Sailor Moon S: Hearts In Ice (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000



What They Say
As Serena and her friends enjoy Christmas vacation, an unusual and fierce snowstorm hits town... The evil Snow Queen Kaguya has returned to claim Earth as her own. Crucial to Queen Kaguya's plan is a magical crystal from outer space, approaching Earth disguised as a comet. Once she gets hold of the crystal, she will have the power to suck away all life energy and cover the Earth in ice. Will Sailor Moon find the crystal before Queen Kaguya? Will her powers be enough to save the Earth from permanent winter? All hope lies with the Legendary Ultimate Scout Power!

The Review!
Sailor Moon arrives again on the DVD format in a great new bilingual edition. I enjoyed the first disc a lot, but this second disc really wowed me.

Both language tracks are presented in a stereo format, though the packaging would have you believe that one of them is mono. The Japanese track sounds very good and is definitely stereo. We spot checked the English track a bit, but overall it felt a bit more flat and subdued than the original language track. Dialogue for both is clean and undistorted. The front soundstage is used a bit but not extensively. No disappointments in this department.

The video is also very good, but suffers a bit from the animation itself. There are some very vibrantly animated and painted sequences, but the majority of the show is the standard almost flat color style. While this is by no means bad, just don't expect the flashiest thing you've ever seen. The movies seem to keep pretty well to the style of the TV episodes. Transformation sequences and some of the battle sections are very fluid and translate well. We didn't detect any artifacting on our main setup and only a few hints of pixellation and a slight rainbow or two during some of the more complexly drawn backgrounds. The image is very stable overall.

When Sailor Moon R came out, I thought Pioneer was really getting the hang of some new tricks to market their titles onto DVD with the foil cover. Having seen the cover for Trigun and now this, I'm pretty sure that they're getting the hang of it. I absolutely love this cover. The dark background combined with the gold and red foil works quite well, especially when you have it in your hands compared to the scans of it. It just really pulls me in. The back cover has some good images and a good summary of the show as well as all the usual technical information that we've come to expect from Pioneer. The insert is a plain version of the front cover with all the chapter stops listed for instance scene access. The disc itself is silkscreened with the starry background from the cover as well. Overall, a very well done presentation in the packaging.

The menus are also very well done. The animation isn't as vibrant as something like Trigun, but it's got it going and there's music through most of the menus as well. Selections are made quickly and the layout is very well thought out. The menus and submenus for the extras pages are very well done and everything makes logical sense through the progression of viewing it all. No complaints here at all.

Pioneer loaded up some good extras for this release. The most useful to those who aren't overly familiar with Sailor Moon are the character information pages. A good brief background and personality section is included for the main characters and when applicable, their transformation sequence and a use of power sequence can be activated. Very slick. The image gallery contains fourteen good pictures. Also provided is the edited opening used for the dub release so it "fits" with previously released TV tapes. The original credits are included in this section as well. Pioneer was unable to use them during the actual end of the show due to them being hardmatted. Thankfully it was included here. A brief bit on the history of Princess Kaguya is also provided to help flesh out things.

Thankfully the Sailor Moon movies seem to be pretty self contained. Though related to a distant past within the series continuity, everything is covered fully within this movie and no deep knowledge of the series is really needed. Returning after being sent away from Earth for so long, the Snow Queen Kaguya is using her Snow Dancers to freeze the planet while she searches for a gem that will allow her to use her powers to the fullest. With that, she can take over the world completely and place it into a quiet slumber, giving peace to all.

Gotta love the villains that just want it quiet. That's not the main thrust of the storyline though, but it makes for a better sale. The main plot is really the character development of Luna, the guardian cat of Usagi. After being told that she doesn't know what love feels like, she discovers it exactly with a young scientist named Kakeru. The heart of this story is just that, dealing with the feelings and desires of Luna and her desire to be human even briefly to try and discover what she's really feeling with this person.

Of course, he's involved to a degree with the whole big villain plot in that he came across the gem that the Snow Queen is after, which is sucking his life dry. That helps to move the story forward between him and Luna, but it's only a device used sparingly. Kakeru talks to Luna, thinking that she's only a cat and ends up revealing plenty about himself, which only endears her to him more. These moments are well done and not overly dramatic, though Luna does blush plenty.

One of the things I enjoyed about this show was that introduction of three new Sailor Soldiers, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. To be blunt, Pluto's hot. Anyway, since these characters presumably make their appearance in episodes as yet unaired in the US, they do bring in a bit of randomness to the episodes since you don't know how they're going to react. You know after so long what powers Mars or Mercury will use, but since you may not have seen Neptune transform before or Pluto use her "dead scream" power, it's very fresh and fun to watch.

Overall, this was a very well written and executed movie. The animation is solid, the storyline isn't overly condescending and the action sequences though brief are enjoyable. Pioneer pulled out the stops in terms of extras and provided a good bounty for Sailor Moon fans and new viewers alike. The transfer is solid and the overall presentation is one of the better ones so far this year.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Info,Image Gallery (14),Edited Opening,Original End Credits,Story of Princess Kaguya

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sailor Moon