Sailor Moon Super S TV Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Grisham
Review Date: Saturday, March 23, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2002



What They Say
The Amazon Trio targets innocent people and then uses their beauty and lies to seduce and trap innocent people. Once trapped, Fish Eye, Hawk’s Eyes, and Tiger’s Eyes ruthlessly invade the victim’s pure dreams with the Dream Mirror! Widows, little girls, or even a Sailor Scout become prey for the seductive warriors of the Nightmare Circus in their relentless hunt for the Pegasus! How can Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon keep everyone safe?!

The Review!
The next batch of Sailor Moon Super S episodes sticks to the same formula as the first six, but there's something about this formula that's working.

Audio:
For this review, the entire show was watched with the Japanese audio exclusively. Like volume 1, the audio tends to be a rather uninspired mono mix with some distortion as things get loud. This is probably the way it was originally mixed, but it would be nice to at least have the opening theme song sounding better.

Video:
In general, the show looks pretty good. Video is comparable with volume 1. There did seem to be a large number of blemishes on the print. I doubt that anything short of a full restoration would make the video look any better.

Packaging:
Volume 2 is another nice, shiny, foil-embossed, reversible cover, this time featuring Sailor Mars on the front. Sailor Mercury is on the back and in the mini-poster insert. Somehow, compared to the splendorous cover for volume 1, this cover isn't quite as exciting. Still, Pioneer's Sailor Moon packaging sets the bar for other anime titles, and is certainly better than you would expect for a show guaranteed to sell a bazillion copies.

Menus:
Menus are responsive and functional. The design is nearly identical to the SMS discs, though there is significantly less animation and sound. Volume 2's menu uses some pretty annoying background sound effects and the transition animations seem grainy. Still, there's nothing really to complain about.

Extras:
The only extra on this disc is a karaoke version of the opening. It's actually very nice to have, since you can use the DVD audio selection to choose between a vocal and non-vocal track, and the subtitle timing is very well done. (Each word lights up as you sing along.) The opening is the same one used in the show, which is not the version used for the first 12 or so episodes. There are characters in the show opening that haven't appeared yet, leading to possible series spoilers.

Content:
(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)

So, after volume 1, I was left with the feeling that Sailor Moon Super S was a train that had left the station with me on the platform. There wasn't anything technically wrong with it – except for a strict adherence to a formula, and a few more plot holes than your average anime – but it wasn't working for me.

I went into this disc with even lower expectation. After all, Sailor Moon Super S is supposed to be the worst season Sailor Moon has to offer. Imagine my surprise when I found this collection to be a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a few hours. Several times, I found myself wishing that I could just keep these characters and stories, and just reboot the series without all of the infuriating formulaic elements.

Last time, I compared Sailor Moon Super S (SMSS) to the previous season, Sailor Moon S (SMS), complaining that the formula for each episode was derivative and unoriginal. I want to retract that completely. The formula for SMSS is vastly superior to SMS. I would take any one of these six episodes over any regular episode from SMS. There! I said it. I'm enjoying Sailor Moon Super S more than Sailor Moon S.

See, in SMS, the background characters that served as a focal point for that week's episode were usually incredibly talented individuals with "pure hearts", something that ordinary folks like us could only dream of. And that's the difference between SMS and Super S. Dreams. In this series, the villains are after the beautiful dreams of the populace. These characters are incomplete, unfulfilled, yearning – and that makes them interesting. They have hopes and dreams and fears and doubts and flaws. They are normal people, just like us. People who need friends and heroes to get us moving, to get us to see our dreams through.

Over these episodes, we meet a writer who has lost her muse, a teacher who can't relate to her students, a young artist for whom reality can't measure up to his fantasy world, a young widow living out the dreams she couldn't share with her husband, and a young swordswoman (played marvelously by Sakura Tange) who wishes to become the greatest in Japan.

In fact, these stories are so emotionally resonant, I found myself disappointed once the fighting began. I would rather have taken the five or so minutes of transformations and super attacks repeated each episode, and replaced it with another few minutes showing these characters working through their problems. Sailor Moon and her inner senshi are strangely out of place here. Give me more Usagi, and Makoto, and Ami, and Rei, and Minako, and Mamoru, and Chibi-Usa. These are the figures who can solve their friends' problems, not shallow, fantasy superheroes.

Anyway, for the most part, the show continues to progress nicely. The main plot is revealing itself slowly, as the master plan behind the Dead Moon Circus is hinted at. The friendship between Chibi-Usa and Pegasus continues to develop in a touching manner. Chibi-Usa hardly has an insincere bone in her body, and she can't understand why Pegasus doesn't trust her. Eventually Pegasus provides a method for her to contact him directly, and they have some poignant heart-to-heart discussions. Pegasus's real intentions remain a mystery, however.

The Amazon Trio continue to be anime's most inept seducers since Ataru Moroboshi, and the source of a great deal of the show's humor and edge. Typically, when fans discuss the show's sexual undertones, they bring up the veiled homosexuality of Haruka and Michiru, but I find the more diverse sexuality on display in Super S to be more fascinating. Each of the characters is longing and desperate, and the Trio's insincere ploys are both amusing and haunting.

Overall, the show isn't as well directed as SMS, but there are enough clever moments that visual interest is generally high. The episode with the young swordswoman plays a perfect homage to classic samurai films. An episode where Mamoru spends the night at Rei's house is a classic domestic misunderstanding slapstick comedy, including the infamous walking-in-on-someone-in-the-bath scene. Usagi's attempts at becoming a Ninja are hysterical. The show is never subtle, but that doesn't mean it's completely mindless, either.

Slowly, I am warming up to the world of Sailor Moon, and it took, what is arguably the least favorite season to do it. I don't know how that reflects on me, but I would recommend those who have dismissed Sailor Moon Super S to give it another go. There's a lot to like here.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Karaoke Opening

Review Equipment
Review Equipment: Panasonic Panablack TV, Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)




Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: C+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 140
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sailor Moon