As promised, I gave Sailor Moon Crystal s3 a chance.
...and then ended up bailing again after 5 or 6 episodes.
The new stock footage was mostly good, but, guys, they used it in the opening sequence. They couldn't even be bothered to draw enough original high-quality footage to make a theme song!
Which gives you an idea of how deep the laziness runs in the rest of the show. So much claustrophobic cropping and other cheats, instead of drawing establishing shots, or scenery at different perspectives, or any motion as complicated as "picking something up" or "swinging a sword". It's painful.
In related news, I hadn't watched any of the original series in years, but the first two seasons of the new Viz dub are up for free on Yahoo. So I'm checking out selective episodes. Starting with the ones that DiC never dubbed (because, uh, I had not actually gotten around to seeing those at any other point in the past ~20 years).
The animation is wonky and cheap in its own way -- lots of exaggerated comedy faces, simplified motion (waving a pencil up and down on a piece of paper = writing!), fading from one scene to another instead of animating the transition, general sloppiness. But the direction is light-years better. It's so refreshing.
Take the ski-contest episode (season 1, episode 38). They use shortcuts, like panning over a still image to set a scene, or having the same roll of background whip past while a character is skiing in a straight line.
On the other hand: Lots of establishing shots and different angles on the scenery! The characters move like they have human muscles! Hair and clothes blow realistically in the wind! Crowd scenes are populated with extras! Someone bothered to design outfits, instead of only ever drawing the characters in their school uniforms! Luna moves as if the artists have seen a cat at some point in their lives!
Usagi transforms while she's in winter clothes, and obviously her stock henshin footage starts with an ungloved hand, so they show her yanking off her ski glove first. It's such a little gesture, but they thought it was worth the care and effort to draw. That's a level of care Crystal never shows.
I thought I was gonna have trouble with the voices. Some of the actors in the original dub left such an impression that it's hard to shake, even if you're still mad about how messed up the translation got. Was a non-British Luna just going to sound fundamentally weird?
Guys, new Luna sounds perfect.
She sounds like Pearl from Steven Universe, to the point where I looked up the actor and was surprised it wasn't the same person. Apparently there's a really good way to sound like a fussy, by-the-book mentor who doles out ancient secrets to her frustratingly flighty charges, at least until she gets caught off-guard by the details she herself is just finding out.
I'm liking the rest -- of the handful of episodes I've watched, anyway. The girls are good, especially Makoto and Rei. Beryl is perfectly evil.
The one voice that has been weird...is Zoisite. They're dubbing him as a guy, so obviously he's gonna sound different, but in the Japanese he has this higher, androgynous bishounen voice, right? And the guy doing his English voice sounds unnaturally deep. Not deep like a baritone, deep like a teenage boy who's self-conscious about his voice cracking and is overcompensating by pitching it extra low.
I've been working through the backlog of the Sailor Business podcast, which is episode-by-episode reviews of the original series, and a lot of fun. (Full disclosure: I listen at 1.2x speed. They talk slowly, okay.)
The hosts don't do a lot of research, and in the beginning it's frustrating when they go on a tangent about being baffled by something you already know. But eventually they build up enough of an audience that they've got a wide base for crowdsourcing explanations.
One of the guys is really into Ami/Makoto, and keeps pointing out moments when they're notably together. Even taking the Shipper Goggles Welded On into account, it's impressive how much quiet subtext there is when you take it scene-by-scene.
Me, I'm getting a resurgence of Rei/Usagi feelings. They're so intense about each other! The initial bickering for bickering's sake develops into a relationship where Rei has a ton of respect and admiration for Usagi, while Usagi trusts Rei to keep her honest, and come through with more straightforward support when she really needs it.
They just, augh, they love each other so much you guys.