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3:36 – A Bright Shooting Star! Saturn, and the Messiah

Alternative Title: Turns Out She WAS Jesus After All

First Aired: 11th February 1995

Sailor Moon in front of Pharaoh 90

As Mistress Nine fully takes over Hotaru’s body, Sailor Moon watches as Pharaoh 90 is summoned, intent on ending all life on Earth. Despite existence hanging in the balance, Sailor Moon is adamant that Hotaru still lives, and is intent on saving her, even at the cost of putting the lives of everyone on Earth in danger. Will the true Messiah appear in the Senshi’s darkest hour?

Thanks for waiting for this. Christmas has been a bit hectic, but I’ve got some time off to really dedicate to Sailor Moon. Merry Christmas and/or your holiday festivity of choice or lack thereof! That has a ring to it…

Ho ho holy crap why do I not own this album?

Ho ho holy crap why do I not own this album?

This is it. The big one. What can I say except that this is one of the finest episodes of Sailor Moon, one of the greatest episodes of any anime ever, and an experience that means a hell of a lot of me, and many others. This is something of a masterpiece. Nor am I exaggerating.

We open with a fading light, as we Hotaru’s voice, faint and fading, until the light vanishes. I’m not sure but I think this is symbolism of some kind but I can’t quite figure out what. It’s slightly alarming when we flash to the dead, cold eyes of Mistress Nine (love you M9, please don’t murder me with your rocking hair), as she mutters “She finally went away.”

"Goddamn, it took me 4 hours to find the mute button."

“Goddamn, it took me 4 hours to find the mute button.”

Well that doesn’t sound so happy does it? I like this opening a lot. After the masterful and dramatic way the last episode ended, it was an excellent idea to start of slow, quiet and sad, reminding you that the true tragedy of this season is poor Hotaru.

Having Hotaru seemingly dead right at the start of this episode sort of sets the tone of what you’re about to witness. It’s by no means as harrowing as… a certain other episode we never talk about ever… but once again, they’re taking their audience seriously, not condescending to them and assuming that their stupid kids. This is one of those episodes that demands emotional development.

Just to continue ramping this up, Mistress Nine laughs at Sailor Moon, with a cruel and, yeah a little frightening “Hotaru Tomoe died just now.” That’s pretty messed up, actually. While I find quite a few Hotaru episodes a little boring (they just felt like killing time as opposed to genuine character development), by now you really feel as though you know Hotaru. And more than that, you really feel like this show could kill her too.

This is probably a bad message about believing in what you want to happen despite overwhelming evidence... but hey Im not judging

This is probably a bad message about believing in what you want to happen despite overwhelming evidence… but hey I’m not judging

Sooo this next bit is a wee bit clumsy, but hey, it’s still an anime. Mistress Nine starts getting her cult-member voice on as she tells Sailor Moon, Uranus and Neptune that Pharaoh 90 is fast approaching… and all she needs is the Grail for “the age of Silence to begin.

That’s right, tell her the one thing you need. She’s smart enough to know not to whip it out and just hand it over to the Messiah of Silence right next to the console that will destroy the universe.

*Looks directly at the camera*

The art here is all fantastic, by the way. Look at the colours of the Tau Nebula, of Pharaoh 90. It looks so fathomless, so menacing, and yet there’s no character to it. It feels malevolent. Great job.

Wasting no time is crowd favourites Uranus & Neptune, who powers right in with a World Shaking/Deep Submerge. See, this is why I love these guys: they know what needs to be done and don’t shy away from doing it. As much as I love Sailor Moon, she is currently standing there looking shocked trying to avoid a fight.

"KILL IT." "Wai-" "KILL IT NOW." "But-" "KILL IT."

“KILL IT.”
“Wai-“
“KILL IT NOW.”
“But-“
“KILL IT.”

As much as that idealism will move me to the brink of tears by the end of this episode, right now I’m all with Sailor Uranus.

Too bad they SAILOR MOON TAKES THE ATTACK. Again, I’m so torn here. She looks awesome doing it, and I totally understand why, but they are, in fact, making you side with Uranus and Neptune here.

That's the look of someone about to do something incredibly stupid

That’s the look of someone about to do something incredibly stupid

"Yeah I regret this."

“Yeah I regret this.”

For proof that this is what the writers want you to be feeling at this point, Mistress Nine’s fantastic stoicism as Sailor Moon gets slammed into her as though she hit a brick wall shows that Sailor Moon is meant to be seen as utterly futile. The world is at stake and she’s tanking attacks from Uranus and Neptune!? Preposterous! Almost everyone would understand that Hotaru’s life might be worth sacrificing for the entire universe. Right?

Well, not Sailor Moon. And that’s why I love this episode.

The worst bit is the look Mistress Nine gives her, with the coldest and most sarcastic “thanks.” Brilliant.

"Could you find my contact lens while you're down there? Thanks."

“Could you find my contact lens while you’re down there? Thanks.”

Mistress Nine’s retaliation is so damn cool. She gets all dark with red eyes glowing, as her Tangled-level hair gets all whippy, snaking around the Outer Senshi. There’s quite a bit of sentient evil hair in Sailor Moon, no matter how difficult it must be to animate. Kaorinite has some affinity with the technique, and I believe it’s happened a couple of times in the manga thus far…

Anyway, the hair totally nails Uranus and Neptune. Much like a shower drain, their natural predator is apparently long-ass hair. In a very cool move, the hair binds them to the base of a giant marble statue and forms into marble itself, so that they seem trapped by the very material itself. Really cool look.

Head & Shoulders: give your hair the power and sentience to attack your foes and bind them to marble statues

“Great, now I need to scratch my back.”

Oh and that statue is that massive Messiah of Silence one we saw before. I must say, it seems an odd interior decorating choice. I think Missy Elliot has a giant gold statue of herself when she was 150 pounds slimmer in her entrance hall, so I can’t judge her too badly.

Before you ask, it was on the only episode of MTV’s Cribs I ever saw.

Mistress Nine’s second attempt at convincing Sailor Moon to give up the Grail is much more effective than her first. This time she’s just flat out threatening to kill Uranus and Neptune if she doesn’t hand over the Grail… of course this would result in their deaths anyway, and also a few billion other people too, but I think Mistress Nine has Sailor Moon pretty well sussed out…

Sailor Moon is pretty manipulatable. Did you learn nothing from Spider-Man, Sailor Moon?

Sailor Moon is pretty manipulatable. Did you learn nothing from Spider-Man, Sailor Moon?

This is precisely how to get Sailor Moon to do something for you. “Hey, Sailor Moon! Gimme 5 bucks or that old lady over there gets it!” That kind of thing, you know.

Uranus naturally begins screaming that she will fire nails into Sailor Moon’s kneecaps if she does any such stupid thing, but Mistress Nine wisely starts choking the two Senshi with her hair. It would be infinitely galling to the both of the them if they were used as leverage to cause the very thing that they set out to stop.

"When was the last time you washed your hair? God it sticks like fried chicken..."

“When was the last time you washed your hair? God it sticks like fried chicken…”

It’s not just the pain of death, or the destruction of the Earth – there’s something really humiliating about it too.

Sailor Moon is in obvious distress here. Of course she is. She’s being utterly overpowered here. This is the very thing that the Outer Senshi have been warning her about all series – her idealism is going to get everyone killed. This is why they refused to fight with her, and why they warned her to stay out of this fight. It was all entirely justified.

GOOD WRITING ALERT.

"Huh... turns out the crap they've been yelling at me for 35 episodes was all true after all."

“Huh… turns out the crap they’ve been yelling at me for 35 episodes was all true after all.”

The sound effect they play as Mistress Nine begins tightening the noose around Neptune’s throat, the rubbery, constricting, cracking sound, it’s awful  It’s truly harrowing stuff. I might think twice before subjecting my kid to this. Then I would totally shrug and say “Fuck it. You have to learn about murder soon or later” and just let them be.

This may explain why I don’t have kids.

It's this horrid cartilage-crunch sound. I will be disappointed if I'm strangled in real life and I don't hear that

It’s this horrid cartilage-crunch sound. I will be disappointed if I’m strangled in real life and I don’t hear that

Neptune is begging Sailor Moon not to hand over the Grail. Both she and Uranus have accepted death here. It’s a horrifying thought, but again it’s infinitely admirable.

Sailor Moon’s hesitation before she starts to summon the Grail is perfectly captured here. The beads of sweet. The level, worried, but determined look in her eyes. It’s all just so captivating to watch as she undergoes an entirely silent internal struggle. The writers know here that no inner monologue is needed. No screams of Sailor Moon to beg for the lives of her friends. We know exactly what she’s thinking because that’s how well her character has been developed over the last three seasons.

This goes all the way back to season one, in that episode we don’t talk about ever, when she begs for the life of her fellow Senshi, offering up the Silver Crystal to the Dark Kingdom if they only let Sailor Venus live.

"This seems like a perfectly reasonable and logical action considering the life-or-death circumstances I find myself in."

“This seems like a perfectly reasonable and logical action considering the life-or-death circumstances I find myself in.”

"Holy crap she's an idiot."

“Holy crap she’s an idiot.”

Before Sailor Moon does that thing that no one else in the universe would think is a good idea, she’s thankfully interrupted by…

Woah. It’s Professor Tomoe. Weird seeing him… normal. Other than that brief flashback of him playing GAWD as he gets little Hotaru killed before getting possessed by Germatroid, we’ve seen Tomoe as anything other than… well, The Professor. He appears to have only one thing on his mind, however, and that’s Hotaru.

"I have the worst hangover. Bacon... I need... bacon..."

“I have the worst hangover. Bacon… I need… bacon… Hotaru, cook Daddy breakfast…”

Everything going on here is fascinating. He recognises Mistress Nine as Hotaru, stumbles over to her muttering, and falls upon her begging forgiveness for making all of this happen to her. He’s so broken, so pathetic, and must have gone through such an unimaginable experience in the last few years as a puppet, that my heart breaks a little even thinking about it.

Poor fucker.

Mistress Nine looks blank as she eventually deigns to look down at Tomoe. The disgust in her voice as she quietly says, “Germatroid’s empty shell? Don’t touch me. Filthy,” is the cruellest thing she’s done so far.

"Hotaru, is that... Oh sorry lady, I was looking for my daughter. Kinda looks like you."

“Hotaru, is that… Oh sorry lady, I was looking for my daughter. Kinda looks like you.”

Seeing Tomoe hoisted up in the hair by his neck seems to have finally cracked Sailor Moon. She breaks down in tears begging Mistress Nine to stop. She can only take so much cruelty to others, it seems. She’d last 20 minutes with the NSA.

*Spits on the ground at the mention of the NSA* Only joking guys please don’t torture me.

"The NSA have sacrifice human dignity for supreme unchecked power over individual rights to privacy across the world!" -See, Sailor Moon totally agrees with me

“The NSA have sacrifice human dignity for supreme unchecked power over individual rights to privacy across the world!”
-See, Sailor Moon totally agrees with me

MEANWHILE!

The Inner Senshi, who you might remember has been given a very raw deal, having to hang about outside holding up a barrier as Sailor Moon, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune do all the cool shit, are still at it, facing down thousands of Daimohn as they stop them flooding into the city.

Sailor Moon better buy soooo much pizza to make it up to them after this is over.

Above - every nightclub in London on a Friday night

Above – every nightclub in London on a Friday night

Professor Tomoe has pretty much passed out by the time we return to Mistress Nine. Then, suddenly, we hear something very, very strange and familiar…

Papa…

This is expertly done. The creepy music they used a lot with the destroyed Crystal Tokyo in Sailor Moon R returns after a loooong hiatus, and gosh it’s effective. The best part about it is that they bring back Hotaru’s small and scared voice with Mistress Nine not on screen. It focuses on everyone else’s utterly shocked reactions first, and really draws out the shock just enough.

"Did that grown woman just call her dad Papa?" "What a loser."

“Did that grown woman just call her dad Papa?”
“What a loser.”

And indeed, Mistress Nine is as shocked as everyone else for Hotaru’s voice to be coming out of her mouth. Her anger and confusion is actually terrifying to watch.

"RARRHHH I BIT MY FUCKING LIP."

“RARRHHH I BIT MY LIP. Jesus that hurts.”

Now, this is again another brilliant wrinkle for Sailor Moon’s idealism. Sure, she was being blackmailed to hand over the Grail to save the lives of those around her, but more than that, if there’s any chance in hell that Hotaru is still alive within Mistress Nine, you know that’s going to become Sailor Moon’s motivation from here on forward. I mean, it was before, but hearing her voice is clearly going to be fuel on that fire.

Mistress Nine’s hair loosens from around the throat of Professor Tomoe…

…and then Uranus and Neptune’s. It’s all a little too disarming, if you catch my drift.

Mistress Nine’s horror at Hotaru’s body rejecting her is brilliant and scary. Look how perfectly it’s drawn here! She shares so many similarities with Hotaru, and yet her features have all been mutilated. Hotaru’s voice, meanwhile, is crying out in pain. Really moving stuff, but the most moving is the uncertainty over how to react to this. This is precisely the spanner in the works, not just for the Death Busters, but for the Senshi too, that the episode needed.

"Smeagol wants the Precious..."

“Smeagol wants the Precious…”

This is by no means the traditional mega-battle we’ve seen in the last two series. This is something very different. A dramatised ethical hypothetical. Sailor Moon’s reaction shots are just as scary as Mistress Nine. She looks frozen with indecision.

Before stepping forwards ever so slightly. And Uranus knows exactly what’s going to happen, screaming for Sailor Moon to finish her, but of course she can’t swallow that pill. It’s heartbreaking, because as a viewer you understand Sailor Moon’s feelings exactly, but there’s that streak of utilitarianism that would still, even now, with Hotaru definitely alive, take Uranus and Neptune’s path.

"BRO. NOT COOL, BRO."

“BRO. NOT COOL, BRO.”

What brilliant animation. This is heartachingly beautiful. The emotional turmoil, the determination. All captured brilliantly

What brilliant animation. This is heartachingly beautiful. The emotional turmoil, the determination. All captured brilliantly

Professor Tomoe, battered, broken, cares only for Hotaru here. This is even more heartbreaking, as Hotaru, or Mistress Nine, or whoever is in charge, whispers to him “the Grail. If I don’t have the Grail…

We know what’s going to happen don’t we?

"Lady are you ok? Too much to drink at lunch? I'll call you a taxi."

“Lady, are you ok? Too much to drink at lunch? I’ll call you a taxi.”

The look on Sailor Moon’s face says it all, really. I cannot believe how brilliant the art direction is here. It’s completely, utterly brilliant. Sorry Sailor Moon Crystal, but nothing you’ve done or will do can possibly compete with this level of direction.

Sailor Moon sees Hotaru inside Mistress Nine

Hotaru’s spark of life actually reignites at this point, and Mistress 9 seems to be in a tremendous amount of pain. I imagine that it’s a bit like the whole Harry Potter/Voldemort scenario in Order of the Phoenix, where the fundamental properties of their opposites cause them burning of their very soul.

You’ll forgive me the nerdy Harry Potter reference as your reading a fucking Sailor Moon website.

And then…

I knew her poor decision making would one day destroy all life in the universe. I just KNEW it

I knew her poor decision making would one day destroy all life in the universe. I just KNEW it

Uranus is appalled by this, as should you the viewers also be.

[EXPLETIVES DELETED]

[EXPLETIVES DELETED]

Neptune is if anything even more painfully disgusted, screaming that Sailor Moon is no Messiah and has no right to be doing anything to the Grail. And, yeah, at this point, she’s right.

This is a bizarre and powerful paradox which we will get into later.

The summoning of the Grail is as beautiful as when it first appeared. The lighting here is wonderful, and it really does look like a holy relic, for all its design makes it look like a toy. Sailor Moon pretty much gives her thesis statement for the entire goddamn series in one powerfully delivered line:

Hotaru is alive. Alive! We can’t save the world unless innocent little Hotaru dies? That can’t be true!

Still looks like a capsule toy, though

Still looks like a capsule toy, though

Sailor Moon calmly walks up to Professor Tomoe, who seems in awe of Sailor Moon and the Grail, and gratefully takes it from her… and he offers it to Mistress Nine…

Sailor Moon with the Grail

This is such a terrifying moment. The tension, the horror, simply of her violently shuddering hands grasping for the Grail as though she cannot quite believe it…

Wow... he cleans up nice. Goddamn, Tomoe, you're totally bish

Wow… he cleans up nice. Goddamn, Tomoe, you’re totally bish

Because good things always happen after you give twitchy insane split-personality demi-gods exactly what they've been after.

Because good things always happen after you give twitchy insane split-personality demi-gods exactly what they’ve been after.

And her final triumphant laugh as she thanks Sailor Moon by offering her the choice as to whether her body is used as a host for a Daimohn. Yep, Sailor Moon has just screwed the entire world. What she thought was going to happen is beyond me…

As for Hotaru? She’s quite royally gone again.

"TOUCHDOOOOWN!"

“TOUCHDOOOOWN!”

We now get an extremely important big of exposition here, one that explains the finale of this series. Mistress Nine explains that the Grail is actually the purest of Pure Hearts. That’s what gives it its power that allows Sailor Moon to transform into Super Sailor Moon. What makes a heart pure, if you remember back in the series, is heightened fixation, or emotion. It’s a crystallised form of “love, hate, happiness, anger, sadness… elevated to the highest level.

I love this shot. The colours are just so captivating

I love this shot. The colours are just so captivating

A bit late for us to be learning of this now, maybe, but it’s in-keeping with all the lore built up thus far. Maybe it would have been better set up earlier in the series, but regardless it’s fascinating.

Mistress Nine calmly explains that to defeat Pharaoh 90 after he has gotten ahold of the Grail, you would need to create a Pure Heart crystal that surpasses even that. Which she clearly thinks is impossible.

[HEAVY FORESHADOWING ALERT]

Mistress Nine pushing the Grail into a machine, with that look on her face, is utter brilliance. This is one of the scariest episodes of Sailor Moon there is. Talk of emotions running at their extremes, there’s only one other time I think an episode has managed to match this level of intensity, and that’s, you know, that episode.

Grail used to call Pharaoh 90

Mistress Nine victorious

When Pharaoh 90 finally gets his ethereal cosmic hands (does he have hands?) on the Grail, the Daimohns outside of Mugen Academy go apeshit, with the Inner Senshi now pretty unable to hang on. This is yet another level of anxiety. I haven’t felt too bothered about these guys before, they’ve been a bit shafted in terms of this climax, but seeing them begin to get ripped to shreds by the Daimohns is pretty horrid.

Sailor Jupiter gets a particularly painful-looking bite to the boob which has stuck with me for the reason of it looking highly suspect..

"I better get a promotion for this bullshit. This wasn't in my remit."

“I better get a promotion for this bullshit. This wasn’t in my remit. I’m in HR not customer service.”

The Grail, the most powerful object in the universe, the thing with which Sailor Moon double-transforms… is destroyed. This in itself is pretty shocking. Such a sacred item you don’t really expect to get smashed to bits, but there it is: Sailor Moon got the Holy Grail destroyed.

She’s having a bad day. We’ve all been there, though.

"OK I maaaaay have fucked up. My bad."

“OK I maaaaay have fucked up. My bad.”

Pharaoh 90 is now apparently moving directly towards our dimension. Some great shots of utter destruction here.

Uranus can’t help but kick Sailor Moon when she’s down right now. Despite the fact that they’re all about to get ultra-murdered by a malevolent galaxy, Uranus cheerfully points out that this is what happens when you follow a bone-headed idealistic philosophy.

Hard to argue.

Sailor Moon, a bit belatedly one might think, finally decides that she should probably try to fix this mess (for lack of a better word) she’s created, thus whipping out the old Love Rod (hey I didn’t name it that) and trying to blast Pharaoh 90 with it.

"Our dimension is CLOSED, asshat."

“Our dimension is CLOSED, asshat.”

Yeah it was pretty obvious that wasn’t going to work. I love that Pharaoh 90 actually deigns to retaliate with that pitiful display, and Sailor Moon gets a face full of pain.

Mistress Nine, not understanding the concept of irony, begins giving pretty much the same speech of hubris that Kaorinite gave only a little ttime before. And we all remember what happened to Kaorinite, right?

"Nothing can stop me now! Unless-"

“Nothing can stop me now! Unless-“

Mistress Nine announces that this is the beginning of the existence design just for Pharaoh 90 and herself… and the old Pharaoh decides to invoke his pre-nuptial agreement and blasts poor Mistress Nine too.

You BASTARD. She did all this FOR YOU. I mean, JESUS.

"Oh jeeze, I'm sorry. I was just trying to say Good job and accidentally vaporised your face. Butter fingers."

“Oh jeeze, I’m sorry. I was just trying to say Good job and accidentally vaporised your face. Butter fingers.”

Except that when the dust settles… It’s Sailor Moon who took the blast to protect Hotaru and Professor Tomoe… and I’ve never seen her look this beat up. It’s horrible, and powerful, and even in the ignominy of guilt and defeat that Sailor Moon must currently be feeling, her resolve is so fantastically admirable here that I fall in love with her character all over again.

...She's the best.

…She’s the best.

Seriously, it’s moments like these that make me adore Sailor Moon. I want to be her when I grow up.

And holy shit we’re only half way through the episode. *headdesk*

The Inner Senshi are not having a great time of it either. With Mugen Academy completely exploding in a vortex of dark swirliness, the Daimohns finally overcome them all, and they’re sucked up into this… evil… tornado thing.

I’ll say this: the level of defeat here is really quite intimidating. Time after time, they keep beating the Senshi down in this episode. Again, powerful, disturbing stuff.

Reminds me strongly of... you know, THAT episode

Reminds me strongly of… you know, THAT episode

When we see the lifeless bodies of the Senshi amongst the blackness, they’re tinged red. This is, of course, to imply mortality and blood, but it’s also a colour reference back to Rei’s prophecy of the Silence. This quick cut here is saying that the prophecy of Rei’s has come true in the worst way imaginable.

Talk about setting up a hopeless situation. I love this so much.

And yet, among all the pain of this episode, a beautiful moment happens. Hotaru, inside Mistress Nine’s body, regains conciousness in her father’s arms. Now, I’m a cynical uncaring arse-face, and I really didn’t expect to find this so emotional, but since everything around at this moment is so dire, this became really rather emotional.

All the moving moments of this episode don't feel manipulative, they just feel genuinely evocative

All the moving moments of this episode don’t feel manipulative, they just feel genuinely evocative

Hotaru, despite being in Mistress Nine’s body, can’t see anything. She can only hear her father’s voice, and wants to save Chibi-Usa.

Her father’s helpless is also brilliantly performed. Three cheers for this voice-actor, he’s had the most amazingly stretched range this season.

As Tomoe breaks down in tears and memoties, we’re reminded just how goddamn adorable Hotaru is. This is where we understand that, while it’s potentially destroyed the world, Sailor Moon has done the right thing… in a round about way.

D'AWWW SO CUTE too bad she's dead or whatever

D’AWWW SO CUTE too bad she’s dead or whatever

"Daddy, when I grow up, I want you to not have played God and killed me in a freak accident, also a pony."

“Daddy, when I grow up, I want you to not have played God and killed me in a freak accident, also a pony.”

It really is wonderful when Mistress Nine opens her eyes, as Hotaru. They removed so much hope, only to build towards this moment.

Tomoe holding Mistress Nine

Oh but then they totally fuck you right in the heart again as Mistress Nine comes back. Gosh that’s scary.

"Dude I keep telling you I'm not your daughter, STOP HUGGING ME DUDE."

“Dude I keep telling you I’m not your daughter, STOP HUGGING ME DUDE.”

Mistress Nine REALLY hates Hotaru, screaming at her to leave. I guess she doesn’t realise that she’s been pretty much fired, and even if she gets control over Hotaru again I’m pretty sure Pharaoh 90 isn’t going to miss twice.

So many unbelievably great moments here, as Hotaru now fights back against Mistress Nine in a particularly Gollum-in-The-Two-Towers kind of way. This is so gratifying, poor weak Hotaru pushing back against such powerful evil.

So weird to see Hotaru's expressions on Mistress Nine's face

So weird to see Hotaru’s expressions on Mistress Nine’s face

Finally Hotaru breaks through in one of the most awesome shots in Sailor Moon EVER. And when I say break through, I mean… well… it’s hard to describe exactly. All that remains is that symbol…

Mistress Nine dies

So yeah… instead of Mistress Nine they’ve awoken the Soldier of Ruin then. So… double-apocalypse? Hey, they’re all screwed anyway, adding another firecracker into that pot of stew isn’t going to make things any worse. Run with it, I say.

We cut back to Chibi-Usa, still in Mamoru’s arms, when a figure appears in front of them…

"It's the climax of the series and I don't even have a line, but by all means invite yourself in and steal one goddamn scene. It's fine. I don't care anymore."

“It’s the climax of the series and I don’t even have a line, but by all means invite yourself in and steal one goddamn scene. It’s fine. I don’t care anymore.”

love Sailor Saturn. She is undoubtedly the coolest figure in the whole of Sailor Moon. Her first appearance is as an ethereal figure. Talk about mysterious, eh?

Sailro Saturn (SO COOL) floats eerily over to Chibi-Usa and hands over a Pure Heart… the Pure Heart we can presume that Mistress Nine consumed. Thus she fulfilled her promise to save Chibi-Usa. A bit Deus Ex Machina? Hell yes, but who cares this is awesome.

"Your daughter left this around my place."

“Your daughter left this around my place.”

The visage of Sailor Saturn (COOL, I SAY, COOL) dissappears with a rather ominous “thank you… thank you…” that I’m pretty sure means that she’s expecting not to see Chibi-Usa again. Oh dear.

Sailor Saturn

Back with old Pharaoh 90, he decides to get serious and just levels the entire neighbourhood into this swirling mass of evilness and badness and whatever. At least the Outer Senshi are now freed from that statue, I think, since that statue no longer exists…

The art her actually gets a little choppy, as they use still frames to convey how much damage has been done to the area. It still looks good, but I question whether maybe the animation team just decided to cut a bit of a corner briefly.

Sailor Moon gets up and sees just a horrifying sight, this swirling grotesque orb in front of her. With Mistress Nine gone, Pharaoh 90 no longer has a face. All the evil left in this episode is conceptual. Again, I like it. It’s a really good way to escalate the danger, the threat.

Pharaoh 90 arrives

Sort of looks like a really angry haemorrhoid

Uranus, now freed, is also utterly defeated. It’s shocking to see her give up like this. Even in her lowest moment, she still showed such resolve, such strength, but she sounds so worn down as she says, “In the end… everything we did goes to waste?

The same is true with Neptune, as it ever is.

It’s also clear that they blame Sailor Moon (rightly) for this, and revile her for it. The hate here is fascinating.

Are you satisfied with this, Sailor Moon? ANSWER ME.

"OK I said I was sorry. Jeeze all I did was destroy the world. Get off my case already."

“OK I said I was sorry. Jeeze all I did was destroy the world. Get off my case already.”

Those last two words break down into a strangled sob, and it’s hard to watch what has been the rock in this series break down in the face of futility. Ugh, this episode is just too good. How can anything else hope to compete?

Sailor Moon, however, looking completely defeated (I mean seriously) hears a voice…

"Sup? You look like shit, by the way."

“Sup? You look like shit, by the way.”

It’s Sailor Saturn, who manifests in front of her with this serene smile that tells you everything is going to be ok OR that she’s about to kill everyone. Either way.

I’m just going to take a sec to discuss her design. It’s brilliant. Deep purple and black. Those flowered shoulders, that crest on her chest in the shape of a Pure Heart… it’s all so beguilingly perfect for the Soldier of Ruin.

She calmly thanks Sailor Moon for protecting her body as though she were commenting on the rain. Well this time she sounded genuine, as opposed to Mistress Nine’s brilliantly cold thanks earlier in the episode.

I love the look that Uranus and Neptune give here. They used to be so terrified, so angry, at the thought of Sailor Saturn awakening. Now at the end of it all, they just seem a little confused.

"It's that girl we kept trying to kill. Think she's pissed off at us?"

“It’s that girl we kept trying to kill. Think she’s pissed off at us?”

Sailor Saturn, unique among Sailor Senshi, announces that she is no longer Hotaru – she’s the only one who can save the world from Silence. Well thank god for that then, it’s all worked out. How, I have no idea, but something Sailor Moon did has just about saved the say.

Sailor Moon offers to go with Sailor Saturn, but Saturn flat out refuses, explaining that Pharaoh 90 can only be destroyed by travelling into its core and destroying it all at once, whatever that means, but essentially it means that while Super Sailor Moon might have just survived the trip, regular old boring Sailor Moon would get infinity-murdered.

Sailor Moon talks with Sailor Saturn

There’s something in her quiet, calm tone, with the swelling violin music, that tells you that she does not expect to come back. I’m enjoying the fact that they’re able to have a pleasant discussion as the End Of The World is roiling behind them.

Sailor Saturn explains that while she has the power to destroy a planet, it comes at the cost of her life, which is when she summons her completely BITCHIN’ SILENCE GLAIVE.

I want the words Silence Glaive tattooed on my eyeballs. What a cool name

I want the words Silence Glaive tattooed on my eyeballs. What a cool name

Goddamn that thing is cool. Sailor Uranus can keep her sword, I want that goddamn scythe.

Saiilor Moon is horrified by this sacrifice, as you might expect. After everything she’s gone through to save Hotaru, to prevent her sacrifice, to maintain her idealism, it seems as though Sailor Saturn will walk straight into the fires of Hell.

Sailor Saturn isn’t fucking around however. She looks so awesome as she points the Glaive at Sailor Moon as a final warning, before saying goodbye and entering the hot mess that is Pharaoh 90’s stupid face.

"Yeeeeah I think you've done enough today Sailor Moon. Maybe take a lunchbreak now."

“Yeeeeah I think you’ve done enough today Sailor Moon. Maybe take a lunchbreak now.”

NOW THIS IS WHERE THINGS GET INTERESTING.

Sailor Moon has so far always been the one who fought the terrible evil, defeating it with her powers. Here, she’s a bystander, watching helplessly from the outside as Sailor Saturn destroys Pharaoh 90 from within. This is such a paradigm shift – Sailor Moon is moving beyond your typical anime into something even more interesting.

Her motivation in this final phase isn’t to save the universe, but to save Hotaru. There’s no awesome energy battle between two forces, just her, and quite frankly is astonishingly good. If you had told me beforehand that this was how Sailor Moon S was going to conclude, I would have thought it would be boring, but my god this is hands down the best climax in Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon is helpless again. She tries to enter the mass of energy, but is just swept aside.

And dear oh dear she looks completely torn apart. This situation is complete anathema to her character – how cruel it is that to save the world they have to sacrifice an innocent girl? The point is that, from what we know of Sailor Moon’s character over the past 3 seasons, every fibre of her being will be screaming in protest of this.

She grabs her transformation broach and uselessly begins calling “Crisis Make-up! Crisis Make-Up!

Sailor Moon tries to use Crisis Make-Up

Of course this isn’t going to work. It’s completely futile. And yet such is our love for this character, our desires for her to rescue Hotaru, our understanding that this is pure torture to Sailor Moon like nothing ever before, that this is completely compelling.

And it just keeps getting worse, as she keeps screaming, in more and more frustrated agony. This is brilliant acting by Kotono Mitsuishi here, it’s pathos is truly unparalleled. Those fist beats hit real deep.

Sailor Moon frustated

We now have a situation in which even we don’t care about the fate of the universe any more. All the threats of Silence, all the Soldier of Ruin, all the Pharaoh 90 Death Buster Daimohn host malarkey has been completely overshadowed by the inner turmoil of Sailor Moon in this scene and by god is it good.

Her agony is witnessed, however. By Uranus and Neptune who look blankly on, by the beaten barely-concious forms of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. They all understand her pain, all with the same, sad expressions on their face.

Uranus and Neptune watch Sailor Moon

The most remarkable moment is, of course, when Uranus and Neptune add their powers to that of the Inner Senshi. Despite their derision, their horror and hate of Sailor Moon’s decisions, in that moment they were just as emotionally invested in Sailor Moon as every one of the Inner Senshi, and that’s very cool.

Sailor Venus severely injured

Sailor Moon, now sensing that something has changed within her, screams one last time “CRISIS MAKE-UP!

Sailor Moon in front of Pharaoh 90

And holy shit it worked. I can’t tell you how much I adore this moment, how much of a pay-off this is not only of this episode, not even of this season, but of the entire show.

Sailor Moon is the Messiah

A Pure Heart forms in front of Sailor Moon’s chest, one made up of such extremes of love, happiness, sadness, anger, that it rivals that of the Grail itself, and this allows Sailor Moon to transform once again into Super Sailor Moon.

Crisis Make Up

Oh lord this is awesome stuff. Butterfly wings unfurl from Super Sailor Moon’s back. Considering all the iconography earlier in the show between butterflies and the true Messiah, I think it’s fairly safe to say the Sailor Moon is currently Jesus again.

The music here is so fantastic, so vastly at odds with all the sharp violin jabs and rolling drums – it’s smooth, it’s lovely, it’s hopeful.

And Super Sailor Moon looks just awesooome. Tears still flying from her blank eyes, she floats over to Pharaoh 90 and does what she could not before.

Super Sailor Moon as the Messiah

And then there’s just nothing for about 20 seconds as Pharaoh 90 just gets chewed out from within. What a great direction this was. We don’t need to see inside the Nebula. We know she’s going to come out again. This just serves to make whatever Sailor Moon has become here that much more mysterious and other-worldly.

Super Sailor Moon enteres Pharaoh 90

And eventually Pharaoh 90 does disappear, and we see dawn breaking in Odaiba as water fills the crater left by the school. I do not want to be the civil engineer who has to sort out this mess. Hope they had insurance.

Uranus and Neptune look as though they can’t quite believe what happened. They’re in complete shock. Their clothes are also so artfully ripped. That’s quite a lot of thigh they’re now showing… the perils of fighting in miniskirts, eh?

"Dammit... I left my wallet in there. Looks like we're hitchhiking back to the apartment."

“Dammit… I left my wallet in there. Looks like we’re hitchhiking back to the apartment.”

They both silently realise that they’ve just seen the true Messiah after all. Kind of puts all their doubting into perspective, eh? TURNS OUT SHE WAS JESUS THE WHOLE TIME.

"D'you... d'you think she'd give us a lift home now that she's Asian Jesus?"

“D’you… d’you think she’d give us a lift home now that she’s Asian Jesus?”

The colours here. THE COLOURS. UGHHH it’s all so beautifully drawn. I have never seen these shades of blue before. Another amazing contrast to the darkness of before.

Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus all awaken as something begins to reform…

Sailor Mars injured

Mercury Jupiter and Venus injured

…and Super Sailor Moon stands there, looking as blank and empty as before. The camera slowly pans up to reveal her holding a baby in her arms. She’s not pleased, or sad, or happy, or anything. Again, she seems so mysterious and absent, just like a deity really.

Super Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon holds Hotaru

And that’s the end of one of the best episodes of Sailor Moon, anime and television ever. Am I exaggerating here? Nope, this is really that good. Every beat hits home. The choice of changing the game so that Sailor Moon’s climatic moment was an emotional explosion as she tried to save a single life was inspired.

The art is unparalleled, and it’s rare in Sailor Moon to see something so good. And it’s all hand-drawn let me remind you.

The music is spot on in every scene, the musical cues are brilliantly timed for maximum effect for the drama. This is fantastic film-making here.

And the plot! And its implications! I’ve had great hours just picking over this storyline with friends. It’s so ruddy brilliant, the bounding back and forth between Sailor Moon’s idealism destroying everything she was trying to save, to that being the saving grace. The message of this is clear: as flawed and naive as Sailor Moon’s idealism is, it’s something wonderful, something that we should strive towards, even in the face of doubt.

I’m so enamoured with that sense of idealism, of striving towards a world where sacrifice isn’t needed. Sailor Moon felt, and I have to agree with her, that having the world saved at the expense of Hotaru’s life would have been a mutilation of her soul and that of humanity’s.

Sailor Moon does everything we expect of her. There’s been such great character development here that we understand every decision she makes, even when every ounce of logic says it’s the wrong one.

My point is this: this is pretty good isn’t it?


Episode Score: 5/5

Monster Score: 5/5 (Pharaoh 90 is very very cool)

Final Thought: I’m a pragmatist, but this episode makes me root for the impossible idealist. Well done.

NEXT TIME: Baby kidnapping. That seems like a good resolution.

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13 Comments »

  1. I just found your site today! I’m currently rewatching Sailor Moon too – well, I’m actually watching it in its entirety for the first time (I’ve only watched a few episodes here and there as a kid, but I was totally in love with the show). Anyway I’ve been loving your posts and they give me the closure I need for some episodes. Thanks so much for doing this! Also, please make a list of your favourite episodes!

    • Thanks! That means a lot! I typically write up a summation piece at the end of each season, with my favourite episodes, so there should be one fairly soon…

      Really glad to hear you’re revisiting the show, happy watching!

  2. I agree this is a grade A episode, with so many brilliant moments. The animation is fantastic, as well. However, I think the ending is kind of anti-climatic and cheats the audience. How exactly was Pharaoh 90 eliminated? What exactly did Sailor Saturn and Sailor Moon do? It was left strangely vague and incomplete. I mean, seriously, wouldn’t you want to see what they did inside to stop him? They went from A to C by skipping B. Because of that, I think the finale lost a part of its power in the process. Still very good, though.

    • With the end of Crystal Season 3, I was revisiting the ending of S a bit. I’ve always interpreted Sailor Saturn’s role as being a sort of rage quit on the good guy’s part if the bad guys succeed- “if they’re about to win, let’s just destroy it all and nobody wins. DO OVERS!” in a way. She is the most powerful Sailor Soldier, but her powers lack practical use. In fact, her power-ups end up being downgrades that allow her to fight with the Sailor Soldiers as an equal rather than a last resort.

      But in the case of Infinity Arc and S, Sailor Saturn “cheats” her role. She uses her doomsday powers, but in the manga, she doesn’t fully complete the attack until she follows Pharaoh 90 to the Tau Star System, destroying his world instead of ours. In S, I’d like to think Pharaoh 90 isn’t really on earth in the end, but the machine is still a gateway to him. Sailor Saturn leaps into the gateway, uses her completely OP attack, and is all the way at the Tau Star System, completely remote from our Solar System. Of course, my interpretation of it falls apart if we assume Pharaoh 90 is already on earth at that moment. The manga is much clearer about how this all happens.

      The stuff about the anime is probably all BS I made up, but it’s how I reconcile what happened in this episode. As much as I often like the 90’s anime more than the manga, the anime really missed an opportunity by not clarifying Saturn’s role.

  3. I cried while watching the episode, then I cried again reading your recap. The episode itself is powerful stuff, and you have such a way with words to draw out the essence of each scene.

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