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Sailor Moon R Wrap-Up

Let’s finish off Sailor Moon R in style, with a look-back at what made the series so good. With all the best, all the worst, all the totally freakin’ weird moments. With aliens, robots, time-travel and dystopian futures, we’ve got a lot to get through. Let’s get to it.

The very first Sailor Planet Attack

With the best will in the world, I can’t say that Sailor Moon R is better than the first season of the show. It would be almost impossible to have met the standard set by that epic series. What it did, however, was to begin expanding the Sailor Moon universe, bending what we should come to expect from the show.

Sailor Moon R

There were some absolutely amazing moments, of course, but as a complete narrative, it didn’t quite match up to Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom. That being said, the Black Moon, Wiseman, Crystal Tokyo, Black Lady and the dark future all added up to being a development on the themes of the first season.

It’s a shame, but the Ali & En mini-saga in the first 13 episodes of the season did not amount to much. These episodes were, in fact, only there as filler to allow manga author Naoko Takeuchi enough time to finish writing the Black Moon arc, and it shows.

Makoto Vs Natsumi

Nearly all of the Ali & En episodes feel like clock-watching, slowly watching the clock until the season proper started. As such, the Black Moon arc was somewhat less developed than the Dark Kingdom arc, but it carried the shorter length well – I certainly don’t think 13 extra episodes with the Black Moon would have done much to add to the story.

While the first season’s themes included the cost of being a hero, the reluctant Sailor Moon, tragic love and genuinely-haunting death, the second series did a good job in not reading the same grounds. Usagi’s reluctance to be a Sailor Senshi is touched upon in the first few episodes of Sailor Moon R, but thankfully this is resolved in the rather brilliant episode 2:5 – A New Transformation! Usagi Powers Up.

Princess Serenity and Queen Serenity

As much as I enjoyed the internal struggle Usagi went through in season 1 with her alter ego, it would have been maudlin and repetitive to have lingered on this again.

The major theme of Sailor Moon R is, of course, parental love. Usagi’s relationship with Chibi-Usa is central to the series. It’s fraught with petty fights, mistrust and a deep bond that develops over time, that is earned. The love between a parent and child is often given as a presumption in fiction, whereas Sailor Moon R showed a relationship that had to be grown.

Chibi-Usa terrified of Rubeus

By the time they both realise their relationship, this bond appears far more complex, and stronger, than most other parent-child relationships depicted in anime.

Aside from the touchy-feely stuff, we also got some amazing scenes which pushed the edges of what we’ve ever seen in an action sequence in Sailor Moon. The episode 2:21 – Protect Chibi-Usa! Clash of the Ten Warriors was so brilliantly written, acted and animated, that it set a high standard for what we could see out of this show.

Sailor Mars Vs Koan

I can’t say that I enjoyed the majority of Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship in this season. In the Ali & En saga, it was vexing to have him still ignorant of the deep bond they forged last season. It was gratifying seeing him slowly redevelop feelings for the girl he just dismissed before, however. That final scene of Sailor Moon and Mamoru embracing once more made that all worth it.

Sailor Moon and Mamoru embracing

…Which is why it was so annoying to have to deal with Mamoru promptly giving Usagi the cold-shoulder for the next 20 episodes. The whole premise behind their estrangement, a garbled premonition from the future, didn’t play off well, especially how Mamoru decided to act on it: as though Usagi wasn’t a person who could be trusted with his fears, with whom he couldn’t discuss any of this.

In the end, their rift just felt manufactured, and Mamoru didn’t come out of it looking great.

On the other hand, the healing of their relationship, damn the consequences, was a really beautiful moment.

Mamoru and Usagi kiss on the balcony

While the other Senshi, Ami, Rei, Makoto and Minako, got some excellent moments, I felt there were less brilliant character developments with them than last series. Its as though they were in limbo this time. There were great episodes for them to be sure, 2:23 – Battle of the Flames of Love! Mars Vs Koan, 2:31 – Venus Minako’s Nurse Mayhem and 2:33 – Terrifying Illusion! Ami All Alone being 3 of the highlights, by the concluding episodes of the series, they were little more than background dressing.

Thankfully I feel that they’re all given real development in the next season.

As for Usagi’s personal character development? It couldn’t have been anywhere near as extreme or momentous as in season 1, where she went from the clumsy cry-baby teenage girl into a person with the weight of the world on her shoulders, but it was certainly decent.

After resolving her hesitancy to become Sailor Moon once more, her slow but entirely convincing relationship with Chibi-Usa brought out the best in her. The fulcrum point for her during this season came before she knew she was Chibi-Usa’s mother, and Queen of the World, but in 2:27 – Defeat Rubeus! The Final Battle in Space.

Usagi making a decision on Mamorus balcony

There, she realised that she could never hand over Chibi-Usa to save her friends, that she couldn’t keep relying on others to save her. She walked into Rubeus’ UFO head held high and ready to sacrifice herself. It didn’t quite turn out that way, obviously, but the circumstances also developed Chibi-Usa.

And Chibi-Usa had brilliant development in this series. From creepy gun-wielding hypnotist into a fragile and lonely child and then into a mass of complexes, I believed every turn she took. Black Lady was probably a little underwhelming by the end, but I really bought into her as a character, despite her frequent lapses into being annoying.

Chibi-Usa holds a gun to Usagi's head

As far as enemies go, I feel that I’ve covered Ali & En effectively. They weren’t the greatest antagonists, but looking back I can appreciate their style, even if they were entirely ineffectual and pathetic bad guys. They stand, at least, as a good contrast to the Black Moon.

I like the Black Moon’s roster of characters. The Phantom Sisters and Rubeus had the best episodes of the series, and were entertaining and threatening simultaneously.

Dark Fire by Koan

Esmeraude was a complete joke. Thankfully she didn’t survive too long, and by the time she turned into a massive crap dragon Wiseman was ready to fill in the malevolence department.

Dimande and Saphir were mildly interesting, Saphir more so, but again, Dimande is irredeemable as a character in my eyes, thus making his “arc” redundant.

The Droids, as a collection, were a great bunch. Nearly all were pretty darn entertaining, if not balls-out crazy as it gets in Sailor Moon S. There really aren’t that many of them in the series, they make an exit fairly far from the finishing line, and while I think I preferred the Dark Kingdom’s monsters, Droids weren’t nearly as overwhelmingly naff as Ali & En’s Cardians.

Hell-Ant Cardian

All in all, I loved Sailor Moon R. It has some of my favourite episodes and moments from all of the show, even if overall it doesn’t quite as hold together as season 1. It made me love the central characters all the more, and introduced some really cool ideas, some of which is set-up for season 3, such as the enigmatically awesome Sailor Pluto.

Sailor Pluto surrounded by fog

Time for some lists!

 


 

Top 5 Episodes, in no particular order

2:23 – A Battle of the Flames of Love! Mars vs Koan

Koan shocked at Rubeus in her compact

I like this episode a whole bunch. It’s interesting to see Rei’s life from an outside perspective. Koan becomes an incredibly interesting character as she’s emotionally manipulated by Rubeus, and her breakdown is convincing and moving. Rei, too, is really cool here.

2:21 – Protect Chibi-Usa! Clash of the Ten Warriors

Sailor Senshi Vs Phantom Sisters

Such a brilliant episode. The animation was gorgeous, the music (Ai No Senshi) was pumped, seeing all the Senshi let loose against the Phantom Sisters was a demonstration of how darn cool Sailor Moon could be. Throw in some brilliant character development between Usagi and Chibi-Usa and you’ve got yourself an absolute winner.

2:5 – A New Transformation! Usagi Powers Up

Sailor Moon returns powered up

This is the only truly stand-out episode of the Ali & En arc. There’s so much to like here,. from the slice-of-life feeling from the Sakura-watching party in the park, to the horror-vibe of the disturbing tree-spirit monster, to Usagi finally resolving her reluctance of being Sailor Moon. A very cool episode.

2:15 – Huge Shock for Usagi! Mamoru Declares a Break-Up

Usagi in Mamoru's hallway

This episode still tears me up inside. While I hate Mamoru’s actions and confused weak-ass justification for breaking up with Usagi, the episode is still written brilliantly. Sailor Moon does drama extremely well on occasion, as with the tense & emotional scene where Mamoru breaks Usagi’s heart. The following scene, of her breaking down in tears in a random phone booth on the way home, is even more moving.

The fight between Sailor Moon and the crazy make-up Droid is brilliant too, and balances out the morbid pathos nicely.

2:35 – Journey to the Future! Battle in the Space-Time Corridor

Sailor Pluto, the solitary senshiI love this episode. It looks great, it sounds great, it’s got so much darn mystery to everything. They really tried to create a unique feeling to time-travel specific to this show, and they succeeded. Sailor Pluto is so very cool, and it sets up a heck of a lot for Sailor Moon S. The scene of Chibi-Usa meeting the Droid pretending to be her mother was so freaky, too.

 


 

Top 5 Monsters, in no particular order

Creepy-Ass Tree Spirit

TERRIFYING. Seriously, this is Ring-level design here

TERRIFYING. Seriously, this is Ring-level design here

Crazy Make-Up Lady

That's... a little too much foundation

That’s… a little too much foundation

AMAAAAN! (Amanju)

Shit design, yes, but I can't get over how much I laughed at it trying to piss Ali off

Shit design, yes, but I can’t get over how much I laughed at it trying to piss Ali off

Hypnotic Ant-Face

Anyone who kicks Tuxedo Kamen in the back is ace in my books

Anyone who kicks Tuxedo Kamen in the back is ace in my books. Here’s to you, Giwaku

Impressively Muscled Wrestler Woman

Dumble could kick your ass and look good while doing it

Dumble could kick your ass and look good while doing it

 


 

Bottom 5 Moments, in no particular order

Moonlight Knight. Every bit of him

"I wear this concealing mask because I have herpes."

“I wear this concealing mask because I have herpes.”

Sailor Moon does cheesy Kabuki

They just went too self-aware without being nearly as funny enough here

They just went too self-aware without being nearly as funny enough here

The cake

You can still see the dent in my desk where I repeatedly slammed my head after this scene

You can still see the dent in my desk where I repeatedly slammed my head during this scene

Dimande crosses the line

Back. The fuck. Off.

Back. The fuck. Off.

Esmeraude gets turned into Pete’s Dragon

This could have been so cool. Instead it was an under-animated mullet lizard

This could have been so cool. Instead it was an under-animated mullet lizard

 


 

Top 5 Moments, in no particular order

The awesome street fight

This was such an awesome scene, perfectly enhanced by the brill song Ai No Senshi

This was such an awesome scene, perfectly enhanced by the brill song Ai No Senshi

Usagi breaks down in a phone booth

What a beautifully sad moment. One of the most moving in the show

What a beautifully sad moment. One of the most moving in the show

Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen learn that they’re Chibi-Usa’s parents

All of the fun of parenting at 14. Pretty sure MTV ripped this off

All of the fun of parenting at 14. Pretty sure MTV ripped this off

Usagi and Mamoru tell the future to fuck itself

"Even if we destroy the world, it'll all be worth it for second base."

“Even if we destroy the world, it’ll all be worth it for second base.”

Usagi and Chibi-Usa say goodbye

I think I've covered this single moment enough already, right?

I think I’ve covered this single moment enough already, right?

 


 

 

Top 5 Comedic Moments, in no particular order

Usagi imagines that Umino and Naru participate in kinky wrestling

Usagi thinks Naru and Umino are ecchi

I chuckle every time at this dirty joke. I love how Umino looks rather intrigued by the idea…

Usagi introduces Mamoru to her family

Seeing his normal unflappable cockiness pricked by Usagi's frantic father was brilliant

Seeing his normal unflappable cockiness pricked by Usagi’s frantic father was brilliant

Minako trying to kill her friends with good intentions

Watching Minako try, and fail, not to inflict grievous harm upon her poorly friends was fantastic

Watching Minako trying, and failing, not to inflict grievous harm upon her poorly friends was fantastic

Sailor Moon is impervious to criticism

Who would have thought the constant belittling of Usagi by Rei would have had a protective effect against mind-altering hypnosis?

Who would have thought the constant belittling of Usagi by Rei would have had a protective effect against mind-altering hypnosis?

Everyone freaks out at Minako’s missing finger

Total anarchy. I, too, would be completely freaking out

Total anarchy. I, too, would be completely freaking out. The pay-off is brilliant!

 

The gang just hanging out during Sakura season 

Usagi's revenge against Rei was long overdue. "FIREEE!!!! ...soul..."

Usagi’s revenge against Rei was long overdue. “FIREEE!!!! …soul…”

 


 

Best Antagonist

Petz

Petz had some amazing lines, and was genuinely terrifying when she turned on her own sisters

Petz had some amazing lines, and was genuinely terrifying when she turned on her own sisters

 


 

Best Outfit

Black Lady’s sleek evil dress

Black Lady completely rocking that dress. Love the side-split

Black Lady completely rocking that dress. Love the side-split

 


 

Best New Attack

Moon Princess Halation

 


Best Moments for the Central Characters

Sailor Mercury fights her demons

Sailor Mercury believing in her friends and fighting back against Giwaku was her finest moment this series

Sailor Mercury believing in her friends and fighting back against Giwaku was her finest moment this series

Sailor Mars tanks like a pro against Koan

....and then tanking against Jupiter for a bit too. Man, she can take a few hits!

….and then tanking against Jupiter for a bit too. Man, she can take a few hits!

Makoto kicks a monster’s ass without even transforming

I want a show of just Makoto, untransformed, killing things

I want a show of just Makoto, untransformed, killing things

Sailor Venus lies shamelessly to Esmeraude

Esmeraude is impressed by Sailor Venus' abilities, not knowing that our girl just accidentally stumbled onto her plan. Genius

Esmeraude is impressed by Sailor Venus’ abilities, not knowing that our girl just accidentally stumbled onto her plan. Genius

Sailor Moon makes gravity look like a complete pussy

She can't really fight for shit, but Sailor Moon can carry extra weight like a body builder

She can’t really fight for shit, but Sailor Moon can carry extra weight like a body builder

Tuxedo Kamen transforms on a motorcycle

"See I TOLD you I was cool! Sort of..."

“See I TOLD you I was cool! Sort of…”

Chibi-Usa slingshots a Droid in the face

Such a great action shot. Who knew they could make pink look so good?

Such a great action shot. Who knew they could make pink look so good?

 


 

In Conclusion…

I love Sailor Moon R. It has its fair share of failings, but the things they get right are just brilliant. This was proof that the first season wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It has a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.

I love seeing things I’ve never seen before, and this season brings that. The destroyed future city has inspiring vistas. Forming a relationship with your future child is so wonderfully unique.

In the ways that this season dropped the ball (other Senshi falling to the side, less than stellar antagonists) is remedied in the next season, too, which shows that the writers are learning as they go.

And I’ll never quite get over how moving that very final scene of the series is. It’s been a real pleasure reviewing it for you all. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

And I didn't even get around to Yuichiro! THE SHAME

And I didn’t even get around to Yuichiro! THE SHAME

Only 113 episodes, 3 movies and 1 Super Nintendo RPG left to go…

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7 Comments »

  1. If you’re able to track them down, you should try and review the specials that accompanied the movies, as well.

    And before you move on from R… Track down Episode 67—it’s a “vacation” episode from that takes place between the curry episode and “Protect Chibi-Usa! Clash of the 10 Warriors.” It’s supposed to be terrible, features a dinosaur, Takeuchi reportedly hates it, and it’s never been included in any international releases (but I believe it’s floating around online somewhere).

    • I have heard of it… I suppose for the sake of completeness I should put myself through it. Was sort of hoping no one would notice!

      Looks like I’ll be tracking it down. Oh dear.

      • Oh right, the old DVDs left out episode 67 because Dic never bothered to license it in the first place, was that the story? I only watched Viz’s release of the series in the year after this, which didn’t skip episodes but has skipped specials/movies for now.

  2. So after rereading Sailor Moon R, I kind of see parallels of the black moon clan and the riders of the apocalypse. Like Prince Diamond is the white horse, Ruberus is red horse, Saphir is black horse, Esmeralde is the pale horse, the devil is the wise man and Nemesis is hell. Im probably thinking way too deeply into it but that would be really cool if that was what Naoko Takeuchi intended.

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