Tuesday 5 April 2016

First Impressions: Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3

The first two seasons of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal are essentially a crash course in how not to handle a highly anticipated manga-accurate remake of a hugely popular anime series. Rather than simply just cutting the filler, Crystal somehow managed to cut everything that made the characters remotely memorable – leaving only a husk of a series that sped through events at breakneck speed. Shoddy animated and awful scheduling didn’t really help matters either. However the Sailor Moon juggernaut is one that can’t be stopped even in 2016, so Toei Animation have brought it back for another try. Thankfully Sailor Moon Crystal season 3 (also known as the ‘Death Busters’ arc) should have a little more coherency to it – sporting new staff behind it and a weekly airing schedule.

Some time has passed since the Sailor Senshi defeated the threat of Wiseman and the Dark Kingdom, and everyone has returned to a relatively normal life (with Chibiusa continuing to live with her future mother in the past). However those quiet times are about to end, as students from the prestigious Mugen Academy begin to inexplicably transform into monsters. Usagi and friends must leap into action once again, agreeing that the school requires further investigation.

Although quite obviously being a continuation of the Sailor Moon Crystal series, it’s already apparent that season three is perhaps aiming to distance itself from its rather poorly-received predecessor. For starters Moimoro Clover Z’s brilliant “Moon Pride” (possibly the only truly good thing about the first two seasons) is gone, replaced with a brand new opening courtesy of Etsuko Yakushimaru. Personally I don’t find it to have quite the same kick as Moon Pride, but it’s certainly serviceable nonetheless. This new opening sequence gives way to the familiar character designs of Crystal, only it seems they’ve benefitted from the change-up in staffing. Though the designs haven’t changed all that much, everything suddenly feels more fluid, expressive and lifelike. More importantly Toei have finally done away with the awful CGI transformation sequences that plagued the first two seasons, replacing them with far more effective 2D versions.

The biggest step up though is how the cast themselves feel. This episode only lightly touched upon the plot that’s yet to come, with much of it dedicated to getting reacquainted with the girls (and Mamoru) as well as being introduced to some new characters in the form of dreamy highschool student Haruka Temoh and his girlfriend Michiru Kaioh. This means a lot of silly comedy and anime-style reactions, but most importantly a chance to see these characters acting as characters. With Crystal it was all “Usagi and Mamoru this/that etc.”, while the rest of the cast felt like a Usagi’s living shield. As someone whose first proper experience with Sailor Moon is with Crystal, this felt like one of the first inklings the season has given about why these characters are so popular.

Given how badly Sailor Moon Crystal turned out before you could hardly blame people for not wanting to give season 3 a try, however this first episode is definitely showing some genuine signs of improvement. The animation has been stepped up, the characters are finally beginning to feel like characters and there’s decent intrigue built for the rest of its run (as well as the promise the audience won’t have to wait two to three weeks for the next part). With the Death Busters arc Sailor Moon may finally be getting the remake it deserved all along – it’s just a shame everyone had to suffer so much beforehand to get here.

1 comment:

Sailor Sedna said...

Season 3 of Crystal has been doing far, far, better right now, better than the first two seasons, but it's still not as good as S from the original anime.