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Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 30, 2014 by  



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“Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” is a blessing for fans who have wanted and waited for a complete “Sailor Moon” release in the United States.  The fact that 23-episodes are on Blu-ray is a great value compared to the four-episode releases in the past.  But for those who are hardcore about picture quality, just know that these episodes on Blu-ray are upscaled and received extensive DNR.

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi/PNP, Toei Animation Film. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 1992-1993

DURATION: Episode 1-23 (530 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English and Japanese

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: November 11, 2014


Originally created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Junichi Sato, Kunihiko Ikuhara

Script by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Megumi Sugihara, Shigeru Yanagawa, Sukehiro Tomita

Storyboard by Junichi Sato

Music by Kazuo Satou, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komoro

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Art Director: Junichi Tanijuchi

Art Design by Tadao Kubota, Takamura Mukuo

Produced by Iriya Azuma, Kenji Oota, Munehisa Higuchi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Emi Shinohara/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Princess Serenity/Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Katsuji Mori/Liam O’Brien as Nephrite

Kazuyuki Sogabe/Patrick Seitz as Kunzite

Keiichi Nanba/Lucien Dodge as Zoisite

Keiko Han/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Keiko Han/Cindy Robinson as Queen Beryl

Masaya Onosaka/Tony Daniels as Jadeite

Mika Doi as Queen Serenity

Noriko Uemura/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Queen Metallia

Shino Kakinuma/Danielle Judovitz as Naru Osaka

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen/Prince Endymion

Yasuhiro Takato as Artemis


Usagi Tsukino is a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, defender of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl!


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Considered as one of the most successful anime franchise in Japan, Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon was a manga and anime series that captivated fans worldwide.

Created by mangaka Naoko Takeuchi, the manga was serialized in Nakayoshi from 1991-1997, received 18 tankobon volumes and ran for 200 episodes on TV Asahi from 1992-1997.  Even receiving an English dubbed adaptation during the mid-90s.

The series would spawn three animated films, musicals, video games, toys, clothing and more!  And to this day, the popularity of “Sailor Moon” continues with a new generation of fans.

With a new series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” released in Japan and licensed for streaming in the USA by Viz Media on Hulu and Neon Alley in 2014, to make sure voice acting is consistent in the new series, the original series was redubbed in English by the current cast.

And to help promote the new series, Viz Media has released the original first 23 episodes of season one on Blu-ray!

The series revolves around  a Juban Middle School teenager named Usagi Tsukino.  A girl who is not too smart, often seen crying and loves eating.  One day, she encounters a black cat with a crescent-shaped symbol on its forehead.  Meanwhile, there is talk around town of a masked vigilante named Sailor V stopping criminals and becoming popular thanks to the media exposure.

But one day, as she comes into contact with the black cat, the cat begins to talk and introduce herself as Luna.  Luna gives Usagi a brooch which allows her to transform into Sailor Moon, whenever she is in danger.

That same day, she sees her best friend Naru panicking that her mother has turned into a monster named Morga and immediately, Usagi transforms into Sailor Moon and ends up defeating the evil Morga.  And she receives encouragement with a masked man known as Tuxedo Mask and learns that she has a power known as “Moon Tiara Boomerang” which can defeat and exterminate the monsters.

And while the evil Queen Beryl continues to create monster and do whatever she can to defeat Sailor Moon, Usagi begins to meet make new friends who also have a similar ability.

Can they together, defeat the evil monsters sent by Queen Beryl?


The main characters of “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One″ are:

  • Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino – The main protagonist. A teenager attending Juban Middle School who is clumsy, not-too-smart, often crying and often hungry.  But she is a person that has a lot of love, compassion and understanding towards people and animals.  She can transform into Sailor Moon, a soldier of love and justice.
  • Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru Chiba – A student at Usagi’s school, he often teases her and drives her mad.  He is a mysterious persona known as Tuxedo Mask and often aids Sailor Moon and the other Sailor senshi.
  • Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno –Very intelligent and always studying.  Ami can transform into Sailor Mercury, Soldier of Water and Wisdom.  Appears in episode 8.
  • Sailor Mars/Rei Hino – Rei is a miko (shrine maiden) and works as a Shinto priestess.  She has the power of precognition and uses Shinto scrolls to nullify evil.  Sailor Moon is the Soldier of Fire and Passion.  She is often arguing with Usagi.  Appears in episode 10.
  • Luna – A former advisor and servant to Queen Serenity, she was sent to Earth to look after the Sailor Soldiers.  She is often giving Usagi advice.

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VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (4:3).  It’s important to note that “Sailor Moon” did not receive the same expensive remastering and restoration as “Ranma 1/2” or “Dragon Ball Z”, the series was upscaled.  But that’s not a bad thing.  We have seen how FUNimation had upscaled a lot of their classic anime such as “Yu Yu Hakusho” and there was an improvement.

But with “Sailor Moon”, there appears to be an extensive amount of DNR used in order to clean up scratches and grain but it appears that it was overdone.  I noticed that there was ghosting and color bleeding and issues that people will see if comparing with the original ADV Films 2003 DVD release.  I know that these fans who care about anime on Blu-ray will complain about the picture quality, so those who are very picky about PQ, just know that a lot of DNR was used.

With that being said, you have another audience.  A group who came from the old school fan sub from VHS years that were used to watching bad quality video back then and now want to watch the series in HD and you have the anime fans who want to watch “Sailor Moon” and will watch it on their smaller TV or people who are not picky at all.

So, depending on which type of fan you are in the spectrum, if you are expecting the same type of remastering and restoration as “Ranma 1/2” or “Dragon Ball Z”, this series did not receive it, it’s just an upscale, but an upscale with a lot of DNR utilized.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Japanese and English.  It’s important to note that you can watch the series by selecting English without English subtitles, English with English subtitles, English subtitles on songs and signs or Japanese with English subtitles.

It’s very important to emphasize that those wanting the same English dub from the mid-90’s that they watched on television in the U.S., will not get that English dub on this Blu-ray release.  The English dub is new.

With that being said, there is an improvement of sound with the English soundtrack.  While Sailor Moon in Japanese is in its original presentation, the soundtrack has not been enhanced and sounds a bit weaker compared to the English dub.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon: Season One″ comes with the following special features:

DISC 3:

 

  • Sailor Moon Announcement Panel – (13:43) Viz Media Senior Manager of Animation Marketing Charlene Ingram reveals the surprise announcement of the “Sailor Moon” Blu-ray announcement at Anime Central.
  • English Dub Behind the Scenes – (12:54) Featuring behind-the-scenes recording of “Sailor Moon” at the studio and interviews with the voice cast.
  • Official Announcement Trailer – (3:19) The original announcement of Sailor Moon being released on Blu-ray, complete and uncensored.  And also the announcement of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal”.
  • Fan Reactions – (3:59) Charlene Ingram interviews with fans of “Sailor Moon” about their reactions to the series being released on Blu-ray.
  • AX Sailor Moon Reel – (1:49) A short featurette on Sailor Moon Day at Anime Expo.
  • Clean Opening and Closing – Opening and closing theme with optional English subtitles.
  • Gallery – Use your remote (or keyboard) to view the small galleries.
  • Trailers – Viz Media trailers

 

DISC 6:

Note: A few of the same special features from disc three are repeated in disc 6

  • Official Announcement Trailer – (3:19) The original announcement of Sailor Moon being released on Blu-ray, complete and uncensored.  And also the announcement of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal”.
  • AX Sailor Moon Reel – (1:49) A short featurette on Sailor Moon Day at Anime Expo.
  • Clean Opening and Closing – Opening and closing theme with optional English subtitles.
  • Gallery – Use your remote (or keyboard) to view the small galleries.
  • Trailers – Viz Media trailers

EXTRAS:

“Sailor Moon: Season One” comes with an 80-page booklet with episode summary, music lyrics and artwork.


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During my college years, I was a fan of the “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon” series.  I watched the original series in Japanese at the time and along with “Dragon Ball Z” and “Dragon Ball GT”, it was one of the few anime series I was watching from Japan during a time when Japanese video rental stores were everywhere in California.

Watching these episodes in not the greatest quality, may it be in Japanese or English fan subtitled, it didn’t matter as I was able to watch the popular hit anime series in America (as a release of the series on video seemed as it was never going to happen in the early ’90s).

I purchased the anime soundtrack to “Sailor Moon R” at the time.  Attended the very early anime conventions in America, in which you would see your few Sailor Moon cosplayers during the early ’90s and I can easily remember playing the “Sailor Moon S” fighting game on the 3DO with a few people who have gone on to be big names in the anime industry and then purchasing “Sailor Moon Super S” for nearly a hundred bucks on PlayStation.

And of course, remembering the U.S. English dub release of “Sailor Moon”.  Reading the Sailor Moon manga series from the old Mixx Zine years and purchasing the Japanese soundtracks of “Sailor Moon”.

So, in some ways, I can easily say that watching “Sailor Moon” was part of young life and possibly my first foray into watching an anime series that featured a cast primarily of strong female characters.

While “Sailor Moon S” will always be my favorite series of all “Sailor Moon” series for its more darker tone, I did enjoy the first season for its lighthearted humor and like all character-building seasons, with the release of Viz Media’s “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One”, this is the introduction to Usagi Tsukino, Ami Mizuno, Rei Hino, Mamoru Chiba and Luna.

While Sailor Venus was shown as this mysterious vigilante in first episode and other episodes of season one, both she and Sailor Jupiter will make their appearance in part two of season one.

The first 23 episodes feature Usagi and Luna trying to find the other Sailor Soldiers, meanwhile the evil Queen Beryl wanting her minions such as Jadeite, Nephrite and Zoisite to gather energy by sending monsters to Earth.

As for the Blu-ray release, as a fan of the series, it is great to see Viz Media releasing the series in its complete format, in Japanese and in English, but also giving a more modern English dub.  While I watched the original series in Japanese, I watched this Blu-ray release in the new English dub.  And I have to say the casting was fantastic for this newer English dub because the original dub that was shown on U.S. television back in the mid-90s, in my personal opinion, was not that great.

Unfortunately, because the series was upscaled, there will be an ongoing debate between videophiles who will be vocal against the use of excessive DNR especially when comparing with their original DVD releases. While those who are not so caring of the video PQ will find the series to suffice and to be much cleaner than what they probably watched on VHS back in the ’90s.  But I’m advocate of less to no DNR, but at the same time, knowing that not all companies can afford to do a major restoration to clean up a series.  In Japan, we have seen it done with “Dragon Ball Z”, “Ranma 1/2”, “Urusei Yatsura” and “Maison Ikkoku”, while in the U.S., we have seen a lot of upscales, some that look impressive.

So, I do know that the picture quality will be a sore spot for anime fans, especially those who care about picture quality and were expecting the best in HD.

As for the lossless soundtrack, the Japanese soundtrack using the original soundtrack is not as great as I would have hoped.  The English dub soundtrack is much more clearer and more pleasing to my ears.  Subtitles are in English and they are not optional in terms of clicking the subtitles button your remote.  You need to select Japanese with English subtitles, there is no option to remove it if you want to watch it in Japanese only.

The series comes with a good number of special features that showcase the announcement at Anime Central, “Sailor Moon Day” at Anime Expo, interviews with the English dub cast and more.

“Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” was a big shock for me to see released on Blu-ray.  Because it was not done on the Japanese side with a full restoration, I was surprised to see Viz Media do an upscaled Blu-ray release.  But as a fan, how can you not be happy with a release of the first 23-episodes on Blu-ray, in Japanese and English complete.  No worries about transformation edits or violent tones being removed, this is what fans wanted to see.

Overall, “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” is a blessing for fans who have wanted and waited for a complete “Sailor Moon” release in the United States.  The fact that 23-episodes are on Blu-ray is a great value compared to the five or six-episode DVD releases in the past (which were quite expensive back then per volume).

While videophiles will not be pleased with the DNR thus affecting picture quality, I’m sure there is another side of fandom who are watching the series and are not as hardcore into the technical details of the more hardcore anime on Blu-ray fans.

But knowing that the picture quality of the series is hampered by excessive DNR, I can only hope that Viz Media takes it down a notch and find a way to please fans on both sides of the spectrum.

Still, it’s still hard to pass up all 23-episodes on Blu-ray for “Sailor Moon” and if you are a hardcore fan of the series and the DNR issue is not going to bother you, then definitely give “Sailor Moon: Season One – Part One” a try!






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