How much can you tell about a show from its first episode, anyway? If nothing else, I've believed it's possible to suss out the general flavor of a show, barring any bait-and-switch tactics used to spring surprises on an audience once their tickets are punched. With (Pretty Guardian) Sailor Moon (Crystal), I think the differences between this show and the original animated incarnation of Naoko Takeuchi's manga already stand out enormously. I won't venture yet as to which is better, because each one is an embodiment of the sensibilities and limitations of its age. But I will say this: so far they're getting it very right.

The main way they're getting it right is with the tone, which not only sticks a little more closely to the source material but finds ways to realize it without falling back on being goofy. The words I wasn't sure if I should use were "take more seriously", since Crystal isn't quite as far removed from the original Moon as, say, Christopher Nolan's Batman was from Tim Burton's. A parallel like that makes it seem like we're talking about a dark-and-gritty reboot, and we're not: instead, it's more like the inherent sense of wonder and awe that imbued the story on the page is being given more of a chance to move and breathe.

It's the same story in the broad outlines, and so anyone passingly familiar with the plot won't need a recap here. But it's the little things, the way specific details are realized that make the difference. When Usagi aims an angry "Sailor V Kick" at her house's front door and almost breaks her ankle for her trouble, the animators could have turned her reaction into a caricatured distortion to milk the situation for laugh; instead, they opt for something relatively realistic. Even the commercial bumpers for the show hint at something bigger and more ambitious than what we were given before, as they sport the same Art Deco style found in shows like Revolutionary Girl Utena.

The logic of remaking any show is always up for grabs. Mostly it's done because a massive market exists for such a thing: there's tons of fans, now in in their thirties and up, all of whom would be eager to buy into a second, more polished and aesthetically updated go-round for such a franchise. Sometimes it's because the original examination of the material was cut short, and there's now a chance to dive in all the more deeply (Birdy the Mighty did this). A third motive, and one I see most in play here, is to be able to look at the source material a second time and see it all the more clearly, without the clouds of creative compromise that often shroud the first attempts at such a thing. Fun as the original show was, it was a product of its time in good and bad ways, and coming back to it with fresh eyes means new things are possible with it.

I imagine the full perspective that can be had on all this will only be possible after the show's had its run. But so far what we have is more than promising — it holds enough potential to become, yes, one of the few re-adaptations that outstrips the original, and not by a little either.



About the Author

Serdar Yegulalp (@genjipress) () is Editor-in-Chief of Ganriki.org. He has written about anime professionally as the Anime Guide for Anime.About.com, and as a contributor to Advanced Media Network, but has also been exploring the subject on his own since 1998.
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