Wednesday, July 09, 2014

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal

Official Sites: Japanese, English, Viz Media
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video (Free {Streaming}): Hulu, Crunchyroll, Niconico (Free first two weeks per new episode, Pay afterwards), Neon Alley

…Since Sailor Moon is being selected as a Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick, why not choose the all-new adapatation, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, too?!

The "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" to Sailor Moon's "Fullmetal Alchemist", Sailor Moon Crystal is a high-profile, high-budgeted new take on the original Sailor Moon manga, one that aims to play closer to the material than its 1992 predecessor. This time, the series features the talents of director Munehisa Sakai (Smile Precure chief director and One Piece director [Eps. 244-372]), series compositor Yuuji Kobayashi (Smile and Suite Precure, Aoi Bungaku Series ["Jigoku Hen"/Eps. 11-12], Saint Seiya Omega episode screenwriter), character designer Yukie Sako (Majestic Prince, Nyan Koi chief animation director), composer Yasuharu Takahashi (Naruto Shippuden, Fairy Tail, Shiki, Heartcatch Precure), and theme song artists Momoiro Clover Z (Bodacious Space Pirates). The series is slated for 26 episodes and, unlike most series, new episodes will be available every other Saturday (first and third Saturdays of the month) at 6 AM ET/3 AM PT.

Knowledgeable of the international fame of the franchise and fervor over the new series, Toei Animation made sure that SMC would have as much access worldwide as possible. Niconico is hosting the primary worldwide stream of the show with Japanese, English, Chinese (Traditional & Simplified), French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Turkish, and Bahasa (Indonesia & Melayu) subtitles, with the first two weeks of each new episode being available for free, until you have to pay a fee afterwards (conveniently falling in line with the next episode's debut). The unique feature of Niconico is its trademark scrolling comments from viewers, which are superimposed onto the video itself and can often provide an extra layer of fun to one's viewing (this can also be toggled off). However, only registered users can view it there and you only get one chance to view it during the free period.

Such viewing restrictions are not present through Hulu (and Neon Alley, by service extension) and Crunchyroll, which features HD video (Hulu: subscribers only (Hulu Plus), Crunchyroll: everyone, though paid subscribers can view it with no ads)) and greater device availability (subscribers only for both). Additionally, Hulu is available in the U.S. only (English subs only), whereas Crunchyroll's coverage includes North and Latin Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (with English, Spanish, and Portuguese subs).

As far as the first episode goes, it plays out in a very similar manner to Sailor Moon's, albeit with a bit more dramatic flare in some spots and some condensed elements in others. It also incorporates a few changes and additional aspects that were not present in the 1992 premiere, and the use of visualizations for some of those new moments ranks amongst the most pleasing parts of the episode. Though it looks a bit different and feels a bit different, it still feels like "Sailor Moon", and as with that Pick, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal is available in a variety of flavors and for free.

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