Con Report: Another Anime Convention 2014


Hey all, I’d usually start this post off with me saying why I haven’t made a post in forever.  I’m lazy.  Plus Arleigh forgot to remind me when I’m at home.  Plus again, I have been working my ass off for the most part this year.  But, I figure I started to feel bad about not posting much considering how much Arleigh is paying me.  And then I realized that I’m not being paid anything, so I stopped feeling so bad.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about my adventures at Another Anime Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire during the weekend of October 17-19.  Arleigh and I have attended 5 conventions together, 3 Anime Bostons and 2 Anime Expos in LA.  But there’s still many conventions that I attend solo, even though it’s incredibly expensive.  So, whenever I can, I try and go with someone like Arleigh.  However, small local conventions are just not something that I’d call him out from the wrong coast out to the right coast, especially since both of us are pretty much exclusively interested in Japanese guests.  Small, local conventions on the east coast are not going to get any Japanese guests ever. Anime Boston barely gets any, and they bring in well over 20,000 people.  Another Anime Convention is lucky to get 4,000 people.  But you know what?  The location works so well for that.  The convention is held in the convention center of the Manchester Radisson and even though the attendance is only between 3000 and 4000, it makes it feel every bit as busy as Anime Boston.  Not anywhere near Anime Expo or Otakon, but that’s not a bad thing, because both those conventions are stupidly crowded.

This particular convention has a lot going for it.  For one thing, even though I said it’s nowhere near an AB, since it’s a much smaller venue, it certainly feels every bit as big.  At no time will it take you longer than 10 minutes to get from one end of the convention center to the other, but that’s something that can only be truly appreciated with a smaller convention like this.

So what does this convention have going for it anyways?  Well, let’s say for a moment that you’re a fan of English dubs.  If you want to meet certain dub actors, then this is the place to do it without a doubt.  If English dub actors were my thing, I’d have been able to get several autographs no problem.  Now, even thought it’s a smaller convention, it still would normally be as tough to get an autograph as any convention.  However, AAC does something that I would encourage other larger conventions to do.  And to an extent Anime Expo does this as well.  What I’m talking about is that for an extra upcharge, one can essentially buy extra perks.  Basically for $50 extra, you get a free t-shirt, unlimited line skips (yes, any line, at any time, every time any and every day.  But there are maybe 3 events total over the course of the weekend that that would actually be an issue for), front of line access to guest autographs.  Basically, the perks are there to lord it over the cheap ass normals.  Did I do such?  Oh hell yeah.  If I saw a huge line for a panel, even if I didn’t give half a shit about the panel, I jumped the line just because I could, and I knew I was taking a closer seat away from some skinflint.

Now, Arleigh and I typically go to panels hosted by the Japanese guests and/or panels done by industry, such as your Funimations, Sentai Filmworks, Aniplex of America, or Viz Media.  With none of those industry members present at a small convention like this, I had to go into it with a much different mindset.  And you know what?  I still managed to have a ton of fun and still couldn’t see everything I wanted to.  What I did was take part in things that are in even the giant conventions, but we just never had time for.  For example, I actually went and watched the entire AMV contest, including voting on my favorites.  Because I am always ready to pass the buck, I long ago gave Arleigh the list of AMV winners, so instead of me posting them all, I’d hate to take away future AMV of the Day posts.  Buck officially passed.

One thing I can’t very well pass off to anyone else is the very fundamental thing of cosplay.  I’ll admit, I went into this thinking that the cosplay would be mediocre at best.  I grossly underestimated the dedication of anime fans.  Possibly due to the fact that there were less people around and so those that were there really stepped up their game, there was a big percentage of high class cosplay.  Alright, admittedly there were the predictables like Kill la Kill, and Attack on Titan, which has now become the new Bleach and Naruto, but if there’s quality, then repeatablity doesn’t much matter.  So, for right now, I’d like to regale you with pictures I took during my trip there.  Admittedly, I don’t always know what I took a picture of, but if I don’t know there’s two reasons why I took the picture.  Either the costume is cool looking, or the model is very hot. I’d say it’s up to you to decide, but screw that, I’ll tell you what I thought.

DSC00110First off, we have a Little Mac cosplay.  This is near and dear to me because I have previously cosplayed as King Hippo.  Obviously King Hippo is a million times better, but hey, Little Mac is still pretty cool.

DSC00111Pretty decent Zach (seriously, the proper contraction of Zachary is Zack.  Enough with this lazy bullcrap) Galaphanakis.  Frankly, I’ve never seen any of the movies, but even I can recognize somewhat famous movie scenes.

DSC00112No idea what this is.  Looks pretty elaborate though, so I reward people that take the effort to make a decent costume even if they obviously can’t pull it off.

DSC00113My hotel room faced out to the courtyard.  As I was up in my room taking a break, I happened to see this Sailor Pluto take a seat. I immediately headed out to try and catch her.  Again, due to it being a small convention, the elevators weren’t crazy busy, so I was able to get out there and get her picture.  If she doesn’t look crazy hot, then that’s due to my poor photography skills and not her own natural hotness.

DSC00114The first of a few Kill la Kill cosplay photos.

DSC00115May Chang from Full Metal Alchemist.  The charm point is the panda in her hair.  I love when people take the time to bring out the small details like that.

DSC00116More KlK cosplay.  Is this the last?  Probably not.  I mean, it was only the hottest anime property in the last year, so obviously no one would ever want to cosplay as it.

DSC00117Again, I dunno, probably some video game.  If it’s familiar to you, then sure, you know the game.  Either way, she’s pretty nice to look at, no?

DSC00118Another that I’m not really certain of, but she’s showing her panties for everyone to see.  Do you honestly expect someone with the username of pantsukudasai (panties please) to not immediately see this and need to take a picture?  My picture does not do her justice.  Very hot.  If you’re her and you’re reading this, color me surprised.  What are the odds?  You’re also some anonymous pervert on the internet who likes looking at attractive women in cosplay.

DSC00119Like I said before, one of the most overdone cosplay in recent times is Attack on Titan.  So if you want to stand out to me, the best way to do it isn’t to be one of a million Potato Girls, nor one of three million Levis, or the same number of Mikasas.  No, if you want to stand out, be like this one and be a half eaten Marco.  Brilliant!

DSC00120No doubt this will be done often in the next several conventions, but SAO II (Gun Gale Online) Kirito was a novelty at the time, so I was surprised to see anyone with this costume already.

DSC00121From Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, I can’t resist a Rika.

DSC00122Another rare male cosplayer.  Most Sir Crocodile cosplayers don’t bother with the cigar.  If you don’t go with the cigar, then what the hell is the point?  Seriously, to anyone that’s considering it, at the very least buy a cheap cigar.  Oh no, you’ll have to spend a day with tobacco on your lip.  You’re not gonna get cancer from one goddamn day.  Stop being a cop out bitch.  Go with realism.

DSC00123Generally I don’t take pictures of non anime properties, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Batman and Catwoman.

DSC00124The girls here spent the entire weekend making chalk art.  All in all, I can’t help but be impressed.

DSC00125 DSC00126Frozen is pretty much the most popular movie in America and the rest of the world.  It’s the top selling BD in Japan as well.  It’s a shame that there wasn’t snow on the ground, but on the other hand if it was that kind of cold out I probably wouldn’t have gotten these pictures in the courtyard.

DSC00127Again, keeping it all very topical, we have a cosplay of Luffy, or Lucy.  Honestly, I don’t think people truly appreciate what cosplayers like this do.  Most people aren’t reading the manga as it comes out, so the fact that someone gets a current arc cosplay made up is pretty impressive.

DSC00128Not the greatest of any one of the Honnouji Academy group, it’s just not often that you see them all grouped together.

DSC00129Again, I usually don’t pay any mind to non anime cosplay, but here we have Bob Ross. If you don’t know who Bob Ross is, then you are a grade A moron.  Perhaps it’s not nice to insult the readership, but come on, anyone that’s at least been in college should know who the hell Bob Ross is.

DSC00130Pretty good looking Mami.  Know what would have made her look better?  No head.  Ooops, spoilers.

DSC00131My goddamn unicorn! If that doesn’t make sense, then please hear my story.  First off, a unicorn refers to something that if you don’t have pics, it didn’t happen.  The backstory to all this goes as such.  I saw this girl while I was having breakfast, heading down to an area where there is only on way to go.  I didn’t sweat it, because I figured small convention, only one access point, I should easily find her and get her picture.  After eating, during which she definitely did not come back that way, I headed down there to find her.  I got distracted because I saw the barrel of that gun and figured I had her, but it turned out I was chasing down a Seras Victoria cosplayer.  Then later in the day, as I was on the second floor waiting for a panel to open, I saw her walk by on the first floor.  I rushed down to the first floor, heading to the direction that she was walking.  Amazingly, I could not find her.  Again, this is a small convention, with a basically small floor area.  Finally, I saw her while I was on the same floor as her and got this picture.  FYI, she’s Sinon from Sword Art Online II.  Again, it’s a fairly new show, so I’m amazed that there is a great quality cosplay as this so soon.  Plus, I’m very impressed that she didn’t go running to security when I told her that I had been hunting her down all day.  Yes, I used those exact terms.  Thank you Sinon for not getting me arrested.  Also, I never saw her again the rest of the day, so I’m glad I was able to get a picture of this unicorn and turn her into reality.

DSC00132Not the greatest I’ve ever seen, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen any Rinoa cosplay that it’s almost fresh again.

DSC00133Finishing off the day, and the weekend, we have Shiro from No Game, No Life.  This same girl was busy doing a professional shoot earlier in the day.  I suppose I could have just shot a picture, but that’s not how I roll.  Believe it or not, a guy whose username is begging to see panties does have morals.  Luckily for me, I saw her later on in the day.  During the photoshoot, she was wearing a crown.  I think I got the better picture with her wearing panties on her head, which is actually canon in the show.

(To note, every picture taken here was done with the full permission of the person whose picture was being taken.  If for whatever reason you have changed your mind and do not like the way your picture has been taken, contact me and I will take it down, no complaints or questions asked.)

So, with all that said and done, more has been said than done.  But really, while I wouldn’t say break the bank and fly across country to attend, if you find yourself in the Northeast and hear that Another Anime Convention is gonna be going on that weekend, by all means fish out the $50, plus whatever your hotel costs, and you’ll find yourself having a great time!

Sailor Moon Crystal – Act 7 – Mamoru Chiba!


Mamoru_crystal4

This is still event television for everyone, right? Right. I didn’t even need you to answer that, actually. Well, I myself had a slight delay in getting around to Sailor Moon Crystal this week, for which I know there can be no forgiveness. All I can do is move forward, head held high, knowing that my work as the curator of this anime is important to the total of the human race’s accomplishments. That this art cannot, in fact, be discussed enough.

As we left things off last week, Tuxedo Mask had fled into the shadows with Sailor Moon, presumably to take her someplace safe to convalesce after the confrontation with the fearsome Queen Beryl. And as it happens, we now have direct continuity… because here our hero is, waking up at Mamoru’s pad. You all know Mamoru, right guys? The guy who is totally not completely obviously Tuxedo Mask, who Usagi keeps bumping into? He dresses kind of flashily, wears sunglasses a lot… you know the type.

So right away Usagi notices the whole Tuxedo Mask costume lying around and comes to the appropriate conclusion. Glad that’s out of the way by Act 7 this time around. I don’t know how long the truth takes to sink in in the original show… but it was a while.

Cue that title song, fools.

So it turns out that Mamoru has very few memories. Some brief snippets of childhood. That’s about it. Apparently he’s got boku bucks though, which is always handy. He’s searching for the Legendary Silver Crystal because it’s the only clue about his missing memories. From a recurring dream he’s been having about a certain princess. Unfortunately it seems our heroes aren’t quite ready to put any of this all together yet. I’m sure they’ll get there. Usagi leaves, but not before she and Mamoru have another semi-creepy moment. Since it’s their love story, ultimately, I’m going to have to stop giggling at them all the time… but I’m just not there yet. Forgive me, readers, forgive me…

Next we get a couple cuts so swift, I could swear we were watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In her secret headquarters, Luna is talking to a mysterious figure who is totally not Sailor Venus, but totally is. They’re out of time! There’s no time left! The enemy is coming!

Meanwhile, in the Dark Kingdom, that enemy is doing things. Incredibly important things. In fact, let’s take a full line break to reflect upon a name that is now being mentioned for the first time:

Queen Metalia

Fans of the original anime may or may not even be familiar with this character, as she did not exist in the English dub, instead replaced by some nebulous energy that Beryl would occasionally consult with, to unclear purpose. Here, things are laid out fairly explicitly. Back in the day, Queen Beryl discovered the Dark Kingdom near the North Pole of Earth. There, she awakened the slumbering Queen Metalia, which led to the downfall of the Moon Kingdom. In the end, Metalia was defeated and sealed by the Sailor Guardians, but now she – the nebulous ‘Great Ruler’ that our Kings (Kings!) are always on about – is back for revenge. With the Legendary Silver Crystal, Metalia will consume Earth, destroy everything, and kill everyone.

Queen Beryl is more of your world rulership kind of gal. She’d actually prefer less annihilation, more domination. Zoisite still seems to be recovering from the beating Sailors Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter dropped on him, but there’s a Silver Crystal to be found, damnit. So get moving.

Word on the street about Sailor Moon is spreading. It doesn’t seem entirely… or at all… benign.

But at school, unaware of all this apparently, Makoto, Ami, and Usagi are having lunch, and Ami has been researching Sailor V. Who is probably totally not Sailor Venus. I mean, she has the Moon Kingdom’s crescent boldly emblazoned on her forehead, which seems like a weird tattoo to get out of coincidence, but otherwise… and then in by far the creepiest thing to happen yet, Umino emerges from the shrubbery, enhanced by all kinds of hilarious anime tactics, you know, to really drive the creepiness home. This guy is a winner. Even Usagi thinks he’s creepy, and she likes everyone! Also his new suspicious plan is to “catch” Sailor Moon. HMMMMMMMMM! That does not seem ominous at all! After the break, even Naru-chan is hunting for Sailor Moon. Everyone is. Everyone. It’s like a creepy Japanese horror movie, only you know, it’s a cartoon for young adults.

Zoisite has turned the entire city into Sailor Moon hunting zombies. I have to be honest, this is a good deal more impressive than anything I ever saw him do in the original anime. The Sailor Guardians transform and roll out to protect Sailor Moon from the harm apparently wished on her by the entire populace, but with little hope of success… but Sailor Moon’s powerful new healing spell also breaks the mind control without trouble! …Oh, and probably draws Zoisite. This time, our friend (King!) from the Dark Kingdom is ready even for the combined attack of the Sailor Guardians, with a sphere of black kick-ass-ness. Fortunately, Tuxedo Mask is there to intervene, not with fancy magicks, but with a devastating right hook! He gets exactly one of those off before Zoisite decides his evil power can probably protect him from amateur boxers too. There’s some mushy stuff… Tuxedo Mask’s true wish… etc. … But what it boils down to is HOLY SHIT THERE’S SAILOR VENUS. I mean. It could be Sailor Venus. Who knows, really? There’s no confirmation. Who knows!?

I learned a lot more about the Sonique Cleansing Brush during this episode than I did about Sailor Venus. I’m willing to admit for now that that’s nobody’s fault, though. Actually, Hulu’s commercials have been somewhat tolerable this week. I’m impressed. Thank god that esurance commercial is out of the rotation. I’m seriously not sure I could have made it through this episode if I had to endure the esurance commercial.

Act 8 is titled Minako – Sailor V! So I think we have some hint of what to expect there… but the preview also hints at the arrival of Kunzite as enemy commander, and possibly some real exploration of the whole past lives and ‘Moon Kingdom’ stuff. We pretty much all know what to expect here, but it’ll be fun anyway. I personally can’t wait! Seriously, though, what happened to Jadeite… and Nephrite? Just hanging around base? Wouldn’t it make sense to pool strength? Ehhh. Best not to ask questions to which I will regret learning the answers. Perhaps they’ll turn up, with a part yet to play, ere the end.

Sailor Moon Crystal – Act 6 – Tuxedo Mask!


Tuxedo_Mask_crystal

Obviously, being back on a regular schedule of Sailor Moon has reinvigorated me. With a regular schedule returned to me, I find that each day is easier to suffer through, knowing that my long, Sailor Moon Crystal-less nightmare is closer to being over. Act 6, Tuxedo Mask! I think we can all guess on the subject matter here, though it seems frankly unlikely that this single act will resolve the standing mysteries about Tuxedo Mask. To find out, we’ll have to watch together.

Forget not, dear readers, that many peoples of the world still cannot enjoy this show – tremendous as it is! – legally within their own borders. You owe our friends in Canada and other countries at least one mild pang of guilt as you work your way through this fortnight’s offering from Sailor Moon Crystal. And if you are still well pleased at the end, your soul fulfilled and happy, chalk it up not to a lack of empathy, but rather to the fullness of the show.

In a very, very brief pre-credits scene, Luna introduces the Moon Stick. It’s sort of like a stick… with a big crescent moon on top of it. Obviously, all fans will recognize it right away.
Ballin’. Luna explains that it will help against enemies. Okay, that seems reasonable oh and we’re ready to go? Sailor Moon Crystal!

But first, let’s rock out.

A lot of Mamoru in this first segment. First, he wakes up in the middle of the night, full of doubts. Then he bumps into Usagi in the streets once again. Also, apparently he’s been giving press conferences… talking about how the various crimes he has committed were all in search of the Legendary Silver Crystal. Well, I suppose any number of B&E’s can be forgiven if it means keeping the Crystal away from Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom, and their mysterious Great Ruler.

Apparently Tuxedo Mask is the talk of the whole town. At school, on the radio, on TV, in the streets… he, and the Legendary Silver Crystal, are all anyone is talking about. Tuxedo Mask hopes that this will reveal a lead for him…

… But in the Dark Kingdom, the European Commander (whatever that means), Zoisite, petitions to replace Nephrite, who was both beaten and badly injured in the last act by Sailor Jupiter. Zoisite has a plan not only to seize the Legendary Silver Crystal, but also that whole general energy-grab thing that the Dark Kingdom is after. Great Ruler, etc., remember?

After closing time at the arcade, the Sailor Guardians discuss the situation. Luna has been doing a great deal of research, but apparently still doesn’t know who the enemy really are. She knows enough that they are trying to awaken some terrible evil from a deep sleep. Oh, and it will be bad if they succeed. In case that wasn’t clear. Their exact identities remain shrouded in mystery, though, and probably not for a hugely significant later reveal or anything like that. For the moment, the only important thing to know remains that the Legendary Silver Crystal is far too dangerous to be allowed to fall into enemy hands. In Luna’s opinion, it could destroy an entire planet if it fell into the hands of evil. I probably don’t need to spell out the ways in which that might be bad for you and me.

We learn a few key phrases here, too: The royal family of the Moon. The princess descended from the Moon. Awakened Sailor Guardians. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, much more importantly, ON TV…. a female anchor who looks suspiciously exactly like Zoisite except with hair pinned up differently… hypnotizes what appears to be every viewer in Tokyo into mindlessly searching everywhere they can think of, all in an effort to locate the Legendary Silver Crystal. Of course, all this pointlessly expendeded worry or whatever, is then absorbed by the Dark Kingdom.

Didn’t I see this commercial for Hanes tagless underwear like two years ago? Is this still some kind of big announcement? At least His Airness isn’t sporting that Hitler ‘stache in this one. Also, Wal-Mart seems to have stuffed a lot of commercials into Hulu’s repertoire. You shouldn’t shop there.

After the break, the Sailor Guardians head down into Luna’s secret base, which seems bizarrely large and also somewhat interdimensional, hanging out beneath a Sailor V machine. Using Luna’s computers, they’re easily able to track the energy being stolen from humans, and the mind control signal, to a TV station. The Sailor Guardians arrive right in time to observe Zoisite beginning to suck his victims dry of their energy. Weirdly, though Luna tells us she still isn’t sure at all about the enemy, she immediately identifies Zoisite by name. Was she there when the Four Kings (Kings!) introduced themselves at the Masquerade? I honestly can’t remember.

Sailor Moon’s own travels are interrupted when she runs into Tuxedo Mask again. He confirms in person that his goal is the Legendary Silver Crystal. But unlike the Sailor Guardians, he has no special powers (how does he keep finding Sailor Moon, then? Huh? HUH!?). Sailor Moon actually has similar concerns; she’s supposed to lead the Pretty Guardians, but she doesn’t have the firepower that her allies do (in perhaps the most stark reversal of the original anime yet, where the other Sailors frequently felt totally inessential), and she obviously feels inadequate to the task.

Speaking of which, on the rooftop of the TV station, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter are attempting to drop the hammer on Zoisite. A repeated assault from the Sailor Guardians seemingly has Zoisite on the ropes, before the shitennou (Kings!) manages to unleash a big counterattack. With the three Pretty Guardians trying to recover their strength on the helicopter pad, a peal of mad laughter besets them. Sailor Mars is awed by the evil energy she suddenly feels. Then, incredibly, Queen Beryl herself descends from the sky, introducing herself, and overwhelming the Sailor Guardians, who know instantly that they are outmatched. We need Sailor Moon!

Sailor Moon’s confidence is shot, but Tuxedo Mask talks her out of her funk. Maybe she doesn’t have the power to generate fire, ice, or lightning, but she is the leader, she has the power to make other people feel good about themselves. Sailor Moon transforms, and joins the fight! Awesome! In spite of her flaws, she is determined to help. She grips the Moon Stick (I wonder what it could fo…. whoa!) Moon Healing Escalation! Those words don’t really make sense in that order at any level! But she does release energy that gives even Queen Beryl a tiny bit of pause. When Sailor Moon attacks, Zoisite leaps in front of the blast and, to be generous, it seems to fuck him up bad. Beryl, to everyone’s amazement, takes her fallen shitennou (Kings!) and bounces.

With Sailor Moon’s energy exhausted, Tuxedo Mask carries her off to recuperate.

As predicted, we didn’t get many answers about Tuxedo Mask this week. But it looks like he rates his own 2-parter, because the next episode looks to be very much about him as well. So far we have only one episode that I would really describe as ‘filler’, because this one had a lot going for it, between Sailor Moon’s soul searching and a flesh-and-blood appearance by the mighty Queen Beryl. I’m still looking for confirmation on the fate of the luckless Jadeite, but maybe that will come in time.

Anyway, this was an action-packed week, and I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did. And yes, we’re all dying to see Sailor Venus introduced. I suspect we’ll be waiting a while though. I seem to remember her appearing only about two thirds of the way through the original anime. I don’t know when she first shows up in the manga, because frankly, I’m woefully unprepared for this week’s article. I’ll try to do better in a fortnight.

For now though, let us simply enjoy the warm embrace of Sailor Moon Crystal together, and glide off into the night.

AMV of the Day: Ship Happens


ugens-amv-ship-happens-800x450

What was one of the hobbies teens of any era enjoyed doing before, during and after school?

That is a question that could have many answers and all of them would be correct. Of late, the answer of “shipping” classmates, fictional characters and everything in-between has become such a cutthroat past-time amongst teens and those teen-at-heart that on-line wars have cropped up when certain people think their “ships” is the only OTP and everything else are non-canon and thus not worthy of mention or attention.

Yeah, I could barely understand what I just said there, but being a confessed otaku I know enough of this “shipping” and “OTPing” and all the other made up words people younger than I have created to help enhance their obsessi….enjoyment of anime, films and books.

This AMV perfectly illustrates the extent people go through to make sure everyone knows their pairings of characters is the one true one. I’ve studied wars which have started like this.

Anime: Azumanga Daioh, Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV), Cowboy Bebop, Death Note (TV), DragonBall Z: Movie 1 (Dead Zone), Durarara!! (TV), Evangelion Shin Gekijouban: Q (Movie), Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club (TV), Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (TV), Guilty Crown (TV), Kill La Kill (TV), Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The (TV), My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (TV), Naruto, Ouran High School Host Club (TV), Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV), Sailor Moon, Shingeki no Kyojin : Attack on Titan, Steins;Gate (TV), Toradora! (TV), Trigun, Vampire Knight (TV)

Song: “I Ship It” by Not Literally

Creator: Vivifx

Past AMVs of the Day

Sailor Moon Crystal – Act 5 – Makoto – Sailor Jupiter!


Jupiter

 

It has been a while, my friends. Yes, we were all forced to suffer through a lifeless, Sailor Moon-less week of tedium and sorrow. Yes, I suffered alongside you. The only thing that could settle my heart was peering through the veil and onto the future, where this episode and its boundless promise awaited. Fortunately, it would seem that most of us have survived and come out the other end. Thank God that, at long last, Act 5 of Sailor Moon Crystal has finally arrived (give ye no thanks to Hulu, for they continue to be absorbed by the foul Geico Pig commercials, and have broken faith with the people of Earth).

As is customary, let us begin this week’s celebration of Sailor Moon with a moment of silence for those of us in Canada and other territories who, as of yet, cannot legally drink from the ever-filled chalice of Sailor Moon Crystal. I wish that I were strong enough to stand in solidarity with you, my friends. 

But I am weak.

Back to business as usual in Sailor Moon Crystal, this week we look to meet Sailor Jupiter, the fourth Pretty Guardian. During the cold open, Luna, everyone’s favourite Moon Cat, is busy pointing out that Usagi-chan does not pay attention to what’s going on. Usagi is going to argue, but then is nearly run over by a car, only to be knocked aside by another girl, who then wanders off in the rain. However, some bit of that tall brunette remains with Usagi, who stares after her. One cool thing about Usagi is how empathic she seems to be. She can sense special things about people without even meaning to. She’s a very sympathetic character in this treatment, probably more so than how the original anime handled her – well, the Ocean dub anyway.

Now let’s rock out.

Jadeite appears to be out of the picture. I was expecting him to get dramatically slain, or at least banished into crystal or the infinite labyrinth of eternal ice or whatever. But no. Queen Beryl is mad because her team keeps losing. Nephrite has a plan. He’s going to exploit love. I feel like if it were really that easy, Nephrite, someone would have done it already. I mean, I get that you Dark Kingdom guys are like weird robots and you don’t really “get” people, but c’mon.

At school, Usagi and her friends swoon over wedding coverage. Good times all around. Master Expositor and Master Creepy Swirly Eye Dude Umino breaks into their conversation to mention that several men have gone missing while shopping for wedding wear. Let’s put a pin in that, shall we? I feel like we all know how these Sailor Moon stories go by now. More importantly, Usagi once again literally runs in to the mysterious brunette we all know is named Makoto. Umino, Exposition Master tells us that this girl is a new transfer student, that she is rumoured to have superhuman strength, and that she was kicked out of a previous school for fighting.

So she’s probably a good candidate for the X-Men.

Poor Makoto. Nobody wants to hang out with her. People are intimidated by her reputation, and she does seem to stand about six feet tall. We all know that Usagi can only see the best in other people though, right? Of course she sidles her way up to Makoto during lunch. It’s a running gag now when Makoto saves Usagi from her clumsiness right? Because dear ole Makoto barehands a baseball that was about to clock our Pretty Guardian of the Moon in her face, and then throws a pitch I’m fairly certain is illegal back toward the diamond. Time for some exposition! Makoto is a real do-it-yourselfer. She cooks, she made her own purse, and she’s living by herself. Seems rough, for a middle school student, that’s for sure.

Usagi is so nice, that she immediately wins Makoto over. I think we all saw that coming. Of course, Makoto then says the magic word, when she admits to looking for an arcade in town. Booyakasha!

At the arcade, Makoto is a real ace at the ubiquitous Sailor V video game. She also has googly eyes for Usagi’s friend Motoki, who works there. Ami continues to be astonished by Usagi’s ability to make friends. Frankly, I am too. Probably no one ever was so delightful as Usagi. I mean, she’s giving people nicknames now. That’s an entirely new stage of awesome. While wandering around town, of course, the friends end up at the cursed bridal shop. Let me just unstick that pin from earlier real quick. They say there’s a bride-ghost there, and that grooms have gone missing. Mannequins are creepy enough without them coming to life, thank you! 

Things go from bad to worse when that selfsame bride mannequin creeps up on poor Motoki and brainwashes him. He goes looking for Makoto! That Nephrite…

Political commercials are boring. I’m pretty unlikely to be swayed by a crazy-slanted 20 second sound byte. I can promise I don’t want to use Geico though, after my 29083048th dose of the Geico Pig. You know I used to think the Geico commercials with the gecko were pretty clever? Yeah. We’re about ten years past that now. Hulu has much to answer for.

Noted pervy weirdo Tuxedo Mask awakens Usagi in the middle of the night and steals away with her through her bedroom window. Luna notices, more or less panics, and calls in the big guns. As I think we’d otherwise hoped, the Sailor Guardians confront the evil mannequin – obviously, Nephrite’s pawn, not a ghost, but a servant of Evil! – but she’s got some tricks. Nephrite shows up to taunt our heroes. Usagi gives a speech about love. Against your expectations, it mostly results in the Sailor Guardians getting owned by green magic…. but also in Makoto judo flipping the mannequin, and standing up for herself.

You go girl. Obviously, it’s about this time that she’s revealed as Sailor Jupiter. Her transformation is notably cool. Lightning is always a fun visual effect, and they do it nicely here, as Makoto becomes the Guardian of Love and Courage, Sailor Jupiter! She immediately summons both a hurricane of apparently-sharp flowers and a bunch of freaking lightning, busting up that stupid mannequin, and leaving Nephrite looking like a fool.

As a coda, Luna gives Sailor Moon a cool new toy, and me an opportunity to see commercials from the other political party. Woooo, senate elections! And a Wal-Mart commercial that makes me feel bad for employees of Wal-Mart. Are they really doing people’s shopping for them now? Actually, come to think of it, that’s probably a lot more fun than the baseline retail experience. I redact my sympathies.

Only a fortnight from now though, our odyssey will continue, with Act VI. It sounds like we’ll finally learn a little bit more about our mysterious possibly-ally… Tuxedo Mask! Well, I’m stoked. Meet me there. We’ll talk about it. We’ll do lunch. It’ll be great. In the meantime, remember your friends who can’t watch, and try not to taunt them with your knowledge of how great this show is.

Sailor Moon Crystal – Act 4 – Masquerade Dance Party!


sailor_moon_crystal_04_preview_masquerade_dance_party_masqueradeObviously it is a source of tremendous pleasure for me to say that once again we return to the bi-weekly world of brand new episodes of Sailor Moon: Crystal. I am deeply troubled that my brethren in the great country of Canada still can’t imbibe legally of this show. Say strong, my friends, and any of you others similarly handicapped! One day these chains, too, shall be struck, and we shall be free to embrace Sailor Moon as one people, together.

This week’s episode looks to be the first one yet not to introduce a new Pretty Guardian to the team. As I stated in my previous recap, this is in keeping with the manga timeline, which we already know is more of a priority for this series. Our very brief cold open has Moon Cat Luna narrowing her eyes at the figure of Mamoru Chiba, aka Tuxedo Mask.

And then we’re off on the opening theme song odyssey. Yes, it is still long. No, I am not tempted to skip it. Get out of here with that hate. One thing I will say is that between the theme song, the closing song, and Sailor Moon’s transformation (hers is about twice as long as the others’, I think) they really pad out the 25 minute run time on these episodes. It’s really just a normal half hour of television.

Hulu’s commercials have annoyed me far less this week. I do hate the Geico Pig almost as much as it’s possible to hate anything, but his DMV commercial is pretty short, and it doesn’t fill me with hate the way that eSurance commercial with the woman on the rooftop does. The rest of the commercials were pretty forgettable. That’s in no way a bad thing. Don’t worry, you can expect a link if I find a particularly irritating one this week. That’s my promise to you, valued reader!

Since we don’t have to spend a lot of time on a new character this week, this episode feels pretty lightweight by comparison to the last few weeks. Usagi makes it to class (on time, for once!). All anyone is talking about is the police barricades that are in place for the arrival of Princess D, from the Kingdom of D, a kingdom which has become fabulously wealthy based off of a plethora of precious gemstones as a natural resource. Princess D is bringing the fabulous legendary ultimate real secret treasure of her family to Tokyo to show it off at a grand ball / exhibition for… well… I’m sure she has reasons of some kind, anyway.

At the arcade, Ami and Rei talk, and play some Sailor V while they wait for Usagi who, while on time, fell asleep during class and got nailed with detention. With Luna, the girls have a little meeting, discussing the mysterious enemies that keep popping up. Since even we the viewers don’t clearly know the objectives of the Dark Kingdom yet, our heroines know even less. Luna does mention that the princess they are supposed to be protecting has been sealed in some way that would make it difficult for enemy forces to find her, and that the Silver Crystal is a source of incredible power. Letting it fall into the wrong hands would be catastrophic.

Meanwhile, down in the Dark Kingdom, we finally meet Kunzite. You can tell he’s cooler than the other three because he has a cape, and his outfit is slightly different. Queen Beryl orders the four of them to figure shit out. Get the Silver Crystal. Restore the Great Ruler.

Back at Usagi’s house, we learn that her father is headed off to Princess D’s gallery for an interview for his “magazine”. I assume he’s some kind of respected online publisher. Anyway. Usagi, not to be left out, immediately uses her magical powers to transform herself into “a princess”, and runs off to infiltrate the party. This is followed by a K-Mart commercial that is… just bizarre. I wish I could find a video link for it. I feel like I’ve failed you.

Offscreen, Usagi ropes her friends into coming along with her to Princess D’s party. Naturally, the three girls are able to simply walk in like they own the place, while Luna is detained at the gate. Usagi immediately becomes excited by the masquerade nature of the party, and runs off to involve herself in some dancing. Ami and Rei remain more focused on their actual mission, which they head off to get a jump on. Usagi’s own father sees her running around, but only wishes to himself that his girl will grow up to be so beautiful. Naturally, Usagi ends up on the dancefloor with the mysterious Tuxedo Mask. It’s going well at first, but then he bails for seemingly no reason.

Meanwhile, Ami and Rei have tracked down Princess D, the treasure, and a disguised Nephrite, who apparently has replaced Jadeite as the commander of record for this episode. This is another manga thing, although I believe that in the manga, Sailor Mars slays Jadeite with her fire attacks at the end of Act 3, which was not the case here. Nephrite is confronted by Sailors Mars and Mercury, so he decides to possess Princess D while he himself flees. Princess D goes crazy, sprints through her own party knocking people casually aside, and then leaps a balcony. Usagi goes over the edge as well, but Tuxedo Mask catches her. He loses his grip, however, and Usagi is forced to use her powers to save them, transforming her pen into a… parasol. That works, I guess! For some reason, Tuxedo Mask doesn’t seem that perturbed, but he does bail again. What’s with that guy, anyway?

Sailor Moon joins her companions and uses a cool new moon beam to blast the Nephrite right out of poor Princess D. All four of the Kings (Kings!) of the Dark Kingdom show up to act intimidating. They don’t really do anything though. Kunzite reveals that (in case we couldn’t guess) that they’re after the Silver Crystal in order to rule the world. He ends with a cartoon-villain-ish “Stop us if you can!” before they bail, surrendering an obvious opportunity to use their combined magical powers to bust up the Sailor Soldiers something good. No, I’m sure that strategy will pay out in the end. I’m not here to question the tactical wisdom of the great Kunzite.

In the end, Princess D’s treasure is just a ridiculously ostentatious statue of the first Princess D, made out of a 2000 kt diamond. Good grief. Tuxedo Mask finds a sleeping Sailor Moon on the balcony, does some creepy face stroking and hair touching, and goes in for the kiss. It’s about this time that Luna shows up and starts spitting fire. Who is Tuxedo Mask? Is he friend or foe? Well, he’s after the Legendary Silver Crystal. And if we’re after the same thing… maybe we are enemies. Then he vanishes into the night. Man, that guy is the best. Our outro is a glance of Makato, who I suspect will feature prominently in next we… damn, is it really an entire fortnight to wait? Curse this release schedule! Anyway, I strongly suspect based on prior knowledge and the teaser which uh… covers things pretty comprehensively… that we’ll be meeting Sailor Jupiter next time. Cool beans. The shows where we’ve been introduced to new Sailor Guardians (especially Act III, which I think was the best episode so far) were quite a bit more compelling than Masquerade Dance Party, which felt like a lot of fluff paired with some cool moon beams.

Well, no matter how long I’m being cruelly forced to wait, never fear dear reader! I will be with you next time for Sailor Moon Crystal: Act V!

Sailor Moon Crystal: Act 3 – Rei – Sailor Mars!


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It’s the big one. The apocalypse. The end times. It’s the introduction of my favourite anime character of all time … Sailor Mars! Yes! We are back. Back again. Sailor Moon Crystal, and the recapping and observations drawn from aren’t going anywhere! Yes, we all probably already know the story… but this is a wholly new treatment thereof. It deserves all the attention I’m giving it. It’s important, damnit!

This time, our cold open has us in the Dark Kingdom, the secret base of Queen Beryl and her generals. Jadeite is being berated for screwing up big time. Twice. Lord Vader would already have strangled him, but it appears that Queen Beryl is much more forgiving than he is. Nevertheless, we meet two of the other generals, Nephrite and Zoisite, who we all know are commanders two and three, respectively, to challenge the Pretty Guardians. As usual, they’re bickering and jockeying for favour. I really, really like the design and appearance of Queen Beryl in this new treatment of the material. She looks better than she did in the original, says I. Our villains are switching focus. Instead of just trying to gather energy, Jadeite’s new mission is to eliminate the Sailor Guardians. Unluckily for Jadeite, but luckily for everyone else in the entire universe, Sailor Mars is teased before we hit the opening theme.

And don’t worry, the insanely long intro with its crazy guitar riffs isn’t going anywhere. I find it as comforting as an old friend. Seriously, I love these opening credits. The song is funky, the animation that goes along with it is prosauce, and if the subtitles can be believed the lyrics really serve to hammer home the message that this show is about the girls. Girls who do not need the protection of men. And don’t need some mysterious prince. And are awesome. We also see Queen Beryl’s design more clearly in the opening credits than we have in the episodes so far… and I really like it. Her commanders look pretty much as they did before, albeit more like their original manga versions than their original anime versions. Something about Beryl’s design just tickles me though. I’ll pipe down about it now.

I really hate this esurance commercial. I think I’d actively avoid esurance because of it. So good work on that marketing campaign, esurance. As usual with Hulu, about 14 minutes of commercials interrupt this episode. It’s okay though, I’m so stoked about Sailor Mars’ arrival that I can sit through whatever. Even that esurance commercial.

As the show gets going properly, we’re introduced to the legend of the Sendaizakaue Demon Bus. Essentially, the 6:00 p.m. bus on this same route through Sendaizakaue every day… disappears. Along with everyone who is riding it. Seems ungood. At the arcade, Ami and Luna discuss the weightiness of being Sailor Guardians, and the continuing mission to protect their mysterious princess… and to obtain the Legendary Silver Crystal. That mystery will have to wait for another day, however, as Ami has to head to her cram school. Presumably one better run than the one from Act II. She lures Usagi along not because of the whole ‘studying for better grades’ but, oddly, with the promise of a beautiful girl who takes the same bus sometimes.

This girl, whom we see almost immediately, is of course Rei. She’s lovely in this treatment, with purplish-black hair and violet eyes, but she has severe eyebrows that make her look very serious compared to, say, Usagi. Speaking of Usagi, she can do nothing but stare at the beautiful stranger, who when meeting Usagi’s gaze has the same brief vision that Ami did in Act II. Despite Ami’s protestations that it’s rude to stare, Usagi is undeterred. In fact, she’s so obsessed, that she bails on Ami at Rei’s stop to follow the “beautiful girl” back to a shrine, where she is evidently a shrine maiden.

Rei apparently has psychic powers. She feels emanations of some kind. Mistaking Usagi for a source of evil, Rei slaps her with an evil-binding scroll, knocking her flat. Here we see another element not used in the original anime treatment, as Rei has befriended two ravens, whom she calls Phobos and Deimos (because of course she does). Some exiting soccer moms are talking about Rei’s strange gifts, as well as mysterious disappearances near the shrine. Of course, if we’ve been paying attention, we know that this is where the “Sendaizakaue Demon Bus” disappears people, or at least one such place it does so. I’m sure there’s a connection here somewhere.

Back at school the next day, everyone is talking about the “Demon Bus”. Usagi gives Ami a matching watch she won from an arcade game. Luna, oddly, is totally on board to pop in on Rei again. Apparently, Luna believes that Rei may be the princess that they are seeking because of her unusual gifts, and, apparently, because she looks like a princess. “She’s beautiful enough to be a princess,” says Usagi. On the bus, as Usagi rambles on to Luna, she finds herself seated next to Mamoru, in another random encounter. He’s nonplussed at the way that Usagi seems to be talking to herself, but we also learn that he’s a local high school student. Having his dialogue translated as “bun-head” isn’t nearly as funny as “meatball head” was in the English dub of the original treatment. This is, I think, a critical point.

Oh look. Esurance is back. Shouldn’t these advertisements be targeted? I’m not a homeowner. The Panera Bread looks good though.

As Usagi arrives for that second chat, the soccer moms are back. First, they want Rei to use her psychic powers to find a missing girl. Then they blame Rei for the girl’s disappearance. Usagi leaps to her new friend’s defense, then starts to wilt… before Rei kicks everybody out. Rei sees a vision of Jadeite grabbing Usagi, and misinterprets things a little. She goes sprinting off to warn her friend, only to run afoul of the Demon Bus. Its driver? Well, it’s Jadeite of course. He knocks Rei out, loads her on the bus, and begins to drive off into an alternate dimension or whatever. Usagi sees Rei, and races after, leaping onto the back bumper of the bus, barely missing a confused-looking Tuxedo Mask, presumably on his way to help.

In an alternate dimension, Jadeite’s hostages are all lying in comas on the ground. His plan is obvious: as people disappear, eventually the Sailor Guardians will have to seek out the Demon Bus, and be lured into his trap. Well, Usagi already has been. Luckily, the watches she and Ami share are actually communicators. Ami and Luna plan to track Usagi’s location by watching the energy from her transformation into Sailor Moon, then teleport to her location. That’s pretty handy stuff. Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury are set to rescue Jadeite’s hostages… when the man himself appears. He identifies himself as Jadeite, one of the Four Kings (Kings!) of Dark Kingdom, and then attacks the Sailors. Sailor Mercury seeks to cause some confusion with her otherwise-seemingly-useless bubble attack… but Jadeite laughs at them, and begins to literally freeze them solid.

It’s about this time that Rei wakes up. She immediately senses Usagi within Sailor Moon, and challenges Jadeite herself. He freezes part of her too, but Rei breaks free with a power that she did not even suspect she had. The symbol of Sailor Mars blazes to life on her forehead. Luna recognizes it instantly, and Sailor Mars is born! Woo! Jadeite attacks her, but she shrugs his attack off, much to his astonishment. Sailor Moon traps Jadeite within the band of her tiara boomerang, and Sailor Mars tries to kill him with fire. Jadeite is beaten, but seems to teleport away at the last second. In the original treatment, he lasts quite a bit longer than this, but in the manga, this would be his exit. I guess it’s a cliffhanger for next episode. Assuming we care about Jadeite’s fate. Do we?

Now united, the Sailor Guardians are off to… you know. Find the princess. And the silver crystal. And we see a quick teaser of a man arriving in Tokyo with a lockbox, amid thousands of camera snaps. Hmm. I wonder what that could be? If we’re following the manga’s pattern, next week is a break between the arrival of the Sailor Guardians, and the introduction of Nephrite as the new enemy commander of record. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. And no, I’m not forming any opinions based on the teaser. I’m content to simply bide my time.

Until next time, dear reader, when I continue to worship at the church of Sailor Moon Crystal. It’s a show so nice, I was willing to watch it twice.

Sailor Moon Crystal: Act 2: Ami – Sailor Mercury!


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Yes! We’re back! And let us all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the incredible full-length intro sequence has gone nowhere. It’s also full of straight-up awesome images. We see the various Sailor soldiers at war, and glimpses of the Dark Moon’s generals. It’s a pretty compelling sequence. I’m a fan. I had a lot of time to contemplate it, because Hulu is full of fail, and I think I had to watch 14 minutes of commercials before the episode resumed again. Apparently Lifetime has a new series called The Lottery, which seems to have the same premise as Children of Men.

Anyway. The cold open introduced us to Ami, who is drawn really beautifully in her Manga style. We all knew she was coming, but it feels very quick to have her arriving in episode 2. I’m already going to say that I’m a fan of the condensed format.

Just as importantly, it looks like we’re going to be introduced to some of our major villains: Jadeite is the cloaked figure we saw in Act I. He is, of course, the first of the Dark Kingdom’s four generals (Kings! according to the subtitles. Maybe that’s accurate! I don’t know!) to take on Sailor Moon. Giving him orders is Queen Beryl, who is herself the servant of a power still darker, and still yet unintroduced. Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get the full picture soon. Jadeite’s mission is to recover the legendary silver crystal, the same object that Tuxedo Mask, Luna the cat, and the monster in Act I all mentioned already. Seems like a big deal.

Meanwhile, Luna is concerned about Usagi. The whole ‘Sailor Moon’ thing is kind of important, but Usagi is still… well… Usagi. But Luna mentions once again that there are allies, and a princess who we have no clues whatsoever about the possible identity of whatsoever. Usagi is starstruck by the idea of joining forces with Tuxedo Mask, and with Sailor-V, the vigilante superheroine. Luna, meanwhile, is much more interested in Ami, a student at Usagi’s school. Ami is pretty much the best student ever, much to the chagrin of Usagi’s peers, including that annoying Umaro. However, whatever her other faults may be, Usagi is friendly, and quick to introduce herself to new girl Ami after a little help breaking the ice from Luna. Usagi is naturally charming, and when their hands touch, Ami sees a sudden vision, much like the ones Usagi herself has seen. Hmmm. Odd.

Before you know it, the two girls at the arcade, immersed in the Sailor-V video game. Usagi remains incompetent, but Motoki (Usagi’s pleasant friend, who works at the arcade) rumbles by. Both Motoki and Usagi are taken aback by Ami’s skill at the game, which she has evidently never played before (beginner’s luck! hah!). Ami scores a cool prize, and Usagi puts the machine on tilt until she gets one too. This scene is actually really cool, it’s a nice moment of bonding, where we definitely see Usagi and Ami become friends. It’s easy to like Usagi in this version of the anime; she has a natural charm, and is genuinely pleasant, and very little petulance seems to come through here. I really enjoyed it. Luna, of course, has other reasons to be interested in Ami…

… As does Jadeite’s monster, who (nobody was confused by this, right?) has apparently taken over Ami’s extracurricular studies.

During the break, I was reminded for (all numbers approximate) the 74,000th time how much I hate eSurance commercials. Also, how do I get targeted for Navy Federal Credit Union commercials? I have nothing but respect for the armed forces, but I didn’t serve… and uhh… neither did anyone else in my family. It’s been a while. I feel like the targeting has failed on this one.

Anyway. It seems that people are being sucked into the evil study program. Jadeite must be thrilled. Usagi spots Ami, studying away, and invites her to get some ice cream. Initially thrilled by the idea, Ami soon goes robotic and walks away. I’m sure someone will start to see the pattern in this “energy sucking” thing sooner or later. Oh wait, Usagi and Luna see the pattern, pretty much instantly! Yay! Usagi also has another random meet-up with the tall, handsome black-haired, could-he-possibly-be-Tuxedo-Mask dude on the streets. They have a weird connection. Please don’t make it weirder by reminding me what ages are involved.

Usagi is using a very modern-looking laptop (yay!) while she and Luna pretty much accidentally discover Jadeite’s evil brainwashing. Luna reveals that Usagi’s pen (she won it, by playing TILT, guys!) actually is another cool Sailor Moon toy. She can use it to disguise herself. She uses this convenient newfound power to infiltrate the academy where Ami has been studying… and looks like is now being hooked up to total brain-drain by Jadeite’s monster. Usagi intervenes… and then transforms into Sailor Moon. One observation I immediately have here is that Usagi seems like much less of a coward than I recall her being early in the original anime run. Her question to Luna about transforming is not: “Oh, do I have to?” or “Oh, I’m scared of this horrifying weirdo” but instead, “In front of Ami? Is that okay?” I think it’s a positive change! She can have flaws without having to be weak all the time!

Her transformation sequence still basically takes forever though I guess we’ll probably see some abbreviation once there are multiple Sailors doing their thing. Also she kind of goes right back to crying. In the context, it’s kind of funny; I won’t lie. Soon enough, Sailor Moon is overwhelmed, and threatened with death by the monster. This breaks Ami’s brainwashing, and she (with a little assist from Luna) becomes Sailor Mercury! Her transformation is the soul of brevity, by comparison. Hmm.

Sailor Mercury shows off her new powers to sow confusion, we get a roughly five second assist from Tuxedo Mask (no, really), and then Sailor Moon hurls the boomerang of death for the win, and Sailors Moon and Mercury are left to talk it out, while a defeated and annoyed Jadeite looks on. Usagi and Ami are now friends for realsies. …And then in a coda, we see a vision of fire, and a young woman with dark hair. I wonder who she could be?

The subsequent Kay Jeweler’s commercial just makes me mad. The Starburst minis commercial does make me desperately crave some Starburst though. I guess that’s all for this week. Join me next time, as I continue to worship at the church of Sailor Moon Crystal, aka the greatest thing to happen to me this year, as I strive to continue to be in love with a show that I already saw once before.

Sailor Moon Crystal, Act I: Usagi


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When I heard that the Sailor Moon anime was getting a new treatment for the 20th anniversary, my initial reaction was: “How soon does it start?Whyhasn’titstartedyet?GIVEMENOW.”

It’s an odd reaction, considering that I have never really been regarded as much of an anime fan. In truth, I’m not. There are some that I really enjoy, but for the most part, I’m barely more educated than the lay man about the field of Japanese animation. One very large exception to that generality, however, is in my regard for – and knowledge of – Sailor Moon. Like many other young people, I watched the dub version of Sailor Moon, produced for English audiences by DIC. At the time, I appreciated the complex story involving a kingdom a thousand years vanished, love throughout the ages, and evil back for its revenge. Sailor Moon R, in particular, I really enjoyed – the character of the Wiseman, and his manipulation and inevitable betrayal of his so-called allies was a cool story, especially for a cartoon. I quickly took to taping episodes on VHS for later viewing.

The dub has its limitations, however, and it wasn’t until much later that the Cloverway translation would bring the later chapters of the Sailor Moon story to the English-speaking audiences (and Sailor Stars would never arrive in an official translation). Part of this is because of the so-called sensibilities of a (specifically, the United States) North American audience. Anyone who knows a lot about Sailor Moon knows that it very casually doesn’t give a shit about gender politics or roles. The heroes are girls. They kick ass. Various male characters are deeply intrigued by them, or one another, or whatever. Various female characters too. It’s like the real world, only, you know, in a cartoon. A cartoon that is, whatever some others have claimed over the years, laden with a message of female empowerment.

I could not have been any more excited for Sailor Moon Crystal. Yesterday, I watched the first episode. Now it’s time to write. Unlike, say, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this show is obviously going to be poetry in motion, so I doubt there will be much room for my usual sarcasm. I would appreciate it if you contained your disappointment until the end.

Act I: Usagi opens more or less identically to the original Sailor Moon anime version. But right away, we can see some differences. It is very apparent, especially during the title theme sequence (roughly 23 minutes of montage footage from later in the series, accompanied by some metal) that all of the character designs have been re-done, and are obviously intended to be closer to their original manga counterparts. Subtle changes in colour, in the designs of the character’s eyes, and minor bits of costuming, are all much more like the manga than they were in the first anime production. Sailor Moon Crystal even features a vine-and-rose border on the screen, to highlight the introduction of new characters, while Usagi voices over. It’s a surreal device, but this is anime, isn’t it?

Anyway, the first story is a simple one. Usagi is a bumbling crybaby. She doesn’t apply herself at school. But one day, as she’s sprinting to school – she’s already late, of course – she stumbles across a strange black cat with a crescent symbol on her forehead. She miserably fails an English exam, and is insulted in the streets by a haughty fellow who is, for reasons best left unexplored, wearing a tuxedo in the middle of the afternoon on a random Tokyo street.

A little later, at the end of Usagi’s otherwise miserable day, the black cat reappears at her window. The cat introduces herself as Luna. She can talk. And she’s been searching for Usagi for a while. She teaches Usagi how to transform into the Pretty Guardian, Sailor Moon, a dedicated fighter of evil. Usagi is initially excited by the opportunity to save her best friend Naru-chan from the predations of a monster… until she remembers that she doesn’t actually know how to fight. Fortunately, her new form possesses magical powers, with which she easily dispatches the creature. A shadowy figure watches the battle through a crystal ball, and pronounces himself impressed. He’s obviously the first enemy commander, Jadeite, but true to the manga (rather than the first anime), he is not introduced at all in the first episode, and Queen Beryl does not appear either.

I’ve never enjoyed watching anything with subtitles, but since Sailor Moon Crystal is in Japanese – including Sailor Moon’s original voice actress, reprising her role! – I had to suffer through them. They were the second most onerous part of the episode though – a distant second, actually, beyond Hulu’s commercials – which otherwise really took me back. I’m already committed to watching the whole series, so I might as well write about it as well. A definite recommend to any old-school Sailor Moon fans… it should be extremely interesting to see a new, pretty version of an iconic story.

AMV of the Day: Otaku Paradise


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It’s the 4th of July Weekend and one of the things I’ve gotten used to these past couple years is that it means Anime Expo has come around once more. While I don’t have the anime convention experience as pantsukudasai56 it is still a event that I’ve gotten used to attending once a year when possible.

The latest “AMV of the Day” arrives just in time for the largest North American anime convention held every 4th of July weekend in Los Angeles. Not to say that the other anime conventions around the country are nothing to sneeze at, but Anime Expo is a whole different animal that every otaku in North America needs to experience at least once in their life. It’s a video that comes courtesy by the very talented video editor who goes by the handle of BecauseImBored1.

A video that combines scenes from anime and real-life footage of cosplayers and anime con-goers into one timely video that celebrates the positive nature of the word “otaku”. It’s a word that has a negative reputation in Japan, but one that’s seen as a celebration of anime and Japanese pop-culture fandom worldwide. It’s a label taken on proudly.

“Otaku Paradise” has such a huge number of anime referenced yet barely scratches the surface of what “otaku” watches and follows year in and year out. I love the fact that the video intersperses these anime scenes with real-life people in cosplay of those very same anime characters. Not everyone cosplays, but every otaku appreciates and admires those who do. Yet, cosplayers and non-cosplayer otaku both have one thing in common and that is their acceptance of the label of “otaku”.

One thing this video made me do while I watched it for the first time and the many times since was put such a huge, happy smile on my face. It’s small consolation for having to miss this weekend’s Anime Expo 2014.

Anime: Another, Attack On Titan, Baccano!, Baka And Test – Summon The Beasts, Bakuman, Black Lagoon, CANAAN, Clannad, Code Geass – Lelouch Of The Rebellion, D.Gray-Man, DragonBall Z, Durarara!!, Fate/Stay Night, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Genshiken, Genshiken Nidaime, Haikyuu, Hellsing Ultimate, Howl’s Moving Castle, Idolmaster, K, K-ON!, Kampfer, Kanon, Kara No Kyoukai – The Garden Of Sinners, Kill La Kill, Kuroko’s Basketball, Kyoukai No Kanata, Kyousougiga, Little Witch Academia, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, Lucky Star, Macross Frontier MUSIC CLIP Collection – Nyankuri, Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya, MM!, Munto, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, My Neighbor Totoro, Naruto, Ookami-San To Shichinin No Nakama-Tachi, Ore No Kanojo To Osananajimi Ga Shuraba Sugiru, Ouran High School Host Club, Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, Persona 4: The Animation, Pokemon : White, Pokémon: Movie 2, Pokemon 2000, The Power Of One, Princess Jellyfish, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Romeo × Juliet, Sailor Moon, Sakura Trick, School Rumble, School Rumble 2, Shugo Chara!, Soul Eater, Soul Eater Not, Summer Wars, Super Smash Bros, Sword Art Online, Tales Of Xillia, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, Toradora!, Trigun, Uta No Prince Sama, Welcome To The NHK, Yu Yu Hakusho

Song: “Raging Fire” by Phillip Phillips

Creator: BecauseImBored1

Past AMVs of the Day