I wanted to love this. After the waiting the uncertainty biblicallyproportioned flood of 20th anniversary merchandise... this wasnt a case of hype killing an experience. Sailor Moon Crystal is just an unmitigated disaster in almost every way imaginable. Lets address the biggest pinkest elephant in the room from the start: the artwork. I think what happened here was an ambitious idea trying to mimic Naoko Takeuchis elaborate manga style in animation with poor planning and sloppy execution. Visually speaking they missed the mark. Right from the teaser people rightfully pointed out that something was off. The first episode looks mostly fine not amazing but ok and then its like they gave up. Every anime that isnt a heavilypolished movie production has the occasional awkward shot and this was a web anime so it would have been unreasonable to expect perfection but Crystals bad shots are so numerous and so bad that theyre actively distracting. Its frustrating because the proof is out there that it could have looked so much better. Seriously LOOK at the Moon Pride music video. https://www..com/watch?v=c0Va228UhRs It could have all looked that good if someone had cared. But nobody cared. 220https://i.ur.com/SzghXH1.png Things move but the only thing that really gets loving animation is Sailor Moons hair. Nobodys walk cycles look quite right ever and a lot of the time no one seems grounded in the environments. A lot of animation is accomplished by having still images pan across the screen or stretch/shrink to unintentional comedic effect. Fight scenes show a bit more effort than the classic animes JRPGstyle stock attack footage villain reaction rinse and repeat fights but still seem to cut away at moments that would be inconvenient to animate. I think the new art style was a bold but failed choice. I can see they really tried to adapt Naoko Takeuchis original gauzy frilly art to animation without simplifying it as much as the 90s anime did but it just doesnt work. I dont like the way everyones body types and faces are much more homogeneous than before I dont like Sailor Moons weird oftentiny odango and slimmeddown hair tails and I think the big goopy eyes are weird and inhuman somehow. Everyone just looks stringy and unsettling like a bunch of daddy longlegs with this old set of Gaia Online eyes pasted on them: 220https://i.ur.com/4XZ2KhC.png Im not saying the 90s anime was perfect it had its fair share of wonky faces. But excuses for Crystals moldy potato quality are much thinner. The old series was lowbudget rushitinaweek animation from the 90s. The manga was yet unfinished and they pumped out filler episodes to compensate. Physical painted cels would have to be completely redone to correct any errors. By contrast Sailor Moon Crystal episodes were produced in two weeks instead of one. The source material is complete. The animation is digital which allows for much quicker and easier corrections. Technology has given us better more efficient ways to animate in the last 20 years. Even a lot of the art fixes for the BluRay are mediocre at best. Look at this one. These sunglasses are sitting on Mamos face like horse blinders. They even changed the shape of the sunglasses but they didnt correct the perspective error at all. 220https://i.ur.com/AQYIKzQ.png I feel like a decade down the road we might hear horror stories about animating on Sailor Moon Crystal like that they were paid in ketchup packets and forced to work 23hour shifts and every misshapen face is a scream of protest. Also the CG henshin sequences use these weird rubbery 3D models of the senshi that look like they belong in a cheap video game. They dont quite look like their 2D selves their faces are creepy and dolllike and transformations are just loweffort rehashes of the transformation scenes from the first anime. They arent fun. Its just not fun to watch a crappy CG senshi twirl around like a plastic bag in a breeze with mediocre special effects. Sailor Moons henshin sequences are an icon of the series of the genre and of anime in general. Id wager almost anyone that saw Sailor Moon even if it was ages ago and they havent thought about it since they were a child probably remembers the henshin sequences. You put effort and budget into something like that because your viewers are going to see it every episode. That Crystal fails to deliver even here is a clear indicator that nobody took any pride in this mess. Unfortunately the story is as unsalvageable as the visuals. The 90s anime was notorious for its filler but the filler is part of what endeared us all so much to its characters. Sailor Moon Crystal ran too far in the opposite direction deciding to squeeze two story arcs into one 26episode season. Its extremely condensed. The story itself is so excited to get to its next nostalgic plot destination and say Look how we did it THIS time that it forgets the journey and the journey is the most important part. One manga chapter can not always equal one anime episode thats just not how adaptation works. While its true that the manga which Crystal is heavily based on is pretty fastpaced the manga has a fairytale feel to it and still manages to be engaging and emotional though its much more expressive artwork. Meanwhile most every character drawn in Crystal has the emotional depth and subtlety of an emoticon. The bad art simply cant make up for the deficiencies of the script. Crystal takes no time to linger or to build its characters. Everyone but Usagi is a cardboard standup pared down to their most basic traits. The inner senshi after their introductions are flattened so badly their dialogue becomes interchangeable and by the climax of the first arc they are literally just finishing every sentence together. Its like the writers wrote dialogue for one person and cut it up into little pieces so the poor things would all have lines like a grade school play for a class with too many children. The senshi exist as little more than cheerleaders for Usagi and any moments of personal achievement they were given in the manga are handed off to Sailor Moon. Forget about this series as an adaptation of the manga: it diverges pointlessly all the time. Anyone who says its accurate to the manga didnt read the manga. Because Crystal makes its characters strangers to us drama comes off as melodrama and any moment meant to be meaningful or touching flops. It lacks any emotional truth you have no reason to care about whats happening. It tries to spoonfeed you what youre supposed to feel about the characters and the story but never actually goes out of its way to create those feelings. Humor is almost absent and feels forced or out of place when it happens. Characters pass the idiot ball around with plot threads hinging mostly on their cluelessness especially Usagi who we are meant to adore and who the senshi praise mindlessly at every turn even though this incarnation of her is annoying selfish and pathetic. Thats really one of the worst parts Sailor Moon herself is no longer a good role model or even a likeable character. The Sailor Moon I knew was a ditzy clumsy silly girl with a heart of gold and the capacity for infinite love and bravery a person who lifted others up drew them together and still fought for them even when she was all alone. She started out childish and selfish but she always came through for her friends and grew immensely over the course of the series. CrystalUsagi is obsessed with Mamoru and frequently forgets about or outright ignores her friends while they get tossed around by their adversaries. The most she seems to be able to say about them is that theyre beautiful. And while shes still an airheaded klutz its not cute or charming anymore because shes so thoroughly exhausting. She doesnt seem to care about anything other than her own feelings and desires. Shes just a witless bratty child that never changes and never learns and gets exactly what she wants anyway. The senshis unthinking devotion to her is downright eerie like theyve been brainwashed to worship her because she is so obviously unworthy of their adoration. Even Rei critical of Usagi and at first suspicious of the whole sailor senshi thing in every previous incarnation doesnt seem to have a single doubt about Usagi as their leader. Sailor Moon Crystal successfully made me hate a character that I previously loved and would have defended until blue in the face. Sailor Moon is my least favorite character in an anime named after her. Incidentally: there is also a hackneyed halfassed romance subplot involving all of the senshi executed poorly of course because Crystal doesnt have the time or the dexterity to handle 8 notUsagi characters subplots. The theme song claims they dont need princes to save them but the senshi are more dependent on men than they have ever been. I dont think Sailor Moon has ever been the perfect flawless feminist holy grail that some people make it out to be but this version is a step backwards in comparison to the others. For a specific example a panel with a consensual kiss between Usagi and Mamoru is converted into an animated scene where Mamoru forces a kiss on Usagi while she tries to push him away. Miracle romance The main plot itself is ass pull after ass pull after deus ex machina. Admittedly this is a staple of Sailor Moon but with a rushed story cardboard characters downright ugly animation and basically nothing likable or exciting to hold on to its kind of the final nail in the coffin. Theres no charm left to save it. The story itself hasnt aged perfectly it needed some updating that just didnt happen. Imagine Crystal under a different name and you get a shabby imitation of the classic anime and a weak contender in a genre that it revolutionized. And thats terrible. Also other than the catchy OP/ED the music is forgettable. Having heard some of the other soundtracks Yasuharu Takanashi has worked on it sounds phonedin. The music never strongly ties itself to any scenes even the transformation sequences. Most of my music collection is anime soundtracks and I cant say I even remember most of Crystals. I spent a lot of time being patient and forgiving with this series. I managed to convince myself I was enjoying it for about seven episodes. There are a select few good moments that have made me smile or laugh but its like picking chocolate chips out of a pile of gravel. Its not worth the effort. It makes me sad that this shallow lifeless adaptation of the manga is how a lot of people are going to get introduced to Sailor Moon. The original manga story is a gem that could be easily polished but again nobody cared. This series was not given the respect or care that it deserved. Those two years of secrecy and delays were frustrating but not nearly as frustrating as the result: a soulless slapdash mess a totally transparent cash grab as clearly indicated by the ridiculous price gouging on the BDs. Its the anime equivalent of a cheap bath gift set presented like its luxurious and classy but its just glorified hand soap full of cheap fragrance. As a longtime Sailor Moon fan its hard for me to evaluate Crystal without comparing it to other incarnations but as a reboot for such a popular longlived franchise its a massive letdown. Toei fed us some garbage to peddle merchandise. I gave up on Crystal for a while after the first arc. I ignored it until the third season. It does get better but only marginally nobody on the animation staff ever bothers to google what do cats look like Usagi and Chibiusas heads are still weirdly deformed all the time and even the betterwritten scenes ring hollow thanks to the shoddy foundation laid down by the early episodes. The best I can hope for at this point is that it will lead people to other better versions of Sailor Moon. Sometimes the things you loved were fine the way they were. I didnt spend my days longing for a new Sailor Moon anime before I knew it was happening. And now that it exists I mostly wish it didnt. Maybe its ok for good things to be over. Maybe Im wiser now. Maybe I just spent 15 on a gashapon Cutie Moon Rod. Dont judge me.
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