In my time, I’ve been known to lovingly kvetch about the VIZ’s Sailor Moon/Sailor Moon Crystal home releases. Being such an avid moonie, I’m always hungry for bonus content, which at times I’ve felt to be scarcer than it could be on the home releases, and even those extras we got started to become repetitive and superficial. Still, they were nice to have, but nonetheless… kvetching.
I shall not kvetch today.
The Sailor Moon SuperS Special Collector’s Edition, which includes Volume 1 of the season, is quite possibly THE BEST home release VIZ has done for this franchise, and I haven’t even seen Volume 2 yet (this article will, of course, be updated when Volume 2 drops).
Normally, I wouldn’t talk about content in a merch review, but since the dub is a new feature unavailable via online streaming, I think it merits discussion here.
So, the thing is… SuperS is my least favorite season of Sailor Moon (which is not to say I don’t love it, but Usagi herself has said if someone gets the highest mark in the class, someone else has to get the lowest), and there are a few reasons for this: the heavy swing toward comedy after the epic tone and world-building of S, the general neglect of the Inners despite the Outers no longer being around to steal their sunshine, and the absence of much of the mythology from the season’s corresponding manga arc, which actually keeps Mamoru, you know, relevant. Still, there’s a lot to love about SuperS.
The Villains, for one. Nehellenia is just a FEAST of a character, easily the most compelling Big Bad since Beryl; Death Phantom’s characterization was seriously shortchanged in the anime, and Master Pharoah 90 has always been a snoozer compared to his subordinates. Nehellenia’s not really around on this set, with Zirconia (voiced to perfection by Rita Repulsa herself, Barbara Goodson AKA Janis Carroll) doing the heavy lifting in that department, but she definitely casts a shadow over all the goings-on.
Meanwhile, the Amazon Trio are such a breath of fresh air after the largely interchangeable (and by the end of the season, disposable) Witches 5. Hanging around in their private bar, listening to jazz and boozing it up as they discuss their evil schemes, the Amazons were a delicious departure from the straightforward villains of previous seasons, having a little fun with their work and seeming to almost have personal lives. And the casting on them is FLAWLESS. Fish’s Eye (I know it matches the others now, but it was Fisheye for a reason; it just rolls off the tongue better) has a perfectly androgynous voice, Tiger’s Eye is the most masculine (all things being relative) and self-assured, and Hawk’s Eye has a slightly nasal, intellectual tone without sounding nerdy. Their voices are all so fitting and distinct, unlike the casting on the Shitennou, who all kind of sounded the same, so bravo there!
The animation this season took yet another leap in quality (S already being a vast improvement over R), something I’d be able to tell even without my husband across the couch, providing some former animation major commentary. The Blu-rays capture the fluidity and color of this animation bump beautifully. The same can be said for some of the best scoring in the franchise. The jazz influences paired with the creepy circus music come through clear and crisp on the audio tracks.
Having said all that, now for the merch itself.
As per usual, the packaging is gorgeous. The chipboard box continues the pastel rainbow motif of the previous three (pink, peach, and yellow) in a pale mint green. The companion booklet is the thickest yet, packed with original art, updated character profiles, song lyrics, and episode guide, and more.
As for the discs themselves, Disc 1 includes the TV Special, which can be selected from the episode list or from the Extras menu, an odd decision that someone more cynical than myself might suspect was used to pad the Extras menu but I like options. It does make me wonder if the Sailor Mercury special will be available on Volume 2. Since VIZ has the license to every other entry in the Sailor Moon anime library including the movies, it would be odd for that one piece to slip through the cracks.
The image galleries on the discs are a little sparse, but the booklet more than makes up for it. Tough luck for anyone getting the Standard Edition blu-rays, but if you’re not springing for the Collector’s Edition, you probably aren’t hardcore enough to really care.
The featurettes, though… to say they were a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. The cast interviews were just fantastic, featuring more than just the standard softball questions. The cast were actually given the opportunity to say new and fresh things. Lauren Landa (Sailor Neptune) was particularly insightful in the nature of the characters, their relationships, and how they’ve evolved over the years as the story progressed. It was also really nice to see the cast joking and ribbing each other a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, a genuine love-fest between castmates is all well and good, but a little playful mischief is just as charming.
The Tuxedo Mask double interview with Robbie Daymond and Toru Furuya was loads of fun. The two seem to genuinely get on well and are happy to share the legacy of this character. But what really made it shine was Furuya’s insights into the original production of the show, WHICH ARE GOLDEN. Since Sailor Moon was produced back in the 90’s, very little behind-the-scenes content exists, so it’s understandable that VIZ’s ability to provide any insights on that account are limited. But then here comes Toru Furuya, talking about what making Sailor Moon back in the 90’s was like, how he crated his performance, how the cast bonded, and I was ALL ABOUT IT.
Honestly, one of the best things VIZ could do, if it’s feasible, would be to get more of the original Japanese cast to share about the making of the anime. I guarantee it would be a huge crowd pleaser.
All in all, this set is definitely worth its sticker price. The content is wonderful, the extras are interesting and satisfying, and the packaging continues to please. We’re looking forward to see how Volume 2 rounds out the full set. Check back here at Den of Geek for that update when it comes.