To start off, to this day people are incorrectly reporting the new season will be airing here or there or that there will be one and there won’t be one- so I’ve just decided that if a new season of Crystal airs I’ll see it when it comes. I’ll be covering it if it happens and you can expect me to be excited, but given some of these sites seem fake and some of them seem to be massive miscommunications with no real announcement I have to say unfortunately I don’t know anything about it yet.
That being said this is the finale. This is the true season ending and we have no idea when the next season might happen. This is finally the place where all my concerns and ideas and impressions come together. For some insight if you’re coming into this trying to ascertain a reviewer’s opinions of the whole series; I am a long time Sailor Moon fan. I have watched every dub and every sub and bought overpriced bootleg dvds with babysitting money when I was a little girl: Despite my early reviews of this show I am a very critical Sailor Moon fangirl. For all intents and purposes I am the target audience, at least in America.
I will admit clearly: I understand exactly what every criticism of this show has been. I have shared in a few of them, namely that the animation quality can completely plummet and the egregious CGI transformations do no justice to the nostalgia of the original. There is no denying that this anime is not perfect and it has a very unique problem that when other nostalgic shows are given the same treatment, they perform just as well in viewers eyes. The best similarity I can think of is Dragon Ball Z Kai, which abridged and retold Dragon Ball Z and was generally viewed as ‘good for us new content but bad for us they ruined a lot of this content’. Sailor Moon Crystal is unique even from that because it reinterpreted Sailor Moon from it’s original source material.
The backstory of Sailor Moon is pretty simple, in a time of much longer anime Sailor Moon was padded with fillers and plot changes that made the show almost completely different from the Sailor Moon we have seen in Crystal. Almost. The truth of the matter is the show and it’s original source material share the basic backbone of the same show, but there is a key difference. Sailor Moon Crystal is 26 episodes long and covered two seasons, whereas the original anime in that time not only had a second season that was a filler arc, but even discounting the filler arc had a total of 76 episodes ( 1-47 + 60-89). That is 50 more episodes than Sailor Moon Crystal had to do the exact same content. So tell me here fellow Sailor Moon fans, how do we fit the following content into a show with 50 episodes less:
More development for the scouts- development that only existed in the original anime.
Less time focused on Mamoru and Usagi’s relationship while also establishing the source materials heavy reference to this.
The entire plot without any of the plot difference from the first anime while still remaining true to Naoko Takeuchi.
Every difference every fan has in opinion over the concept of what the show should be like in contrast to the original.
In the original Sailor Moon dub there were numerous episodes devoted solely to developing characters. This was development that changed characters from their original concepts. If you don’t believe me then all one has to do is refer to a particular love triangle that existed only in the original anime and then compare the same characters from that anime to this one. The love triangle I am referring to pits Sailor Mars against Usagi for Mamoru’s affections, a plot that never existed in the source and was never supported by anything else, but throws it in quite clearly in the first season until Usagi is revealed to be Princess Serenity. If you look at Crystal not only does this never exist, but most of the Scouts don’t have opinions of Mamoru until they know who he is in general. All the Scouts were wary of Tuxedo Mask, but none of them had romantic interest in Mamoru. This is especially true concerning the Senshi, whose main focus was on the love they felt for Usagi.
You cannot compare the original anime and Crystal while ignoring this stuff. You can’t say ‘I hate it because it’s not like the original’ without directly confronting the fact that the original was so different from the actual source material. Naoko herself admits she felt very sloppy in her rookie days, but for years there has also been a section of fandom that have clamored and exclaimed that the manga is so much better than the original. Before Crystal existed I openly hated the manga for this very reason: people were willing to discount the original anime because of it’s problems and openly love the manga more. I couldn’t understand this. Now we are at an opposite extreme, we are unable to appreciate something all of us wanted because it is not perfect.
I am ashamed of my fandom in reality. We exist in a time where our love of a media has given us a source material devoted story and that has faithfully retold the story the way it was originally given: but now suddenly it is a problem. The manga that was adored and considered a collector’s item people needed is now having it’s flaws pointed out. This manga has been out since I was born and yet we were willing to laud it until now. This anime is exactly what it says on the tin: It is Sailor Moon Crystal, a manga based retelling of the series we adore. We have the unique and terrible problem that we get multiple ways to view our story. This happened before, however, when we got the Sailor Moon live action. Sailor Moon is just like any other anime media: we get different retellings. But the difference in this situation is that Sailor Moon Crystal is a faithful adaptation from the source material that made it exist. To blast it for being exactly what it is supposed to be is insulting to the very nature of Sailor Moon.
We wanted this. We got it. And you know what it sparked? A revitalization. The announcement of Crystal prompted VIZ to license it and the original, creating an entirely new dub and at the very least a version with subs that can be legally bought in America. We’ve got countless merchandise and a completely new way to see our favorite media. Crystal brought Sailor Moon back from a period where merchandise was hard to find and helped it explode. We may have been getting the manga more recently and we may have had more merchandise than before, but it was Crystal that made most of this possible. We got a new way to look at Sailor Moon and give our attention and appreciation, and that’s how it is.
Do you know what else we got from Crystal? In the original anime the love between Mamoru and Usagi was so disrespected that love triangles were even more prevalent than in Crystal. Ultimately they didn’t have meaningful affection for each other until their destinies were revealed, leaving some fans with the feeling that their romance was lacking. Chibi-Usa was shown as spoiled beyond reason and more often than not existed to foil Usagi’s attempts to be affectionate with Mamoru. Everyone was given more development but for the sake of humor some of them lost their way. Usagi’s future self was even represented as someone who was stupid and incapable of writing. Sailor Moon’s original anime is a precious and amazing contribution to work for girls and has forever shaped my life. It is also rife with issues that Crystal fixed.
In this anime there is no doubt that Usagi and Mamoru love each other. There is no doubt that their love is a central focus for good reason and the best part? It’s clear Usagi and ChibiUsa love each other beyond reason even in the past. The second piece of Sailor Moon Crystal proved Usagi is capable of loving her friends and Chibi-Usa just as deeply as Mamoru, without discounting her relationship there. Are there issues? Of course there are! That Naoko wrote Usagi to have killed herself over Mamoru in the first place is troubling. Never kill yourself over a boyfriend. That the animation falters at times is annoying. The fact that the transformations scenes in the show were CGI was absolutely disappointing. I wish there could’ve been ten more episodes with original content written by Naoko herself to give every relationship development and to show exactly the nature of everything. How wonderful would an entire episode devoted to the Generals be? How cool would it be to see Rei’s real struggles and the difference in her original anime counterpart and the counterpart Naoko had in mind?
People have loved the manga for years. People have loved the original for years. And you know what else they should love? Crystal. If you love the manga then you have no excuse not to love Crystal. If you love the original and cannot see the merit in fixing some of the original’s mistakes then I don’t know why you wanted to watch Crystal. Every person on this planet has a different opinion but the simple fact is that Sailor Moon Crystal delivered every loss with a blow, every tear with a sting, every moment of triumph with a smile, and every episode with a desire to see another. If you can get passed Mars and Usagi bickering pointlessly and the complete change in Rei’s character from manga to anime, then the animation errors they are fixing in the BR distribution is no excuse.
I loved Crystal. I watched each episode with Midnight and a few other friends of mine and each of us was moved by the episodes. There were plenty of times I remembered exactly what I loved about Sailor Moon as I watched it. I remember being 6 years old and watching this anime in my house, confused as to why it was recorded at a different time because my timezone was different. I remember taking the tv away from my grandma and begging her to let me watch. I remember being bullied by my own babysitter’s children and feeling heartbroken when the only joy I had, watching this show, was taken by them because they hated it. There isn’t a moment Crystal doesn’t make me remember my pain, happiness, sorrow, joy- everything the original made me feel. It’s different. It’s got problems. But Sailor Moon Crystal is Sailor Moon and it helped inspire and rejuvenate my heart the same way the original did.
As a reviewer it’s my job to point out flaws and positives. I’d be remiss if I gave the story a perfect score because it is not perfect. Rather, I will recommend to all of you that Crystal needs to be seen with the original anime. If you don’t see both of them together you miss something- either the true extent of Usagi’s love for her friends or perhaps the true nature of her love for Chibi-Usa, maybe you won’t get to see the pretty transformations or maybe you won’t get to see some important backstories even the original left out. Watch both of these incarnations and enjoy them for what they are. Decide if you like Naru with Nephrite or maybe you like Nephrite with Jupiter because of the past. Maybe you’ll even prefer the later subtext in arcs not yet animated by Crystal. The beautiful thing about Crystal is now we have different incarnations and different choices. We have nothing but options now! If we’re pissed off by an episode of one, why not watch the other? You can binge watch both. You can hate one and love the other. But discounting either doesn’t make you a better fan: it means you aren’t taking Sailor Moon for what it is: a story about love, friendship, where being a girl doesn’t have to make you weak- where being weak doesn’t make you less- and where learning how different people can be while still being true to themselves is the most important thing.
Afterall, Crystal or Original, what does it matter? Here’s hoping for the next season, and see you soon.
Overall Review: 9/10