Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Characters from 2016

2016 was a great year for anime and while I don’t really ever intend just to do a list of top 5 characters ever I kind of feel I can pick a favourite from a single year. Much like my reflections post, this one is entirely my own opinion so feel free to add your favourite females from 2016 in the comments below.

So how did I choose my top 5 female characters? Pretty much they played a significant role in their anime, were entertaining to watch, and, for whatever reason, memorable. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch) and Manami Okuda (Assassination Classroom Season 2).

Number 5: Ubukata Chikako (Days)

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And before you ask ‘who’ she’s the female manager in Days who comes on board after first trying to convince Tsukamoto that it’s hopeless and he should just give up. While her screen time is fairly limited and she plays very much the angry girl (a lot), she’s actually a pivotal character for Tsukamoto when he’s at his lowest and is also the one who quietly assists when Kazuma and Tsukamoto have their near falling out. It’s what I like about her character. She’s there is most episodes doing what she needs to do and she doesn’t intrude on screen time for the same of it. Plus I like how we see her change from angry with the world and fairly pessimistic, to grudgingly accepting that hard work will work out for some, to genuinely hopeful even as she still holds on to her basic cynicism. I also love her ongoing relationship with Tsukamoto. She kind of takes on the tough older sister role and it works really well.

Number 4: Edna (Tales of Zestiria the X)

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Even before this character ever made an appearance, fans of the game were going on and on about her. It kind of made me think she couldn’t possibly live up to that hype and then we met her. Admittedly her screen time in the anime is low but she was certainly one of the more interesting characters. Okay, I just love sarcasm and Edna nails a good sarcastic comment. She’s also one of the more interesting characters in the previews at the ends of episodes. All and all, definitely a fun character to watch and one I think Sorey needed given Alicia and Mikleo don’t exactly push him out of his comfort zone.

Number 3: Shirayuki (Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2)

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This one should have been an obvious choice. I was already in love with this character after season 1 and season 2 just continued to show how amazing she is. Unlike season 1, Shirayuki faces some real danger in season 2 and she really manages to hold it together even while they show us her inner turmoil. Throw in progress in her friendship with Raj, her romance with Zen, and a bit of back story with her father and season 2 really helps round out her character and the world.

Number 2: Tomoe Hotaru (Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3)

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It was hard narrowing down which of the Sailor Moon Crystal cast really left the largest impression. It came down to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru and when all is said and done Hotaru was the more interesting character. The tragic and frail girl that is befriended by Chibi-Usa we see a genuine friendship form between the pair before Hotaru’s body is forcibly overtaken. If that wasn’t enough, turns out she’s also Sailor Saturn and may very well destroy the world so the Outer Guardians are aiming to kill her before she gets the chance. A very memorable character and an awesomely powered one as well. Would have loved more of her in the series.

Number 1: Igsem Yatorishino (Alderamin on the Sky)

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Fiery red haired beauty dual wielding swords on a battle field and able to keep a hopeless womanizer in check? Yatorishino is all kinds of impressive and the fact that she also has a personality and isn’t just a stoic yes-man soldier girl (though she can certainly play that role when needed) just makes her even more interesting. The best parts of Alderamin on the Sky came when Ikta and Yatori were on screen together as they perfectly complement each other and yet each of these characters has a personality by themselves. Besides, none of Ikta’s plans would have ever worked without her skill. He could do what he did because he knew that Yatori would have his back and he knew just how dangerous she could be.

That’s my list of top 5 female characters from 2016. Who were yours?

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Reflections on Anime in 2016 – The Best and The Worst of the Year (in my opinion)

It’s the first day of the year so let’s look back at the year that was. I know that at the end of Summer I did my first reflection post looking back at the anime I’d watched and  I purposefully left D Gray Man and Sailor Moon Crystal 3 off the lists because nostalgia was strong with those two. But now we are at the end of the year and I’m not playing nice anymore. I’m giving my lists of top 10 best and worst for 2016 and finally the results from the reader’s poll.

My rules:

  • I need to have watched the whole series (or as much as has aired in 2016 – I know some of these are continuing on).
  • My judgement is entirely based on the entertainment I got out of watching the anime.
  • Feel free to suggest your own top 10 best or worst in the comments.

Starting from the best.

  1. Yuri on Ice
  2. D Gray Man Hallow
  3. Natsume Yuujinchou
  4. Assassination Classroom 2nd Season
  5. Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2
  6. March Comes in Like a Lion
  7. My Hero Academia
  8. Alderamin on the Sky
  9. Erased
  10. Sailor Moon Crystal 3

Yeah, I can’t believe it either but Yuri on Ice actually edged out D Gray Man Hallow on anime I enjoyed watching. Neither anime is perfect (and I’ll happily admit to the flaws in both) but when it came to pure enjoyment I couldn’t beat either of these and in terms of the anime I’ll rewatch the most from this year, these 2 are the top picks. So why Yuri over D Gray Man? D Gray Man Hallow always had the advantage of nostalgia, but if I take that away, while I would have still enjoyed Hallow (assuming it made sense) it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable as the viewing experience for Yuri. In terms of the anime I sat waiting to the minute for the episode release, Yuri on Ice definitely won out.

However, for everything you enjoy there is a show that you watch and wonder why. Once again, I know there are worse anime out there, but these are the anime I watched all the way through and really wonder why.

Starting from the worst.

  1. Taboo Tattoo
  2. Big Order
  3. Lost Village
  4. Hitorinoshita
  5. Divine Gate
  6. Dimension W
  7. Nazotokine
  8. Norn 9
  9. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
  10. Bloodivores

What was pleasantly surprising was how few of the Autumn season found their way onto this list. Mostly the shows I watched in Autumn were more boring than terrible (though I did avoid a few shows that I knew were going to end up in this category so they didn’t count on the having watched them criteria).

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The Reader’s Poll

I was surprised by some of the results and not surprised by others. Probably the biggest issue is there were only 54 votes total so from a data point of view this probably isn’t the most valid survey. Anyway…

  1. Yuri on Ice (7 votes)
  2. Assassination Classroom 2 (6 votes)
  3. Mob Psycho 100 (6 votes)
  4. Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (5 votes)
  5. Bungo Stray Dogs (3 votes)
  6. Erased (3 votes)
  7. March Comes in Like a Lion (3 votes)
  8. Kiss Him Not Me (3 votes)
  9. Flip Flappers (3 votes)
  10. Grimgar of Fantasy of Ash (3 votes)

With that I say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017 for a whole new year of watching anime.

By the way, over the next 4 weeks my Tuesday’s Top 5 post is going to do a recap of 2016. Top 5 Female Characters of 2016 is up first, followed by Top 5 Male Characters of 2016, Top 5 Visually Interesting Anime of 2016 and finally Top 5 Opening Themes of 2016. Then I will move on to something different but I felt January was a great time to recap the previous year.

Over to you: Which anime was your favourite or most hated from 2016?

2016 Reflection

Okay, with the Winter, Spring and Summer anime seasons more or less done and dusted, I felt it was a good time to look at my favourite anime for the year. I’ll do my final best of 2016 list after the Autumn season concludes.

I’m going to point out that Sailor Moon Crystal and D Gray Man Hallow have both been left off the list. Not because they aren’t awesome (D Gray Man would have had the top spot), but because I’m well aware that I am blatantly biased toward these anime. Regardless of what else happens, D Gray Man is my number 1 for 2016. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here’s the official list for the year so far.

A few rules. The season needed to end in 2016. I needed to have watched the whole series or at least as much as has been so far released (so there are plenty of other anime good and bad that aren’t on either of my lists here – though that said some are clearly going to continue). Judgement is made entirely on entertainment and pleasure watching (no technical scores for being beautifully animated and the like). As such, the list is entirely my opinion. Please feel free to tell me your favourite in the comments.

Starting from the best.

  1. Assassination Classroom 2nd Season
  2. Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2
  3. My Hero Academia
  4. Alderamin on the Sky
  5. Erased
  6. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
  7. Days
  8. Tales of Zestiria the X
  9. Bungou Stray Dogs
  10. ReLife

But if we’re going to look at the best, we also need to look at the worst. Remember, I’m only listing anime I’ve actually watched all the way through. There are a number I would have loved on this list (First Love Monster springs to mind) but I haven’t watched it through so am not going to pass judgement on it. Please feel free to tell me which anime you think is the worst in the comments.

Starting from the worst.

  1. Taboo Tattoo
  2. Big Order
  3. Lost Village
  4. Hitorinoshita
  5. Divine Gate
  6. Dimension W
  7. Norn 9
  8. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
  9. Luck & Logic
  10. Joker Game

Yeah, I know Joker Game doesn’t deserve to be in a worst of list, but at the moment, it’s in top ten of anime I finished watching but didn’t get all that much enjoyment out of. Pretty sure there will be something in the Autumn season that will take it out of the list for the year.

And yes, Taboo Tattoo I officially found worse than Big Order. After weighing them both up I just had to put Taboo Tattoo as the worst thing I have finished watching so far this year.

One more season to go and then I’ll have my official best of list for the year. It will be interesting to see if Days is still on the best list after continuing on and whether anything can top Assassination Classroom’s emotional ending.

Looking forward to more anime. What’s your best so far for 2016 and what’s your worst?

 

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 Series Review

Overview:

Chibi-Usa is training as a sailor scout and a whole new threat has appeared before the scouts. That and the mysterious figures that may or may not be allies has Usagi all confused. Between fighting the forces of darkness, visions of the end of the world, and end of year exams, the scouts have their hands full.

I reviewed this show week to week and if you are interested in thoughts on individual episodes click here.

Review:

As always when writing about Sailor Moon anything, I’m going to preface this review by pointing out I am a fan of Sailor Moon. By default, I kind of love it and that means even when seeing the flaws in this show, I’m still going to love it. That and season 3 of Sailor Moon Crystal brings us the outer scouts and that can only be a good thing.

So let’s go with the simple plus/minus format.

Plus +

As I said, season 3 brings us Sailor Uranus and Neptune and also returns Pluto before we finally get to meet Sailor Saturn (and whether you are a fan or not, Sailor Saturn is fantastic). Early in the season Uranus and Neptune are really interesting however they slowly become generic background scouts with slightly stronger powers, however Pluto and Saturn manage to shine right through the final battle.

Minus –

The introduction of more scouts didn’t help the poor characterisation of the inner scouts. Jupiter has always been my favourite of the Sailor Scouts because of her tough exterior but sweet and caring side (as well as her super cool power). Jupiter in Crystal is nothing. As are all the scouts. They are background noise. They exist only to have their attacks fail in this series and for Usagi to endlessly reiterate their names in poignant moments as if that will somehow help. (I’m being a bit mean to Ami who actually does get one cool moment when she transforms while flying out a window.) Honestly, the entire inner scout squad could have been removed from the series without any discernible impact on the plot or the development of our central characters.

Plus +

Usagi and Mamoru are adorable. For those who watched the original 90’s version of Sailor Moon, Serena and Darian just never clicked. They had these sweet and touching moments and then a whole bunch of ignore the other one or be rude to them and their entire relationship was more stated than felt. Crystal has definitely fixed that flaw and you now see the couple they should be and the way they hold each other up is fantastic (even if Mamoru is still getting sidelined during the final fights and occasionally comes off a bit arrogant).

Minus –

The villains. Let’s be honest, at no point did we feel anything for any of the villains. The minions were flavour of the week and destroyed (few of them left any kind of impact visually or otherwise) and the mid-level henchmen sounded bad and then just kind of got brushed aside. Even the big bads were talked up more than feeling like they were evil. Possibly the only real conflict that had any emotional punch in this episode was Hotaru’s fight to save Chibi-Usa’s soul.

Plus +

Chibi-Usa and Hotaru. If Crystal does nothing else, it has certainly made up for the appalling characterisation of Chibi-Usa from the original series. No longer the brat of the moment she now actually has a personality (and sometimes she is a brat but that is more in-tune with her being a kid rather than her only personality trait). The combination of Chibi-Usa finding her way as a scout and Hotaru’s quiet determination against all odds is fantastic and if more of the series had focussed on this it could have been an extraordinary story (though it wouldn’t be Sailor Moon anymore).

Minus –

What is with all the purple? I get that it’s anime and aimed at a younger audience but why is everything evil purple? It isn’t scary or particularly effective and by the end of the series there is just a little too much purple. Although, you could possibly say that about the entirety of the series. Colours are chosen to reflect the moment rather than any kind of visual appeal and at times what you end up with is a mess of colours whereas at other times you end up with washed out backgrounds lacking in detail.

Plus +

It’s Sailor Moon. It’s the good guys (girls) fighting evil despite insurmountable odds and combining their feelings to save the day. It is everything Sailor Moon should be even if that doesn’t make it particularly new or outstanding.

Other thoughts?

I don’t like the new theme song. Okay, I haven’t liked any of the Crystal themes yet because nothing is going to beat the original sound track, but the season 3 theme is kind of nothing. It doesn’t inspire or get you particularly ready for the show. It just kind of bops along. Visually it is quite pretty though.

Where are Usagi’s parents in all this? I do believe there were several nights where she stayed with Mamoru and isn’t she in Junior High? He might not have parents around and Chibi-Usa might be from the future but Usagi has a family unit that would probably be concerned by their daughter hanging out with a high school guy.

Who is guarding the doorway through time is Pluto is running around on Earth? Just wondering.

If you haven’t watched it yet Sailor Moon Crystal is available on Crunchyroll and AnimeLab.

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 39

Okay, it’s a week late but here we go.

Review:

This final episode of season 3 is everything it needs to be and not one thing more. It effectively ends the bad guy (though Sailor Moon herself had much less to do with that than you might expect – go Saturn and Pluto combo), the scouts have all advanced to high school and they set up season 4. All and all, a great way to end. A few niggles remain, particularly the fact that so little had been said about their studying for advancement to high school that you kind of forgot the scouts even had a life outside of fighting bad guys. Also handing Hotaru over to the outer scouts (when they spent a large part of this season advocating killing her) without any kind of discussion seemed a little silly.

Anyway, I loved Sailor Moon Crystal season 3 and I’ll do a full season review soon.

Sailor Moon Crystal is available on Cruncyroll and AnimeLab.

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 38

Review:

Definitely Spoilers

Well, I didn’t expect Sailor Moon to go for a suicide attack, but as we all know death isn’t going to stop her from popping up again later. That’s probably the downfall of the show. Sailor Saturn makes her long anticipated appearance despite Hotaru’s apparent death last week and all and all it takes a lot of the emotional impact away from Chibi-Usa’s farewell.

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That said, Saturn is very cool and was always one of my favourites in the 90’s version as well.

So episode 38 continues the fight but we already knew nothing would be resolved because we’ve still got an episode to go so I guess we’ll find out if the world ends next week (not that most of don’t already know it’s just a matter of how they get around it).

Sailor Moon Crystal is available on Crunchyroll.

Spring Overview Week 11

Week 11 kind of fizzled and has slunk away quietly. Super Lovers is finished and other shows are wrapping.

At this late stage in the season there hasn’t been much movement on the list.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

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I Must Keep Watching

Here we go again.

  1. My Hero Academia
  2. Assassination Classroom
  3. Sailor Moon Crystal

My Hero Academia really grabbed me this week and I’m glad I picked up this show. It is the highlight of my anime week at the moment. Admittedly, that doesn’t mean the show is without its flaws, but I’m just having a lot of fun watching it and that is enough.

Assassination Classroom was interesting in that it kind of broke from formula and hit us with a pretty standard boss fight, but the second half of the episode landed nicely and has kept this one amongst my favourite.

Lastly, Sailor Moon Crystal delivered a powerful and emotional episode that almost made up for the last two weeks of flatness. It is these moments that keep me in love with the series.

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Still On My Radar

Once again these get mixed but don’t go anywhere. There’s enough good stuff in these shows to keep me watching but they aren’t consistent enough or enjoyable enough to really promote.

  1. Kiznaiver
  2. Shonen Maid
  3. Bungo Stray Dogs

Last week I said I was most keen to see where Bungo Stray Dogs went. This week, I saw where it went and that was exactly no-where. Truly disappointing which probably meant I haven’t judged it fairly but really, did anyone like this week’s episode?

Kiznaiver seems to finally be wanting to draw us in for an emotional climax though whether it will be worth it or not remains to be seen.

Shonen Maid just keeps being kind of sweet with a little bit of warmth. Though there are some indications that things may take a more serious tone, I don’t know that I’ll commit to that prediction. Still, episode 10 was definitely among my favourites. This season has been a little hit and miss at following logic in a lot of series.

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Not Dropped But Close

  1. The Asterisk War
  2.  Twin Star Exorcists
  3. Super Lovers (Finished Airing)
  4. Joker Game
  5. The Lost Village (Finished Airing)
  6. Big Order (Finished Airing)

The whole review of Super Lovers is up and more will follow as series finish and I have a chance to consolidate my thoughts.

Mostly this week brought on a lot of ‘oh well’ kind of feelings as Lost Village meandered along , Big Order hobbled to the conclusion, Joker Game did it’s usual and Twin Star and Asterisk seemed determined to focus on the least interesting aspects of their own shows.

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Dropped

  1. Rinne
  2. Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless
  3. Flying Witch
  4. Hundred
  5. Cerberus
  6. Re:Zero
  7. Endride

Left these alone but have conclusively dropped the shows on this list. No desire to pick them up at this point.

Where are you with the Spring season and what are your thoughts?

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 37

Review:

Okay, I cried a little. After the ho-humness of the last two episodes, this battle really brought everything to where it needed to be and while I’m annoyed and where the episode ended I liked that they didn’t rush through any sections this episode and just gave us time to take in the events. No spoilers, but Hotaru and Chibi-Usa give us a fantastic emotional story in amongst a fairly epic battle.

As for Chibi Moon, anyone who watched the 90’s version should remember what a toad she was as a character. Crystal gives her the character role you always knew she needed to have for any of this arc to make sense and have any emotional impact. She has definitely stolen the show (which means the other Sailor Scouts should start getting just a touch worried).

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Final thoughts: Why are bad guys in Sailor Moon always purple? Is there some prejudice against this colour I’m just note getting?

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And how do you fight the evil purple miasma? With a disco of course.

Sailor Moon Crystal is available on Crunchyroll and AnimeLab.

Spring Overview Week 10

Week 10 has actually been quite entertaining as all the shows are starting to charging toward the finish line (or are busily in the process of self-destruction which is also kind of entertaining). I added my first list this week and was really happy with the discussion that generated, so thanks to everyone who read Tuesday’s Top 5 and commented or responded on twitter or did a follow up post. Hopefully you join me next Tuesday to look at the next list.

Also, as we’ve closed in on the end of the season, I’ve turned my reviews into word clouds and am wondering how well each of the shows has been described over the course of the last few weeks. If you’re interested in having a guess and a bit of fun, check it out.

Without further rambling, let’s have a look at where the anime are my list.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

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I Must Keep Watching

No change on the titles again.

  1. My Hero Academia
  2. Assassination Classroom
  3. Sailor Moon Crystal

My Hero Academia has been really great the last few episodes. My review of episode 10 should be up soon and I’m totally hooked on this show at this point. It is a little kiddy and it definitely doesn’t seem like it wants to break free of any stereotypes but it is really fun and engaging and I’ve kind of developed a soft spot for the protagonist at this point.

Assassination Classroom is one of the shows that is rapidly building to the long awaited climax. Possibly it is because of the number of episodes but it feels like it has been a long time coming and yet every step of the journey has been in its own way necessary. Now I want to see how it resolves and really as long as it does resolve I will be happy regardless of how it accomplishes that. If it nails the final I’ll definitely be adding Assassination Classroom to my list of anime that I would rewatch again and again.

And Sailor Moon Crystal put in another adequate but not exceptional effort. If I were to honestly judge this show on its merits alone it would have dropped to the Still On My Radar category in the last couple of weeks. However, Sailor Moon, even its reboot, has nostalgia power working in its favour so its going to take more than just a couple of slightly predictable weeks for me to move it anywhere.

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Still On My Radar

So, these got reordered again this week with Kiznaiver hitting a new emotional high and Bungo Stray Dogs pulling out a fairly cohesive and engaging episode. Shonen Maid didn’t get any worse, but it couldn’t hold its weight against the others this week either.

  1. Bungo Stray Dogs
  2. Kiznaiver
  3. Shonen Maid

Of these three I think I am most keen to see where Bungo Stray Dogs goes and if it can keep the balance of action, drama and comedy in check then it may even become a must watch for me. I really did like the set up for Bungo and really kept wanting it to pick up and feel that the last couple of episodes are getting there.

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Not Dropped But Close

  1. The Asterisk War
  2.  Twin Star Exorcists
  3. Super Lovers (Finished Airing)
  4. Joker Game
  5. The Lost Village
  6. Big Order

No movement here this week with the exception of my returning Big Order to the list. Twin Star Exorcists actually had a good episode and then with the last one went right back to kids playing house. If that’s what they want to focus on, fine, but it isn’t the anime I want to watch. My opinion hasn’t changed on any of the others so I’ll just leave them alone.

Big Order has moved back up because, as I noted last week, even though I’d added it to the dropped pile I kept watching it. I still don’t know why I kept watching it but I watch it without fail every week so there has to be something going on.

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Dropped

  1. Rinne
  2. Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless
  3. Flying Witch
  4. Hundred
  5. Cerberus
  6. Re:Zero
  7. Endride

So Big Order rose up (or I finally admitted I liked it more than I’ve let on despite the lack of a coherent plot) and the rest of these have not moved. In honesty, other than reading a few reviews, I haven’t really felt the need to watch or look into any of these and how they’ve progressed since I dropped them.

Which show are you most looking forward to the end of?

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 36

Review:

Picking up where we left off, the scouts continue to look for Hotaru and their enemies. The inner scouts go up the building while the outer scouts go down to the basement with Sailor Moon. You just know this is going to end badly for the inner scouts but you won’t see much of them this episode anyway. Instead we get to see Usagi’s inner fears and then her contradictory actions as she first doesn’t want to attack Hotaru’s father and then feels she has to in order to protect Sailor Uranus. It’s not particularly compelling viewing from a characterisation point of view with a lot of things happenings because it’s Sailor Moon. Fans won’t be too disappointed but it is a good representation of why some people find it just a little predictable.

Oh, and there’s a whole spirit of Chibi-Usa thing early in the episode. Don’t let being dead stop you from getting screen time.

Sailor Moon Crystal is available on Crunchyroll and now AnimeLab has caught up to episode 35.

By the way, if I’m seeming a little negative, I take it back. I really love this series.