Opening with a beautiful shot of the cosmos, Sailor Moon returns to our lives with Sailor Moon Crystal. This is the attempt to tie-in the animated series with the original manga by Naoko Takeuchi, in a sense retconning the original anime. The series just became available on Hulu Plus and NeonAlley.com today.
The episode begins by introducing us to Usagi Tsukino; Usagi is a ditzy, klutzy, 8th grader who attends Juuban Public Middle School and wants nothing more than to sleep all day and never go to school. While running late for school one day, she runs into a black cat with a band-aid on her forehead. She takes off the band-aid and gets scratched in the face for her trouble; little did she know that doing this would open her up to a whole new world.
We are next introduced to a sinister, blonde man who uses some form of dark magic to create a monster out of clay and then sends it on a mission to drain the citizens of Tokyo of their life energy. Meanwhile, interspersed with the story line of this episode, we’re introduced to the important people in Usagi’s life: her mother, her little brother Shinjo, her best friend Naru, her nerdy classmate Umino, her English teacher Haruna Sakurada, and her crush Motoki, a young man who works at the local arcade.
Meanwhile, the monster takes the form of Naru’s mom who runs a jewelry shop in town. People flock to her store to buy their jewelry due to the price being so drastically reduced, but it comes with a side-effect of draining them of all of their energy. Usagi, with no hope of getting any jewelry of any sort, glances at her poor test, crumples it up in a ball and tosses it behind her. This has the unintended consequence of hitting a passerby in the head. The passerby criticizes her poor test scores, and she turns around to confront him; instead, she comes face to face with a well-dressed, young man in a tuxedo who calls her Ms. Bun Head. They share googly eyes with each other for a bit before going their separate ways; this will become important later.
Naru goes to the jewelry store to check on her mom, who she admits is acting very strange due to the drastically reduced prices in the store. There, she comes face to face with the monster; the monster reveals that her mother was tied up in the basement of the store, but Naru herself has to die due to knowing her secret. While this is going on, Usagi is berated by her mother and brother for bringing home a bad test grade (seriously, she got a 30; that’s not good in ANY country), and kicked out of the house temporarily to learn her lesson. She’s let back in after awhile, but instead of studying, she decides to go to sleep. In her dreams, she sees herself running away from something with a man who is holding a sword. The next thing she feels is her face being scratched by the cat she saved earlier.
The cat introduces herself as Luna, and thanks Usagi for saving her; understandably, Usagi considers this to be a dream and immediately rolls over and tries to go to sleep. Luna explains that she needs her to become a brave warrior and help her find the Legendary Silver Crystal. To help her with that, she gives Usagi a brooch and tells her to say the incantation, “Moon Prism Power, Make Up!” She does, and she becomes the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. She is completely shocked at this change until her odango covers pick up her friend Naru’s screams. She heads to the jewelry store to confront the monster and gives her soon to be legendary speech:
The monster comments that she has never heard of her, then sends her energy-drained minions after her. She ends up injuring herself and begins to wail uncontrollably because she doesn’t know what she’s doing. This stuns all the monsters and gives her a chance to learn her first attack: the “Moon Tiara Boomerang.” Using this attack, she defeats the monster, and is introduced to Tuxedo Mask, a guardian who is also looking for the Legendary Silver Crystal.
The episode ends with Naru telling her friends what happened, while Usagi stands off to the side, beginning to accept that maybe this wasn’t a dream after all. We then see a young blue-haired girl running to get out of the rain as the episode fades to black.
If you’ve seen the original series, you should be intrinsically familiar with this episode. It’s pretty much beat-for-beat the same as the original, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch this one. In fact, I highly recommend watching this one, because it tells the same story with a completely different spin on it. The animation is near perfect, the voice acting is great (those who watched the original, subbed version should recognize Kotono Mitsuishi’s voice, as she voiced Usagi in the original series), the music is beautiful, and the opening theme…
I’m familiar with “Moonlight Densetsu” by Peach Hips, the opening theme from the original series:
However, the new theme is called “Moon Pride” by Momoiro Clover Z, and it… is… GREAT!
Overall, this episode was a great reintroduction to the lore of Sailor Moon, and I look forward to revisiting the story again.