Remakes in the world of Hollywood tend to get a bad rap, most notably with the 2016 Ghostbusters movie. In the world of anime, they can be a mix bag, and 2014’s Sailor Moon Crystal is certainly one notorious example. As a debut to our “Then Vs. Now” series of comparing an older anime series with its remake, we thought it would be appropriate to go with one of Shoujo’s most iconic series, Sailor Moon. As you know, the original manga debuted in Nakayoshi in December 1991, and the anime premiered the following March. Even now, it’s very unusual for a manga to get an anime just less than six months after its first publication, but there is a story behind it.
If you have seen all iterations of Sailor Moon, you all know that Sailor Moon wasn’t the first Sailor Senshi, but Sailor Venus, or Sailor V. It was true with the manga as well. The Sailor V manga was a hit and Toei wanted to make an anime of it, but they wanted it team oriented akin to Super Sentai/Power Rangers. As a result, Sailor Moon was conceived. Since the foundation was there, it was smooth sailing to adapting the anime. Since the manga and original anime ran parallel, they told similar stories, but had different executions and endings. Some enjoyed the mature presentation of the manga, and others enjoyed the silliness of the anime. By the end of its prime, it became an international phenomenon and thanks to that fan base, it got a remake as Crystal and the reactions have been mixed.
When you watch Crystal, you’re getting an anime that’s faithful to the original manga. You have more mature scenes and relationship exploration. A lot of fans enjoyed Rei and Usagi always being at each other’s throats in the 90s anime, but that was never the case in the manga. Depending on how you were exposed to the franchise, the addition and/or omission of this trope is a hit or miss with fans. In the 90s anime, Mamoru wasn’t aware that he was Tuxedo Mask until he got the first Rainbow Crystal, but in Crystal (aka the original manga), he was purposely Tuxedo Mask the whole time, but their mission remained the same: to protect Sailor Moon and find the Imperium Silver Crystal. The whole Rainbow Crystal arc was also filler and Usagi had the crystal in her the whole time in the manga.
Another quality from the 90s anime that was done very well was of course Nephrite’s development with Naru/Molly. The four generals were executed differently between both versions as well as their roles. Nephrite’s death in the 90s anime gave him an excellent redemption arc and his manga/Crystal counterpart was rather forgettable. Though the 90s anime was comedy oriented, they could have touching moments such as Nephrite’s death and how Naru was affected by it.
Crystal gets a lot of flack for its animation quality of its broadcast, but for rather unfair reasons. People need to remember that Sailor Moon Crystal was broadcasted for free (with subtitles available in numerous languages) WITHOUT commercials. When you take that into account, regardless of Sailor Moon’s international popularity, a commercial free anime that is broadcasted for FREE isn’t going to have the budget to make something akin to Akira. However, the Blu-ray or DVD releases happens to have improved quality for fans to enjoy and we promise if you didn’t like the quality of the internet broadcast, it’s worth checking out how much is improved with the Blu-ray and DVD versions. As for the character designs, they’re more accurate to Takeuchi’s style which is something that manga fans can appreciate.
Other than Mitsuishi Kotono as the voice of Sailor Moon, the rest of the cast in Crystal are all newcomers. While they do have their chemistry, they lack the same charisma as the original cast. With the new voice of Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask, it just doesn’t feel the same without Tooru Furuya in the role and doesn’t have that same chemistry with Kotono’s Usagi/Sailor MOon. We give credit to the new voice cast for capturing the characters in their own way in context to the atmosphere of Crystal, but there is just so much that the original cast did that made the original anime so memorable.
So, what was it that the original cast did that made the anime memorable? It was how they largely contributed to the soundtrack. Not only were the original cast members legendary and iconic seiyuus, they were amazing singers. Many actors and actresses had image songs in character and it excellently displayed their talents while at the same time, knew how to capture the essence of that respective character. Unfortunately, the new cast hasn’t been able to be able to exploit such talents.
Moon Pride, the opening theme song to Crystal by Momoiro Clover Z is undeniably energetic, but this opening song along with the rest of the soundtrack doesn’t hold a candle to the original soundtrack with iconic songs such as Moonlight Densetsu, Moon Revenge, Otome no Policy, Moonlight Destiny, La Soldier, Tuxedo Mirage and so on. Considering the mainstream popularity of Momoiro Clover Z in Japan, it feels more like a generic J-Pop song as opposed to a song exclusively meant for Sailor Moon. Nothing wrong with that, but music has always been a part of the identity of Sailor Moon for reasons that qualify as its own article and Moon Pride doesn’t really stand out.
For hardcore Sailor Moon fans that appreciate the manga, it’s easier for them to enjoy Crystal. It could have brought back Moonlight Densetsu as an opening theme and the rest of the original cast. For those who are mostly familiar to the 1990s series, as opposed to the broadcast version, try to the DVD or Blu-ray versions.