Sailor Moon S Opening: Slow Start, Strong Finish
Today we take a look at the opening for Sailor Moon S. Polished and clever animation, and a cleaner recording of Moonlight Densetsu, yet over all distinctly less stylised than previous entries, this is a solid opening, but you may find yourselves forgetting entire chunks of it.
The third season of Sailor Moon approaches the opening credit sequence a bit different than the previous series – rather than using two markedly different openings for each half of the season, as before, Sailor Moon S actually had a developing opening, which including more and more new aspects of the series as they were introduced.
This “review”, for lack of a better word, is based upon the complete sequence, which aired riiiight about around episode 24.
This is an interesting gimmick, but one that’s lost for those of us relying on the Pioneer DVD releases of the early 2000s, since they just plummed for showing the full opening to save on subtitling costs… or so I imagine.
Considering how much it cost to get these back in the day, I’m a little miffed at Pioneer for cutting corners wherever possible. Their DVD menus looked like a 5 year old designed them, too. Tut tut.
Anyway, the opening. As with the previous sequences, the first few seconds is a dramatic build-up with haunting bells. The first opening nailed something absolutely haunting, and the fourth something terrifying – the bells were used to great effect.
The opening here is a little lacklustre, if truth be told. Most of this is down to the new recording of Moonlight Densetsu, which I will just admit right now that I do not like nearly as much as the original recording, despite it being an obviously cleaner cut.
Part of it is the sample they used for the keyboard, which is much less clipped, a much more soft sound, which I think detracts from the choppy Russian-esque vibe they were originally going for. They’ve also tried to add layers and new sound effects to the track. In the bell introduction, for instance, they add sustained mystical-sounding effects that I think detracts.
I’m being nit-picky I know, but the truth must be said: the first recording was crappier but sounded all the more fitting for it.
OK, the animation itself.
We snap at the beginning to all the Senshi hanging about on plinths, which I never quite got. I don’t mind how weird it is, just that I wish they had stuck more with a theme. I would have liked to stick with this Palladian design a bit more, like the second opening did.
The part that looks really rather odd is when all the Senshi jump up into the air and begin flying over the moon. Just seems a little uninspired compared to the mysterious and haunting imagery we’ve seen in these openings before. I just don’t think it means anything. The third opening, for instance, was filled with sly hidden meanings.
I also dislike this next sequence. Gosh I’m coming off as a negative nitwit today aren’t I? Don’t worry I love stuff later on. The sequence where the Inner Senshi are all spot-lighted between their human and Senshi forms is really rather weak in my opinion. It’s just lack style, and feels completely perfunctory, as though they were forced to stick the poor girls in here.
And there’s still no cohesive style to the opening. I feel like this is the product of 3 or 4 different art directors, whereas previous openings were all definitely the product of a single artistic vision.
I do like the strangely wild introduction of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They look, and move, like predatory animals. Big tick.
The only contribution that Chibi-Moon makes to the opening is about 3 frames of “fuck yeah!” jumping, thanks to her being a sudden inclusion later on in the series. Seems a bit cheap considering how important to the plot she becomes in the final third of the series. Also, poor Luna and Artemis only get this shot too.
I love the quick shot of the Professor. Clever animation here. Even better is the really quick cut to Hotaru. It’s only about 2 seconds of footage, but seeing her surrounded in darkness, turning around with a scared look on her face, really captures something about her personality and her fate in this series.
Very mysterious, very good job.
The next sequence is probably one of the most slick in all of Sailor Moon. Our titular character spins around, in a Moon Spiral Heart Attack kind of way as all the other Senshi perform their signature attacks in the background.
It looks dramatic, it’s smooth as cream, the colour-shifting is beautiful, every Senshi looks badass, and it’s the most memorable moment of the intro. Spot on here, really love this moment.
The best part is the end of the attacking scenes, where we zoom back to see Sailor Moon circled by all 7 other Senshi. It’s a strangely religious depiction for some reason. Seeing all 7 Senshi together is a powerful image, and more than that, their deference to Sailor Moon herself speaks of her… “biblical importance”… as the season goes on.
Finally, we appear to have finally landed in a strong artistic theme. This pseudo-religious dramatic and strangely-meaningful atmosphere continues as we the emergence of Super Sailor Moon from the Holy Grail. Gosh I love this sequence of images.
This is followed by an incredibly beautiful shot of Super Sailor Moon with rainbow butterfly wings (all iconography used in this season to denote the Messiah), leading a path of glittering butterflies as she brings pillars of light down through the clouds. It’s fantastic stuff.
This final scene really picks on threads in the story, pushes a sense of impending drama, and actually adds to the experience of the story, in a way that the first half of this opening.
The opening ends on a slowly revealed mural of all the Senshi, with Tuxedo Kamen, the cats, and Chibi-Moon all posing about. It’s just fine. Nothing remarkable about it really, but I do like the look of it.
And there you have it. I stick by my assertion that it feels as though several different art directors had their hand in this. The best work went into that sequence of attacks and the Messiah-worthy butterfly storm at the end. Everything else is more or less forgettable. After 3 seasons I expect it’s rather tough to make it original any more.
Sadly, this is probably the last intro I really enjoy properly. Sailor Moon Super S has an even less memorable opening than the first half of this one, and Sailor Stars is… well we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Over all, I give this opening a solid and healthy B+.