Sailor Moon is a classic magical girl series which features a story that we’re all familiar with. A 14 year old schoolgirl meets a cat who grants her with a magical compact, which turns her into Sailor Moon, a super heroine who fights for love and justice! Along the way, she meets other sailor guardians, who also receive magical transformation items, and a mysterious, dashing, tuxedo-donning love interest. Together, they must fight against the forces of evil and restore peace to the world. You don’t even have to be a big Sailor Moon fan to know this story, as it’s practically ingrained into any anime fan’s brain.
While the story may not sound like the most original thing out there, it was very groundbreaking for it’s time. Sailor Moon made action-oriented magIcal girl shows the standard fare for the genre, especially for magical girl series aimed at young women. There had been action-oriented magical girl series created before it, such as Cutie Honey and Devil Hunter Yohko, but those were made for an audience of young men. Because of Sailor Moon’s influence, more magical girl series aimed at young women featured action-packed storylines, and its overall boom in popularity lead to a huge increase In action-focused magical girl shows in general. Furthermore, Sailor Moon was the magical girl series that revolutionized what is often referred to as the “Magical Girl Warrior sub-genre”. This sub-genre is often likened to Super Sentai (known as Power Rangers in the West), in that the characters fight in teams, wearing similarly styled color-coded outfits, and feature a distinctive set of powers per warrior. Other examples of magical girl series to emerge out of Sailor Moon’s success in this sub-genre are Wedding Peach, Tokyo Mew Mew, and the highly successful PreCure franchise.
Sailor Moon has a story that, while not totally original, manages to pull in many viewers due to it’s clever blend of many elements of sci-fi, fantasy, action, romance, and slice of life. The characters aren’t overly complex, but they’re certainly not shallow either. They all have very distinct personalities, ambitions, and struggles, yet they mesh very well together, and feel natural. The bonds between these characters feel very real, creating a very relatable and endearing cast of characters.
The soundtrack to Sailor Moon is pretty fantastic for the most part. Moonlight Densetsu is an iconic and catchy opening theme. Hell, it’s so good that they kept the same opening for the first four seasons of the anime! As for the two ending themes of the first season, I find both ‘Heart Moving’ and ‘Moon Princess’ to be pretty songs, but they’re fairly underwhelming and uninteresting to me. The BGM, on the other hand, is great. It’s a mix of all kinds of music, but the jazz and disco-inspired tracks particularly stand out. When Sailor Moon’s ready to unleash her ‘Moon tiara action’ attack on a monster of the week, expect some groovy tunes! The BGM is actually solid enough to listen to outside of watching the show, and I highly recommend it.
The animation is fairly cheap, but the art looks standard enough for its time. It certainly isn’t the best, but given its age, it’s forgivable, and there’s certainly a charm to its retro look as well. Given the fact that it’s a magical girl anime, there is an excess use of stock footage, particularly during transformation sequences and attack scenes. This may be a turnoff to some, as many viewers would rather not waste their time watching stock footage, but many others won’t mind. It really just depends on your patience for that sort of thing.
This is an easily accessible gateway anime that has a little bit of something for just about anybody. However, despite that, Sailor Moon has lots of filler. Many episodes don’t add much to the story and/or don't contain character development, and go by a typical monster of the week formula. The formulaic filler may deter some, especially when the first season alone is nearly 50 episodes long. Not only that, but despite how awesome and badass this anime may be, it’s not perfect. It has its cheesy moments, its frustrating moments, and its asspulls. It’s not immune from a bit of lazy writing, but, in my opinion, its legacy and overall importance to the history of anime makes at least its first season a must-watch for many anime fans.