Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, known more commonly as Sailor Moon Crystal, caused quite a stir when its first season was announced back in 2014. Fans of the original were both excited and wary. Who knew that a reboot of the magical girl series could have such a polarizing effect? As it stands, hardcore Sailor Moon fans ended up either loving the new show or completely despising it.
It's understandable why. There are some pretty serious differences between the original 1990's Sailor Moon anime series and the newer reboot, which wrapped up its third season back in summer of 2016. Out with the old and in with the new may work for some anime reboots, but Sailor Moon Crystal definitely has its shortcomings. And in some ways, it's even better than the OG series.
Get ready for a Sailor Moon history lesson as we pick apart the major differences between Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal. Be mindful of spoilers that may lurk in this list!
In honor of the upcoming fourth season of Sailor Moon Crystal (which will be in the form of two feature length films), check out 15 Change Differences From The Original!
15 The art style is... different
The visual changes in Sailor Moon Crysta from the original series are definitely the first the viewer notices. The classic look of the original anime was a typical shojo anime look, and the reboot is equally so.
However, the Crystal artists took the shojo look and made it explode into a full-blown caricature in Sailor Moon Crystal, giving the characters massive heads and larger-than-your-typical-anime eyes. This was apparently done to make the reboot more similar to the manga it's based on.
The colors used in the first couple of seasons of Crystal are also noticeably bland and flat when compared to the vibrancy of the original. Luckily, the third season's new staff of artists toned it down the bug eyes and improved the color and detail of the art.
14 Fewer filler episodes
The original Sailor Moon series had a crappy reputation for stuffing every season full of filler episodes, especially during the SuperS season. Sailor Moon Crystal, on the other hand, decided to speed things up a bit. While the show isn't completely without filler episodes - and really, no anime should be that dedicated to plot advances! Give us a break every once in a while - Crystal manages to keep things rolling at a steady pace.
Rei (Sailor Mars) is even introduced to the series in the second episode of Crystal-- where in the original Sailor Moon series, we had to wait until episode ten and truck through nearly five episodes of mostly pointless filler to even see her. Most of the other character introductions follow the pace of the original, however.
13 Horrible animation/production value (in the first two seasons)
Good lord, that animation was bad! If you could sit through the first two seasons of Sailor Moon Crystal and not cringe a few times at the animation and production quality, you're a saint. It's almost like the project had a budget of a single gym sock rather than what you'd expect Toei to dish out for a widely anticipated show.
Complaints about the animation didn't fall on deaf ears, however. For the third season of Sailor Moon Crystal (also known as the Death Busters arc), a bigger budget was reportedly granted for the project and the animation, art style, and overall production value improved a lot.
The CGI-animated transformation sequences (also kind of cringey) were also trashed in favor of a more organic animated sequence.
12 A Better English Dub
Ah, the good old English dub of the original Sailor Moon. Can we really put all the blame onto one company? Maybe Western society at the time was to blame for the god-awful censorship of homosexual relationships, genders, and genuinely funny dirty jokes. However, we can't forgive some of the voices DiC decided to match up with the Sailor Moon characters. We're looking at you, Molly.
The English dub of Sailor Moon Crystal falls under the responsibility of Viz Media in North America. The dub of the reboot is vastly improved from the English dub of its predeceser. Usagi is voiced by the talented Stephanie Sheh, who does a killer job at making Sailor Moon sound the correct amount of annoying. The company also remastered the dub of the original series as well, vastly improving it.
11 A more modern (and improved) depiction of gender and sexuality
The original Japanese version of Sailor Moon wasn't terrible when it came to how it presented gender and sexuality, particularly between Haruka and Michiru (Amara and Michelle). The English dub of the original series was much more homophobic, changing the dialogue to transform the two into "cousins" and Haruka into a simple tomboy.
Sailor Moon Crystal isn't afraid to be blunt about the love between Michiru and Haruka, and it's even less blunt about Haruka's gender identity. There's even an entire scene where Haruka is revealed to be "both a man and a woman."
The exact nature of Haruka's gender has always been debated among fans and even character creator Naoko Takeuchi, and while her depiction in Crystal is interesting, Takeuchi still insists that Haruka is a girl.
10 More dedication to the manga
Sailor Moon Crystal follows the original Sailor Moon manga series with much more precision than the original anime. There were a lot of changes in the original anime that didn't adhere to the manga.
The inclusion of the Starlights was one change. The characters Minako, Ami, Rei, and Majo were very minor characters in the original manga but were turned into fully formed major characters for the original anime. One-off villains like Berthier, Koan, and Nephrite had very brief storylines in the manga as well, but the original anime gave them more screen time and character development.
All of these changes were (arguably) improvements to the manga. The adherence Sailor Moon Crystal has had to the manga isn't so bad, though. The manga was beloved for a reason, and sticking to the source material has worked out.
9 Ami's early appearance
Who wasn't a little in love with super-sweet Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury) in the original manga and anime adaptation? Unfortunately, everybody's favorite brainy Sailor Senshi didn't show up until eight episodes into the original anime series. In Sailor Moon Crystal, we get to see Ami in the very first episode. Her awakening arc even begins in the second episode, following the manga to a T.
Naoko Takeuchi's linear notes in the manga note that Sailor Mercury was a fan favorite in Japan, which may be why the Sailor Moon creator decided to keep her around instead of killing her off in the first manga arc. Sailor Mercury was also originally designed to be a super intelligence cyborg, too. We're glad we have the present version of Ami instead.
8 A more serious (and less annoying) Usagi
One of the immediate things viewers noticed at the beginning of Sailor Moon Crystal was how different Usagi was from the original series.
The OG Usagi was critically annoying-- something that was vital to her character. Usagi was supposed to be a typical hyper teen girl with no real guidance or drive in her bubble-headed life, who is then thrown into a world of responsibility. Kind of like your average girl literally anywhere.
Unfortunately, in the original anime, Usagi stays relatively unchanged through the end. In the manga, she grows up a lot and matures significantly through her struggles.
Usagi still has her trademark baby voice in Sailor Moon Crystal and she's far from enigmatic, but her antics and whininess are definitely more muted and we can expect some serious character development.
7 More mature versions of the Sailor Senshi
As we mentioned above, Usagi (Sailor Moon) is portrayed a little bit more seriously-- though her character is still far from mature, her demeanor matches the typical teen girl one would find in real life and syncs up with the manga a bit better.
Similarly, all of the Sailor Senshi are a bit more serious in Sailor Moon Crystal when compared to the original anime series. Perhaps this is because the makers of Sailor Moon Crystal expected a more mature audience to view it-- namely teenagers or now-adult fans of the original series.
We're not complaining at all, here. There were moments where the Sailor Senshi were downright annoying. And while the characters in Crystal are more mature, they're far from stale. At least after the first two seasons.
6 Those terrible 3D transformation sequences
Oh boy. The 3D sequences in Sailor Moon Crystal's first two seasons were as unforgivable as their mess of animation.
How cool were the original transformations? The animation was smooth (...For what it was. It was the nineties, give them a break!) and the colors were vibrant and entrancing to watch as a young kid. The first 3D sequence of Sailor Moon Crystal bummed people out. At first, it seems like the CGI might be minimal. But once Usagi's blouse pops into view, it's clear that the entire sequence will be in weird, poorly-done CGI.
Luckily, the transformation sequence was completely changed in the third season. The production value looks great, the CGI is long gone, and there is some bounce and excitement to the power-ups of the Sailor Senshi. Fans were definitely grateful.
5 Better fight scenes
This "difference" is definitely up for debate among those in the Sailor Moon fandom.
Who could forget the epic fight between the Inner Senshi and the Four Sisters? Or the battle between Sailor Moon and Endymion? Or one particular pathetically hilarious attempt by Tuxedo Mask to save the day? When there was a fight scene in Sailor Moon, it was either outright bad or really cool.
In Sailor Moon Crystal, the Senshi are much more competent when it comes to battle. Where the original anime series left many of the characters incapacitated and kind of useless most of the time, Crystal showcases how important teamwork is among the Sailor Senshi. Ami in particular actually gets some screen time as an offensive useful soldier in battle-- something that's closer to the manga than the previous anime.
4 The music is better
Many different musicians and composers wrong music for the Sailor Moon original series. Few people know that series creator Naoko Takeuchi also contributed much of the lyrical content for the anime songs as well. There were eleven different soundtrack releases (one of which was a compilation anniversary tribute) for the original anime, too.
The music was ample and pretty enjoyable, but nothing from the original anime soundtracks could top the music from Sailor Moon Crystal. The score was written by Tasaharu Takanashi and contains some of the best musical tracks for an anime ever.
When the two different opening songs come head-to-head, Sailor Moon Crystal's guitar-shredding electronic bop "MOON PRIDE / ももいろクローバーZ" definitely trumps Sailor Moon's run of the mill typical anime opening "Moonlight Densetsu".
3 Different voice actors
While many of the voice actors from the original Japanese dub of Sailor Moon also contribute their talents to Sailor Moon Crystal, many of them have been changed.
Kotono Mitsuishi was the original voice of our favorite Sailor Senshi and continued to contribute her voice through Crystal as well. Voice actress Tracey Moore was the voice of Usagi in the original English dub (yep, the one where she sounds thirty) and was replaced by Stephanie Sheh as Usagi for the Crystal run.
Characters Ami, Rei, Makoto, Minako, Mamoru, Chibiusa, Setsuna, Haruka, Michiru, Hotaru, and the Moon cats are all voiced by an entirely different cast of voice actors. This isn't exactly surprising. Many years have passed and it's likely that many of the original voice actors sound much more mature than they did back in the nineties.
2 Lack of character development
As we mentioned previously, Usagi did not have the best character development in the original run of the anime series. Alternately, Usagi in Sailor Moon Crystal is much more mature and realistically depicts the modern teen.
While everybody was hoping that this meant that Crystal's characters would have better development, things weren't looking so good for the first two seasons. Because of the lack of filler episodes, everything in Crystal went really quickly. Filler episodes were excessive in the original anime, but at least you had time to care about the characters. They had time to build up some sort of development.
For Crystal's season three, director Chiaki Kin came in and definitely saved the day. Minako finally got the personality she deserved (something she didn't even get in the original anime) and the characters became less stiff.
1 More of a focus on the romance between Mamoru and Usagi
There was definitely a bit of romance in the original Sailor Moon series. There was relationship drama and the romantic relationship between Usagi and Mamoru took its time blossoming. However, much of their screen time together was relatively dry. Perhaps this was because the anime creators wanted more of a "girl friendship" theme rather than a focus on the one major male character on the show. The original run was also very focused on action and comedy as well.
In Sailor Moon Crystal, there's more romance, which is something directly pulled from the manga.
Where Sailor Moon kept Mamoru and Usagi separated for much of the anime, the two are closely connected throughout Sailor Moon Crystal. There's a pairing development actually happening where two long-lost lovers have finally found each other again through space and time.
Do you prefer Sailor Moon or Sailor Moon Crystal? Let us know in the comments!