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First Buspressions: Sailor Moon!

Samuraiter and I were talking about Sailor Moon one day. As anyone who knows him knows, he's a BIG Sailor Moon fan, to the point that it got him into fandom when we were teenagers. He basically felt that 1) it was seriously underrated, mainly (and I realize I'm speaking for him) because of DiC's absolutely atrocious dubbing and editing for the West, and 2) that the anime was superior to the manga, making him the vast minority (assumably because everyone who says that... uh, likes being elitist. "Yeah, well I read the manga! You don't know what "manga" is, do you? Stupid baka!" (yes, said exactly like that, because REAL anime otaku only learn about ten words of Japanese to make themselves seem elite to their idiot friends!)

On a whim, I started reading the manga. I wasn't really into it; I felt the storytelling was all over the place, and there were too many set pieces that went by way too fast. So then, I figured I'd go for the ultimate challenge: I started downloading the full Sailor Moon torrent. All 37GB of it, all five series, subbed. Because when I "try" something, I kinda jump in headfirst. XD

I Tweeted about it, as I'm prone to do with quick thoughts nowadays. However, what I forgot about at the time was that my Tweets, unless they're replies, all get sent to Facebook as well, where my friends basically fall into three categories: 1) high school classmates from over ten years ago, 2) real life friends, and 3) exceptionally close online friends (like Liz, Anne, Crystal, etc.), with some of those overlapping. However, the majority of my Facebook friends call into categories 1 and 2, by far.

To say their response was "tepid" would be an understatement:

* Michael Tubiak at 10:47 on 07 June
R u serious?

* Drew Koscelek at 11:24 on 07 June
Really, what the fuck IS wrong with you? Sailor Moon? Ugh.

* Ed Ropple at 11:31 on 07 June
I don't know you.

* Christopher Bowen at 23:29 on 07 June
God, you guys act like I just sucked my first dick.

It's more or less a favour for a friend, who says it's not as stupid as I say it is. So I figured I'd give it a go. If it sucks, I delete it. Simple as that.

* Michael Tubiak at 23:45 on 07 June
sailor moon is like a virus man you just can't delete it! it's not that simple! Drew how do we handle this?

It should be noted, of course, that none of my friends are into anime, save MAYBE stuff like Transformers. Maybe one or two dudes into Dragonball Z for the fights.

It took me about a week of downloading to get the whole torrent; this is because cable internet is a bit funky, and whenever I download a torrent, it sucks the bandwidth right up and I end up basically killing our net, so I had to throttle or outright pause it often. But after that, I started watching recently, and got through thirteen episodes - about as far, equivocally, as I got in the manga - and I feel that's far enough to give my definitive, Superbusian Opinion...

The fucker was right. Not only is the anime better than the manga, but Sailor Moon is... dare I say it... actually pretty good.

Let me say this off the top: if you don't like "campy", you don't like Sailor Moon. It's campy, a bit kiddy, and doesn't really stretch the brain cells; Code Geass, this is not. Furthermore, there's a lot of reused stock footage, and the production leaves a lot to be desired. Kids growing up on the high-budget crap from today probably will laugh at an anime like Sailor Moon the same way they would laugh at stuff like Tosshou Daimos; it's completely and totally antiquated.

But anyone saying this is a stupid, mindless show isn't thinking hard enough, or only watched DiC's horrible dub. I like that, through the episodes I've seen so far, there's not only a monster-of-the-day and all that stupid shit, but also a subtle, but noticeable-if-you're-older commentary about a lot of societal issues in Japan and by extension, America. We'll steal our energy from people who would kill themselves just to lose a few pounds to look pretty. We'll steal energy from people who desire trivial things like gems and emeralds. We'll get our energy from people that are killing themselves just to get into the biggest schools, while noting that through all the cram schools and studying, they're missing the forest for the trees. That one was my favourite; for those that haven't watched the show properly, Jadeite the henchman is talking to Queen Beryl and stating that students practise for the best Kindergarten schools, then to go to the best elementary schools, then the best junior highs, only to push harder to get into the best secondary schools, and finally into the best universities. "What do they do after that?" "I do not know, my leige". That's pretty deep, if you think about it, and much deeper than you would expect a "kid's" show to be.

The storytelling is good, once you get past the set pieces; the reused, stock footage of attacks and morphs, the monster-of-the-day, and all the other stuff that ended up being stolen by half the anime shows that came out in the later 90s. The animation isn't great, but this is the mid-90s; we didn't need anyhting mind-blowing. In short, it's just as good for guys that aren't afraid of being called a fag as it is for girls. It's not my favourite show of all time - not by a long run, not even in my top 10 - but I can definitively say that I'm going to finish it, which is something I'm not sure I'll be able to say about Gundam ZZ.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
sarajayechan
Jun. 20th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
Awright, Bus. =)

During my time in the Sailor Moon fandom I was always told the manga was superior in all ways and the anime was mindless fluff. Then I found out the anime had a creepy episode about ghosts and psychic kids. XD So now I think they both have their merits and their weak points!

But seriously, the anime doesn't get enough credit. I actually never thought about the underlying social commentary before, but thinking back on the episodes I watched, I dunno how I missed it. XD
superbus
Jun. 20th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
And I feel that the manga is terribly told. It jumps around too much, destroyed any kind of suspense (I think it was chapter 2 or 3 where Ami showed up, with Rei right after that?), and, in my eyes, didn't really handle the Usagi > Mamoru relationship all that believably. If the anime is "just fluff", then... maybe I like fluff.

I thought the manga was really not that great. If that makes me a bad fan, hey, I'm 29 and financially solid, I can think what I want.
sarajayechan
Jun. 20th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
The beginning is particularly bad about that. I like the characterizations of Rei, Usagi and Mamoru a lot, but the anime spent more time setting up the relationships. Plus, more face time for Naru and Umino. \o/

Definitely. *nods* (Hey, I still mix canons in my head sometimes. :P)
mel_makoro
Jun. 20th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
I remember liking that show growing up, but I stopped watching for two reasons: A) I wasn't as interested after the last portion of R aired, and B) I really began to question WTF the director was thinking when it came to SuperS and Sailor Stars. You know there are issues when the original mangaka is telling the anime director, "Why the FUCK did you make that kind of change? You son of a bitch." Not Naoko Takeuchi's exact words, of course, but I understand that she's Very Displeased with the director on more than a few fronts.

So I basically ignore most of the stuff after the S series.
mel_makoro
Jun. 20th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
And by "ignore" I mean, "Read about them to familiarize myself with SuperS and Sailor Stars (both manga and anime versions); forget watching."

LOL @ no Edit button
samuraiter
Jun. 21st, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
I am not a big fan of Super S as a whole (except for Nehelenia, who is one of my favorite villains), but Sailor Stars is one of my favorites, as you know. (No Pink Menace, no Cape Doofus.)
aitherion
Jun. 20th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to actually try the Japanese anime for years, now. I was turned off of it for a long time because of the godawful dub but I suppose there's no reason for that shit to continue tainting my opinion.
svz_insanity
Jun. 20th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'm an unabashed Sailor Moon fan (personally I like the anime over the manga, but hey) and I was enough of a dork to buy Warriors of Legend (link takes you to Google Books where you can read a lot of excerpts) which talks a lot about the social commentary you've mentioned as well as the enormous detail and characterization of each of the Sailor Moon characters. Rei/Raye in particular was portrayed differently between the anime/manga and the authors had very interesting theories as to why that is.

Sailor Moon was my gateway drug into anime (at the tender age of four) so I'm incredibly biased. :)
vyctori
Jun. 20th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
I really need to watch the Sailor Moon sub. The closest I've come in recent years was watching the live-action, which is amazingly engrossing, once you get past the fact that, uh, it's live-action Sailor Moon. I'll definitely keep an eye out for the social commentary when/if I get around to watching the anime.
superbus
Jun. 21st, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I could take the live action seriously; it's cosplay to me, and cosplay makes me shudder.
vyctori
Jun. 22nd, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
You might be surprised. I watched the first two or three episodes to laugh at it because it's as cheesy as hell, but by about Episode Act 3 or 4, I was hooked. Of course, if cosplay's a squick of yours, it might be harder to get into.
yubsie
Jun. 20th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Oddly, I think the live action is probably the best handling of the story. The pacing of the manga is a bit rushed, but I found the anime's pacing a little slow. I really like the anime, so I watch the filler, but it's mostly because I know that once the plot gets going, it REALLY gets going. Plus, at least it's usually character developing filler! The live action has a lot less filler, but it's not so rushed that you don't have time to care about the characters before they start dying. I started watching the live action just to see how cheesy it was (don't get me wrong, the effects totally are) but somewhere along the line I realized that I actually REALLY CARE about these characters.

I've seen the third, fifth and half the first season subbed. Really need to get to the rest. :p
superbus
Jun. 21st, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
The live action has a lot less filler, but it's not so rushed that you don't have time to care about the characters before they start dying.

Bwuh!?
yubsie
Jun. 21st, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
Well, in the manga, they kill off like the entire cast in volume two and it's kinda "But we just met these people."

Though there's some killing towards the end of the live action. One of which was RATHER SHOCKING. :p
dtn
Jun. 20th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Holy shit 37GB? The entire anime? My god.

Sailor Moon was also my starting point in anime and in art. I really didn't watch all of the anime, I'm sure I must have watched the sagas backwards or something and I never saw the last season since it never aired as far as I remember. (which I should get around to watching one day)

Though I really like the manga, I've always liked the anime and movies too. Maybe one day I'll watch the live action, it's been years
samuraiter
Jun. 21st, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
As anyone who knows him knows, he's a BIG Sailor Moon fan, to the point that it got him into fandom when we were teenagers.

Indeed. During my first year at the university, I was 'that creepy Sailor Moon guy on the third floor'. Which is funny, considering I did my best to keep my fandom a secret in those days.

"Yeah, well I read the manga! You don't know what "manga" is, do you? Stupid baka!"

Late '90s Sailor Moon fandom in a nutshell. :-(

On a whim, I started reading the manga. I wasn't really into it;

And I'm still not. Like I've told you in the past, the manga does so little for the villains and the other Sailor Senshi that there's really no point in reading it if you're not a fan of Sailor Moon herself.

All 37GB of it, all five series, subbed.

A quick rundown of my opinions here:
Sailor Moon. Classic, but low production values.
Sailor Moon R. Slow build to the best story arc.
Sailor Moon S. Almost as good as R. Darker.
Sailor Moon Super S. Shit.
Sailor Stars. A good resolution, IMO.

The fucker was right.

It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. ;-)

Not only is the anime better than the manga, but Sailor Moon is... dare I say it... actually pretty good.

Even if you haven't been converted into a diehard like me, it actually warms my heart to hear this.

Code Geass, this is not.

And thank the gods for that! Geass is fun, but it's also a good summation of everything I feel is wrong with anime in the post-'01 period.

stuff like Tosshou Daimos; it's completely and totally antiquated.

I still say Daimos is great, even if it's old school, but talking to me about '70s mecha can lead to ... encyclopedic debates.

something I'm not sure I'll be able to say about Gundam ZZ.

(Side note: I'm still not sure why ZZ is my favorite, though, really, it's holding up better as time passes and each new Gundam series gets, well, gayer.)

(Side note to side note: I've been diving into Tomino's non-Gundam stuff lately, and I stand by my opinion that those other shows are his best work. Especially, say, Dunbine and L-Gaim.)

Anyway, if you've just finished the Jadeite arc of Sailor Moon, I will say this: If you like it thus far, the best of the show is yet to come. I encourage you to post your opinion again once you've finished the first season. :-)
superbus
Jun. 21st, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure what my opinion is going to be for the final part of the series, but last night, while waiting for maintenance to start (that, all said, went until 10AM; yes, I'm just getting up), I had a bit of an SM marathon (and during the slow parts of last night's maintenenace, read a LOT of Rurouni Kenshin, which I do like though I'm getting disturbed that the three people with Kenshin are basically becoming the Mouseketeers at this point), I had a bit of a marathon and made it to Ep. 26, meaning I not only passed Jadeite, but went past Jephrite and into Sailor Jupiter (it's a tie between Rei and Makoto as to which character is my favourite at this point), and it's starting to get good, as the filler episodes seem to be going away and everything's starting to come together. Yes, there's issues (why is it that Makoto was able to just walk into being Sailor Jupiter? Why are people seeing all sorts of supernatural shit all of a sudden, and not questioning it?), but it's starting to get really good, and thought I might have been SPOILED THANK YOU MARGARET, I look forward to the ending.
samuraiter
Jun. 21st, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
(Good ... morning?)

Kenshin has its moments, but ... if you think they're the Mouseketeers now, it only gets worse. Seriously, that series has the worst case of Overpowered Main Character ™ I've ever seen, even more so than DBZ. (At least the other DBZ characters can actually do stuff instead of standing around going "Ooo, Kenshin, aaa, Kenshin!")

Makoto is my #2 favorite, next to Ami. Then again, Makoto is the one starring in a 'fic. ^_^; You're right to wonder how it is she's such a natural fit for her powers. That's one question I try to answer, but that's (literally) a long story.

Whether you know about the ending or not, I've noticed that it doesn't reduce the impact of the various events. You'll see. Meanwhile, now that you're done with Nephrite, things are going to get much more intense.

Except for the really cracked-out episode with the cats. You'll know it as soon as you see it, trust me.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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