azurite: (sailormoon - angel)
[personal profile] azurite
There are quite a few "Sailor Moon" live-action fan movies in the works these days, but [twitter.com profile] SailorMoonFilm was one that was getting a lot of press from folks I follow and the Sailor Moon community at large. The initial previews weren't my thing--it didn't quite seem "true" enough to Sailor Moon, though it was marketed as an "Americanized modernization."



The good:
  • The story: it's interesting, recognizable as Sailor Moon, but modernized and Americanized in such a way that looks compelling.

  • The costuming: to a degree; they're very well done and again, recognizable as Sailor Moon costumes, but are slightly over the top. More on that later. I liked how Serenity's dress was simplified but again, still recognizable, and both Beryl and Serenity had brilliant contacts that made them stand out--and made Beryl more creepy.

  • The setting: again, Americanized and modernized, but it fits: a bustling suburbia with a parlor/arcade, a private school, and back alleys that hide evil lurking in the shadows. Suitable for Sailor Moon, considering it's not really possible to do a live action Sailor Moon in Japan unless you're...you know, a Japanese production company.

  • The music: I especially like the opening theme, and the closing theme grew on me a bit. I don't remember hearing the other theme, but I bet I could listen in for it if I watched it again. I like how it's original, but suitable for what's going on in the film.

  • The acting: Bunny's actress was good; Endymion/Darien (?)'s was pretty good, though a little flat during his speech to Serenity urging her to fight on, Beryl was just plain chilling, and Naru seemed fake. So overall? Pretty good, since it's meant to be Bunny carrying the whole series, anyway.
The bad/not-so-good:
  • The character naming: it's inconsistent. Usagi is renamed Bunny, which is fine, considering it's more true to the actual Japanese name than "Serena," and since our actress is Caucasian, that's somewhat acceptable. Hey, the Mixx manga even tried to "justify" it by saying that "My name is Serena, but everyone calls me Bunny." And we accepted this and moved on, even though for the manga, it was ridiculous. Moving on, Bunny's best friend (also Caucasian) is "Naru," and the guy at the arcade (again, Caucasian) is "Moto," while the (Caucasian) class nerd is "Melvin." Oh, and their teacher (though we don't see her) is "Ms. Haruna." Wha?
  • The costuming: Mentioned above, the costumes are well-done, but not quite the same as canon--and I'm counting the original costume designs from the first few manga artbooks as canon.

    • Sailor Moon's costume features a breastplate, her usual blue skirt and sailor collar, as well as white boots trimmed in red, as well as gold-ringed gloves. I couldn't tell what color her back bow was, but in the artbooks, it's either white (if she has a cape; cf. MangaStyle), or red (if she doesn't; cf. MangaStyle2). But if she doesn't have a cape, then her choker should be white. And if she doesn't have a cape, she shouldn't technically have the breastplate, either. Her gloves in many of the early designs have an additional red ribbon with a crescent on them, too, to match the boots. Also, the one thing that peeved me most: her cape and her sailor collar are NOT attached. If she has a cape, it's white with a red inner lining. It's not some extended-length sailor collar, a design I hate. Her hair is also lighter as Sailor Moon, an inversion of how Naoko originally wanted it done, but it does somewhat fit with the artbooks. A minor note as Serenity: her wig should be fluffier in the back, because we can see the actress's actual hair underneath, which does not look good. Wigs shouldn't look like wigs, no matter how ridiculous the style or color.
    • Tuxedo Mask's mask resembles that of the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series (or one of them, anyway; he had a few), but I think it looks too much like a Phantom of the Opera mask. The sequined border AND the jewel are just a bit too much; instead of a "professional" phantom thief, he more resembles a guy who raided a costume shop. Also his hair doesn't seem floofy enough, but that's a minor detail; the guy is cute enough.
    • In the end sequence, we see some rather nice fanart of what the other Senshi might look like. Mercury's costume makes me think they're using the semi-first designs for the Senshi; cf. MangaStyle3, except Sailor Mars was oddly shown with a hood, which is not consistent with any of her early designs: (cf. MangaStyle4 and MangaStyle5). Modernization is fine for the actual storyline and whatnot, but the character costumes are iconic, and I feel like they shouldn't be messed with, especially if it's not for budgetary reasons. Modifying the sailor collar in any way means they're not "Sailor" Senshi anymore. Finally, Jupiter was shown without bangs, which just looks bizarre in my book. Yes. it's weird that not a single Sailor Senshi does NOT have bangs (unless you count Sailor Star "Forehead of Doom" Maker), but on her especially, it looks strange. Venus has the same issue as Tuxedo Mask as far as her mask, but otherwise the art for her looks great.


  • The visual effects: They're the most over-the-top. At first, I thought they made the overall work more professional, but there were just too damn many of them, like an AMV that uses transitions for every single scene. This is especially prevalent in the opening. I can understanding needing special effects to show the Moon Kingdom and its destruction, as well as the transition from the moon to Earth (though I'm bummed we didn't see the actual deaths of Serenity and Endymion, or the Senshi, or Queen Serenity (!), and of course for the youma, Luna's revealing of the Transformation Brooch, and Bunny's transformation, but there were WAAAAAAY too many of them in the opening.
  • The sound: During the climactic opening when Endymion was urging Serenity to live on, to fight (an adaptation I think is awesome, because that would make sense for Bunny later becoming Sailor Moon when her guardians normally were the fighters, not herself as Princess Serenity), the sound almost seemed "dubbed." Actually, it probably was, but that's what sound EDITING is for: it's supposed to sound like they're outside (albeit on the Moon, where there shouldn't be any sound, but hey, we have explosions and light, so...) and either whispering in secret or about to get blown up and would therefore be shouting over the din of war.
  • The logo: A totally superficial nitpick on my part, but it looks like an 80s sci-fi movie logo. There are a million more ways it could have been modernized to suit the current series re-release, without necessarily using one of the probably-trademarked versions that are already out there.


In sum: it's an awesome short film, and it looks very well-made, which should make those folks that contributed to the production effort very happy. I hope that if it catches the interest of anybody major, or if they petition the fanbase for money to make a longer film, that they improve some of the things I mentioned above--not for my own edification, but to make it more true to the Sailor Moon canon we clearly all know and love. Keep the Americanization, the modernization, fine--that's actually best for obvious budgetary constraints. But fix things like the costumes, because they're WORTH it. They're so iconic, there's just no reason to alter them. Naoko already came up with so many amazing versions, with any ridiculousness built-in and long-since accepted by fandom! Adapting them for no good reason (I'd love to hear it/them if there are any) just makes people seem like those pompous "artistes" with no respect for the original work that they're adapting.

I'd like to see how the story is further adapted, and I'd actually shell out for a soundtrack if there was one made.

I did not contribute in any way to this production, and the above commentary is purely my own, as an interested fan.

January 2016

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