Sailor Moon R: The Movie
Alternative Title: The Jilted Ex-Boyfriend From Space
First Aired: 5th December 1993
Fiore, a strange man from Mamoru’s past, seems intent on claiming Usagi’s boyfriend for himself with the help of an evil flower. When the mysterious plant begins attacking the public, the Senshi step in to fight this Kisenian Flower, a mind-controlling being trying to enslave humanity. Sailor Moon and the Senshi follow the kidnapped Tuxedo Kamen onto an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, but their enemy is overwhelmingly power…
This is the first of three theatrical releases of Sailor Moon. While it’s fairly common today for popular TV anime to earn itself a film adaptation, it was somewhat more rare in 1993, especially for a kids show aimed at young girls. It’s even more remarkable when you consider that this film got the green light after a single season of Sailor Moon.
That being said… This film is a mess. It feels rushed, it’s rather boring, it’s weird, but not always good way. There are a few moments I like, but those are few and far between, and it doesn’t make up for the recycled footage from the TV show and the ridiculously dull antagonist.
At 60 minutes, it wouldn’t qualify for a theatrical release in the US or UK (where the minimum is 72 minutes), but it feels sooo much longer. To bulk up the running time, Sailor Moon R: The Movie was played with a 15 minute special beforehand called Make Up Sailor Senshi, which I’ll now explore in great detail.
It’s a crappy clip show. There, that’s it.
Normally, I do not link to or embed full episodes of Sailor Moon. It’s a great show that’s worth buying the DVDs. That being said, who the hell would want to sit all the way through this? So here, suffer with me.
Obviously they stuck this on to frame what the hell is going on in the film for those who have never seen Sailor Moon, and who had to drag their kids along. This mad impulse, to essentially re-set up the entire show, is completely misguided. Assume those seeing your film are fans, and know who Sailor Venus is. The exposition is horrible.
Also, all the new footage here (there’s not much) is animated and written by the naff team, meaning that it’s not pretty, and not witty. I have never seen this before, but at the request of a commenter, I subjected myself to this so you don’t have to.
Thanks, cerealcommas. That’s 15 minutes of my life I’m never getting back.
ON WITH THE FILM!
You’ll notice that Sailor Moon R: The Movie was released on 5th December 1995. That places it between Episode 29 and Episode 30 in terms of release. Usagi and Mamoru have patched things up and are together again and… that’s pretty much all you need to know. Nothing else in Sailor Moon R is applicable except for a link to Ali, En and the Doom Tree, which we’ll get to.
Rather terrifyingly, the film begins with yet another expository scene, setting up all the Senshi again. We’re launched into a cheery intro segment, like the ones that opened the episodes of the first season. Same music, same words and… I’m pretty sure, same exact animation. It looks recoloured a little, but nothing else has been done to drag it over to the big screen.
I suppose I do feel nostalgic for those early episodes of Sailor Moon in this introductory style, and the stage appearances of all the Senshi rather nicely harken back to the eye-catch in the middle of episodes of the first season.
I rather suspect that this film had been in production as soon as the first season ended, hence why everything seems to be referencing content from that as opposed to the second season.
This all feels so uncinematic.
And then the real film starts. Again.
I think the makers were terrified of doing anything that didn’t adhere strictly to the same tropes we see in the TV show, so we start off with a Moonlight Densetsu opening sequence.
It’s not bad, actually. I like the art, I like all the roses. The pace is good, and they’re telling a story without the need of exposition, something that so far has been beyond the writers.
The Sailor Senshi, plus Chibi-Usa and Mamoru, are visiting a botanical garden, I presume on the edge of Tokyo. They spend a bit of time lovingly setting up this garden. It looks great, I really like it.
We’re thrown into a memory. It’s an itsy-bitsy Mamoru! Aw how cute. And he’s giving a boy a rose. OK that’s pretty gay. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I just mean that he looks like he’s hitting on this other little boy.
The recipient promises, rather ominously, that he’ll return and give Mamoru a shit-ton of flowers back. I may have paraphrased somewhat.
The boy vanishes, leaving Mamoru weeping. I always knew he was the real cry-baby in his and Usagi’s relationship.
Speaking of which, Mamoru comes to after zoning out. He’s flower-gazing with Usagi, who quickly uses the fact that they’re alone to instigate a romantic engagement.
I love this. I love how demure yet sneaky she looks. I love that Mamoru, so ready to plant a kiss on her when she’s unconscious (more on this later), appears terrified of doing so in front of anyone else.
Well, she is 14, and he does look about 30. That would tend not to go down well in public.
Naturally, they’re being spied upon, by her jealous friends and a disturbingly jealous Chibi-Usa. Way to cram in some Elektra Complex, guys.
Again, all supremely funny, especially when Ami protests about spying on their friend but seems just as eager. By the way, this is also all a little weird, too. I have never wanted to watch my friends make out. To my knowledge.
As soon as Mamoru catches wind that they’re not alone, he gets the hell away from Usagi. You’ve got to feel sorry for the girl as Chibi-Usa sticks a caterpillar in her face instead.
This is all great stuff. I love the slice-of-life side of Sailor Moon, and they were determined to capture that feeling here.
Outside, Mamoru is perplexed to find that it’s raining petals. It sounds lovely, and Usagi is certainly enjoying it, but the eerie music and the darkening sky is pretty ominous.
Enter this douche. Why, doesn’t he look similar to Ali’s human form, Seijuro?
This guy is being rather familiar with Mamoru, who doesn’t seem to recognise him, but things get a little weird when he starts going on about wanting to show Mamoru flowers.
It’s even more awkward when the guy starts holding Mamoru’s hand suggestively and Usagi starts freaking out. The implication is that Mamoru has previous had a gay lover, which I totally buy.
These guys look about 2 seconds from making out, which is when Usagi politely steps in to remind them both that she is now Mamoru’s girlfriend, and the freaky love triangle is complete.
I don’t really think they were seriously implying that there was anything romantic going on here. I’m glad that a show like Sailor Moon had several homosexual relationships. Right now, it seems more like an awkward joke than a serious commentary on sexuality. In a way, they’re suggesting that homosexual feelings are somehow less legitimate than heterosexual ones.
Anyway, our gay ex-lover doesn’t take this well and shoves Usagi over like a jealous asshole. I love how this unpleasently high-waisted flower arranger just walks off quickly, like he knows he just assaulted a woman in public but doesn’t want to make a scene by running.
We then get a long, boring scene of the Senshi back at Rei’s house discussing an asteroid that will pass close to Earth. There’s some funky early 90s computer use, which boringly exposits that the asteroid is a) seed shaped b) not nearly dense enough and c) emitting “plant energy”.
Usagi fretting about Mamoru having boned a dude is pretty funny though. The rest of the Senshi don’t exactly help, especially Ami, who blithely comments that “Mamoru certainly seems popular with other men, doesn’t he?”
OK Ami is my favourite right now.
We get another flashback scene, of Usagi asking Mamoru about his family. You might remember in the series that Mamoru’s parents died in a car accident. Little boy Mamoru survived, but developed retrograde amnesia for everything up to the moment he woke up in the hospital bed. It didn’t exactly go anywhere, but it’s an interesting facet to Mamoru’s character, one that explained his relentless drive to discover who he was.
Usagi rather sweetly asks Mamoru if he’s lonely, to which he responds, even more sweetly, “I’m not lonely anymore… You’re my family, Usako.” At which point my heart melts and I take back every single mean thing I ever said about the douchebag.
The scene ends with Usagi thinking to herself “I’ll protect you… always.” It’s a really powerful moment, one which reverses the usual stereotypical masculine-feminine balance that this couple tends to follow. Usagi comes of so well here, and it’s decent set up for later events.
Hey, I’m being nicer to this film than I thought I would be!
MEANWHILE evil dandelion seeds fall to Tokyo and start germinating into ugly flowers. Quite a nicely animated sequence actually.
The next day, all the girls are walking to school together. This is odd, as they’ve never all walked together to school before, especially since Rei and Minako go to different schools than the others.
I’ll just point out that everyone is drawn wonderfully in this film. They certainly didn’t use the shitty animators for this one.
Rei (looking awesome, naturally) suddenly stops, aware of an evil presence. It’s all pretty much action and drama for the rest of the film.
The Senshi turn a corner to find… a street full of corpses. Awesome. It’s like Resident Evil 2. Now only if they got up and started eating you…
There appears to be no one else in Tokyo except these 2 dozen dead people. It’s a city of 30 million you know.
Suddenly, holy cow! THEY ARE ZOMBIES! Plant zombies. Like that game Plants Vs Zombies, but, like, the opposite of that.
The battle music here is new. It’s also awful. In fact, all the music for this film is pretty damn bad.
Thus begins a fight, except none of the Senshi bother to transform. It’s not bad, actually, seeing Makoto use Judo and Rei throwing seals. Usagi, being overwhelmed, has a zombie inexplicably trying to crawl inside her nose, to which she cries “What the hell is it trying to do!?” which I found hilarious.
All this kerfuffle is thanks to that ugly plant, which promptly grows legs and tries to eat Chibi-Usa. Usagi has a brilliantly heroic moment of crashing through a cafe window to save her (not the best of plans with all that broken glass). This actually looked really fucking cool.
The flower further develops, growing an upper torso of a lady. It’s gross. The whole thing looks sort of stupid, but I like that they’re trying to be a little scary. The location, though, a well-lit deserted street, saps away any tension.
Seeing Ami and Rei slammed and drained of energy is pretty neat too, and finally they think of transforming.
All the transformation sequences and attacks are exactly the same as in the show. This is a unforgivable for me. Recycling footage when the rest of the film has looked so good thus far? Tut tut. It was your change to change things up!
With all the transformations and attacks that don’t seem to work on this plant-woman-spider-thing, the pace of the film is entirely lost. I’m completely bored by this point.
Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound. We get a bizarrely quiet scene of Chibi-Usa trying to wake the battered-unconscious Usagi inside the cafe that I actually really like. Despite the fact that Usagi has just saved her, Chibi-Usa’s method of revival is essentially to annoy her awake.
Tickling her nose with tissue doesn’t work, so she moves on to suffocating Usagi until she wakes up. They have a completely static shot for about 30 seconds of Usagi slowly dying. It’s actually brilliant comic timing. I laughed, if uneasily.
Just as Usagi is yelling out the words to transform, Chibi-Usa stops her to thank Usagi for saving her. It’s actually really sweet.
No one can kill this stupid plant thing until Sailor Moon can use Moon Princess Halation, obviously. This encounter really should have ended by now, this is just a crappy minion.
And then straight onto the next encounter. It’s Mamoru’s stalker. He does something that no one has ever done in the history of the world and instantly recognises Sailor Moon as Usagi, the girl he pushed over the day before. What the fuck?
So, as it turns out, the jilted lover is, in fact, an alien, who appears to be of the same race as Ali & En! Apparently they weren’t the last of their race after all, though I sure wish they were, because this guy is super boring.
Actually the only thing interesting about him is the tiny half naked woman poking out of a flower on his lapel. Luna recognises it as a “Kisenian Flower” because apparently she and Artemis know every goddamn thing about the galaxy. Remember when they instantly knew about the Doom Tree?
Boring Guy is remarkably strong, slamming all of the Senshi back. It looks super painful, especially for Sailor Jupiter, who gets thrown into a phone booth. Our favourite Senshi could have taken THREE phone booths.
Tuxedo Kamen turns up… by walking out of a poster for tuxedos. Well that was weird. Alien-Dude, whose name I can now reveal as Fiore, once again instantly recognises Tux as Mamoru (this time from the prissy rose he always throws).
There’s some boring back and forth between Tuxedo Kamen and Fiore, before the Kisenian Flower seems to take control of the situation, and there’s a sword/cane fight.
It’s not as interesting as it sounds.
I sort of dislike how the (probably gay) infatuated guy is the one who is evil, jealous and murderous. Not the best of representations here.
The fight ends exactly how you’d expect. I’d be more moved by the sight of Tuxedo Kamen with several puncture holes if I hadn’t seen it a couple of times before.
Also, he got stabbed by Fiore’s nasty gross clip-on nails. That’s so unhygienic.
He seems fine to be honest. There’s no blood, even. Probably just scratched. Gross.
Fiore runs away with Mamoru’s prostate body. Again, just like in season 1. Sailor Moon breaking down in tears is always touching. Her voice actress, Kotono Mitsuishi, always gives a fantastic performance, even when the material is shoddy.
Mamoru is being held inside a healing water tank… just like The Empire Strikes Back. Weird.
We see a flashback of Fiore as a kid being found by Mamoru… who brings him to his hospital bed. Wow, this is suggestive stuff. Apparently it was Mamoru giving Fiore a flower that kickstarted his mad obsession with the stupid things.
This eventually led him to find the brain-washing Kisenian Flower. Good job, Mamoru. You caused all of this bullshit.
Suddenly, it’s night time back on Earth, and the Senshi are in another boring exposition scene for the Kisenian Flower while sitting in a park. Have they just been hanging out there all day?
Sailor Mercury *somehow* realises that the Kisenian Flower’s home is the big ugly asteroid heading for Earth. Well that was conveniently fast. The plot is really contrived here.
We get another throw-back to season 1, where Sailor Moon is reluctant to fight after Tuxedo Kamen is kidnapped. Again, this would be moving if we haven’t seen this all before, and if we hadn’t resolved all these emotions before.
At least Chibi-Usa feels the same way: she pulls a fucking gun on Sailor Moon to try and motivate her. Which works. Oh well, that entire emotional arc ended in 2 minutes. Nice.
The Senshi use Sailor Teleport to get up to the asteroid. It’s a pretty cool scene, brilliantly animated, but really not too far removed from the TV version of it. Glad to see Chibi-Usa is effectively removed from the rest of the film.
We get to space and… OH WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS!? The asteroid is CRAPPY EARLY 90s CGI!? Wow. This is Lawnmower Man type effects. I’m sure this was cutting edge back a year before even Jurassic Park came out, but Jesus this looks bad.
In between squinting at the screen and vomiting, you might notice that the asteroid is a giant seed filled with flowers. I would like to say that it’s an interesting idea… but that CGI is just too damn painful.
The actual landscape of the flower field is really beautiful and interesting when it’s not computer-rendered.
When they land (via crashing and flying monsters), there are some really cool images on this asteroid. That’s the best I could say for the climax (and yeah we’re already reaching the climax). Fiore appears, monsters appear out of the Kisenian Flowers…
You know the drill. The fighting against the huge number of monsters is… distracting, but seeing identical monsters getting mowed down is strangely unsatisfying. It is cool to see the Senshi using variations of their attacks to kill many enemies at once though.
This is more like it! It’s a shame the story behind this is so mind-numbingly boring. When all the Senshi, bar Sailor Moon, get swallowed by a mountain of flowers, it’s weirdly flat.
I do like Sailor Moon’s reaction though. She can get maximum pathos out of a situation when they want her to. Again, however, I feel like they’re aping what happened in the first series.
Fiore appears with the Senshi, trying to force Sailor Moon to give up. Sailor Moon drops her rod almost instantly, to the complete disgust of her comrades. She so quickly surrenders that even Fiore is at a loss. I guess he was thinking of milking this much longer.
I actually love that response. It’s so in character for Sailor Moon.
Sadly, this emotional display is the thing that causes Fiore to break the spell over him a little. I dislike when they do this. Pacifism and self-sacrifice are noble actions, but it’s never so neat that the enemy just gives up. This is why it’s such a cursed ideal.
It takes another 12 seconds of talking by the Kisenian Flower to turn Fiore evil again. Well, that was quick.
Fiore turns into MEGA FIORE by bonding with the stupid lower woman, and looks pretty much the same except that he has a gross arm wrapped around his shoulders.
He takes down Sailor Moon instantly. It’s really gross, actually. He appears to be grabbing her with, like, 40 arms. I don’t like this at all. It’s really gross.
Fiore begins moaning about how fucking sad and alone he is. Well maybe you shouldn’t have been floating through space looking for flowers then? His words evoke thoughts in all the Senshi of how alone they all were bore they found each other.
This would be much more of a moving scene if it didn’t come out of nowhere. I love this character development for the girls, but honestly, it’s so sudden. I do like this implication that they were all lonely outsiders before they found each other.
No one seems to be in any particular rush to help poor Sailor Moon, by the way. She looks in a fairly bad way before the Senshi begin begging for her life.
Well this is a different tactic. It’s interesting, they don’t fight for her, they beg for her life. Rather touching.
Fiore tries to kill her regardless, but Tuxedo Kamen, having spent the last hour trying to break out of his stupid crystal, finally manages to throw a single rose into Fiore’s chest. Once again, copying from the first season.
This really upsets Fiore. He can’t stand the thought that his beloved Mamoru threw a flower at him, out of all the things in the world. The spell is apparently broken, and all the Kisenian Flowers suddenly vanish. That was rather convenient wasn’t it?
Apparently the asteroid is crashing into Earth, which will cause pretty much everyone to die. Yay, one final climax!
Sailor Moon is fed up with this bullshit. She gets up and fully activates the Ginzuishou on her chest. Sailor Venus instantly freaks out. While Sailor Moon regularly uses the crystal in the show, fully unleashing its power will cause her to die.
Sailo rMoon may give up easily, but she has no qualms about sacrificing herself to save others. She sounds rather sweet as she assures them all that she’ll be fine. I really like this bit.
Fiore tries to stop her here… by pointedly grabbing her boobs. Well jesus christ you freak get the fuck off of her. Honestly, they could have just made him grab the crystal, but they went out of their way to show you… creasing.
They really do slip in sexuality into violence so easily sometimes.
When Sailor Moon begins to de-transform, he is now just touching her naked boobs. Gross.
Usagi counters all this by being super nice to Fiore. Bit of a weird tactic to be honest, but it seems to work just fine. Everything in this film just seems to happen for no particular reason.
We then fall once more into Mamoru’s memories for reasons I can’t quite explain, but hey, this is what this movie does.
Mamoru is crying again, this time because Fiore is going to leave him, when a little tiny Usagi walks into his room to try and comfort him. What are the goddamn odds? This is silly… but I love it. Usagi is so darn cute. I think she’s 3 here. Nice that her parents are just letting her freely roam a hospital while Ikuko gives birth to shit-head Shingo.
it turns out that little Usagi gives Mamoru his first rose to cheer him up, the rose that Mamoru gave to Fiore. So… it was really Usagi who started all this bullshit!?
It’s contrived I know… but I love this connection. It’s so inanely sweet. I love that this is the origin of everything Tuxedo Kamen would base his identity around, right here.
Apparently this changes everything for Fiore. Realising that his beloved rose was really from Sailor Moon breaks the Kisenian Flower’s spell… again… and finally this boob-grabbing jerk is purified and down for the count.
There’s just the little matter of surviving a fucking asteroid crashing into Earth.
When Usagi opens her eyes at the exact moment of a musical cue, you know it’s the big finale. I like this moment. Usagi turns once more into Princess Serenity, and it looks like she means business.
There’s not much action, really, it’s just Serenity holding up the Ginzuishou and vowing to save everyone, but it’s the best thing we’ve seen all movie. The music, Moon Revenge, is… well, it’s there. It’s not brilliant, but it’ll do.
Mamoru unleashes his power to support Serenity, and the rest of the Senshi follow suit.
There’s a really nice scene of the Senshi recalling all the sweet moments Usagi had with them, showing exactly why they’re so willing to risk their lives to protect their princess. It really is a convincing set of relationships.
The big combining-powers scene happens, but rather unexpectedly, the goddamn Ginzuishou shatters. Well that was unexpected. I always forget this happens. It really is rather shocking, didn’t follow the expected outcome whatsoever.
So, the asteroid is now just a floating platform above the Earth. It looks quite nice actually, but since Sailor Moon is dead it’s sort of hard to stop and enjoy the moment.
It’s everyone else’s turn to grieve for Usagi, in a reversal of the first season. It’s a rather powerful pathos they manage to create here, even if it is hugely heavy handed and… well, self-indulgent?
We all imagine how people would grieve over our dead bodies. Rather masturbatory, truth be told. Or am I alone in that…?
Mamoru seems in complete shock, but has a weird moment inside his head talking to Fiore. He gives Mamoru all his life’s energy in a bid to save Sailor Moon… by getting Mamoru to kiss his flower.
So… so gay…
Mamoru turns this into a kiss for Sailor Moon. It’s actually rather full on, and a little creepy because a) he’s always kissing her when she’s unconscious and b) she’s actually fucking dead right now.
I often see this shot on t-shirts and such as a romantic moment. I don’t think the designers realise that one of the people in this scene is a corpse.
Anyway, the kiss is magic, and restores the Ginzuishou and Sailor Moon’s life. Yeah, it’s complete bullshit, but hey, I like the mushy stuff too.
Everyone starts crying, obviously, even Mamoru, the normally stony-faced bastard and then BAM END CREDITS. GET OUT THE CINEMA. NOW.
Well that was a sudden end. I can’t say I like this film. It really is all over the place in pacing and plot. I like some moments enormously, but they pale in comparison to the moments they’re aping from the TV series, mainly because of the rich narrative they build in the show.
Given enough time, and some writers freed of the constraints of the TV show, I think this could have been a great film. As it is, I recommend it only for those wanting a complete Sailor Moon experience. It’s not like you’re missing on a cinematic, theatrical event here.
I really like the dramatic moments with Usagi, Mamoru and the Senshi. Anything to do with Fiore is boring as hell, and the action really doesn’t translate well to the big screen. That being said, it’s far from the worst adaptation I’ve ever been subjected to. Worth a watch for those romantic moments at the very least.
Score: 3/5 (Juuust scraped into 3 thanks to Usagi’s best moments)
Best Moment: Usagi telling Mamoru that she would protect him. Loved that reversal.
Worst Moment: When they just can’t kill the BORING FLOWER MONSTER