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Sailor Moon Season 1 Series Review

How has it taken me this long to review Sailor Moon? Well I guess I did already review Crystal, but it is time to take on the original anime series and the one that won over my heart as a child (and more than likely planted the seed for me becoming the anime fan I am today – thanks Sailor Moon).

Review:

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Welcome to the world of Serena (Usagi – though given I originally watched this dubbed on TV I’m just sticking with the English names). In her world getting up late is the norm, blaming others for being late, crying over scraped knees, and being ecstatic at the sight of food. She’s your typical middle-school girl (at least as anime proclaims typical) and while she is subjected to fairly awful 90’s fashion and colouring through the duration of the series, she’s an instantly recognisable character. A little extreme but we all know the person who is always eating, wants to sleep, and has big dreams and no drive.

If that were all there was to Serena, they probably still could have pulled out an alright series around it. I’ve certainly seen worse characters have a show built around them. But Sailor Moon is a magical girl series. For some of us, it is ‘the’ magical girl series. While it wasn’t the first, and it objectively isn’t the best, Sailor Moon was a gateway into anime back in the 90’s and there are more than a few anime fans I know who look back fondly on days of watching this series.

But that isn’t really reviewing the show so much as nostalgia tripping over it. I will admit, I have a lot of love for the klutzy heroine, even if part of me wishes they’d used her crying as a weapon in more than just the first episode. Wow, that sound is hard on the ears. I can fully understand the villains faltering in the face of that sound.

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Despite that, I’m not blind to the shows many flaws. The overly bloated episode count of season 1, the extreme repetition of some of the early sequences, and the fact that the anime doesn’t get over the idea of repetition. First we have the villains collecting energy. Introduce villain, see 4 – 5 episodes of said villain failing miserably at the hands of the clearly nefarious Sailor Moon (why are these villains a threat if sleepy-head can beat them), Beryl loses her temper and villain is usually offed by his own Queen before the next one gets introduced. Rinse and repeat.

Though somewhere along the line they introduce the idea of needing to collect crystals and then we get seven nearly identical episodes of Serena or one of the other scouts bumping into someone who of course turns out to be a carrier but of course they don’t realise. Said person gets attacked, a fight breaks out, and then either the scouts, the villains, or occasionally Tuxedo Mask pick up the crystal.

Even in the latter half of the season where it feels like the show should have better things to do we have another round of repetition as Beryl’s minions set up plot after plot to ‘identify’ the mysterious Princess. And the throw-away line that they look different in real life is no excuse for not recognising Serena as Sailor Moon. Seriously, how dumb are these villains?

And yet, despite so many obvious narrative flaws and questionable execution, as well as the fact that visually this anime has definitely not aged well, there are a lot of reasons to love it.

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First and foremost, Serena might be lazy, uncoordinated and downright silly at times, but she’s still an incredible female character from the 90’s. A girl who loves being a girl but also kicks butt when the occasion calls for it. Okay, she might whine a bit in the process but the sheer body count in Sailor Moon’s wake (or dust count) speaks for itself. You don’t mess with Sailor Moon. She kind of likes her sleepy and lazy life, her random crushes, her lunches with friends, and shopping. She really likes shopping. Curse the villain who gets in the way of her doing any one of these or stops any of her friends from experiencing their life.

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Secondly, the rest of the scouts are amazing. Ami shows us girls with brains. Rei has grace and focus. Jupiter is the tough girl with the heart of gold (my personal favourite). And while I don’t have as much love for Venus, she certainly provides a lot of heart in the show. Their interactions are silly and trivial sometimes, deadly serious at others. At one point early on, Rei and Ami actually quit because they don’t like Serena’s leadership, but ultimately the message of the show is one of teamwork and so the Scout’s eventually come together.

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Thirdly, they actually destroy their enemies. Not so impressive when compared to a lot of shounen, although if we look at Bleach, most of the people Ichigo has crossed blades with are still alive and kicking. Serena turns her enemies into Moon Dust and she does it with a fanfare of pop music and usually a floral decorated crescent moon in the background. That’s almost insulting and yet it is brilliant. She spends more time transforming and posing, her attacks take forever to power up, her weapons are absurd, and yet somehow the entire thing works beautifully.

Also, did I mention the scope of this story. I mean really. Starting from ordinary school girl we introduce magical talking cats, transforming students, magic crystals, reincarnation of an alien Princess on earth, global destruction, true love, and pretty much anything else you can think of. There’s a lot to this seemingly simple story and while at times it becomes fairly overblown, there’s something genuine about the drama here.

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I guess I should probably mention Tuxedo Mask. He appears. He makes speeches. I’m going to be honest, while I quite like Darien as a character (okay, I admit he was my first anime crush), the only episode Tuxedo Mask is cool in is the one where he makes the Scouts think he just flew when instead he’s crouched just below them on a ledge.

And basically that is Sailor Moon. There are some incredibly flashy fight sequences, lots of stuff about love and friendship, some very cool lines and poses if you are into that kind of thing, and an entire cast of characters to choose from when it comes to Cosplay. Sailor Moon is a classic for a reason. And while I understand that visually it is underwhelming, and that the sound track is definitely infused with 90’s pop-rock, there’s still a real appeal here.

This is one that is well worth checking out if you missed this era. The English dubbed version (original) has a few episodes cut from it and some fairly significant edits in places, but works well enough.

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Sailor Moon is where my journey into anime began and I really am thankful to it. I’m sure everyone else blogging about anime has that one show that really started them on their path to where they are now and I’d love to know what it is for you. But also, what do you think of Sailor Moon? Share your thoughts below.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula

While we’re sticking true to pattern with this episode, it at least did have a few chuckles along the way and turning the usual anime summer antics on their head was kind of entertaining even if nothing else really changed.

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When the most remarkable thing about episode seven was that I managed to review it in exactly 100 words, episode eight of this parody anime didn’t have a high bar to jump over to be considered better. And it is better but better in this instance is not synonymous with good. Let’s be honest, I don’t enjoy most of the normal summer anime activities so watching Kotaro shoot most of them down with logical reasons why they won’t be fun was pretty entertaining in its own way even if the story itself didn’t notably improve.

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Once again, we have a villain of the week dealing with some petty personal problem and seriously over-reacting. What makes it worse is that he’s kind of idiotic in his decision making even before he gets transformed into a monster by the student council. So yeah, not a lot to recommend here though still a bit more entertaining than last week.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 7: The Less Said
  2. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  3. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  4. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  5. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  6. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 8: Larger Social Issues Aside, Let’s Focus on Vampire Sex

Vampires and sex have always been fairly connected in stories, but I think Devils’ Line has just thrown away the symbolism and really just wants to get Anzai and Tsukasa together. Still not sure why, but whatever.

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How does he talk at all with his teeth in that state?

The episode of Devils’ Line this week had multiple opportunities to not be a terrible anime. It had the rescue of Tsukasa and the potential revealing of the moles as well as the ongoing social upheaval that has been caused by the reveal that devils actually exist. And yet all of those other points, while present within the episode to a point, were kind of shoved off to the side while we focus on whether Anzai could make out with Tsukasa without biting her. She also gives the ridiculous response at one point that one or two bites don’t matter and that she doesn’t mind physical pain because it hurts more when he isn’t there. Not only is that cheesy, it is downright dangerous in terms of an attitude to have toward a relationship.

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Anyway, Devils’ Line does get kind of on to the social side of things toward the end when Anzai drives the doctor to a conference that is arguing about whether the law should be changed to allow devils to have sex (I’m seeing a theme here). Turns out though that one of the speakers is actually… okay watch the episode for the lame reveal.

Last week gave us one of the better episodes this anime had to offer and this week sends us straight back into eye-rollingly bad territory.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 7: Facing Your Fears Apparently Solves Everything
  2. Episode 6: How Deep Does This Conspiracy Go?
  3. Episode 5: Ooh, Conspiracy
  4. Episode 4: If Blood Tolerance Was A Thing, Wouldn’t The Government Know?
  5. Episode 3: Ill-Defined Relationships
  6. Episode 2: We’re Just Skipping Over the Falling In Love Part
  7. Devils’ Line First Impressions

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Are You Alice? Volume 1 Manga Review

While I’m not the biggest manga reader, I was kind of looking forward to this one having read some fairly positive reviews. How does this gender bending tale of Alice in Wonderland go?

Review:

There’s nothing overly original about reworking the classic Alice in Wonderland. Even Ouran High School Host Club had an Alice episode thrown in. However, my issue with Wonderland inspired tales remains the same; too many of them rely on people just accepting weird things happen in Wonderland and don’t really consider how they might make that setting believable other than telling us it is Wonderland.

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Are You Alice? very much fell into this camp of stories that introduces characters that are given names connecting them to the original tale, but little is done outside of that to establish their character, background or motive. It is like the write feels you can short-cut all the things that would help the audience connect with a character simply because they are the Hatter or whoever and of course we should know their nature. However, that leaves us with a shallow impression of characters. They wear a facade similar to something we know but they undeniably are acting in different ways in a narrative that actually is interesting, but we’re not given the time to establish anything in its own right as they want to jump into people doing things without providing context.

And maybe that works for some people. They’ll happily just nod and accept the setting as Wonderland and the base starting point for all characters is the established trope that we’re all familiar with.

For me though, it was an ongoing issue while reading this. The Alice but not Alice vibe permeates everything and while I actually like the idea that accepting a name is the same as accepting a role and the journey the ‘Not-Alice’ is on, I never really clicked with anything happening in this volume.

It’s also visually pretty ugly. Not the character designs. They are quite nice and clearly some time and attention went into them. But backgrounds, especially the streets which we spend a long time walking up and down, are all kind of basic ruled lines and while the characters are suitably zany given the setting, Wonderland itself is not portrayed in anyway as being ‘wonderful’.

So this series is going to get a pass from me as I don’t really intend to continue on. I am really curious about how the rules work and about the Alice’s that have come before, and even the White Rabbit, but there were too many things that didn’t work for me in this series to consider reading on.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts.

 


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 9: A Fairly Dry Episode

Corporate life is bad… blah, blah… I was happier before…

This is probably the first week I haven’t had fun watching GeGeGe No Kitaro even though this episode continues to blend traditional yokai stories with the modern world.

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This week we get a focus on Kappas and while these guys are usually pretty fun in yokai stories, I found this whole episode and story pretty lacking. Part of this is probably because Rat-Man is back as a focus and he’s probably my least favourite of the reoccurring characters. The bigger issue though is that the blunt message of this episode was pretty underwhelming in the way it was delivered.

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When you couple the weak story with a character I don’t much like and then throw in a conclusion that really lacks punch (that fight sequence was perhaps the worst yet for this anime) and the whole thing just ends up less than satisfying. Kitaro himself didn’t really get to do much of anything and Mana was a no show. Cat-Chick was mostly comic relief and the only other character of note was the Sand Witch and again she was pretty underutilised.

While this series remains fairly solid for episodic story telling, episode nine was a miss for me.

Linked Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 8: Even A Letter

Things continue to get darker in this anime as Kuze continues to work looking for cursed tomes and the bad guys apparently get even more obvious.

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After we ended last week with the traitor headed for a showdown with Karusu they essentially give us a pretty weak scene of him being overwhelmed by the sight of his own blood and then we just kind of move on and pretend that didn’t happen. Despite Kuze’s friends getting attacked left and right last week, this time we’re all just business as usual except now Kuze needs to be accompanied everywhere by one of the pretty-boys leaving me wondering if they just weren’t getting enough screen time.

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All of this is kind of wrapped around the story of the reporter looking into things and one of the clumsiest bits of foreshadowing so far this season. He and his kouhai go drinking and both say lines from books/films that are pretty much death-flags and laugh about that. Then we get Kuze being told that even a letter might become a cursed tome. Then we find out reporter guy has received a letter. All in the space of around ten minutes. There’s no time to build up to the end so even though it is actually quite a confronting scene there’s no real emotional payoff here. Its just another thing that happened and gives Kuze another reason to keep trying to track down cursed tomes.

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I’d kind of like this story to be redone but as an actual psychological thriller. I think there’s a lot of potential in the overall plot that is currently being watered down by its otome roots.

Linked Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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