Sailor Moon Crystal
As a longtime fan and proud owner of a Sailor Saturn costume, I am almost too excited for Sailor Moon Crystal (one might even say "over the moon." Yuck, yuck, yuck.) Originally introduced to the franchise through the '90s American dub, my fandom knew no limits, soon expanding to the manga (which was released near concurrently with the series) and the far-better Japanese version of the show.
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While I'll always hold a special place in my heart for the Toonami broadcasts of Sailor Moon, I know the series I first fell in love with is merely a (poorly) bastardized version of both the manga and the original anime. That's why when I heard Crystal was planning to stick closely to the manga, I was beyond thrilled. After all these years, finally a chance to do it right!
Here are the six changes I'm hoping most to see on Sailor Moon Crystal (which premieres, complete with English subtitles, on Hulu Friday):
1. A more mature Sailor Moon: When Sailor Moon starts out, Usagi is a lazy, whiny, ditzy crybaby and by the series' end... well, she hasn't changed much. She does mature a bit over the course of the series, but her character evolution pales in comparison to her manga counterpart, who quickly rises to the responsibilities her destiny entails. Sailor Moon is a princess, a soldier, a mother and a messiah. Let her act like one without diminishing her fun personality! And speaking of letting Sailor Moon mature and evolve, why not make Sailor Cosmos finally a part of anime canon?
2. Keep the original names: One of the most frustrating things about being a Sailor Moon fan is the language. And I don't mean not understanding Japanese. When the show was adapted for an American audience, characters and places were given Westernized names. So do I refer to Sailor Moon as Usagi or Serena? Is it Mamo-chan or Darien? Makoto or Lita? Typically, whenever I discuss Sailor Moon it devolves into something like a geeked-out Spanglish, switching between the original manga names and the ones used in the English dub. The thing is, the names shouldn't have been changed in the first place. So let's just skip that confusion and return to what everyone and everything should actually be called (except maybe the Negaverse, because that's just a fantastic phrase).
3. Go gay or go home: Turning Uranus and Neptune into cousins for the English dub was one of the most ridiculous things ever attempted on television. Yes, the American anime was geared towards kids, but I don't think any viewer, no matter how young, fell for that. Either that, or kids had a very messed up perspective on what qualified as appropriate cousin behavior. By restoring Uranus and Neptune's romance, not only will Sailor Moon Crystal give us back one of the best 'ships in the franchise, but it's also an opportunity to restore all the delightful gender politics of the manga. Fingers crossed that Crystal will eventually reach the gender-bending Sailor Starlights, but in the meantime, there are plenty of other LGBTQ story lines to explore. Zoisite, who was turned into a woman for the American version, is actually a man who was in a relationship with Kunzite. And Fisheye, who was depicted as a woman, is really a man who used drag to seduce potential male victims. This is 2014. Just go for it!
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4. Let it get dark: The original series was drastically sanitized for America. But since Crystal will attract those (now-adults) who loved the anime twenty years ago in addition to new fans, this is a chance for a Sailor Moon series that truly embraces the darkness of the manga, where people had their faces literally melted off and Princess Serenity commits suicide -- a few times. (And don't even get me started on how the English dub erased the Inner Senshi's deaths in "Day of Destiny.") I'm not saying Crystal should ignore all the franchise's humor and levity, but that it should find an appropriate balance between the two. Though, while they're at it, please no more Sailor Says.
5. Explore the mythology: There are so many different incarnations and timelines within Sailor Moon that the series just sort of glossed over. The complicated web that tethers the Sailor Scouts together as well as to their enemies, the Moon Kingdom and Neo-Tokyo not only adds depth to the series, but is crucial to understanding who these people are. Crystal should really dig into the history of the Scouts and even explore the show's villains! For example, in the anime, Queen Beryl was evil simply for the sake of being evil, but in the manga she's driven to the dark side by jealousy over Princess Serenity's relationship with Prince Endymion. Plus, her generals Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite were actually Endymion's original guardians! Now, isn't that far more interesting than villains merely being villains?
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6. Do Mamo-chan justice: While many of the characters' personalities were changed for the American anime, there was no alteration more frustrating than what happened to Mamoru. In the manga, Mamoru was nothing but supportive of Usagi. He was constantly in awe of her strength and courage and made sure she knew it. The pair would tease each other, of course, but their relationship was depicted as stable and full of love. However, in the English dub, Mamoru's teasing is turned into full-blown condescension and he's so aloof that you wonder how Chibi-Usa was ever conceived. The anime does keep the delightful subversion of making Mamoru more often than not the damsel in distress, but they fail to develop him any further. Eventually, the anime just gave up on Mamoru, practically cutting him out altogether following the Black Moon arc. Don't do that to us again. Give Tuxedo Mask back his powers. Let him be a true guardian in his own right and a partner to Sailor Moon, because no matter what, I'm going down with this 'ship.
Check out the trailer for Sailor Moon Crystal below or rewatch the original series here.
Will you watch Sailor Moon Crystal?