Sailor Moon Crystal Returns — As A 2-Part Film!

Back in January, a sequel to the 3rd season of Sailor Moon Crystal was confirmed on the official website for the series’ 25th anniversary. On June 30th, as part of a “25th Anniversary Usagi Birthday Event” in Tokyo, more information was finally announced… and it certainly wasn’t what anyone was expecting. The 4th season of the series will be a two-part theatrical anime project instead of another season. What?? During the announcement, it was revealed that the films will cover the “Dead Moon” arc (also known as the “Dream Arc”) of the original manga. Also announced was the fact that Chiaki Kon will be returning from the anime’s third season to direct the two films.

So what does this all mean? There’s a lot to think about and discuss… so let’s do so.

Note: Nothing has been confirmed as of yet; this is all pure speculation.

This Will Be the 2nd Major Change in How Crystal Is Aired

We’ve gone through three seasons of Crystal so far. The first two seasons were aired back to back airing only on the first and third Saturdays of the month. So if you ended up on a month with five weeks, there would sometimes be three weeks in-between episodes. That made fans grow impatient and weary. The first two seasons were also only aired online via Crunchyroll, Hulu, Viz Media, or Nico Nico. 

Once we moved to season three, Crystal was airing on a weekly basis instead which pleased viewers. It also moved from a streaming-only method to streaming and on Japanese TV.

So why is season four moving to film? Many fans have expressed their concern that maybe it’s a lack of interest or popularity causing the shift. There has been no official explanation at this time. Budget cuts? Hopefully, a film means a bigger budget, meaning even better animation, better music, and more to work with — one can hope. Time constraints? Why suddenly go from streaming to television and streaming to film?Plenty of room for speculation and fan theory, here, since we unfortunately, have absolutely nothing to work off of…yet.

Will The Arc Be Rushed Through?!

Season three of Sailor Moon Crystal was 13 episodes spanning around 20 minutes each  – not counting the opening and ending credits. This brings us to roughly over four hours. With the announcement that we will be getting two films to cover the next arc, this brings about the concern of will two films cover everything the next arc needs to go over?

For those that aren’t aware: the anime version of the fourth arc is vastly different from the manga version. The anime refers to it as Sailor Moon SuperS, while the manga refers to it as the “Dream Arc.” Many fans also call it the “Dead Moon” arc, as they are our main villains for this part of the series. A lot happens in the manga edition of the story, a lot that didn’t ever make it to television – until now since Crystal is going panel per panel of the manga. There is a lot of character growth and evolution, a lot of storytelling and new characters for us to learn about and see how they change the lives of our favorite Sailor Guardians.

With a story that spans various chapters, this is not something that can be rushed through quickly with key moments glossed over or cut out entirely like the original ’90s anime. However, with the math that Sailor Moon Crystal season 3 was roughly over 4 hours, if both films are at least two hours (and fifteen minutes if we’re being picky) long, we should be okay pace-wise.

Will This Take Longer To Air…?

This is a fantastic question. The third season of Sailor Moon Crystal aired on Crunchyroll from April 4th through June 27th, 2016. And before that, the first two seasons aired from July 5th, 2014, through July 18th, 2015. With Friday’s announcement, no date or even a year was announced for when we can expect to see even if only a trailer of these upcoming films. With 2017 already more than halfway over, it’s unlikely that we will see the “Dream Arc” until 2018…if we’re lucky. 

How Will It Air Outside of Japan?

As stated above, Crystal has been broadcast on various streaming websites aside from Japanese television. The question is – what happens when a movie airs in Japan? When it comes to certain movies, like the three animated movies announced earlier this year for the anime Free!, there doesn’t seem to be any hope for fans outside of Japan to expect dubbed or subbed versions to become available anytime soon, much like their 2015 Starting Days movie. Then there is Digimon tri., the film series celebrating the 15th anniversary of Digimon. These films were broken up into parts and streamed on Crunchyroll, Hulu, AnimeLab, and various other streaming services. DVDs and Blu-Rays have been made available in and out of Japan at multiple conventions such as Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con.

Those are two possible outcomes for Sailor Moon Crystal to take. Of course, it would be amazing for them to follow the example of Digimon tri. and allow the films to be available as quickly as possible.

What Does This Mean For Sailor Stars?

Sailor Stars. The season that never fully made it to America until Viz Media enhanced it and re-subbed it for online streaming on their website and Hulu. Many people haven’t seen this season because of how hard it had been to get access to it until Viz Media got involved. And, like SuperS/“Dream Arc,” the anime and manga versions contrast each other sharply. Seeing the conclusion of such a beloved series in the way Naoko Takeuchi intended is something fans have been dying for decades now, but our wait seems to have extended. Well, Sailor Stars first aired in 1996, so it isn’t as though fans haven’t been waiting forever already.  

Sailor Moon Crystal: Hopes For Season 4

  • Personally, I would love for Crystal‘s films to have better music. The background music has left a lot to be desired. If you listen to the transformation music for Outer Guardians in Sailor Moon Crystal, but then listen to the transformation music for the Outers from the ’90s anime … the difference is crazy. I would love it if the films gave us more impactful music like they did in the original anime and films. 
  • I also would love to see a more fine-tuned animation style. It is no secret that the art from the first two seasons left a lot to be desired. Season three did a 180 in art style that I ended up loving, but others not so much. A more clean, crisp, brilliant style while keeping the fact that these are indeed junior high students moving on into high school would be ideal. 
  • Not skipping a single moment. SuperS cut out so many important moments from the manga that were crucial to character and plot development. They are essential to the story and I hope that they give the films proper durations so they can fully tell the story properly. Fans won’t care about long films as long as the quality and story are sound, believe me.
  • …not having to wait for the next decade to see it. Good quality and big budget doesn’t come fast. Quality animation, sound, voice acting, music, and storytelling will all take time, especially if two films are being made. That is the brutally honest truth that no Sailor Moon fan wants to hear right now. The idea that we may be waiting until 2018 or even 2018 for at least one film is a scary thought. How long will it take for the second one if they’re not released together? And from there, how long until Stars? So many questions.

And that is the worst part about this announcement – there are more questions than answers. There are more speculative thoughts and theories than there are facts. Hopefully, as time goes by, we’ll find out more from the source – sooner rather than later would be best! Until then, what are your thoughts? Do you like this transition from television series to film, or no? Share your thoughts below … and let’s hope for the best.

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About the author

Rizuki Ann

… a computer technician, marketing director, and graphic designer by day, and an anime-loving, video game-playing cosplayer by night. Rizuki hosts various workshops, panels, and photoshoots at multiple conventions and events throughout Long Island, New York, and on the East Coast. Her focus is Cos-Positivity, inclusivity in the cosplay community, being a resource for new cosplayers, and uniting the Sailor Moon Fandom. Most of her shenanigans can be found on her Instagram.

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