The Animation Art of Sailor Moon: Ikuko Itoh – Sailor Moon R Opening Sequence II

Observations:

  • Not going to analyze the lyrics of “Moonlight Densetsu,” since everyone knows that song already.
  • Similarly to how the 2nd OP for Season 1 started out, the first thing we see is the moon in the night sky, surrounded by some rather Arabian-looking clouds.
  • Also similarly to Season 1 OP 2, the images in this opening sequence are based on the plot, rather than generic/abstract visuals. That said, I think they started using it a bit too soon (episode 71) as it’s very spoilery – we see Demande, Esmeraude and Saphir early, Sailor Moon’s future as Neo-Queen Serenity is revealed pretty blatantly, Pluto makes an early apperance, etc. I would have moved it two episodes ahead so it would coincide with Esmeraude’s introduction. It’s actually kind of arbitrary that they decided to switch opening sequences on the episode where Berthier is healed, since it’s between two other Ayakashi Sister healing episodes. That said, this isn’t the first time the OP has been spoilery – Season 1 OP 2 revealed Sailor Venus and Princess Serenity all the way back at Jupiter’s introductory episode. That OP seems to have been timed for changing exactly halfway through the series, but one big problem with that is it shows that the Moon-Mercury-Mars team went on for way too long. The S season’s opening sequences were a lot better about timing of spoilers, which is kind of funny because timing issues is that season’s biggest flaw.
  • I like that we briefly see a crescent moon before it morphs into the ribboned R logo, and that when it sets of a bit of energy it makes the sound effect associated with Sailor Moon’s powers. The use of 6-pointed stars is interesting too, since usually the star visuals we see are 5-pointed.
  • Obvious one, but the visuals of the twisted clocks are strongly influenced by Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, which is one of the most popular and iconic paintings ever, and certainly the most well-known example of Surrealist art. And, of course, it works perfectly for this season since it is themed around time being manipulated and twisted.
  • Sailor Moon’s actions in the beginning of this sequence are interesting. She appears within this twisted time with a flash of light (suggesting that perhaps this is representing the episode where she travels through time to the future), and spins around in it with a meditative expression, as if she’s drawing power from time. Then her eyes open and she has a quizzical, surprised expression. It’s almost as if she’s surprised at where she is, or perhaps the fourth wall is being broken and she’s surprised that someone is watching her.
  • I love the artistic effect of the coppery pendulums. The stripes evoke images of metal, wood, and even look a little bit like planets. Sailor Moon has a determined, optimistic look on her face, as she fearlessly runs ahead to travel through this time-manipulated space. When the others join her, they smile at the camera and show their personalities perfectly. Venus winks flirtatiously, Mars smiles with enthusiasm, Mercury’s smile is reserved, and Jupiter just looks incredibly pleased to see the viewer. And I like that the last thing we see in this pendulum space is the 5 running forward together, and that they’re not all in perfect step, showing that they’re still individuals within this team.
  • The wavy ribbon-like pathway to the Time Gates is lovely (as is the swirling cloud background). It also evokes the idea that this is not the kind of place that you can get to by regular means, and that it’s a pathway that leads to somewhere magical and important. The Gates themselves look great, and it’s one of the clearest images we get of them. I never noticed the hourglasses on the pillars of the doors before. And I like that the doors show the Phases of the Moon, indicating that while they are Pluto’s responsibility, the Silver Millennium’s powers must have had something to do with their creation.
  • Esmeraude, Saphir, Demando and Wiseman are featured in this opening sequence, whereas the Ayakashi Sisters and Rubeus were not. Gives a little sign that these villains are much more powerful, and much more important. I also like the subtle phasing of Wiseman’s Crystal Ball into an image of the Earth, foreshadowing that he hopes to have the Earth’s control literally in his hands.
  • I wish Pluto had more to do in this sequence besides waving her Garnet Rod around and looking fierce. But she had even less presence in the S opening sequence, so I’ll take what I can get. I wish she’d been pictured near the Time Gates, at least.
  • Chibiusa is now in the opening sequence as well, and is wearing her winter school uniform (which is a visual indicator that the plot is about to take a darker turn).
  • One portion of this opening sequence was somewhat ruined in the ADV release of Sailor Moon R. Toei didn’t give ADV a copy of the credit-less version of this opening (They also gave them crappy masters and didn’t include episode 67 or the next episode previews – you sure treat your clients well, Toei), so they had to put the subtitles on top of the Japanese text. The spinning clock (or maybe it’s a coin?) had the credits for Moonlight Densetsu on it filling most of the screen, so ADV’s solution was just to blur the entire screen and put their credits on top. *slow clap*
  • My favourite part of this sequence is the graceful animation of Sailor Moon transforming into Neo-Queen Serenity. It’s interesting that it’s her ribbons that start to come apart first (Heh, ribbons turning into ribbons). She has such a serene look on her face. It’s also somewhat interesting that her bun shields, tiara and Star Crystal compact don’t disappear, even though all three of them change once she becomes Neo-Queen Serenity. This sequence also seems to have been inspired by the R Movie, since it shows Usagi as nude and surrounded by translucent pink ribbons. The change into Neo-Queen Serenity is so instantaneous, with an explosion of pretty translucent flowers.
  • I wish there was more explained about Neo-Queen Serenity’s tiara and its centre gem. It obviously has power here, and makes the usual “power” sound effect associated with Sailor Moon. We know it’s not the Silver Crystal since Chibiusa has it, but what is it, exactly? And are we just watching a stylized version of NQS reviving the world and creating Crystal Tokyo? I do love how Crystal Tokyo is depicted in this sequence, since most of the time when we see it, it’s not a beautiful utopia, it’s a cold crystal graveyard.
  • The rose petals fall gently across the screen twice, every time King Endymion fades into view. They’re used somewhat as a symbol for his powers here, but also connects them to Neo-Queen Serenity since her transformation was accompanied by rose petals.
  • Neo-Queen Serenity’s expression at seeing her family is so sweet and loving, it’s pure Usagi.
  • The grassy hill filled with wildflowers foreshadows the final scene of Sailor Moon R (not counting the clip show episode), since otherwise we never see that hill except here. One thing I do find sort of odd is how foggy/misty/smoggy? the rest of Crystal Tokyo is. I suppose it’s stylized and deliberately without much detail, but it kind of puts a dent in the whole “future utopia” thing.
  • I admit I’m not a fan of the final image. There’s nothing wrong with it drawing-wise (Venus’ hair looks particularly good), but I don’t like the faded colours. It looks like the cel’s been left out in the sun for weeks. Mamoru’s hair shouldn’t be greenish either, it should be blueish. Oh well.
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