Friday, November 14, 2014

Is It Worth It? Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1 DVD Review


It's November, and that means turkey, ridiculous sales on the day after, and for some nerds the release of the original Sailor Moon anime on DVD and Blu-Ray. After being acquired by Viz Media, Sailor Moon gets her anime digitally restored, uncut, and completely redubbed. After watching the streams on Hulu back in September, I was pleased with the results of the dub, though I did have a couple of nitpicks/issues with it. Anyway, now that the DVD is out, I'm going to give a mini-review based on the main content, presentation, bonus content, and price tag. Let's get started!

Main Content

If you read my post "Sailor Moon Viz: The Good, The Bad, and Those Ugly Nostalgia Goggles," you already know how I feel about the new dub. If you haven't, I'll give the highlights for this one. The dialog was well written, the casting for the most part was well done, Viz kept true to their word and left the anime uncut, and dropped episodes from the original dub finally make an appearance with an English audio track. The only flaws of note are that the English voice track is too highly defined compared to the music and sound effect tracks, and Shingo (Usagi's younger brother) has a voice that just sounds a little too old for the character's age. I was hoping that these two issues would have been fixed before the release of the DVD and Blu-Ray, but sadly they still exist. I will say that on the DVD the audio issue is barely noticeable while I'm sure on the Blu-Ray it sticks out like a sore thumb. Overall rating for the main content remains at 8/10.


The DVD case (Left) and the cardboard sleeve (Right)
The box art of the DVD case is pretty simplistic, yet sort of bland. Buyers are given a gradient pink background with 90's Sailor Moon vector art and "Sailor Moon" printed in an elegant font. There are also some accents on the corners which are holographic/metallic on the cardboard sleeve, but a gradient gold on the case insert. I personally think they could have made something more eye catching than this, but that's me.

Funny how you can barely see Sailor Moon or Sailor Mercury while Sailor Mars stands out.
The discs are a single color with darker tones used to make outlines of the three Sailors we get in this first half of the season. The art is well done, but on discs 1 & 2 Sailors Moon and Mercury (Respectively) are barely visible.

The three menus from the first disc.

The menus seem to share the same trait as the box art, well some of them anyway. The main menu is given a much more eye catching background while the episode select and setup menus could use a bit more. What really gets me is how they show the episodes on screen. Note: I usually have it set to stretch SD footage to fit my widescreen TV.

By the way, I'm using a stretch to fit screen option on my Blu-Ray player.

The episodes have what is called pillar boxing, meaning they kept the footage plastered at a 4:3 scale with black bars on the sides. This would normally be fine, except that it does create some issues with the subtitles for signs written in the Japanese kanji. This is most noticeable in the episode "Scent of a Monster: Chanela Will Steal Your Love." See screencap below.

I think Viz forgot to buy oops insurance.
Overall, the presentation is okay for a first set, but I think that Viz should try a little harder to make the future releases a little more pleasing to the eye instead of the current bare bones art. In addition, the pillar boxing just messes with the video presentation, and while Viz has said they will remove this in future releases, I really wish they had the foresight to fix this before they made this release. Presentation score: 6/10.

Bonus Content

Ah, yes, the major draw to a lot of DVD and Blu-Ray releases, the bonus content. For Sailor Moon Viz, it's kinda sad in both releases. On the DVD set, you are given a quick montage of Anime Expo's Sailor Moon events. Nothing notable there, sadly. The other features are trailers, the first being Viz's official announcement trailer for the Sailor Moon DVD release (Which has been out for a while), and a pair of other Viz Media releases. Weak.

The Blu-Ray offers these same features, plus a behind the scenes featurette of the dub recording and art galleries. The Blu-Ray release also includes an 88 page art booklet. Art gallery feature in the disc and an art booklet? Pick one or the other!

DVD buyers get a smaller set of bonuses leaving them forced to buy the Blu-Ray if they want a behind the scenes featurette. Overall, the features could be better and DVD buyers should not be left out of anything that could be a real behind the scenes bonus, which draws a lot of people to these releases in the first place. Bonus content score: 5/10.


Now here's the one I think more people are wondering about, especially during these times of financial hardship, and that's the price tag that comes with this release. For the 23 episode, 3 disc DVD release, it'll run about $30. For the Blu-Ray release, 3 Blu-Ray discs plus the 3 DVDs and the art booklet will cost you around $50-55. Prior to release, Amazon had the DVD and Blu-Ray releases marked at $40 and $75 respectively. Had these been the final release date prices, my rating for the prices based on the content would have been much lower. Considering the fair pricing for what is available as of now, I give the pricing a sold 6.5/10. It's affordable, but not quite worth it for a first half release. Had the prices been what I saw during the pre-order period on Amazon ($40 and $75), the score would have been a 3/10 as those would make this set overpriced for the content being sold.

Final Verdict

Time to tie all of the scores together. The final verdict will be an averaging of the four scores given. The scale will work like this:
1-3/10 = Wait until it's available at a bargain price of $10-15
4-7/10 = Buy when it's on sale
8-10/10 = Buy now, completely worth it

Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1's average score comes to... 6.4/10 As the next sets prepare to arrive, there may be a possibility of a price drop (Though considering the second half is expected out in early 2015, likelihood of that happening is low), so I would wait until then. If you're a hardcore fan and want to own this set, then by all means go ahead, but realize that for what is given in the video presentation and other content, you're going to feel some disappointment in paying the $30 or $50, depending on which version you purchase.

Until the next review, have a nice day!