July 2018, Sailor Moon R The Movie, Feature image

Review: Sailor Moon R The Movie (Blu-Ray)

Sailor Moon R The Movie is back and shinier than ever on Blu-Ray! Featuring a fresh remaster based on the 32mm film source, we finally have the definitive release of Usagi and co’s first theatrical journey.

Having reviewed the excellent DVD release last year in depth, I’ll keep some of my thoughts on the Blu-Ray edition a little more streamlined than my usual fanboy ranting. Sailor Moon R The Movie is typical of the Toei TV to film mantra from an era that spawned short theatrical features out of its stable of cash magnets – inconsequential plot, short running time and better production values. TL;DR, Mamoru befriended an alien when he’s a little kid, the alien returns with flowers for Mamoru, Ami gets all yaoi with all the bishounen, the alien tries to destroy the earth, Sailor Moon saves the universe with the power of love and has a pash with Mamoru.

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Despite the objective banality of it all though, Sailor Moon R The Movie is still an absolute guilty pleasure. The slice of life stuff is irrepressibly peppy and the extra bells and whistles provided to the animation in particular look great. Mind, back in the old days of VKLL VHS tapes you couldn’t appreciate the extra work that has gone into Sailor Moon R The Movie, but with this release you can really notice it. The clarity in the linework and the ultra sugar-pop colour palette really benefit from the HD source materials. Even the iconic watercolour backgrounds come across as more clean and detailed, muted as they’ve often appeared in previous releases. Where this has really benefited from the upgrade are in those scenes of high contrast (think the flashback hospital sequences) and the final action sequence that lays on all sorts of extra effects work. By contemporary standards the animation production may feel a little flat, but given the tight constraints around the 90s adaptation of Sailor Moon, it’s great to see a little extra love and care in such an iconic art style.

For those curious, this Blu-Ray release features the English dub if you’re a terrible person and don’t appreciate Mitsuishi Kotono (for shame!), but they’ve also included the recap special that was included on the DVD release. This special features a similar software upscale on the SD masters that were applied to the Japanese and Australian Blu-Ray releases of Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon R, which means it looks pretty impressive given the source materials and the fact they’ve inversed the telecine to render it out at 24p with cleaner linework and better colours, but when compared to the 32mm source remaster it definitely looks a bit more ordinary. Still, lovely to see they went the extra mile for this Blu-Ray release by including this little curio.

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Sailor Moon R is not my favourite arc of the series (if taken on the basis of an entire season, Sailor Moon S gets that honour), but Sailor Moon R The Movie does a great job capturing the fun interplay between the characters, extends the universe a little with respect to to the Hell Tree Arc that dominated the start of Sailor Moon’s second series, has fancier animation and looks gorgeous on Blu-Ray. Highly recommended, especially for Sailor Moon fans – it’s awesome to be able to appreciate 90s Sailor Moon aesthetics with so much clarity!

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