To say that Sailor Moon is an iconic cultural phenomenon is something of an understatement. The anime adaptation of the popular manga was one of the biggest animes of the '90s, breaking into the Western market and gaining millions of international fans. It has inspired countless magical girl animes and Western cartoons, along with a live action TV show and multiple stage shows in Japan. As a kid who grew up watching the show, I have a huge fondness for the story: blending space opera with superheroes, Sailor Moon proved that femininity has a place in even the most stereotypically masculine of genres.
Naturally, when Sailor Moon Crystal was announced, fans were overjoyed. The new anime promised to follow the manga arcs more closely than the original anime, giving the show an opportunity to focus on a slightly different plot. Whether it was successful in this ambition is definitely a matter of opinion, but many fans took issue with elements of the new show. Season 2 will be released sometime next year, presumably in the spring. But can they overcome the first season's problems?
Hiccups & Hurdles
Of course, Sailor Moon Crystal has a lot of merits. For one, it's introducing Sailor Moon to a whole new generation, and that can only be a good thing.
The renewed popularity of the franchise has also lead to VIZ finally releasing a good English dub of the original anime... and by good I mean it doesn't turn the characters into bickering idiots and transform lovely lesbian relationships into awkward cousins (who still have sexual tension because apparently gay incest is better than just plain gay??? Ah, the 90s.) The English dub of Sailor Moon Crystal also began streaming from VIZ's website on November 20th.
There's definitely a Sailor Moon renaissance happening right now, but not everyone is overjoyed with Crystal. From the first episode, fans were pointing out its flaws. Burdened by a tragically low budget, the animators were forced to cut corners, meaning that epic moments in the final battle (which should have been accompanied with beautiful sequences) ended up looking more like this...
But it's not just grand sequences that took the hit - there was also a lack of comedy in the animation.
Unlike the original anime and manga, which balanced madcap humor with beautiful poignant moments, Crystal seems set on having the characters sport the same 5 stock expressions. This really hampers the girls' personalities shining through, and considering the manga already spends a lot less time developing the individual girls than the anime did, Crystal really doesn't do the Senshi any favors (and at times it felt like they were just background characters).
Usagi too, seems to have lost a huge amount of her whacky personality, as this side-by-side comparison shows.
I'm not really sure why the animating team made the decision to contain less physical comedy in Crystal, as there's plenty of silly moments like this in the manga too.
From a story perspective, Crystal also faced criticisms of focusing too much on the male characters at the expense of the Senshi, to the point where they frequently had to be rescued. Which kind of undermines the entire point of Sailor Moon. And in the final arc, which should have seen the Senshi rally behind Sailor Venus to save Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, the action was re-jigged so Usagi and Mamoru saved the day. (Meaning we didn't get to watch Minako destroy the evil Queen Beryl. Darn it.)
But enough of the problems. Crystal is still a decent show, and hopefully, season 2 can restore fan faith in the franchise. We've got a few ideas as to how they can do this...
High Hopes For Season 2
The obvious answer to many of Crystal's problems is just to focus on the girls more. Give us Rei haughtily scolding Usagi, as Makoto smoothes things over.
Give the Senshi their own episode plots, and please let Mamoru and Usagi have some of their banter rather than just sort of... standing around each other a lot.
With Crystal season 2 following the Infinity arc, there's actually a lot to look forward to. Mostly: lesbians. This manga plot introduces us to the Outer Senshi, including Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, who are totes in love. The original anime showed this very well, while sticking to '90s boundaries. With any luck, the network restrictions are a bit looser nowadays, so we'll be able to see their relationship a bit more. And considering Usagi and Haruka actually have a romance arc of their own in the manga (Usagi even considers leaving Mamoru), this definitely bodes well for Crystal season 2.
Basically, Usagi is pretty gosh darn bisexual in the manga, and we might actually get to see this in Crystal! Maybe. Possibly.
Of course, there is a drawback to this. The manga's focus on the relationship between Usagi and Haruka does sacrifice Haruka and Michiru's focus... but they're also confirmed to be in a polyamorous relationship (well, as much as anything from the 90s can confirm that sort of thing). So. Progressive queer storylines for Crystal season 2? Here's hoping!
The wishlist for Crystal season 2 just goes on and on, but suffice to say there's a strong possibility that the second season could be better than the first. The Infinity arc is the most popular among manga and anime fans alike, and we've got plenty of things to be excited about. So what would you like to see next season? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!
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