1:46 – Usagi’s Everlasting Wish! A New Reincarnation
Alternative Title: Moon Prism Reset Button Power, Make Up!
First Aired: 27th February 1993
After leaving behind her fallen comrades, Sailor Moon heads towards a final conflict with Queen Beryl. She must, however, face the greatest obstacle of all – a reinvigorated Endymion, saturated with Metalia’s evil power that even her Moon Healing Escalation cannot breach. With such terrible adversity, can Sailor Moon rise above it and become the Princess Serenity she was born to be?
Here it is – the final episode of the first season. It still feels like a dream that I’ve managed to get this far with the Pretty Soldier Project. I never believed I would have been able to stick with such a regular schedule as I have.
The timing of this blog is fortuitous. With the rebooted Sailor Moon series now set for a global July release, it’s even more interesting to look back at the incredible series that started it all.
This episode certainly doesn’t rip you apart emotionally as the previous episode does (hooo boy that was rough), but as a capstone to the series, it’s a pretty darn lovely, and frequently heart-breaking, episode.
The episode opens with Sailor Moon at the (metaphorical) gates of the Dark Kingdom. After all it took to get here, the actual “Kingdom” itself is a bit of a letdown – it’s just a big smelly hole in the ground, with wafting waves of purple energy. It reminds me inexorably of the Northern Crater in Final Fantasy VII, but that’s neither here nor there.
Sailor Moon’s thoughts are dominated, naturally one might think, of her recently-deceased friends. They are, in fact, the true motivation for Sailor Moon at this point. She’s not even thinking about Endymion, a point which I feel is rather important, as we”ll see.
Queen Beryl, rather than, I dunno, just sending out a bunch of monsters to kill her, decides to whip Sailor Moon right into the throne room via a big red teleportation ball.
Queen Beryl’s reveal is pretty darn disturbing. It’s odd to think that this is the first time she’s ever had any dialogue with a Sailor Senshi – she’s been such a consistent presence in the series for the viewers.
Her creepy welcome is compounded by the reveal of a kneeling, and hand-smooching, Endymion, in full battle regalia.
Seriously, he’s disturbing to the extreme in this episode. Queen Beryl, not wishing to preamble any longer, orders Endymion to kill the Princess, and he acts without hesitation.
Thus begins a deeply disturbing sequence of Sailor Moon and Endymion in a rather one-sided battle.
Sailor Moon does try a Moon Healing Escalation which, you may remember, worked the last time, but Queen Beryl kindly exposits that Endymion has such powerful dark energy from Metalia within him that he is un-Refreshable.
Which pretty much leaves Sailor Moon completely fucked.
Endymion goes on the attack again, first slicing, then pulling out his signature black rose. Oh what’s the bad man gonna do with the widdle emo flower?
Oh. Torture. That’s pretty messed up, Endy.
This scene is actually rather rough to watch. The attack itself is a bit silly, evil shocking flower vines, but it’s the reaction of the characters that make it distinctly uncomfortable. Endymion’s blank psychotic stare at watching the woman he supposedly loves in agony is bad enough, but Sailor Moon’s scream is fucking terrifying.
As much as I love Kotono Mistuishi’s perormance as Usagi and Sailor Moon, I think this episode actually benefits from having the replacement voice actress Kae Araki step in. You’ll remember that Mitsuishi was having a baby at this point, I think.
Araki sounds much younger, much more vulnerable than Mistuishi. As a result, these scenes of her in distress are that much more dire. I’m sure Mistuishi would have done an admirable job, but Araki has got heart-broken and tortured by the man you love DOWN.
Sailor Moon still can’t forget about Mamoru.
And then as Sailor Moon is lying on the floor crying, “Mamoru” kicks her. Viciously.
This is really unpleasant. It’s virtually spousal abuse. We’ve seen people being stabbed by giant vines or with giant crystals in the series before, but there’s something so mundane, so very realistic about a girl being kicked in the stomach by her lover while she’s weeping on the floor that sends shivers down my spine.
The abuse continues: now Endymion has her lifted off the ground by the throat, shocking her. Such is the level of pain that Sailor Moon is enduring that the screams of agony coming from her are really quite abominable. It’s fucked up. It really is.
Especially since Endymion is now smiling.
I would almost say that it’s too much, especially for a children’s show, if it weren’t for what happens next.
Queen Beryl, giving exposition as ever, reminds the viewer that soon the sun will be covered in sunspots and Queen Metalia will be revived. As if that were worse than the abuse Sailor Moon is currently experiencing.
Beryl finally seems bored by the torture and orders Endymion to “cut off the Princess’ head.” It really is chilling to the bone to realise that Endymion is willing to do this, getting out his sword and advancing on Sailor Moon.
Now, it get’s really, really interesting here.
Sailor Moon, battered (a term used with meaningful precision here), is reaching for her Moon Stick, evidently to attempt to turn Endymion away from the dark. It may be useless, but she has to turn him back to good.
Queen Beryl, laughing and expositing even more, speaks of how Queen Metalia will fill the world with darkness using Sailor Moon’s Ginzuishou (Silver Crystal). Her taunt of “Everything you have been doing will have been meaningless!” finally stokes a fire in Sailor Moon like nothing else.
She had seemed to almost accept her fate at the hands of Wife-Beater Endymion, but the memory of Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Mars laying dead on the snow outside seems to harden her resolve.
So what does she do? Try and “save” her lover by grabbing the Moon Stick once more?
No. She chooses self-preservation with a Moon Tiara Action.
This is one of the most important decisions Usagi’s character will ever make, and let me explain why. She progressed from a passive character, unable to fight back against the man she loves, continuing to try and save him, into using an attack that could probably very well have killed him. She stands up for herself.
The motivation of the other Senshi’s deaths reminded Sailor Moon of her purpose – it isn’t to save Endymion, something she doesn’t even know if she can do, it’s to honour what the Senshi sacrificed their lives for, to defeat Queen Beryl and Metalia.
I won’t suggest that the writers saw this as an allegory for the physical abuse of women, but the comparisons are certainly there.
Sailor Moon seems shocked by her actions herself. Her heavy breathing and out-stretched arm feel very organic, and we can see that the action cost her something.
Endymion, however, is very much alive, if brutally injured. Queen Beryl exposits AGAIN that Endymion has too great dark energy within him to be defeated easily, and Sailor Moon looks utterly crushed.
Endymion looks absolutely manic by this point, and raises his sword to strike her. Sailor Moon’s broken and pathetic plea for Endymion to stop really is heartbreaking.
So what can she do?
Sailor Moon offers the Moon Pendant once more to Endymion in a last-ditch attempt to break through to him. I’m not sure she expected this to work at all, but seeing her bear her soul to Endymion one last time, it’s the logical conclusion to reach.
Endymion actually pauses at the sound of the Moon Pendant, and Sailor Moon’s declaration of love, which feels remarkably genuine for a bloody kid’s anime, causes Endymion to reach out and touch the pendant…
And glowy shit happens! Endymion is being Refreshed!
Is this a Deus Ex Machina? I don’t think so. In fact, I think has been heavily foreshadowed throughout the series. If you remember, Nephrite’s Dark Crystal could not tell apart the energy of the Silver Crystal and “Love”. This “Love” energy that Nephrite stole from Naru all those episodes ago was, in fact, extremely powerful, so much so that Queen Beryl was willing to overlook his recent failures in the face of such power.
Add on to this the fact that Endymion had previous said that the music of the Moon Pendant threw his “heart into confusion”, and that the pendant became a physical representation of the love between Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity, and this ending is the perfect close of that story arc.
The pendant, the representation of their love that spanned lifetimes, had become so powerful that it purged Queen Metalia’s energy from Endymion’s body, something that even the Ginzuishou couldn’t do.
So, Endymion, or should I say Mamoru, seems to have gotten his memory back. We see inside his head his feelings at having been left an orphan with memory loss at the age of 6 or so. “I’m all alone!” he whines. Usagi appears to comfort the boy, who turns into a grown-ass Mamoru when she says, and this really chokes me up, “You have me.”
Aww. Seriously fucking aww.
Yes it’s cheesy as hell, but you know what? With all the death around you need a little cheese.
This scene will have extreme relevance in one of the Sailor Moon films, so don’t you forget it.
Mamoru falls into Sailor Moon’s arms. It’s really lovely.
But we totally forgot about Queen Beryl, didn’t we?
Beryl, over the last eon, has harbored a creepy obsession with Endymion. She does not take the latest rejection well.
She throws a massive black crystal at the two of them, exactly like (and this is the second Final Fantasy reference today) Edea throwing icicles in Final Fantasy VIII.
Mamoru, ever living up to his name (it means “to protect” in Japanese), throws a rose that shatters the crystal and flies straight into Beryl’s heart.
At the same time, however, Mamoru takes several crystal shards into his back AGAIN. I think this is the third time this series. Mental.
Queen Beryl’s not looking so hot. She’s got a ruddy rose sticking out of her chest. She bemoans Endymion’s betrayal, saying “If you had married me, you could have been king of all the worlds!” as if that were a good enough reason for doing so. She really seems sad and pathetic here.
Even worse, the rose begins to crack her skin like porcelain, revealing a horrible sickly shade of green beneath. What is up with this I can only imagine.
The rose continues to burn Beryl (it’s loaded with more of that yummy love energy from Mamoru), and she melts into the floor (again, like Edea in Final Fantasy VIII. Seriously is this a coincidence or what?)
We see Beryl’s true motivation for all she does here: she cannot fathom how Endymion could love someone else. It’s not a desire to see Queen Metalia rule the Earth, or even power that she truly desires: it’s purely Endymion. And that’s pretty sad.
About here, the orchestral version of Heart Moving begins playing. If you haven’t realised the significance of that piece of music yet, you should know that some sad shit’s about to go down.
Mamoru is mortally wounded. So wounded, in fact, that his last words to Usagi come out in a hoarse whisper.
“Hurry, leave this place. Go back to being an ordinary girl and find a cool boyfriend or something.”
“You’re the coolest, Mamoru.”
This might be funny if it were said in English. In Japanese, with Usagi smiling through her tears and Mamoru dying in her arms, it’s devastating.
He, too, dies. Sailor Moon has never been more alone. This is a ruthless show.
Queen Beryl is a busy girl. After melting into the floor, she does to Metalia to beg for some power – not to complete Metalia’s revival, or even to save her life, but to “defeat that hateful girl!” – she’s a brilliantly single-minded and bloody antagonist worthy of Sailor Moon.
Queen Metalia, sounding a little annoyed and resigned, says “fuck it, let’s do this thing” and inhabits Queen Beryl completely.
Sailor Moon, meanwhile, is about to kiss a dead guy. I guess it’s ok because he’s so recently dead, but necrophiliac kisses in Sailor Moon don’t actually end with this scene – again, wait for the reviews of the movies.
In the end, she decides not to kiss Mamoru, not because it’s frowned upon by near-all civilisations throughout history, but because the other Senshi all died without getting to kiss the one they loved. It’s a little weird, but hey, she’s in a dark place right now emotionally, and it’s sort of sweet she’s still thinking about her fallen friends. “I just can’t find happiness myself” is a defining characteristic of Usagi, and also not exactly applicable in this situation because Mamoru is already frickin’ dead.
Usagi walks away from Mamoru’s body resolved to finishing the job.
It may be a little tough, however, because Queen Beryl has taken Metalia’s evil crack and transformed into a giant flower-woman.
This is another example of the weird flower motif of the Dark Kingdom coming back again, to great effect. Super Beryl is creepy, with her giant hair and blue-tinged skin.
Sailor Moon walks rather calmly towards Massive Beryl, and the big huge flower lady doesn’t even hesitate, instantly attacking her. Maybe if she was this prompt before we wouldn’t be here now, eh Beryl?
Her attack creates a massive pillar of ice, a little like when the other Senshi died on the ice. The difference being that the top flattens out. This imagery is just fantastic. It looks bloody gorgeous.
Standing at the centre of the ice isn’t Sailor Moon – it’s Princess Serenity!
We return to Tokyo briefly. All the lights of the city go out, and darkness begins to swirl above. Artemis realises that Metalia has been released.
Knowing what is going to happen, Luna starts off towards the Dark Kingdom crying. She realises that Usagi is going to use the Ginzuishou to its fullest extent, and that this will result in her death.
Her affection for Usagi, so often lost in a cloud of snark and judgement, is really touching. I have to ask though – what did the cats think would happen? Surely they must have know this was the ultimate outcome? Oh well.
The battle betwixt Princess Serenity and Mega Beryl plays out like you might expect from most animes. It’s set to Miracle Romance, the Sailor Moon opening song, which gives it a great dramatic feel.
Beryl throws dark energy, Serenity returns with the Ginzuishou, it’s the energy-blast duel we’ve come to see a lot. We can forgive the writers though – everything else has been exceedingly original and beautifully set, and this is the sort of ending you want at the end of 46 episodes.
Serenity is having trouble against Beryl, but she asks for help from her friends. We get a lovely mini-montage of the other four Senshi, and then Serenity is joined by the ghostly figures of Sailor Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus once again, who lend their powers.
Yes it’s cheesy, but you know you love it. It’s only been an episode, but Sailor Moon with the Senshi dead is torment.
Together, the Senshi throw a MASSIVE pink ball into Beryl’s face. You can actually *see* her disintegrate. It’s awesome. Seriously, well done animators.
Serenity falls back and hits the ground as plain-old Sailor Moon. She’s not looking so good… and she too dies.
The energy release from the Ginzuishou expands outwards, absorbing Sailor Moon’s body, then Mamoru’s. As it travels further, (under the Northern Lights, which is a beautiful touch), and it absorbs the body of Sailor Mars, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter in turn, Usagi gives a voiceover, which is worth repeating her for it’s strange poignancy:
“When I wake up in the morning, a pure white curtain of lace is rustling in the breeze. The cuckoo clock in the room says it’s 7 o’clock, and Mum’s voice say’s “You’ll be late if you don’t get up!” I’m still half asleep, and I think, “Please let me sleep for 3 more minutes.” I’m late for school every single day like clockwork, my teacher makes me stand out in the hallway, and I still get failing grades of my tests.
The crepes we’d all eat on the way home. We’d gaze dreamily at a party dress in a shop window. The little things bring such joy and I’m happy.
I wish… I wish I could go back to that kind of normal life.”
It’s a brilliant summation of the series, and shows how far the series has come from its humble beginnings, as well as Usagi as a character. It’s also deeply sad.
You may remember that when Queen Serenity died using the Ginzuishou, she was able to transmigrate the dead into a new time through reincarnation. This ending of Usagi’s final wish being granted is foreshadowed by that event, so I’ll let them off on the fact that it feels a little like a cop-out.
It doesn’t matter if everyone comes back to life – it’s still a kid’s anime after all, and it’s the ending we want. They show you the mechanism by which it happens, and as such also avoids the Deus Ex Machina label.
So what does Usagi’s final wish bring? She’s late for school again, naturally.
They use footage from the first episode in the final sequence, and you can see how far the animation has come, too! You don’t realise it stacked side by side, but the confidence and skill of the animators has improved leaps and bounds.
As Usagi runs for school, she’s overtaken by Makoto, whom Usagi stares at resentfully, and without recognition.
She runs past Rei sweeping at the shrine. She runs past Minako anxiously waiting for a bus. She gets awful grades and stares jealously at the number one grade, Ami.
Artemis and Luna are surprised and gratified to find the girls all alive and well, but Luna remains sad that they’re all strangers now.
Artemis, in the only likable scene he’s in for this entire bloody series, tells Luna not to worry – they only need to meet each other again!
It’s incredibly sweet, and sad, and satisfying. As Usagi is walking home with Naru, she gets frustrated with her 30% score on her English test and hurls it behind her.
Naturally, it hits Mamoru on the head, and her mocks her mercilessly through his stupid shades.
Naru asks Usagi if she doesn’t think that guy was sort of cool looking, and Usagi gets irate at this suggestion.
Usagi tells Naru of her romantic dream – “I’ll find a cool boyfriend who’ll protect me no matter what!” and I shed a tear, a tear of happiness no less, as credits role.
What a great episode, what a great ending to a great series. I cannot stress this enough – this is one of the best animes ever produced, and this episode justifies the ridiculous number of hours I’ve poured into this blog.
I appologise that this post has gotten out of hand on the word count, but I really found every point of the episode worth picking over.
I’ll be wrapping up my thoughts of the series as a whole, as well as a few other bits and bobs, but expect reviews of the second series of Sailor Moon to commence in a couple of weeks.
Episode Score: 5/5 (of COURSE)