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Sailor Moon S - Heart Collection III DVD Review

Review By: Matthew Belanger. First written 06.14.01. Last modified 01.29.03

DVD Region: 1 - United States of America and Canada

Video: Open matte 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) Inc.

Episodes:
Episode 103: "Yattekita chicchana bishoujo senshi"
Episode 104: "Tomodachi wo motomette! Chibimoon no katsuyaku"
Episode 105: "Power ga hoshii! Mako-chan no mayaoi michi"
Episode 106: "Unmei no kizuna! Uranus no tooi hi"
Episode 107: "Geijutsu ha ai no bakhuhatsu! Chibi-usa no hatsukoi"
Episode 108: "Usagi no dance he waltz ni notte"

Extras: Sailor Gallery featuring Sailor Chibi Moon, Non-textless First Opening

Review Equipment:
A) Intel Pentium III 533 MHz PC with 128 MB RAM, WinDVD 3.0, 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

Grades:

Packaging ... B
Menus ... B
Audio ... B+
Video ... A
Titling ... B
Extra ... B
Content ... A-
SMS TV DVD III Disc

Here I am again, visiting the third in Pioneer's series of SMS discs, not altogether thrilled, nor exactly repulsed. This is a good release, it'd just be better if Pioneer would fire the person who keeps making the small stupid mistakes in the releases.


Packaging:

SMS TV DVD III Side A

AAH! MY EYES! *falls down dead* Okay, so it's not that bad, I was just never one for taking-in so much pink all at once. The front cover to this disc (to the right) shows Sailorchibimoon in all her shades-of-pink glory (all 456 shades, no less ;), which, depending on the person, is either really cute or really revolting (I'm more the latter). I'm giving up on hope that Pioneer will put some sort of order into what images they make as the main covers so that the covers with the red and gold foiling make some sort of logical sense, but that's just just not going to happen :) The back of the main cover has even more pink, yay... but smack-dab in the middle is JUPITER-CHAN, YAY!!! </bias>. Other pretty and nicely edited pictures are shown as well, and the description at the top remains true to the real romanized name spellings, etc. Pink-lovers, go to town!

 

SMS TV DVD III Side B

Looking at the reverse cover (to the left)... OHMIGOD! The cousin scouts are about to kiss, ewww! (;p) Sort of risky on Pioneer's part, but I'm still glad they included it, it just wouldn't be right without Uranus-san and Neptune-chan. I'm not happy, however, with their coloruing job. If you stare closely at Neptune's hair colour, and then down closely at her fuku colour, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Whoever made the reverse cover gave Uranus her navy blue properly, but Neptune... green? Green? Jupiter-sama is green. Where did green come from? Even Neptune's opposite background swirl is green... this isn't right at all, Neptune-chan should sue! >:X

 

Matthew's recoloured reverse cover

So, instead of just complaining, I decided to recolour the image myself, so that it looks perdy and fine and all professiminal :D (shown at the right). If anyone out there with a really expensive and wonderful laser printer would like a larger version of my recoloured cover to print off for themself (to replace the weird DVD cover), e-mail me and we may be able to work out a deal (I'm very desperate to replace mine but I don't have access a wonderful, expensive, laser printer o.o). Oh well, I can hope :D Anyway, the back of the reverse cover (above) shows Haruka reaching out for her newly-appeared Planet henshin stick (it seems the image was taken from Pioneer's source material, the edges are soft and the colours rather bland), and below it stands Sailorchibimoon in her "oshioki yo!" pose. Once again, pink-lovers rejoice ^^;

 

SMS TV DVD III Insert Flap

The insert sheet (to the left) is single-sided and shows the same Sailorjupiter picture that is on the back of the first cover (from ep 105... her ponytail is looking rather slim, I think her hair is falling out @_@), with episode titles, chapter stops, and the NA logo in the top-left corner. Chapter 11 still mistakenly lists Prologue as "Prolong" as the last disc's insert sheet did... so, yeah, a good example of why spell check is never enough.

Since Pioneer botched-up Neptune's colour royally (and doesn't know how to proofread), the packaging doesn't get as good of a mark as it could have received. Very, very preventable :X (People at Pioneer, just WATCH THE SHOW...)


Menus:

SMS DVD III Main Menu Screen

The menus are okay as far as menus go, but they could have been more creative. The DVD opens up in the middle of Chibiusa's henshin when she is turned around and her main fuku appears on her. She twirls upward and around so that her face is infront of the screen, hearts put the last remaining accessories on her, her eyes open, and before she can twirl back to strike her pose, the animation stops (pictured to the right) and the access buttons display on the right side of the screen, a tilted heart with a heavy glare across it is on the left of the screen with Chibiusa repeatedly transforming inside of it (the glare is there to hide her nudity, and the animation in the heart plays very choppily so that less frames show her being naked), and the NA logo is shown on the top-left corner of the screen. Once again visible are flying semitransparent stars.

 

SMS DVD III Setup Menu Screen

Accessing the Setup menu starts the beginning of Chibiusa's henshin with her compact blinking, the screen turning pink, and heart cut-outs popping out of the screen from left-to-right, leaving two borders that raise and lower away to reveal a close-up of Chibiusa's face. All of the setup options (pictured right) then appear.

 

SMS DVD III Access Menu Screen

The same exact thing happens when Scene Access is selected as in the Setup menu, but instead everything stops after the heart cut-outs fly off the screen and all the scene access options appear (shown right and down).

 

SMS DVD III Extra Stuff Menu Screen

When Extra Stuff is clicked on, all of the options from the Main menu's screen disappear and Chibimoon finishes executing her henshin animation. All of the extra selections then appear onscreen (shown right and far down), but what exactly is "Featuring Sailor Chibi-Usa's"? o_O

 

The menus' audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, with the only drawback being all of the audio is the same as that from the last disc (Jupiter menus), and even worse, only one of the tracks from the last disc's menus is used for all 3 menu transitions here (the last disc's had 2 different ones to break the monotonousness). I figured Pioneer would try to make different sounds for each of the senshi, but unfortunately I was wrong. The only sound effect used from the anime is what plays during Moon's "Moon Spiral Heart Attack" during the Main menu's opening animations.

The menus serve their purpose, but seem to have been made quickly (illustrated by the heart on the Main menu showing Moon's Cosmic compact at the end, and the lack of proofreading [again] in the Extra Stuff menu). Had Pioneer created new music and sound effects to go with the sugaryness of Chibimoon, the menus could have been really cute, but the sound effects here that fit Jupiter don't really fit Chibimoon. The only good thing about the menus is their speed.


Audio:

The audio on the disc is clean and easy to listen to, but once again, doesn't sound 100% perfect, and in this release the Japanese audio appears to have more problems with high-pitched speaking than previous releases did. 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 again, 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 still way too low, the speech a little too loud, and the sound effects somewhere in between, but then again some episodes are nicely done for a change. The audio is given an okay mark, since there isn't really any way for Pioneer to make improvements on the source material.


Video:

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 6 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 appropriately set (Note: this isn't illustrated in the comparison picture below).

One good plus about the disc is that there is more information on the left and right sides of the screen than the Japanese laserdiscs have, and some parts are even zoomed OUT to make more information on all sides, such as all of episode 108, shown below (only the coloured part on the right is what the laserdisc has, the part in black and white is what was missing and is included on the DVD). This is Pioneer's first Sailor Moon TV release using the laserdisc masters for all of the episodes, and with the great look, let's hope they continue to do their future releases this way.

A comparison between a frame taken from both the DVD release and a master fansub, depicting the area that was missing from the laserdisc

As I've reported before, the last S opening is used for all of the episodes instead of the second opening. This is probably due to the unavailability of a textless second opening, and only the third could be used so that the English credits could be put onto it.

Sailormoon has never looked this good in North America, and with the extra information on the sides and the zooming out, perhaps it 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, if not non-existent, but then again, people would have been upset if they had gone that route too.


Titling:

Example of embedded translation of background wording

 

Example of embedded translation of Japanese sign

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"
(daimon), "Eugeal" (Eudial), and the daimons' names especially. The letters for the subtitling are easy to read, bubbly and yellow with black outlining.

 

Example of embedded translation of written characters

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 Eudial's report in episode 103, etc.

 

Example of embedded translation of an episode title

Anyway, annoying text includes the ending credits, which was set up so that animation is occuring on the left side of the screen with space left on the right side for the credits to be put. Pioneer ignored this and put the English credits smack-dab in the centre of the screen spanning from left to right. Unlike the previous discs Pioneer made, this time around they haven't been as colourful and creative with their overlaying subtitling.

 

The crediting text put on the opening, however, looks pretty good, and I have no complaints there at all. Titling would have been given a A+ if Pioneer had just used the correct spelling of names, hadn't destroyed the ending credits animation, been as unique with fonts and colours as before, and translated everything on screen worthy of being translated.


Extras:

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 about Sailor Chibi Moon|Chibi-Usa/Rini, with no new information that I haven't seen before (with the exception of Luna-P having been built by Sailormercury of the future, never heard that one before). There are also 7 pictures of Chibiusa/Chibimoon, 4 of which are against a white background and I have never seen before, and the last 3 which are taken from the episodes on this disc.

Also in the extras is the first S opening complete with Japanese credits, with regular audio this time. It's too bad the audio sounds somewhat garbled and the picture is a bit grainy, but it's nice to see the very first opening with the extended parts where each of the 4 Inner Senshi performs her attack. From the extras you can also choose to view the DVD credits, if you're interested in that. There weren't very many extras this time around, but Pioneer at least put something on the disc.


Content:

I suppose you could call these episodes "filler" if you want to, or the meat of the burger (or is that the same thing?), but we do meet (and reacquaint with) new characters, like Eudial and Chibiusa. Eudial ROCKS! Everytime I watch the episodes with her in them I root for her to win! And Chibiusa, well... yeah, she's cute, just not when surrounded by 456 shades of pink :P There are a lot of good memorable moments in these episodes, at least. 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 at that time.

So, to summarize, this is a great disc when you get 6 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? (Oh wait, that doesn't apply to this review ^^;) You know you want the DVD, so go out and get it!



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Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon S 1994 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. 2001 Naoko Takeuchi / Kodansha / Toei Animation.
Package design by 2001 Pioneer Entertainment (USA) Inc.
DVD produced by Pioneer Entertainment.

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