Sailor Moon-Volume 1: A Heroine Is Chosen (1995)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1995|
|Running Time||130:28 (Case: 135)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (65:04)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Junichi Sato|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Sailor Moon is one of the animated series that's been going for some time. It's understandable why - it's entertaining, and has a gentle charm.
You can find lengthy discussions of Japanese animation at various places on the Web, and I have no intention of repeating them. Suffice it to so that anime can be divided into many categories. Sailor Moon definitely falls into the "magical girl" category. It is targeted at girls, perhaps 8 to 12 years old, but there's no reason others can't enjoy it - I do.
This is the first volume of the first series of Sailor Moon, so it must establish the back-story. It manages to do this in just a minute or so - don't blink or you'll miss it. Basically, the story is that the Moon was inhabited a long time ago, and everyone lived happily until the advent of evil Queen Beryl. Queen Serenity despatched her princess, and many of her people, into the future (our time) to protect them - they lost their memory, though. The two magical cats Luna (whom we meet in episode one) and Artemis (whom we don't meet yet) must find them.
This volume is called A Heroine is Chosen, an appropriate title. It contains six episodes (better value than a lot of Madman anime discs, which contain four, or even as few as three, episodes). The episodes are:
Every episode follows the same pattern - we get the teaser (shown on TV in the last commercial break before the episode), then the opening credits, the episode, a brief snippet called Sailor Says (which hammers home the moral of the episode), and then the closing credits. I'm pleased that we get all of each episode - this is much better than having the credits chopped off the start and end and having the content glued together into a pseudo-movie.
Serena is our 14-year-old heroine. Like many anime heroines, she's got plenty of attitude. She is always late for school. She loves to sleep, to eat, and to shop. She's reluctant to do her homework or study. She's a bit clumsy. The idea, of course, is for girls to identify with her. She's blonde, with grossly exaggerated pony tails. She's not always brave, which is a bit of a change.
Luna (the cat with a crescent moon on her forehead) is the voice of conscious, and Serena's mentor / guide. She gets impatient with Serena's lack of dedication, but obviously develops an affection for her. Luna is the source of a variety of magical items, starting with the locket that holds the key to Sailor Moon.
Serena is quite surprised by what happens the first time she's wearing the locket and cries out "Moon Prism Power" - she goes through a transformation sequence (we get quite familiar with this sequence as the episodes progress) to become Sailor Moon - the Sailor Scout of the Moon. She's even more surprised the first time she throws her tiara and shouts "Moon Tiara Magic" - this is the first Sailor weapon we get to see.
Sailor Moon has a secret protector called Tuxedo Mask (he's not wearing a tuxedo, though - it's tails). He appears when Sailor Moon is in deep trouble, throwing a rose to announce his arrival.
In episode five we meet Sailor Mercury. She's the first of Sailor Moon's colleagues - the opening credits list Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars, and Sailor Jupiter, too, so we can look forward to meeting them in later volumes.
Serena has a number of school-mates, with a variety of annoying traits. Melvin is the swot (his glasses are represented with spirals just to indicate glass, not because he's dazed). Molly is the bossy redhead with the horribly nasal accent (think of The Nanny). There are others who appear in occasional episodes. Their teacher, Miss Haruna, gets a starring role in episode two. She has a friend called Andrew who runs the local video arcade, and a casual acquaintance called Darian who makes fun of her whenever they bump into one another (he calls her "meatball head", in reference to the round buns on the top of her head). Serena makes a number of mentions of a video game called "Sailor V" (pronounced exactly the same as "c'est la vie" - I wonder if that's accidental). The illustrations of the game look an awful lot like Sailor Moon.
The animation style is not state-of-the-art - there are lots of scenes that are static (often with watercolour backgrounds) with a single moving element - there are cool transitions between scenes, though. This is a classic animation style, though, and one which is perfectly acceptable to tell the simple stories.
This is far from high art, but it's harmless fun, and the morals are easier to stomach than most. They even address issues that are relevant to the target audience, like the pressure to diet, and the need to study. You can definitely let your children watch this without worrying - you may even enjoy watching it with them!
The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. That's not surprising for a TV series that was made in Japan in 1992 (the 1995 copyright is for the English adaptation).
The picture is acceptably sharp most of the time - there are a few shots that are blurry. Shadow detail is not a relevant consideration for anime. There's no low-level noise.
Colour is vivid and fully saturated, which is important for animation like this. There's no colour bleed or oversaturation.
There are lots and lots of small film artefacts, but what I've read on the Web suggests that this just reflects the state of the source materials - there won't be a better transfer without a lot of expensive restoration. There's surprisingly little aliasing, no moire, and not a lot of background MPEG shimmer. There are moments of telecine wobble, but it's only mild.
There are no subtitles.
The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 65:04, between the third and fourth episodes (yup, three episodes on each layer). It's quite a quick layer change, and well-placed.
There is only one soundtrack, in English. The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, and it sounds mono. There are two brief drop-outs at around 0:33 during the title song on the first episode, but that's the only glitch I heard.
The dialogue is clear and quite comprehensible. Audio sync is close to impossible to judge on animation, but there are a couple of moments where we get dialogue without mouth movement, and vice versa - looks like a slightly sloppy job of the correlating of voice acting with the animation. The English language voice acting is not top quality (quite a bit , but we don't have the choice of listening to the Japanese soundtrack with subtitles).
The original music is credited to Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komoro, and Kazuo Sato, but I suspect that is not what we're hearing. Bob Summers is credited with the English adaptation of the title music, and most of the incidental music is nothing more than minor variations on the title music. Still, the title song is catchy.
This is one disc that makes absolutely no use of your surrounds or subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
The menu is lightly animated with background music. All it offers is a choice of which episode to start at - when you select an episode it starts playing there, but it continues through the remaining episodes.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There's not a lot to choose between the Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this DVD; both are dub-only and extra-free. The R4 is slightly cheaper, but that's about it.
The true anime fan(atic) will insist on getting the Japanese (R2) version of this series, with Japanese language track and subtitles. This release is not for them.
The beginning to an entertaining series, complete with a (brief) introduction to the Sailor Moon universe. Not a fabulous DVD, though.
The video quality is not good, but the show is still quite watchable.
The audio quality is good.
The extras? What extras?
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|