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Sailor Moon Crystal Dark Moon Arc: Room for Improvement

Posted by Jess on July 30, 2015

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smc-darkmoon-blehWe meet again, moonies! When I ceased my reviews, you may have thought I gave up on Sailor Moon Crystal as soon as the Dark Moon arc hit, but rest assured – I persevered!

Sadly, despite a promising start to the season, Crystal’s second arc turned out to be a big sack o’ disappointment. Sometimes I wonder why Toei even bothered reviving one of the most beloved and recognized anime to only do it such a disservice.

To quote Rei: Bleh.

My love for Sailor Moon runs deep.  Obviously I’m going to keep watching it, but I’m really nervous about the upcoming Mugen arc. My all-time favorite senshi, Sailor Uranus, is set to appear and I really don’t want to see her derpified with Crystal’s lazy animation, much like Pluto was:

pluto-fix-sailor-moon-crystal-dark-moonPluto in the opening credits & 5-minute Paint fix by Sailor Moon Crystal Failures.

However, rather than rant about what a staggering disappointment this series has become, I’m going to be constructive. In this article I outline some changes that would save Crystal and transform it into a far more enjoyable viewing experience. …As though Toei would listen to me… (Please, Toei, heed my words and don’t ruin my beloved outer senshi!)

Stop adapting the manga so strictly.

Admittedly, this was one of the things that first excited me about the series, but the fact that Crystal adapts the material so literally without regard to how it would translate to an animated medium is one of the main reasons the pacing is so terrible.

It’s not news that the panels in manga move fast, as many actions need to be represented in a single rectangle. But Crystal seems to find it necessary to recreate these panels and eat up valuable air time with freeze frames. I give you the following:

Sailor Moon Crystal Dark Moon Arc: Senshi Abduction Manga ComparisonExhibit A: The senshi are abducted.

Sailor Moon Crystal Dark Moon Arc: Chibi Moon's Awakening Manga ComparisonExhibit B: Chibi-Usa awakens as a senshi.

Sailor Moon Crystal Black Moon Arc: Black Lady & Mamoru manga comparisonExhibit C: Mamoru & Black Lady

…And the list could continue.

Maybe this is payback for all those times we complain about movies or TV Shows not adapting the book properly. But seriously, it’s not a 1:1 translation. You need filler and transitions (which aren’t just henshin sequences).

Move it along, people.

The strict adaptation of the manga critically injures the ability to develop characters and better flesh out plot. Ironically, this isn’t something the original Sailor Moon series struggled with. If Crystal wasn’t lingering on these panel adaptations, that time could be used for any number of things – such as:

  • Development of Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako as individual characters!
  • Development of the senshi as actual friends!
  • Expand on the enemy’s motivations to make them less one-dimensional!
  • Better connect the “normal” lives of the senshi to their sudden battle scenes!
  • More Umino!

Better animation.

I left this for last, because it’s an obvious suggestion, but it can’t be overstated.

This issue alone could fill pages and pages, but let’s isolate one example: the scene where Usagi and Mamoru round the bases to home plate. It’s supposed to be intimate, and lovely-but what in the world is going on here?!

usagi-get-someThis is how people have sex: just lay on top of the girl and hold your arms out at weird angles? Right?

So listen, Toei Animation, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. These beloved magical girls have a global audience of devoted fans who are hungry for a quality show. Maybe take a long hiatus between arcs and spend some time getting the animation right on the first go…instead of just on the blu-ray.

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About Jess

She's is just your average cat-herding, world-traveling, tech-loving otaku. She'll brazenly defend her love of Harry Potter and Sailor Moon to any who challenge it, and can usually be found under a stack of unread books and graphic novels.

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