2:41 – The Final Battle Between Light and Darkness! Love Sworn to the Future
Alternative Title: You Bastards Made Me Cry Again
First Aired: 5th March 1994
Black Lady has opened the Dark Gate. The Earth is on the precipice of extinction. Sailor Moon must find a way to save her daughter’s mind if she has any hope of stopping Death Phantom destroying the Earth. The strong bonds that bind people together has never been so essential. Is the power of Neo Queen Serenity and the Ginzuishou enough to stop the apocalypse?
I love Sailor Moon R. It’s a bit of a weird series, having a miniature story in the first 13 episodes. It also has a number of less-than stellar episodes, and a couple of instances that really annoyed me, but it’s also had some astonishingly brilliant ones too.
Despite having been set up rather poorly in last episode, the concluding chapter of Sailor Moon R is every bit as dramatic, well written, beautifully animated, narratively satisfying and emotionally heart-wrenching as you would expect it to be.
And best of all, the final scene is just nigh-on perfect. Am I selling this too hard?
We start with a teensy naked Chibi-Usa floating in the void. This isn’t so creepy after you’ve seen a few dozen animes. What is definitely creepy is Wiseman’s voice, announcing “The time to destroy the Earth has arrived” before breaking out in an absolutely amazing creepy laugh. It’s like nothing that’s come out of his mouth so far, and thus is that much more unnerving for it.
I’m just going to remind you once again that the voice actor for Wiseman, Eiji Maruyama, is also the voice of the kindly talking boat King of the Red Lions in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker… for anyone who cares.
I have a strange fascination for the multiple unexpected roles of voice actors. You should hear me go on about Phil LaMarr.
We’re 2 seconds into the episode, and I’ve written 250 words guys.
Wiseman continues giving a monologue about exactly who, or what he is. He calls himself “Death Phantom“, SUCH a cool name. His goal is, to, uh, make everything dead and dark and stuff. Must be so fun to hang out with at a party, right?
Death Phantom actually has somewhat more backstory in the manga, and it’s hinted at by season 5 of the anime, but I’ll discuss that when it pops up in either. For now, know that he’s EVIL and does EVIL things.
At the top of the Jakokusuishou, the Sailor Senshi are staring up at the rather intimidating Black Lady as she summons forth the Dark Power from the future through the Dark Gate. She’s still pretty adamant that she wants to destroy the world, then.
Actually it goes further than that – summoning the power of the Jakokusuishou into her body as a conduit means that Black Lady will also die. When Sailor Moon points this out, Black Lady gets super emo (even more so than her name and clothes suggest) and says she’s totally cool with that.
I can’t see anything of Chibi-Usa in her. They’re just so disparate characters. I really like Black lady, and like that Chibi-Usa was corrupted, but it’s hard to reconcile such a dramatic change in such a short time.
Sailor Moon tries to tell Black Lady how much everyone loves her (she’s got a reeeal complex about that), but she just gets pissed off, knocking everyone down, and advancing on Sailor Moon.
It’s a particularly horrible idea seeing a brainwashed child ready to murder her own mother. Black Lady looks so threatening in this moment that it really hits home.
In fact she does try to kill Sailor Moon, summoning a large bolt of Dark Power through the portal to hit…
Oh fuck not this again. Tuxedo Kamen takes the blow. This is becoming a bad habit.
Oddly enough, however, the murderousness in Black Lady appears to vanish in an instant. She can’t understand the concept of sacrificing yourself for someone else. It’s a bit eye-rolling – we see this time and time again with Sailor Moon enemies, that they “just can’t understand love“.
They’ve even had this exact moment before this series with Ali & En.
Thus, it’s time for the other Sailor Senshi to pipe in an explain exactly what love is (and that Foreigner song starts playing in the background). This is pretty much all they get to do this episode. Bit of a shame.
The Sailor Senshi explain that any of them would die to protect Chibi-Usa too, and finally it seems to sink into that malfunctioning brain of Black Lady’s that maybe, just maybe, she is loved after all.
Just like the last time Black Lady was overwhelmed with confusion, Wiseman steps in once more to strengthen the brainwashing he did on her. Bastard.
Just to make sure, he zaps Black Lady with a butt-load more Dark Power from the Jakokusuishou. and she comes out looking just as evil as when they first set eyes on her.
This back and forth with Black Lady is a little irritating, in the sense that continually seeing her yo-yo doesn’t achieve much in the way of narrative. I would prefer her to remain thoroughly corrupted until the last possible moment – maximises the threat she poses.
She begins blowing the Senshi back with a black wind, similar to the one Esmeraude used on Dimande to stop him… uh… pushing himself upon poor Usagi.
Tuxedo Kamen doesn’t look nearly as hurt as you would think after getting hit with an apparently deadly attack. Just as well, could you imagine him all dead again? Unpleasant.
It’s actually really nice to see Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Moon standing side by side, ready to combine forces to subdue their daughter. Usually it’s so one-sided – in later series, they always conveniently get Mamoru out of the way right before the last battle.
Sailor Moon R is Usagi and Mamoru’s series, and this is where it shows.
Sailor Moon once more tries to use the Ginzuishou against Black Lady, who responds with her Dark Power, but the light of the former seems to strong for Black Lady, who is engulfed…
And suddenly we’re in Crystal Tokyo, hurtling towards… the chamber.
This is such a cool and dramatic cut. Seeing Neo Queen Serenity covered in light, then cutting back to Black Lady, we all assume what we’re about to see, and it’s awesome.
Seriously, brilliant tension, brilliant drama in this moment.
YAAAAY It’s Neo Queen Serenity! They’ve built this moment up the entire series. From Mamoru’s early premonitions of the Crystal Palace to glimpses of Neo Queen Serenity in hologram form, to seeing her ethereal and otherworldly form in the future, Neo Queen Serenity has continually been portrayed as this deity that has transcended morality.
Seeing her here in all her glory, melded with her past self (I think that’s what happened), is such a brilliant pay-off for all the foreshadowing.
What an episode. Everyone’s face is hilarious.
Neo Queen Serenity, you may have guessed. has much more mastery over the Ginzuishou than Usagi, and as such she’s able to get into the root cause of Black Lady’s brainwashing. She does so in such a relaxed yet serious way as to reaffirm her god-like status.
We see once more Chibi-Usa’s early memory of falling down in the rain, with her parents refusing to help her up. Both seem just as cold towards little Chibi-Usa as before, but Neo Queen Serenity explains that they had a good excuse.
Endymion and Serenity knew the burdens that Chibi-Usa would have to carry, and wanted her to be able to stand on her own two feet. It’s not a very good explanation… for one they never appear to have informed Chibi-Usa of this, so clearly their kid has been sub-consciously resenting them for years.
If I were to get my psychology hat on, I would say that this parenting style is actually fairly common in Japan. There’s a belief in the culture of raising children at arms length to foster independence. It’s also a belief in Germany too, I seem to recall.
Such parenting actually leads to Insecure Ambivalent attachment, according to Mary Ainsworth’s attachment theory, which isn’t entirely healthy psychologically. For me I see this typified in this relationship between Chibi-Usa and her parents: their desire to see her grow up strong and independent, her mind interpreting this as not being able to comfortably reply on her caregivers.
Ugh, psychology right? Why did I bring that up?
Yeah, so apparently Chibi-Usa wasn’t treated like a dish rag as a kid. Black Lady finally cracks, all the memories of her parents’ love flooding back to her.
There’s no time for reunion, however. Wiseman, still a disembodied voice, is fed up with Black Lady’s back and forth (so am I to be honest. Pick a side, dammit) and engulfs Black Lady, Neo Queen Serenity and Tuxedo Kamen in the pillar of dark energy.
The Sailor Senshi are left outside, meanwhile, to do absolutely nothing.
Inside the pillar of darkness, Wiseman is continuing to spout absolute bullshit at anyone who will listen, like a lonely and bitter old man. “Ultimately, people are born alone and die alone.”
Yes yes yes, we’ve all seen Donnie Darko, Wiseman. How about a nice nap?
AND BLACK LADY REVERTS AGAIN!? Jesus, pick a goddamn side.
Like a sponge dropped in sick, Black Lady absorbs all of Wiseman’s words, and she starts going on about how she’ll be alone forever. Apparently this means she has to shock her parents, because, well, they’re right there after all.
I’m being a bit snide at Black Lady’s loyalties, but they really are stringing this out. It loses its effect a bit after the 4th time she’s turned evil in 4 episodes.
Serenity, despite being tortured by Black Lady, is still her mother after all. She begs the crazy cotton candy coloured lady to leave this place while she still can, to save herself.
In response, Black Lady actually becomes interesting again. She may be converted to the Dark Side again and, uh, torturing her parents, but she warns them to leave while they’re still alive too.
Apparently she’s now hovering somewhere in the middle of Paragon and Renegade.
Serenity insists that she doesn’t care if she lives or dies, only that her daughter, Small Lady, is safe. It’s quite a genuine and heart-felt moment. Then she has her power-move up her sleeve:
“Small Lady, all people experience hardships and sorrow. Sometimes you may even wish you could vanish out of loneliness. Even so, we must endure and live on. You should still remember the warmth people share with one another.”
If I were being cynical and sarcastic as I usually am on this blog, I might suggest that this speech be interpreted as “Stop sulking, everyone hurts. Get over it and get laid.” but I’m actually going to applaud this kids’ show for being able to so succinctly give words of support to the alienated and lonely.
Good on you, Serenity.
These words finally (for the love of god it better work this time or I’m going home) get through to Black Lady (again), and she recalls all the happy times she spent with all the Senshi.
And, of course, Usagi screwing up. Ahhh fond memories.
Then, finally, a very sweet moment of Usagi telling Chibi-Usa that she’s not alone happens in her head, and the vision of Usagi blends into Serenity, her mother. Is this the moment when Chibi-Usa finally realises the truth?
Serenity, Tuxedo Kamen and Black Lady all hold hands, and she finally realises she’s loved as she embraces her mother. It’s schmaltzy, it’s sugar-coated, I don’t care, I like it.
The happy family emerges from the darkness, with both Sailor Moon and Chibi-Usa back to normal. It’s such a lovely moment. I’m jaded and bitter, but Sailor Moon still manages to make me feel all gooey on occasion.
And the Sailor Senshi have just been standing around doing nothing all this time too.
Oh by the way, the end of the world is totally still happening. You might want to look up, you lot.
Chibi-Usa opens her eyes. It’s actually really, really nice to see her again after these episodes with Black Lady. I can’t believe it, but I actually missed the brat.
No time for her to recuperate, though, because the Dark Gate is totally open, and Wiseman doesn’t need Black Lady any more. Yaaay we get the final battle! Wiseman’s growing threat throughout the series is about to pay off.
Wiseman’s creepiness level reaches maximum as he goes on about annihilation and extinction and whatnot. His newly-found laughter gets more and more maniacal too.
He zaps everyone, in a pretty standard way ( I guess the Inner Senshi were just here for cannon fodder and moral support). Expected something a little more fierce to be honest. Where’s that awesome attack he used to kill Saphir?
This scene totally gives me seizures, by the way. Major flash alert.
Tuxedo Kamen gets rather grim, moaning that it looks as though the Earth will be destroyed after all. Jeeze man, you’re holding your daughter who accidentally caused all this. Try and be a little tactful.
Sailor Moon is not having any of this shit, though. She stands up with a “I’m not going to let that happen!” and you know she means business. Seriously cool moment from our hero.
She whips the Ginzuishou, determined to save the Earth. I think we all remember what happened the last time she unleashed the full power of the Silver Crystal?
Ginzuishou use at maximum = death.
Sailor Moon one more turns into Neo Queen Serenity, and she means fucking business this time around. Even Wiseman looks a bit shocked.
The moment Serenity opens her eyes and a new song kicks in, chills run down my spine. What a fantastic moment.
Let’s talk about this tune, first. La Soldier is one of the best songs to come out of this anime, and it’s made its way into my regular playlist. It’s similar to that to that amazing song from this series, Ai No Senshi, from probably the best episode of the series. It’s so perfectly suited to this fight. Really awesome, wouldn’t have been the same without it.
Here, take a look at the scene and you’ll see what I mean.
As she uses the Ginzuishou, Wiseman unleashes the Jakokusuishou, and this wonderful mirror heralds the full cinematic mode this episode has entered. Every shot looks amazing, every musical cue is right on the money, every colour just bounces off the screen.
At first, it looks as though Wiseman is far too powerful even for Neo Queen Serenity (the Senshi continue to do fuck all. I feel a little bad for them).
Chibi-Usa looks supremely guilty at seeing Serenity being pushed back, breaking down in Tuxedo Kamen’s arms in the knowledge that her actions have killed everyone. Glad she realised it at least.
However, in her grief, a single tear forms… a second Ginzuishou!? This is the same process as what occurred in the episode where the Crystal formed for Usagi, just so you know. This is the Ginzuishou from the future that went missing when Chibi-Usa held it, thus starting the chain of events that allowed the Black Moon to attack Earth.
Ahah, so THIS explains all the crazy power she’s had, and why Wiseman wanted to use her – it’s been the Ginzuishou hiding inside of her all along. Well that’s neatly explained isn’t it?
Chibi-Usa gets a very determined look on her face, not unlike her mother, as she tells Mamoru that she’s going to protect everyone using the crystal.
I’m not sure letting the 7 year old use the Orb of Infinite Power is such a good idea, guys… and Mamoru agrees.
He realises that she’ll likely die too if she uses that Ginsuishou, but Chibi-Usa is happy to risk her life for everyone. Atta girl, I like this resolve she whacks out here. A great redeeming moment.
Also, it didn’t take much for Mamoru to let his daughter risk her life.
Everyone else responds to Chibi-Usa’s resolve, and prepare to lend their powers too. They may not have had enough to do, but it’s gratifying to see the Senshi stand up with neat lines about saving everyone on Earth.
As Chibi-Usa uses the Furute Ginzuishou, she turns into a cute little princess omg. Rather adorable, really.
Wiseman sounds genuinely worried to be going up against two Ginzuishous. Poor sod. It feels a bit unfair to be honest.
We get the old Senshi-combining-powers scene. I don’t care how many times I’ve seen it, I still love when they do this. Remains just as cool as ever.
Seeing Chibi-Usa and Serenity combine Ginzuishous is very awesome, and a good reminder that this show is about girls kicking ass.
As the pink light swallows Wiseman, his last protest that he won’t be defeated gets all slurred and warped. It’s pretty funny, actually, and satisfying to see the old bastard get nuked. I think I still preferred seeing Queen Beryl get disintegrated, if you remember that scene.
The power of two Ginzuishous is so powerful that it shoots back through the Dark Gate, into the future, and destroys the Jakokusuishou too. Well that’s awfully neat isn’t it?
We see Chibi-Usa and Sailor Moon, reverted to their usual forms now, floating in very much the same way that Princess Serenity did after she died using the Ginzuishou against Beryl. Sailor Moon reasonably asks if they’re dead now. She’s rather mellow about it.
I’d be freaking out.
Both girls are happy to have died protecting everyone they love, but a calm voice explains that the desire of each of them to protect each other has brought about a miracle, each Ginsuishou protecting the other’s user from death.
Well thank god for that then. A little Deus Ex Machina, perhaps, but fitting. This series is very much more about life than the last one. I like it. They were prepared to sacrifice their lives, and this is their reward.
Meanwhile, in the real world, everything is lovely and peachy.
Even the big crystal disappears from Tokyo. Nothing is said about the massive panic and evacuation it cause, though. The people of Japan are politely incurious about anything.
OK, now starts one of the best couple of scenes of Sailor Moon. Ever.
With everything back to normal in the 20th Century, the gang reconvene over that place in the park (IT’S THAT DAMN PARK AGAIN. Ahem) where Chibi-Usa first appeared from the sky. They’ve come together to say goodbye to Chibi-Usa, who is returning home.
Each of the girls have a special goodbye to Chibi-Usa, and I love every one of them, but Minako’s farewell in particular is amazing.
“Don’t wet your bed any more, okay?”
“I WON’T. Let’s play together again, okay?”
Aww that’s so weird and sweet.
Then it’s Usagi’s turn. There’s this big long pause as they look at each other. There’s so much left unsaid in that look. Their relationship is enormously complicated, and that much stronger for it.
Usagi looks at a complete loss for anything to say. Wouldn’t you be the same? You’ve fallen in love with this kid, your future kid, and now you’re saying goodbye. This is such an important moment for the show.
Neither girl has ever been this quiet before.
And then that music starts playing, guys. It’s the instrumental version of Heart Moving, the one they play to make me bawl. They used it between Nephrite and Naru, when the Sailor Senshi died, and when Mamoru died. It has such bitter-sweet poignancy, and really enhances the powerful pathos of this scene.
Usagi manages to embrace Chibi-Usa, and in a single line that every single time has caused me to tear-up, Chibi-Usa says, so infinitely sweetly, “Arigatou… Mama.”
What a perfect moment. That’s all she needs to say. The entire series, the entire relationship between these two characters, have led to this beautiful, perfect moment.
What a show. You don’t get this from many other kids shows.
Usagi looks heartbroken as Chibi-Usa uses the Space-Time Key to return to the future. Mamoru give her a supportive glowing looks, and she nods smiling. Suddenly I like him again. They really keep me on my toes.
If that weren’t enough, if that were not enough, the music keeps playing as we shift to Crystal Tokyo. It’s actually sunny, and calm. It’s beautifully drawn.
Chibi-Usa is running amongst some hills…
…and the music hits the crescendo just as we see the Sailor Senshi of the future. What another perfect moment. This scene is saturated with all the emotional turmoil and agony that Chibi-Usa has come through to reach this moment. Again, it’s such a great pay for the series.
The joy on Chibi-Usa’s face is amazing. And yet she doesn’t do what you would expect, run up and hug her parents. She pauses, and curtseys, all lady-like. Again, great writing.
The moment when mother and child finally embrace is heart-breakingly lovely.
The series ends as the camera pulls back from the scene to look across Crystal Tokyo one last time…
Well wasn’t that an amazing ending? I think I might have gone on quite a bit there… I feel like there’s so much more to say about this ending, the parallels it has with the ending of the first series, the themes of parental love and childhood fears, but this has been a rather long post.
Instead, I’ll write another post breaking down the themes that I think are at play here. I do like to make extra work for myself after all.
Episode Score: 5/5 (First half was a bit shakey, but that second half is mind-blowing.)
“La Soldier” Score: 5/5 (That song is fantastic.)
Wiseman’s Laugh Creepiness Level: 87%