sailor moon watching it order

Which ‘Sailor Moon’ Incarnation Is Right For You?

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Say you want to get into the iconic, magical girl series, Sailor Moon, but you have no idea where you want to start? Look no further. We will let you know where to begin your journey if you are interested in the franchise.

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The OG Anime

Despite originally being a manga in the ’90s, the anime series by Toei is likely most people’s entry point to the series. If you are interested in a more ensemble series (in which all the characters get some development) then this is the best way to start.

It has some of the most iconic episodes and some really big emotional moments that were added to the series. In this incarnation, we also get the best version of the transformation sequences. While they might have been stock footage, the stock is strong.

My personal issue with this series is that it gives all the girls of the Inner Scouts the same boy-crazy personality. Plus, because it is more mainstream, some of the darker elements have been changed. For example, Usagi in this series is a more comedic character, but she also pulls a Goku and ends up changing the hearts and minds of her enemies.

I love the original anime for what it is, and while some of it doesn’t hold up in terms of the characterization and plotting we are used to now, the series is solid. Plus, if you watch the anime, you get the bomb music and outfits.

Currently, the 90s anime is streaming on Hulu.

The Manga

If you want to understand Usagi as a character, this is the way to go. I find that for people who really love the Scouts, the manga can be disappointing. It is a relatively short series, only spanning 10-18 volumes (depending on with edition you collect).

The manga, while having some early comedic moments, is much darker. We see demons being melted alive, a lot more emotional trauma, and early on there is an element of suicide. Usagi is much more a lead character and we spend most of the series with her and her relationship with Mamoru.

Since the darker tone is kept, you also get more of a sense that this is an epic battle between good and evil with world-shattering stakes. And we get to understand why Usagi is a great hero, her values, and why she has been chosen to lead.

I also love that the manga is sexier. There are a lot of moments that I still find deeply emotional to re-read and fill my heart with giggles.

The manga is available anywhere books/manga are sold.

sailor scouts outer scouts pluto darker
(image: Naoko Takeuchi)

Crystal Discourse

Ahhh, Crystal.

So, when Sailor Moon Crystal arrived in 2014, it was an exciting moment for fans. Not only would we be getting a new Sailor Moon anime, but it would be updating the manga and adapting it closer to the source material.

What ended up happening, especially in that first season, was a lot of terrible animation and a really disappointing lack of care for updating the series. With that being said, around season three the series finally found its footing and has managed to really bring Sailor Moon to life.

…By mostly copying the 90s anime.

Basically, if you want a medium of shorter seasons, but more “serious” content, Crystal is there. I personally wouldn’t recommend it because I think that two better versions of the story exist.

Plus, the CG was, to quote Muffy from Arthur, vomitrocious.

Crystal is streaming on Netflix.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

Now, live-action adaptations of anime get a really bad reputation, and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon had that same issue. But in the near twenty years since it was released, fans have been able to look back at the series and appreciate it more.

It also makes some character changes that are different—like having Usagi/Sailor Moon and Princess Serenity actually have personality differences. There is also a lot more angst about what was lost in the Moon Kingdom. Plus, the series gave us Dark Mercury, and made Ami more of a badass in the series, complete with a dark side Willow-esque turn that absolutely rocks.

We see the families more, too, with the balance between being a warrior for truth and justice, while trying to just be a student and daughter highlighted. All the scouts have clear personalities and conflicts that serve to make them seem more human. Honestly, if you don’t mind the cheesy charm of a live-action anime, this is probably one of the best adaptations of Sailor Moon if you want a human journey and an ensemble cast all in one.

Sadly, it is hard to find and you might have to find other means to get it, but there is an excellent fansub up currently.

Which version of Sailor Moon is your favorite?

(featured image: Toei)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.