Sailor Moon has returned, and it turns out the wait was well worth it because the first episode of the new anime is rocking everyone's socks off! Watch it now before the free episode is taken down to make room for the new episode tomorrow! WARNING: I don't remember everyone's Westernized names so I'm resolving to using their original Japanese names, I'll make an effort to fill in the blanks for those who don't know who the hell I'm talking about. On the old anime... For those not acquainted, Sailor Moon is the story of Usagi Tsukino (Or Serena as you may know her better; her Japanese name literally translating to "Bunny of the Moon"), a 14 year-old girl in the 8th grade, who is also a bit of a klutz and a crybaby. I could get into the whole background but that will take a bit to hash out so, let's just cut to the bone of it all: Usagi is Sailor Moon/Moon Princess Serenity, she and the other Sailor Senshi (or 'soldiers' -- each represent a planet in our solar system, except for Earth. Mamoru/Darrien/Tuxedo Mask represents our planet but he's not a scout) were sent to Earth when the Moon Kingdom was destroyed by the Dark Kingdom. Luna and Artemis, a pair of talking cats, were also sent to unlock the sailor senshis' abilities and parts of their memories should trouble find its way back to Earth -- which, huge surpirse, it does. Over the period of the first season, the inner-planet senshi are awakened and by the end of the first season, everyone remembers that Usagi is the Moon Princess. Anyway, why the hell is this important, you might ask? Is it the romantic story between middle-schooler Usagi and college-aged Mamoru? Is it the sexualization of a 14 year-old girl? Is it the comic relief? Well, yes and no. Before I go on, I'm not glossing over the fact that I just mentioned Usagi being sexualized. It may be weird for an American audience to hear but in parts of Japan -- including Azabu Juban, Tokyo, Japan, where the series takes place -- the legal age of consent is actually 13, so... Moving on! If you were a fan of the old anime, you know the show stands out for several different reasons. Yes, the story between Usagi and Mamoru is romantic -- though not sexual, and yes there's plenty of comedy coming at you from all directions. However, it was also one of the first cartoon shows (that I ever saw, anyway) that didn't depict women/girls as the damsels in distress of a sci-fi/fantasy series. Quite the opposite! In fact, Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask, one of very few men in the series, is pretty fucking useless throughout (I can't speak for the manga as I've never read it). His signature move is tossing a red rose and whacking their enemies with his walking stick as a distraction before Sailor Moon ends up resolving the issue. Another thing that stands out from the show was the controversy between the changes made from the manga to the anime, and then further changes made from the anime to its English dubbing. For instance, the show became a monster-of-the-week thing, that certainly wasn't the case for the manga. Something old viewers are about to witness in the new cartoon, as well. In the fifth and final season of the original show, we were introduced to the Sailor Stars: Sailor Star-Healer, Sailor Star-Fighter, and Sailor Star-Maker. In the manga, they are three women cross-dressing as men to disguise themselves while in search of their own princess. In the show, however, the three were changed to be biologically male when in their normal, civilian form, who then turned into women when they transformed into the Sailor Stars. This caused a huge problem with creator, Naoko Takeuchi, since she stated that only women could be Sailor Senshi. When it came time to translate to English, there were so many issues already that Toei Animation, the studio that makes the anime, didn't give DiC the rights to the episodes and that's why, until recently, we never thought we'd ever see the Sailor Stars season get an English dub. This was one of a few problems of note that caused the rift between Takeuchi and the anime. Then there was further changing and mishandling of the show when it was translated and dubbed in English. It should go without saying that, back in 1995, when the show was introduced in the Americas, LGBTQ issues weren't what they are today. In the first season, two of Queen Beryl's generals (Zoisite and Kunzite/Malachite) were in fact -- brace yourselves -- a gay couple! [Cue dramatic soap opera organ!] In the English dubs, however, that was quickly nipped in the bud and Zoisite was voiced by/turned into a woman because the male character was actually quite feminine to begin with. You see, DiC didn't want to be responsible for the corrupting of our kids' minds to deviant behavior, or whatever. Later on in the show, when we are introduced to Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, we find in the Japanese version that the two are actually a loving lesbian couple. What happens in the English-dubbed version? They're heavily censored, no longer a loving couple, and have been changed to cousins. Because, you know, their relationship on the show totally gave them a cousins vibe... Here's a better breakdown by YouTube user Professor Bulba: Sailor Moon Crystal Say what you will about Crystal, but I think Toei did an amazing job recreating the first act of both the manga and the old anime. You'll hear many fans say that the first episode is so close to the manga but pays so much homage to the old anime -- practically a shot-for-shot remake, some have said. I can't wait for the English dub, so I've gone and seen Crystal in Japanese with English subtitles because I enjoy watching things in their original languages. I'm also currently watching all 200 episodes of the old anime in its original Japanese again because I want to re-familiarize myself with not just the characters, but the original Usagi voice actress, Kotono Mitsuishi, who has reprised her role for its reincarnation. Despite the troubles Naoko Takeuchi experienced in bringing her series to TV, it still left a significant mark on audiences in the 90s, especially those here in the States as it was a major introduction to anime to many of us here. I admit I saw this long before I was introduced to Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon. There's definitely a nostalgia factor that is working me good! I've never cried so much for the reintroduction of a cat. Ever. If you don't mind subtitles, watch the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal while you still can on: http://ch.nicovideo.jp/sailormoon_English Or do you have a Hulu account? Or, hell, I've just discovered you don't even need one. Anyway, my point here is that Hulu has purchased the rights of not just the old Japanese episodes and releasing them every Monday, but they're airing Sailor Moon Crystal as well (also in Japanese; however Crystal is being released the first and third Saturday of every month)! You might just end up like me and AuroraPeachy and start weeping before the opening credits even start! Hell, I got weepy when I first saw the Crystal trailer when Sailor Moon declares her famous punchline: Tsuki ni kawatte, oshioki yo! Will you watch now or later? And what about when the DVD/Blu-Ray with the first 23 episodes of the old anime are released in November of this year, will you buy it? Thanks to Viz Media, they're not only providing the English voice cast of Sailor Moon Crystal, they're re-dubbing all 200 of the old episodes as well (as seen in the Viz Media announcement video above). The English voice cast includes Stephanie Sheh as Usagi (of Legend of Korra, Naruto, and Bleach fame), and Adam from the Power Rangers, Johnny Yong Bosch, as Artemis!