What Did Kazuko Tadano’s Interview Reveal About the Sailor Moon Crystal Movie?

Please, Super Sailor Moon, give us SOME information?

Please, Super Sailor Moon, give us SOME information?

At this point, I’m beginning to think that TOEI Animation simply enjoys toying with Sailor Moon fans’ delicate hearts. Just when you forget that they’re even supposedly making a fourth season to the Sailor Moon Crystal franchise in the form of a movie — bam! — there TOEI Animation is again with just enough information to get your hopes back up.

And that, my dear friends, is exactly where we find ourselves after the most recent release of the fan exclusive Pretty Guardian newsletter.

If it wasn’t enough to just drop the name of famed Sailor Moon character designer and animation director Kazuko Tadano, they also had to throw in just a few dazzling tidbits about Sailor Moon Crystal while they were at it.

Today we’re going to take a look at what she actually said in the interview, and see what information we can glean from it! Are you sitting down for this?

First, a brief profile about Kazuko Tadano

First, a brief profile about Kazuko Tadano

Like all good interviews, the newsletter starts off with a profile summarizing some basic facts about Ms. Tadano:

  • Name: Kazuko Tadano
  • Hobbies: Karaoko, traveling, collecting miniatures, etc. etc.
  • Favorite foods: Watermelons and macarons
  • Favorite colors: Black and pink
  • Least favorite things: Exercise (though I like walking)
  • Places you want to visit: Brazil — I want to go swimming at Lençóis!

From here, the interview is broken up under two primary headings: her memories of working on the Sailor Moon anime back in the 90s, and about the upcoming movie. Because neither the interviewers nor I want to bury the lead, obviously the questions about the 90s anime come first.

How did you wind up working as Sailor Moon‘s character designer back in the first season?

Well, they were holding auditions to pick the designer, and someone reached out to me on the day before the selection was going to be made. I was in a huge rush to get my submission done and fax it in. I distinctly remember being really flustered over how suddenly this all happened.

In spite of how little time I had to work on it, I was happy that they picked the Sailor Moon I designed. I had really given it my all.

Now, I’m not pointing fingers here, but I really have to wonder if this “someone” that asked her to join had wanted to pick her as the animation director the whole time, or if they were perhaps not satisfied with all the other submissions. But hey, what do I know?

Wow, that’s amazing! Now, could you tell us about what you feel the Sailor Moon franchise’s appeal is?

Each member of the Sailor Team all have their own distinct, unique characteristics, and the tempo of the series and dialogue was managed really well. The themes of love, friendship, and of course the battles made it exciting to watch.

Could you tell us about a time back in the 90s when you truly realized what a social phenomenon Sailor Moon was?

Even before it became a huge hit, some of my friends were really into the series, and I was like… what??
Shortly thereafter, things began to unfold just like they had predicted. The “otaku antenna” is truly an awe-inspiring thing. (laugh)

When I started having famous people I’d never even met asking for my signature, I could really tell the series was having an impact.

Back in a previous interview, you had mentioned that “drawing a good Sailor Moon was all in the eyes.” Could you discuss of the strategies you use in your character designs?

Since all of the girls’ faces are shaped pretty much the same, the highlighting of the eyes was the only option left for distinguishing them from each other (other than hair and eye shape), so I really focused on that.

I… somehow never really noticed that when you get down to it, most of the Inner Senshi’s faces are actually pretty similar in shape. Or at least Usagi/Ami and Rei/Minako. Now I feel like I need to go stare at a bunch of screenshots.

The opening, ending, transformation, and attack animation are all quite famous. What was your approach to making them?

Sailor Moon was a shojo manga at its core, so I think we really rode ourselves hard to make them extravagant, cool, and also to really capture the essence of each character.

With such big name creative types working on the series, including your husband Hiromi Matsushita, what kind of details were they particular about as they worked?

You’d have to ask each of the directors personally, but I like to think that everyone put a bit of their own original twist, and their personal feelings toward the characters, into their work.

From her comical gestures to her fashionable style and even sometimes serious demeanor, Usagi truly is an intriguing woman of many faces. Could you discuss some of the interesting points, or even difficulties you faced, with depicting such a unique character like Sailor Moon?

Getting the proportions properly balanced on Usagi’s head was a real challenge. There are just so. many. circles.

But those odango on her head were a big part of her character, so what can ya do? (rueful laugh)

It was actually pretty easy to draw her comical expressions, but where I really struggled was with getting that ever-so-faint hint of maturity that she would occasionally show.

Could you share with us an episode or scene that carries some special significance for you?

Hmm, probably episode 21 of the anime and the Sailor Moon R movie.

Episode 21 was a completely original story and was based on “Studio Live” where I was working at the time. The staff even came to our offices to make it all the more realistic. Since I know about the background [of the animation industry], this episode holds a special place in my heart.

The Sailor Moon R movie is an experience I’ll never forget… in more ways than one.

I was truly exhilarated to be serving as the animation director on this, since it was really going on strong with the love theme that was only gently touched on in the show. Due to the schedule, I spent a month living out of TOEI’s company-owned lodgings while I worked. However, thanks all the members’ efforts coming together, we were able to create a truly magnificent piece. I’m honored to have been a part of it.

And now that TOEI teaser…!

How did you end up working on Crystal Act 4: the Dead Moon Arc?1

By sheer happenstance, I was introduced to the character auditions by someone that I was working together with on a completely different project.

To have worked on the beginning and the end of the same series, it truly feel like fate.

Can you discuss how you’re approaching this project?

There’s been a long blank in my career since I worked on anything Sailor Moon-related, so I want to work hard to make sure my designs are reminiscent of the past while bringing with them a modern nuance, all while being faithful to Ms. Takeuchi’s original imagery.

Also, I’ve grown up a lot since then and have really expanded on my experience and my personal horizons (laugh), so I’m hoping to can bring to the screen things that I wasn’t able to properly visualize in the past.

I hope you’ll enjoy a more grown up Usagi and crew!

And… that’s pretty much all we’re getting in terms of information on the totally-for-reals-going-to-happen Sailor Moon Crystal movie.

Usagi and Rei can't wait to see this movie... someday...

Usagi and Rei can’t wait to see this movie… someday…

So what do you think about the art direction decision for bringing Kazuko Tadano back on board for the new project?

While I personally am not really much of a fan of Sailor Moon Crystal and prefer the 90s anime, I’m not really sure if I can get behind this move. If they’re trying to bring the designs more in line with the old anime, then it seems like a little too late in the series to be doing that. If they’re trying to keep with the new, more manga-inspired designs, then I feel like it would have been a better choice to try to stick with the previous art directors.

Of course, time will tell how this will all play out in the end, but it’ll be an interesting ride one way or another!

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  1. Incidentally, the title is marked as “tentative,” so apparently it may still change.

32 thoughts on “What Did Kazuko Tadano’s Interview Reveal About the Sailor Moon Crystal Movie?

  1. I dunno if it’s lack of confidence so much as marketing pressure, but If the movie is intended to reach a wider audience than those familiar with SMC-the-show I’m not surprised its being brought visually more in-line with the old style people are familiar with.

    • That makes sense, I suppose. Especially with the recent successes with the Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon S theater showings, it may have been determined that the easiest way to fill seats would be to stick with something fans are more familiar with.

  2. They are so cruel. They’ve made an absolute mess of Crystal and the updates have been horrible.

      • Yes indeed.
        I love Crystal, flaws and all, but I feel like Toei has really done the fans wrong. They have been terribly unprofessional in how it has been handled so far. Season 1 being split when they decided they wanted to, the art changes, the bad art decisions, and story goofs.
        And the constant periods of just not communicating except to say: “Hey look, more overpriced merchandise!” …an elite fan club that gives no real information and vague hints.

        I am a huge fan of this series (since 1999) and seeing the other series get treated so well (or at least better than Sailor Moon) is disheartening.

        I really hate being negative about Sailor Moon, I truly did enjoy Crystal (if not as much as the 90’s series and manga).
        There are toxic fans out there, but I feel like calling Toei out is not the same thing.

        • And the constant periods of just not communicating except to say: “Hey look, more overpriced merchandise!” …an elite fan club that gives no real information and vague hints.

          Personally speaking, the fan club is the biggest thing I’d like to see get a revamp. At present, it really seems like a paid advertisement system. Fans are essentially paying the organizers to send them advertisements about new products, and (if you’re lucky) to get a chance to buy exclusive goods.
          Maybe that’s what other people are looking for in a fan club, but to me it doesn’t really seem to be about building connections between Sailor Moon and its fans, and more of an opportunity to throw more merch in front of you.

          … and ask you to pay for the privilege.

    • Even if we didn’t get much information on Crystal, I still think it was worth it for her thoughts on working on the series in general!

  3. I am not happy that they are or might try to bring in the 90’s art style because this new version is supposed to be more based on the manga and not the 90’s.

    I really wish they would have went with a better artist then bring in a person who already did artwork from the 90’s

    I feel the fanbase has become so toxic that I am sure they are behind the artwork changes rather then be happy that the show was back and that we are getting a movie.

    I loved all three seasons because they were different and not just a rehash of the 90’s anime

    The 3D transformations to me were amazing and different and even s3 gave us different transformations which were cool.

    I can not wait for this movie to come out. I hope the animation will look more mangaish then 90’ish.

    • Sadly, I’d say the reality is that a good majority of the fans actually enjoy Sailor Moon Crystal, its art style, and direction. But that loud, vocal minority is what makes it seem like it’s not popular and influences the companies to make drastic changes.

      While I personally don’t really care for the Crystal series (the appeal is that it’s based closely on the manga… in which case, I’d rather just read the manga), I understand why people love it and think it’s great that more fans are being introduced to the franchise. Live and let live, you know?

    • It’s not the « toxic » fanbase that is responsible for the overall atrocious work handled by the director Sakai Munehisa. I didn’t hate the direction though I was quite perplexed it would suit me. I kind of liked the idea consisting in straying away from the 90’s anime and create an anime including elements of the manga aesthetics, I was simply glad we could finally have something new and ambitious after so long.

      However, I knew it was about to be poorly handled when the anime was announced to be released as an ONA series whose budget is so small in comparison with a TV anime which is in a way the flagship product of a company. It really didn’t fit such a legendary show to be broadcast on internet only.

      The only think I disliked from the start was the announcement of a brand new casting I have to admit. Why did they keep Mitsuishi Kotono then? Why Furuya Tohru was asked to express whether or not he would be glad to come back as Chiba Mamoru? For me it was very schizophrenic to say that they wanted to keep the same DNA but still erased all trace of the original anime but Miss Mitsuishi. I think she is standing out so much her voice doesn’t suit well with the new batch of seiyū. But now here come Tadano Kazuko.

      If you think they got pressure by a small part of the fanbase, I’d like to know why on earth the Blu-ray for Crystal didn’t sell? I guess they didn’t succeed in bringing out a new generation of fans.

      By the way it’s so hypocritical of them to create a new anime with new people but why the merch is still branded so 90’s? They sure aren’t proud of what they brought to existence.

      I think there was a dissident voice inside the team of producers since day one, that’s why it’s all a mess today.

      I still don’t know why the Black Moon arc from the original season II was included in the season I of Crystal and then they titled the new season III. Did they want to classify the anime in seasons or not? They should have made up their mind long ago.

  4. I am all in for Crystal because I love the manga above all versions and while they might have skipped or changed a few things here and there, to me, it still holds on. But I totally agree on how changing the design so advanced in the series so it can have a more 90’s comes a little too late now. I actually love the designs of all 3 seasons (I got the blurays and they’re improved by a lot) and I really enjoyed the design they did for the Infinity Arc… o e of my biggest issues with 90’s Sailor Moon was how much they changed styles… some of them changed them so much it felt silly and disconnected at times and even low quality compared to other animes running at the time. I admire Kazuko Tadano and her work but I would have much preferred if Crystal just stayed with the art and concepts they had goibg on already. Just my two cents…

    • It’s still entirely possible that Kazuko Tadano will continue in the same line as the Sailor Moon Crystal art style. But even if that’s the case, then I just have to ask: why?
      While I actually personally adore Ms. Tadano’s style, it seems really confusing to me why you’d bring in a member of the old guard if you don’t plan on changing the design direction.

      And if you do plan on going in a different direction, why now in season 4??

  5. I am not happy that they are or might try to bring in the 90’s art style because this new version is supposed to be more based on the manga and not the 90’s.

    I really wish they would have went with a better artist then bring in a person who already did artwork from the 90’s

    I feel the fanbase has become so toxic that I am sure they are behind the artwork changes rather then be happy that the show was back and that we are getting a movie.

    I loved all the three seasons artwork and stories because they were different and not just a rehash of the 90’s anime

    The 3D transformations to me were amazing and different and even s3 gave us different transformations which were cool.

    I can not wait for this movie to come out. I hope the animation will look more mangaish then 90’ish.

  6. I don’t know what people mean by changing art direction this late in the show when it has happened every season. Technically Crystal had 2 seasons. The first two story arcs came back to back so I consider them one season. Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 completely changed the style to something more moe, rounder, and quite derpy, cute but a bit childish and wasn’t very fitting the darker tone of Infinity. At this point I a sure they are doing different style for Stars as well, just to please different targets. Some says the 90s changed styles a lot and it is completely true, but normal for its time and episode count. At least they varied from episode to episode. In Crystal they vary from scene to scene and at times from frame to frame. I am so glad they are hanging the designs a bit, because Season 3 was pretty ugly most of the time.

  7. This means is close the relase of this movie? I’m almost tired of waiting for it.. I see dragon ball and Naruto and other animes make movies and series like they were popcorn and us? Look at us! We have been waiting for only one movie a long time… that is not fair… I hope I’m not the only one

  8. Sounds like what Tadano went through back in the 90s was something similar to what Sakou went through when designing for Crystal, trying to find some balance with Naoko’s comedy and Maturity. With Sakai, Arc’s 1 and 2’s directr, wanting something more serious however, those gag faces were cut, but the girls did make reaction to those moments even if more realistic than “XD”, I personally liked this decision for I’m not a huge fan of anime gag faces.

    As for currently? Not too big on the idea of anything 90s coming back, this is Sailor Moon CRYSTAL, the entire premise as to be entirely different from the 90s via a retelling of the manga (and while it makes 90s homages, Crystal was supposed to make homages to the OTHER adaptations too. Ya know,,, the Myus, PGSM 2006… The Manga…) all this 90s favoritism makes me bored of the 90s. Like you mentioned if you wanted a Manga retelling you’d read the manga, well if I want a 90s anime, I’d watch the 90s anime it’s not like it’s not available. I AM actually surprised Tadano coming aboard was coincidence and not Chiaki Kon tryna to scrape as much 90s love she can, considering DBZ Super Broly brought back an old character designer. I truly just feel Toei’s tryna bank on mega nostalgia instead of doing any effort anymore when it comes to these two series.

    However I have faith Tadano has something different in mind and I really hope it’s based on Kanzenban and manga like Sakou did. Arc 3 wasn’t my favorite style and once Sakou found her footing as a CD did the art-style REALLY improve. Maybe a Tadano style but more serious but MILES away from Itoh please I’m so sick of Itoh the most.

    • Even though Crystal isn’t “my thing,” I absolutely agree that it’s not a good idea for them to try to bring too much of the 90s anime back into it. Ass you mentioned, if I wanted to watch the 90s anime… I’d just watch that. Sailor Moon Crystal should be a new adaptation with its own, unique take on the series.

  9. What I find interesting Is the wordIng… “To have worked on the beginning and the end of the same series”.

    Maybe they have decided to end Crystal with these two movies??

  10. Like what some people are saying, while I do very much enjoy the 90’s anime, we don’t need to have more of it, we’ve already got it, and I’d like a newer direction/interpretation of Sailor Moon. Heck, if you wanna have a Sera Myu homage to it, why not maybe have the characters sing some songs in it, but not in a way where it would look like a cheesy musical, for example?

    I’ve not been pleased with most of Crystal (I thought seasons 1-2 were horrendous and season 3 decent), and I’ve considered the original anime better, but the reason why I wasn’t happy with it was not me being a fanboy for all the older stuff (the older stuff had problems with it, like the entirety of SuperS being 99% filler), nor just preference (I even preferred the anime version when I first read the manga), it was mostly because you’d think in the ways television/anime has changed from the 90’s to today, things would look better than back then, I was expecting to see an art style, animation and storytelling that would be good and give me a wonderful, magical feeling the original manga and anime both gave me despite them being different, that it would improve upon the flaws of both of them, but it didn’t happen sadly to me. At least it did help bring back the popularity Sailor Moon has had, so that’s a good thing to me.

  11. To be honest it depends on what she does with the art direction and style. If it is in the same style as her old art for the 90’s anime, then no. It would be a terrible idea and I would have preferred them stay with the season 3 art production team or found another person. I am sure she is a great artist, but some of those sailor moon episodes she was in charge of in the 90’s anime are not my favorite art-wise.

    I like crystal for what it is which is a different telling of the story. Now if the first 2 seasons of crystal were more like season 3 or if they had made better changes to the manga story it would have been even better. At first I did not like season 3’s designs when I first saw the poster, but I started to enjoy the designs as I felt they were more in line with the ages of the characters than the previous 2 seasons and the 90’s anime. Except for the outers they could have made them look younger. The only main issue was actually that they kept on bringing old attack animations from the 90’s anime. That was a part I wish they did not do or keep reusing animation scenes.

    From the information that is given I can only assume the progress on these two movies is they typed out the cover page for the script “Sailor Moon Crystal Season 4: The Movie Part 1” and that’s it. That is, if they even have gotten that far. I do not know why they couldn’t just leave it as it was and continued it as a tv series with 13 or more episodes for dream and stars arc. That would have been better than waiting on these movies. I keep seeing people saying movies means good quality and good animation, but I don’t know that to be true. Not only that the movies means things will be cut unless the movies are 4 hours or more each. I won’t lie I was also looking forward to watching an opening and ending video with song. I liked what they did in season 3 with that. I cannot believe they made us wait this long and we don’t even have any information other than it’s still in the works. At this rate we will be lucky to get the movies before the 40th anniversary.

    What I would have liked was for them to really incorporate different things and actually re-write the story take good points from all the incarnations and bring them into a new show. The manga was fast paced, but lacked more slice of life moments and didn’t allow character or story to develop. The 90’s anime had more slice of life moments, but a lot of times revolved around victims of the days that did not add to the story and cut out my favorite soldiers the outers in screen time for the last two season. They can even take ideas from the other incarnations of sailor moon, be it the musicals or the live action (both of which I have not seen) so that they have different elements to work with to make a more balanced story. Also the manga and 90’s anime kind of developed the story as they went along so now that we know where the end game is they can re-write the story with everything they now know and make that actually make sense as opposed to the manga and 90’s anime where some developments just made no sense.

    • From the information that is given I can only assume the progress on these two movies is they typed out the cover page for the script “Sailor Moon Crystal Season 4: The Movie Part 1” and that’s it.

      Honestly, that’s what it seems like to me. I have no idea what’s taking these movies so long, but so far it seems like they haven’t been making any progress. I’d be impressed if even the story is fully outlined.
      I suspect we’re at least a year out, probably more, from seeing these.

      • At least get some initial character designs out there, you know? Test some feedback from fans, maybe? It’s too bad that this show always gets treated this way from Toei where animation differed episode to episode in 90s and by season in Crystal. A show like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress has gorgeous animation from start to finish and I always found it perplexing that Toei didn’t put more money into the show instead of merch.

        • Interestingly enough, Be Cool Scooby Doo tried that, and unfortunately just releasing character designs without context had led to a huge outburst from fans.
          Not saying that Toei is keeping up to date with US animation trends, but it’s not too uncommon for fans to react strongly if only designs are released without any sort of context.

  12. Honestly. I have tried really hard to like Crystal. Really I have. Unlike a lot of people I really don’t care how supposedly faithful it is to the Manga, as much as it differs from the 90’s anime. And at this point I have lost any real interest in continuing it further. And frankly relying on nostagia for me is a sure red flag when something is struggling, like how they went from psuedo Naoko designs to something more in line with the classic style.

    But I find the show in general has been poorly handled since day one. From a neutral standpoint I found the writing extremely lazy most of the time. Case example having the Senshi all just standing around and not even trying to save Chibi Usa from being murdered by Mistress Nine, right after Usagi recieved a power up. Most of the main supporting cast are massively underdeveloped beyond anything revolving around Usagi. The Inner Senshi just seem to exist in order to make other characters look better by getting beaten up, captured or brainwashed, or all three at once.
    The villains in particular are utterly bland and interchangeable. The fight scenes (or what pass as them) are poorly executed and boring. The storylines being to ridicuosly fast paced to be engaging. And lets not even get into more tasteless things like the infamous Haruka/Usagi kiss.

    Really if this incarnation didn’t have the brand recognition to fall back on and carry it by this point, everyone would have forgotten about it long ago.

    I’ve said my piece and I for one am really tired of the knee jerk reaction to any criticism regarding Crystal, and ‘toxic fans’. But you can’t tell me it hasn’t been half as well executed as it could have been.

    I just don’t like it simply because I think it’s bad in it’s own right. Take a look at the likes of Clear Card for example, which is pretty much the kind of reboot Crystal should have been, instead of the mess fobbed of on us.

  13. Being honest, I am VERY excited for her to come back. The animation and character design on the previous Crystal seasons were so lackluster, and lacked a lot of expression. The character design wasn’t so good either, they looked like super thin barbie dolls. They looked truly beautiful in Naoko’s design, as well as Kazuko Tadano’s. T
    Despite the 90s being cartoonish, it was still more lifelike and had emotional expression.

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