SAILOR MOON THOUGHTS (UPDATED, WITH THE ULTIMATE "SAILOR MOON ON YTV" STORY)I downloaded (from WinMX, not a website) and watched the first episode of the live-action Sailor Moon series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, in raw unsubtitled format. I'm not going to attempt to write out a synopsis, but I don't need to since the Sailor Moon Soapbox (genvid.com) already has an exhaustive summary of everything that happens, so I'll just give a couple of thoughts.
This show is good goofy fun. I get the weird idea that some online Sailor Moon fans were expecting something more maturely-themed than the anime, full of angst and gravitas, but, pretty much as soon as I saw the coloured wigs that the "Sailor Senshi" wear in their transformed mode, I knew this would really be nothing but a "sentai" (Japanese costumed superheroes, with the most famous example in the West being, obviously, Power Rangers) show for girls (and adults reliving their Sailor Moon memories), though I'm glad that, as in the anime, you see enough of the girls' "normal" lives for it to be interesting to me. Really, making it live-action doesn't make it more mature; if anything, making it live-action makes one realize how ridiculous a lot of the concepts from the manga and anime were, since it's a lot harder to suspend one's disbelief when it's real actors and not just drawings. Though, the acting is very good, considering the goofiness of what the actors have to put up with.
I don't know about that opening... I don't mind the song, though it doesn't seem remotely as memoriable as "Moonlight Densetsu" ("Moonlight Legend")... it's fairly generic J-pop. The still images of the "normal" girls in rapid succession to give a strobe effect reminds me exactly of my vision when I woke up in the morning back in the days when I was taking Serzone. (Actually, that was pretty cool... I oughta see Rush Limbaugh's "pharmacist" and see if I can get some more "under the table".) Something about the silhouettes of the girls in Sailor Senshi mode dancing in the hands of the girls in "normal" mode is unnerving... like it reminds me, vaguely, of some bad (but in a fun, cheesy way) educational show from the 1980s, but I can't quite place it. But... oh ho, why do they have to get the girls to sing along for a bit? That's just too corny. However, I do like the girls in that side-scrolling pan shot when they're in still action poses straight out of the cartoon. And... is it just me or is Mars' hair natural and not a wig like the others?
Shingo (Usagi's younger brother, "Sammy" in the dub of the anime) seems a bit more well-mannered than in the animated version, like he thinks of himself as having to take care of his klutzy older sister. And Usagi doesn't kick him.
Oh, Minako Aino's ("Meena") actually an idol singer in the live-action version, and her song "C'est la vie" (pronounced the same way the Japanese pronounce "Sailor V"... of course Naoko Takeuchi probably intended that as a joke all along) is playing on the radio in the bedroom scene... could they be any more obvious? Well, I'm guessing the bulk of the audience knows the whole story anyhow, so you're supposed to be able to get the joke immediately.
Did Usagi's mother (Ikuko Tsukino... I honestly don't remember if she had a name in the dub) give birth to Usagi when she was about ten?
What's the point of having the Karaoke lyrics displayed on the TV screen? So viewers can sing along? Isn't that destroying the "fourth wall" just a smidgen? Especially when Usagi looks straight into the camera...
Honestly, the guy playing Mamoru Chiba ("Darien")/Tuxedo Mask just doesn't do anything for me. He's not the sort of Japanese guy I find terribly sexy... well, a guy can admit whether or not he finds another guy sexy. Nothing weird about that, right?
I understand why they made Luna a stuffed toy and not a real cat... if they had attempted to mix in a real cat with a cat puppet � la "Salem" in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the puppet they use anywhere the cat has to talk or "act" would look distractingly fake. If the cat's supposed to be fake to begin with, it's a lot less distracting. Also, I like how they play around with Luna's eyes for cartoonish expressions. Just, in the scenes wherein Luna moves around, she's quite obviously a computer-generated rendering, and, sometimes, Luna's much too glossy for a stuffed toy, like they were using a Phong shader with the highlights set much to high... a Blinn shader (diffuse highlights) or even a Lambert shader (no highlights) would be much better for a stuffed toy. (Note: Here's a good introduction for CGI shader terminology, for those of you not in the know; it's for Maya, but the terminology used on this page also apply to, at least, 3d Studio Max and Softimage XSI.) By the way, yes, that is indeed Keiko Han from the anime once again supplying Luna's voice (she was also the voice of Queen Beryl in the anime).
Jadeite is *much* younger than he appears to be in either the manga or anime, where he seems to be in his young twenties. The live-action version of Jadeite is a barely-pubescent boy, who appears to be even younger than Usagi Tsukino ("Serena")/Sailor Moon herself. I'm guessing they may have cast Queen Beryl's henchmen with boys much younger than the characters were in the cartoon or comic, simply because, for whatever reason, Nephrite's "Lolita complex" might fly in the animated version (it doesn't really occur in the comic), but it just would be uncomfortable to watch in live-action, so, if his alias "Masato Sanjouin" ("Maxfield Stanton") is going to fall in love with Naru Osaka ("Molly") in this version, he may just be about the same age (he is supposed to be older than Jadeite). By the way, Jadeite's eys going green reminds me exactly of Zardip from Zardip's Search for Healthy Wellness (or was it Zardip's Quest for Healthy Wellness? I get both titles on Google...).
Nooooooo!!!! Why does Luna give Usagi the heart-shaped brooch? Don't the creators of the live action series know that Usagi doesn't get that until the third series, Sailor Moon S? (In the first series, she has the simple gold brooch with the crescent moon and the circle, and in the second series, Sailor Moon R, she has the brooch with the pentagram.)
I have to say, the "monster-of-the-week" posing as Naru's mother is much more impressive in the live-action version than that green ghoul thing from the first episode of the anime, with the giant, gelatinous arms coming out of her head. It reminds me of the Chaos bosses from the first Sonic Adventure game.
Hmm, on the "big close-up" of Sailor Moon's face, when her eyes look up towards the jewel in her tiara... tell me that pic isn't screaming out to be made into a lame "hypnosis manip", for all those people with a hypno-fetish (popular in Japan)?
In the close-up profile shot of Sailor Moon during the "Moon Healing Escalation" sequence, when it gets shiny and dissolves into the crescent moon, where did her ponytails go?
Yeah, I would "do" Queen Beryl whom is indeed hot in a "Rita Repulsa" sort of way... as for whether I'd "do" anyone else on the show, my lips are sealed. I'm not admitting anything... you'll never get me to talk, coppers!
That's it for my thoughts on the first episode of the live-action version; I'll update this entry on Friday afternoon with the ultimate "Sailor Moon on YTV" story I've been promising I'd get to for a while...
UPDATE: Ah, here's my ultimate "Sailor Moon on YTV" story, as promised, if a little late.
Where should I start? I was out of full-time education from 1993 to 1996, and I wasn't working so, while I took a couple of classes, I had a lot of free time on my hand. So, I drew a lot, including anime pictures. I really needed to get out of the house more, so, in 1994, I joined an anime club over at Universit� de Montr�al. (I think the original name was Fanimation/Animania, but it soon changed to Animate, and, finally, Anim� Central before it folded in 2001.) And, one of the first series I saw there was Sailor Moon, which appealed to me very much despite its overall apparent cheesiness. I don't know if it's just that I like Japanese schoolgirls from watching Project A-Ko earlier that year or what. Well, maybe that it's not totally a superheroine show... you see enough of the girls' private lives and there's enough humour for it to be interesting to me. But very few other people at the club liked it, so they stopped showing it after about episode six ("Protect the Melody of Love! Usagi is a Cupid!"). Fortunately, I was able to see more of it from fansubs in the club library, and dubbed my own tapes. Even though the picture quality was crappy, I was able to reproduce the look of Sailor Moon fairly well on paper with my Prismacolor pencil crayons for my pen-pals and those other friends I liked writing to (you know whom you are ;)...)
At the beginning of August 1995, I caught a voice-over promo during the credits on some YTV programme that said Sailor Moon, so I got excited, even though I knew Sailor Moon would have to have been edited for television. Well, look, this was 1995... there was hardly any anime on television... okay, aside from Ronin Warriors, but that wasn't too popular. It wasn't the same situation for anime on television here in Canada where we have Inu Yasha and... umm... well, Inu Yasha's a good start for non-kiddy anime. So, anyhow, I went down to the local stationery store and bought myself a large sheet of card, and cut it up into TV Guide-sized postcards, and I drew a picture of Sailor Moon... I think the first one I did relevant to this story was her in her famous "In the name of the moon, I will punish you!" ("Tsuki ni kawatte, oshiokiyo!") pose... and I drew another one... and several more. And, yes, I sent them in to YTV, to The Zone specifically... though this was long before Stephanie Beard (once again, guys, there are no naked pictures of "Sugar" anywhere to be found, so stop looking... and it's more than one person looking for them too, according to my Bravenet counter). This was the era when Phil Guerrero was the host along with Snit, a purple monitor whose screen displated teeth and whose voice was provided, from what I understand, by early YTV host Ron Oliver, who is, incidentally, a director who has directed episodes of such television programmes as The Chris Isaak Show and Queer as Folk, as well as the theatrical film Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (wasn't it originally called "Hello Mary Lou"?).
Well, August 28th, the day Sailor Moon premiered on Canadian television, came and went, and my artwork wasn't shown... however... I think it was sometime in September, before my 21st birthday at least (October 2nd, 1995), Phil did start showing them on the air. And he mispronounced "Pincourt" (it's "PAN-coor"), so I had to correct him, I do remember. Well, eventually, them showing my Sailor Moon artowrk on the air became almost an unofficial once-a-week thing, so I even diversified a little. One day, Phil referenced the "ALF Pogs" line from the classic Simpsons episode "Bart Sells His Soul", so I sent him a picture of the "ALF Pogs" with a drawing of "Comic Book Guy" on the back. That was neat. The best part, though, was that I even got a couple of pieces of fan-mail, including a girl who wanted me to draw a picture of Zoisite on the merry-go-round in the episode "Umino's Resove! I'll Protect Naru!" (well, I don't remember the dub title of the episode and I don't feel like checking right now), so I sent one in, and then I started communicating to a producer (or was he the director?) on The Zone nicknamed "Egghead" by e-mail (which was still a newfangled innovation to me back then, and I had to use my father's e-mail address too, I think), and he said that they hadn't received anything like that so I did a second one of the same picture... the weird thing about that particular picture is that, once they were showing a videotape of Phil's office and I think I saw it hanging in there.
Well, by the beginning of 1996, they had pretty much stopped showing my stuff, but my brief moment of celebrity was fun while it lasted. Although, yes, I really was just a 21 year old with too much time on his hands (well, they didn't really have blogs back then), I do like to think I gave Sailor Moon's popularity in Canada a tiny boost by showing kids that some adults really do like the show, giving it a cachet that... say... old Alvin and the Chipmunks reruns lacked. Also, I seem to remember that there was at least one other adult copycat that submitted a picture or two of Sailor Mars... heh heh.
Now that I've revealed that about myself that I, as an adult, submitted artwork to a children's television programme, you may laugh at me all you like.