Critic's Notebook

'Moon Animate Make-Up' remakes 'Sailor Moon': Out of many, one

More than 250 animators created a crowd-sourced remake of a 'Sailor Moon' episode. You weren't expecting that.

I am not a fan of "Sailor Moon," which I say not with any sort of pride or derision -- I have just been busy with other things. But I do like animation and collaborative enterprises and the way that every human hand makes an individual mark, and all of these things have come together in the just-released "Moon Animate Make-Up," a crowd-sourced project wherein more than 250 animators joined to re-imagine, shot for shot, an episode of the influential, cultishly revered, early '90s Japanese-import cartoon series.

For comparison, the original episode, "Fractious Friends," is here, with the dubbed English soundtrack that became the basis of the remake. The remake is here. It has had more than a million views since it was posted on July 20. (And the project Tumblr is here.)

In its crazy-quilt overlay of an existing work, it is a lot like "Star Wars Uncut," Casey Pugh's beautiful and hilarious 2009 crowd-sourced remake of "A New Hope." It is also something like the old surrealist collaborative drawing game Exquisite Corpse, but one in which the content is set while the form is fluid.

The rapidly shifting styles, levels of accomplishment, historical consciousness, homage, parody or degree of loyalty to the anime original make it hard to read at first, but it's an easy language to learn. The way that many voices make one, while still remaining many (while still making one) is what makes the piece so piece so delightful and, yes, thrilling: Every new shot wakes you up; you watch in a state of heightened awareness.

It's not necessary to know the series to get the effect. Indeed, the less you do know, the more appropriate the remake's constant element of visual surprise. (Though the more you know about animation, obviously, the richer your reading.) Basically, for the uninitiated, it follows a group of teenage girls who discover themselves to be superheroic protectors of the Earth. There are villains who have their own ideas about things; a magic crystal in play; and, of course, talking cats. You'll get the idea pretty quickly.

In related news, "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal," the first new "Sailor Moon" series in 17 years, premiered as a global stream this month. America, it is waiting for you now (in subtitled Japanese) on Hulu.

Robert Lloyd hides his true identity on Twitter @LATimesTVLloyd


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