Sailor Moon Crystal – Episode One

Sailor Moon Crystal | Episode One

When I was eight years old, I would rush home from elementary school to watch Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network every afternoon. It was a tradition that lasted for years, and my interest in the show bordered at times on religious fanaticism. My first attempt at drawing (outside of the toddler doodle-and-scribble stage) was a picture of Sailor Moon herself. I never would have discovered the manga section of my local bookstore if I wasn’t trying to hunt down the “comic that inspired the show!” I taught myself how to navigate the internet and search engines looking for Sailor Moon websites, and the first website I ever built was a Sailor Moon fansite.

Today, at twenty-five years old, I rushed home from work to watch the first episode of the series’ reboot, Sailor Moon Crystal.

Sailor Moon Crystal | Episode One

Nostalgic doesn’t even begin to cover it. This first episode covered familiar ground for longtime fans: clumsy low-achiever Usagi runs into a cat on the street on her way to school. After noticing the two bandaids stuck tot he cat’s forehead, she peels them off to discover a crescent moon “bald spot” beneath; but as she’s running late, she doesn’t spare the mark or the strangely focused cat a second thought before rushing off to failing test scores and jewelry-obsessed friends.

Sailor Moon Crystal | Episode One

It’s not until later that she finds out the cat can talk and has come to find her- the chosen one destined to fight evil and save the fabled princess- Sailor Moon. Usagi is given a brooch by Luna the cat and, without really understanding what is happening, transforms into a crime-fighting defender of justice. Before the episode ends we get to see Sailor Moon destroy her first enemy and save her best friend from the clutches of an energy-harvesting creature that had taken over a jewelry store.

Sailor Moon Crystal | Episode One

That’s the bare bones of it. For those unfamiliar to the series, it might seem like a humble beginning for such an iconic show and character; and you’re right, it is. What is great about this opening is how it foreshadows what’s to come without giving too much away: Usagi meets a handsome man on the street and a tuxedo-clad crusader, but we aren’t told anything more about either of them (these two totally separate guys, who aren’t even the same, I mean, why would you even think that). The antagonists of the series are shown briefly and are made to seem appropriately menacing, but we don’t get to see them much or learn about their goals.

Now, from an old fan’s perspective, this first episode follows a well-worn path. It stays true to the original source material right down to Sailor Moon’s new transformation brooch (no mask though, but that didn’t last long in the manga anyway). The new art style has been both praised for being closer to the manga’s and derided for appearing both gangly and stilted. My impression of it so far is… well, it’s really not that bad. I don’t mind the style so much as the characters’ lack of expressions. Usagi’s face isn’t terribly dynamic all the time (but when it is, it works! More please!) Other than that, I think I’ll completely warm up to the look of it soon.

One of the biggest changes from the original anime, surprisingly, is the way they decided to tackle the transformation sequence. I was not expecting a CG transformation, and I really wasn’t a fan at first. Remember- I grew up with anime in the 90’s. It can be hard for me to get used to seeing added CG even after being in the anime scene for almost 20 years. There’s no denying that it’s much more common now though, and it’s not overly abused in this reboot at all. It’s a sign of the times, really. Younger fans coming into this show probably won’t bat an eye at it.

Sailor Moon Crystal | Episode One

So, overall? This was a solid, faithful return to the Sailor Moon that so many of us grew up with. I’m not ashamed to admit that I got misty-eyed, though it wasn’t because of the plot or anything that specific. No, it was because of the nostalgia. Because the show, through a combination of beautiful scenery, music, and a faithfulness to the original story, creates an almost mythological sense of wonder within this first episode that reminds you that it’s a classic. At its heart, Sailor Moon is an action-packed fairy tale. Coming back to that was like rediscovering the sense of amazement I felt regarding this show as a kid, and I have little doubt that other longtime fans will feel the same.

You can watch the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal on Hulu, Crunchyroll, Neon Alley, or Niconico.

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4 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Crystal – Episode One

  1. I am actually new to Sailor Moon, well mostly. I missed out on the series as it aired when we were children, but I’ve heard some of the basics over the years. Sailor Moon Crystal is my first proper introduction and I watched the first episode yesterday. I feel like I am missing something crucial in not watching the original series, mainly because I can sense where there would be tons of nostalgia. The introduction of characters, the band-aid scene with the cat, the transformation scene, the many antics of Usagi, etc. I think I will continue on with the next episode when it airs to see more of what makes Sailor Moon, well, Sailor Moon.

    • Oh yeah, it definitely takes some time to build. The beginning is pretty humble, and going into it with a lifetime’s worth of nostalgia certainly makes for a very different experience! You might be at an advantage though, because it’s hard not to compare the new series to the old one almost constantly.

  2. So a friend of mine who follows your blog pointed me here. Funnily enough, I am also doing a review of this series, having only seen snippets but never really followed the show when it aired on Toonami. I think we may be approaching it from opposite angles, since you obviously have watched it a lot, whereas I am more or less jumping into this without much knowledge of the significance behind things.

    Should be a fun ride though, I think.

    • Oh wow, well that certainly makes me happy! I appreciate the referral. I’m really interested in how newcomers to the series will like Crystal, because going into the series with so much nostalgia definitely changes how I view it as a whole. Either way, I agree- it should be fun!

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