Sailor Moon Crystal ended recently, and the general impressions the community had about it were negative. I defended it back when it began airing, calling it an average series that is still better than flashy trainwrecks like Zankyou no Terror and Death Parade, which get ridiculous amounts of undeserved hype. But besides all that, why did people treat it in such a negative way? Well, it’s a mix of different things.
As a remake it had very big shoes to fill. Because of nostalgia the older version is always considered to be the better version, and by having the newer one being constantly compared to the old, any differences it has makes it seem like it’s worse for deviating from the one true version. Which is silly, since it was supposed to be a more faithful adaptation of the manga, and thus should be considered better for being closer to the original version.
But even those who hadn’t watched the older version, still didn’t like the newer one, mostly because of the visual aesthetics. The 90s version was mostly hand drawn and although it had lots of quality drops, they were compensated by making the characters move in an elastic way. You know, like Looney Tunes, they were deforming, and stretching, and doing lots of exaggerated motions that were fooling the mind to accept them.
Crystal on the other hand is using a lot of cheap CGI, which makes the characters move in unnatural ways. It also doesn’t help how the artstyle of the manga looks very weird today. The Barbie doll faces and the skinny bodies look ok in manga format since the visual effects used in the backgrounds give them a fairy tale feel. But when you adapt the same thing with CGI, it looks creepy because it makes the characters look ugly and their motions bizarre.
But what about the pacing? One of the biggest problems most had with the older version, was how it was 80% filler. Crystal stays close to the manga storyline, and as such covers in only 26 episodes, material which the older version stretched out to 80. So, does that mean that at least the story is much better in Crystal for being much more tight, and filler-free? No, it doesn’t. Things are moving so fast that it becomes very hard to believe the characters became close friends or fell in love with each other in a single episode.
The chemistry amongst the Sailor Scouts feels like it came out of nowhere, Tuxedo Mask feels like a creepy stalker following Bunny anywhere she goes, and Sailor Moon instantly has the hots for a guy whose face she doesn’t even see. Yeah, ok, they say it’s because they all knew each other in their previous life. It still feels forced and unnatural because we don’t see them together long enough to accept that. It’s the exact same thing as in SAO where we are supposed to believe Kirito is in love with Asuna just because we are told they were together for two years, even though we never see anything regarding that.
The exact same things had happened in the older version of Sailor Moon, but because of the inserted filler episodes, there was a huge gap between major events, which was making you feel like the characters were slowly becoming friends, or slowly falling in love. It wasn’t simply there to stall time, it was used to make the relationships amongst the characters to feel more natural. Especially when it comes to the bad guys, they were a hundred times more fleshed out than in the manga, where they were simply introduced and killed off in the same chapter like typical monsters of the week.
Crystal tried to flesh out the villains far more than the manga did, by not killing them off right away. But because the story was moving from one major event immediately to the next one, there was not much time spent on any of them. Without much downtime between events, there was no build up, so when the villains are talking and scheming feels like dead time instead of fleshing out of their personalities.
Speaking of talking and scheming, not even the major events felt interesting to the most part, because of too much infodumping going on. It feels like all they do is having someone talk for 10 minutes as the rest of them listen while gasping in a silly way, and then exchange a few energy attacks before the whole thing is over after a few minutes. This was also happening in the manga, but you didn’t know how much time it was taking to say all that stuff, because it was in written form.
And I might as well add how all the cool ideas Sailor Moon had, have been reused way too many times since it first came out, to the point they mean very little today. Yeah, it was the magical girl show that took the genre into the teenage demographic, but after Princess Tutu, and the Precure franchise, and that piece of milking shit Madoka Magica Rebellion, we got used to magical girl stuff full of action and dark themes. Crystal came out at a time when all its innovation was no longer innovating. With its formula being dated and the presentation coming off as dry and ugly, you can excuse most of the negative opinions the community had about it.
What you can’t excuse though, is how the same community was hyping the hell out of Fate Stay Night, even though it is a decade old eroge about a typical shonen story mixed with harem and bad sex scenes. They got distracted by the pretty colors and their critical thought went out the window. So it all comes down to Sailor Moon Crystal being disliked for not being mostly flashy, poser, shallow style, than a subversion of the magical girl formula, something the older version was.