I’m surprised that people are STILL making Sailor Moon reboots. When I was a kid, I loved the original NA dub by DiC. I got all my friends into it too. It played during the noon hour everyday, so we’d hurry to my place to watch it. I remember obsessively learning how to draw Sailor Moon’s anime art style. I also remember blowing people’s minds with it as it was a style they were unfamiliar with. I even dressed up as Sailor Mars for Halloween one year. But that was years and years ago. The last time I even thought about Sailor Moon was when the live-action series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, was making the subbed rounds on the internet back in 2003. Now, on the 20th anniversary of the manga series, Toei Animation has rebooted the series as Sailor Moon Crystal.
Although, this seems at first glance to be a cash grab, it may just be a labour of love. The new series is being aired on Japan’s Youtube equivalent video service, Niconico, with new episodes coming out twice a month (the 1st and 3rd Saturdays). And Viz Media has picked up the license for the English-language release. So, the series will be simulcast in English (subtitles) and streamed through Crunchyroll, Hulu (U.S. only), and Neon Alley (Viz Media).
Yes, that’s right. You can catch the first episode right now!
Mini Guide to Watching Sailor Moon Crystal
Every 1st and 3rd Saturday @ 3 AM PT or 6 AM ET.
** Note: The following comments are from my experience trying to watch from Canada and for free. YMMV **
Crunchyroll (my recommendation!)
- Excellent video quality. I was able to watch in glorious 1080p!
- Never had any server problems.
- It’s not region-locked!
- No ads? I do use an ad blocker, so…
- Only subbed version AFAIK. But can choose between English, Spanish, or Portuguese.
- 2 week free trial for their premium service. Members sometimes get 48 hours guest passes too. Before you ask, I don’t have a subscription, so no guest passes.
- Versatile. I watched through my web browser (Firefox), but you can watch through most other devices through their premium service.
- U.S. only. Also, some anonymous proxies and VPNs don’t work.
- Ads. But you can skip them if you take their trivia quiz before it starts.
- No HD quality on free service.
- Viz Media streaming portal
- Not available in Canada, but they say they’re working on it.
- The website is very cluttered with their other products.
- Can watch the original 90s anime series for free.
- Servers are based in Japan, so could be slow. There are some complaints about it.
- “Live” video commentary. Some people like it as it’s like watching with other people. There is an option to turn it off.
- It’s not region-locked!
- Lots of subbed language options! Including English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese, Korean, French, Italian, Deutsch, Spanish, Portuguese,…
- Episodes are only available for 2 weeks.
- No fullscreen view for free service, it’s premium only.
Or if you want to wait and binge watch a Blu-ray box set is scheduled to be released from Viz Media on November 11, 2014. Pre-orders aren’t available yet.
You can also check out the English VA cast list. Those of you who play League of Legends might recognize Cristina Vee (Rei Hino/Sailor Mars) from her work as Riven and hosting the infamous IPL4. Too bad she’s not Sailor Mercury, then I could’ve made a Bubble Pop joke.
Quick Review & Impressions
I enjoyed the first episode a lot more than I expected. I admit that a part of me was hesitant to like it because at first glance I wasn’t too crazy about the art style and I’m biased towards the 90s anime (how could you compete with that opening!). BUT the art style really grew on me and I liked how it was more similar to the manga’s style. I have some nitpicks about the colouring and shading, but it’s very minor and down to personal preference. Of course the plot is the same, but I really liked the pacing of it. It didn’t feel like an exact copy of the original and somehow still came across as fresh and new. I think that’s partially because Usagi’s dialogue seemed a lot more natural to me. I found myself laughing because it was funny and not because it was cringe-y. In fact, everyone was less “cartoon-y” and I think it will be really interesting to see their character growth as Toei plans to keep this series quite close to the manga. Oh, and Usagi’s transformation… I admit, I got a little teary eyed. It looked like they pulled out all the stops for that one and it looked amazing! All in all, I’m very impressed with this reboot and I hope it’s successful!