I never thought I’d see Sailor Moon come to Broadway.
Doomed by location, I thought I’d missed my chance to see a Sera Myu musical PERIOD in 2017, when the 20th Anniversary cast came to Anime Matsuri in the distant Houston, Texas. But fortunately for me and many other Midwest fans, Sailor Moon didn’t give up reaching out to fans in the States! Last year, a new production was announced for 2019 in Washington D.C. and New York City! Around Christmas, the unthinkable happened; my husband, Mr. Dashing himself, surprised me with tickets for the March 29th showing of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Super Live” In the Big Apple!
This week, we flew from Detroit to NYC to see the sailor soldier of love and justice showcase her new musical!
Moonie Fan Reception
The ticket sales speak for themselves in this case. While this was a very limited viewing, it’s promising that all three shows this weekend in NYC sold out.
For the Friday performance, lines wrapped around the PlayStation Theater with fans donning Sailor Moon merch and even full cosplay. You could not have asked for a better-dressed, nicer crowd. The line was full of beaming super fans who were eager to discuss everything Sailor Moon. We flew in from Detroit, but others traveled even farther; we spoke to a couple from Utah before the show. The biggest complaint I heard after the show was also a form of praise— the show was just too short. Unfortunately, photos and videos were not allowed inside the Theatre, but I was able to take a few photos of fans and of the show artwork!
Long Ago, On the Moon Kingdom…
The Super Live is not your traditional hero origin story (I’m looking at you, Spiderman). The Super Live condenses the final story arc of the Silver Crystal chapters into a digestible hour, culminating in the final epic battle where Usagi and friends face Queen Beryl to save Earth. Fans of Sailor Moon will be familiar with the blend of comedy and tragedy present in the series, and I’m thrilled to report this iteration kept that spirit alive and well.
Like the other musicals, this production is based on the original manga by Naoko Takeuchi, but it does make its own changes, which I will omit for the sake of leaving this review spoiler-free. After all, the variations of the Sailor Moon storyline are what make each new adaptation special for fans!
After the story closed, fans were treated to another 30 minutes of high energy music by the main cast.
2.5D Visual Storytelling for an English Audience
The Super Live is a Japanese production, so English subtitles were displayed at stage left and right for the NYC audience. However, these supertitles were hardly necessary to enjoy the musical— scenes contained little to no dialogue other than what was incorporated into the songs. And as expected, the emotion conveyed by each of the singing soldiers was enough to understand the meaning.
The curtain lifted with a stunning visual retelling of Kunzite, the head of the four generals, taking on the role as the primary antagonist under Queen Beryl after the defeat of Jadeite, Nephrite, and Zoisite.
I need to say it— the costumes were gorgeous. You’d expect beautiful costumes in a show with “Pretty” in the title, right? Everyone, even the villains, were lovely. Kunzite broke onto the stage looking like a sparkly version of Sephiroth, purple sword and all.
But beyond the costumes, the 2.5D graphics were pivotal to the storytelling experience— throughout the musical, original panels from the manga were integrated into the foreground and background as the actors played out the events. Fans, myself included, went absolutely wild as creator Takeuchi’s drawings spread above the stage. In addition to the overlay of interactive artwork, the stage lighting added another magical dimension.
Nostalgic Sounds & New Songs
Outside of the 2.5D spectacle, one of the most exciting elements of the performance was the incorporation of beloved songs from the classic anime series, as well as from the 20th Anniversary performance. The Moonlight Densetsu performance during the concert’s encore was an emotionally high moment for lifetime fans like me. An original composition of “Otome no Policy”, another favorite from the Sailor Moon R anime, was also featured. The nostalgic music reinforced that palpable sense of comradery in the room between Moonies! During the concert portion of the event, the audience with the official lightstick wands (available for purchase before the show).
The new songs varied in tone in order to sell the atmosphere— Tuxedo Mask’s triumphant guitar theme was wildly different from the club-like, chaotic music featured in the Dark Kingdom. Queen Beryl was also given her own seductive, sinister ballad, which I found both eerie and irresistible. It was a bit odd to hear a room full of Sailor Moon devotees cheering on the villains, but their voices demanded praise.
As of this week, you can now listen to the soundtrack preview in the Apple Store, which I highly recommend checking out!
In the Name of the Moon, I’ll Punish You!
TAKAHIRO’s carefully-plotted choreography and the cast’s quick costume changes were also responsible for making the story easy to consume. Battles were dazzling and complex dance-offs showcasing each cast member. I have to give credit to the main cast for their attention to detail on those iconic poses of each Sailor Soldier. This helped each actress look and feel the part when, outside of Usagi, there was almost no time allotted for characterization.
The relatively small cast of backup dancers deserves accolades for their acrobatics! They managed to seamlessly portray both the three defeated generals and Beryl’s army of faceless minions in a single scene. When Kunzite gets up to the usual shenanigans of turning hapless Tokyo citizens into dark minions, the dancers, with the aid of more awesome lighting effects, were quick to transform into monstrous opponents.
To Be Continued?
While nothing official has been announced yet, I’m hopeful that with the success of these performances we’ll see Sailor Moon back on US stages in the coming years. The Super Live magically captured the universally adored miracle romance of Sailor Moon. More fans outside Japan should get the chance to share that experience soon!