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 Post subject: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:54 am 
Luna
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I want to bring more attention to the Sailor Moon musicals ("Sera Myu"). I feel like they're still the most neglected part of the Sailor Moon franchise, unless you count the video games. I've seen a couple already but I decided to go through them from the very beginning, share my thoughts as I go along, and chronicle the evolution of this niche-within-a-niche.

I will be watching the Sea of Serenity fansubs.

So tonight I watched the first musical: 1993 Summer Special: Sailor Moon - Gaiden Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen! It was ROUGH. xD I tried to watch this one a few times in the past but I could never get through it all the way until tonight.

As the first musical in the Sera Myu line of shows, you have to be okay with certain things. You need to accept that the wigs are terrible. You need to understand that the costumes are exaggerated and ugly. You need to know why the producers decided to feature Luna and Artemis in the very first Sailor Moon musical and then promptly decided to never use or even reference them ever again. The reason for all of these things is that, like I said...it's the first musical. The producers probably weren't sure what these shows were ultimately going to be like or how they would evolve over time. They needed to figure out what works and what doesn't work. I can forgive them for that, as it was necessary.

It's interesting that the first musical acts as a sequel to the first season of the 90s anime. There are a lot of anime-only events referenced like Nephrite/Naru and Kunzite/Zoisite. I say it's interesting because as far as I know, none of the other musicals really act as sequels to their anime counterparts. Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen (roughly "Dark Kingdom Revival Chapter") is truly a unique show among the Sera Myu productions.

The Inners' personalities all come through, but I have to say that for some reason, I'm really not digging Rei's hair (in her civilian form, not as Sailor Mars; were they both wigs?) nor did I really like this Makoto (I believe the actress just goes by "Kanoko"). At the same time, she didn't get much to work with, I guess...but sometimes, in Sera Myu, you just "like" or "dislike" specific actors for specific roles. It might have been the hat she was wearing, too. >_>; On that note, I didn't exactly like Mizuki Sano as Mamoru. I love Anza and I think she's a great Usagi, not sure if she's my favorite (I don't know if I have one!) but she definitely got to show off her acting chops in this show. Fantastic.

Story-wise, it's very simple and that's fine. It's a little bit confusing because the Inners hook up with the Four Heavenly Kings in disguise, and Usagi is all upset that she's left all alone. Then later, she runs into Mamoru, and he kind of teases her like he used to early in the first story arc...but then he offers to take her to the beach? Then during the latter half of the show, they act like their relationship is as strong as it's ever been. At the same time, Luna and Artemis had to wonder if Usagi remembered Endymion. It seemed like they kept changing their minds about when exactly this show takes place and what the character dynamics are meant to be like.

Speaking of the story, it really hinges on the whole Inner Senshi/Four Kings thing, and I'm really not a fan of that. I dislike it here just as I disliked it in Crystal (and I'm a big Crystal fan, so that says a lot!). The final battle hits a lot of the same notes as the one from the anime's first season, so it was kind of boring. It even has Luna and Artemis waiting on Usagi's rooftop! COME ON.

That said...I liked how they focused on Minako and Kunzite. That was a great callback to Sailor V, though I feel like they missed an opportunity to have Minako explain that her "true love" is actually the love she has for her princess. That scene from the manga hasn't been written yet, of course. xD

Random pro/con time! Here's a pro: the flashback to Queen Beryl's attack on the Silver Millennium was pretty cool, I wasn't expecting it. Con: Queen Beryl is played by a great actress but both the costume and the wig are HIDEOUS...in an unintentionally hilarious way. Oh man.

Luna sings a random song about how the only difference between boys and girls is chromosomes. Okay?

It was great hearing the original version of Sailor War. I've heard it in later Myus so hearing the original was a real treat, and it makes me appreciate the song so much more now. I'm glad that "Mystery Sagashi" isn't really used in later Myus -- you can tell they wanted it to be an anthem of the show, since they perform it at the very beginning and then again at the end of the show. I'm glad that never taking shape down the line because it breaks the fourth wall a bit too much for me.

I gotta say, when Sailor Moon says she's gonna use the Silver Crystal and then whips out the Cutie Moon Rod, I laughed out loud -- not because the Rod =/= the Crystal, but because that prop was HUGE. Like unnecessarily huge. It looked awful. xD

It was nice to hear sound effects from the 90s anime, and seeing actual fire for Burning Mandala was a nice touch that I wasn't expecting this early in the Sera Myu line, but the sets were extremely minimal. I already know to expect minimal sets in Sera Myu, but this was kind of extreme.

So to break it down...

THE GOOD:
-I like the fact that the show exists! Seriously, it's the first Sera Myu and its success guaranteed the continuation of the musicals. It gets points for that.

-Anza proves herself worthy of being the first Usagi in Sera Myu.

-Being a sequel to the first season of the 90s anime is interesting and unique.

-Sailor War was the standout song for me, and I also liked the villain song "Yami koso Utsukushii" -- a good omen for things to come in later Myus regarding villain songs.


THE BAD:
-The sets, costumes, wigs, etc. are all very primitive. I know this is one of those things you just have to be okay with as it's the first show, but at some point, you just have to call a spade a spade.

-Luna and Artemis. The actors did their best but the characters are very unnecessary in the context of Sera Myu, and the producers seemingly realized that very quickly.

-Inner Senshi/Four Heavenly Kings storyline. It's just not for me. (On that note: the Inners didn't get much to do, and the Kings outside of Kunzite had practically no character moments whatsoever!)

-Kanoko as Makoto/Jupiter, Mizuki Sano as Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask. (Also HIS MASK OH MY GOD, IT WAS LAUGHABLY BAD!)

-The story really hits the same beats as the first story arc...especially the anime. And on that note, I have to admit that while the Dark Kingdom arc is arguably the most iconic Sailor Moon story arc, it's also my least favorite. So I'm probably biased, but for a sequel to the anime, it was a bit underwhelming.

-The producers seemed confused about the state of Usagi and Mamoru's relationship in this show.

-The DD Girls show up, but there are only three? What? And no one seems to care about their presence? I just wrote this off as another "Sera Myu doing its own thing" thing.


OVERALL:
* * 2 stars out of 5 * * * * *
I love Sera Myu and I have to respect that this show started it all, but I have to be honest: it's not a great show. It starts off with a lot of promise as I loved seeing the girls getting excited for summer vacation, but then it all kind of become a re-tread of the 90s anime while at the same time introducing plot elements I didn't like (I also dislike it when those same plot elements appear in other forms of Sailor Moon). It's definitely not the worst Myu, though -- but we'll see if my opinion on that one changes when we get there. Even though the story was a bit dull and familiar, and the production values were overall very low...at the very least, it still makes sense for the most part.

I will add more if I think of other things to say, but I also want this to be a discussion! Any thoughts/questions? What are your opinions?

I don't have a set schedule for these reviews but I will definitely be getting ready to watch the next musical very soon!

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:29 am 
Systema Solare
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Where can I watch? I've only seen one myu, so I'd love to follow along and debate opinions! Your commentary sounds really good and thorough to me.

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:44 am 
Luna
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Salem Saberhagen wrote:
Where can I watch? I've only seen one myu, so I'd love to follow along and debate opinions! Your commentary sounds really good and thorough to me.


I'm watching Sea of Serenity's fansubs (seaofserenity.net). You can also download some of the shows from Miss Dream or even watch them on YouTube, though I warn you that the ones on YouTube are from old fansubs that have questionable translations.

I'm glad that at least one person wrote a reply...over 60 views and no one but you cared to write a comment, lol. So even if only one person on this board cares, I will continue with these reviews.

With that said, I'm moving on to the next musical! :) But feel free to continue discussing the first one if you have time to check it out.

Last night, I watched the next musical in the series: 1994 Summer Special: Sailor Moon S - Usagi Ai no Senshi e no Michi! Before we get into it, though, I should probably explain that this actually isn't the second musical following the first. The next show after the very first musical was technically a revision (kaiteiban) of the Dark Kingdom musical that was performed as a 1994 winter special. It was never released on video, and neither was the following musical, the 1994 spring special (a "Spring Festival" as indicated by the title). These two "lost" musicals were all just variations on the first show, and the spring special was just a condensed version of the story, so I doubt we're missing much -- but it would be great to be able to see these shows someday, as two shows have technically passed between Dark Kingdom and Ai no Senshi e no Michi.

So, this musical...to be honest with you guys, it was kind of weird to watch. I saw it a long time ago so I remembered certain details (like Kaolinite...oh my god) but that's not why it was weird. It was weird for me because I'm obsessed with the Dracul musicals, the first of which is basically a remake of this very same musical. It uses a lot of the same scenes, songs, and story moments before branching off into its own thing. The entire time I was watching Ai no Senshi e no Michi, I felt like I was watching an earlier, "dumbed down" prototype of Last Dracul Jokyoku. I will try to keep my bias in check as I review this show.

I should probably start talking about the actual musical now. xD I liked it more than the first one, of course. "Solar Miracle Make Up" is the song that got me into Sera Myu, so of course it was amazing to see its first performance! Seeing Jupiter and Venus fly around was a big sign that things had changed between the first musical and this one. Things were going to be bigger, better, and more over-the-top. Unfortunately, "over the top" ended up being a bit TOO over the top in some areas. At least the costumes, wigs, and set pieces have all improved -- and of course, the acting and vocals are all spot-on.

The Inners finally have something to do in this musical! It's refreshing to see their hobbies and dreams explored -- "refreshing" since we barely touched on their personalities in the first musical. They basically took Ami's "going away to Germany" episode from R and expanded upon it here, which is nice since 1) the shows skipped R for now in order to catch up with the anime (I assume), and B) the entire concept works better with the whole "Pure Heart" thing going on. I even like Kanoko in the role of Makoto this time around since they ditched the farmer costume and she talked about her culinary dreams. At the same time, though, it was a bit unrealistic. I can see Minako going on trips as the volleyball champion and Rei training in Tibet, but Ami studying medicine in Germany and Makoto studying Chinese cuisine in China? WHY DON'T YOU GIRLS FINISH HIGH SCHOOL FIRST, LOL. Thankfully Ami's sudden departure was just a trap set by the Death Busters, which actually makes a lot of sense.

In contrast to the Inners, though...Uranus and Neptune make their debut in this show and then proceed to not do anything at all. It was so bad. xD It didn't help that I didn't particularly like Kimura and Sakamoto as Haruka and Michiru. Sakamoto was too "vicious" to be Michiru, while Kimura didn't seem to be very masculine or assertive. It was like their personalities were completely absent. We did get a pretty fierce "Deep Submerge!" from Sakamoto's Michiru, but I thought it was blood-curdling and kind of disturbing. o_O Basically, Uranus and Neptune might as well not be in this show whatsoever. (It was cool to see "Pluto" and she had a unique and interesting role, even though it was obviously just Jupiter with the Garnet Rod...still, she did a good job making her voice sound different.) On that note of things I didn't like, I also didn't really like any of the villains. Tomoe looked weird and they tried to capture the anime version's eccentricities, but Yajima really failed here, unfortunately. Hanayama's Kaolinite was terrible, I'm sorry -- she's a fine actress but she wasn't right for the role, and the costume was awful. (We'll get to the giant dress later.) The Death Nightmares were bland and weird ("Night....maaaree..." wtf how is that a way to make an exit?) and the Death Mannetjes were a little bit too ridiculous for me (though the Haruka/Michiru disguise gag was kinda funny). I actually laughed out loud when the wrestling outfit made its appearance. Overall, I feel like both "Death" groups were handled better in the Dracul version of this show...looks like I can't control my bias after all, haha. At least "Muma no Odori" was nice to see in its original form. It's a fantastic villain song, though of course I prefer the Last Dracul Jokyoku version...but we'll get there. XD It's just so different from what one would expect for a Death Busters song, and I appreciate it on so many levels.

The two "Death" camps created a "battle of the sexes" atmosphere which I really didn't appreciate.

I absolutely LOVE Mochizuki Yuuta as Mamoru, though! What a PERFECT actor for the role! He did fine as Kunzite in the first show but this is just great to see. I'm a big Super Sentai fan in addition to being a Dracul fan so of course I'm always happy to see this guy, haha. I really, really enjoyed Tuxedo Mission, even though that mask is still really ugly, lol. Seeing multiple Tuxedo Masks almost had a Shakespearean effect on the entire play -- the idea of disguise, imitation, more than one of the same thing...I don't know, my thoughts aren't very clear on this, but it made me wish that "Tuxedo La Smoking Bomber" (as an attack) created replicas of Tuxedo Mask that all attacked at once, lmao. I truly enjoyed this song/performance. Sailor War '94 and L'Amour D'Amour Moonlight were also excellent and they stood out to me, although by this point I was truly getting tired of the wire effects, haha.

The real meat of the story is all about the Inners wanting to pursue their dreams, which ultimately involves leaving Usagi and one another behind. I kind of related to this pretty hardcore. This is often seen as a teenage problem, but I'm sort of dealing with this myself and I'm in my 20s! I'm still figuring out a lot of things about my life and while I have plenty of friends that I see regularly, many more are off doing their own thing and pursuing their own lives. I'm happy for them but it's also sometimes difficult to deal with feelings like Usagi's, like everyone is leaving you. I understood the Inners' feelings but I related to Usagi's on a personal level. It was pretty fantastic, and the airport sequence was a particularly strong moment. Unfortunately, the story kind of falls apart as the show progresses into its second half. Usagi basically finds strength as she fights with the power of love instead of resorting to violence, so she...doesn't hurt or destroy the villains but merely pushes them over? And they vow to all attack again in the future, and the Senshi are just okay with this? Well...all right. To be fair, I don't think the S anime was finished when this show was being produced, so they didn't really have much to go on. It just seemed weird and anti-climactic, and even somewhat preachy/forced. At least the explosive effects were really cool!

Also, Kaolinite. KAOLINITE. OH MY GOD. THE EVIL DRESS OF DOOM. It's just...she's laughing maniacally as she floats in the air with her gigantic dress and it's just so unbelievably hilarious. I laughed uncontrollably the first time I saw this many years ago. xD They even play up the "floating Kaolinite" thing earlier on in the show, when the Death Busters are all gathering and Kaolinite's floating there aimlessly and Tomoe goes "How long are you going to keep floating up there?" That gave me a chuckle. ^_^

Chibiusa was in the show, but to be honest...I didn't really care. The two little girls portraying her did a great job, though! She was just so unimportant and that's kind of disappointing in a show that's supposed to be modeled after Sailor Moon S (it's even in the title!). Thankfully, Chibiusa will play a more prominent role in the next musicals. I was never one of those people who always hated Chibiusa, even though she did pull her usual antics in this musical. I guess I was just too distracted by everything else to really have much of an opinion on her.

As for the breakdown:

THE GOOD:
-The Inners had some focus in this show, especially Ami. It was very refreshing after the previous musical.

-MOCHIZUKI YUUTA IS PERFECT AS MAMORU/TUXEDO MASK! Tuxedo Mission was boss.

-Anza really did a great job showing her emotions and acting skills once again. Morino Ayako also had some great moments as Ami in this show.

-We got to see/hear Solar Miracle Make Up and Sailor War '94!

-The production value went up a bit! Well, a little bit. The costumes and wigs all showed improvements (barely) and the sets were slightly more elaborate. I could definitely see a difference between this show and the Dark Kingdom Myu.

-Actual drama! I much prefer these kinds of character-centric plots as opposed to stories like the previous Myu.


THE BAD:
-Uranus and Neptune are handled very poorly in this Myu; it's made even worse that this is their debut show. They were given these two fantastic, mysterious characters and ended up writing/executing a show that was entirely about the Inners and Usagi's relationship with them (and some standard Usagi/Mamoru/Chibiusa fare for good measure). Uranus and Neptune should've been the stars of this show, and Pluto should've made a real appearance instead of a phoned-in cameo by Jupiter's actress. (At one point, the Inners are getting ready for a battle, and Uranus/Neptune just jump in from off-stage (or maybe just off-screen) to say "WE'LL FIGHT, TOO!" and that's it. Ugh.) Their actors were miscast, in my opinion, and their song "Chou Bi! Uranus to Neptune" fails to make an impression one way or another -- though it's weird that they mention Mugen Gakuen in this song when the academy isn't mentioned or referenced anywhere else in the musical, if I recall.

-They needed to bring in Chibiusa sooner or later, so it's not like I mind her presence/existence or anything like that, but they really didn't give her much to do in the second half at all. This might have to do with child labor laws, though?

-The Death Mannetjes were a bit too random for me. Their roles are re-contextualized in a later musical and their existence makes a whole lot more sense in that show, but this isn't that show (yet). The whole "men vs. women" thing that they had going on with the Death Nightmares was not enjoyable for me.

-Tomoe and Kaolinite were both miscast and poorly written. ALSO, THAT GIANT DRESS OF DOOM THOUGH, I CAN'T EVEN. It was funny and I laugh every time I see it, but that's not a good thing.

-The story falls apart as it continues and Usagi's motivations near the end seem phony and almost out of character.

-Ugh that Princess Serenity dress.

-Too many wire effects. It just became random and pointless by the end.


OVERALL:
* * * 3 stars out of 5 * * * * *
This Myu is an improvement over the first one, but it still has a long way to go. The general impression I took away from the show is that many things are starting to come together (costumes, sets, overall production value) as the producers begin to experiment with some original characters (beyond a simple Youma). They're still stumbling as it is, though, and unfortunately the story suffers. Uranus and Neptune are dealt a terrible hand in this show, which is kind of painful for me as a fan of the Outers. I wouldn't recommend this show to people who are really into Haruka and Michiru, even though it's their musical debut -- and that's a painfully sad fact. Lots of miscast roles this time around which was likewise a shame. At the same time, the drama between Usagi and her friends afforded the audience an interesting and dynamic storyline; it feels like they truly expanded Ami's "leave for Germany" episode in R to include the other Inners, and I really appreciated that. They missed the opportunity to discuss their "real dream" of protecting Usagi as her Sailor Soldiers, but maybe we're just not there yet in the Myu timeline. Overall, this isn't a show that I can say I enjoy rewatching, especially because the Last Dracul Jokyoku remake is a much better version of this very same musical -- but even if you ignore that fact, it's still a rough show to watch and not one I would recommend for beginners. It does get points for introducing classics like Solar Miracle Make Up and Tuxedo Mission, but the flaws of the musical are simply too great for me to call this a "good" Myu. You don't misuse Uranus and Neptune like that. It's like a cardinal sin in the world of Sailor Moon. Still, it's technically better than the first musical in both the production value department and the story department, so we're on upward tick here! (Also, Mochizuki Yuuta as Mamoru!)

I'm looking forward to the SuperS musicals next! I truly love them. <3 I will be doing one full review for each musical, so next time will be the original Yume Myu. Please look forward to it, and please share your comments/thoughts/questions/critiques of my critiques. I might have forgotten some things so please feel free to point anything out and we'll talk about them. Thank you!

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 5:17 am 
Systema Solare
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Thank you for the link! They're also in order so I won't be confused about where to start!

The complaints in your reviews are almost more intriguing than your praises! I must see this dress of doom! XD

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:36 pm 
Luna
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Hello! I'm a relatively recent fan of the anime, but the musicals sure do sound like an interesting thing to me. I would definitely read your reviews other than your first, but sadly I'm still a bit over halfway through the Infinity/Death Busters story in the anime, so I don't want a spoiler bombardment.

Keep up the good work! Maybe I can watch a musical or two once I'm finished with Stars... ;)

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:24 pm 
Solaris Luna
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Wow! I sure am interested in watching all the musicals. Thank you for reviewing the Sera Myu musicals, John!

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:13 am 
Luna
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Salem: You can't miss the dress of doom! :evillaugh: You'll know it when you see it. That said, don't let the cheapness of the first few shows get to you. Sera Myu improves drastically down the line.

Lunatastic: I hope you check them out soon! <3 The first Myu is a sequel to the first anime so that should help, but yeah, go at your own pace. I would definitely recommend finishing the entire anime first.

Usagi-Fifth-Doctor: Thanks for your support! :)

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:05 pm 
Systema Solare
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Oh don't worry, I'm in for the long haul with any Sailor Moon entry at this point! Plus I've seen clips from both ends of the production and I'm very ready for whatever bad wigs and creepy cats it throws at me. Also I really enjoyed the one in 98 where Galaxia resurrects Queen Beryl, and that was like right in the middle.

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:04 am 
Solaris Luna
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I was waiting on commenting until I had watched a musical, but thought I'd go ahead and let you know I'm enjoying your musical posts, John. :) I really enjoy the pro/con list too - gives me an idea of what to expect going in. And some of the bad stuff already sounds "so bad it's good". I'm already looking forward to seeing to seeing the undoubtedly iconic DRESS OF DOOM. :lol:

Hopefully I'll be able to start watching them soon. I'm more excited for the latter ones (I've heard great things about the SuperS musicals in particular), but I'll try to start from the beginning and work my way up to that point. I figure seeing the evolution of the musicals will make me appreciate the really good ones even more. :love:


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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:12 am 
Lumen Cinereum
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I love Anza Seramyus, Anza is great singer and actress, and also really funny during fan meeting events. Especially one, where she talked about mistakes everyone made :)


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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:16 pm 
Luna
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I'm really loving the fact that more people than I initially thought seem interested in Sera Myu! :) I took a short break because of the holidays, but I'm back!

Earlier today, I watched the next musical that was recorded and made available on home media: 1995 Summer Special: Sailor Moon SuperS - Yume Senshi - Ai - Eien ni...! I have to be specific about this being the "next musical that was recorded" because we once again have some lost Myus on our hands. "Ai no Senshi e no Michi" never got a real kaiteiban (well...we'll get there); instead, it was followed up by the 1995 winter musical "Super Senshi e no Michi" which basically followed the same plot as "Ai" with some small alterations, including the first real appearance of Sailor Pluto. "Super Senshi" basically is like a kaiteiban, except it got its own kaiteiban as the 1995 spring special musical. All of these shows basically followed the same plot with minor alterations, but when you compare "Ai no Senshi e no Michi" to the first "Yume Senshi" musical, you can see that the show has come a very long way!

I actually took two breaks during this show. My sleep schedule was been a bit weird lately, so I started watching the show at around 5 AM, then I went to sleep for a few hours during the intermission. I resumed watching the Myu when I woke up, then left the last 20 minutes or so for after I came back from an outing. These breaks didn't really disrupt the flow of the musical, though -- when it comes to Sera Myu, it can sometimes be hard to sit through an entire show if you're not in the mood, and I really just wanted to continue these reviews, so I enjoyed it at my own pace this time. You have to know when to stop watching, which is different for each Myu. Thankfully "Yume Senshi" is split into two acts, so that was perfect.

It also helped that the Myu itself is REALLY REALLY GOOD! So when I took a break because I was falling asleep, or when I took my second break to go figure skating (I train every week!), I was eagerly looking forward to coming back and watching more! THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING. It's a great Myu. Oh man. The SuperS musicals were my first Sera Myu shows, I believe, and I would definitely recommend them for a beginner.

So the first thing I really want to discuss is the story itself. Obviously, Yume Senshi acts as an adaptation of the first third or so of the SuperS anime with some pieces from the manga thrown in, but it very quickly starts doing its own thing. The show stands apart from the previous Myus for this reason: it's the first to truly spin a new, unique story. Dark Kingdom was a sequel to the first anime season while Ai no Senshi e no Michi was a weird re-telling of the early S season, but both of those shows basically followed the same story beats as the anime. Yume really does its own thing, and it's amazing and beautiful.

The show itself feels like a dream. Chibiusa encounters Pegasus in the woods, and right away we can tell that this Myu is gonna be different. The sets are a bit more elaborate, the actors' blocking/stage placement is more dynamic, and they use a cool light show to create the Pegasus character (they even use animation using the SuperS character model at times!). The budget for these shows has clearly gone up since the S musical, and it's so pretty with all of the fog and the lights. Chibiusa, Pegasus, Mamoru, and Usagi all sing "Double Moonlight Romance" together and I LOVE THIS SONG, it's been in my head for DAYS before I even started watching this Myu! What a fantastic choice for the opening number. The song draws me in and truly makes me feel like I'm experiencing a dream.

Interestingly enough, though, the Myu doesn't focus on Chibiusa's friendship with Pegasus all that much, nor does she really keep their meeting a secret like she does in the SuperS anime. When we return to reality during a picnic outing, the story develops in an interesting way: the Dead Moon Circus (from Amazon!) is coming to town, and they're holding auditions!

I. LOVE. THIS. It makes so much sense! It always irked me that the circus itself didn't seem to play a big role in the SuperS anime. The Dream arc of the manga deals with the circus and its presence in/effect on the town, but it's only here in the musicals that we see the characters eagerly audition for a show. The concept is also perfectly fitting for a stage musical. Beyond all of that, though...these villains are engaging, fun, creepy, and hilarious all at once! Regardless of how you feel about the SuperS anime, the breakout stars are clearly the three members of the Amazon Trio, and they're brought to life with so much passion and energy in this musical (especially Ryuuji as Tiger's Eye! I love him!). The song they sing about the circus -- "Amazon Kara Circus Dan ga Yatte Kita" -- is catchy and extremely appropriate; it's one of my favorite Sera Myu songs EVER. <3 The Trio members are so spot-on, well-cast, energetic, and lovely. They're clearly the best part of this musical, and it feels so good knowing that Sera Myu has apparently gotten over its issues regarding the casting for the villains.

In an interesting show of intellect, Chibiusa overhears the Trio talking about their search for people with beautiful dreams. She finds this suspicious and refuses to attend the audition. This is very refreshing -- I mean, these girls should really know by now that any new attraction coming to town is likely an evil scheme of some sort.

Once the girls head off, the Trio retreats to their bar/cafe and we get some great scenes with them reminiscent of the SuperS anime. We're also introduced to Zirconia, who looks amazing for a musical from 1995, along with Zircon which is absolutely adorable. The seeds are planted for the Trio's arc in this musical. At this point, we're also introduced to the mysterious girl we saw briefly at the very beginning of the show. She tortures Pegasus in Chibiusa's dream, which prompts the arrival of the Outers (including Pluto!) and Tuxedo Mask. The Outers' song ("Fukkatsu! Crisis Yurusumaji") is SOOOO much better than "Chou Bi!" from the previous musical. The Outers conclude that the mysterious girl must be Sailor Saturn, which......makes a lot of sense.

So this Myu is fantastic because apparently, even with three separate shows adapting the S anime, the producers still didn't find time to include Tomoe Hotaru. Even in this show, the girl (Miss Dream) is an amnesiac and apparently has no connections to Tomoe...but, like with Chibiusa in the previous musical, the producers knew they had to introduce Saturn sooner or later. I *love* how the Outers essentially fulfill their roles from S/Infinity in this musical, even though it's an adaptation of SuperS/Dream. The flexibility of the writers and producers really shines here, as they twisted things around in just enough ways to have everything make sense (for the most part). Of course, we only end up seeing a silhouette of Saturn in this musical (and how did they accomplish that, exactly?) -- she'll make her proper debut in the kaiteiban -- but there's no doubt that this girl is meant to be Hotaru/Sailor Saturn, even at this point in the Myu's history.

The auditions themselves are wonderful. OF COURSE Usagi would fail at everything (I laughed out loud when she viciously threw the pom-poms into the air in an awful display of juggling). OF COURSE Rei would cheat and use her powers as Sailor Mars to get in. It's lovely and so in-character. Usagi gets a cute song and she sticks up for Miss Dream, who's being bullied by the circus crew...for some reason? She's clearly very important to Zirconia, but I guess since Zirconia treats her like dirt, everyone else feels entitled to do the same. "Miss Dream" itself is a lovely song, by the way, even though I don't love Takeda Keiko as Hotaru/Miss Dream.

Tiger's Eye is flirting with Ami and it's kind of hilarious because she's got her nose stuck in a medical journal the entire time. xD Oh Ami. Eventually, all of the girls are jumped by the Trio and Tiger's Eye even uses the famous "ONE, TWO, THREE" routine from the SuperS anime. The effect of looking into the Inners' dream was done well, and it's interesting that they become corrupted and wear those awesome black jackets. Unfortunately the story doesn't do much with these "dark Inners" but it's still a welcome change-up. The first act ends with the amazing medley song "Triple Dreams" and it's perfect and I love it. I don't think Sera Myu as a production could have been capable of this type of medley earlier on, so it's especially welcome here.

The second act starts off with "Usagi Circus Show Time" and even though it ends up being Usagi's dream, it creates a strong feeling of a "show within a show" which, once again, is quite Shakespearean. The circus motif lends itself so well to a stage production and I'm incredibly happy they just embraced it so completely (also, seeing Ryuuji and Yuuta doing gymnastics together is bliss). Tiger's Eye even breaks the fourth wall for a while, which I normally dislike but again, the "show within a show" concept works very well here and it allows the audience interaction to function very successfully. I wonder if some of the audience members started worrying that the Lemures were actually real and were going to enter their dreams! xD

We get an obligatory Fish Eye/Mamoru moment which I really appreciated. That was one of the things I really liked from the SuperS anime, as it leads directly to the Trio's redemption. The fact that Fish Eye doesn't like cats is hilarious! Anyway, Chibiusa is able to warn Usagi and Mamoru about the circus, and then Miss Dream gets bullied some more -- but this time, Ami joins in! She sings a pretty forgettable song about not being a good girl anymore and the other Inners join in, but Usagi is able to serenade them back to their normal selves (accompanied by all of them losing the jackets...lmao). On the one hand, I was a bit disappointed that the "dark Inners" thing was over and done with so quickly, but on the other hand, the show didn't really have enough time to deal with it as the story had enough conflicts already. Making the Inners evil for an extended period of time would have probably ruined the show's excellent pacing. At least the song made good use of the "memory" effect (obviously added to the film/tape but not sure how they did this on stage?) along with the spirit of Neo-Queen Serenity...also not sure how they did that, either. Was it a body double? Or was it pre-recorded footage?

Interestingly enough, Chibiusa doesn't trust Miss Dream whereas Usagi wants to protect her. This is a nice twist from the S/Infinity storyline in which Chibiusa befriends and trusts Hotaru. Speaking of Miss Dream, the Outers show up and they pretty much spout their usual lines from S about needing to get rid of Saturn for the greater good, etc., but Chibiusa summons Pegasus and they go into Miss Dream's dream along with Mamoru in an attempt to cleanse the girl of her corruption. This, of course, is exactly what Zirconia wanted: to get Pegasus trapped in a dark dream from which he can't escape. The Sailor Senshi, though, are able to fight them off for a bit and Sailor Teleport into Miss Dream's dream. Somehow. Don't ask me. xD

Tuxedo Loyal as a song doesn't do much for me at all, sorry. :( I much prefer Tuxedo Mission.

Nehellenia is in this musical! For some reason, I thought she was only in the kaiteiban. Either way, her presence adds some story beats from the manga, so I appreciated that. Tuxedo Mask is able to free Miss Dream from Nehellenia's control, but he gets injured in the process and dies. WHAT. Then the Trio gets redeemed/killed off, Miss Dream almost becomes Saturn but then decides to just be herself (which was nice but come on, let's see Saturn), Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon go Super, they sing La Moon which is a FANTASTIC song, and...

Well, that's kind of it. The enemies once again aren't actually defeated in the end, but I didn't mind that this time around. I'm actually more confused by the ambiguity surrounded Mamoru's death than anything else. He dies, but then he appears as King Endymion and says he is with Neo-Queen Serenity in the future. So...he died and was reborn in the future? What?

What?

I'm going to assume that's the case, unless someone else has another idea, because otherwise that makes absolutely no sense.

So this ended up being more of a plot synopsis than a review. That's because I truly LOVE this Myu and it was easier for me to share my thoughts chronologically. To be honest, though, I think it's also because the Yume Senshi story is MUCH stronger than both the Dark Kingdom Gaiden and Ai no Senshi stories. Things actually happen, the Outers have real roles (well, for the most part), we get some awesome originality, and the pacing is truly fantastic.

It's going to be difficult for me to cull the list down to just a few things I really liked about this Myu, and I'm going to have to really nitpick for the negatives, so wish me luck! Here we go:

THE GOOD:
-EVERYTHING. Okay, not everything, but overall it's just such a great, solid show. This Myu is an excellent entry point for beginners. Everything flows well and the pacing is really fantastic.

-I can't stress how perfect the Amazon Trio is. Ryuuji as Tiger's Eye definitely steals the show.

-Seeing the Outers in a SuperS story is always fantastic, but their roles are basically their roles from S in a new context. That really shows some originality on the writers' parts. Related: Miss Dream was a very interesting way to introduce Sailor Saturn to the Myus!

-Stand-out songs include La Moon, Double Moonlight Romance, Triple Dreams, and Amazon Kara Circus Dan ga Yatte Kita.

-The sets, the wigs, the costumes, the laser Pegasus, using pre-recorded footage (I think?), the audience interaction...Sera Myu has come far in a s very short amount of time, and it's a real treasure to watch the evolution of this franchise.

-MAMORU GETS KILLED OFF AT THE END AND STAYS DEAD. Technically? Either way, it was a very ballsy move.

-The entire show feels like a real circus show. You can tell that the producers had a lot of fun with this one.


THE BAD:
-Just let Miss Dream become Saturn. Come on! Thankfully, the kaiteiban fixes this. Speaking of Miss Dream: her wardrobe is pretty lousy. That striped shirt is so awkward and it looks like there's a crease on it or it's like not folded correctly or...I don't know.

-Ami gets another song all to herself, for the most part. That's fine and I know Mercury is a fan-favorite in Japan, but it's kind of weird and lacks any real context for this musical. She also had her own stage credit sequence while the other Inners had to do theirs together. Anyone know what's up with this?

-Even though the Outers were great, I still don't like this Haruka. She's not Haruka-ish at all, but the real problem is that the Outers don't get any scenes in their civilian forms. These characters have such grand personalities -- we need them to interact with the Inners in their normal lives, too!

-MAMORU GETS KILLED OFF AT THE END AND HE...doesn't stay dead? I have no idea. This was really bizarre, I honestly have no clue what happened here.

-The "dark" Inners were cool, but that story was wrapped up so quickly, it almost feels like they should've done something different.

-I suppose one negative is that we start off this musical with the "Double Moonlight Romance" and then we don't see Chibiusa interact with Pegasus one-on-one. That was a bit disappointing, I suppose, because it turned Pegasus purely into a plot device (which he already was in the first place, but at least in both SuperS and the manga, he was an actual character with his own history and motivation).

-Tuxedo Loyal is kinda meh.


OVERALL:
* * * * 4 stars out of 5 * * * * *
In case you couldn't tell, I really love the Yume/SuperS musicals...but I don't like to throw around perfect scores willy-nilly. I won't gush more of the same love I have for this show down here, as the review is full of it -- but I don't want to harp on the negatives, either. They're so minimal, but unfortunately they do prevent the show from being a 5/5 in my eyes. With that said, the SuperS musicals are a fantastic entry point for a Sera Myu newbie, and I truly feel like the entire show plays out like one big dream for the audience. The anime Pegasus sequences are stunning and unexpected, while the laser version might be low-quality by today's standards...but it was still such a big step for Sera Myu to take, and the payoff was worth it. This Myu shows us what Sera Myu is capable of: it isn't afraid of blending important story elements from different story arcs together (bigger than "Ami's going to Germany in an S musical"), it can cast exceptionally perfect actors as villains, it can improve its sets, and it can create a dreamy, fantastic atmosphere that gets darker as it continues and doesn't back down from that darkness (except when it kinda does...Mamoru/Endymion nonsense).

The next Myu is a revision (kaiteiban) of this very same show. I'm still not sure how my review is going to work. I wasn't expecting to write up an enhanced plot summary with my own thoughts, as that's not how I wrote my previous two reviews -- so I have no idea what to expect for the kaiteiban. We'll see! As always, please feel free to share your thoughts or reviews of your own! :)

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:33 am 
Systema Solare
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This one sounds amazing! But the unfinished portions sound frustrating. I'm interested to know how similar the revival is. Should I watch both, or is the revival just the same aside from improvements?

Original anime footage is a great draw, and I'm excited that there's only 2 musicals before this one!

That was during the apex of Ami's hype, right? I think it was around the time she got the movie special all to herself too.

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:49 pm 
Luna
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Salem Saberhagen wrote:
This one sounds amazing! But the unfinished portions sound frustrating. I'm interested to know how similar the revival is. Should I watch both, or is the revival just the same aside from improvements?

Original anime footage is a great draw, and I'm excited that there's only 2 musicals before this one!

That was during the apex of Ami's hype, right? I think it was around the time she got the movie special all to herself too.


That's a very good point about Ami. Since this was a SuperS musical, I do suppose it was around the same time when her movie special was released. I like Ami as much as the next guy, but at a certain point, it just starts feeling weird IMO. ^_^'

So...that's a great question about the revision show (I think you meant "revision" instead of "revival" but this specific revision does have the word "fukkatsu" in the title which does kind of mean "revival" so you're still technically correct!). I will get into more detail regarding the differences and similarities between Yume Senshi and the Yume Senshi kaiteiban when I do the review for it, but from what I remember...the shows are very similar. Some revisions are drastically different and make a big difference regarding the overall plot (like the Transylvania no Mori original show vs. the revision) while others have minor alterations. Obviously Saturn will make her true appearance in the revision as opposed to merely being hinted at/shown in silhouette, and for this reason I kind of do prefer the revision show, but it's been so long since I've seen it. =^_^= Of course if you're a completionist I would recommend you watch both, but definitely don't do that if you're pressed for time or if you dislike a particular show. No reason to sit through something twice if you know you won't like it despite some alterations. (In other cases, though, some people dislike an original show while loving the revision, as sometimes the small revisions make a big difference! It depends.)

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 Post subject: Re: John Reviews and Casually Discusses Sera Myu (In Order!)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:40 pm 
Systema Solare
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It is a little weird... I think it happened again in the one I saw, with her getting a solo, and also being the only inner spared from Galaxia's slaughter.

A few years ago I would've easily said I'm a completionist and watch both regardless. But I hope to get a job soon and my time will suddenly become a lot more valuable... I'll wait for your word on how similar they are before I decide. :keke:

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