Sam and I actually caught this during the SAILOR MOON panel at AX: watching it up on the big screen beside hundreds of die-hard fans. Since 99% of my anime experience happens while I’m alone at home, it’s always a sharp contrast, seeing how that same material plays in front of a live audience. In this case, it was an entire auditorium, oo-ing and ah-ing together over almost every single beat in this pilot. I’ve got no nostalgic attachment to SAILOR MOON, myself, but it’s impossible for good vibes like that not to rub off on you…
Anyway, I never got around to actually watching any of SAILOR MOON CLASSIC until last month and, with that pilot still so fresh in mind, I think I can compare the two without any nostalgic bias. So, that said, even though this hits pretty much all the same story beats as the first pilot, I think CRYSTAL still plays better. And I’d say that even if the animation upgrade weren’t polished-unto-sparkly as it is.
What struck me most about the classic pilot was that were literally no scenes where Usagi questioned her transformation. Sure, nobody’s shooting for verisimilitude with any of this, but still, you really need at least one scene where your normal teenager questions her new and fantastical predicament.
Why is this cat talking to me?
Why am I suddenly dressed like a super heroine?
How do I use my powers?
You know, basic questions. And CRYSTAL feels like a fuller narrative for including even just a handful of short scenes addressing them. Stuff like that makes this feel more substantial as a reboot – more so than making SAILOR V a video game character, or accelerating the witch’s zombie jewelry plot.
I can’t help but feel like that’s somewhat in response MADOKA MAGICA scrutinizing this concept a bit more. I’m curious to see if further episodes will squint harder at other elements of the mythos.
Watch "Act 1 Usagi - Sailor Moon" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the first episode of the original series.