Reviews: Sera Myu
Le Mouvement Final
- Engaging and heart-wrenching from beginning to end.
- More use of dance (outside of singing+dancing).
- Excellent adaptational choices regarding the Animamates and Chibi Chibi/Sailor Cosmos.
- Lots of great character moments (especially Haruka/Michiru).
- We finally got an adaptation of the Stars arc that includes: Usagi's repressed memory, Kakyuu joining the journey to Shadow Galactica, the Galactica Senshi, Sailor Cosmos, and the wedding scene. It's about time.
- Coco Isuzu is one of the best Galaxias ever.
- The Starlights were spot on and harmonize beautifully.
- Favorite version of Chibi-Chibi. Her intro song reminds me of "Mahna Mahna", which seems to fit her perfectly.
- The effects and costumes are fantastic as usual.
- Hotaru Nomoto (Moon) has to carry a lot of the show (as necessitated by the plot), and she absolutely nails it.
- "Music of the Spheres". Why not have an original song for the final battle of the entire story?
- Kaede (Jupiter), Rimo Hasegawa (Venus), and Karen Kobayashi (Mars) are still just okay. They're overshadowed by the rest of the cast.
Shin Densetsu Kourin
- Some great new songs, such as "Kokoro Tabanete Makin' For The Right", "Yami koso Utsukushii ~Galaxia no Iradachi~".
- Yuri Nishina as Beryl kills it every time.
- The Inner Senshi being controlled by Galaxia is a nice nod to the manga and a great way to refresh a retelling of the Stars arc.
- Nao Takagi (Uranus) and Ayano Gunji (Chibi-Usa) are among my favorite actors in each of their roles. It's not surprising that they survived the infamous cull of actors after this show.
- Poor choreography. It's easily on par with the first two musicals, which were years before this one. If I drank for every instance of step-touch dancing, I would be dead.
- Poor lighting design. I'm no theater expert, so it's pretty bad when even I can pick up on it. "Kokoro Tabanete Makin' For The Right" sticks out to me as a particularly egregious example.
- The ending is a mess and goes on way too long.
- The show tries to do way too much at once. Mashing up Eien Densetsu with SuperS doesn't work.
- Yuuta Enomoto (Tuxedo Mask) and Fumina Hara have zero chemistry.
- Fumina Hara. She has a lovely voice and a balance between gracefulness and humor that works well for later-series Usagi. However, she's saddled with a messy show that throws her right into the deep end with the Stars story for her first acting gig ever. There are now three other actresses who have played/will play Stars!Usagi and every single one of them had a chance to get their bearings in the role for at least a year before their respective Stars adaptations. Also, her dancing is...not very good.
- The Amazon Trio. They get the "meh" category because they're played well, but they just don't belong in this story.
- Hotaru Nomoto (Moon) and Yume Takeuchi (Mercury) are the new cast standouts. Hotaru keeps Usagi consistent with her previous character development, which is great.
- We get to see vulnerability from Mamoru and feels from the Outers' return.
- Nehellenia finally gets a proper amount of time on stage! She's regal and menacing and I love her.
- The Swan Lake-esque approach to Helios. Nightmare!Helios was a nice twist on the story. He probably could been around longer or revealed a bit later, but I still appreciate this move.
- The Golden Crystal's location is (thankfully) figured out relatively early in the story.
- The staging and costuming are beautiful, as usual. Eternal Sailor Moon has never looked better.
- Why the heck wasn't the Kaleido Moon Scope introduced earlier? It's a little strange that Moon Gorgeous Meditation isn't used until late in Act 2, and then the item is made completely irrelevant shortly thereafter.
- There's a lot of nothing that happens in this show.
- Chibi-Usa was set up well in the first half of the show, but under-utilized in the second half. There's a huge missed opportunity to address Chibi-Usa's character arc, particularly her desire to be a grown-up. (Side note: the fact that I even want to see more Chibi-Usa in the first place is a huge credit to the creative team.)
- As fun as it is to see the Circus doing circus things, some of that time could've been dedicated to fleshing out Chibi-Usa instead.
- The rest of the Inner Senshi didn't really stand out to me. I couldn't find anything bad to say about them, but I couldn't find anything particularly positive, either.
- It's a little odd for this show to lean so heavily on references to the 90s anime (the dream mirrors, etc.) after the last three musicals have followed the manga more closely.
- Certain moments between Mamoru and Helios in Act 2 needed a stronger foundation in their earlier interactions.
- Hotaru (Usagi) has this acting quirk where she tends to smile. A lot. It makes Usagi come off as unaffected by the events of the story when she really shouldn't be.
Shin Kaguya Shima Densetsu
- Shirota Yuu gets the "Most Improved" award. For for you, Yuu. You go, Yuu.
- The actor playing Dark Plasman has a wonderfully smooth voice.
- "Toraware no Artuka". I love the Southeast Asian vibe, and the harmonies are probably the tightest in the show.
- The Artuka tribe get more character development. I found myself getting more attached to them this time around.
- Overall, the story has a more natural flow than the original.
- "And Believe In All" benefits from being earlier in Act 2.
- The actresses playing the Senshi are really young, and it shows - especially in the singing. (Michiru should not be younger than Usagi. Ever.)
- There is so much exposition in this show oh my god make it stop.
- This makes Act 2 drag a lot.
- Removing Chibi-Usa's subplot and replacing it with no character development whatsoever makes her fairly superfluous.
- Plasman's inclusion in "5000-nen Kaguya Shima" is pointless and awful.
- "Gesshoku no Crime" is redundant. Either have the speech or the song, but not both.
- Loof Merrow. No one but Ono Hikari seems to be able to capture the right blend of rough-around-the-edges confidence and millennia-old loneliness.
- Kon's nightgown is hilariously awful. I half expected Peter Pan to swoop in and fly away with her at any moment.
- Nakayama Akiko is promising as Uranus, but she's paired with a weak Neptune.
- The production quality of the new songs is uneven. "Toraware no Artuka" and "Moonlight Justice" sound great, but the rest range from "meh" to "make it stop".
- "Junketsu no Narcissism" has the potential to be awesome, but the production and instrumentation drop the ball after the introduction.
- I'm disappointed that Mamoru's verse from "Okaa-san te nan darou?" was cut. It's a great moment between Mamoru and Chibi-Usa (who loses yet another bit of character development).
- The pacing of Act 2 is bogged down by even more slow songs.
- "Haha no Ketsumyaku" is unnecessary.
- I like "Yakusoku no Uta" as a way to cement the idea of Usagi reaching out to Plasman instead of using force, but it's a slow song near the end of an already slow second act.
- It's a shame that Miyamoto Gyo didn't get more time to play Mamoru. It seemed like he was off to a pretty strong start.
- The tonal issues of SRD are basically gone. Moving "Here Goes! Shooting Star" to after the curtain call really helps.
- Galaxia and Beryl's partnership (such as it is) has a much more believable dynamic.
- The Dark Kingdom is generally treated better this time around. Beryl's dialogue has been streamlined, and the Shitennou are more competent.
- Marina's version of "The Last Change" is my favorite. It's not an easy song, and she does it really well.
- Princess Kakyuu's inclusion brings the Starlights up and out of the "meh" category. They're great together. "Teikou no Hana" is a fantastic addition.
- Okay, this is my favorite version of Galaxia Gorgeous. For real this time.
- The cast is too weak to make the elements lifted directly from the First Stage work. "Sorezore no Elegy" and "Orleans no Sei Senshi ~Uranus to Neptune no Uragiri~" suffer the most because of this.
- Speaking of "Sorezore no Elegy", Marina's scream after it is eardrum-shattering. Her speaking voice is unnaturally squeaky to the point where I've noticed it enough to mention it here.
- The actress playing Saturn is awful (and she got a solo, ew)
- Putting Metalia in the final battle is pointless and takes away the punch of Beryl's last moments.
- Chibi-Usa is marginally less useless, but you can still replace her with a broom and lose nothing.
Starlights - Ryuusei Densetsu
I thought I was done with this one as soon as I finished the recap, but nope, I've got ~opinions~, so here goes: The Good:
- Sakaguchi Yumie is so deliciously hammy as Galaxia. Her version of "Galaxia Gorgeous" is easily my favorite.
- Sailor Chaos is finally a thing, and the costume is pretty cool.
- The Animamates are all canon, and their costumes are spot-on.
- All of the villain songs are great. "By Heaven! Kami Nomi zo Shiru" is a welcome addition to the villain song lineup.
- Having the final battle take place in a Reprise Medley is a cool concept. It's a little choppy in practice, but it's still cool.
- The script is choppy. The most egregious example is when "Minna no Ai wo Kaesenai" is almost immediately followed by "Kokoro Tabanete Makin' For The Right" in Act 2.
- Act 2 is riddled with tonal inconsistency. "Pinky Typhoon" and "Here Goes! Shooting Star" are the two biggest offenders in this regard.
- Beryl's dialogue in Act 1 (and some of Act 2) is infuriatingly repetitive. You could make a drinking game out of how much she talks about her backstory.
- The Senshi/Shitennou subplot. 1. Ew, those adult men are flirting with teenagers; 2. It's responsible for a lot of the tonal inconsistency; 3. It doesn't matter in the larger scheme of the story - it doesn't affect the development of the characters or the plot in any meaningful way. It's a waste of time.
- The "Phantom of the Opera"-esque events of the first act were a promising twist on Beryl's role in the story, but the payoff isn't satisfying.
- The Starlights are played well, but it feels like the writers didn't know what to do with them. They're just...there.
- The above also plays into "Sailor War Supreme" not having the punch that it should. In Stars, it was an emotional turning point where the Sailor Senshi and the Starlights set aside their differences and united against Galaxia. Here, it's weakened by the Starlights not having any real conflict with the Senshi and the staging is muddled by taking place during a battle.
- You can write Chibi-Usa out of this show and lose nothing (except Pinky Typhoon, but the less I have to hear that, the better).
Death Vulcan no Fuuin
- It's the long-awaited payoff! Without getting into spoiler territory, this show ties up some loose ends and answers questions that the audience may have after TNM (well, the Kaiteiban, anyway).
- There are some reworked versions of old songs that I like ("Chikyuu! Crisis Yurusumaji" gives some love to an underrated song), and the resulting "throwback" feeling is fitting for the end of a story arc and Miyuki's run.
- The Princess Serenity outfit is the best one in the original Myu.
- "Ginga no Sanctuary" is a pretty song, and the best original to come out of this show.
- Dark Cain's hat is stupid-looking to the point of distraction.
- The writing for the Inner Senshi is pretty weak. One of the major reasons for their worries is rendered moot pretty quickly (not that it makes much sense to begin with), which left me scratching my head as to why it was such a big deal at all.
- The climax raises questions that are never answered.
- Everything about Dark Cain (outside of the hat, which is just awful) falls into this category. For all of the buildup he got in TNM, he isn't particularly effectual here, which renders the story anticlimactic, especially at the end. I won't spoil the ending, but I get the feeling that most, if not all of the plot would have been entirely unnecessary if a certain character had gotten off their ass a little sooner.
- I'm not terribly thrilled about Usagi taking the "but I don't want to fight" stance, either. It made sense in Last Dracul because of the nightmares and such, but here it falls flat because it goes against the continuity of her character arc. Her giving up the Ginzuishou doesn't have the impact that it should because of this, which is not a thing that I should be able to say about Usagi giving up the Ginzuishou (and somehow not dying, but I don't have enough characters left to discuss that).
Transylvania no Mori
I started writing about the Dracul Arc, so I might as well write about the rest of it. The Good:
- Two words: Ono Hikari.
- Image songs for the Inner Senshi were introduced in this show, so yay! "Koi no Senshi ja Irarenai" is also a great ensemble number for the Sailor Senshi.
- The costumes for the villains look pretty darn good overall. Having the villains be European figures of legend (Elizabeth Bathory, etc.) is an interesting concept.
- "Kokoro Tabanete Watchin' On The Sight" vindicates what was arguably the best song from Shin Densetsu Kourin.
- Some of the villain songs have a more operatic sound to them, which is an interesting stylistic choice.
- The worst Mercury I've ever seen is in this show, and I'm glad that she was recast in the Kaiteiban.
- This is easily the most convoluted Myu. I'm a proficient Japanese speaker, and this is the only Myu that I have trouble following due to the messy writing.
- The dialogue will hit you over the head with certain themes, even by the standards of things made for kids. The pacing is rather uneven, especially in the second act (why did Elizabeth Bathory need a monologue?).
- The show would have lost little to nothing without the Samael Quartet's subplot.
- Sailor Moon's speech at the end is poorly written. Some might find it hilariously bad, but for me, it's just garden variety bad.
- For some reason, the video footage uses pre-recorded music. I'm not sure if they went back to lip-syncing or were attempting to cover up recording issues, but it's a bummer because Miyuki's run is so short and I'd love to hear her actual singing.
- The writing generally feels like it's trying too hard to be "dark", which doesn't balance well with the humor.
Kaguya Shima Densetsu
This was the first musical to feature entirely original villains and an original story. How does it hold up? The Good:
- The plot holds together really well.
- Loof Merrow is a badass, and Space Knight has loads of cheesy charm.
- I actually don't mind the child characters (which says a lot).
- The use of leitmotif is on point.
- "LINK" is one of my favorite Myu songs ever. The songs are quite strong across the board - I honestly can't think of a song that I don't like.
- The cast is noticeably stronger compared to Shin Densetsu Kourin, and the legendary Nao Yuuka combo was introduced in the Kaiteiban.
- Hara Fumina is my least favorite Moon. Her Neo-Queen Serenity scene in the Kaiteiban is good, but she otherwise lacks stage presence and emotional range. She does improve between the original and Kaiteiban, but for me, it's too little, too late.
- Dark Plasman's outfit hasn't aged too well. 1999 me probably wouldn't have cared, though.
- The visual upgrades look great (better effects, inclusion of the sea monster).
- The addition of the Dark Illness subplot raises the stakes and allows for the Senshi to do more while they are dealing with it.
- I'm also quite happy with the altered ending, in which Sailor Moon sends the comet away because she sees it as a friend, rather than destroying it. That feels much more consistent with the show's themes, especially considering that a song titled "Everyone is Loved By Someone" immediately follows it. I'm also happy that Loof was revived, because leaving her out of the ending in the original just felt wrong to me.
Shin - Henshin - Super Senshi e no Michi - Last Dracul Jokyoku
- Applying the story of Ai no Senshi to a setting that has almost nothing to do with the Death Busters makes for an interesting show. "Muma no Odori" benefits from being re-contextualized.
- The cast is strong all around - a lot of them stayed on from Kaguya. My favorite actresses for Chibi-Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune are all in this show together, so I'm a happy camper.
- Mochizuki Yuuta has a lot of presence as Dracul.
- The comedy is generally well-balanced with the drama (the explanation of vampires' weaknesses is one of my favorite scenes).
- "FIRE" is really catchy.
- Death Pi's constant screeching is awful. She's the reason why I have to qualify my statement about the comedy.
- "Dream Yume wa Ookiku" and Ami's study abroad subplot feel out of place when they happen less than 24 hours after the Senshi have had a major battle.
- I want to like "Tabidachi" more, but it's dragged down by the above.
- Kanbe Miyuki is spectacularly in character as Usagi and brings a lot of energy to the proceedings, but her singing voice tends to be kind of nasal, which lands her in the "meh" category.
Un Nouveau Voyage
- The costumes, oh my gosh, the costumes. Super Sailor Moon looks flawless (I love the transparent back bow).
- Everyone's singing is generally improved.
- The new Ura Nep combo (Shiotsuki Shuu and Fujioka Sayaka) has chemistry to burn, and I hope they both stick around.
- The Witches 5 are hilarious, and Kaolinite is awesome.
- Takahashi Karin is fantastic as Hotaru. The Hotaru/Chibi-Usa friendship is given the development and care it deserves, and it pays off.
- The "fake Sailor Moon" ploy is a nice nod to the anime.
- "The Time Is Near" is probably the best number in the show, and I could almost recommend UNV on its strength alone. There are some other great songs here, such as "The Awakening", "Eye of the Storm", "A Small Sparkle", and "Music of the Spheres".
- This show takes a missed opportunity from Mugen Gakuen and has the Senshi fight each other, which makes me so happy.
- The "cheating" subplot was handled poorly. Usagi's interactions with Haruka in this adaptation do not justify Mamoru's reaction, and he ends up coming off like a real jerk because of it. This imbalance destroys why this subplot works in the manga (in which Usagi has similar suspicions about Mamoru and Michiru) - the distrust goes both ways, and they end up being stronger after working through it together.
- The Mistress 9 outfit is pretty lame (which is a real letdown, because Karin is otherwise killing it).
- Mistress 9. I think having a different actress play her a la Black Lady would have been a better choice, because Karin looks too young and cute. Karin's performance is great, though, which keeps Mistress 9 out of the "bad" category (except for the outfit).
- "Chosen One" could have been cut from the show and we would have lost pretty much nothing (it could've easily been replaced with a short monologue).
- The "fake Sailor Moon" scene could have been more over-the-top.
- There was a missed opportunity to include Ptilol (they managed to pull off the droid Senshi in Petite Etrangere, so it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to get Cyprine and Ptilol together).
- Okubo Satomi plays Usagi and Sailor Moon really well and demonstrates a continuity of character growth in a way that other actresses haven't, but there are instances when she's really straining with her singing. It's one reason why I tend to feel some ending fatigue during the final battle with Pharaoh 90. To her credit, in the last two musicals, her singing would have landed her in the "bad" category (make of that what you will).
Sailor Moon S - Usagi - Ai no Senshi e no Michi
- Some awesome songs came out of this show - "Solar Miracle Make Up!", "Stay Alone", "Tuxedo Mission", and "Chou Bi! Uranus to Neptune" stand out to me as some of the best.
- The costumes are generally improved from Gaiden (with the exception of the Serenity dress).
- Hoo boy. This show was severely hamstrung by its timing. Only about 16 episodes of the Infinity Arc had aired by the time the musical was performed (ergo, there were even fewer when the show was written), and the manga was nowhere near the end of the arc, either. The writers didn't have much to work with, and it shows. It never feels like there is much of anything happening.
- The novelty of the flying wears off really quickly, to the point where it's just annoying by the end.
- The Serenity dress is still hideous, and the Death Mannetjes' outfits are just...no.
- The ending. I can appreciate that they were going for a theme of fighting with love rather than hate, but the Death Busters are pretty clearly still a threat and have no intention of changing their ways, which leaves everything at a draw. It's not executed well enough for me to feel strongly about it one way or another.
Mugen Gakuen - Mistress Labyrinth
The Death Busters arc is now on TV again, so let's revisit its stage incarnations! The Good:
- The Death Busters' costumes are spot on.
- Nakamura Ruria plays Hotaru very well with just the right amount of creepiness.
- Inami Tomoko's Mistress 9 is a great blend of elegant, powerful, and terrifying.
- Marina and Kenji are cute together (even if their duet is super cheesy).
- Nao Yuuka bring their A game and are, as always, fabulous together as Uranus and Neptune.
- The script blends elements of the manga and anime quite well.
- The Hoshinos are entirely superfluous. You can cut them out of the show and lose nothing. The biggest problem with their inclusion is that their presence lessens the impact of Mistress 9's defeat, because the way the scene is scripted implies that their deaths are the last straw for Hotaru, rather than her father's.
- Hotaru and Chibi-Usa's friendship isn't developed very much, which is a big missed opportunity that weakens both of their characters.
- I do not like Watanabe Mai as Sailor Jupiter.
- Saturn doesn't live up to the in-universe hype. Ruria's voice is not suited to "The World Died Out", which doesn't help.
- There's a noticeable missed opportunity to have the Sailor Senshi fight each other during the labyrinth segment (it's set up, but very quickly thrown away).
- The use of "Koi no Senshi" during the final battle is, well, meh. The audience involvement feels out of place.