Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, the Manga: The Black Moon Arc, Pt. 6
This is the final blog piece dissecting the Black Moon arc of the Sailor Moon manga. You probably want to check out the previous posts before we continue. So far I’ve not been blown away with the Black Moon arc when compared to the Dark Kingdom arc, but there have been moments of genius that I’m surprised didn’t make it onto the original anime series.
As we wrap up the climax of the arc, we last left the scene without Wiseman even being the biggest threat: Dimande went Super Douche, grabbing both future and past Ginzuishous and on the verge of colliding them. Apparently this is a bad idea in terms of all existence continuing to… exist.
How will they get out of this one!? (Hint: Deus Ex Machina. That’s how.)
Act 25 – Confrontation – Death Phantom
Quiiiiiiite a lot happens in this act. Almost everything, in fact. All those loose threads come together in a fairly frantic manner. I quite like it. Doesn’t hold a candle to the original anime’s climax, of course.
So, we left just as Dimande was going to destroy all time and space for shits and giggles. This guy is a complete git. The Black Moon has ended up completely inconsequential to anything of note, and he still has to come in just for a final middle finger.
Anyway, Sailor Pluto totally saves the day by stopping time, which is admittedly a complete Deus Ex Machina, in that it came out of nowhere with infinite power, but it was still cool nevertheless. This moment was shifted to a late episode in the Sailor Moon S series, but for a different reason altogether.
We also learn that this is a big taboo – a no-no with “dire consequences”. Then why bloody give her the power in the first place!?
The time stopping scenes are pretty cool, although not nearly as cool as the exploding helicopter in Sailor Moon S will be. Time stopping seems to have also broken Tuxedo Kamen out of his brainwashing, or perhaps that’s the Moon Rod he’s clutching like a phallus.
Thank God that didn’t last longer than it look to make out with his daughter *shudder*.
When Black Lady seems to break out of her freeze, Sailor Pluto collapses onto the ground, and King Endymion kindly explains that breaking the great taboo on time-freezing means her life. It’s quite a heroic moment, even if it is a little manufactured.
Poor Pluto. Her comment that she had longed to fight alongside the other Senshi for eons, but couldn’t, was especially sad. She even gets to say goodbye to the inneffectual but sweet kitten Diana. I think the show could have made this a thousand times more emotion, but I like this farewell.
The most revealing, and bitter-sweet moment is when she gives King Endymion one final glance, and we see again evidence of her unrequited love. This was the most surprising twist to her character in the manga. Made her much more human and vulnerable. I like my cold, aloof Pluto, but this is actually good stuff! I look forward to their take in Sailor Moon Crystal.
Finally, she appologises to Small Lady, that she couldn’t protect her, as she dies.
Oh sorry, that should have said, as she “dies”.
It’s this death not the reconciling between her and her parents, not the resolution of their fractured relationship, that causes Black Lady to revert back into Chibi-Usa. This is remarkable in a number of ways.
1) It makes Pluto the most important emotional bond that Chibi-Usa has, not the one that ties her to her parents. Bit weird.
2) She essentially explains that Pluto was her only friend, the only one to giver her parental affection. Usagi withheld affection from her kid for 900 years. That’s fucked up.
3) Seriously, that’s fucked up.
4) These emotions were resolved in anime, and created a huge sense of satisfaction and pathos. Here… not so much.
Oh, and then Chibi-Usa transforms INTO SAILOR CHIBI-MOON!? What the hell!? This completely took me by surprise. Wasn’t expecting this until the Infinity arc!
Tuxedo Kamen even calls her “the one who will become the new Sailor Moon”, which is something never explicitly said in the anime.
Sailor Moon’s resultant come-back and final confrontation with Wiseman/Death Phantom, seems weirdly perfucntory after all this. It’s like a routine event that Takeuchi needs to get out of the way.
Along the way is an even more perfunctory encounter as Dimande chooses this moment to attack Sailor Moon again. What the fuck are you doing dude? She is your once chance not to be killed by a giant falling evil planet thing, and you try and kill her. For what?
It’s not smart, it’s not clever, and the moment of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen combining their powers into the rod to kill Dimande seems throwaway.
Such a pathetic and meaningless character in the end.
As the Senshi fall/rise up to the centre of Nemesis, we see Death Phantom’s true form. It’s pretty rad, actually, although the other Senshi aside from Sailor Moon do precisely nothing, which is pretty much what happened in the anime to be honest.
There’s a lot of talk from Death Phantom about, you know, wanting to take over the universe, and a lot of talk from Sailor Moon about NOT LETTING THAT HAPPEN, dammit, and the act ends with Sailor Moon blasting Wiseman, as Chibi-Moon looks on in awe.
Some very cool moments in this arc. They out-number the dull moments, which is nice. Now let’s finish off Death Phantom and have ourselves a lovely tearful reunion.
Act 26 – Regeneration – Never Ending
Heeeeey Sailor Moon completely destroyed Nemesis in a single move!? That sure seemed easy. Don’t get too comfortable though: once again Sailor Moon has been whisked away into fire peril.
In the anime, Sailor Moon was a lot more incompetant, needing the support of all her friends. As such, moments where she had to step up and overcome her own failings were that much more dramatic. Here, it’s not dramatic. Seems to happen all the time, to be honest.
Another weird moment happens where Tuxedo Kamen is overcome with worry… and then just disappears, apparently following wherever it is that Sailor Moon has gone. Seemed an unnecessary Deus Ex Machina moment that could have been avoided.
MEANWHILE. Neo Queen Serenity is AWAKE. This is pretty darn dramatic, actually. She is very, very cool. Well, she’s bloody God after all.
We have that reunion hug between Serenity and Chibi-Usa (well, Chibi-Moon now), but it lacks so much of the moment in the anime. The fight hasn’t ended, Serenity has apparently been an awful mother for aeons. It lacks that same pathos.
Serenity is actually very lovely here. Either one of two things is happening:
1) Chibi-Usa, spoiled by being a princess, went all emo and rejected the obvious love her mother showed her, or…
2) Serenity has only decided to reward Chibi-Usa with affection after succeeding in becoming Sailor Chibi-Moon.
Either scenario is a little messed up.
Sailor Chibi-Moon really is intended to be Sailor Moon’s replacement: Serenity reveals that upon becoming Queen, she lost her powers as a Sailor Senshi. This is an interesting wrinkle, but since she seems almost infinitely powerful anyway I don’t see why this should stop her zapping foes.
We learn where Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen have gone: space. On Nemesis. I guess this fight isn’t over after all. The job of locating Sailor Moon is given to Sailor Chibi-Moon. It’s nice to see her given something active to do in this conclusion.
Sailor Chibi-Moon gets given her mother’s Moon Rod, and she uses Pluto’s Time Key beam herself up to Nemesis floating about space. That key is another complete Deus Ex Machina. Does whatever is needed at the time.
Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen, on the other hand, are facing off against an incredibly dull Death Phantom. He really is repetitive. What is interesting is the furthering development of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen’s relationship.
This seems to stand still in the anime – once they get back together, there isn’t much room for growth. In the manga, they seem to be continuing developing as a couple. I like it enormously, even if this isn’t the best time or place to work out their issues,
I love how Tuxedo Kamen tells Sailor Moon that he was powerless before he met her, that he would sacrifice his life for her. It’s really genuine.
Her answer is just as lovely.
“Didn’t you know? The first time I was able to use the Silver Crystal, it was because you gave me power, Mamoru. I was able to just be myself. We became as one, and our powers became united too.”
That’s pretty sexy, actually.
Sooooooo… despite the fact that the other Senshi said they would accompany Sailor Chibi-Moon as she sought out Nemesis, only she seems to arrive on the dead planet. Despite this weird absence, I like the moment mother and daughter combine Moon Princess Halation attacks to kill Death Phantom.
The entire damn planet gets destroyed. Nice work, another dramatic moment that played off well.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Neo Queen Serenity is reviving the whole of Crystal Tokyo and, presumably, the Earth. That’s handy, isn’t it? Being able to wave a wand and restore the lives of the entire planet. The shot of the restoration is fantastic though, and I see a hell of a lot of the anime’s inspiration coming from this one shot.
Oh, and as a bonus aside, Neo Queen Serenity upgrades the Inner Senshi. Well that was quick.
The only thing I really enjoyed about this rather swift and empty upgrade were Serenity’s descriptions of the 4 Senshi. Made a lot of sense to me, and showed what their personalties were based upon.
Neo Queen Serenity then promptly leaves, warning that she must never come near her past self. She seems like a completely different person, actually. I don’t see any of Usagi in her. Just feels like a stranger.
It’s really sad to think that Serenity and Sailor Moon can’t meet. I always wanted them to have at least one conversation in the anime – could you imagine the complexities of such an encounter? Well we won’t have long to wait…
Serenity also “bestows” Sailor Moon with new powers, and she describes her as “the Soldier of Mystery”, which I JUST FUCKING LOVED. What a great title!
Sailor Moon wakes up back in Crystal Tokyo with her crew, and everything is just all happy. Chibi-Moon doesn’t even seem bummed about Sailor Pluto anymore. Well, that was a brief mourning period.
Sailor Moon also expresses regret over not being able to meet Serenity, but…
YAAAAY! This is MUCH better!
Neo Queen Serenity, become much closer to Usagi, says “fuck it” – “It could change history, but if we only meet for a short while, it should be okay!”
That’s the way to do it!
The meeting is as dramatic as you’d think it would be. Nothing of use is actually said, but there is an awful lot of emotion, of potential, of being able to gaze into the eyes of your past and future self.
It’s a little self-serving when they thank each other, though I would be totally complementing my future self if I met him.
That final goodbye was very poignant. Wish they had been able to work this into the anime. Would have been very powerful.
Back in the 20th Century, Chibi-Usa is immediately leaving for the 30th Century. FOR FUCKS SAKE PICK A PLACE AND STAY THERE. She travels through time SEVEN times in this arc. I don’t know why that annoys me so much, but it does.
There’s a lot of emotions between Usagi and Chibi-Usa as they finally hash out all their bullshit. I’m glad they finally addressed this…
…but if we compare this scene to the one in the anime, it’s clear which one is superior.
In the anime, so much is left unsaid, but the set-up, the music, the art, the body language, it all tells you what you need to know without words. It’s so enormously powerful and brilliantly written, with a single line of “Arigattou, Mama…” telling you all you need to know.
Here, in the manga, everything is written out. I know it’s a lot more difficult to achieve the same effect in static manga, but I’ve seen it done, and I wish Takeuchi was a little more subtle in her storytelling.
It takes aaaages for Chibi-Usa to leave for the future. There’s a lot of tears, the giving of a new Rod to Usagi as a gift from Neo Queen Serenity and a dramatic exit.
As for the other Senshi, their entire arc wrap-up takes place in throw-away images that feel completely arbitrary and is completely unsatisfying. Rei meets that boring blonde girl from her school. Makoto has to deal with that complete pussy Asanuma crying over her return. Minako and Ami have had so little going on in this arc that all they get to do is say hello to Motoki from the arcade.
I hate all this side characters.
As Usagi and Mamoru are enjoying time alone together, it’s rather nice to see them trying to process al the events that have happened to them. It’s really nice.
And then the whole thing is interrupted by CHIBI-USA AGAIN FROM THE FUTURE. OH MY GOD GO AWAY.
I don’t hate Chibi-Usa, far from it, I actually rather like her in both anime and manga, but we had that long emotional farewell and it all amounted to zero. She’s away from 3 pages, and then returns,
The anime knew that this was a bullshit move, and removed Chibi-Usa for half a series, just to legitimise the beautiful ending of Sailor Moon R. This is fine, but it’s nowhere nearly as powerful.
And there we have it.
I’m not saying that the Black Moon arc is bad… but it’s not good. Compared to the Dark Kingdom arc, it’s messy, the writing is sketchy, the Inner Senshi get nothing to do, Pluto’s death is just forgot by the final act… there’s just too many niggles for me to enjoy it.
I’m really looking forward to getting into Sailor Moon S, and to keeping up with Sailor Moon Crystal. I think the current reboot can and will (I hope) fix a lot of the problems I had with the Black Moon arc manga.