To the majority of all Anime fans, whether Sailor Moon is good enough to charm a little girl off her feet or appeal to an older audience seeking nostalgia is a question of utter irrelevance. What most people should be asking themselves is whether or not it can actually appeal to a male or adult audience, and after having seen all 46 episodes I'm pretty sure that it can. Now, I do admit that I used to watch this as a child, but the only parts of it I could remember before I re-visited it were the transformation sequences, Sailor Mars and the Swedish dub of the ending theme. All in all this was a fairly pleasant viewing experience.
Despite my recently acquired affection for the franchise, I definitely wouldn't call Sailor Moon story driven. It recycles repetitive formulas like identical battle techniques throughout all episodes and a monster-of-the-week theme that quickly loses its charm. One could argue that it plays right into the hands of a little child's yearning for familiarity by featuring at least 5 minutes of recycled material in each episode, and this damages the overall progression heavily. So, why would anyone want to watch this? The answer is simple; it's insanely charming.
It depicts a friendship between 5 Sailor Soldiers; teenaged girls’ protecting the virtues of love and justice, and it does so with remarkable precision. They all have their adolescent crushes on various boys and they always find themselves in situations that most little girls probably dream of themselves, especially when fed the Prince-Princess propaganda established in the West by Walt Disney. All in all, the narrative of Sailor Moon isn't as atrocious as many would think, but it most certainly isn't very good.
I'm not sure if I'm going delusional, but I think Sailor Moon undergoes a transition in animation quality somewhere around episode 10. I remember how the awful visuals and shapes annoyed me in the first few episodes, but then somewhere along the line I felt like the visual section improved itself heavily. In all honesty, I wouldn't say Sailor Moon's animation is dangerously outdated, but it definitely can't compete with more modern titles.
Some sequences that are re-used throughout all episodes are remarkably better animated, and probably looked stunning by contemporary standards. But then again, if you're going to show Sailor Moon and her friends transform more than 30 times, you better at least make the sequences aesthetically pleasing.
Another surprisingly strong category is the sound. The opening theme is very suitable to the themes of the story, and is designed to be used as part of the soundtrack as well, though in other versions where violins and music boxes are used to play it out. The mundane struggles of Usagi (Sailor Moon) are complimented with jolly and mood-raising little tunes that fit in very well with the context.
The voice actors were very formidable when it comes to displaying the basic set of emotions that they're required too. With such an emphasis on their different personalities, it's highly beneficial with acting of such unexpected quality.
If anyone ever told me that Sailor Moon is character driven I would have laughed hysterically. Now I realize that this is actually the case. Each Sailor Soldier is designed with different personalities and virtues so that most girls (and boys) will find at least one character to relate to. Character development progresses slowly but is definitely present most of the time.
The events of Sailor Moon take place in a world where minimal changes to your clothing makes you 100% unrecognizable, even by your friends and family. Physically, Sailor Moon is just a slightly altered, yet very identical version of Usagi, but nobody seems able to figure out that they're actually the same person.
I'll also acknowledge a relationship within the show that was censored in the U.S version when it aired on TV. The two servants of The Dark Kingdom, Zoisite and Kunzite are involved in a romantic relationship despite them both being male (could never happen in Western cartoons). The American dub pretended that Zoisite was a woman which works well with his feminine characteristics, but in all honesty I liked the way something as rare to see in a children's show was included.
Despite exploring some darker themes by the end of its run, Sailor Moon remembers its origin with an admirable determination; it depicts a world where girls long for their princes, boys for their princesses, and where love holds a tremendous power. The show is recommended primarily for a younger audience, but is definitely enjoyable for older ones as well. There are times when the lack of plot progression will anger you, but if you just stick with it you'll get a surprisingly good show. Note how many times I use the word "surprising" or "surprisingly" in this review!
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