a new coat of moondust, But that's about it
Sailor Moon herself might be the first woman (fictional or otherwise) that I ever had a crush on.
So, like many, I was waiting with bated breath for Sailor Moon's return. Announced on July 6, 2012, and now, nearly 22 years after the premiere of the first series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal is finally out.
The first thing that is immediately apparent with this rejuvenated take on the franchise is that its animation is leaps and bounds beyond its limited predecessor. The character designs are closer reflections of their manga origins, with a beautiful, somewhat elongated look. Heck, even the dreamlike backgrounds make a return.
The next thing that is immediately apparent, however, is that it almost explicitly follows the beats of the original series' first episode. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course, but perhaps I was expecting more of a deviation from past.
When someone goes through the trouble of remaking a well-revered icon, there is usually some kind of "twist" thrown in. You're given a brand-new slate, and you want to justify the remake. In the 2009 Star Trek reboot, the screenwriters deftly created a fresh timeline so that they could put the fan-favorite crew of the Enterprise on brand new adventures, not held back by the shackles the past (Of course, they completely went back on this in the atrocious Into Darkness, but that's neither here nor there.)
I've often wondered if simply a visual update would be an acceptable means to re-tell an old story to a new generation (Lord knows one of my favorites, Tekkaman Blade, a unique and dark sci-fi show, plagued with stilted and off-model animation, could use one) and it seems that this is the route Crystal intends to take. I'm interested to see if they go off in their own, original direction as the series goes on, but only time will tell.
There are only two gripes I have with the series so far, and one of them is about as non-objective as it can get: I just don't enjoy the new transformation sequence. One of the stand-out elements of the original series were its spectacularly beautiful transformation sequences. Fluid, hand-drawn animation, with that rough, 90's-era texture sold those scenes. They've been, unfortunately, replaced by CGI in the new adaptation.
That's not to say that the sequence looks bad by any means. Quite the contrary. The CGI is extremely well-done cel-shading, reminiscent of similar use in the recent Attack on Titan, and it's exceptionally difficult to realize that what you're seeing is created by a computer. But, it does lack that living, human touch that the 90s anime had, and that's something I sorely miss.
The other is a little less forgivable: The lack of any strong appearance from the villains. As I said above, the lore of Sailor Moon lore is chock-full of memorable villains, but none were to be found in this episode, other than an extremely brief and obscured appearance by Jedite with little context or reasoning as to why he made a monster out of dust and sent her off to collect energy (and search for a very special and specific crystal.)
I'm not sure how this omission would affect a first-time viewer, but if it were me, I'd be disappointed in the lack of a hint at the overall plot line.
All in all, with the updated look, same story, humor and fun, I can't fault Crystal's premiere for too much. I am definitely interested in seeing where the series goes and look forward to catching its next episode!
For first time viewers, I'd give Sailor Moon Crystal an 8 out of 10, but for seasoned-Sailor-supporters, I'd have to go with a 7 due to the lack of new content.