*WARNING: THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS.*
Though I have seen Sailor Moon R: The Promise of the Rose at least five times over the past few years, nothing could contain my excitement more than when Viz Media and Eleven Arts announced that they were partnering up to get this movie released in the theaters for the first time here in America. Last night, I trekked 30 minutes to the Block in Orange as it was the only theater nearest to me that was playing the film. I am glad I had bought tickets two days in advance, because as I got to the theater, I had heard the movie had sold out. While I was hoping to see the remaster in Japanese with subtitles (which is my preference and some theaters were showing this version), my showing was that of the new english re-dubbed. So regardless of having seen this movie already, here is my review of the new and somewhat improved version of Sailor Moon R: The Promise of the Rose.
Here’s another warning if you did not heed the one at the beginning. This review will have spoilers, especially with key scenes from the film. If you do not want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Otherwise, you have been warned and you’re now reading at your own risk.
Viz Media had some decent swag for those who attended the movie in theaters. Each ticket holder was given a Sailor Moon R black envelope containing one of five possible pencil boards of the Sailor Scouts. At first, I had received two Sailor Jupiters (my husband gave me his, because of course, reasons), but another member of the audience was looking to complete his set, so I traded my duplicate Jupiter for his duplicate Mercury.
The only downside (which is minor), is that the pencil boards are made of cardboard instead of plastic, which a majority of Japanese import boards are made out of. They are nice, so more than likely I will frame them.
Oooooooooooo, Pretty Colors:
Viz Media did an amazing job cleaning up this film. When I had bought the DVD that was released by Pioneer Entertainment, it had little improvements. The film still looked old and dated from 1994 when the DVD was released in 2000. While DVD was still technically in it’s infancy, most studios were taking the time using the technology available to enhance the picture and sound for home release. Pioneer seemed to just take the video transfer from the VHS release from the year before and burned it onto the DVD.
Viz has been working hard to make these re-releases as beautiful as they were when they were first made. Clean and colorful. The movie last night was free from any graininess, darkness, and other blemishes that were on previous releases. Lines were clean and crisp. The saturation was raise just a little to ensure colors popped on screen. Some screen caps I grabbed from the trailers show the amazing upgrade.
MAKE UP! Sailor Guardian!:
An extra treat before the movie started was the official US release of the short, MAKE UP! Sailor Guardian! The short was never released or licensed in the US until Viz Media bought the re-license for all Sailor Moon material. This short was only made available through Bit Torrent streaming and more recently on poor quality subtitled transfers on Youtube. This was also remastered. The short is very cute and is more of a 30 minute montage primer episode covering the previous two seasons of Sailor Moon (season 1 and the first half of season 2).
English Voice Acting:
When watching Anime, I prefer the original Japanese with subtitles. When I started watching Anime in high school (a whopping 18 years ago, if you can believe it), the friends who would supply the VHS tapes always had Japanese language with English subtitles. So it was already grained into me back then. Not saying all english dubbed anime is bad and I have seen a few Animes where the english cast was amazing. So this con might be a little biased but you’ll see what I mean when I make my point for my next con. Not all the english actors from this new dubbed case were terrible and I didn’t mind watching the movie in English. Some of my personal favorites were Robbie Daymond (Tuxedo Kamen), Amanda Miller (Sailor Jupiter), Cherami Lee (Sailor Venus), Kate Higgins (Sailor Mercury), and Sandy Fox (Chibi Usa). My least favorite was newcomer Benjamin Diskon (Fiore), and Stephanie Sheh (Sailor Moon). I don’t really care for Stephanie interpretation of Usagi. I know one can say “But Usagi is 14 and very crybaby and whiny.” While that is true, Sheh’s version almost makes her too whiny and making her come off like she is 10 instead of 14. Benjamin’s Fiore didn’t come off menacing and villainous when needed, and made Fiore seem whiny as well. Which brings me to my other con.
Lost in Translation:
The problem with English dubs is sometimes when you’re translating from Japanese to English, sentences don’t always come out exactly as they mean to. So you have to figure out how the best way to rewrite the same phrase so it still gets across with the same feeling. But depending on who’s overlooking the dubbing process, there are times where the english dubbed will match perfectly with it’s Japanese counterpart (a perfect example of this balance is the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie). The problem with this new dub is there are many scenes in this movie that are serious and dark, and when the actors delivered lines during these scenes, many people in my theater started laughing as if it was a joke. Most notably, the scene where Tuxedo Kamen prevents Sailor Moon from getting stabbed by Fiore by taking the hit himself. Instead of silence from shock like there should have been, many people laughed out loud as Usagi begged Fiore not to take Mamoru away. As the scene ended, more people laughed and I said my somewhat loud inside voice, “it’s not meant to be funny guys.”
Another scene that got laughs was near the end. In the original Japanese version, Fiore ponders what he is feeling after being attacked by his friend Mamoru, and how Mamoru chose to save Usagi over being with him. It’s sad and emotional, but this english dubbed somehow made it laughable. Fiore (Benjamin) delivers the line, “Mamoru threw a flower at me,” and the entire theater including myself erupted in laughter. The line delivery made the scene seem lame, stupid, and whiny on an Anakin Skywalker level.
Overall, I really did enjoy seeing the movie in the theater last night. If you do go, I suggest finding a theater showing the Japanese version. While the overall English Dubbed was not terrible, it wasn’t great either. The blu ray of Sailor Moon R: Promise of the Rose has a targeted release date of April 18th, 2017. You can preorder it from Amazon and Right Stuff anime.
All screen caps are copyright of Viz Media.