Sailor Moon S - Heart Collection I DVD Review
Review By: Matthew Belanger. First written
04.29.01. Last modified 01.29.03
DVD Region: 1 - United States of America and Canada
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Audio: Japanese Track - Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, English Track - Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo, Menus - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Released By: Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.
Episode 90: "Chikyuu houkai no yokan?
Nazono shinsenshi shutsugen"
Episode 91: "Ai no rod tanjou! Usagi no
Episode 92: "Sutekina bishounen!? Tenoh
Haruka no himitsu"
Episode 93: "Usagi no akogare! Yuubi no
Episode 94: "Pure na kokoro wo mamore!
Teki mikata mitsu tomoe ransen"
Episode 95: "Koi no otasuke ha Moon ni
Episode 96: "Reikokuna Uranus? Makoto no
Extras: Sailor Gallery featuring Sailor Moon, Textless / Kareoke Third Opening
A) Intel Pentium III 533 MHz PC with 128 MB RAM, WinDVD 2000 Multichannel
2.3, Pioneer 10x DVD-ROM Drive, TTX 1556 15" Digital Monitor on Voodoo3 2000
AGP video card, Labtec LCS-2514 4.1 Surround Sound speaker system on CREATIVE
Sound Blaster Live! Value sound card
B) JVC XV-D2000 DVD Player, Sony Dolby Digital AC3-Ready STR-DE425 FM
Stereo / FM-AM Receiver, 5 Sony surround sound speakers, 27" GE Television
Packaging ... A
Menus ... A+
Audio ... A-
Video ... B-
Titling ... B+
Extra ... B+
Content ... A-
Finally, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is getting the treatment it deserves in
the US and Canada, even if it has to contend with the North American logo
on the packaging and on the menus XP
Pioneer did good with the 3 Sailormoon movie releases, and the television
series releases are proving to be even better.
SUGOI! Pioneer did a dandy job in this department.
Reversible cover + clear case = irresistible ^_^; The
front cover (to the right) with Sailormoon is very pretty
and nicely done, the spine is neat and tidy, and the back
has a nice layout with a lot of beautifully edited images.
The information on the back includes original character
names and terms, along with direct episode translations,
and features a main picture of Tuxedo Kamen and Usagi
holding hands right before they are about to receive the
Spiral Heart Moon Rod.
The reverse cover
(to the left) is very pretty as well, showing Sailors Jupiter
and Mercury, and its back cover has blown-up pictures of
Sailormoon holding the Spiral Heart Moon Rod (from the S
opening), and Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity
standing in a field of roses (from the S ending). The
only downside to the reversible cover is that the "S"
in "Sailor Moon S" is only in shiny red on the
Sailormoon side, on the cover and on the spine, as is the
"Sailor Moon" and circular outline in shiny
gold on the spine label. Another possible downside is
that there is no information on the back of the Jupiter/Mercury
side, which may be annoying to some people. When the
Jupiter/Mercury cover is compared to the second SMS
Japanese laserdisc cover from which it was inspired,
there is some shadowing missing in Mercury's hair on the
DVD cover that suddenly makes it look odd.
The insert flap
placed inside the case, pictured to the right, is single-sided
and shows the same Tuxedo Mask/Usagi picture that is on
the back of the Sailormoon side of the cover, along with
episode titles, chapter stops, and the NA logo in the top-left
Despite the little problems, the packaging is
superb and the effort put into it is very clear. It would
have received an A+ if the shiny foil had been put on
both cover sides.
The menus are very interesting, and different from
the movies' menus. The DVD opens up with Sailormoon doing
her Moon Spiral Heart Attack (pictured to the left), and right when she poses
before she's about to say the attack words, the scene
freezes and the access buttons display on the right side
of the screen, a tilted heart is shown on the left side
with Usagi transforming repeatedly inside of it (first version from episode 91
only, the differences being a white heart comes out from the screen and disappears
into her boot after ribbons form her right boot with her leg in the air, and there
being animation problems with the blue heart outline twirling around her), and the
NA logo is in the top-right corner (it appears on every
menu). Also visible are semitransparent stars that fly
towards the screen, Windows' "Stars"
screensaver style (except that they look prettier and not
like white dots).
Accessing the Setup menu brings up
an animation of Sailormoon doing her attack again (to the left), but
starting from her pose at the main menu. It freezes
during one of her spins while she is still standing, and
all of the options come onscreen.
When the Scene Access is pressed, the same attack that
was just mentioned happens again, but part of it is cut
out so that it quickly shows Sailormoon squatting while
spinning, and then the screen slides downward to reveal
the Tuxedo Kamen/Usagi picture from the back of the
Sailormoon side of the DVD (to the left and down) and on the insert page (with
the addition of stars), along with scene access icons.
After clicking on Extra Stuff, the same attack previously
mentioned ensues to when Sailormoon is holding her rod up in
the air while spiralling light emits from it (to the left and far down). It then
freezes and options come onto the screen.
The menus' audio is, shockingly, Dolby Digital 5.1
surround, with mono music and sound effects coming from
the anime, and discrete surround music and sound effects
made by Pioneer. The audio fits nicely with the menus'
animations, and it is nice that
Pioneer took the extra step to encode the menus in 5.1
surround, seeing as many Hollywood movies' DVD menus are
just plain 2.0 stereo surround.
The menus are creative
and not at all boring, and since I can't think of any
faults with them (except that some people may find the
opening menu animation takes a while to play), they
receive a perfect score. Pretty good stuff here!
The audio on the disc is, for the most part, clean and easy to listen to, but doesn't
sound 100% perfect. The Japanese and English audio tracks are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono and 2.0 Stereo respectively for the episodes themselves, so there is no
directionality or fantastic effects to be in awe of (only the NA Theme on the English audio
track is in stereo; voices, music, and sound effects are in mono). For fans of the original
Sailormoon, however, there is some comfort in knowing that Pioneer couldn't possibly
downgrade the audio from stereo to mono like they did with the movie releases, since the TV
episodes were created in mono originally (;_;). Out of the two tracks on the disc, the
Japanese wins over the English, as the music, sound effects, and speech levels consistently
mix well together, creating nice audio, and a low bass sound for a subwoofer to make use of
during those mysterious, darkened, eerie moments. The English track isn't the same story,
however, as for many episodes the music is way too low, the speech a little too loud, and
the sound effects somewhere in between. I don't think I need to touch on the quality of the
dub, as most people already know how it is by now. I'm actually unable to let myself sit
through every dubbed episode and put myself through that kind of torture, but from what I
have read by those people who have, the scenes that were cut out for Cartoon Network have
been dubbed regularly with nothing monumentally changed. Amara and Michelle are just really,
really, really really really close cousins. x.X The audio is given a good mark, since there
isn't really any way for Pioneer to make improvements on the source material.
The Sailormoon anime, throughout its 5 seasons, has had different art styles which triumph
over each other during different moments. The visuals in S are well-presented on this disc,
but could have been slightly better. There was no rainbowing evident, but even with the disc
being dual layered to fit all 7 episodes on one side, artifacting was sometimes noticeable,
probably moreso on digital visual equipment. On the bright side, colours are presented well,
and compared with master fansubs, they are fuller and livelier, with brightness and contrast
One unfortunate aspect of the video on this disc is that there is some cropping evident when
compared to the Japanese laserdisc releases. Pioneer has denied accusations of purposely
cropping the video (their claim supported by the overscan present on the left and right of
the screen on the basic video) and has said that they received the TV masters from Japan to
make their DVD, instead of the laserdisc masters. The comparison picture below shows two
images taken from episode 90, the first image being from a fansub made from the laserdisc,
and the second image taken from the DVD (the area in black and white depicts what is missing
on the DVD and is on the Japanese laserdisc).
Another annoying feature of this disc is that Pioneer put the last S opening, the third, on
for all of the episodes, when it is only meant to be seen after certain events take place
later in the season. It would make sense that they did this purposely since the third
opening is probably the only one available without Japanese characters embedded on it, it is
in this way that Pioneer can embed their English credits onto it. Still, this is unfortunate.
Sailormoon has never looked this good in North America, and most likely hasn't been able to
look this great in Japan. I would have given the video a better grade if Pioneer had made
the disc dual-sided instead of dual-layered to make the artifacting less apparent, and had
put the disc on hold and contacted TOEI to get the proper masters to make their DVD. Then
again, Pioneer may have not realized the mistake, but North American fans shouldn't have to
suffer for it.
The quality of the translation subtitles on the DVD appears to be accurate and better
than the subtitles on my VKLL fansubs of SMS. Many new things that were questionable
on the VKLL tapes suddenly make sense on the DVD now, and Pioneer even included
honourifics a lot of the time (e.g. "Mamo-chan"). There is some odd spelling though,
such as "daimohn" (they even wrote on the back of the packaging "daimon", so...?),
"Kaorinite" (acceptable, but I'm used to it with an 'l' o.@), and the daimons' names
especially. The letters for the subtitling are easy to read, thin and yellow with
Pioneer embedded word translations onto the video for some of the large background
wording and signs, among other things, and did it mostly in a non-threatening manner.
It actually looks GOOD. Some people would argue that Pioneer should have just left
the translating for the subtitling to do, but it probably needed to be done this way
for those watching with the English audio track on and the subtitles off. I wish that
Pioneer had translated some other important things as well though,
such as the tickets Michiru gives to Usagi in the violin
daimon episode (episode 93), etc.
Anyway, the annoying text, unfortunately, includes the translation of the episode
title at the beginning of every episode, since it is rather large and set over the
five hearts at the top of the screen (see the last image to the right), and the end
credits text for both endings. "Otome no Policy" and "Tuxedo Mirage" were both set up
so that animation is going on at the left side of the screen with space left at the
right side for the credits to go, but Pioneer ignored this and put the English credits
smack-dab in the centre of the screen, spanning from left to right.
The crediting text put on the opening, however, looks pretty good, and I have no complaints there. Titling would have been given a A+ if Pioneer had just used the correct spelling of names, hadn't destroyed the episode title screens and the ending credits animation, and translated everything on screen worthy of being translated.
A heap of extras should not be expected from this DVD release, since Pioneer has to span them
across however many DVDs they plan to release for S and SuperS to occupy. What is on here,
though, is interesting, and until now used to be rare. The "Sailor Gallery" talks all about
Usagi Tsukino/Serena, and its information is pretty accurate (although I don't think all
average junior highschoolers are stupid :p). A lot of facts about her are listed (I have to
wonder where some of them came from), and her new brooch and attack rod are shown in detail on
a small portion of the screen. When Sailormoon is shown with them, it says "Thanks to the
strong love between Usagi and Mamoru, Sailor Moon can increase her power!" Doesn't that make
you think of Pokémon, or some sort of RPG? ^^;
Anyway, also in the extras is the third textless opening, with normal audio and karaoke audio
to choose from. The mono karaoke track sounds too muffled to enjoy though, it's unclear to me
why Pioneer couldn't obtain a better sounding track or even take the extra step to throw on a
stereo karaoke track and mix in the opening sound effects. Also a part of this extra are
subtitles that turn green as the Japanese words are sung. They're a little slow sometimes, and
it'd be much better if every syllable/sound lighted up and then returned to yellow again
instead, but they don't do that, every syllable/sound/word changes to green and remains that
way until the next line appears. It's still a neat extra to have.
You can also choose to view the DVD credits from the Extra Stuff menu, an option that is
interesting for only 5 seconds. The extras suit the DVD well, and are given a good mark for
that, but the karaoke part could have used improvements. Remember, too many extras would put
future discs at risk of becoming bare.
If you're reading this, then you should already know the premise of Sailormoon S :P This is all
my opinion, so BEWARE. Most people say that this is the best season of Sailormoon, the climax
of the storyline I suppose. I have to disagree, since SuperS is my favourite season ^^; But S
is still very fresh, intriguing, mysterious, and despite some filler episodes, you are kept
wondering how things will turn out. It is the introduction of the Outer Senshi as well, so yay,
high marks :) The next-episode previews weren't included on the DVD (of course), they were
entertaining and usually quite funny, so they will be missed. It's been speculated that they
were probably never dubbed, and that Pioneer didn't want to insert silence onto the English
audio track during those parts on the DVD, but they could have just thrown the previews into
the Extra Stuff section with only the Japanese audio track and had no problems. Hopefully in
the future Pioneer will run out of new extras as they make new DVDs, and decide to include the
previews on them then.
So, to summarize, this is one unbeatable disc when you get 7 entire episodes on it, along with
the uncut English dub (for those who care) as well as a few fun extras. And who can resist
staring at the cover? Stop reading this and get the DVD already!!
Back to Sailormoon DVD Reviews
Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon S © 1994 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. © 2000 Naoko Takeuchi / Toei Animation.
Package design by © 2000 Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P.
DVD produced by Pioneer.
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