Sailor Moon Super S TV Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: C+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • 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

Sailor Moon Super S TV Vol. #5

    March 04, 2003
Release Date: November 19, 2002

Sailor Moon Super S TV Vol. #5
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Sailor Evolution! From a young athlete trying to overcome a childhood phobia to a starving artist pursuing his skills, there is no pure dream that the Amazon Quartet won't try to corrupt! Fortunately, as the challenges grow, so do the Sailor Scouts/Soldiers. Unfortunately, some challenges don't come from the Dead Moon Circus and while Raye/Rei tries to cope with sudden fame, Lita/Mako-chan and Mina/Minako struggle against each other over love!

The Review!
For those who submit that describing a show as predictable and inconsistent is contradictory, I offer Sailor Moon Super S one of the most predictably inconsistent shows I’ve ever seen. The up-side is that we get some good with the bad.

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.

This is one of the best-looking releases in the series. While the animation and coloring seem to be suffering from a diminishing budget, the source materials are largely free of the dirt and specks that plagued earlier volumes. The picture is still pretty grainy, but definitely more stable than the previous volume.

Sailor Venus gets the cover this time. If you look closely, you can see the outline of one of the Amazoness Quartet in the background. 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 side of the cover features Sailor Mars in a flirty pose. There’s no thematic unity to the design, and features pink, blue, green, yellow, and a nasty salmon color in a big mess. It’s got shiny parts, which is nice, but for a series that has had such pretty packaging for so long, this is a big disappointment.

Menus are responsive and functional. The new closing song plays in the background of the main menu. Once again, there is absolutely no thematic unity to the menus, with some stuff thrown together with some funny bits involving Sailor Mars from one of the episodes on the disc. The transitions are significantly less grainy this time, which is nice. Unfortunately, there are now a number of typographic errors, which leads me to believe that the kind folks at Pioneer are not really putting themselves into this release.

The only extra on this disc is the original Japanese text opening used during the second part of the series, complete with Japanese credits and lyrics. To my untrained eye, this is the version of the OP which runs with all episodes of the Pioneer release of the series. That is, it features the Amazoness Quartet and is apparently the correct opening for all episodes on this disc.

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

First off, while this disc includes episodes 25 through 30 of the Super S series, we don’t really make any progress toward getting things wrapped up here. Instead, these six episodes are mainly self-contained adventures that don’t contribute much to the story at large. I suppose I got spoiled by the revelations in the previous volume that brought about the downfall of the Amazon Trio and introduced Lady Nehelenia as the overarching mastermind behind the Dead Moon Circus. To sum up, all we really learn about things is that Nehelenia is growing impatient with Zircon’s lack of progress, and that the Amazoness Quartet are out of control. We learn that Pegasus and Chibi-Usa are still having trouble trusting each other, but they’re slowly forming a bond. Meanwhile, the sailor team continues to power-up, gaining new (and utterly useless) powers. Not particularly groundbreaking revelations here, folks.

That said, each of these episodes is pretty dispensable viewing. I would not discourage anyone growing impatient with the series that decides to pass up this disc entirely and wait for the “good stuff” towards the end. In fact, there are a couple of real stinkers on this disc that should probably be ignored even by completists. But for those willing to take a lazy stroll through the meandering side stories of the Sailor Moon universe, there are a few bright spots here. Nothing at the level of the masterful storytelling in volume 2, to be sure, but a couple of solid episodes, and some smarter writing than I had grown to expect from the series.

When Rei is featured on the cover of a magazine as the beautiful, mysterious shrine maiden, she plays along and uses her newfound celebrity to drum up business for the family. Along the way, a young girl who has lost faith in her own dreams decides that she would rather follow in Rei’s footsteps and become a shrine maiden as well. Unfortunately, Rei’s dreams for herself leave no room for the family shrine. There is a nifty bit of irony, when the young girl, having completely remade herself in the phony Rei’s image, discovers the fraud and reveals her original dreams and they are identical to Rei’s own. It’s a nice lesson about not being true to one’s self, and the story only gets bogged down by the fighting in the third act.

The second episode had me in stitches. In this episode, Palla-Palla (the only Amazoness to have made an impression on me thus far), casts a cavity spell on the town, and sets up shop as a dentist. With all the children in town suffering from toothaches, it’s an efficient way to examine as many people as possible. What a brilliant plan! The fact that it is carried out by Palla-Palla, the youngest member of the Quartet, makes it all the better. Unlike the other members of the Quartet, Palla-Palla is both soullessly evil and sympathetic, making her the kind of engaging villain we haven’t had since the Trio was defeated.

But that alone would not have been enough to set this episode apart, if it were not for the wonderful way the episode was put together. For starters, this episode was one of the best-directed episodes of the season, full of clever visuals, wonderful sight gags, and delicious comedic timing. My favorite bit is a nifty section where you actually watch Usagi and Chibi-Usa’s teeth rotting away as they consume sweet after sweet. They really pulled out the stops for this one, and I laughed throughout the whole thing. The icing on the cake, however, is the superior music direction in this episode. While I know that the particular pieces of music were used in other episodes, it still struck me how marvelously they worked here. This episode was definitely a high point in the series.

The next episode was awful from the get-go, as Minako and Makoto fight over the affections of a handsome, young elementary principal trying to hold a school fund-raiser. The girls volunteer in an attempt to get close to him, but wind up nearly ruining the fund-raiser. Or, should I say, Minako just about ruins it. While Makoto seems partially indifferent to the seduction, Minako turns into a mindless, and vindictive twit, and succeeds only in alienating her friends. The “twist” at the end of the episode is predictable and cheap, and in hindsight, the only reason I bothered watching to the end was because I was contractually obligated to do so. (Not really, but still.)

In the next episode, we get to see more of Chibi-Usa’s personal life as her school is having its athletic field day. The plot revolves around Chibi-Usa and a boy from her school trying to get over their fears about the jumping box (one of those odd staples of the Japanese education system we never used when I was in school.) It’s a nice episode about overcoming your fears and trusting in yourself, sweet and wholesome, but not terribly engaging. There’s a nifty bit where Jun-Jun, the Quartet’s acrobat gives the boy lessons then steals his dream mirror just as he achieves his goals. I wish they had done more with that part of the story, but the writers of the show have chosen not to follow through with many of their best ideas.

The next episode is another stinker, involving a starving artist who refuses to compromise his art for the sake of financial prosperity. There’s some hooey about artistic integrity, but if he was so noble, what was he doing painting portraits in the park, the least creative form of commercial art? The episode was mostly banal, save for the very end, when the painter sells out and has his dream mirror stolen. The mirror, now tarnished by his compromise is dull and filthy. Once again, the writers had a great idea – what happens to those who have abandoned their beautiful dreams – and do nothing meaningful with it. The painter’s obnoxious self-righteousness prevents him from becoming a sympathetic character.

The final episode shows us another of Chibi-Usa’s schoolmates, this time, a boy who is trying to build a flying bicycle. (You can steal from Kiki’s Delivery Service, but that doesn’t make you Miyazaki.) He’s been working on it by himself, refusing to accept any outside help, and the results have been dismal to say the least. In order to achieve his dreams, he has to learn to trust in others. The story is paralleled by Chibi-Usa’s relationship with Pegasus, which is starting to show signs of strain because of Pegasus’s lack of trust in Chibi-Usa.

What struck me the most about this particular set of episodes is how very much of a children’s show Sailor Moon is. Of course it has always been for children, but I suppose that I have been trying to view it through a more mature, critical eye, looking for something that adults can appreciate about the show. Of course those elements are still there, but what I mean, is that there are childhood lessons at work in these episodes – something I hadn’t really noticed in previous episodes. The stories seem to be driven by the kinds of changes and fears that children encounter: losing faith in your role model, overcoming fear, trusting in your friends, and yes, fear of the dentist. Sailor Moon isn’t a preachy show, but all of a sudden, there appears to be a moral here that wasn’t apparent in most of the previous season, or even in the first half of this season.

The other big change is that while the show has become more sincere, it has also become more self-referential and satirical. As the season seems to wear on, the writers and directors appear to be growing as tired of the formula as I am. The fights have become a kind of mockery of themselves, with each battle having some little twist or quirk that sets them apart. There’s one episode, for instance, when the Remless doesn’t fight back, so Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi-Moon go straight for the Twinkle Yell/Moon Gorgeous Meditation attack, and the Remless complains, “I haven’t done anything yet!" before fading away. It doesn’t make up for the tediousness of the repetitious animation, but it’s a start.

Overall, this set of episodes is pretty strong, though hampered by quite a few awful moments and a general failure to capitalize on some surprisingly great ideas. More so than previous releases, this set should appeal to the kiddies, offering the kinds of situations that they can relate to. Heck, I’m a grown man, and I still cringed when I saw the dentist coming at the screen with his drill.

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)


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