What They Say:
The battle of good versus evil escalates in Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 as Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians face a new threat—this time from outer space! When a strange phenomenon starts turning people into monsters, Usagi and her friends learn that a secret organization called the Death Busters is responsible. Led by their all-powerful ruler Pharaoh 90, these alien beings are determined to invade Earth to make it their second home. Will the two mysterious Guardians calling themselves Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune be the key to Sailor Moon’s victory, or her doom? And what is their connection to the prophetic dreams warning of impending destruction? With the fate of the world hanging in balance, Sailor Moon’s resolve to protect all life will be put to the ultimate test!
The audio presentation for this release brings us a standard kind of design as we get the original Japanese language track as well as the newly created English language dub, both of which are in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that works a pretty good range of material as there’s straightforward dialogue, some very hushed moments, and some big action pieces as well. And it’s all wrapped in some good music as well to make it fun. The various components to the mix work very well as there’s a lot going on and it all comes together pretty well. The dialogue is well placed where needed and there’s some good depth in several scenes as well with the action. That area works well as it goes big, particularly in the final couple of episodes, and runs with it in a very fun way. The two tracks are definitely well presented and fans of the show will certainly enjoy them a good deal with how clean and clear they are.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes for this set are spread across two discs in a sevent/six format while the bulk of the extras are on the second disc. Animated by Toei Animation, the transfer brings this very colorful and vibrant piece to life in a really great way. It’s clean, vivid, and full of pop with the colors while also maintaining the darker scenes very well with solid blacks and the blues coming across as rich and free of noise or breakup. The end result is a show that’s very appealing looking with what it does and makes it easy to get lost in the show itself with how it comes across. It’s definitely the kind of slick production one would hope for.
The case for this release comes in a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the discs for both formats on hinges inside. The front cover goes with the expected imagery from one of the Japanese releases with the group as a whole ringed around Usagi but avoids using of the new characters, which is kind of disappointing. The back cover provides for a few shots from the show but gives most of the space over to the planet alignment ring at the top and a summary of the premise. The discs extras and setup in the technical side are listed clearly as well while the remainder fleshes things out with the production credits and the usual box of logos and other little details. There are no show related inserts but there’s a great two-panel spread on the reverse side where we get the starfield behind the discs that’s appealing..
With the limited edition version of it we get a good heavy chipboard box that goes for a really nice ornate style that simply looks classy and proper in all sorts of ways, especially with the etching and the dark colors of it all. Within the box we get the space for the Blu-ray case itself as well as a really thick booklet that has tons of great full color pieces with summaries of episodes, background information, and all sorts of other details about the production. Add in a small packet of oversized postcards/art cards and there’s a whole lot to like here.
The menus for this release play in a very similar fashion to the original series menus with the logo in the center along the bottom while there’s stardust and the like on either side where the navigation itself is kept. The four submenus are quick and easy to load and navigation is a breeze with clear listings in easy to read text that’s not obscured or poorly laid out. Everything works perfectly as we get the clips playing out in the background that utilizes some good sequences from the show itself without becoming overpowering and distracting.
The extras for this release are pretty nicely done overall as we get the familiar extras that you want with the clean opening and closing and the trailer for the series. There are a few interview segments with four of the voice actors that ran from four to seven minutes with some standard Q&A material and we get the standards with the clean opening and closings as well as the art gallery.
Having enjoyed the previous seasons of this series disconnected from the hype of the simulcast side of it, I went into the third season much the same way. The show is one that I definitely enjoy but I’ve never been the kind of fan who is all about the show. The original works are one that had pros and cons to them that made an impact over the years but their nature and lack of availability and awkward releases just made it impossible to really get into. These modern adaptations of the source manga are proving a lot more appealing and this season is probably the best looking one yet with what it does and it delivers a tight and engaging story across its thirteen episodes, even if about half of it feels like fluff when you get down to the.
The premise for the season is definitely easy to digest as we get the worst named opponent of Master Pharaoh 90 having come to Earth from the Tau solar system in order to make Earth its second home, expanding its conquests. In order to do that, it’s inserted a woman named Kaolinite to orchestrate the five witches that she commands to steal the hearts of people under the name of hostes. They’re all operating out a section of Tokyo that was bought out previously and has an air of dark energy about it as the scientist Souichi Tomoe, who sold off a lot of things in order to acquire this area, orchestrates it all. What humanizes him a bit is that he has a young daughter named Hotaru who has gone through some rough things herself and finds friendship in Chibi-Usa as a subplot. Suffice to say, the witches go out on the attack, the gang learns about it and makes discoveries, eventual push toward confrontation.
Which is like past arcs for the most part just with different trappings, which is fine, because that’s what’s going to appeal to the original audience. What separates this third season, which goes by the name of Death Busters, is that it works as a very good expansion on everything. The villains are largely paint by numbers for the most part but what we get that’s new is the introduction of the outer scouts, the Sailor Guardians that have been tasked with protecting everything from threats from outer space. Now, obviously they failed in this area because of what made it through is causing all sorts of problems, but it gets them to come to Earth where they’re doing their best to not interact or work with the rest of the Sailor Guardians because of reasons. None of the reasons work well enough as to not work with each other but there has to be friction and uncertainty as Usagi and the others try to figure out what’s going on.
The appeal of this season is definitely the new Guardians that we get introduced here. The first two are already operating on Earth with Haruka and Michiru as Uranus and Neptune respectively. Their relationship isn’t played up in a huge way here, and Usagi mistakes Haruka as a boy for a while before just not being sure, but both are beautifully animated (though my love of green hair means Michiru attracts more of my attention while Haruka actually gets more story material). They’re assisted by Sailor Plout later on with her coming to try and sort things out in the back half, all of which leads to the arrival of Sailor Saturn as the Soldier of Destruction, at least through one telling of who she is. These outer scouts have a complicated relationship with the rest simply because they were always pointed outward except when they had to destroy things from the inner section because of how badly things went down in the past.
The problem with these additions is something that plagues far too many anime series in that it pushes out most of the existing cast. Usagi is one that naturally doesn’t lose screen time and Chibi-Usa holds her own because of the subplot with Hotaru, but the rest of the original cast get largely marginalized here. They have cute moments here and there with some playfulness and they put in a good show in the final battle, but it’s made clear that this season is all about the new characters. This is where you can appreciate the original series more with its larger episode runs as the supporting cast got a lot more attention with one-off episodes and group stories spread throughout. As a fan of the originals, it’s disheartening to see them pushed to the side like this. Even Mamoru gets less time overall and is relegated more to just Usagi’s sorta boyfriend and sometimes caretaker of Chibi-Usa. On the plus side, Chibi-Usa is at her least annoying in this season and has a pretty heartening tale with Hotaru.
Viz Media nails it with this release as it’s great to look at, the dub is spot on, and the packaging is great. Add in some fun extras and a story that works very well and the set is probably my favorite of all the Sailor Moon Crystal seasons right now. It’s a tight and solid story that even if it does minimize some of my favorite characters it gives the new ones plenty of time to shine while feeling like they’ve got a reason for being away from past events all this time. There are things you look past in terms of story here because it is what it is but in the end it’s definitely a strong project from start to finish that should delight every fan of the show with how it turns out.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Behind the Scenes, Art Galleries, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Running Time: 312 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.