What They Say:
Around the world, children are disappearing – and the culprits are not of this world! The evil Queen Badiane plots to trap Earth in a dark energy field called the Black Dream Hole, powered by the sweet, sugar energy produced from the dreams of children. Meanwhile, Chibi-Usa befriends Perle, a new kid who seems to have grown fond of the town’s warm and friendly atmosphere. Their peace is short-lived when they find the town’s children suddenly start sleep-walking out of their homes, including Chibi-Usa! Sailor Moon, Perle, and the Sailor Guardians must now fight to save the lost children before the enemy can place the world into an eternal sleep that’s definitely not sweet!
The audio presentation for this special 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 match 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 released in 1995, the transfer for this movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Produced by Toei Animation, the hourlong release largely looks like the TV material in general one in terms of color saturation and the solidity of detail to it as well as design in general, just with some nice little bumps here and there to give it a slightly more theatrical feeling. 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.
The packaging for this release is something that definitely delights me as the first pressing comes with an o-card that doesn’t just replicate the case artwork. The o-card features Usagi in the middle in her costume with a diamond framing that with the purples and yellows looks great with the white background within it. Around here we get the metallic elements with lots of little widgets reflective of her life done in shades of purple and it’s simply adorable. The back cover shines well with the purple as well where we get a cute Chibi-Usa image along the right while the left delves into the summary of the premise. The discs features are clearly listed and we get a nice selection of shots along the bottom. Below that we get the production credits and a grid of logos, making me wish once again that we got a proper technical grid like almost every other studio out there. The case artwork itself is a really great night and day split visual that works really well with its colors and detail while having Usagi and Chibi-Usa right down that angled split. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
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 the menu 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. 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.
We get a nice selection of extras with this release which is definitely appreciated. The expected piece are here with the trailers for the film and the English theatrical credits kept to the side. We get a small but cute art gallery and, more importantly, we get the short with Ami’s First Love. This comes in at fifteen minutes and was a great companion to the original feature and allows my favorite character to get a little time to shine all on her own. Well, not completely since everyone else is there but the best moments are when she’s on her own. We also get three interview pieces produced for the theatrical run I believe with Kate Higgins, Sandy Fox, and Tara Sands. They all run between eight and nine minutes each and have some fun Q&A pieces that they get to answer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the midst of the Sailor Moon SuperS TV series, a limited theatrical movie was released on December 23rd, 1995. It’s a standalone piece like some of the other movies produced so it doesn’t make an impact on the ongoing work but puts something fun together that you can see on the big screen. It saw release previously through Geneon Entertainment but Viz Media has redubbed it with their cast here while also including the special that aired before it, Ami’s First Love. That also gets a dub which is just delightful as it gives fans a more complete experience for their favorite property. It’s been almost twenty years since I saw this and we’re closing in on the 25th-anniversary for it, which is just mindboggling when you get down to it.
Clocking in at just about an hour, the film goes with the title of Miracle of the Black Dream Hole and essentially gives us a Pied Piper kind of story. We’re introduced to Poupelin as he’s hypnotizing children with his flute and leading them into the sky. We also get Chibi-Usa drawn into this in Tokyo where after doing some fun baking with the rest of the girls she heads to find Mamoru to give him some cookies but gets distracted by a pretty boy with butterfly wings named Perle, and we get some of the flute music playing here but without quite the same effect. So, it’s no surprise that Chibi-Usa gets drawn into this later that night as a number of other children are being drawn by the sound as Poupelin is here as well, working for as it turns out a woman named Queen Badiane. She wants the children for her own nefarious purposes and is able to get away with it, sans Chibi-usa at first before eventually getting her into her clutches as well.
For the Sailor Scouts, they’re able to be helped by Perle as her brief befriending of Chibi-Usa makes her want to help a lot. And it doesn’t hurt that Perle has his own ship that lets them head off after Badiane to deal with the situation. It’s all fairly standard in how the structure unfolds with a couple of fight scenes but I really liked the arrival of the outer Scouts here and some of the cute little less than subtle innuendo that we get along the way. The show works a slightly better budget here overall compared to the TV series so the action scenes and the final act, in particular, stand out very well and it makes for a very compelling action sequence. But it does follow the usual structure so there are no real surprises here, nor would any really be expected. Badiane provides for an interesting location with her castle and how she handles the children, but you also know that it’s all going to be reset in a sense by the end of it.
The Miracle of the Black Dream Hole is pretty straightforward stuff with a nice budget to it so that it shines well on a big screen. I’ve generally enjoyed the various Sailor Moon features that we got as nice bits of self-contained amusement that lets the characters deal with what’s essentially a three-episode piece but without the heavy rush that we get in a standard episode. And with much nicer animation. Viz Media did this release up in a great way from top to bottom that I really have to admire. The packaging is slick with how it’s all done, they provided for some great extras, and having a new and consistent dub for it is a very welcome piece. It’s definitely a very easy pickup for fans to add to their collection and get a little more fun from the SuperS era of stories.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Ami’s First Love Featurette, English Cast Interviews, Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: February 12th, 2019
Running Time: 75 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.