VIZ Media Hosts Sailor Moon Moonlight Party 2 to Celebrate the North American Premiere of the Latest Dubbed Episodes

VIZ Media continues to celebrate the triumphant return of the classic Sailor Moon anime series and marks the premiere of the latest high definition Episodes 24-36 – featuring the brand new English dub cast – available to stream on Neon Alley and Hulu starting on Friday, November 21, 2014 beginning at 7:00pm (PST). The release time and date for the remaining English episodes of this epic first season will be announced during the event. These latest exclusive dubbed episodes will be available for a limited time only during the Holiday season.

Fans can join in on the festivities with VIZ Media and Neon Alley by attending Moonlight Party 2: A Celebration of Sailor Moon Reborn! Building on the success and positive fan feedback following the first Moonlight Party held in September, the free virtual party will take place once again as a unique live stream event on VIZ Media’s YouTube channel beginning at 7:00pm (PST) on Friday, November 21, 2014.

Fans are invited participate in the event and stream Sailor Moon Episodes 24, 25, 33, 34 and 35 (showcasing Jupiter, Venus, and Princess Serenity) via Neon Alley/Hulu and also take part in a real-time Q&A with VIZ Media staff that will run throughout the evening. Viewers can submit questions throughout the event via YouTube, in the comments sections of the actual live stream (as available), or on the official VIZ Media Facebook page, and via Twitter using the special hashtag, #MoonlightParty.

Fans also can interact with members of the VIZ Media Sailor Moon team, which will be present during the live stream to answer questions and offer lively commentary and little known information about the series and these new episodes. A Sailor Moon trivia contest also will take place and fans and aspiring Sailor Guardians are invited to submit their answers via Facebook and Twitter to win special prizes. Sailor Moon fans nationwide are also encouraged to share pictures from their own Moonlight Parties by using the hashtag #MoonlightParty on their favorite social media platforms.

In the latest Sailor Moon episodes, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars continue their quest for the Legendary Silver Crystal as two new powerful allies join the fight. Sailor Jupiter is the tall and tough Guardian of Thunder, and Sailor Venus is the Guardian of Love and the most experienced member. Sailor Moon herself gets an impressive new power and learns more about the mysterious Tuxedo Mask. Could their distant pasts be intertwined, and does that have anything to do with the Moon Princess they seek? The final ordeal with Queen Beryl looms on the horizon, and it will take everything the Sailor Guardians have to be victorious!

“Thousands of fans joined us for our very first SAILOR MOON Moonlight Party, and the enthusiasm and love that was expressed for this iconic series inspired us to hold another event to mark the dub premiere of the concluding half of Season 1,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Manager, Animation Marketing. “Not only will viewers catch the dub debut of Sailor Jupiter voiced by Amanda Miller, and Sailor Venus, voiced by Cherami Leigh, we’ll be sharing plenty of commentary and trivia, as well awarding lots of SAILOR MOON prizes. We look forward to everyone joining us and hope this event might inspire fans to hold some Sailor Guardian soirees of their own!”

Anime DVD Review: Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1

Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1 was released on DVD and on a limited edition Blu-ray/DVD combo by VIZ Media on November 11, 2014. This release includes the first 23 episodes of the original Sailor Moon television anime series and some extras. The audio on this release includes the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and a new English dub that was produced by VIZ Media. This review will focus on the DVD release, since that is what I watched to write this review. I watched these episodes with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Sailor Moon tells the story of Usagi Tsukino, a 14-year-old schoolgirl who is clumsy and a bit of a crybaby. One day, as she’s running to school because she’s late, she finds a black cat being tormented by a group of boys. Usagi chases the boys off and finds that Band-Aids have been placed on the cat’s forehead; when Usagi takes them off, she finds a crescent shape. Before Usagi can do anything else, she hears the bell for school and runs off. We also see that Usagi begins having run-ins with a guy named Mamoru, whose favorite nickname for her is “Bun Head” (due to the buns she has in her hair).

Later, the black cat follows Usagi home. She’s a talking cat, and introduces herself as Luna. Luna gives Usagi a brooch; when Usagi says a certain phrase, the brooch transforms her into a hero called Sailor Moon. When Usagi learns her friend Naru is in trouble, she rushes over to save her. At first, Sailor Moon is overwhelmed by the situation, but she is rescued by a mysterious guy known as Tuxedo Mask.

Luna informs Usagi that she has a mission to track down the other Sailor Guardians, find and protect a princess, and to track down the Legendary Silver Crystal. It’s also up to Sailor Moon to save Earth from the forces of evil. At this point in the story, the antagonist is the Dark Kingdom, led by Queen Beryl. She is trying to get power for their great ruler, Queen Metalia. She is trying to track down the Legendary Silver Crystal, but also has her four henchmen extracting energy from humans in the meantime until they find the crystal. Her henchmen are the Four Kings of Heaven: Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite.

Over the course of these 23 episodes, Usagi finds two more of the Sailor Guardians: a studious girl named Ami Mizuno (who is Sailor Mercury) and a shrine maiden named Rei Hina (who is Sailor Mars). This set also sees Usagi develop a crush on both Tuxedo Mask and Motoki Furuhata, a boy who words at the video arcade that Usagi likes to hang out at. This set also sees Usagi getting a second item from Luna, which is a pen that lets her transform into whatever disguise she needs in order to get into locations in order to stop Queen Beryl’s schemes.

Before I review the actual content of the episodes that appear on this set, I’d like to make it clear that I did not watch Sailor Moon during the time that it aired on American television, and prior to watching this set, I only watched the first episode online with both the original English dub on YouTube and with the original Japanese audio on Neon Alley when VIZ Media began streaming the series earlier this year. I’m also watching the episodes on this set after having already read all 12 volumes of the Sailor Moon manga and watching the first 9-10 episodes of the currently running Sailor Moon Crystal anime series. I hope that by putting all this out here that it will explain how and why I review the content of these episodes the way that I do.

The first episode basically lines up with how the story went in the original manga, and it does a great job establishing Usagi and the overall premise and ideas for the series. However, after this point, there’s only three other episodes in the set where the story came from the manga (episodes 8, 10, and 22). The remaining 19 episodes are original stories that were written for the anime series.

After watching this set, I would have to say that the episodes based on the manga chapters are stronger and better than the original stories; this is true for both the writing and the animation. There’s a distinct look and feel to the manga stories when compared to the anime original stories, and this difference can be rather jarring when you’re watching the series by seeing several episodes back-to-back on a nightly basis. Episodes 8 and 10 are very similar to what was seen in the manga, but the story in Episode 22 has the same basic premise but new elements were added to it since the anime had diverged enough and added important elements that weren’t in the manga at that point; these added elements needed to be used in this episode in order to keep the anime series’ continuity.

Rei’s character ended up getting changed drastically in this original anime adaptation. First, a major sense of tension was created between Usagi and Rei; while they may not have always seen eye to eye in the manga, their disagreements were never this petty and stupid. To me, including this tension really damages the message of teamwork that Sailor Moon seems to be trying to convey. Also, the anime writers decided to have Rei develop an interest in Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask, which did not exist in the manga, in order to turn her into a romantic rival for Usagi. I didn’t like that change, either.

I’m also not a fan of the new romance plot that was added with Naru falling in love with Nephrite in his disguised form. It just feels wrong on so many levels.

A major problem I had with these anime-only stories is the fact that there were only a couple of mentions of Sailor Moon’s overall mission when Luna would try to remind Usagi about it. But the writers seemed to eventually give up on trying to force mentions of the overall mission into the episodes, so it gets ignored.

Several of the anime-only episodes were rather painful to watch, due to ridiculous premises. My least favorite episode in this set was Episode 20, “The Summer, the Beach, Youth and Ghosts.” Usagi, Rei, Ami, and Luna go to the beach for a training session, but we never see them train at any point in the episode! Not only that, but the main antagonist doesn’t show up anywhere in it; instead, we get some guy who’s been experimenting on psychic abilities on his daughter and has been hypnotizing her to draw out her power. Her power goes out of control, but it’s ultimately not the Sailor Guardians who save the day; in fact, they hardly do anything. To me, this never should have been included as an episode for the series. While I understand that the anime was airing at the same time the manga was being released, the amount of anime-only episodes can feel like overkill at times on this set.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, there’s three discs included. The first disc has a Sailor Moon theme and includes the first eight episodes of the series. The second disc has a Sailor Mercury theme and includes eight episodes. The third disc has a Sailor Mars theme and includes seven episodes and the set’s extras.

There are a total of three extras on the DVD. The first is, “AX Sailor Moon Reel.” It runs for about two minutes, and includes brief clips of the various Sailor Moon related activities that took place during Anime Expo 2014. Unfortunately, the only audio is background music. There’s brief text to explain what each event we see is, but these events go by so fast that it was hard me to follow what exactly I was seeing. The last thing we see is text saying to look out for a feature on the next set, so this made me feel like this was simply a trailer to promote a feature in the next box set. In the end, I personally didn’t get much out of this particular extra.

The next extra is, “Official Announcement Trailer.” This runs for almost three-and-a-half minutes, and it shows clips from the various Sailor Moon series as well as text to explain what VIZ Media’s plans for releases were. If you didn’t get to see this trailer before buying this set, then it’s a nice thing to watch once.

The final extra is “Trailers,” which runs for almost four minutes and includes two trailers that runs back-to-back to promote a couple of other series that VIZ Media holds the rights to.

There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet about the video quality, especially in regards to the limited edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, which included complains about ghosting and smeared colors. After watching this DVD, I didn’t personally notice any ghosting. When it came to colors, I only had a complaint about Episode 20; the characters’ skin looks pink instead of flesh-colored in a few scenes.

In the end, this is a release that I can only truly recommend to fans of the original Sailor Moon television anime series that can get past the changes of the new English dub. I’d also recommend this series to young girls who might have an appreciation for magical girl stories. Even though I may not personally care for the original Sailor Moon anime that much, I showed the first episode to my almost 10-year-old daughter; after we finished, she said, “That was AMAZING!” When I watched this episode with her, I saw it the new English dub. After watching it, I have to say that Stephanie Sheh did a good job portraying Usagi and hit all the appropriate emotional marks for the scenes she did. The other dub actors also seemed to do a decent job for their characters.

While I may not be enjoying this release as much as I hoped I would, I’m still glad to have the opportunity to see this series. It’s a classic anime from the 1990s that ultimately helped to bring more girls into anime fandom, so it’s good for me to view the whole series at least once in order to have more knowledge about this piece of anime history.

I wrote this review after watching a review copy of Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1 that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

VIZ Media Posts Another English Dub Clip to Promote the Second Sailor Moon Home Video Release

VIZ Media has posted another clip of the new English dub for Sailor Moon, and this clip focuses on Minako.

I am embedding the clip below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.

Another English Dub Clip to Promote the Next North American Release for the Sailor Moon Anime

VIZ Media has posted another English dub clip to promote the second home video release for the Sailor Moon anime, which will be released in February 2015. This clip features Makoto/Sailor Jupiter.

I am embedding the video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

VIZ Media Offers Fans a Vivid Selection of Exciting Anime Releases for the Holidays

VIZ Media gives fans a wide array of exciting new anime releases to consider for wish and gift lists this holiday season.

New and veteran fans are invited to dive into legendary anime series such as the newly dubbed and uncut Sailor Moon and Ranma 1/2 with box sets that also contain a wealth of extra features and special bonus material. VIZ Media is also proud to present Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, the vivid sci-fi/action series from the famed anime studio, Production IG, presented in a comprehensive DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Fans of the world’s most popular ninja, Naruto, will not want to miss the hero’s latest animated feature film, The Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie, which also will be available on DVD and Blu-ray formats.

New Anime Series Holiday Debuts

GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET · Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
MSRP: $69.99 U.S. / $81.99 CAN; DVD MSRP: $44.82 U.S. / $51.99 CAN · Available Now

In the distant future, Ledo, a young soldier from space wakes up and finds himself marooned on an ocean planet. Growing up in space, and knowing nothing but battle, he is a stranger in a strange land, full of odd customs and a foreign language, but he’s not alone. Starting a new journey on this verdurous planet, Ledo must find a way to survive and reconcile the fact that he may never be able to return home!

VIZ Media gives Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet a collection-worthy treatment with a 16×9 high definition presentation and the inclusion of 2 bonus OVA episodes. The home media releases feature premium packaging with an O-Card for the DVD edition and an illustrated chipboard box with a full-color 2-sided Amaray™ wrap and a special Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet art book included with the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

RANMA 1/2 Set 4 · Limited Edition Blu-ray
MSRP: $54.97 U.S. / $63.99 CAN; DVD MSRP: $44.82 U.S. / $51.99 CAN · Available December 2, 2014

The Mayhem continues in the latest RANMA ½ home media set!! Shampoo visits Ranma, bringing a souvenir bell from China along with a Phantom Cat, who’s in search of a bride! Ranma will have to endure his fear of felines in order to defeat the Phantom Cat. Then, after a series of certain events, Ryoga becomes the strongest martial artist in the world. After that, Kuno gets his hands on a secret sword call the “Mangamaru,” which grants the user here wishes, and one of them is to have a date with the Pigtailed Girl! Finally, a mysterious foursome has come from China in search of the legendary Dragon’s Whisker and will stop at nothing to get it. But what is the Dragon’s Whisker and what does it have to do with Ranma? Set contains Episodes 70-92 on 3 Blu-ray or DVD discs housed in a gorgeously illustrated chipboard box with embossed foil stamping.

Fan Favorite Holiday Debuts

THE ROAD TO NINJA: NARUTO THE MOVIE · Blu-ray Combo Pack
MSRP: $29.99 U.S. / $37.48 CAN; DVD MSRP: $19.98 U.S. / $34.98 CAN · Available November 25, 2014

In Road to Ninja – Naruto the Movie, long ago, a mysterious masked shinobi unleashed the Nine-Tailed Fox onto the Village Hidden in the Leaves to spread chaos and destruction. But the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and his wife Kushina Uzumaki sealed the Tailed Beast into their newborn son, Naruto, to save the village, foiling the shinobi’s plan. Years later, Naruto and his friends succeed in driving away the infamous Akatsuki, who have mysteriously returned from the dead. Upon returning to the village, the young shinobi are praised by their families for completing a dangerous mission. Reminded of how alone he is, Naruto begins to wonder what it’s like to have parents, when a strange masked figure appears before him – the same masked shinobi responsible for the death of his parents!

The Blu-ray edition features crisp 1080p High Definition video and also includes a special bonus art gallery.

SAILOR MOON SEASON 1 SET 1 · Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD
MSRP: $79.98 U.S. / $93.99 CAN; DVD MSRP: $44.82 U.S. / $51.99 CAN · Available Now

Sailor Moon depicts the adventures of Usagi Tsukino, a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, guardian of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl!

The stunning Sailor Moon Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack offers a deluxe, 6-disc collection (3 DVDs & 3 Blu-rays), housed in a beautiful shimmery holofoil chipboard box with specialty printing, and contains an array of exclusive extra features along with an 88-page full-color booklet filled with artwork, character profiles, an episode guide, lyrics, and more! Blu-ray episodes are presented in full 1080p High Definition video.

NARUTO © 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO /2007 SHIPPUDEN
© NMP 2012

VIZ Media Promotes The Second Sailor Moon Home Video Release With an English Dub Clip of Sailor Venus

VIZ Media has posted another video of the new English dub of Sailor Moon to YouTube to promote the release of the second home video release that’s coming out in February 2015. This clip features Cherami Leigh as the new English voice actress for Sailor Venus.

I am embedding the video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

VIZ Media Previews Sailor Jupiter With a Video to Promote the Second Sailor Moon Release

VIZ Media has posted a video to YouTube to promote the second home video release for Sailor Moon that’s being released on February 10, 2015. This is an English dub clip that highlights Sailor Jupiter, who is being voiced by Amanda Celine Miller.

I am embedding the video below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.