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Sailor Moon S - Heart Collection IV DVD Review

Review By: Matthew Belanger. First written 08.17.01. 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 109: "Shougeki no toki! Akasareta tagai no shoutai"
Episode 110: "Uranus-tachi no shi? Talisman shutsugen"
Episode 111: "Seihai no shinpi na chikara. Moon nidan henshin"
Episode 112: "Shin no messiah ha dare? Hikari to kage no chaos"
Episode 113: "Youki tadayou ie. Bishoujo Hotaru no himitsu"
Episode 114: "Idol daisuki! Nayameru Mimete"

Extras: Sailor Gallery featuring Sailor Mercury, Non-textless Second 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 ... A-
Menus ... B-
Audio ... A-
Video ... A+
Titling ... B
Extra ... B-
Content ... A
SMS TV DVD IV Disc

Along with the creation of the SMS DVD III review, I ventured into creating the review for this disc right afterwards. Were there any noticably major differences between the two discs? You bet there was.


Packaging:

SMS TV DVD IV Side A

Ooh, my eyes~~~ *_* Pioneer has pulled itself up from its bootstraps and begun to take care of their covers again. Will this trend continue? (I already know the answer to that, and the answer is no, but let's not discuss that in this review.) To the left is the very very beautiful picture of SuperSailormooon, complete with an awesome colouring job (some people might argue SM's true colour is pink, but yellow IS associated with SuperSailormoon an awful lot, probably due to the arrival of Chibimoon and 2 pink senshi looking bad together). One thing I noticed though is that "Heart Collection IV" isn't in bold like past DVD covers were, and Pioneer is now using a different DVD logo (the "VIDEO" part is below the logo and not inside of it, true for the actual DVD label also). This isn't a complaint, just a remark of what I noticed. The back of the cover shows a nice image of Mimete discarding her disguise, with a few cute pictures of Hotaru-chan, and even an image from episode 110 when Haruka and Michiru are holding hands (again, bold of Pioneer, and I applaud them for it). The only complaint I have is the repeated spelling of "Eugeal" in the description.

 

SMS TV DVD IV Side B

The reverse cover is... interesting, although it was never a Japanese Laserdisc cover. The image is pretty in my opinion, but I've heard other people go "bleh" ^^; The greens all around Pluto make the image all the prettier, it's just too bad her real colour is maroon, which I will get to in the next paragraph. Also, for some reason, "Heart Collection IV" is back to being in bold. Anyway, the back of the reverse cover shows 2 images from episode 111, the top shows the 4 Inners, Chibimoon, and Tuxedo Kamen gasping while watching Sailormoon and Eudial race to reach the holy grail, which the bottom image shows (plus who is victorious). Pretty, pretty all around.

 

Matthew's recoloured reverse cover

Like with the last review, instead of barking at incorrect colours, I have recoloured the reverse cover myself to see what might have been. I don't really care that the colour is wrong (this time), but I decided for the sake of the review I'd recolour it anyway. With the greens becoming maroon (and purple), the cover is sorta... well, ugly, but Pioneer could have done some different shading to make it look pretty too. Or maybe a Pluto cover with maroon just shouldn't be allowed to happen, I'm not sure. Anyway, you can click the image (this time) for a bigger picture, and decide for yourself if you like it or not. If anyone really wants a bigger version to print off for themself, e-mail me, but I'm not expecting that to happen.

 

SMS TV DVD IV Insert Flap

The insert sheet (to the left) is single-sided, and this time around, sports a different picture than what is on the back of the main cover. Pioneer decided to take a well-known SuperSailoruranus trading card picture and remove the things that make her Super, and put her against a visual of the moon (which is from the SMS opening, I think). I don't like this for two reasons: 1) I've seen this image so many times that it looks wrong to see her un-Supered, and 2) they forgot to remove her back bows. Chapter 5 "Ending" isn't listed, and the titles are a little... weird, but that's not the insert's fault, more the translator's (e.g. "Death of Uranus and Neptune !? Talisman Appear" should be "Deaths of Uranus and Neptune!? The Talismans Appear!"). It's nice to get a different picture for the insert anyway.

The packaging receives a pretty good mark. The main cover is perfect, the reverse is pretty good despite the colour problem, and the insert was a good attempt at trying something different this time. I hope to see a different insert than what is on the back of the main cover for the next release, too.


Menus:

SMS DVD IV Main Menu Screen

The menus are better in one area on this disc, but worse in the rest. The DVD begins at the part in Mercury's henshin where bubbles are exploding from her. Mercury turns around while being pulled across the screen, and before she can finish her pose, the access buttons display on the right side of the screen, a tilted heart viewing Mercury's henshin and first 2 attacks appears on the left, and the NA logo is shown on the top-left corner of the screen (shown at the right). The menu is nicely done, but Mercury's pose... well, she looks like she's doing aerobics ^^; (Sorry, but it does). Visible again are flying semitransparent stars.

 

SMS DVD IV Setup Menu Screen

When the Setup menu is accessed, the last half of Shabon Spray is shown, and then an image from Shine Aqua Illusion appears along with setup options (to the right).

 

SMS DVD IV Access Menu Screen

When the Scene Access is selected, the same thing as selecting Setup happens, with the difference of a bad-looking frame from the beginning of Shabon Spray appearing at the end with all of the Scene Access options (to the right and down).

 

SMS DVD IV Extra Stuff Menu Screen

If you click on Extra Stuff, a less-than-a-second transition comes up of Mercury finishing her pose from the Main menu with really quick music. The entire thing is too quick, and leaves you a little flabbergasted. The Extra Stuff options appear on the screen next to Sailormercury (to the right and far down).

 

The menus' audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, but this time the transition audio tracks are slightly changed, and therefore different. One track is the same from the Jupiter menus of SMS DVD II with a few more sound effects added in, and another is a small part of a Jupiter track, therefore really quick (change is good, right?). Again, the audio doesn't exactly fit Mercury, but it looks as if this will be the audio for all of the senshi menus. 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 fulfill the agenda, but again, seem to have been made quickly. It's a nice addition to have more going on inside the heart on the Main menu, though. The menus don't really have any unique spark to them, and many Sailormercury fans may be disappointed. The menus receive an okay grade.


Audio:

The audio on the disc is clean and easy to listen to, and in my opinion sounds better than previous releases. 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, but then again some episodes are nicely done for a change. The audio is given an good 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 very nicely shown on this disc when compared to the previous discs, with artifacting being less noticeable and colours looking more vibrant, even pastel-like at times. Brightness and contrast are also perfectly set on this release (Note: the quality of the colour and the brightness/contrast between the laserdiscs and this DVD isn't compared in the 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 114, 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).

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 was used for all of the episodes on the previous discs, but should have only been started to be used on the second episode of this disc (episode 110).

Sailormoon has never looked this amazing in North America, and with the near-perfect video and extra information on the sides with the zooming out, perhaps it hasn't been able to look this great in Japan. Video receives a perfect mark this time, let's hope Pioneer continues with it.


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), "Mimet" (Mimete, but I suppose that's arguable), and the daimons' names especially. The letters for the subtitling are easy to read, but have reverted back to the previous thin and yellow subtitles with black outlines found on SMS DVD II (Pioneer, make up your mind).

 

Example of embedded translation of written characters

Pioneer embedded word translations onto the video for some of the large background wording and signs, but with the start of this release, Pioneer has also left some translating for the subtiling track to do (e.g. Eudial's death-threat note). I wish that Pioneer had translated some other important things as well though, such as the UFO catcher doll on Eudial's head in episode 109, etc.

 

Example of embedded translation of an episode title

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 first 2 SMS 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. The "Sailor Gallery" talks quickly about Sailor Mercury|Ami/Amy, with no new information that I haven't seen before. There are also 4 pictures of Ami/Mercury, 1 from a cut dub VHS cover, and the rest from various episodes in the S series. For some reason, Mercury was rather jipped by Pioneer in this release with such a short biography and very few pictures.

Also in the extras is the second S opening complete with Japanese credits, with regular audio this time. The audio sounds fine and the video looks pretty good, unlike the last disc's first opening extra. The differences in the second opening compared to the third include the missing presences of Pluto, Chibimoon, Hotaru (who has Kaorinite in place of her), and SuperSailormoon (who is just Sailormoon, with no double henshin scene). From the extras you can also choose to view the DVD credits, if you're interested in them. With such little extras on this disc, you has to wonder if Pioneer has run out of them.


Content:

There are some really great episodes on here, and it's wonderful to see them so nicely presented. We see the demise of Eudial, the return of Kaorinite, and the introduction of Mimete. There are a lot of touching moments, funny moments, and unnerving moments, and with only 2 discs left in the S series the pressure has started to build regarding the big finale. 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, with Pioneer's lack of extras on this disc, they will include the previews on the next 2 discs.

To summarize, this is a near-perfect disc when you get 6 entire great-looking 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 this particular cover? You know you want the DVD, so go out and get it!!



Back to Sailormoon DVD Reviews



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.

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Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon 1992 Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha, Toei Animation, TV Asahi, and Bandai. This is only a fan page and is not intended to infringe on any rights.

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