It’s the fight we’ve all been waiting for. Even though a few years ago we didn’t even know we wanted it.Reactions to the new Sailor Moon series have varied wildly, ranging from excited to horrified after Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal began airing worldwide on July 5th. As the third episode was released on the second of August, and we have another week to wait for the fourth, it seems like an appropriate time to analyze the two series in a completely professional and unbiased manner.
Though the original series added some lovable elements to the Sailor Moon franchise, it’s no secret that the majority of the anime was ridiculous filler. The primary motivation for the remake is to make a series more faithful to the manga’s source material. I’ll miss getting to know the villains better, but filler was taken to a criminal level in the original, stalling character development and plot. The first three episodes of Crystal each correspond to the first three manga chapters, in which we meet Sailor Moon, Mercury, and Mars respectively. To compare, Sailor Mercury isn’t introduced until the eighth episode of the original. That’s an extreme delay to plot, even if the manga is a bit too fast-paced at times. The obvious winner of this round is…
Sailor Moon’s transformation sequence is iconic, and it’s important for it to be perfect because we have to watch it so many times. There’s no better way to compare the transformation sequences is than watch them. I’m not a fan of the new CGI transformation. Why are her limbs so… noodly? Toei Animation also managed to make it longer. I don’t know how anyone could have watched the original and thought, “Well, we clearly need to see the main character spin in circles for more time before we get to the action”–even if they did cut it down in episode three to allow the other girls some air time. The winner of the Transformation Sequence Award has to go to…
Related to the transformation sequence is the importance of music. I don’t dislike the opening theme of Crystal, it’s pretty epic with decent lyrics and some whirling guitar solos. I also like the choir that accompanies the most epic moments of the show. On the other hand, coming from a girl who has the original series’ transformation sequence as her ringtone, the old show’s music was catchy as heck. Though I like the suspense the new music creates, I miss the theme songs that would get stuck in your head for days, and I think a series that is ultimately made for kids should have that sing-along quality, so this award also goes to…
Art & Animation
Here’s where I’ve seen the most contention about the new series. I will admit, Crystal seems to have missed the mark when it comes to animation. In the very first scene you can see the frames stagger, and there have been a few times I’ve winced to myself because the face proportions were so bad. Some of those close-ups make the girls look truly inebriated. The shading is snappy, though, and it has a much more modern feel. There’s something about the lengthened, looser style that embodies the manga better (at least to me) though why they thought it was a good idea to draw the lips in is beyond me, as that always looks creepy in anime. The old series certainly feels dated in comparison, and some of the drawings in it are just plain bad, too. Whether or not it was good for its time seems irrelevant.
I have to get serious for a moment, because I feel this is where Crystal is receiving the most criticism. People aren’t happy with the quality of the animation, some refusing to watch the new series. I have to point out that maybe Sailor Moon isn’t being remade for you. By you, I mean the other 20-somethings who wanted it to be the high-budget remake that encapsulated all of their dreams while still reveling in the power of nostalgia. Sailor Moon Crystal was made for two reasons–to closer follow the story and character development presented in Naoko Takeuchi’s manga, and to bring Sailor Moon to a new audience. I want a new generation of girls and boys growing up with the feminine power of this set of magical girls. I want them to be introduced to the non-censored version of the content in Sailor Moon, and I want it to be theirs. Sometimes, a show will feel too dated to be relatable to a younger audience, but I don’t think kids will notice the animation quirks in the new anime as much.
So I’m giving this category to Crystal, which makes this competition a tie, and I think that emphasizes my points. There will always be people who prefer the quirk and fun of the original, but dismissing the remake because it isn’t perfect is unjust, and I think in the future there will be people just as loyal to the new series as they were to the old. In the meantime, we can enjoy the influx of Sailor Moon swag that will be in stores, and be content knowing that a new generation will learn that girls can be intelligent and powerful on their own.
An old friend from childhood posted a link for a new anime on my Facebook wall a few weeks ago. He said, “Since you’re probably one of the only other person that I know that likes anime, I thought I’d share this with you.” So, I took a look at the show, and instantly became a fan. First of all, however, I think this anime is meant more for women than men. I’m not saying men won’t enjoy it as it was a male friend who introduced me to this, but the style and the storylines seem to be catered more to a woman’s interest and perspective. I decided to take a break from my ‘Bleach’ reviews and present to you ‘Princess Jellyfish’.
When I watched the first episode, I immediately became quite excited. The intro showcases the girls in famous film settings. First clip shows them as the ‘Sex and the City’ gals, and then the next clip shows them in a Star Wars setting. All of the main characters from the show are shown in the opening montage. It definitely set the bar high for me when they showed the Star Wars material.
The story focuses on a girl named Tsukimi who is in love with jellyfish. At a young age, her mother took her to an aquarium and showed her the jellyfish, and how they looked like princesses with their long tentacles. We find out that her mother actually passes on a few months after this visit to the aquarium, so the jellyfish hold a special place in Tsukimi’s heart.
Tsukimi lives with four other girls who are “homely” like herself. They are considered NEETs (“Not in Education, Employment or Training“). They all hate being out in society for fear of women who are stylish and dressed to kill. Whenever they are approached by someone like this, they immediately turn to stone out of fear of being addressed.
The apartment house they live in is referred to as the “nun” house. It’s a communal living home and they all hang out together. Each girl has their own unique “trait”. Tuskimi has her jellyfish, Chieko is always dressed in a traditional kimono and loves her traditional Japanese dolls, Mayaya is obsessed with ‘Records of Three Kingdoms’ and is always referring to specific battles and commanders, Banba is obsessed with trains, and then Jiji – who is obsessed with older men. There is one other woman living in the apartment, Juon Mejiro – she writes a very popular manga that the girls help put together once she’s finished with it and needs to go to print. A very eclectic household.
In the first episode, Tsukimi attempts to go into the city to an aquarium to see jellyfish and becomes too frightened by society and runs back home. Feeling bad for herself, she decides to take a stroll and comes to a pet shop where there are two jellyfish in a tank together. However, these two jellyfish aren’t supposed to be together – one will kill the other off due to its toxicity. So naturally, Tsukimi begins to pound on the door wanting to warn the clerk of the impending jellyfishs’ doom. He pushes her back and she bumps into a ‘stylish’ who then comes to her defense.
Tsukimi can’t talk around the stylish because she’s too afraid. The stylish bargains with the clerk saying to let her take the jellyfish home since it’s just going to die anyway. Tsukimi names the jellyfish Clara and her and the stylish, whose name is Kuranosuke, return to the apartment house.
Kuranosuke goes up to Tsukimi’s room and then grabs a blanket and states that she’s tired. She passes out on the floor as Tsukimi makes Clara comfortable in the bathtub (she hasn’t bought the necessary equipment to house said jellyfish, so it’s a make-shift tank for now). She walks back into her room and sees Kuranosuke passed out on her floor. They wake up the next morning and Tsukimi receives another surprise. Turns out that Kuranosuke is actually a boy (no boys allowed in the apartment house) who likes to wear women’s clothing. She is shocked and passes out.
There is pretty much everything in this anime, so far. Romance, drama, intrigue, comedy. I’ve only given you a description of the first episode because I don’t want to spoil the rest for you. We do meet Kuranosuke’s family – his father and half brother Shū are in politics. Shū becomes an important character in later episodes. And he’s particularly handsome (for a cartoon, that is).
There are going to be 11 episodes for this anime. You can watch them here. They post the episode the same day it airs in Japan, which is quite nice. This anime originated as a serial manga for the manga magazine Kiss in 2008. I really enjoy this anime and am going to be sad when it ends. There are only three episodes left. So, if you have some free time and have enjoyed what you read, definitely check this out. You won’t be disappointed.
Welcome back, dear readers to my second part of reviewing Bleach Season 1. When we left off, I was discussing Urahara and his mod soul Kon. I will pick up from there, if you don’t mind.
In the next episode, we get a glimpse into Kurosaki Ichigo’s past. His mother was killed when he was a young boy by a Hollow. When he was a boy, he did not realize it was a Hollow. He was only able to see ghosts; he did not know Hollows existed until he met Kuchiki Rukia. He had been walking home with his mother when the Hollow came and took her away. Ichigo had to watch this happen in front of him. In this episode, it is the anniversary of her unfortunate death, and we see the human side of Ichigo and his family, including his father. It is the one day a year where his father acts somewhat normal to him, and smokes his only cigarette for the year. You can tell that Ichigo’s father – Isshin – was very much in love with his wife.
As they are visiting the grave, they are confronted by the same Hollow that attacked his mother. The Hollow is called the ‘Grand Fisher’ and he tricks people with his lure, hence the Fisher title. Ichigo is able to attack him and cause him immense damage, but is unable to kill him. He disappears and makes his way back to where Hollows reside – a place called Hueco Mundo. We’ll be seeing much more of this plane later on in the series, but for now – it is where Hollows live.
Next, we are reintroduced to Ishida Uryuu, the last Quincy. We learn that Quincies are the sworn enemy of shinigami’s, and will do anything they can to destroy them. Ishida releases a potion that will draw Hollows to the area, so they can have a competition to see who can hurt the most Hollows. Karakura Town becomes overwhelmed with Hollows, making it so neither of them are able to contain them. We find out that Chad can see Hollows now, in order to help protect Ichigo’s sister Karin, and fights back. As he does this, he develops a new power – his right arm is transformed and is able to shoot energy at the Hollows to destroy them. So, now we’ve got two of Ichigo’s friends (or enemies) that have powers to help his fight as well.
Following this episode, we find out that Rukia has broken Soul Society’s law by giving her powers to Ichigo. A shinigami by the name of Abarai Renji appears to take Rukia. Ichigo is enraged and challenges him to a battle. They are well-matched until Renji releases his zanpakuto’s (sword) first form, and Ichigo realizes that he is no match for him. He finally finds his footing and becomes more confident, but then a new shinigami comes to collect Rukia. In the process, this new shinigami – Kuchiki Byakuya – severely injures Ichigo, so Ichigo cannot follow. Rukia says she’ll return to Soul Society only if Ichigo’s life is saved. Ichigo has been stripped of his powers. Just as Rukia returns to Soul Society through a sliding gate, the shopkeeper Urahara appears. He says he will help Ichigo train to save Rukia.
Rukia had begun to go to school with Ichigo but when he returned to school the following day, no one except for Chad, Inoue and Ishida remembered her. This was thanks to a memory wipe done by Soul Society to make everyone forget who she was. Ichigo begins to train underneath Urahara’s shop in what amounts to a giant canyon. One would never suspect something this large underneath such a tiny shop. Urahara is full of secrets. Urahara pops Ichigo with his cane, which makes Ichigo’s soul leave his body. However, unlike when this occurred while he was a substitute shinigami, he is a normal soul now, who must regain his shinigami powers. We see Ichigo go through a lesson in his normal soul body. After he completes this lesson, he then has his chain broken (the chain that has been keeping his soul anchored to his human body) and it begins to eat its own links. Urahara drops him into a very large hole that his assistant dug (a very cute girl by the name of Ururu). We watch as the chain begins to disappear and then finally, Ichigo is left with a Hollow hole.
In the next part, we see that Ichigo is in a city, sitting on a skyscraper window, sideways. Above him is an older man who has long hair, a long billowing cloak and glasses. He tells Ichigo that he has always had shinigami powers – Byakuya only took the ones that he (Ichigo) had been borrowing from Rukia. He tells him that he needs to find the 1 box, out of the thousands that are falling from the sky, that contains his shinigami powers. He finds it, but it is too late. The Hollowfication process has begun. He shoots out of the hole and stands there with a Hollow mask, dressed as a shinigami. Ichigo then removes the mask and fights Urahara again. He attempts to draw his sword, but it is broken – it is not his true sword. The older man appears again and reveals his name to Ichigo – Zangetsu – Ichigo’s zanpakuto. Then, the real fight begins. Urahara has his own zanpakuto – which means he is/was a shinigami – but more on that at another time. For now, he uses his zanpakuto to protect himself from Ichigo’s power – he throws up a shield and still Ichigo blasts through it, and leaves a deep crevice in the ground behind where Urahara is standing. Ichigo is powerful – extremely powerful.
While Ichigo is training with Urahara, we see Orihime, Chad and Ishida begin training with their powers. A cat by the name of Yourichi trains them. And yes, the cat speaks. Orihimie is so trusting and childlike, it doesn’t even phase her. However, the men? They have minor freak-outs at the situation. So, Yourichi begins training Orihimie in using her powers (the two hairclips that she wears house 6 fairies that help her), as well as Chad with his powerful arm. Ishida trains alone in the way of the Quincy. They all decide to go to Soul Society with Ichigo.
We get a glimpse of Soul Society, only briefly, in the last couple of episodes of this season. We learn that Rukia is to be executed in 25 days for her betrayal of the shinigami. We also meet two other captains of Soul Society – Gin Ichimaru and Kenpachi. These two men, with Renji and Byakuya, will be pivotal agents in the next season.
At the end of the season, Urahara tells Ichigo to leave his bedroom window open at a specific time in order to receive a message. He receives the message and starts to leave, only to have his father stop him. His father gives him an amulet, saying that his mother gave it to him to protect Ichigo. Ichigo takes and it goes to Urahara’s shop, where he finds his friends there waiting, as well as Yourichi. And yes, Ichigo freaks out that the cat can speak. Urahara then opens a Senkaimon – a gateway that connects Earth to Soul Society. Then, Ichigo – Ishida – Chad – Orihime and Yourichi step through the portal, making their way to Soul Society. And that’s where this season concludes.
There is a lot of information that you receive throughout the last few episodes of this season. Bleach tends to do that. Information comes to you in droves. I think that’s one of the things I enjoy about this series. The information just doesn’t stop. And that’s what makes it great storytelling.
Stay tuned for my next review of Season 2. Until next time!
You ready to jump into some anime with me? Yeah? Good, let’s do this.
The first season of ‘Bleach’ is an attention getter from the get-go. For all intents and purposes, I will be referring to the characters as to how they are referred to in the Japanese version. I have only watched the Japanese version, so please forgive me if you watch the English version.
In the first episode, we meet Kurosaki Ichigo and are introduced to his family. Kurosaki is a unique individual. He can see spirits that are lingering on Earth, the ones that don’t seem to want to move on to the next plane. He approaches an alleyway where a girl had been killed and keeps her spirit company. As he is keeping the spirit company, he witnesses a woman in black garb battling a monster of sorts. This monster goes after the little girl, and Ichigo does his best to protect her. After tending to the spirit, he heads back to his house where his deranged father attacks him, playfully – of course. His father owns a medical clinic, and their house is attached to it. He has two fraternal twin sisters – Karin and Yuzu. Later the same day, the woman in black makes an appearance in his room, asking him if he can see her. He tells her yes, and she then comes to find out he can see Hollows (the monster that had been in the alley) as well as spirits. She explains that she is a Shinigami – Soul Reaper – from Soul Society. Soul Society is where souls go after they pass away. She explains that the being they saw was called a Hollow – who was also a soul, but due to their inability to get to Soul Society in a timely manner become a monster. Then, the Hollow they had battled earlier in the day shows up outside of Ichigo’s house and grabs Karin from inside. Ichigo goes and rushes outside, trying to save his sister. The Shinigami – Kuchiki Rukia – becomes severely injured and then looks to Ichigo, telling him in order to save his sister, he must take her power as a Shinigami to defeat the Hollow. He looks at her and nods his head, and throws himself on her sword (her zanpakutou), becoming a spirit himself – now dressed in the same black garb that Rukia had been wearing. He takes care of the Hollow, and seals his fate as a Substitute Shinigami.
In the next few episodes, we’re introduced to Ichigo’s friends from high school – Orhime Inoue, Yasutora “Chad” Sado, and Uryuu Ishida. Each of these characters have special abilities, like Ichigo. Some we won’t learn about until the following season, but they are all very unique. Uryuu Ishida is the last Quincy in existence. A Quincy is someone who wants to rid all Hollows from existence. Quincys and Shinigamis do not get along – according to Ishida. Ishida, when we learn of his power, attempts to go after Ichigo.
One of my absolute favorite episodes of this season is with Sado. He finds a cockatiel that can talk, and he helps take care of it. It turns out that the cockatiel is actually a soul of a boy who had been killed. It is said that this cockatiel is cursed, but he is only this way because Hollows continue to chase after his soul. With the help of Rukia, they are able to defeat the Hollows and send the child back to Soul Society.
When Ichigo becomes the Substitute Shinigami, he must find something to do with his body – a shinigami fights in their “soul” form. Rukia goes to a shop which is run by a man named Urahara. He is a very eccentric man who wears flip-flops and a green and white stripped hat, and uses a fan a lot. We don’t learn much about this man in this season, except that he carries items that Shinigami need. He sells Rukia some “Soul Candy”, which Ichigo is to pop into his mouth to become a Shinigami. Well, the candy turns out to be a “modified soul” – the candy was actually an artificial warrior that was created to help Soul Society get rid of Hollows. This modified soul, when not in Ichigo’s body, is stuck inside of a lion stuffed animal. The modified soul’s name is Kon. Like the true nerd that I am, a friend of mine went to Anime Expo right before my birthday and bought me a Kon backpack. I love that guy.
A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge. And 253 episodes in, I’m in love. ‘Bleach’ is about as awesome as they come. I don’t really look at it as anime. I mean, I know that it is because it’s animated and it comes from Japan, but to me it’s just an engrossing show. I care for all of the characters very deeply. It’s like I found something to replace the void that ‘LOST’ gave me when it finished in May. And that’s about the time when I began my journey into Kurosaki Ichigo’s life.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking you down a journey through each of the seasons. There are currently 14 seasons. I’ve made it through 13. Roughly each season is about 20+ episodes. There are some that are much longer than that, and there are some seasons that are much shorter. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have.