Sailor Moon Crystal
The very first new anime for Sailor Moon since the original 1992-97 series wrapped up, began on July 5, 2014 with episodes airing twice a month on the first and third Saturdays, until January 17, 2015.
The series was intended for adults right from the start. A small merchandise line was created, aimed at adults from college age onward. The episodes are TV-PG or TV-14, depending on episode content. Viz accidently released an advert showing the series as TV-Y7 FV, but this was a mistake. Viz Media has the rights to the show as of 2014.
This was the first time in history a series of Sailor Moon was aired legally at the same time as America and Japan.
This is the first series to legally debut via internet streaming instead of television. The show was broadcast via NicoNicoDouga, Hulu and Crunchyroll. Sailor Moon Crystal did not hit Japanese airwaves until April 1, 2015. Upon it's television debut in it's home country, it debuted on six stations: TVQ Kyushu, Tokyo MX, TV Hokkaido, TV Aichi, Sun TV, and BS11, making it the very first Sailor Moon anime to debut on more than one TV station in Japan, and more than one streaming service. Because of this, Sailor Moon Crystal is heralded as one of the most accessible anime titles for the franchise.
Initially, the show was announced as a 26 episode series, but in December of 2014, Toei announced that they were cutting the season in half, creating two separate seasons. Season one spanned the 14 arcs of the Dark Kingdom story from the manga, while the second half became the Black Moon Arc.
This was the second Sailor Moon season to not feature the song "Moonlight Densetsu" as the opening theme, and the first to feature the song "Moon Pride" as it's opening. The new theme was done by teenage J-pop/Rock band, Momoiro Clover Z.
This was the second series to feature a blonde Queen Serenity, the first being a few frames from episode 35 of the original series. This only lasted the first few episodes in the opening animation. Queen Serenity officially debuted with silver hair and silver eyes.
Kuri and Yumiko also had color changes with the hair and eyes, and Ikuko has been given pale lavender hair and blue eyes, while the rest of the cast had coloring based on the Materials Collection art book.
In stark contrast to the first anime, the Four Generals, who are called the Four Commanders in the Kodansha English manga, are now called the Four Kings, and are seen together quite frequently. While the first anime pitted Jadeite against Nephrite, Nephrite against Zoicite and Kunzite and then had Zoicite and Kunzite as lovers, here, the rivalry stops at playful teasing, and the four men are shown to care about each other and subsequently about Endymion, the same way the Inner Sailor Senshi care about each other. Also, while Zoicite is still seen cross dressing as he has been seen in the manga and first anime, in this show he is heterosexual, and falls in love with Sailor Mercury. The manga implies that he had a caring feeling for Jadeite in the Casablanca Memory story, but it never is explored. All four heterosexual romances seen briefly in this anime are in reference to a picture drawn by Naoko Takeuchi:
While this season stayed very true to the manga, some changes were made. The Four Generals live longer than Queen Beryl, and each falls in love with a Sailor Guardian. This stems from a picture Naoko Takeuchi drew of the four, each holding the Guardian of his choice, while Prince Endymion sweetly kisses a sleeping Princess Serenity. All four Generals, now called Kings, are killed by Queen Metallia. Much of the technology was altered. Clunky 90's cell phones are replaced with tablets and smart phones. Usagi and Shingo's Gameboy and Famicom are replaced with a PS Vita, and instead of using an old desktop, Usagi and Luna share Usagi's pink Sony Vaio Laptop, though after all these years, Usagi admits she is STILL computer stupid.
While some fans believed this was the first season to utilize CGI, it's actually the third. Episode 34 of the original series had a touch of CGI in the background when Princess Serenity was revealed, and the Sailormoon R movie had the comet Fiore was on completely done in CGI.
This is also the very first series to have it's animation changed to appease the public. The initial run featured animation quirks and mistakes, while the Blu-Ray release in Japan features skinnier Sailor Guardians and corrected eyes, animations and effects.
Hulu, Nico and Crunchyroll all air the original cut of each episode, while the Blu-Ray and Japanese Television releases air the "corrected" cut. It is theorized that the initial cut is shown on streaming services as a 25 minute ad for the better quality version, to entice people to purchase the DVDs. The corrected cut of Crystal is treated in the press like it's own series, separate from this one, but Toei maintains what the fans already know, that it is indeed two cuts of the exact same show.
Sailor Moon Crystal was in development hell for almost five years before finally airing on Hulu, but the actual episodes are animated and changed within the same month they air, hence the alternate versions. Fans were initially led to believe this was animated over the course of 3-5 years, but those years were actually spent on designs, script writing, casting and most of all, gaining the approval of Naoko Takeuchi.
The name "Sailor Moon Crystal" was on a list of names Toei put together before sending the list off to Takeuchi-san. She chose Crystal initially because she liked the sound of it, but it ended up being very important to this arc, as the first several episodes are devoted to locating the crystal and it's rightful owner.
This is the first anime to have every episode correspond to a specific issue of the Sailor Moon manga. Not one filler episode was ever produced, though rumors persist about the future animation of the short story Casablanca Memory, and of an animated movie, but as of March 19, 2015, nobody from Toei has come forward to discuss the potential for a movie for this new series.
It has been said the initial concept for Crystal would have been to come up with a new show concept, and rumors suggested that the show would have focused on Chibiusa, Hotaru, Ami (Jr), Rei (Jr), Mako, Mina and an unnamed sister for Chibiusa to replace Kousagi, while another rumor stated that the series would have taken place right after Sailor StarS, but those rumors turned out to be false.
At just 14 episodes, this is the shortest "split arc" so far, and the second shortest season, beating out the Sailor Moon R Hell Tree Arc by just one episode.
In sharp contrast to the very first anime, Chibiusa rightfully debuts at the end of this season. If we are counting Tuxedo Mask as a Guardian, this makes 7 on screen Guardians, even though Chibiusa has not transformed yet. If we are counting the Four Generals, then this makes 11.