Anime Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review: Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2

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The Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2 Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack includes the remaining 23 episodes of Season One, as well several exclusive bonus features. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the new English dub produced by VIZ Media.

Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: February 10, 2015

Before I begin this review, I need to disclose that I did not watch Sailor Moon when it aired on American television in the 1990’s. Instead, I am coming at this series as a viewer who has already read all 12 of the Sailor Moon manga volumes, both of the short story volumes, and both volumes of the Codename: Sailor V manga. I also started watching the Sailor Moon Crystal simulcast before I watched the previous home video release, Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1. I should also add that when I watched the episodes on this set, I saw them with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. All I know of the new English dub is some of the footage that was included in the bonus features on this set.

Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2 opens with Usagi’s friend, Naru, learning the truth about Nephrite but still caring about him anyway. Just as it seems Nephrite will accept Naru’s love and turn good, he’s killed by some of Zoisite’s servants. Naru is there when Nephrite is killed, and is understandably upset. However, what should have been an emotional scene ends up being unintentionally comical when Naru spends more time crying over the fact that she never got to share chocolate parfaits with Nephrite than the fact that Nephrite died.

The set returns to canon material from the manga with the introduction of Makoto Kino, an unusually tall girl with physical strength. The way Makoto saves Usagi the first time they meet is a little different between the manga and the anime, but both versions convey Makoto’s strength. By the end of that episode, it’s revealed that Makoto is Sailor Jupiter.

Then we reach a stretch of seven filler episodes that introduce the anime-only concept of the Rainbow Crystals. It’s said that when all seven are gathered, the Legendary Silver Crystal will appear. However, the Rainbow Crystals also extend into the next couple of episodes that contain canon stories from the manga. To be honest, I hated the concept of the Rainbow Crystals, and I felt these episodes only truly served two purposes: to stretch the series out a little longer in order for Naoko Takeuchi to get a little farther in the manga and to introduce love interests for Ami and Rei. And I think the only reason the love interest for Rei was created was so she would have someone after Mamoru dumps her when the anime catches up to an important plot point from the manga.

We then get two episodes that included canon material, which covers the introduction of Sailor Venus and Usagi and Mamoru learning about their past lives. I would have liked these episodes more than I did if they hadn’t forced the Rainbow Crystals into them. But the series quickly returns to filler, which lasts for seven episodes. These filler episodes either rely on the concept of the Rainbow Crystals again or introduce plots that really had nothing to do with the overarching story. There really aren’t any well-written episodes within this batch of filler, and these seven episodes felt even more like they were there to kill time than the first batch of Rainbow Crystal episodes.

It was painful for me to watch the filler episodes, because many of them had ridiculous premises going into them. While some of the filler episodes attempted to provide some kind of character development, this development didn’t seem to add much in the long run.

The final three episodes not only return to the canon material from the manga, they’re also the final three episodes of Season One. While there may be basic ideas and concepts that came from the original manga, the way they were executed ended up differing greatly from the original source material. And I have to add that I absolutely hated how the first season of this anime ended, because it’s nothing like how the first arc ended in the manga.

Overall, I have to say that I liked the episodes of Sailor Moon Season 1 Set 1 better than the episodes on this release. With these episodes, Toei had changed so much of the story by this point that the overall concept was weakened considerably. I still strongly dislike how Rei’s character was changed so drastically from the manga, because she comes across as a major bitch in this anime adaptation. The petty disagreements and arguments between Usagi and Rei, and the tension they cause, undermine the message of teamwork that Sailor Moon is trying to convey.

After watching the entirety of the first season of the original Sailor Moon anime, I have to say that it wasn’t as well done or as enjoyable as I had hoped. From what I’ve seen of the Sailor Moon Crystal reboot anime, I think it has a stronger and tighter story going into it. About the only thing that the original Sailor Moon anime has going for it is the fact that the animation doesn’t look as awkward as it does in Sailor Moon Crystal. I’ve seen it commented on the internet on several occasions that Naoko Takeuchi, the creator of the Sailor Moon manga, was never entirely happy with the original anime adaptation. After seeing all of the first season, I can see why she feels that way if there’s any truth to those comments.

When it comes to the extras in this set, there are a lot more features available on the Blu-ray Discs than there are on the DVDs. For the DVD part, only the third disc includes any features: the Sailor Moon Day Highlights and a trailer for the first Sailor Moon Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. Both of these features also appear on the third Blu-ray Disc that’s included in this set.

The first and second Blu-ray Discs each contain an art gallery. The first disc focuses primarily on Sailor Jupiter, while the images included in the second disc’s art gallery focus on Sailor Venus.

The third Blu-ray Disc contains all of the remaining bonus features. The first is “Moonlight Memories Pt. 1,” which runs for nine minutes and cosplayers, super fans, industry professionals, and a couple of other people share their favorite moments from the first season of Sailor Moon. The answers are intercut with the scene that each person is talking about. To be honest, I felt like I was watching a bunch of random people talking about the show. I would have liked this better if perhaps the current English dub cast or the original cast had been brought in to share their favorite moments of the show or favorite memories of working on the dub.

The longest feature is the AX Sailor Moon panel, which runs for 26 minutes. This panel features the introduction of the new dub cast for the series, as well as a Q&A panel with the new cast. The panel is hosted by Charlene Ingram, VIZ Media’s senior manager of animation marketing. Of the bonus features included on this set, this panel was probably the best one.

Then the official Sailor Moon cosplay teams from both Anime Expo and Otakon are interviewed for a 10-minute feature titled, “Cosplay Teams Interview.” I’m really not into cosplay, so this particular feature didn’t interest me as much as it could have. The Sailor Moon Day Highlights feature runs for almost six minutes, and includes footage from Anime Expo, San Diego Comic-Con, and Otakon. For me, at least, this wasn’t a very interesting feature.

The third Blu-ray Disc also includes another art gallery, which focuses on Serenity, Endymion, and objects associated with them. There’s a clean opening, as well as clean versions of both endings. However, the first ending is under the label “Clean Ending,” while the second is under the label “Ending Song.” The textless versions of the opening and ending can be watched with English subtitles, Romaji subtitles, or with no subtitles. It was a little disappointing to see the second version of the opening not receive a textless version. The song may not have changed, but there’s some very different animation sequences included in it. This omission could have been due to the fact that Toei didn’t provide a textless version of that opening when they sent materials to VIZ Media for this release.

When all is said and done, I can only truly recommend this release to fans of the original Sailor Moon anime. However, the fans of the original series who would most appreciate it would be the ones who don’t have a problem with VIZ Media restoring the series into its original presentation and providing a new English dub.

While I may not be enjoying Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2 as much as I hoped I would, I’m still glad to have the opportunity to see this series. It’s a classic anime from the 1990’s that ultimately helped to bring more girls into anime fandom, so it’s good for me to view the whole series at least once in order to have more knowledge about this piece of anime history.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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