Sailor Moon S Wrap-Up, Part 3
This is the third in a multi-part retrospective blog on Sailor Moon S. Today we discuss the third phase of the series, with Mimett taking over her deceased boss’ job, to Mimett routinely screwing up, to Mimett thankfully meeting her end. Oh, also Hotaru is hanging around.
There isn’t as much content to talk about in this Phase, so it’s shorter than the previous entries.
Part 3: Messiahs
Today’s post will focus on the third phase of Sailor Moon S, beginning with the introduction of Hotaru and ending with Mimett’s entirely deserved and mildly-ironic cyber-death.
Phase 3, Episodes 23 – 31: of Celebrities, Friendship and Split Personalities
Phase 3 is arguably the worst stretch of episodes in Sailor Moon S. Actually it’s not arguable at all, it’s a salient truth that the writers dropped the ball a little here. Despite this, or perhaps because of the amazing good will they built in previous episodes, it’s still enjoyable, but without the narrative bite the previous phases had.
This is decidedly strange, because with the introduction of the much-beloved Hotaru the series has everything going for it. A new character with a dark secret, increasing threat from the Messiah of Silence, the Silence looming closer… all that is great, but we’re treated to anaemic scenes of Hotaru in pain and Chibi-Usa worried. It doesn’t feel like the strongest basis for friendship.
Thank being said, the moments when their relationship begins to shine really do add to the sad irony and pathos of the final phase of the series, such as in Episode 26. Sure Hotaru was weak and Chibi-Usa concerned, but it also played upon the abject loneliness of both girls, and their salvation in one another.
The worst feature of Phase 3 is, sadly, the replacement for Eugeal. Mimett is loud, obnoxious and incompetent without being endearing, threatening or even very interesting. This comes to a head in Episode 25, where we spend the entire goddamn episode watching Mimett try and fail to be an actress.
The rest of the time Mimett is just trying and failing to connect jokes. I really feel that they made a misstep here, focussing way too much on the Death Busters and not enough on Hotaru. As much as I love her character, we don’t get nearly as much time with her as we’d like, and the time we do spend is usually spent rehashing the same beats.
At the same time, there’s a definite down turn in the amount of time we spend with the Inner Senshi (who are developed no further) and Outer Senshi, both of whom seem a little lost now that the Talismans have been discovered within them. Even Pluto/Setsuna, ever-mysterious and fascinating, is given a scarce few moments. Only one true scene plums the depths of how interesting she can be, and that takes place in Episode 30, explaining the motives of the Death Busters.
Even episode by episode, the routine has gotten stale by this point. Whereas Pure Heart hunting seemed fresh and threatening right up to Eugeal’s death, this was because the Death Busters we’re losing out right: they were searching for the Talisman, and eventually Eugeal actually found it. They actually seemed threatening.
The plan to capture a Pure Heart to feed to the Messiah of Silence patently cannot work. You cannot have an innocent person die in the middle of the series just to keep the Death Busters threatening. As such, Mimett is in an impossible situation as the narrative works, because she’s back to being a perennial loser, just as Esmeraude in Season 2 could never successfully open a single Dark Gate.
So yeah, the modus operendi stops working here, since all they needed was a single Pure Heart to win. And they don’t. Well, not yet anyway.
While the fighting feels a little too familiar here, it’s always great seeing Sailor Moon power up using the Grail into Super Sailor Moon. Rainbow Moon Heart Ache is a really cool upgrade, but it’s just not quite enough to keep up the freshness.
There are three main story points to cover in Phase 3, all of which are interconnected. First, there is the split-identity of Hotaru, possessed, as we will find out, by Mistress Nine, as well as her true identity of Sailor Saturn.
Second, there’s the true identity of the Professor, Tomoe, a scientist who exchanged his will for the life of his daughter.
Lastly, towards the end of Phase 3, we have the reveal of the true motive of the Death Busters, which is somewhat more ethereal and fantastical than all the science would suggest, in the form of Pharaoh 90.
First, Hotaru’s split personality is initially awesome to behold, as she begins kicking ass while in a fugue state. It’s cool, it’s unexpected, it’s a little clichéd but I can live with it. The problem is that this soon becomes a little rote, with episodes only being wrapped up because of the supreme unlikeness of Hotaru being in the right place at the right time. Gets a little dull… would have preferred story or character development over a few cool scenes.
Still, it’s much more interesting when the Outer Senshi (played in Phase 3 by cardboard cutouts of the Senshi we’ve come to know and love for some reason) suspect Hotaru of being something even worse than just the Messiah of Silence… Sailor Saturn, the Senshi of Ruin, is a really cool reveal, and adds a hell of a lot to the Sailor lore.
There’s so much suggested here, but none of it is ever touched. I’ve spent weeks of my life in all probability imagining the metaphysical circumstance of their being a Senshi designed to end all life, just as the other Senshi are meant to preserve it. Along with the markedly different roles of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, Saturn is an even greater jump into this fascinating question of what it means to be a Senshi.
I kinda feel like this theme got completely abused by Sailor Moon Stars, but for now this is excellent stuff.
Next, there’s the true identity of Professor Tomoe. Not just Hotaru’s rather doting and patient father, but an insane lunatic who, we discover, had something rather horrific happen to him. Episode 31 is a fantastic addition to the series, mainly for the flashback of Hotaru dying as a child in Tomoe’s experiments, and his subsequent deal with the devil.
Everything about Professor Tomoe is brilliant, but in Phase 3 we get the closest look we’ve ever had. He’s quickly ascending from just an administrator of evil to something much more sinister, and it works really well.
Finally, there’s the reveal of Pharaoh 90. This isn’t explored so much, but it is hinted at a couple of times, most notably in Episode 30, where he is actually named. I love everything about Pharaoh 90, that he is so alien and exotic that he’s just a sentient dimension looking to invade ours. There’s no human side to him, no voice, no face (here’s looking at you, Metalia), he’s so unknowable, so infinitely powerful that this makes him a very, very cool driving force.
There a quite a few episodes I have to describe as purely “mediocre” here, which is unfortunate because I still really like them… but they aren’t quite up to scratch. The first really good episode in Phase 3 is Episode 26, thanks to some brilliant exploration of Hotaru’s character, motivations and past, as well as some excellent writing an art. This is the first episode the premier animation team did for Phase 3. Guess they took a holiday.
Other than that, Episode 30 is brilliant for showing us the first glimpse at Hotaru’s true identity as Sailor Saturn, as well as the frantic fear or Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. It’s also got some great art too.
Episode 31 is notable for finally making Mimett a villain I’d like to see more of… right before she dies. It’s a brilliantly thrilling and beautifully animated scene. There’s also the fantastic flashback of Professor Tomoe exchanging his will for his daughter’s life with Germatoid.
So only three highlights from Phase 3. You can see why I call this a lull.
As for lowlights… there aren’t too many of those either, to be honest. As I mentioned , Episode 25 bugs the hell out of me for being all about Mimett. I really don’t want to watch her debate whether she should become an actress or stay with the Death Busters, and celebrity has always bored me in Sailor Moon.
Here’s looking at you, Starlights.
Episode 28 is clearly the worst in terms of quality… but this episode is also the one that features the amazingly weird Twister scene, as well as Mimett’s silent battle with the security guards at the stadium… so I certainly can’t say it’s a lowlight. It’s more memorable for its weirdness and dodgy art style, if anything.
..and there you have it. Not too much to discuss on Phase 3, but this will all change in the finale, of course.
NEXT TIME: Death, birth and a hell of a lot of red goop in Part 4 of the Sailor Moon S Wrap-Up blog series.