the manga. He just seems like random handsome guy and it just kind of urkes me. However, I LOVEEEEEE Motoki in the live action version. He seems more realistic as a person.

See what I mean?

While at the arcade, we get Luna’s second meeting of Usagi, and this one is the much more creepier stare-down, before we move on to Usagi returning home at night and passing out on her bed. We get another Prince & Princess moment and a sudden transformation into a Sailor V vs Godzilla game moment before Luna waking her up and giving her the Transformation broach. I like how they added is mysteriously blinking and Usagi’s reluctance to repeat the magical transformation phrase. Slightly more realistic in my opinion. Come on, if a TALKING stalker cat gives you a mysterious broach and tells you to say a magical phrase to transform into a warrior, are you going to be quick to follow her instructions or are you going to take your time before doing it? Once she transforms, its quickly set into motion that Naru is in trouble and Usagi wants to save her friend.

The major difference for me for this scene from the new version and the classic anime is that it starts off with the day still being a bit bright out when Usagi gets the broach AND when Naru walks in on the monster, yet when Sailor Moon arrives to save Naru, its PITCH black out and the moon is pretty high in the sky. What did the monster do in the mean time, instead of killing Naru or take all her energy away?? >.> Yeah I know, minor plot point but it kinda sticks out when you notice.

I feel that the sonic wave attack Usagi uses is much more better presented in this one then the classic anime. You see the waves echoing out around her and it shows it affecting the objects around her in different ways. In the classic series, everything just kinda vibrates and jumps around like an earth quake. However I do prefer how the classic series sets up Sailor Moon as possibly having her life in danger then how it was done in this version. There was no feeling of high threat or danger to Usagi. It was mostly just controlled humans chasing her around the store, while the demon watched her off to the side. Humans battling controlled humans isn’t really scary and it doesn’t make the character feel like they’re in danger. Battling a demon directly adds more threat and danger to the scene. I liked how they kept the creepy element of the demon in her appearance. Later demons in the classic series quickly become more comical then creepy or dangerous.

I enjoy the return of Tuxedo Mask’s true purpose from how he was used in the classic series to how he is used in this and the manga. In the classic series, he throws a rose to distract/disable the monster, says some fancy speech and Sailor Moon defeats the monster. In short, he’s more of a tool then an actual character in the fight against evil. However, in the manga and this anime, he is used to motivate Sailor Moon with his WORDS to set up and defeat the enemy. And maybe catch her if she’s falling. But that’s it. He is just as much as an ally to her as the other Sailor Scouts are and just as valuable, his role is simply different. It also helps that he is not present in every battle. It adds to the value as him being an ally to not have him appear suddenly at every battle, doing the same thing over and over again. I know some fans want to see him throw the rose to signal his entrance into the battle, but I find that action diminishes his power as Sailor Moon’s ally.

Once Sailor Moon stops crying and does what Luna tells her to do, the enemy is defeated and for now, everyone is save once again. The next day at school, some of her friends are talking about the event at the jewellery store while Usagi is around the corner, trying to be in denial about what happened, and we part the episode on the behind of Ami.

That’s my thoughts on Act 1 ^_^ Please <3 data-preserve-html-node="true" and reblog this to spread it around. That would be great. I will work next on Act 2 and get that ready for you as soon possible.

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Peggy D

Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Original Canadian Ninja. Aka Queen of Korea