What They Say:
A majestic pegasus with a golden horn has appeared in Chibi-Usa’s dreams with a request—to help him and keep his presence a secret. This plea turns out to be more than a childish dream, for the fearsome Dead Moon Circus led by the villainous Zirconia arrive in town to draw out Pegasus by targeting people with beautiful dreams! Sailor Moon and the Guardians must unite to fight a new enemy and her deadly henchmen, the Amazon Trio. But without the power to transform into Super Sailor Moon, the Guardians find themselves seriously outmatched! Will Sailor Chibi Moon’s strong desire to protect everyone’s be the key to accessing Pegasus’s power?
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’s 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 1995 and 1996, 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 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. The design is a good one with Usagi as the sole character with a side shot that has her turning toward the viewer with a touch of a somber look about her. I like the colors used for it and the foil accents it nicely. The back cover keeps to the light greens 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 and Chibiusa 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 one of the key locations for this run.
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 really neat interview, not to diminish the others, is the twenty-one-minute piece that has Robbie Daymond sitting with Toru Furuya together about the character. Daymond has some good stuff in how he got the role and approach but I’ll admit I was interested in Furuya’s take since he was coming into it at a very different time and the not knowing what it was all about to some degree. Both bring a lot to the interview but I really enjoyed hearing Furuya’s take on things.
The extras for this release have some of the familiar and welcome things, like some new art gallery sections and the clean opening and closing sequences. There’s an interesting piece on scripting the special that runs for about nine minutes with Erica Menendez talking about what was involved in it, especially coming from acting within the show and then doing the writing on it. An eleven-minute interview with the “royal family” brings in Stephanie Sheh, Robbie Daymond, and Sandy Fox to talk about where their characters are at during this phase of it as well as having been working on this project together for as long as they have. We also get a twenty-minute video interview piece with the large group of Sailor Guardians together as they cover a wide range of things, including the way the group has evolved as a whole.
After the Sailor Moon S season there was always going to be more and that resulted in the Super S run, which has thirty-nine episodes overall. This set has nineteen episodes including the extra long special that’s put into the episodes chronologically, which is a little odd since half of it is recap and then it digs into some other stories that didn’t quite click for me. What this season does is start a familiar premise and largely works in the way that we’ve seen previous seasons so it has me in that uncomfortable position of feeling like a whole lot of deja vu. The spaced out structure of the franchise has always been something that rubbed me the wrong way but it was also part and parcel for a project like this. This half of the run is highly episodic and it even feels like the main cast is greatly reduced in general.
The general premise is that it focuses on the Dead Moon Circus that has “come to town” in pursuit of Pegasus, which has found an affinity for Chibusa and has spent some time in her dreams. This is something that Chibiusa keeps to herself for longer than she should while dealing with that feeling that something just isn’t right. What does help, however, is that Pegasus’s presence in the first episode of this arc serves to give both Sailor Moon and Chibiusa a boost in their abilities, essentially evolving them a bit, to deal with what’s coming. Hence the whole Super Sailor forms that they get to take on. It’s a nice little boost that helps to move things to the next level while not going as crazy over the top as another similar franchise with Dragon Ball Z.
With the Pegasus as a kind of background piece that gets built on from there, with a few new weapons put into play as well, most of what we get are the one-off episodes involving the Dead Moon Circus and their attempts at finding the Pegasus and dealing with everyday people. That does have some fun, such as an early episode involving a dimensional portal to try and capture it or the way that various people are targeted to try and draw it out, such as investigating a writer whose works begin to explore the Pegasus idea, giving the team the idea that they may have dreamed about it. There’s a good bit of story material devoted to Mamoru getting back some of his memories that were lost to the past in previous activities and it works well because you have Usagi wanting him to be whole while Mamoru wants to understand his own past. It ties in nicely to everything else but also shows some minor growth on the part of both of them in this relationship.
But really, with this covering the first half of the Super S series and most of the Pegasus arc, what we get here is the standard stuff. Ballet episodes, some fun at the beach, minor character squabbles that often seem to focus on Minako, there’s not much to engage with. The standard fare episodic material gets a bit draining in marathon form, to be honest, but that’s always been a problem with the series. What I found to be a bit more of a struggle with it this time around is that it feels like there are fewer characters involved and it all comes across as smaller and without much in the way of energy to carry the larger storyline forward. We get regular interactions with the Circus folks to be sure, and I’m amused by some of their bar style interactions when they’re all together before events get underway, but there’s just not enough here to really draw me in.
I always kind of feel bad in talking about the classic Sailor Moon franchise. I like the concept, I like the characters, but I dislike the execution while also understanding why it was done. We don’t get shows like this anymore and part of me misses that – but only when viewed through a weekly basis. Marathoning sets like this are simply problematic when you get down to it if you’re just a casual fan of it. Viz put together a good set here with what they’re doing and that’s no surprise as past sets have been strong as well with a fun new dub, lots of good extras, and a clean looking presentation. While it may feel like it’s taking a while to get it all done there’s just a lot of material and the new series that’s being done alongside as well, making for a lot of things to deal with.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, TV Special
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 24th, 2018
Running Time: 456 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.