Sailor Moon, Episodes 1-4

I think one could easily write about Viz streaming the original Sailor Moon again with just four paragraphs of the word “SQUEE” and have that be a perfectly serviceable review, but having enjoyed watching the first few episodes of the series, I thought I would write about it a little bit. I’ve read some (but not all) of the Sailor Moon manga. I encountered the franchise first in the old Tokyopop editions, but I haven’t watched the anime that extensively before. I probably caught a few episodes of the dub when it was on TV before, and I’m quite fond of Tuxedo Mask animated gifs.


I haven’t watched the anime in order in subtitle format at all before, so I was quite happy that it was now available. The first four episodes firmly establish the character of Usagi/Sailor Moon, who starts out as a clumsy crybaby, and then becomes a clumsy crybaby with magical girl powers thanks to the intervention of the magical talking cat Luna. The clumsy girl who turns out to have extraordinary abilities is a very typical character type in both anime and manga, but Usagi manages to be a very appealing example of the type due to her inability to study for school, her devotion for naps, and her single-minded devotion to taking the easy path whenever possible. The first few episodes of the series follow the story elements of the manga fairly closely, as Usagi investigates the evil forces that seek to destroy the balance of the universe by capturing human energy through costume jewelry. Seriously the villains of Sailor Moon might have hit on something by appealing to the weak aspects of human nature, but they are surprisingly ineffective. Also, the balance of the universe often seems to be centered on struggles that take place very near Usagi’s neighborhood.

One thing that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would were the musical cues in the series. It is hilarious that whenever Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask makes an appearance, he brings with him the distant sound of castanets. I was also amused by the fact that Usagi’s crying sometimes acts like a sonic weapon. The first four episodes were fun to watch, but I find myself growing a bit impatient for the appearances of the other Sailor Guardians. Just as in the manga, there are references here and there to Sailor V, and I’m hoping that Mars and Mercury will show up very soon. I have a subscription to Hulu, so that’s where I’ve been watching Sailor Moon, but you can also watch it for free on Viz’s Neon Alley. I feel like Viz has kicked off the summer season by giving everyone a huge present, and I know I’m going to be looking forward to Mondays when new episodes are released!

Manga Gift Guide 2013

Since Hanukkah is well underway and Christmas looms on the horizon, I thought I’d put together a list of what I’d likely buy manga loving friends, as well as what I’d like to get for the holidays!

Sweet Rein

I wrote when I reviewed it first that Sweet Rein was a great feel-good manga for the holiday season, and I still think that several weeks later! Sakura Tsukuba is an old favorite from the CMX days, so being able to read another series of hers was a real treat. Sweet Rein might be a little TOO sweet, but this is a shoujo manga about a high school girl Santa Claus falling in love with her mystical reindeer boy, so what would you expect? This is a perfect stocking stuffer for a shoujo manga fan.

Vinland Saga

I loved this manga. Sometimes you just need a narratively complex, exquisitely drawn manga about Vikings being Vikings. The deluxe hardcover makes an ideal gift, and the combination of innovative action scenes mixed with great character development makes this manga appealing to anyone who likes things that are good. I feel like this would be a great crossover manga series as well, as Yukimura’s art isn’t too manga-ish, so it might make a great gift for someone who is mainly into western comics but who wants to give manga a try. Plus, if you are starting to feel frustrated by all the holiday good cheer, there’s nothing like a few viking beheadings to serve as a stress release.

Gundam: The Origin

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You know what another good Christmas gift is!? Char Aznable! Just picture him at your family gatherings smirking in Machiavellian glee, sowing the seeds of destruction wherever he goes! OK, maybe that wouldn’t be so great for your continued health in 2014. But I feel like Vertical gave a wonderful gift to manga fans everywhere by publishing these deluxe editions of Gundam: The Origin. If you enjoy drama and giant robots fighting in space, you can’t go wrong with this series.

Sailor Moon Box Sets

Sailor Moon! In box set formats! If you don’t have them already, buy them in boxes! Actually, I’m thinking of picking up the second box set to finish up my collection.

The box sets have STICKERS! SAILOR MOON STICKERS! By the Power of the Moon, I will decorate your laptop!!!!

Manga by Kyoko Okazaki

I haven’t read Pink yet, but I’m putting it on this list because it would be a great present for me!!! I want to read it! Helter Skelter was so cynical and bonkers, I’m looking forward to reading any of Okazaki’s work.

I think you could induce whiplash in someone by giving them both Sweet Rein and Helter Skelter, but why not? Reading this jarringly cynical take on the fashion world was entertaining, even if I did sometimes feel like I needed to bleach my brain a tiny bit afterwards.

Josei Disguised as Shoujo from Viz Media

I’m pretty stoked that Viz is releasing Happy Marriage and Midnight Secretary under their Shojo Beat line. And really, what could be more festive than vampire bosses who are harsh and demanding feeding on their secretaries and falling in love with them due to their awesome blood or secretaries forced into a marriage of convenience with their strict and stuck-up but secretly caring bosses? There might be a bit of a repetitive theme here, but I love it!

Escaflowne Eps 1-4


It was a funny coincidence that I decided that I would embark on a rewatch of The Vision of Escaflowne and finished the first disc the day before Funimation announced that they’d acquired rights to make this classic anime available again. I haven’t watched a ton of anime, but Escaflowne is by far my favorite series. Every two years or so I decide to watch it again, and I’m generally fine with just watching a show once or twice. This show really rewards those who see it multiple times, as the characterization, setting, and storyline are so rich and complex, I often feel like I find something new to appreciate with each viewing. I’ll see if I can work through my old Bandai DVDs by the time the new edition from Funimation comes out, and feel free to dig out your copies of Escaflowne and join me in a rewatch in anticipation of what Funimation decides to do with the rerelease.

Hitomi the heroine of the show is sympathetic without being cloying. She’s a bit of a jock, as she’s dedicated to her track team. Hitomi also indulges in a bit of mysticism as she’s her school’s resident tarot card reader. She has a goofy crush on the captain of the boys’ track team at her school, and she spends plenty of time with her best friend awkwardly blushing and obsessing about him. Hitomi starts seeing visions as she’s running of destruction, giant metal monsters, and a young boy fighting. Her visions become true as Van Fanel appears on the high school track, pursued by a dragon. Hitomi and her friends narrowly escape while Van kills the dragon, but Hitomi and Van are carried off to to his world Gaea, where Earth appears as a second moon in the sky.


Van is the reluctant prince of the country Fanelia, a place with a strong martial arts tradition, a missing older prince (this is significant), and a hazardous habit of sending out future rulers to slay dragons as a rite of passage. Van has a habit of initially addressing Hitomi by yelling “Hey Girl!” (and not in a Ryan Gosling sort of way) but he seems to call her by her first name whenever she’s in danger. Van seems to be doing the best he can in a role he doesn’t want, but he’s affected by violence and doesn’t particularly want to fight even though he can be good at it.

The world of Gaea is an interesting place. It is quasi-medieval, but people have ancient mecha called Guymelefs. There’s a bit of a steampunk and mystical vibe to the technology shown on Gaea, as you see cogs and gears snap into position, and the mecha seem to have the creaky joints of old machines. In addition to humans, there are humanoid animals that live on Gaea as well, with the most prominent being Van’s catgirl Merle. There’s trouble for Fanelia as the Zaibach Empire has cloaking technology for their mecha (like the Romulans!), and an insane military captain in the form of the androgynous and dangerously emotionally unstable Dilandau. Fanelia is razed to the ground and Van is suddenly a prince without a country. He manages to escape with Hitomi and his country’s greatest treasure – the Escaflowne Guymelef.


As Van and Hitomi try to figure out what to do, they fall in with Allen Shezar, whose talents as a swordsman are rivaled only by the puffiness of his sleeves. Alan is a Knight of the country Asturia, and he leads a somewhat piratical crew aboard the airship The Crusade. Hitomi promptly develops a crush on Allen, while Merle jealously guards Van’s attention. One of the things I enjoy about this series is that the world seems so rich, and there is plenty to think about between viewings. What were Allen’s adventures aboard his airship? How did Van and Merle develop a close bond? The world of Escaflowne just seems to exist in a special place where there’s space to ponder the history and relationships between the characters going beyond just the animated episodes.

The show was developed in 1996, but despite the limitations of animation at the time, it doesn’t feel all that dated. The rich setting combined with the strong orchestral and vocal score give the series an epic feel. The theme of the horrors of war and violence is established early, as the fighting provoked by the Zaibach Empire is portrayed as devastating, not glamorous. Even though I’ve probably seen Escaflowne already 5 or 6 times, it sill seemed fresh and interesting when I watched it again, which is the mark of a series that is just timeless. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of my old DVDs now and finding out more about the new edition of this series coming soon.