Sailor Moon

Alt titles: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon

Reviews

VivisQueen's avatar By on Jun 5, 2009

Story

Thrilling fantastical battles. Heart-rending romance. Heroic and self-sufficient women. I expected nothing less from a seminal mahou shoujo series. Emphasis on ‘expected’, because what Sailor Moon actually delivers is something altogether different. At once idiotically basic and zanily funny, Sailor Moon often gives the impression it wants to insult the intelligence of its viewers, albeit with a cheeky wink and a smile.

Generally, coincidence and happenstance play too big a part in resolving the conflicts, ensuring that nothing genuinely surprising transpires. This applies particularly to the well-tailored crusader, Tuxedo Mask, who appears without fail in every damned battle, inevitably stealing the victory which the sailor warriors should have secured by themselves. In time, rather than wondering excitedly how Sailor Moon will evade her enemies’ latest trap, viewers will wearily wait for Tuxedo Mask to toss his trademark rose at the monsters’ feet and literally steal the show.

Even Card Captor Sakura, a younger programme of similar formulaic quality and with twice as many episodes, still manages to inject enough peril and variation into its magical battles to keep viewers guessing. Sailor Moon, in comparison, lacks the necessary imagination. The series even goes through various antagonists, one for every arc of the overall plot, but with each performing pretty much the same function (stealing energy from humans) using similarly themed tricks (did the life-sucking jewellery prove a dud? Then try the life-sucking sports equipment!).

And yet, with all of its flaws laid bare, dissected, and analysed, Sailor Moon remains a series worth celebrating. Indeed, I have yet to mention one fundamental trait which singlehandedly raises the show’s entertainment value. The comedy. Even if little of substance happens, the script injects so many precious moments of hilarity (wacky expressions, ironic twists, slapstick combat etc) that the weak plot and shallow fights become secondary concerns. Often, the main appeal of an episode will be Usagi’s uproarious struggles to grasp moral lessons or practical skills like sewing, cooking, and not being selfish.

Furthermore, while the battles disappoint, the drama surrounding them fares much better. In particular, the arc involving Nephrite builds upon the show’s mystery as well as providing some deft character development and darkly emotive outcomes.


Animation

For some, Sailor Moon will represent a nostalgic jaunt through old-school graininess and quaint two-dimensionality reminiscent of an innocent, less cynical era. To others, it’ll just look old. Background detail is so sparse that it might as well not exist, and with such sketchy watercolour effects, the series feels like a moving picture book rather than a billion-yen project. Add to that the repetitive transformation sequences and finishing moves and you easily have two or three minutes of recycled frames taking up precious running time every episode.

On the other hand, the cute style is cheerfully vibrant and easy on the eye. Moreover, Usagi’s explosive facial expressions alone compensate for any technical weaknesses.


Sound

Apart from the catchy opening theme, I’ve largely forgotten Sailor Moon’s soundtrack, which, like the battles, is repetitive. One or two character themes might demand attention in the short-term, but none will leave any lasting impression.


Characters

Shallow, self-absorbed, and a shameless cry baby, Usagi Tsukino, the titular hero of the show, should rank amongst the most reprehensible of protagonists. In keeping with the plot, however, her humour becomes her saving grace. She may be irresponsible and make many mistakes, but her brazen cheerfulness and naivety will endear her to most viewers. Moreover, she generally ends up doing the right thing even if it takes her longer than most to understand why she should. In her own petulant words: ‘I do a good job when I have to!’

Additionally, the show plays Usagi off other characters very well. Mamoru’s (Tuxedo Mask) teasing relationship with her provides many moments of comedy whilst competently setting the two up as lovers for later events. The rest of the sailor warriors also evince memorable and lovable personalities, with the acerbic Sailor Mars and gentle, intelligent Sailor Mercury topping the list.

The antagonists, on the other hand, uphold Sailor Moon’s darker themes as they lie, cheat, and murder their way through the plot. The four Shitennou or chief henchmen of the Dark Kingdom - Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite – take on the sailor warriors in sequence, each lasting several episodes before conceding their role to the next. While Jadeite is the first of the four to attempt to destroy the human race, and Kunzite the last, both are also the least memorable. In fact, the conflicts peak in quality through the Nephrite arc and generally stay interesting through the Zoisite arc as well. The reason for this is that Nephrite and Zoisite’s personalities exceed the bland archetypes of the other two, with Nephrite later showing some fantastic developments and Zoisite being unashamedly and devilishly gay.


Overall

Make no mistake, Sailor Moon is a significantly flawed work. On balance, though, the series redeems itself with a disarming wit that belies its shallow appearance. Once past the introductory episodes, it transforms into a light-hearted romp that even has one or two emotional surprises up its sleeve, and is just bizarrely charming. The simplistic presentation makes it perfect for children and young teens, but with its strong cast and self-deprecating humour, I also recommend this to adults looking for something undemanding but satisfying.

6/10 story
5.5/10 animation
5.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
therik's avatar By on May 25, 2009

Story

Like Metal Gear Solid and Hello Kitty, Sailor Moon is a seemingly random sequence of English words, ostensibly put together by some Japanese person with no regards to their meaning or grammatical function. And yet, like the other two examples, they form a combination recognisable even to the lay man. The reason why such a bizarre collocation trips off the tongue has something to do with the anime's long-lasting appeal. An appeal which I am only beginning to understand.

Following Sailor Moon's story requires quite considerable suspension of disbelief, even more so than other shows where school-age girls magically change outfits to fight monsters with their super powers. You see, once you've taken all that for granted, Sailor Moon still provides so many plot holes and flaws that it's a wonder the whole thing doesn't fall apart. To begin with, the characters with "secret identities" look no different from their everyday selves, making everyone who doesn't immediately realise that Sailor Moon is Usagi Tsukino seem profoundly stupid. The show even goes as far as to rub salt into this wound when supposedly intelligent characters mistake innocent bystanders for a girl with the most ridiculous hairstyle this side of Dragonball Z. For some, this may form part of the show's camp charm, but it was something I found hard to reconcile.

Although Sailor Moon is capable of drama, and even serves it up on a couple of occasions, the fight scenes lack anything of the sort. The combat is loathsomely formulaic, with very little in the way of innovation. Tuxedo Mask's appearances quickly become predictable, and at no point does defeat for the Sailor Warriors ever seem possible, let alone probable. Battles occur almost as a formality or a ritual, with the monster's howl of defeat rarely delayed by anything other than a conversation between the Sailor Warriors, depriving the show of any suspense.

Another driving force behind Sailor Moon is the romance. Unfortunately, this is just barely more successful than the fights. There are two or three scenes which are pleasant and well developed enough to give a warm, tingling feeling but a lot of the romantic subplots are ruined by the immature attitude of Usagi and a couple of others towards love. Usagi may well be a fresh new take on the female lead, but I felt no burning desire for the show's central couple to get together, an issue which greatly reduced the eventual payoff and impact of the show's conclusion.

Luckily, the show finds salvation in its comedy. While Usagi is hardly an ideal romantic heroine, her wacky antics never once failed to put a smile on my face and really helped to propel me through the endless monster-of-the-week onslaught and make the whole package entirely more palatable. If it wasn't for her cowardice, laziness and overwrought fantasies, the series would have given me far too little to love.


Animation

Sailor Moon's animation is very much of its time. It certainly does its job, but anyone used to the finer animation of recent times may well bemoan the lack of detail in the backgrounds, or the occasionally jerky motions. In my opinion, however, these problems - and I hesitate to call them "problems", as the animation is as good as one can expect for its age - really have no negative impact on the show itself.

With that said, there are a few avoidable issues which affect the quality of the show. There are some minor inconsistencies, such as during battle when characters suddenly appear in a different location with little evidence for how they got there. There is also one major error of this kind, where a character uses a piece of clothing as a bandage, only for the clothes to be inexplicably repaired a few episodes later. Without meaning to go into spoilers, the lack of attention to detail is unforgivable, given the importance of the bandage scene in the storyline. In addition to this, the series makes liberal use of stills, particularly during the battle scenes, which sap the excitement out of many of the fights.

More attention, inevitably, is paid to the transformation scenes, which is just as well, given that no episode passes without at least one Sailor Warrior changing outfits. Although the animation is of a relatively high quality, there are some 46 episodes in Sailor Moon, and surely even a toddler would tire of such exhaustive repetition. Attempts are made to mix things up, with Sailors occasionally transforming simultaneously, the fact that the exact same footage is used each time makes this nothing more than a stopgap measure.


Sound

While watching this series, I heard the exact same OP twice a day for over three weeks. The fact that I still love it is no doubt a testament to its quality. Along with the first ED, it was also adapted and arranged for use in the episodes themselves with great success. The remainder of the soundtrack was decent enough but far from memorable.

The voicing on the whole was marvelous, with the central characters' voices injecting both themselves and the show as a whole with personality. Even the main antagonists, who were given little motivation or development, managed to come across as unique individuals rather than generic enemy henchmen. The voices of the huge cast of monster characters, however, were far more camp than they were threatening, which contributed to a lack of intensity during many of the fights. The battles also suffered from the merciless repetition of the protagonists' attacks. While shouting out the name of your special move is clearly the absolute zenith of awesome, shouting it out the same way every single time is simply tiresome.


Characters

The anime succeeded in presenting a good range of characters, although I felt that a couple could have used a little more fleshing out and were introduced far too late into the series. Nonetheless, Sailors Moon Mercury and Mars alone gave a good enough balance of personalities to keep things interesting. More impressively, however the main villains all had sufficient individual traits and characteristics to place them above and beyond the level of the generic grunt soldiers they could easily have been.

The peripheral cast, such as Usagi's friends and family, were interesting enough and were used very wisely. Whether their role was comic or tragic, the series' side characters had no problems fitting into, and even becoming integral parts of the story.


Overall

I have a difficult time giving a brief outline of my feelings on the series as it seems to balance itself out when taken as a whole. What it lacks in finesse or depth it makes up for with comedy and wit. While the story is predictable enough, it takes a couple of unexpected detours which may end up being more memorable than the main plot itself. It does what it says on the tin, and then delivers just a little more bang for your buck.

I see no compelling reason to recommend it above other, better magical girl anime, such as CardCaptor Sakura or Shugo Chara! but this series is an enjoyable watch, with a quirky and genuine sense of humour. When it comes down to it, Sailor Moon's trump card seems to be its lighthearted simplicity and if that's something which appeals to you, then you should probably go ahead and add it to your Want to Watch list right now.

5.5/10 story
4.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
RoBorg's avatar By on Oct 1, 2011

Well well well. Who has never seen at least some episodes of this anime, hands up. If that's your case, then you are probably no older than 10-12 years, as whoever had his/her childhood/adolescence back between 1992 and around 2000 *must* have seen at least some episodes of this anime at least once. Yes, even the manly 25 year old guy with 80 kg muscles for whom one wouldn't even think that he ever even had a childhood. By choice or not, everyone knows this one, just like everyone sees the stars in the sky, even while he/she actually has no clues on what they are made of, what's their name, etc.
Together with the Power Rangers and some others, this one is a milestone that signed an era of what concerns anime, cartoons and TV shows in general of a couple of decades ago, even for those who weren't plunged at all into the anime world.

Don't deny it. Basically everyone has seen it... But most just refuse to admit it out of personal pride.

That said, while I watched it again just a few days ago, I'm also considering my memories of when I saw it about 15 years ago, and the impact that this anime had at that time.
If you just want an objective review of what this anime shall be judged by *today's* standards, it's not exactly what you will find here.

Story - 8/10
The Dark Kingdom on one side, attempting to restore the former glory of the realm of monsters on Earth by stealing life essence from humans.
The Sailor warriors on the others, simple girls who discover one truth after another on the kingdoms of Earth and Moon of the past, as well as on the past of themselves, and are pulled into a quest to avoid the submission of the Earth to the will of the Dark Kingdom.

The main plot mentioned is quite straightforward, with no exceptional depth of details.
Also the first episodes all follow the same pattern: a monster appears, some of the already known Sailor Senshi goes down to battle, and with some efforts the monster is defeated.
And this keeps happening as long as the girls are fighting the pawns of the Dark Kingdom.
Things get a little more interesting when the ones behind the apparition of those monsters start to reveal themselves and to interact with some humans, sometimes even with the Sailor Senshi. And since up to some point both parts do not know the real identities of the ones they are fighting (let's just pretend that, when transformed, they cannot be recognized :P), a few interesting situations rise up.

But the real turning point is when something determinant is revealed to both factions. No spoils, but I guess everyone who has seen Sailor Moon knows what I am referring to, and everyone who still hasn't (if there really is someone that doesn't) will foresee that revelation already from the 2nd or 3rd episode.
However, what really counts is that from that moment the narration gets more interesting.

In the end it is not an excellent story by nowadays' standards, but nevertheless 20 years ago it surely made its way into the hearts of many of us.

Animation - 9/10
Looking at the anime you will probably think: "Wow that's quite a generous judgement here".
If I had to examine raw graphic alone, then I would surely agree. But there's more behind it.

The way the events contained in Sailor Moon can be remembered thanks to some really good choices in the animations actually show how it's not just the quality of the single frames that require quite a mastery in the making of.
It's been many, many years since the last time I've seen this, but I remembered the transformations, the moves, the aspects of the characters like if I had seen it yesterday.

Simple animation, yes, but effective, really effective.

Kinda of the same of Shana's "Urusai, urusai, urusai!" in Shakugan no Shana: you won't forget it that soon.

Sound - 6/10
Mostly a discrete work here, just some of the voices are sometimes "irritating".
The little song that plays in the background during transformation-time is cute, nothing extraordinary, but it would surely be missed if it wasn't there.

I don't know what to add.

Watch the live action and it will be a complete different story. :)

Characters - 8/10
While the anime rotates around the battle between good and evil, some importance is given to how the characters can live up this newfound reality on a psychologic basis.
Obviously, considering the main target audience of this anime, these aspects could not be taken to a too complex level.

Nevertheless the basis of these aspects are there, allowing the viewer to either simply enjoy the development of the strife between good and evil or if preferred question him/herself on the psychology of the characters of both factions. In that second case one would discover that it is not such a simple "monster-of-the-day" anime.

Again, I think that the live action further improve these factors.

Overall - 8/10
One could call Sailor Moon a childish anime for sissy mademoiselles. I do not care. It was part of my youth and for that I give it the credits it deserves.

I would just add that if you liked the anime, you should really watch the live action as well (I mentioned it a couple of times in this review).
While the fights are not exactly a masterwork, there is a way deeper exploration of the characters' personalities, and a way more interesting development of the relationships between the characters.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
6/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
thundercracer's avatar By on Aug 6, 2012

This anime is one of the legendary magical girl animes. It was the first one I've ever seen and the first anime I've ever watched. It's fairly old for an anime, but the quality is wonderful for the age of it. It has lovable characters, good voices/voice actors even in English, and the story was alright.

7/10 story
6/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
Mila94's avatar By on Aug 14, 2011

Sailor Moon czyli w Polsce znana jako Czarodziejka z księżyca było pierwszym anime, które emitowane było w telewizji Polsat. Pierwsze odcinki leciały już w 1993r. Niestety nie było mi dane obejrzeć pierwszych serii przygód Bunny Tsukino, ponieważ urodziłam się dopiero w 1994 r. , czyli moim pierwszym odcinkiem, którym obejrzałam był... cóż... muszę przyznać że to było w 2000 roku, czyli jak taki pięcioletni dzieciak mógł to zapamiętać... ;))

Jako mała dziewczynka "Sailorki", były dla mnie moimi idolkami, ideałami nastolatek i  obsesją!!! Nawet zaklęcie, które wypowiada Ami, czyli "mydło powidło", które teraz zdaje mi się śmieszne, wcześniej było świętością. Tak samo jak... hmm... nie wiem dla czego ale na Minako (moją faworytkę), mówiłam kiedyś "Karakandi", nie wiem co to słowo znaczy po japońsku, ale tak faktycznie na nią mówiłam.

Cóż... wróćmy do tłumaczenia się z moich niskich ocen. Po pierwsze w mojej nocie nie może dominować sentymentalność tylko obiektywizm. Sama opowieść jest dla mnie mało interesująca. Czarodziejki, które w każdym odcinku ratują świat przed królestwem ciemności, które wysysa energię z ludzi... bla bla bla... . Jedynym ciekawym plusem tej historii jest ich życie prywatne. Może na tym właśnie twórcy powinni się skupić...?

Animacja jest taka sobie. W końcu jak na tamte czasy to i tak nie jest źle. Wyaźnie widać starą kreskę i naprawdę rysowane w starym stylu tło.

O bohaterach już wspomniałam. Uwielbiałam Minako za jej urodę i bujne blond włosy. Bunny (czyli Usagi), lubiłam za jej prywatną historię "Serenity i Endymiona". Pozostałe też lubiłam...

Całość oceniam na 5, bo nawet mimo tych licznych minusów to i tak pozostaje moim pierwszym anime, które kochałam. A tak poza tym ciekawe dlaczego nasi polscy tłumacze nie zostawili japońskiego imienia Czarodziejki z Księżyca, czyli Usagi, które brzmi o wiele jepiej od angielskiego. Ludzie! Przecież to japońskie anime a nie amerykańska podróba!!!

6/10 story
5/10 animation
3/10 sound
7/10 characters
5/10 overall