What They Say:
Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune’s search for the three talismans has led them to become targets of the Witches 5, the Death Busters’ beautiful and deadly agents, who also seek the talismans to summon the powerful Holy Grail! Now, Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Guardians are on a race against time to save their friends’ lives and prevent the power of the Holy Grail from falling into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, Chibi-Usa befriends a young girl named Hotaru, whose mysterious power quickly attracts the attention of both friend and foe. Is there a connection between Hotaru and the enemy? And who is the Messiah of Silence that is said to bring destruction? Will Sailor Moon’s new power be enough to protect the world from the impending apocalypse?
The audio presentation for this series is pretty good considering the age and elements as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo along with a newly created English language dub, also in stereo. The original elements come across cleaner than I thought they would as there are no real problems to be had with it such as hiss or background noise creeping into it. The show has a fairly simple forward soundstage mix that’s representative of its time and it definitely captures things well with the lossless DTS-HD MA codec that’s used. There’s not a lot in the way of strong directionality, but it hits the right notes that matches the material. The new English language mix comes across louder as one would expect in general due to it being newer and mixed in cleaner and sharper ways and there’s a touch more directionality to it overall, but not a significant amount. Both tracks are pretty good and the end result is one that will generally please and leave fans happy.
Originally airing in 1994 and 1995, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080p using the AVC codec. The nineteen episodes of this set are spread across three discs in a seven/six/six format that gives it enough room to work with. Produced by Toei Animation, the release largely looks like the previous one in terms of color saturation and the solidity of detail to it. The colors are nicely defined and solid throughout with no problems such as breakup or noise amid it all. The high motion sequences, especially the transformations, look great with a clean look to them that doesn’t suffer from macroblocking or any other issues, resulting in some very appealing sequences. The show is certainly the best it’s looked in North American release and is well spread across the three discs.
The packaging design for this release is solid as we get the sparkly and shiny slipcover that replicates the artwork but adds a little extra pizzazz to it, even as the artwork itself is a little darker. The design is a good one with the main cast all in their various action poses while Sailor Moon is in the center with the right kind of seriousness to both her and the range of characters around her. The back cover keeps to the light yellows and soft whites for the background as it gives us the rundown of what to expect here in a very general sense and a few shots from the show mixed in with what extras are included with the set. Usagi gets the main artwork piece here that looks great with the simplicity and color design of it all while the rest is the standard technical grid and production information that lists it all cleanly and clearly. There’s no booklet here – we got the big book in the first set for this season, but we do get some nice artwork on the reverse side of the main cast with the new additions who get a larger placement.
The menu design for this release is really nice and shows a lot of love and attention given to it rather than just duplicating things easily and moving on. The overall structure of each disc in the set is the same where we get an array of clips from the show playing out as pieces move across the screen and we get the same tiara-type navigation strip along the bottom that has a lot of clear space throughout it that makes it look great during playback as a pop-up menu. The logo resides brightly at the top center which gives it a lot of shine. Each disc works its own color hue pattern aligned with the Scouts themselves and it also has its own music piece associated with it, which is delightful and will certainly inspire some to haul out their music again and reconnect with it. Navigation itself is a breeze and while I dislike that the language tracks are locked from changing on the fly, you can change it through the pop-up menu during playback and easily check differences in the tracks.
The extras for this release are pretty fun and add a lot of value for the English language fans. In addition to the clean opening and closing sequences, we get a fun interview with Keith Silverstein talking about his role in the series that runs about ten minutes. We also get three separate interviews with the new outer scouts talking about their characters that run between seven and ten minutes. And the three of them come back together to watch episode 119 together in the lower right corner so we can see their reactions to it as a fun video commentary.
The back half of the Sailor Moon S season arrives with this set as we get nineteen episodes that brings everything to a conclusion for this arc. I had missed out on the first half of it as we didn’t get a review copy for it but it’s certainly easy enough to get into the groove because the structure of this series as a whole is fairly predictable. What drives this series forward for a lot of fans was the addition of three new Sailor Scout characters with Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto and while their roles aren’t as outsized as you might think they would be based on the strength of the fandom around them, they do perform well and are a critical piece to everything.
The general idea to this season continues the idea of the crystals within people that are needed for the nefarious plans at hand and that means the Daimon’s going out and trawling innocents to get them. Because innocent people have the best crystals, after all. The set actually opens on the problem that Minako is having in that unlike the others she hasn’t been hit by this year and she’s having a fairly natural teenage fear hit in that she’s not of pure heart like her friends. Of course, it’s not something you want to have to deal with in terms of being attacked by a Daimon but the sense of not being like everyone else and not as good as the rest of the team east at her for a bit. It’s an interesting angle to take but the main takeaway from this episode is Usagi’s reveal later on amid a battle as to who she really is to Haruka and Michiru. They, in turn, reveal who they are and the usual shocks abound, allowing this season to move forward with that knowledge now out and shared.
As you can expect, a lot of this half of the season is like the first in that we get the various attacks that are going on, crystals being stolen, and the girls coming to save the day. These are familiar things and it occasionally gets a bit more serious depending on who all is involved. When the two main new scouts are involved and have their crystal’s stolen it largely works to serve the bond between the inner and outer scouts to bring them to the table together. The outer scouts have a decent bit of background that’s explored later in the season with the different powers and abilities they have and why their mission was different and it’s something that appeals because it gives us a bigger picture of how all of this works. It is, naturally, very light and loose with the details of what it is but the broad strokes are great even if I find myself a little frustrated by Michiru and Haruka at times as they’re so cool and distant. It makes for some fun scenes to be sure but it made it harder, even when they softened a bit with Usagi and the others, to really get behind them.
While a lot of what we get focuses on the Witches 5 and dealing with them there are also a few subplots. The most notable is seeing how Hotaru is dealing with everything as the truth about her slowly comes out and her connection to what’s going on but I rather liked her interactions with Chibi-Usa. That doesn’t mean I actually like Chibi-Usa but she does come across better in this season than the first season she appeared in as she’s nowhere near as over the top of friction-causing like she was there. And in getting to play against Hotaru for a good part of it that helps a lot since it’s ostensibly two characters of the same age and without the kinds of tensions that exist between Chibi-Usa and Usagi over Mamoru.
Everything really comes together in the final three or four episodes when Hotaru is awakened as the Mistress of Silence and that calls in the true evil to be dealt with. This, sadly, leads to another familiar element with Usagi getting taken advantage of and making things worse so that everyone has to really come together to deal with the threat. It does get a little convoluted along the way and it has some very classic shoujo-esque aspects that kind of amuse me in the rebirth piece of it all and how it gives the professor a new lease on life moving forward. The show goes big enough and everyone has their small moments but it’s a world ending threat that just never felt like it landed or connected as well as it did. On the plus side, however, we do get a nice epilogue episode for the most part that’s like just one more round of fun for the gang before the next season gets underway.
While the larger story and the familiar structure of the season simply doesn’t do much for me, Sailor Moon S is a hugely important entry because of its “controversial” at the time elements of Michiru and Haruka and seeing how various localizations handled it – often poorly to disturbingly poorly. Viz’s release takes us back to the right way of doing that and it’s extremely important since those that knew at the time what was intended, and what the original creator has said is accurate, is the kind of representation during a time and period that was rare and has had a ripple effect in positive ways for many fans for many years. Though a bit underwhelming as a season for me there’s definitely plenty to like here and it’s a solid continuation in the franchise as a whole from this period that Viz has put together in a good way.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Cast Interviews, Cast Commentary, Art Gallery, Opening & Ending Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: June 20th, 2017
Running Time: 470 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.