July 2018, Sailor Moon R TV, Feature image

Review: Sailor Moon R Complete Series (Blu-Ray)

More Sailor Moon? Yup – following on from the impressive Blu-Ray release of Season 1, Madman are back with a full collection of Sailor Moon R that features the Japanese video masters alongside the bilingual audio from the previous DVD release.

As we have previously reviewed Sailor Moon R’s DVD releases (part 1 is here and part 2 is here), I’ll do a quick summary of what to expect with the story arcs that make up Sailor Moon R:

  • Usagi and co re-unite and regain their memories of extravagant henshin sequences and talking cats because monsters
  • We get a silly filler arc where Tuxedo Mask is replaced with an odd Arabian Nights motif because reasons and a demon tree wants to kill everything
  • Chibi-Usa arrives from the future and has an odd elektra complex
  • Ai no Senshi is a kick-arse song
  • Bad guys do bad things before being saved by the power of friendship
  • Sailor Pluto is rad
  • Sailor Moon saves the universe again

July 2018, Sailor Moon R TV, Image 1

The Hell Tree Arc is a little tiresome, though as a filler arc it isn’t too bad (and gave some interesting content to work with for the Sailor Moon R Movie), but otherwise this is a pretty good series. I actually quite like Chibi-Usa’s character (and love how Kae Araki plays her), and there are some great episodes in this set, especially the awesome episode 68 where we get Ai No Senshi smashing over the top of all the biffo with some great art direction. Like all 90s Sailor Moon series’ the monster of the week formula can get a little repetitive, but all the slice of life stuff keeps things interesting.

In terms of this release, we see a very similar situation to the remastering efforts in the previous Blu-Ray box set, where the existing SD masters have been software processed to upscale everything up to 1080p. While software upscaling has a bit of a checkered history (the US releases of Sailor Moon’s 90s TV adaptation have caused a lot of controversy amongst fans), this Japanese-led restoration effort works to provide a subtle but definitely improved approach to proceedings. The NTSC telecine has been nicely deinterlaced back to 24p and the combination of judicious upscale and improved source materials creates a series of improvements. Macroblocking, already impressively reduced in the DVD release, looks cleaner once again and areas of high-contrast and strong linework look better. The aforemention episode, Protect Chibi-Usa: Clash of the Ten Warriors, is a great demonstration of this as it takes a slightly different direction with its art and keyframes, emphases some dramatic contrast in its sunset showdown and gets additional layers of optical effects when Rubeus goes all Dragon Ball Z. Ops and endings look cleaner and the pastel backgrounds maintain their softness while giving some of the general colours extra pop with some light despeckling and grain removal. It never gets to the point of feeling like a smeared mess though, something that has irked me in other anime upscales in the past. It is definitely the best this series has looked however, and without a fresh scan of the original 16mm masters, this is likely to be the best we’ll get, and that’s by no means a bad thing.

July 2018, Sailor Moon R TV, Image 4

The rest of the release is otherwise solid – the series is spread over 5 discs, which in turn are housed in 2 multi-disc Blu-Ray plastic cases which sit in Madman’s signature robust glossy cardboard boxes. The artbook from the DVD Limited Edition release is replicated here and looks awesome, and the Blu-Ray case covers are reversible and feature some beautiful print quality. The release is bilingual if you don’t appreciate Mitsuishi Kotono and Kae Araki (but how couldn’t you?) and the only extras are textless ops and endings. Like previous releases we don’t have access to the various versions of the ops which were present in the laserdisc (and by extension Japanese broadcast edition) release, but they haven’t been included in any other release since the 90s LD sets so it’s par for the course.

So – Sailor Moon R Complete Series on Blu-Ray is a solid release. The remaster and upscale won’t win any industry awards but does present a noticeable improvement over the DVD releases (which, to be honest, were quite impressive given the format and source materials). Having everything in a single package with the bells and whistles of the DVD Limited Edition release is also a nice touch. Combined with a fun story and long running time this is great value and, as a long time Sailor Moon fan, has been awesome to revisit once again. Highly recommended.

Radness scale:

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