Sailor Moon Crystal - Anime Review
This review is for the Dark Kingdom story arc that takes place over the first 14 episodes of the series.
If you were a child in the 1990s, you likely remember watching Sailor Moon; it was the second-most popular cartoon from that decade after all. Well, the famous heroins are back in the series reboot called Sailor Moon Crystal (or Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal if you want to be very specific, but most people just call it Sailor Moon Crystal).
I admit, I never did watch the full original series as it aired in Japan, mainly since the whole series never did come to North America, but I did enjoy watching what we were given, so when I saw Sailor Moon Crystal on Crunchyroll I had to check it out. I certainly wasn't disappointed.
The series starts off familiar enough, actually the first episode is extremely similar to the original, but after a few episodes the story takes a very different path. Gone are those "monster of the week" stories that filled most of the series. Actually, the entire closed-story approach that made it easy to pick up any episode without watching the previous one is gone, as is the child-like stories that appealed to our younger selves.
Instead, Crystal is a one long serialized story that takes a much darker tone that more closely resembles the manga it is based from. The dangers are amplified, as are their powers, their emotions, their fights, and their weapons.
One of my biggest gripe with the original Sailor Moon anime was how unbalanced the sailor guardians, or scouts as the American version called them, were. Even though Murcury is still weaker than the others in offense, her extra abilities make her feel more of an equal this time around, even when the others start firing off a few upgrades. Actually all five of them feel like they could easily step up and fill the leader role at any time in terms of ability and strength, if needed. In the original anime it felt like they were just Sailor Moon's powerful friends, but in Crystal they are not just guardians or comrades, they are a near-perfect planet defending team.
Thinking back on it, I still miss the small jokes and in-fighting that we got between the characters in the previous incarnation, though. That comedy is part of what made the original series so approachable. Although, with the streamlined story and the intense pace, the extra alter-ego character stories would have felt out of place this time. Hell, it took forty episodes for the original series to reach the point that Sailor Moon Crystal reached in fourteen, and did it in a way that never once felt rushed.
The animation is very similar to the original, but at times it feels rushed. There are a few parts where key items weren't drawn in, or the characters suddenly look flat and lifeless. I guess we can't expect the best from Toei, who is infamous for making their shows as cheaply as possible, but a bit or accuracy would have been welcome. As it is, it certainly isn't a badly drawn series, but it certainly won't be the best.
Regardless if you loved or hated the original Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Moon Crystal is similar, yet different enough, for almost anyone to enjoy. Also, don't worry about the story feeling like a children's series, like the original - many topics in this version are much more mature. Just expect to read subtitles since there is no English dubbed version of the series planned.