This week, I’d like to look at a different packet of donuts, these originating from Japan. Hi, my name is Timothy and I watch Sailor Moon. Now, now, no need to laugh! Let’s be fair here, I think most creative people are drawn to odd things… Normally, my guilty pleasures are hidden well from public scrutiny, but taking a look at the 2015 television revival of the 90s anime, raises some interesting reflections of the visual industry. Cue the title music! Fighting evil by moonlight…
Put briefly, celebrating it’s 20th anniversary last year, ‘Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon’ (the Japanese sure know how to name things) was revived as a new series titled ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’. What started as a nostalgic celebration of a much-loved show has turned into a divided fan-base.
The new designs were (as you would hope) developed and evolved from the style used in the 90s. Here is the thing, aesthetic is so subjective. For everyone who likes what you do, there will be someone who doesn’t. Of course, everyone is a self-proclaimed expert and it’s hard to take the “it’s not my thing but I’m sure others like it” viewpoint.
I think more than 2 frames are required for that spinning effect…
Now, what has the critics up in arms is the quality (or lack there of) of the online animation. Reportedly the team at TOEI Animation were rushed to keep up with their own schedule. Now we’ve all been under pressure to produce something within a tight time frame. It just seems a bit baffling, that with something witnessed globally, couldn’t you just say, “look, we’re taking a longer break to tidy up the mistakes and offer a better quality product”. Sometimes we create great things under pressure, other times a little more development is simply all that is needed. There have been some beautiful fan-made “improvements” but they surely don’t reflect the some time restraints of a studio.
DVD covers presented with love and care are deceptive to the footage aired online…
Another contentious point is the Blu-Ray release of the series. When the online version was released online for free, the “that will do” attitude and shots were littered throughout. However, once it became an opportunity to make money – the images were revised, redrawn and reanimated to a much higher and consistent quality. Some speculate that they deliberately make the online version a lower quality as an incentive to purchase the HQ DVD release. It’s an intriguing theory, one that certainly has backfired if it is the case. Personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable releasing any other than my best, and even when I do I apologise for it not being as good as it could have been.
Let’s be clear – it’s not ALL bad. Some scenes are fantastic, but the series is far from consistent. Even 19 episodes in, they are still yet to present a high quality throughout. There are a few web pages out there dedicated to the crystal failures. One in particular is dedicated to pointing out the changes from online version to Blu-ray (Crystal Comparisons). I think this plays into my obsessive-compulsive quirks – I love looking over the improvements, it’s very satisfying! I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the artists knowing that my work was being scrutinised and mocked so harshly. That being said, criticism and judgement is always going to accompany public presentation of a work. For the record, I enjoy the show. It has provided some of the best and worst Moonie animation over the entire series. I just which that the graphics they intended to sell were as good as the means for advertising it.
Online version, left. Blu-ray, right.
Whilst were addressing Sailor Moon, I have to say I really enjoy using PINK in my work. It’s such a versatile colour that looks great – a bit ridiculous that the colour is so strongly associated with femininity. Which colours do you stay clear of? Which are your personal faves? Any guilty pleasures of your own you want to get off your chest? More importantly, which Sailor Scout is your favourite? (Sailor Jupiter, thank you very much) Until next week!
Sometimes a product is as good as the environment it is created in. Love them or hate them, our creations tell stories beyond the image they represent.