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Sailor Moon Review: New English Dub Is a Beautiful Transformation

Marla Desat | 8 Sep 2014 15:00
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Usagi Tsukino returns, as peppy and put-upon as ever, in VIZ Media's new English dub of the original Sailor Moon anime.

Sailor Moon launched magical girls into popularity, and for many in North America, the English dub of the anime was the first time seeing Japanese animation, with all its tropes and conventions. Now, Viz Media is releasing an all new, uncut English dub of the classic series. The first four episodes are now available to stream on Hulu and Viz's Neon Alley service, with new episodes coming every Monday. VIZ Media has licensed all 200 episodes of the original Sailor Moon series, including Sailor Stars, assorted tie-ins and three feature films, for re-release in English. A Blu-ray and DVD release of the first set of this new dub is set for November 11.

The new, uncut English dub reverses many of the changes made when the anime made its English-language debut. DIC Entertainment first brought the anime to North American in 1995, but modified it considerably in order to meet broadcasting standards in the US and Canada. The original series was meant to accommodate two commercial breaks, while DIC needed to allow for three, leading to the removal of some scenes. Violence, particularly violence against children, was cut, and some scenes were modified to remove nudity, like in bathing scenes. The relationship between Sailors Uranus and Neptune was changed from lesbian lovers to cousins, and the gender of one of the villains, Zoisite, was changed from male to female. Name changes were also made. Usagi Tsukino became Serena Tsukino, and the dark, dashing, and handsome Tuxedo Mask, Mamoru Chiba in the manga and original anime, became Darien Shields. The remastered version removes all these changes made in the name of localization.

Let's jump right in with a review of the first four episodes!

In the first episode, The Crybaby: Usagi's Beautiful Transformation, we meet Usagi Tsukino, a 14-year-old girl facing mundane, 14-year-old problems. She sleeps in too late, she's struggling in a few classes at school, and her brother relentlessly teases her. Late for school again, Usagi comes across a black cat, Luna, being tormented by some kids. The cat later follows Usagi home and reveals that she can speak. Luna gives Usagi a broach that allows her to transform into the guardian Sailor Moon, and reveals that it is Usagi's mission to protect the world from a powerful evil as well as reunite all the other Sailor Scouts. Usagi is about to lose a lot more sleep.

Jadeite, a minion from the Dark Kingdom doing the bidding of the mysterious Queen Beryl, is stealing energy from humans to siphon to their even more mysterious Great Ruler. In the first episode, he targets a jewelry store, sapping the energy of anyone who wears the jewelry. After transforming, Usagi hears calls for help, and takes on her first enemy as Sailor Moon. Defeating in the monster in the jewelry store means she must learn the first of many signature moves, the Moon Tiara Action technique.

Jadeite returns with new schemes in the next three episodes. Operating a fortune telling business, a late night radio show for the lovesick, and a gym, he amplifies peoples' desires and insecurities in order to drain them of their energy. Usagi slowly accepts her new role as Sailor Moon, and each victory gives her greater confidence. In recognition, Luna bestows another item of power on Usagi, the Disguise Pen. Usagi continues to thwart Jadeite's schemes, and by the end of the fourth episode, Queen Beryl begins to see Sailor Moon as a threat.

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