Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal

Oh. Man.

My initial reaction, almost two years ago upon hearing there's going to be a Sailor Moon reboot was literally, "I'll believe it when I see it." Yesterday was the premiere of the first Act through various online sources (I watched via Hulu) and I guess I can believe it now and my skepticism is was grossly misplaced. I hang my head in shame.

Can we talk about some serious nostalgia? I was suddenly transported back to when I was kid, sitting in front of the TV at butt-crack o'clock watching the 1992 release in all it's dubbed glory on the USA Network. It was only shown in the morning in those days, and sporadically at best. Some days I'd tune in and it wouldn't be on, or have moved to a different block. Merchandising was also spotty as well, some stores carrying just the ridiculous looking dolls in both sizes, other carrying a full line including characters that hadn't even been introduced yet. The show was also ripped to shreds because of censoring and we ALL KNOW how awful the voice acting was (I'm looking at YOU Naru).

For many people, Sailor Moon was a gateway drug into Anime and I'm no exception. About a year after my initial introduction into Sailor Moon, we got our first family computer (Compaq, represent!) with internets (okay, it was AOL. Shaaaaaameeee), which made it exceptionally easy to discover that there was a vast
Revolutionary Girl Sailor Moon?
array of different anime shows and other fans to connect with. By being able to keep up with different fans, I was also able to keep up with the news of Sailor Moon returning to TV about a year after that, on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming. At that point, I started buying Sailor Moon Super fan subs from some fairly dubious sources I met in AOL chatrooms. I also kind of became a raging bitch with a serious
superiority complex because I was no longer a "dubbie", since building a library of subtitled anime.

Of course, that was 15 years ago and times and technology have vastly changed how entertainment is delivered into our hands. Today, we can just pop on to any number of websites and just tune into whatever show or movie want to watch. Which makes, for me, this new iteration of Sailor Moon somewhat bittersweet, but so very exciting at the same time.

Hey, no more 80's hair OR sunglasses
So, yesterday, Ed set me up streaming the first Act on Hulu on the living room TV. I knew a few things going into this: new theme song, a closer adaptation to the manga, a slightly different art style and Usagi's transformation sequence. That was pretty much it. I was not surprised to see the episode follow the same lines as 92's first episode, since considering they both follow the manga. There was some in-yo-face foreshadowing about the Moon Princess, which was irritating, since the manga kept the subject a better
mystery. The end tease was also pretty great, showing Ami from behind - like how they opened the episode with just showing Usagi the same way. Which also means - a shorter series. Scheduled to clock in at 26 episodes, this is a vast improvement over 92's 46 episodes. Also, less Monster Of The Day nonsense. Again, keeping more in line with the manga, which flew at a swift pace.

The meet-cute
Also keeping in the manga tradition is the style. This could be a make or break piece for some people, since yes, the flat stares can be disconcerting at best. The 92 version gave the characters a ton of expression and let it show on their faces. Crystal did have it's moments, I am happy to say, but not as much as the original anime. Which is okay, at least for me. The manga has such an ethereal, other worldly beauty and an elegance that was not translated on screen in the original. Crystal has done an excellent job of bringing that to the table, with the character's long limbs, flowing hair and sparkling eyes. Other small things that stood out to me
were the Shoujo Kakumei Utena like commercial break plates, and the flowery boarders that appeared around major characters. I also really love the level of detail the animation has, from tiny little creases in clothing, to actually seeing what Princess Serenity's little sleeves look like from the side. The CGI animation on Usagi's transformation was okay - she moved beautifully, and it was pretty to watch, but it just didn't feel right.

A few other points:

  • Fuku is spot on to the manga
  • Opening song is really good, and super catchy. Ending song is a bit of a snooze.
  • Usagi's hair was bat-shit out of control a few times.
  • Moon Tiara Boomerang!
  • Tuxedo Mask, useless as ever, wearing a Tuxedo. 
  • Kotono Mitsuishi, the only original cast member to reprise her role

WTF, bat-shit cray hair.
All in all, I really like the show. I'm curious if there is going to be a modern veneer applied to the show - is Usagi going to get an iPhone? From the opening sequence, I wasn't sure. The girls are sorta dressed like they're from the 90's, but they could also just be dressed like hipsters. I can't seem to make that call. I did see a girl on the street with what looked like a smart phone, but the arcade cabinets look like they're vintage? Either way, it looks like it's going to shape up to be pretty awesome! I've always loved and an in some cases, preferred the manga story line at some points. It's going to be a long time in coming, if at all, but I'm stoked at the prospect of seeing Sailor Cosmos, finally!

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal is pure nostalgia, but it's not all just nostalgia. It's bringing a new shininess to what really was a dated show, doing it with grace and class. It's also introducing Sailor Moon to a new audience of little girls of a new generation, a different generation than mine. My gripes are minor, and my praises are major. I'm really excited to see what the rest of the series brings!

In The Name Of The Moon!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Reconciliation, Part Two

It's been a while, but I've finally fleshed out my concluding thoughts when it comes to Marvel.

Again, thar be spoilers ahead. Ye Be Warned.

So, we picked up Thor 2 because I had an overwhelming urge to submerse myself back into the Marvel Universe.

Thor 2 was...good! I won't say it was the most amazing Marvel film, however, it held up very nicely in it's own right. The movie had an easier time of being integrated with the rest of Marvel Universe, as it had The Avengers preceding it. The stand out, was of course, Tom Hiddleston and the depth of character and pathos he brought to Loki this time around. Hiddleston truly owns that character. The story line was great, the action was great, and of course...well, the ending was awesome. I still have issues with Natalie Portman's existence in the Thor films, as a charter member of Team Lady Syf. Not to say I am a mindless fangirl - I do see the necessity of the changes made all the way back in the first Thor. All together, a well written tasty piece of the Marvel Universe.

Now. The movie ends, and the credits roll, and we hold our usual inclination to hit the remote. Oh, no. We wait for really, what is often at times the best parts of Marvel movies - the "teasers" at the end. These have a great history of being awesome, from simply tying up loose ends to giving tantalizing hints at what's to come. Iron Man 3 being the exception, they have all been amazing. The best, in my opinion was the one at the end of The Avengers. On the opening night,  Ed and I were leaning forward, falling out of our seats, and when we realized exactly who that was we collectively shit our pants. I grabbed on to Ed's knee and squeezed the life out of him, I was so excited, desperately containing squeals of delight. Some girl to the right and front of us asked in general, "who's that?". As if on cue, a guy in the higher up seats jumps up, both fists pumped in the air and bellowed "THANOOOOOS". It was magic.

The teaser at the end of Thor 2, while not as a magical experience, it still jazzed us up. After a fast paced conversation that included phrases such as "OH MY GOD, THIS MEANS THE GAUNTLET" and "Will Adam Warlock show up?" we simmered down. I picked up my current cross stitch as Ed played around with the Blu-Ray special features. I was feeling pretty good, if a little chagrined, considering that I had completely forgotten about August's upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. Derp, de derp. Ed was engrossed in watching some behind the scenes things, which I would cast covert glances at when Hiddleston was on screen.

"Hey, there's one of those one shots on here. It's called "All Hail The King". Oh! It's got Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin again." Ed says, hitting play on the short.

Ugh. Really? Now they're making shorts featuring that disaster? In spite of myself, I watched it.

It was a proverbial "I'm sorry letter". It was better than the bouquet that contained The Collector, better than the sweets box featuring two very special twins at the end of Winter Solider. For me, this was the breaking of the ice, the first apology. It wasn't complete, since to repair the damage done by Iron Man 3 would take much more than just this one particular short. But it was good, and very entertaining.

I took away an understanding that the powers that be realized that not everyone would accept or like their version of the Mandarin. Like it or not, it was the comic fans that made Iron Man so successful to begin with. This was their overture to us. It certainly doesn't make up for the other shitty things about Iron Man 3, but does start to scab the wound caused by the Mandarin. It was well acted, and actually very funny. The short also brings to bear more questions as well - what does this mean now? Are the Ten Rings going to make an appearance?  Will there be more Iron Man movies? Questions I don't know how to answer, but I like being able to ask them.

So, Marvel and I are taking it easy. Some tentative hand holding, and maybe a peck on the cheek every now and again. I'm seriously looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy - maybe we'll get to 1st base - as the theatrical trailers look very promising. Ed and I also had another pants shitting moment when we saw X-Men: Days of Future Past, at the very end. In addition to being a superb comic movie, the secret ending on THAT one was just too good, leaving me eagerly anticipating the next X-Men installment. And, of course, we  have The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Something tells me with Joss Whedon at the helm once more, Marvel and I will go on to have a happy, healthy relationship again. No relationship is without it's bumps, but with all this great content coming up, I'm not ready to throw in the towel completely.

For more info on what's going on in the Thor 2 secret ending, this video is a great resource.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer
Guardians of the Galaxy
Info on "All Hail The King"
Speculation on Captain America 2's secret ending
Marvel One Shots

Stay Frosty,