Sailor Moon Crystal vs. Original Anime & Manga

While I was growing up, I straddled two cultures and visited Japan every summer in elementary school. As a child, I fell in love with the anime Sailor Moon from the moment the pilot aired.  I got my grubby little hands on the Japanese manga books, trading cards, videocassettes mailed from cousins overseas, and my obsession blossomed to nerd-tastic proportions. Over my formative years, I spent a lot of money on Sailor Moon merchandise, so when word trickled down the grapevine (in my late twenties) that there was going to be a re-boot of my favorite childhood animation, I was ecstatic.

Although I wouldn’t say that the new Sailor Moon Crystal is a real re-boot. It’s more of a re-do, to translate the manga into an anime more faithfully. The old 1992 anime was full of filler episodes that showcased villains-of-the-day, and with 200 episodes spanning several years there’s a lot of extra fluff. It looks as though each episode of the new Crystal will follow the old manga acts without too much distraction, though it’s hard to tell from just the first episode.

All of this leads to my really nerdy blog post that has nothing to do with weddings. The new Sailor Moon Crystal (available to watch for free on Hulu!) means I have a great excuse to pull out my old manga books and the old anime, watch and re-watch, and write a blog post that compares and contrasts. Let’s go!

sailor moon crystal manga comparison

So first, let’s talk about artistry. The new show is beautiful and looks a lot like Takeuchi Naoko’s original art.

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

The title cards themselves are absolutely gorgeous. I love how the episode names are the same as the original manga as well, which makes me think that the next episode won’t be filler with Usagi learning how to be more like Sailor Moon, but instead will introduce Sailor Mercury (as the manga does).

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

Plus we got that little teaser at the end of the episode with Ami (seen from the back only) standing in the rain, so…

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

Crystal follows the manga almost word-for-word, and sometimes even frame by frame. Which I love. There’s something lovely about Takeuchi’s original layout being shown in motion…

Like Naru, talking about her mother’s jewelry shop having bargains on gemstones:

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

… and then the girls peering in through the window to see the diamonds (the 1992 anime had only Naru and Usagi going to the shop, with nameless friends nowhere to be seen):

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

And… “Who are you?” Who am I? Umm… Oh yeah! 

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

And we meet Mamoru too. I love how he’s wearing a tuxedo like he did in the manga. (No one noticed this random high school guy wearing a tux in the middle of the day?) What I loved about the new Crystal is that, like in the manga, you don’t know who he is or what side he’s on. Sure, we see his profile at the very beginning when Usagi is dreaming about a princess, but it’s still nice to have the faint aura of mystery about him rather than showing him as an ally immediately. Here the viewer wonders why this tuxedo-clad man is looking for the same crystal that the evil dudes are seeking.

Though I did find it strange that the Crystal writers started off with an immediate “I recognize her!” “I think I know him!” startle from both parties in the new show. It’s much more subtle in the manga and handled better in the 1992 anime, where Usagi, humiliated by Mamoru’s joke about her bad grades and funny hair-do, thinks he’s a weirdo, but she gives a backward glance anyway. With the insertion of Usagi’s dream of Endymion at the very beginning of the pilot, the love story seems to be a much more obvious arc.

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

See: the haze of romance and wide-open startled gazes in the 2014 Crystal vs. Usagi’s plain hatred in the 1992 version:

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

What I do miss are the fun faces that the 1992 anime used. It’s easier to like Usagi when she’s crying, sticking out her tongue, or screeching about how something hurts, when she is drawn with exaggerated features. Usagi isn’t the most likable protagonist at the beginning of the series, so that was a way to endear her to the viewers. Even the manga had funny faces. The closest we get is Usagi’s “I must be dreaming!” face when Luna speaks for the first time.

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

Why so serious, 2014 Usagi?

Other thoughts:

  • I love that Sailor Moon has the soft flowing skirt again, instead of the pleated one. I don’t know why, but that was the most irksome part of the 1992 anime transformation to me. I love that her broach is the same as the manga now, but wish Sailor Moon kept the original glasses (as seen below).

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga henshin

  • I’m not completely okay with the transformation in general. The CGI is a little weird to wrap my head around, but I’m hoping that it’ll be reduced to a quick-transformation sequence as the series goes on — a kind of “blink, then ribbons, and now she’s Sailor Moon!” rather than showing her weird gumby arm at the beginning of the change each time. I recently re-watched some of the original series on Hulu and every episode has a transformation sequence. When I was a kid it was my favorite part, but now as an adult I don’t need to sit through it each time :)
  • Queen Beryl is in the opening credits, but not in the episode! We saw a few seconds of Jadeite as he called up a youma and I like that the writers are trying to cultivate a mystery — who is this man? who is he working for? why do they need energy? Get that new generation interested in what’s going on there…
  • While I am a nostalgic and will always love the original anime’s opening song Moonlight Densetsu, I don’t completely hate the new one. It’s growing on me now that I’ve heard it a few times.
  • I didn’t read the subtitles (speaking Japanese for the win!) so I don’t know how much got lost in translation. It was a nice touch having the same voice actress speak for Usagi (1992 and 2014’s).
  • Luna looks strange to me. Too round in the head, or something? But I might just be over-thinking it.

sailor moon crystal vs anime manga

In closing, my inner 8-year-old is squealing with excitement. Did you watch the new Sailor Moon Crystal? What did you think?

sailor moon kids

I mean, look at us, the little nerds. My cousin Tomoko (left), sister (middle), and me, making Sailor Moon hand gestures in 1990s Japan.

All images are copyright to their original creators. I screenshot the anime(s) and scanned my old books! Writing is all mine though.

Comments

  1. The transformation sequences were my favorite when I originally watched this in my youth too, haha! I think the way the leotard looks in the new sequence is bizarre, especially before the skirt appears. It’s really cutoff and weird looking. You are totally right about the art though. It definitely is much more reminiscent of the manga. It’s very lovely. Argh, August has five weekends so we have to wait another week for the new episode!

  2. correccion:
    Es curioso pork justamente lo k menos me gusta d esta nueva sailor moon es su falda xD fue lo primero en lo k me fijé, la dl anime original tiene mas personalidad y es mas original k la del nuevo, q es mas comun, así que ya discrepamos desde el principio. Mi humilde opinion es que esta nueva sailor moon es demasiado realista y seria, y muy inexpresiva, la del anime original es mas mona, y pone caritas más aniñadas y divertidas. Es de logica que la calidad de imagen sea mejor debido a los avances de animacion en los ultimos años pero eso no tiene nada k ver con el estilo de dibujo, podrian haber usado el mismo estilo de dibujo de la original mejorando eso y añadiendo algunos detalles y efectos especiales. La dibujan extremadamente delgada y ,como he dicho, no tan linda y aniñada, parece mucho mayor de lo que es, no aparenta 14 años y no es ni de lejos tan graciosa como la original. Tendria sentido si fuese muy madura y seria su personalidad pero no es para nada el caso, es infantil, inmadura y alborotada. Digamos que en el anime hay varios estilos, y la nueva sailor moon esta dibujada con un estilo muy realista y no tan tierno como la original, que no le queda bien y no le saca partido a su caracter, seria mucho mas graciosa en el otro estilo. Además han cambiado los colores, entre otras cosas, ahora son más claros y eso no me gusta, el cabello de Rei parece desteñido. Por otro lado lo han complicado, la original no era ni simple ni tan elaborada como esta nueva sailor moon: los labios muy definidos (rasgo poco común en el anime), el cabello tiene no se cuantos mechones que se enroscan… las formas en general estan todas muy cargadas y ornamentadas y no son tan sencillas como en la original, q creo q en ese apsecto tenia el equilibrio ideal. Además su peinado no deberian haberlo modificado, era el simbolo de sailor moon, era lo más original y deberian haberlo mantenido igual, así como la cancion de moonlight densetsu, son cosas muy caracteristicas, típicas y distintivos de la serie, algo q no deberian cambiar a pesar de las mejoras, ya que sin detalles como esos, para los fans, sailor moon no es sailor moon, por el mismo motivo k un fanfic d sailor moon no es sailor moon. Le falta ese “toque” caracteristico, esa esencia exclusiva y unico de sailor moon que los no fans no sustituirian por otra, de igual manera k no cambiarian una perosna amada por otra.eResumiendo: la han cambiado en muchos aspectos y por ese motivo prefiero la del anime original, que es la q en su momento me sedujo y que fue el mayor exito mundial del anime shojo (por algo seria, ya k la autora n es conocida por sus mangas) pero me parece bien la idea del remake más fiel al manga, aunque no con este estilo de dibujo ni abusando tanto del 3D con los personajes, ya que les quita mucha naturalidad.
    Y si me vas a decir k lo han dibujado asi para k se parezca mas al manga, a mi no me parece para nada k se le pareca mas, en el manga no es tan realista, seria, ni inexpresiva, y sino compara las escenas de humor.
    Un saludo! y felicidades por el blog.

  3. Very nice write up, I felt the same way while watching the first few episodes, it was like watching a moving manga. I really enjoyed your frame by frame comparison, I had been meaning to pull my manga out of the boxes and do the same, but never found the time. I was wondering how you feel about Crystal now, looking back on the production as it’s drawing to a conclusion? But most of all I had to write when I saw that last picture, awesome!

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