Monday, July 21, 2014

Sailor Moon Specials

In December of 1993, almost 2 years after the series premiered on television, Toei released Sailor Moon R: The Movie (which became Promise of the Rose in English). Coupled with it and shown before the main feature was a short, entitled Make Up! Sailor Senshi. This would be the first of the 5 Sailor Moon OVAs, the rest being part of the Super S season. They are slightly akin to the shorts released before many of the Pokemon movies, such as Pikachu's Vacation and Pikachu & Pichu. As of yet, none of them have been released in English, even as a part of the three movies.

When I think about it, it doesn't feel nearly as long ago as it actually was.

The first, Make Up! Sailor Senshi, was released on December 5th, 1993, coupled with the R season movie. It functioned as an introduction into the Sailor Moon franchise for those who were unfamiliar, such as parents who may have been taking their children to see the movie. It has nothing in the way of plot, and actually comes off more like a 15-minute commercial. However, it was still well put together and I can see the functional value of such a short before the movie at the time, considering Sailor Moon was still new and not as well-known as it would come to be.

Sure, it was basically a commercial. But it was a funny commercial.

The second (chronologically) would actually be the set of three shorts which kicked off the Super S season in April of 1995. The first of these three is An Elegant Metamorphosis? Crybaby Usagi's Growth Diary, which served as a recap of the previous seasons. In it, Usagi (Serena in the dub) and Luna tell Chibiusa (Rini) of Usagi and the Scouts' past adventures and personal growth, much to Usagi's chagrin. It also doesn't have much in the way of plot, but is still quite cute and serves as a massive dose of nostalgia as I relived the old moments of the first, second, and third seasons.

The nostalgia is heavy with this one.

The second of the trio is Super S Special: Haruka and Michiru, Again! The Ghostly Puppet Show. It opens with a performance by a ventrilloquist at a hotel, which Michiru (Michelle) is in the audience for. Poor Haruka (Amara in some dubs) is sick in bed upstairs in their room. Michiru goes back to her to let her know that she senses something evil, but before they can react, it is upon them in spades. Thankfully, they manage to win the day and go on refreshed and strong. 

We get to see their badassery in action.

This was the first of the shorts to actually have something of a plot, and it accomplished it quite well. It was fun seeing just the two of them in the centre spotlight, as the other scouts usually tend to take a backseat to Moon herself, especially the outer scouts. Sadly, this marked the last appearance of Haruka and Michiru in the anime, outside of a brief appearance in the Super S movie and late into the 5th season.

Rare moment of Michiru in a ponytail? Rare moment of Michiru in a ponytail. -w-

The third and final short of the Super S season trio was Super S Special: Chibiusa's Adventure! The Dreaded Vampire Castle. A new girl transfers into Chibiusa's class, just as mysterious events start happening to other students. Chibiusa and a classmate follow the girl to her home and find out she is secretly a vampire, just in time for the other scouts to step in and help Chibiusa dispel the demon taking over the girl. Afterward, the girl wakes up and remembers nothing, to which Chibiusa mentions it was merely a long dream. 

DORAMA

I enjoyed this one quite a bit, not just for the interesting plot, but also for the focus on Chibiusa's life and the character designs. The villian in this, Ririka, was quite beautifully rendered (pre-transformation) and her classmates were cute, distinct, and interesting. Chibiusa certainly gets a chance to prove herself here, as more than just a mascot or sidekick style character.

I'm pretty sure it's been done before, but I like the concept of elementary kids solving supernatural mysteries enough for it to be a separate series.

The final short of the 5 was released December 23rd, 1995, alongside the third and final Sailor Moon movie, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Soldiers Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. Despite the ridiculously long title, both the movie and the short were quite good, although the plot mirrored an earlier episode of the Super S season. It follows Ami (Amy) in her feverish efforts to crush an exam rival known only as Mercurius, who she eventually attributes to be a demon haunting her. In reality, the rival is a dorky-looking friend of Umino (Melvin)'s. Despite the mirrored themes of an earlier episode, this short was still distinctive and adorable, and even featured an original theme song (that I swear I've heard before.....so maybe this WAS dubbed..?).

Maybe because it was bundled with a later movie, the animation on this short is actually superiour to both the first short and the TV series.

If you hold the specials up to the movies or main series, it is a mere shadow of what Sailor Moon has to offer, however, within the context of the series, they were worth the time I spent on them. Though the first two were rather dry and bland, they would be very useful tools in introducing someone to the series, especially since they don't really have much connection to the rest of the series (though the second will be MAJOR spoiler fuel if you do).

As a fun fact, the final short features Sailor Mercury using an attack, Mercury Aqua Mirage, that is never seen elsewhere.

I didn't look long, so maybe I missed them, but I couldn't find any torrents of them at all. On the upside, they're on youtube, subbed in English......though you shouldn't expect them to be excellent quality. The first one, don't expect anything above shit quality.

Yes, Usagi, we are.

3.5-4/5

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