'Sailor Moon Super S' Part 1 Blu-ray Boasts Loads of Extras, Stellar New English Dub

Viz Media's DVD and Blu-ray bundle of Sailor Moon Super S serves up the first part of the fourth season of the classic anime with impeccable polish. The release marks the first time English-language Sailor Moon fans have been able to get hard copies of the season since the subs-only Pioneer DVD release in the early 2000s. It's an essential part of the collection of any hardcore Sailor Moon fan, though might not make the best introduction to the series for the uninitiated.

The Limited Edition Season 4 Part 1 set comes in a sturdy, mint green box with an eye-catching but subtle holographic sheen. Super Sailor Moon poses solo on the front, while the back features an image of her Crisis Moon Compact. There's space in the box for the upcoming Part 2 as well. A 96-page paperback included in the package features character bios, episode descriptions, song lyrics and some spiffy artwork of the heroes and villains.

There are some differences between the DVD and Blu-ray formats. The bright and vibrant DVD menu features nicely detailed character art and tattoo-worthy renderings of some of the franchise's iconic artifacts, like Sailor Moon's transformation brooches and wands. The Blu-ray menus are a bit more intricate, with clips from various episodes scrolling past. Menu options overlay the moving background rather than redirecting to a separate, static page, as on the DVD.

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The Sailor Senshi enjoy a day off in 'Sailor Moon Super S.' Viz Media / Toei Animation

There's a considerable amount of bonus content in the set, most notably the 45-minute, never-before-seen Super S TV special on the first Blu-ray disc. It's basically three mini-episodes bundled into a 45-minute block. The first 15 minutes recaps the first three seasons, then shifts focus to Haruka and Michiru, who are otherwise completely absent from the fourth season. The final third of the special is devoted to Chibi-Usa and her friends as they investigate a girl they believe to be a vampire.

More bonuses can found on the third Blu-ray disc, including an art gallery, clean versions of the beginning and ending songs, trailers and interviews with the English-language cast. While both the Blu-ray and the DVD are in standard 3:4 format, with black bars on the side, the Blu-ray is noticeably more pristine.

Viz Media's been a wonderful steward of the Sailor Moon franchise, and the Super S Part 1 box set is no exception. The season's candy-colored, circus-inspired artwork looks better than ever in HD, and the English VAs continue to deliver stellar performances. Even typically dub-averse anime fans will appreciate the top-notch performances of the English Sailor Moon cast, who capture the tone and personality of each character precisely without going over-the-top. The original Japanese audio remains an option for those who prefer it.

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Chibi-Usa gets a visit from Pegasus in 'Sailor Moon Super S.' Viz Media

That said, Super S is a divisive season among the fandom: it's either your favorite or least favorite of the five, and a lot of that depends on your feelings about Chibi-Usa. Super S has a markedly more kid-friendly, lighthearted vibe than Seasons 3 and 5 (S and Stars), so the stakes don't feel especially high until the tail-end of the arc. The Outer Senshi are also absent this time around, except for Neptune and Uranus's brief appearance in the bonus features. But there's still a lot of charm on offer: the villainous Amazon Trio are delightful scene stealers, and the monster-of-the-week episodes consistently feature some truly batty baddie designs. This run of episodes also has a lot of fun, silly escapades, like in "The Perfect Couple: Usagi and Mamoru's Love" (episode 132) and "Storm of Love: Minako's Grand Two-Timing Plan" (episode 141).

Sailor Moon Super S (Season 4) Part 1 is available now from Amazon, Best Buy, Right Stuf Anime and other retailers.

'Sailor Moon Super S' Part 1 Blu-ray Boasts Loads of Extras, Stellar New English Dub | Gaming