With the recent announcement, it’s fitting that the anime being recommended today is of the best known magical girl series in the US, and possibly the world, Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon is one of those rare anime that can be considered legendary. Years from now, people will likely have forgotten the latest fanservice filled fluff show (not that there’s anything wrong with them) but consider that it’s been nearly 10 years since Sailor Moon has had any exposure on television, and it’s still one of the most beloved franchises ever. Sailor Moon, along with Dragon Ball Z, and Gundam Wing, can be credited with really kick starting the anime boom of the late 90′s, early 00′s here in the US. This was all thanks to Cartoon Network putting them on what was then a prime cartoon block, Toonami. Unlike the current version of Toonami, which airs in the wee hours and only on Saturday, this block was shown Monday – Friday and during the after school afternoon hours. Millions would rush home to tune in and watch these crazy “new” cartoons from Japan. But Sailor Moon had already gotten a foothold in the US. It wasn’t nearly as successful, but a full 3 years prior to its appearance on Toonami, it had arrived on syndicated broadcast. Sadly, due in large part to poor time slots, the show didn’t have the success that was hoped. But that all changed when Turner broadcasting picked up the rights and eventually put it on the Toonami block. The rest is history.
The show itself wasn’t particularly unique. The magical girl genre had existed before Sailor Moon, and unfortunately, it didn’t see a major boost after Sailor Moon. One might think that Sailor Moon was just the right show at the right time, but such a thought would be a great disservice to the story that was crafted by Naoko Takeuchi. Her story of a young girl growing up from a crybaby to a strong young lady is one that is still enjoyable to this day. It emphasizes the importance of friendship and teamwork, and the cast of characters is largely so likeable that you can’t help but root for them. Even some of the villains turn out to be sympathetic characters from certain viewpoints. The fact that the show got 5 seasons, 200 episodes plus 3 movies a handful of specials and OAVs, a live action show, and 25 musicals, is a testament to its popularity.
Why you should watch:
This is overall just a thrilling series to watch. Deep down you know that good is going to triumph, that Sailor Moon will come out on top, but when you’re in the moment, sometimes you just don’t know! A prime example is in the first season. Normally I try to avoid spoilers in my posts, but this is a 20 year old franchise. Still, spoilers ahead. Ready? I warned you. Ok, in the climactic battle in the first season, all the Sailor Soldiers except for Sailor Moon herself die. Don’t worry! They get better. Even though the butchered English dub version goes to great lengths to edit their deaths out, somehow you just know that they died. In the original version, you clearly see their heroic deaths, and it leaves such an impact that it’s a shame it was edited out. While character deaths aren’t uncommon in anime being broadcast in Japan, it was almost unheard of for a children’s show to have that kind of content here in the US. That kind of uncertainty leaves you on the edge of your seat. The battles between the Sailor Soldiers and the villains are just that compelling, and neither side comes across as being much more overpowered than the other. The cast of characters is large enough to where you can find someone that you want to root for, and someone you can’t help but hate (I’m looking at you, Chibi Usa!). It runs the whole gamut of emotions, from happiness to sadness and everything in between. When a show can make you feel something for the characters, especially an animated show, then you know it’s been done right.
Why you shouldn’t watch:
Playing Devils Advocate is difficult for me, because if I say you should watch it, then frankly I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to. However, this is first and foremost an anime for girls. And it’s made for younger girls than I’d wager a good amount of our readership is. The show, especially in the early episodes, spends a decent amount of time with some of our heroines having stars in their eyes, dreaming about boys. It’s very pink, and it’s very sparkly, and I certainly wouldn’t judge any guys who just can’t stand that much girly stuff. (wimps) Also, it is 200 episodes long, so this isn’t nearly as tightly written as the manga. There are a lot of episodes featuring a “monster of the week”, basically a one shot monster that is an underling to the main villians which is there just to be dispatched by our heroines. The show could easily have been condensed down to 1/3 or so of the episodes and still told the same story. So the original should only be tackled by those that have a lot of spare time. 200 episodes isn’t something you can tackle in just one sitting.
With the announcement of a new Sailor Moon project, while there’s only speculation at this point, the prevailing thought is a more accurate to the source material version with much of the filler cut out will be in the works. Much like what Dragon Ball Z did with Dragon Ball Z Kai. Along with Kodansha releasing the Sailor Moon manga here, this is looking to be a new golden age for Sailor Moon. Whether or not the new anime will be able to recapture the magic from the first is unknown, but you owe it to yourself to familiarize yourself with the original, and find out just why it was so responsible for a generation of girls and boys becoming anime fans. And I’ll end this now with a word from our main heroine: