SMC Crystal DVDs review

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Jul 29, 2012
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#1
Disclaimer: I am reviewing each season and DVD as a finished product. I am completely ignoring how TOEI presented the episodes to audiences in 2014 (unfinished).

SMC Crystal Season 1 Review

Pros:
  1. It is narrated more introspectively and intimately, just like in the manga—it masterfully captures the introspective essence of the manga and of Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship. Make no mistake, some episodes introduce the inner senshi, but this is really the story of Usagi and Mamoru and, to a lesser extent, of Sailor Venus. She was kept under the shadows and knew exactly what was going on. This added depth to the character.
  2. I love the character designs (personal opinion). The character designs feel very close to those of the manga and I especially liked how they zoomed in the faces of characters (e.g. mouth and eyes) to express their emotions. An example that comes to mind is when Ami is playing the Sailor V video game and she genuinely smiles—and we get to feel that she is happy.
  3. It feels like a very long movie, but it isn’t a movie—you can binge-watch the episodes and pause and then continue watching them. I think it is a great format. A movie would feel shorter. While watching season 1, I felt like I was binge-watching a lengthy Netflix show.
  4. Interesting backgrounds.
  5. I love the title cards—they are charming and add an aura of mystery to the series.
Cons:

  1. I felt infuriated that Venus didn’t get to kill Beryl—she was portrayed as the leader of the senshi and I wanted her to have her moment.
  2. TOEI watered down some scenes. Beryl should have been impaled by Venus’s sword, just like in the manga, for example. A few other scenes felt watered down, too.
  3. The music (personal opinion). Although I don’t dislike the score, I feel it could have been much better.
  4. Although some shots look beautiful (and you can tell they put a lot of effort into them), some shots do look bad. In episode 2, for example—in some specific scenes, the characters are drawn poorly, but, to me, this wasn’t really a big distraction. My overall impression was that there are more beautiful shots than bad ones.
  5. The product is not fully finished. The composer created a transformation/theme for each senshi, but only Mars’s was used. This is unjustified. Since TOEI had time to fix design and animation errors, it could have altered the audio to create a richer experience for viewers.
Verdict

I am surprised with my experience, I enjoyed watching season 1–and, again, I cannot emphasize enough that to enjoy Crystal, you must watch the finished product. I watched season 1 in two days. My experience was that I was not watching a TV series, but an abridged movie with over 80 hours.

3/5 stars because I actually experienced joy and happiness while watching this.

Starting season 2 soon...
 
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sapphire91

Solaris Luna
Jul 6, 2018
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#2
Black Moon was when the production got a bit better, minus a huge and never fixed mistake in act 17. Sadly Black Moon is the only manga arc I find outright bad and in need of improvement. Still great Chibi Usa, great Pluto and touching penultimate episode full of gorgeous shots showing the unrealized potential. I still think season 2 is quite good and it is once again way more enjoyable when you binge it as some episodes are high on exposition and the two episodes per month were painful.
 
Sep 21, 2010
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#3
Black Moon was when the production got a bit better, minus a huge and never fixed mistake in act 17. Sadly Black Moon is the only manga arc I find outright bad and in need of improvement. Still great Chibi Usa, great Pluto and touching penultimate episode full of gorgeous shots showing the unrealized potential. I still think season 2 is quite good and it is once again way more enjoyable when you binge it as some episodes are high on exposition and the two episodes per month were painful.
Is the mistake you're talking about the wrong wand scene or something else?
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#4
TOEI made it impossible to enjoy Crystal back then. Not only the episodes were unfinished, but we had to stay up until midnight to watch them—and we were given only two episodes per month. It felt like we were being given crumbs.
 

imaginationgirl

Lumen Cinereum
Aug 16, 2014
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#5
TOEI made it impossible to enjoy Crystal back then. Not only the episodes were unfinished, but we had to stay up until midnight to watch them—and we were given only two episodes per month. It felt like we were being given crumbs.
Pretty much this, I wish they had one episode per week on tv.The two episodes a month was really terrible
 

sapphire91

Solaris Luna
Jul 6, 2018
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Is the mistake you're talking about the wrong wand scene or something else?
Yes, the wrong lazily reused attack with the wrong wand. It was not a difficult fix and it plague an otherwise great episode. Act 17 was great on the blu ray version. I still wonder after fixing and redrawing so much already, thdy couldn't just change the wand. Otherwise the episode is great. I am in the minority who ship Makoto and Asanuma. Sadly he was forgotten right after.
 

sapphire91

Solaris Luna
Jul 6, 2018
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Even one episode per week would not be enough. They should have worked in silence & released all episodes at once.
Anime doesn't work this way. Unless on Netflix. And we all know how good their anime originals are...
 

FloraKiraraHime

Lumen Cinereum
May 1, 2015
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Pikari-gaoka
sparklyheartsdiana.tumblr.com
#9
@Clow Thank you for your review of Crystal season 1. I'm glad you enjoyed it the finished product, as you said. You're right in saying Toei should have finished production prior to release. I concur that Sailor Venus should impaled Queen Beryl with the Holy Blade to signify her position as the leader of Princess Serenity's bodyguards.

@sapphire91 You are in the minority of people who ship Makoto/Ittou Asanuma?

@imaginationgirl A weekly release was one of the strongest aspects of SMC Season 3.
 

sapphire91

Solaris Luna
Jul 6, 2018
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@Clow Thank you for your review of Crystal season 1. I'm glad you enjoyed it the finished product, as you said. You're right in saying Toei should have finished production prior to release. I concur that Sailor Venus should impaled Queen Beryl with the Holy Blade to signify her position as the leader of Princess Serenity's bodyguards.

@sapphire91 You are in the minority of people who ship Makoto/Ittou Asanuma?

@imaginationgirl A weekly release was one of the strongest aspects of SMC Season 3.
Yes I find the ship really sweet. They way she felt sick and he was there for her. From her point of view being perceived as the tough tall girl that most people are intimidated by, the girl that lives all alone, has no parents, this would mean a lot. She need someone carrying. Most people don't even remember Asanuma exists. Naoko included...
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#11
Anime doesn't work this way. Unless on Netflix. And we all know how good their anime originals are...
Netflix U.S. added the 70 episodes of “Cardcaptor Sakura,” original, and I watched them in two months—and remembered how good it is. The experience prompted me to buy the new “Clear Card” arc and I loved the new 22 episodes. Watched them in two weeks.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#12
The aspect of Crystal I am enjoying the most:

The S1-2 designs and, surprisingly, the animation. When a character says or thinks something and then introspectively and intimately expresses their emotions and thoughts through their eyes and facial expressions (it feels very poetic):



1. It is okay if only the mouth is moving.

2. It is okay if the scene doesn’t have many frames.

3. It is okay to enjoy the beauty of just one or three frames.
 

sapphire91

Solaris Luna
Jul 6, 2018
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#13
Netflix U.S. added the 70 episodes of “Cardcaptor Sakura,” original, and I watched them in two months—and remembered how good it is. The experience prompted me to buy the new “Clear Card” arc and I loved the new 22 episodes. Watched them in two weeks.
I am talking about Netflix originals. They have great titles on stream, like Code Geass.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#14
Well, I stand by my point that TOEI could have silently produced seasons 1 & 2, finished all the episodes, & released them all at once—or at least one episode each week.

The problem of Crystal is the same problem of Eternal: TOEI makes an announcement, then fans get excited, and then later fans feel frustrated and disappointed. TOEI still hasn’t learned its lesson, really,

The way TOEI handled Crystal ruined the series for a lot of people:

(1) a big announcement, (2) delays, (3) airing only two unfinished episodes per month.
 

SailorSpySedna

Lumen Cinereum
May 18, 2016
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#15
I'm still not a fan of how Crystal handled the manga's story (sorry, I still don't like how the Inners got neutered and how it was mostly a 95% copy of the manga, they could have done more with the Inners/Shitennou or maybe have Anasuma more), but this was a good review and I'm glad you were able to enjoy it. Had Toei maybe delayed the series or maybe started it earlier, like at the start of the 2010s decade to do some rewrites on the script, change some things, and finish the animation production, it might have been better.

And now that I look at it again, the art like the screenshot shown is decent (although I may be saying this because of how appalling the animation was for worthless trash like Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka and the terrible Saintia Sho anime), but the problem I mostly have looking back at Crystal's animation for the first two seasons now is mostly with the movement, a lot of the times it feels choppy to me with a lower frame rate which unintentionally makes it easier to spot bad shots (personal opinion).
 
Jul 11, 2013
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Yes, the wrong lazily reused attack with the wrong wand. It was not a difficult fix and it plague an otherwise great episode. Act 17 was great on the blu ray version. I still wonder after fixing and redrawing so much already, thdy couldn't just change the wand. Otherwise the episode is great. I am in the minority who ship Makoto and Asanuma. Sadly he was forgotten right after.
I beliveve that the coloring staff of episode 17 were not given the information about the color of the new brooch and the new attack. That's why when Usagi was wearing her school uniform, her brooch was yellow instead of pink. (In Season 2's full body shot, the brooch is pink).
 
#18
Yes, I finished my rewatch of Season 1-2 yesterday and crept into Season III and realized that even though I like Season III, I feel it was a step down in aesthetics. It's me being a little nitpicky but after watching Black Moon again and then looking at Season III, it's like a completely different show altogether almost. Like how Venus' personality just quickly slips to "fan-girl" instead of her serious self but the thing that really did it for me were what was mentioned. Some of the shots from Season II were really pretty when they were done correctly. The deal breaker was those transformations not being animated like their speeches were. For Season III, Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon are the only characters who seem to have decent transformations and intros.

However, I remember the director or someone from S1-2 saying that they envisioned the transformations of each Guardian like they were going into another realm or something and from a choreographic standpoint they nailed it because each Senshi transformation is a blend of the old style with something unique to them, especially Mars and Venus'.


Like, I still like Season III of Crystal but it is a jarring shift when I started my third binge shift. I love all forms of the series and respect everyone's own individual likes whether it be the original or season III though

I too, as a SM fan lost a little interest in Crystal because of the two episodes a month deal Toei had but binging it is pretty good (Black Moon especially).

And I didn't notice at first but Usagi had some real character growth from Season 1 that I liked against the Doom Phantom in Season II. The show was "mature" in it's way of telling things and handling it. Had it not been for them following the manga exclusively and killing off characters so quickly or rushing things, it would have been leaps better to just add a few episodes of filler. Black Moon had a little comedy but I think most folks wanted it to be 'slapstick' instead of just humorous.

I am still curious as to how Season III would have looked if it was done in such a style with the camera spins and fluidity for transformations. I know at least if anything, the attacks would be top notch and when done well, the Senshi hair and suits would look beautiful. Would have loved to see Neptune dinner signature hair flip in that style with a camera spin.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#19
Additional considerations

Many people criticized the screenplay and writing of “Crystal” in 2014 and still do so now. Among TOEI’s many errors, I feel that the most critical was not correctly informing viewers that Crystal is an exact (1:1) adaptation of the manga. Therefore, I feel that if you don’t like the writing of Crystal, your problem is with the manga and not necessarily with Crystal. In my opinion, Naoko’s manga is not perfect: her manga is kinda messy, it has errors (for example, this forum has a thread focused on discussing manga errors), and Crystal reflects that. To a large extent, Crystal can be as messy as some pages of the manga.

The least developed manga arc in my opinion is the Dark Kingdom arc. The four generals are portrayed as enemies, eliminated by the senshi, and yet we get to see an illustration of the four generals with the four senshi as we browse the pages of the manga. This underdeveloped idea, pairing the four generals with the senshi, was added to Crystal. Naoko Takeuchi, the author, would not let the production add an idea that she didn’t approve—so we had the pairings and I think the pairings add depth to the overall story (personal opinion).

While I am watching season 2, I can say with certainty that I have gotten used to the style of the show: beautiful shots, poor animation, but an still enjoyable anime; the beautiful shots look precious and, in my opinion, make up for the poor animation. Although Takeuchi’s manga is messy at times, many pages are beautiful and the shots of season 1 and 2 masterfully capture the beauty of those pages.



I am watching season II now, Black Moon arc, and this arc feels mature. Although these are 14 year old girls, it feels like they are 22. Usagi and Mamoru are almost living like a couple. Chibiusa is actually likable, you feel sorry for her, she is a traumatized girl, and in some scenes it feels like she is struggling with PTSD. This arc is much better than then previous one and is definitely the best and my favorite.



I anticipate that I will have a hard time getting used to the designs of season 3 (a bit oversimplified to my taste) but I am grateful that season 3 at least attempts to be consistent: it is called season III, the title cards are exactly like those of seasons I and II, but from what I recall (my opinion may change) many parts of season III did not feel as “mature” as those of seasons 1 and 2, partially due to the designs.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#20
So now that I am having the time to carefully watch each episode and form my opinion on Crystal...

I would like to mention (if I have not already) that I would prefer if they had kept the original art from seasons 1 and 2. I am not a manga purist, but what was established was that Crystal would be an adaptation of the manga. The art from seasons 1 and 2 masterfully capture Naoko Takeuchi’s aesthetic: Naoko’s characters are very tall and slim and defy proportions—just as they do in seasons 1 and 2.

I remember that back in 2014 people were saying the bodies of the characters in Crystal were disproportional. My response is that the intention was for the bodies to be disproportional, very tall and very slim, just like Naoko conceived them. Very long limbs, large eyes. In other words, unrealistic, but I feel you have to respect the author’s aesthetic. And Naoko’s aesthetic is quite beautiful:



I am still watching season 2, but I anticipate that I won’t feel as happy with the art as I am now. From what I recall, the art in season 3 made the characters look younger and rejected Naoko‘s aesthetic.
 
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