ONTD Original™: The 5 Best & 5 Worst Artists in Sailor Moon

The new Sailor Moon anime is set to premiere this summer, but we still have little idea as to what it will even look like. While a teaser or promotional image leaked recently, that is not necessarily indicative of the show's true quality.

In the meantime, fans can gush or cringe in unison at some of the best and worst animation from the original anime.
The 5 Best Artists
1. Ikuko Ito
Other notable works: Magic User's Club, Princess Tutu

Hands down, the animation director who improved the most throughout the series was Ikuko Ito. This was a feat in itself considering some of the other directors did the exact opposite as the series continued. Her first episode was actually skipped by DiC when they released the English dub stateside. At first look, the homely renderings in Ito's early designs resemble those from episodes animated by Masahiro Ando.

Ito's work quickly changed for the better with each episode. The bodies shrunk yet their heads remained rather large until R. Ikuko's staff never shied from going into great detail, and this was obvious in S and SuperS. The final showdown with the Death Busters featured some of the anime's best art. Even today, it still proves to be ageless. Unfortunately, Ito exited with the final episode of SuperS. On an interesting note, Jouji Yanase's direction in episode 116 (the greenhouse episode) is redolent of Ikuko's. For anyone who's looked at Ito's personal sketches, they may have come across line art for Haruka and Hotaru from that same episode. More than likely, Ito helped with the animation, but was not credited.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 45: The battle with the DD Girls, and the deaths of the four guardian Sailor Senshi.
  • The second opening credits for R, and the opening credits for SuperS.
  • Episode 68: The Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Mask fight Rubeus and the Ayakashi Sisters. This is considered her transitional period between her old style and new style.
  • Episode 111: Sailor Moon acquires the Holy Grail and becomes Super Sailor Moon.
  • The transformations for Sailors Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
  • Episodes 124-125: The end of the Death Busters; Sailor Saturn's first appearance.
  • The character designs for SuperS.
  • Episode 139: Filler involving a child trying to become the best swordsperson.
  • Episode 159: More filler; the girls try to find out who Chibiusa's secret boyfriend is.
  • Episode 166: The Dead Moon collapses, but Nehelenia tosses Chibimoon off a floating barge. Sailor Moon jumps after her, resulting in quite possibly one of the longest, most dramatic falls in television history.
  • The Laserdisc art for S and SuperS.
2. Hisashi Kagawa
Other notable works: Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, Fresh Pretty Cure!, Pokémon

The Sailor Senshi matured whenever Hisashi Kagawa handled an episode. He gave them athletic builds, long legs with bigger calves, petite waists, and larger than usual eyes.

Like Ikuko Ito, Kagawa bowed out in SuperS. He only worked on one episode in S. Additionally, Hisashi contributed to all three movies, especially the second and third.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Sailor Jupiter's first transformation, and the Supreme Thunder stock footage sequence.
  • Sailor Moon's Moon Healing Escalation stock footage.
  • Episode 44: The Sailor Senshi view the final moments of the Silver Millennium before its demise.
  • Episode 70: Koan's reform.
  • Episode 85: Black Lady's first appearance.
  • Episode 130: Moon and Chibimoon receive their new, permanent powers.
  • Episode 141: Minako dates both Tigers Eye and Hawks Eye.
  • The Sailor Stars opening credits.
3. Katsumi Tamegai
Other notable works: Boogiepop Phantom, Serial Experiments Lain, Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, Magic User's Club, Cutey Honey F

Tamegai, who first directed in episode 43, and Hisashi Kagawa had some similar techniques. A glaring trait of Katsumi's work, though, was the huge heads.

The bobbleheadedness really came to fruition in Sailor Stars. Seiya and Taiki's bare foreheads alone could have doubled as projection screens. Tamegai had the honor of being featured in every season, until the very end.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 43: The Sailor Senshi fake a mutiny to draw out the enemy.
  • Episode 59: The Makaiju Tree arc comes to an end.
  • Episode 72: Petz and Calaveras abduct their reformed sisters.
  • Episode 74: Sailor Moon fights Rubeus in space.
  • Episode 91: Sailor Moon receives her new S powers.
  • Episode 106: The story of how Haruka and Michiru became Sailor Senshi.
  • Episode 149: The Amazon Trio's final appearance.
  • Episode 167: Nehelenia, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto return.
  • Episode 200: The finale.
  • The character designs for Sailor Stars.
  • The Laserdisc art for Sailor Stars.
4. Miho Shimogasa
Other notable works: Cutey Honey F, Ultra Maniac

Miho only worked on seven episodes, from SuperS to Sailor Stars, and the Ami's First Love special. She was versatile in both silly (Usagi and Seiya's date) and serious (Usagi's star seed is stolen) situations.

Miho was admittedly guilty of giving the senshi emaciated figures, but she drew some of the most expressive eyes. This was evident in Nehelenia's final episode as the nightmare queen was offended by the determined, pitying eyes of the White Moon people. Shimogasa eventually went on to draw the character designs for Cutey Honey F, the anime that took over Sailor Moon's time slot.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 172: The Nehelenia story is concluded.
  • Episode 181: Usagi and Seiya go on a date; Iron Mouse's final episode.
  • Episode 187: Eternal Sailor Moon receives her second and last attack.
  • Episode 193: Sailor Lead Crow's last episode, and Princess Kakyuu first appears.
5. Kazuko Tadano
Other notable works: Wedding Peach, Petite Princess Yucie

Kazuko drew the preliminary character designs for the first season. She teamed up with Hiromi Matsushita to direct episode 21. The plot parodied the duo's real life art studio and situation. Despite being pure filler, it boasted some of the greatest season one animation.


Tadano had the pleasure of directing the artwork in the R movie. She mirrored a few scenes (Mamoru's impalement, Princess Serenity invoking the Silver Crystal) from TV episodes that she happened to work on. Once R wrapped up, Kazuko left to work on the similarly themed Wedding Peach. In spite of Tadano being the "original" artist for the anime, her clinical style did take a bit of a drop in quality in the second season. The showdown between Death Phantom and the Sailor Senshi came off as rushed, aesthetically speaking.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • The original character designs for the first two seasons of the anime.
  • The Laserdisc art for season one and R.
  • The first opening credits for R.
  • Episode 21: An animator working on the 'Sailor V' movie is targeted by Nephrite's youma. This was a joint project with Hiromi Matsushita, who animated the very first episode.
  • Episode 34: The Silver Crystal is formed, and Sailor Moon becomes Princess Serenity.
  • Episode 46: The end of the Dark Kingdom.
  • Episode 69: Luna confronts Mamoru on his behavior toward Usagi.
  • R Movie.
  • Episode 88: The end of the Black Moon Clan.
The 5 Worst Artists
1. Taichi Nakamura
Other notable works: Nothing significant

Something about Taichi Nakamura's work looked incredibly bootleg, especially in S and SuperS. It's offensive that Toei continued to employ him. Angles and contours were his enemy, and his proportions were sloppy.

Taichi's introductory episode, 47 (the beginning of R), wasn't that bad in hindsight. Simply a bit flat, and reminiscent of former animation director Akira Nakamura from season one. Were they related? It's really no surprise that Nakamura didn't work on much of anything else before or after Sailor Moon.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 47: The return of Sailor Moon.
  • Episode 102: The Sailor Senshi battle Kaolinite in the Tokyo Tower.
  • Episode 143: Pegasus gives the guardian Sailor Senshi new wands and uniforms.
2. Michiaki Sugimoto
Other notable works: Cutey Honey F, Yu-Gi-Oh!

Sugimoto's work on Sailor Stars was more or less a travesty. Although none of the Sailor Senshi or Starlights were over six feet tall, Michiaki somehow made them all appear gargantuan. Faces were particularly rough, and eyes were half realized most of the time.

Sugimoto's style was admittedly unique, well suited for action scenes, and it could easily be spotted within a pool of artists. It just didn't fit within the context of a magical girl anime.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 195: Sailor Tin Nyanko and Kakyuu die.
3. Masahiro Ando
Other notable works: Boogiepop Phantom, Digimon, Serial Experiments Lain, A Tree of Palm

One of the most hated animation directors in the original Sailor Moon anime is usually Ando. You know his work: round, cherub-like faces, and boxy bodies. Unlike (Taichi) Nakamura, Masahiro sometimes gave us decently drawn episodes (see below).

Then there was SuperS. The Ando episodes, regardless of how good the story may or may not have been, were marred by mediocre and poorly executed artistry. In the final season, Ando left during the Nehelenia storyline. This was for the best as his way of making the Sailor Senshi look childish clashed with the newly hired animators.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 33: Sailor Venus saves the others from Kunzite and Zoisite; the Crescent Beam stock footage sequence.
  • Episode 54: Rei's school festival is attacked by a cardian; Sailor Mars uses her Fire Soul Bird for the first time.
  • Episode 60: The Black Moon Clan appears, and Koan fights Sailor Moon.
  • Episode 71: Berthier's reform.
  • Episode 90: Rei is targeted by the first daimon; Sailor Moon's Crystal Star locket is broken.
  • Episode 96: Makoto's pure heart is sought after, and Jupiter and Uranus trade blows.
4. Shigetaka Kiyoyama
Other notable works: Barefoot Gen, Digimon, Naruto Shipuuden, Rurouni Kenshin

Shigetaka showed up near the middle of SuperS - specifically Makoto and Minako's power up episode. More or less, his work was average and generally inoffensive.

Kiyoyama only did the one episode in SuperS, but he returned for six more in the last season. With each entry, his craft declined in quality: misshapen heads, humdrum eyes, callow bodily representations. Allowing him to direct Sailor Pluto and Saturn's death episode was a mistake. The story along with the art were almost caricatures, and it was a chore to take the emotional scenes seriously. Shigetaka should honestly stick to shounen anime.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 154: Jupiter and Venus get new powers.
  • Episode 168: Usagi becomes Eternal Sailor Moon for the first time.
  • Episode 188: Identities are revealed aboard an airplane.
  • Episode 197: Uranus and Neptune cross over to the dark side; Pluto and Saturn die.
5. Shinya Hasegawa
Other notable works: Evangelion, Di Gi Charat, Grappler Baki, Revolutionary Girl Utena

Hasegawa was a hesitant inclusion. He first directed episode 48, where the four guardian senshi regain their memories after the battle with the Dark Kingdom. The art was basically good - bright and subtly stylized. Other standouts for him were the Snow White play episode, and the one where Sailor Mars first sparred with Koan.

Shinya's further work in SuperS was moreover lazy and disappointing. Faces were unappealing, and they looked indelicate when characters embraced solemn demeanors. The stark look may be suitable for Evangelion and sometimes Utena, but it made Sailor Moon downright ugly. There are obviously better examples of mediocre directors. At least they're consistent with their bad art.

Notable Sailor Moon episodes/accomplishments:

  • Episode 48: The return of Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus after the Dark Kingdom's defeat.
  • Episode 56: The girls, Natsumi and Mamoru put on a 'Snow White' play.
  • Episode 63: Koan seizes the Hikawa Shrine; Sailor Mars' Burning Mandala is first used.
  • Episode 86: Saphir dies.
  • Episode 99: Yuuichirou leaves the shrine.
GIF Source: My tumblr