After a long delay the next Japanese Blu-Rays of the original Sailor Moon anime are being released. Following a fairly aggressive schedule for the first season and Sailor Moon R, which saw the second volume released in December 2017, the Sailor Moon S releases didn’t continue with the same schedule. We now have details of those releases, included box art, release dates and vendor exclusives. Volume 1, including episodes 90 to 111, will be released November 14th 2018 while volume 2, covering episodes 112 to 127, will be out on January 9th 2019. This is an odd way to separate the volumes with 21 episodes on four discs in the first set and only 16 over 3 discs in the second. The price reflects this unevenness as well with vol. 1 starting at 15,892 yen, about $144 US, and vol. 2 starting at only 11,880 yen, about $107 US. In both cases there is a more expensive versions which, as far as I can gather, only has to do with the vendor exclusive which may prove difficult to get outside of Japan. I paid the premium for the first Blu-Ray but with my Canadian shipping address I wasn’t able to take advantage of the Amazon exclusive so opted not to bother with later sets.
The first set has Sailor Moon on the cover with the inside cover including Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon, who first transforms into a Sailor Guardian in the first half of Sailor Moon S. The second set has Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto on the cover and Sailor Neptune, Uranus, Pluto and Saturn on the inner cover. Hotaru, who eventually becomes Sailor Saturn, first appears in episode 112 making all of her appearances on the second set. All of these have repurposed laserdisc cover art. Since I’m in the middle of a move all of my laserdiscs are in boxes so I don’t have any photos on hand for comparison!
Both volume 1 and volume 2 are currently available to pre-order from sites like Amazon Japan. We can see a number of the special incentives that come with ordering these from certain retailers. Ordering from the Japanese Sailor Moon Fan Club will include a sticker sheet while ordering both will include a laserdisc type of poster. Ordering volume 1 from Seven Net will include an acrylic plate and volume 2 will include a tapestry. Ordering both sets from Amazon Japan will include a box to store both sets. Animate orders will include an acrylic key holder for each set. Finally ordering from Neowing will include a cloth poster.
As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of these Blu-Rays, the quality isn’t great. While the original Sailor Moon anime was animated on cels and then converted to film before being put on standard definition video these HD versions were not authored from that film source. Instead the standard definition (480i/p) video source used for television, VHS, laserdisc and DVD, is used as a source and converted to high definition using software filters to extrapolate those extra pixels. Think of taking a small image and stretching it out so that it’s a bit fuzzy. The image this produces is certainly decent compared to the Viz Blu-Ray releases we’ve gotten but certainly nothing close to the movie releases which are authored from film source.
Note that these are Japanese Blu-Ray sets with no English dialogue or subtitles. These might have little use to many English speaking fans. Those looking for a similar quality Blu-Ray set with English audio might be interested in checking out Madman’s release of season 1, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS part 1. These releases have comparable video quality to the Japanese releases which are quite a bit nicer looking than what Viz has released in North America. The problem is that these Blu-Ray discs are region B while North American and Japanese Blu-Rays are region A. This is good news for those in Australia as well as other regions covered by the Blu-Ray B region including Europe, Africa and the Middle East but bad news for those of us in region A such as North and South America and South East Asia. Not sure where you live? Check out this handy Blu-Ray region map. As with DVD players there are region free Blu-Ray players! Something I haven’t gotten around to getting yet.