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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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43 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Season 1 Series Review”
Great review! I loved every word of it. I’ve watched up to the Hell/Doom Tree arc of the 90’s anime, then I stopped watching.
I’d really recommend finding the third season as things step up quite a bit there.
I didn’t catch all the eps of the classic, fearing my brother or a family member might walk in on me and tease that I’m watching a “girls show.” To me, anime is anime and for what it was it was good.
Sailor Moon might be a magical girl show, but I think there’s enough going on it to make it appealing to pretty much anyone. As you said, for what it was, it was good.
Yes, I agree, but oi if my brother caught me, I’d get ripped on. Still watched it though and heck, the crossover I’m writing now is based from the 90s series.
Not going to lie, I’ve seen the old-school Sailor Moon back when it was on TV and my sister is a huge fan. The animation is quite dated and they do repeat a lot of stuff, but I’m not going to deny the influence on the Magical Girl genre. It’s still so weird to me that the creator Naoko Takeuchi married Yoshihiro Togashi (creator of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter).
It’s impossible to discuss magical girls without Sailor Moon entering the conversation really. As I said in the review, it may not be the best, but it is the one that has become very much symbolic of the genre.
Of course. There were some good things about the series despite some of the flaws. Although I haven’t seen Crystal, so I couldn’t tell you anything.
I’m a fan of Sailor Moon as well, which is why I was bummed that Crystal took out the personalities of the sailor scouts even though many of the stuff in the original anime was filler.
I’m not sure if you’ve watched it, but they did make a live action Sailor Moon at one point. I remember watching it on YouTube back in the day and even though it looks bad, I quite enjoyed it.
I knew about the live action but never seen it. I don’t really think I’ll watch it any time soon. That said, I’ve seen some great parodies on YouTube over the years.
Ya know, I am yet to watch any Sailor Moon other than an AMV set to ‘This Isn’t What We meant’ by Savatage. It’s one that I seem to miss out on catching when it’s about. One of my kids wants to watch it though, so that may serve as a reminder for me.
The original SM show is without a doubt, a product of it’s time. It really showed as to what is a 90’s girl.
If I recall, didn’t Rei and Serena actually compete for Darian’s affection. I do fondly remember some of the sillier moments that SMC S1&2 lacked. And god, hell yeah the transformation sequences were just absurd in length. Even in SMC. It took 5 minutes for the whole thing to end. Venus was my fav, till Pluto swooped in. The sound track to Tuxedo mask when he showed up. God was that just cheesy XDD. Thinking about it, pretty pointless, he just stood there and did nothing. At least in SMC he actually did something.
I know. That is the one thing Crystal absolutely improved on and that is Tuxedo Mask and his role in the story. It came at the expense of the Sailor Scouts having personalities, but at least he didn’t feel totally unnecessary to the story.
Omg this was such a classic anime. One of my first anime
I’m going to get to the rest of the seasons from the 90’s anime over the next month or so. I realised I’d put off touching some of the classics for too long and I really needed to review them.
I wish Crystal had taken more of a cue from 90s SM. It has some major weaknesses, but it has a solid blend of fun and serious moments. Season 3 was better, but original SM will always have a special place in my heart.
I think that’s true for a lot of us. We don’t overlook the faults, but there is just something very special about Sailor Moon.
Man, I feel this is blasphemous to say, but I’ve never seen the original Sailor Moon, at least not in its entirety. I’ve caught bits and pieces of random episodes here and there. I think it may be because I didn’t really become an anime aficionado until I was a mid to late teenager, and missed out on watching Sailor Moon as a kid. It’s one of those that I have a mild interest in catching because it’s been so influential to anime watchers everywhere. I did watch the firs two season of Crystal (dropped it halfway through season three), but it really wasn’t to my liking too much. Maybe I’m not a person who likes the magical girl genre, I wonder.
I could understand dropping Crystal though. While it is visually superior, a lot of the silly fun of the original anime is lacking (it takes itself too seriously). That said, I do understand if Sailor Moon isn’t your thing. Still, it might be worth checking out some of the early episodes. They are amusing in many ways.
Knowing that the two serials are different does help me be more interested in the original Sailor Moon. I think a lot of people were disappointed with Crystal, people who were fans of the original I mean. It looked pretty, but wasn’t too great in the end.
I liked season 3 of Crystal. It was like it finally figured out what it wanted to be. But the Sailor Scouts were so much more fun in the 90’s and a lot more emotional. They were all just too sweet and nice and fairly boring in Crystal.
Have you watch crystal?
I linked to my review of season 3 of Crystal at the start of the review. I never reviewed the first two seasons of it.