Sailor Moon Super S TV Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Grisham
Review Date: Monday, October 07, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, September 03, 2002



What They Say
The Amazon Trio has until the next full moon to capture the Pegasus or Zirconia, the leader of the Dark Moon Circus, will change them back into animals! However, when Fish Eye targets Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask), she falls in love!

Finally understanding the value of dreams, Fish Eye conceals the location of the Pegasus only to have her partners target Usagi! Unfortunately for Sailor Moon, the danger continues now that the Amazon Quartet began the hunt!

The Review!
With half of the Super S season behind us, volume 4 dishes up some of the best, and some of the worst, that Sailor Moon has to offer.

Audio:
For this review, the entire show was watched with the Japanese audio almost exclusively. Like volume 1, the audio tends to be an 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:
Again, with six episodes on a single disc, we get a fair amount of compression problems, especially in scenes with busier backgrounds, and a fair amount of grain, being an older show. Things still look decent, all things considered, and overall video quality is pretty consistent with earlier volumes. The first episode here has particularly poor production values and frequently looks awful The remaining episodes look a little better, but still exhibit the grain and dirt that have plagued this release since volume 1.

Packaging:
It’s pink, and it has Chibi Sailor Moon on the cover. If that doesn’t immediately turn you off, then you’ll realize that this is a pretty nice package. Like previous volumes in this series, it’s a two-sided cover with shiny bits on the primary side and a mini poster of the secondary side in the insert. The inner cover features Sailor Moon in a rather uninspired pose. Not bad, but not as good as some of the other characters.

Menus:
It’s pink, and it has Chibi Sailor Moon in the main menu. If that doesn’t turn you off, then you’ll realize that the menus are pretty nice. Menus are responsive and functional. This time, instead of ambient sound effects, we get the new closing song in the background of the main menu. It’s a nice change. There is little thematic unity to the menus, with some stuff thrown together with the Amazoness Quartet and Sailor Mercury (not that I’m complaining.)

Extras:
The only extra on this disc is a karaoke version of the first ending song. 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 song here is the original ending song that appeared in the first half of the season. By turning off the subtitles, it doubles as a creditless ending.

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

When any series runs as long as Sailor Moon, it’s entitled to a mulligan from time to time, and we get underway on volume 4 with an episode I think everyone involved with would like to do over. A princess from some European nation slips out of her hotel suite for a day on the town and runs across Usagi and Chibi-Usa at the shrine festival. She promptly gets into trouble by trying to help everyone, not comprehending how the real world works. It’s a decent concept, and with her beautiful dreams, she’s a prime target for the Amazon Trio. Unfortunately, the writing, animation quality and editing is sub par. Sailor Moon, as a series, isn’t always the most logical creation, but this episode is confusing, uninvolving and totally improbable. I have spent too much time complaining about it. It’s probably best to just skip over it, and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Things get going for real with the next episode, in which a lovelorn Motoko decides to try her luck at meeting a nice boy at a dance party at Mamoru’s college. Meanwhile, the Amazon Trio are under pressure from Zircon to complete their mission and find Pegasus. Tigers Eye decides to take the shotgun approach and use the dance party as an excuse to meet as many girls as possible. While there, Makoto catches his eye, and the two create something of a sensation with their dance. She is quickly abandoned by Tigers Eye, who finds himself flooded with attention, but she continues to hold out the hope that the dashing young gentleman she danced with will remember her. Though the episode’s dream mirror plot plays out predictably, what is nice about this episode is the way that the team bands together with their friend to help her cope with her heartbreak. I have always thought that the characters in Sailor Moon would work better with less of the superhero stuff, and this episode is great evidence of that theory.

The next two episodes form a tight story that nicely wraps up the Amazon Trio arc. Getting desperate to find Pegasus, Fish Eye targets Mamoru, drawing the wrath of Usagi, who does not quite seem to understand exactly who Fish Eye is. Along the way, Fish Eye makes a startling discovery about Pegasus, and takes it upon himself to accomplish the goal of capturing Pegasus for Zircon. Unlike some villains in the Sailor Moon universe, the Amazon Trio are more pathetic than truly evil – comic foils with tragic flaws. This story, more than any other story in Super S draws the viewer into the plight of the enemy, and makes them more sympathetic than any other villain in the series. Akira Ishida delivers a truly poignant performance as the doomed Fish Eye, a role that could have fallen dangerously close to camp with the themes of cross dressing and false identity. The finale of this arc also carries a deep irony, in that the Trio comes so very close to accomplishing their goal but for the impatience and greed of their wicked masters.

The next two episodes usher in the Amazoness Quartet arc, giving us a better view of the main plot of the evil Lady Nehelenia and her evil agent, Zircon. The Quartet are much more mischievous, and consequently less sympathetic, than the Trio. Unlike the Trio, who were working against their better natures in order to accomplish their own hidden goals, the Quartet is openly evil, even to the point of turning against their masters if their fickle mood suits them. While they are much more powerful than the Trio, they are less charismatic, and ultimately, I suspect they will not be able to carry the show the way that Tigers Eye, Hawks Eye, and Fish Eye did. I can hardly tell one Amazoness apart from the other, except for their distinctive colors.

Still, after 20+ episodes of the same formula, the variety afforded by the new villains was a welcome change. The first episode with the new villains features Chibi-Usa and one of her friends visiting the Dead Moon Circus as part of the audience. It’s a decent introduction to the Quartet, but overall, the plot and supporting characters are not as interesting. The basic formula is simply for the Amazonesses to follow their target and capture their mirror. The subtle strategies of the Trio have been abandoned in favor of a more straightforward, and consequently less entertaining, approach. The final episode here, a sweet story in which Ami meets a musician for whom she has been writing lyrics, works well, featuring emotional involvement for our main cast, as well as a sympathetic supporting cast with believable hopes and dreams, lacking only the courage to see them through.

The strength of Sailor Moon lies mainly in the charisma of its main cast, and less on the action scenes, which become repetitive and often tedious. For the most part, the episodes here, play on the strengths of the characters and less on the formula. The small changes in the plot formula help in maintaining interest, but the loss of the charming Trio may prove to be fatal to this series. Fortunately, things seem to be rapidly approaching a conclusion, so things may work out well, though there are still many mysteries left to be uncovered.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

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: C+
Audio Rating: C+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 140
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sailor Moon