Hello, class. You may have noticed that I've been watching Sailor Moon around these parts. But how do you think this show really fared, overall?
Lots of people regard Sailor Moon as being, quite simply, the best anime in the world. It's right up there on its lofty perch, right next to Dragonball, Pokemon, and Naruto. No, I'm not getting into that shit either. My point is that just because something is incredibly popular, that does not make it good (see: Naruto, trolololol).
I went into this series knowing that I've already seen bits and pieces of it before, and having only the broadest general idea of what would occur. But for the most part, it was pretty much all new to me. I remember when I was younger - much younger mind - and this show was being aired on USA Network at various times of the day. "Sailor Moon?" thought I. "What is this, and why do these people look like they kick so much ass? Oh my god this is awesome!"
How little I knew. I'm not tackling the English localisation for a reason here, because it is generally regarded as one of the most horrible bastardizations ever. Right next to Macross. Except you know what they called Macross? Robotech. They butchered that show so bad, it was longer than the original source material. Just process that through your mind for a moment. The English localisation of that show was longer than its source material.
Now here's a funny story. When I started watching SDF Macross, it was completely unbearable to watch at first, but for some reason, I kept going. By the end of the final episode, tears were streaming down my face, because what had begun as a horrifyingly animated experience had transformed into an incredibly beautiful story with an ending I couldn't believe. I had actually cared about the characters for so long, and I felt myself really happy with the way things ended up, even if it was a bit sad.
If you've even bothered to read my review on the last episode of Sailor Moon, then you'll know for a fact that I do not feel the same way about this show.
It may be appropriate that I use SDF Macross as a bit of alitmus here. That one came out in the early '80s, Sailor Moon over a decade later. So clearly, improvements must have been made, right?
ART & ANIMATION
The number one thing I find that artistic-types hate about anime (besides the overly-popularized style itself) is the extremes taken to use as little animation as possible to churn out a product. To the point of literally having static images at times to tell a tale. Now, I'm clearly no expert, not having actually worked in an animation studio, but I can tell you that having gone through school with a BFA to prove it, I know a thing or two about the production pipeline, and the process that goes behind it. So with that said, I'm very tempted to give this show a solid D+, but I think that would be a little overly harsh, especially since they proved that they can do some wonderfully animated sequences.
Of course, for that lazy-ass ballroom sequence from episode 22, they alone should be failed. However, I am feeling somewhat generous, so I can probably get away with giving them a C-. Because for all of their faults, at least they didn't go the route of constantly showing us the same goddamned flashback every five minutes. Like they do in some more recent anime. (Naruto, I'm looking at you pal.)
Plus, they chose not to overuse the transformation sequences, and while they did do a bit of padding here and there, for a '90s anime, it's somewhat acceptable.
STORY AND PLOT
Now, let's just be honest with ourselves here. This show is just a plain mess. Don't try to come at me with all your hoity-toity nostalgia, because we're being honest here. And when I say we're being honest, I mean your show sucks in terms of story and plot. Why? Lack of consistency. When this show begins, it looks as though it wants to take itself a little bit seriously, with funny elements to break things up. Except it never really decides if it wants to stay funny or remain totally serious. It does so much flip-flopping, it could pass for an American politician.
The inconsistencies with the tone are one thing, but the plot itself is another. What should have been, by all rights, a fairly simple and straightforward story took so many twists and turns it's like they were using a formula that said "insert plot twist here" and just came up with whatever seemed appropriate at the time. For all they kept claiming there was love between Mamoru and Usagi in their past life (or Princess Serenity and Endymion I guess), they showed absolutely no actual romance, and even made their relationship even more confusing at the end with that whole 'war' thing. In short: they did themselves no favors.
Plus, have you seen some of the plots of these villains? This section gets a solid F for failure.
MUSIC AND SFX
This might surprise you, but the music and SFX in this show are actually really, really good. The main theme is catchy, in both English AND Japanese. They also use a healthy amount of recycling the theme song in a way that is not completely annoying, and the only time they go so far as to repeat the song a lot is during the last episode - which is acceptable considering it is THE LAST EPISODE.
Plus, the voices didn't make my eardrums want to erupt, so this one gets a solid A-. It could have been better if they had a little more than three or four songs, and they get a few points taken off for utilizing over-used dramatic classical music out of nowhere. Lazy bastards!
CHARACTER DESIGN AND THEMING
Technically, this should've been lumped in with the Art and Animation, but I feel that it deserves its own section, because it is a humongous part of the show in general. This is, by its nature, a 'monster-a-day' show - almost every episode introduces a new monster which is then immediately defeated afterwards. Plus, you have the character designs of the heroes and the villains, so yeah, it's an important thing.
Now, I have to say that the design of the main characters is pretty damn strong, and with the exception of poor Nephrite, who seems mostly forgotten despite having a long run, the enemies tend to stand out. They all have really strong character outlines, and are easily identifiable, even when they are dressing up as a captain of a cruise ship or something.
Unfortunately, it is also because of this large number of monsters that this grade will be so low. D+ because while they put in a lot of effort, many of the monsters just plain sucked, and let's be honest, of those there were only three or four who really stood out from the crowd.
Also, because every monster was based upon the character they possessed later on, some of them really tended to fall... flat. Such as the psychic kid that was a bunch of school supplies. Yeah, that guy.
FINAL GRADE: D-
You may be shocked at this grade, but really you shouldn't be. That failing grade in the Story and Plot really dragged this score down pretty heavily, because if your plot is shit and your character motivations are weak, so too is the rest of your show. This aggravates me to an extent because part of me secretly wanted this show to be good. Truly. I look at the things they had, and went "you know, this could be really amazing if they don't cock it all up." Then they go and cock it all up.
I see a lot of missed potential in this show, and with all of the dickish characters and stupidly-contrived plot twists, its any wonder anybody ever liked this show to begin with.
"Oh, but you probably just hate the Magical Girl genre, you should watch something you like." BULLSHIT. I *love* the Magical Girl genre. Cardcaptor Sakura is an amazing show that perfectly captures the genre. Magical Lyrical Nanoha is among one of those shows I find myself rewatching almost on a yearly basis. Recently I've been getting into Pretty Cure. You know what Pretty Cure does? Not take itself seriously, whilemaintaining an atmosphere of tongue-in-cheekness. Basically, Pretty Cure takes everything from this show, and makes it goddamn WORK.
So where do I go from here? Well, no Sailor Moon this week. I've got a weekly thing for you coming up Friday (see: Gay Swimming), but what about Wednesday?
Well. I've had another request pop up, so I suppose I will start working on that then.
If only because it keeps me from watching other shows.
I try to at least keep an ear out for what people would like for me to watch next, so if you have any suggestions, comments, whatevers, feel free to drop me a comment, or slip me an email. Or contact me in any other way you happen to know how, because some of you people seem to know where I live or something.