December 2016, Sailor Moon R Part 2 review, feature image

Review: Sailor Moon R: Part 2 (DVD)

Sailor Moon R Part 2 is the fourth collection from Madman and closes up the remainder of the second core saga from the 1990s adaptation of Naoko Takeuchi’s classic manga. This also represents the first time this arc of the series will be released in full and uncut in Australia, which is great news to Sailor Moon fans old and new.

Closing up the remainder of Sailor Moon R, the set picks things up from the awesome concluding episode in the previous set. The story gets off to a grindy start as the Ayakashi Sisters defect from Rubeus one at a time, though its punctuated with some interesting moment – Chibi-Usa finally works out the true identities of the Sailor Senshi and we get a mini-clamtic end to Rubeus’ reign with some then-controversial crucifixion imagery that has heavily cut in the original 1990s localisation. The next (and final) wave kicks off with usual monster-of-the-week fare until the team meets up with Sailor Pluto, travels forward in time to Crystal Tokyo and proceeds to engage in all sorts of biffo.

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In this sense this final arc happily treads the highs and lows common to this adaptation – the slice of life is generally engaging, the often asinine pretences for causing societal mischief can be grating and the moments where it accelerates its narrative are generally really good. The length of the series will either endear you to its leisurely pace or drive you up the wall, especially when you reflect on the average length for recent anime series’ and the need for streamlining the storytelling process. But it’s not all for naught as the core cast are the lifeblood and personality of ’90s Sailor Moon and the occasional twists are a nice feature.

Where this release in most interesting is in its historical context. While DiC ended up finishing the dub of Sailor Moon R a number of years (and many internet petitions) later, this concluding saga always had an air of mystery about it for fans back in the mid-1990s, driving many of us onto the brave new world that was the internet. Whether it was reading synopses of the manga, trawling through issues of Animerica or using comparatively archaic search tools (Infoseek remained my weapon of choice before stumbling across the fledgling Google), if there was any info out there we were consuming it with enthusiasm. From a personal viewpoint, as DiC dropped the ball and cut the series off half-way through Sailor Moon R, this eventually led to a discovery of the underground fansub scene. Thanks to the infamous VKLL scripts, through postage stamp-sized Real Media files and hours of patience over 33.6k modems, the conclusion to Sailor Moon R slowly unfolded.

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When DiC eventually came back to complete localising the series before handing duties over to Cloverway for Sailor Moon S and SuperS, the ship had largely sailed – the mixture of old and new voice talent, excessive cuts and a love for the iconic pop music from the Japanese original saw me watch through the remaining episodes out of a sesne of obligation rather than critical interest. In many ways this act propelled me into discovering a mad array of titles that I’d never heard of, learn about series’ I’d never realised existed, and introduced me watching anime in Japanese with subtitles, often with massive issues depending on how many generations deep your VHS copy was.

Thankfully, these growing pains are irrelevant with this box set. Video’s presented in 4:3 NTSC, so no PAL artefacting is present, and the encoding continues to surprise me in its efficiency given the age and condition of the original assets. Audio sounds great for the Japanese mix, and I imagine the English language production should sound great given it was re-dubbed by Viz for this release. Presentation and extras are sparse, but that’s fine with me – I’d rather the time and space be dedicated to preserving the original assets than being used for other extras.

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By this stage I imagine you’d know if you were into Sailor Moon for the long haul given the 68 episodes that preceded this set. Objectively this is probably a more interesting release to the one most prior, so if the grind was getting a bit wearying you’ll be pleased that the increased overall tempo in this set will help offset this. Personally, I really enjoyed going back and revisiting the remainder of Sailor Moon R, especially when the presentation really does look fantastic when compared to every other way I’ve watched the series over the years. The only problem now is playing the waiting game for the fan-favourite Sailor Moon S arc!

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A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.