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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 atarashii henshin"
Episode 92: "Sutekina bishounen!? Tenoh Haruka no himitsu"
Episode 93: "Usagi no akogare! Yuubi no tensai Michiru"
Episode 94: "Pure na kokoro wo mamore! Teki mikata mitsu tomoe ransen"
Episode 95: "Koi no otasuke ha Moon ni omakase"
Episode 96: "Reikokuna Uranus? Makoto no pinch"

Extras: Sailor Gallery featuring Sailor Moon, Textless / Kareoke Third Opening

Review Equipment:
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.



One word: 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.


SMS TV DVD I Insert Flap

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 corner.

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.


SMS DVD I Main Menu Screen

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).


SMS DVD I Setup Menu Screen

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.


SMS DVD I Access Menu Screen

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.


SMS DVD I Extra Stuff Menu Screen

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 appropriately set.

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).

A comparison 
between a frame taken from both a master fansub and the DVD release, showing the area missing 
from the DVD

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.


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" (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 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 the tickets Michiru gives to Usagi in the violin daimon episode (episode 93), etc.


Example of embedded translation of an episode title

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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