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More than ever, I’m convinced this is extremely close to what the OP for Crystal was supposed to be, and Moon Pride was a last-minute switch. With the understanding that I can see one place the frames would have been switched a bit (the moon appearing right before the word “moonlight” instead of on the word “moonlight”), check out how the Crystal opening stacks up to Classic OP2, with a small guest appearance by OP1. All screenshots/comparisons are by me. For brevity’s sake I’ll be referring to these as the Classic and Crystal OPs, even though one is fan-edited–after you see what I’ve found, you may understand why I’m not bothering with that qualification.

So we’ll go line by line–word by word, where necessary. We’ll start with the instrumental section. A few pixels might be missing off the edges of the Crystal caps because of having to resize and crop them together (my Viz caps are fabulous, but 20 years old in 4:3 format is 20 years old in 4:3 format), but no elements have been straight-up left out.

So in Classic, this is OP2 and we’re about to establish that shit went down on the moon, so we go to a shot of the Moon Palace with the Earth behind (everything’s about to light up and when it does that orb will be blue and green). But dig: one shot is a building, sturdy and solid, and the other is five girls solidly planted in a field of flowers, each with that rising light source behind. I mean, no surprise there, it’s a great dramatic shot in each case, but it establishes a similarity from the very first shot and in both cases you have the moon/earth with that strong horizontal line in the foreground.

Title screen! Functionally, they’re quite different; the Crystal logo is much more heavily animated (the words “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” appear in English and Japanese over the moon; a flash of light turns the moon into the stylized crescent and makes the word “Crystal” appear bit by bit; the little specks of light appear from under the words), where in the Classic logo they just sorta. Show up. But what’s interesting is that just after the screenshot I have here, a flash of light appears in the Classic logo, putting a starburst on the last gana in “Sera Muun.” The more limited animation of the day still includes the flash of light, and does it on the same notes that the light changes the moon in the Crystal logo.

Next up is what Jet Wolf calls the “Character Select screen” in Crystal, and here the two diverge–but only briefly. Classic shows Usagi first and Crystal does it last, but dig:

There’s a ton more movement in the Classic shots, and they’re much faster (Classic!Minako exits on “naka nara ieru,” where Crystal!Rei is still oncreen at that point); for better or worse, Crystal is a show of static images. But it’s interesting to note that in Classic, Minako is the last onscreen and gets a vertical pan into a new shot, while in Crystal Usagi is the last onscreen but gets that same vertical shot–to the shining moon, which appears a second and a half before the English word “moonlight.” Given that Usagi in the Moon Pride OP is onscreen in her Character Select shot for a full nine seconds (out of 90–literally ten percent of the Moon Pride OP is Usagi onscreen in this shot), you could easily have left a few frames and cut away from the moon on the word “moonlight.” Easily. In fact, it’s interesting to note, too, that on the line “Shikou kairo wa short sunzen” we get a second shot of the girls transforming into Senshi that doesn’t exist in Crystal–but we’ll come back to that.

We diverge for a little while, with Usagi seeing Mamoru in the rain and the scene with the umbrellas. Then, this:

Both of these shots are from the word “midnight,” and although he’s doing two very different things, it’s Mamoru’s first appearance in both OPs. He’s even in a similar position and wearing the Blazer Throwback sweater in the second one (and, of course, something over his eyes in both).

Again, a divergence–the girls attacking as Senshi appears here in Crystal–but we’ll be back, yet again. In the meantime, this:

Both of these shots are from various points within the words “hikari ni michibikare.” Usagi’s shot is sort of crammed into the end of an attack montage with the rest of the girls in Crystal, but in both of these shots she’s spinning.

And now, we interrupt this Crystal/Classic OP2 comparison to bring you a Crystal/Classic OP1 comparison!

Not only do the two Beryls appear onscreen at the same time, they have the same rough storyboarding–her hand appears first, there’s a Big Intimidating Shot, and then a grand arm movement (Classic!Beryl opens her arms, while Crystal!Beryl sweeps the Shitennou into frame). Classic!Beryl gets slightly more time, but here’s the weird bit–this is one place where the Crystal OP actually works better, because although the Shitennou are the minibosses of Classic and Zoisite fucks up Usagi’s life royally, they never appear in the Classic OPs (even singly). And it’s a great place to add them in, because literally nothing is happening there but a short musical hook.

So next is a pair of shots that don’t, on first glance, match up at all:

But take a closer look at those lampposts outside the palace in the Crystal shot. The two appear on the same words. And now I’m going to shock the shit out of you: I’m pretty sure that’s not the Moon Palace. There are a ton of trees surrounding it, which if I recall correctly is one of the things Serenity loved about earth. And while it does look very similar to the palace in the first Classic shot, it doesn’t look like the Moon Palace in the Moon Pride video–which we only see from a distance, yes, but it’s walled off and set high on a hill. This building, by contrast, seems very open. And then this:

It’s always seemed odd to me that the Queen was in the Crystal OP. What’s she doing there when she’s so unimportant to the story overall (yes, I realize she does some important stuff, but when you have 80-90 seconds to tell your whole story why do you include a long shot of the one-episode infodump character while only just barely including the villains you wanted to turn into mains)? And why was she miscolored as the Princess first? When you realize that in Classic this is definitely the Princess, it makes you wonder if maybe it wasn’t the wrong colors, it was the wrong Serenity–or, if my hypothesis is right, originally this would have been the Princess and a change to the storyboards was made.

We’re not done. These two shots cut into these two shots, and now Crystal is slightly ahead of Classic:

Pretty straightforward, except for one thing: in Classic the Princess’ dress crossfades into this shot, while the Queen in Crystal is looking up and then you see the shot of the moon. Is she on Earth? And while Classic!Princess Serenity is landing on a floor with the Moon emblem on it … you could certainly argue the two were reversed, and that in Crystal we’re seeing things from the standpoint of the Earth (as emphasized by the girls being in that field in the first shot) while in Classic we’re seeing it from the perspective of the Moon.

Moving on:

I’m going to start by saying that inset on the Classic cap covers nothing but a patch of bare sky. It’s there because I want you to see very clearly what’s in her hands. What are you doing with the Silver Crystal, Princesses? Neither Princess Serenity ever used it in the Silver Kingdom, to the best of my knowledge, yet here they both are holding it (and note that again the earth/moon is in the background). These two shots don’t quite match up; Crystal!Serenity appears on the line “onaji kuni ni umareta no miracle romance,” while Classic!Serenity gets a pan on the second, final “miracle romance.”

And to complete the chronological portion of our program: these two shots are the final shots of the Crystal OP and Classic OP1:

And here, we have two interesting homages. Sailor Moon’s position is different between the two, but look at Classic!Moon’s and Crystal!Jupiter’s arm positions.

For those who haven’t been keeping track, there are 11 matches (if you count the girls matching up in appearance as one match) in 80 seconds shown above. That’s one every 7.3 seconds. And we’re not done. The following shots do not match up chronologically in any way, but all the 1990s shots are from Classic OP2:

But it gets better. Look at the images of the girls transforming in Classic. Now go look at the directions they face on the “Character Select” screen in Crystal (the shot I have of Rei is looking down, but she does look up directly at the viewer in a moment). Now, you know when I said the “Character Select” took up twice as long in Crystal as in Classic? These transformations are the other half of that lyric.

Oh. I’m not done. We interrupt very briefly for a shot of the four Senshi appearing together, and then there’s this:

(her tiara appears with some pretty amazing light effects, so it was easier to get the shot pre-tiara in that first image. These two shots appear less than two seconds apart, however, and both the Crystal and Classic shots appear ont he same lyrics.)




These are a verse apart, but interestingly, they’re “flipped” with the fifth set of images up there–in Classic we see a quick Tux and Moon and then a very long Moon Stick attack (including the return of the rainbow crystals), in Crystal we see an extremely quick attack and then a long shot of Moon and Tux. 

 Added up, there are a total of 14 of these; adding half-points for lyrics matching the Crystal animation we get the "Character Select” screen lyrics matching up this way: Ami cries on “I’m sorry,” Rei appears on “I’m not honest/It’s hard for me to say” (Geneon/Viz translation), Mako appears on “it’s easy to say in dreams,” and Minako appears on “my thoughts are about to short circuit/my thought circuit is about to break down.” Ami is a clear match, and the others are arguable character matches; we’ll stick with Ami for half a point and move on to the moon appearing (almost) on “moonlight,” which I’ve noted could be moved forward with only a slightly different edit. Usagi stares pensively at Mamoru on “I’m so innocent, what should I do?”and the many-colored umbrellas are thrown on the word “万華鏡“–kaleidoscope. We’re up to two points and the Senshi attack. The Viz and Geneon translations are extremely different, but both agree on the point “the moonlight leads/guides us,” followed by Tux and Moon in front of the moon on the line “by chance, we meet again and again” for yet another point.

That’s a total of 17. One every 4.7 seconds, on average, and two of them are double-homages. Yes, a lot of it pans out chronologically whether the music is the same or not, but there are also six clear instances where Moonlight Densetsu and the Crystal OP animation match up.

So what happened? Why Moon Pride? Why not the Moonlight Densetsu cover by the same band? We may never know, but one thing seems clear: this wasn’t by accident.

The Signs as School Spirit Days

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Aries - Blackout Day
Taurus - Tie Dye Day
Gemini - Twin Day
Cancer - Hawaiian Day
Leo - Throwback Thursday
Virgo - Ugly Sweater Day
Libra - Dress Like A Celebrity Day
Scorpio - Crazy Hair Day
Sagittarius - Wacky Tacky Day
Capricorn - Nerd Day
Aquarius - ‘Murica Monday
Pisces - Pajama Day

Oh, it’s throwback time! This is 1987 or 1988, not sure. Again, with the modeling nonsense. Sometimes I tried to get rid of my curls, but the curls usually won the fight. I was a huge fan of smoky eyes, and hoped I’d outgrow the acne soon. Not sure what’s happening with that sweater, though.