Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, the Manga: The Infinity Arc, Pt. 5
The review series of the Infinity Arc of the Sailor Moon manga concludes! Today we finish off the arc with acts 36, 37 & 38. You might want to catch up on the previous entries of the Infinity Series. It’s been another long, strange trip, hasn’t it?
You may recall that we ended the previous arc with the Inner Senshi getting smushed up a bit, causing Sailor Moon too lose her Super transformation, as she descends into the heart of the Death Busters to confront Mistress Nine and Pharaoh 90.
Act 36 – The Skies
We charge straight into the action. Following on from that last final awesome shot of Mistress Nine grinning insanely up at Sailor Moon, the Death Busters apparently decide immediately that, to hell with urban planning, they’re just gonna rip that goddamn school in half.
This is rather cool… never seen a building ripped down the middle like a piece of paper.
Sadly this means that the Senshi have to do that one thing I hate more than anything else in the world, they just float in midair looking gormless. I really dislike this. Just looks silly.
It’s a bit hard to understand, but somehow the Inner Senshi, all knocked out and stuff, are just floating about… around something? Confusing. I also dislike this constant abuse of the Inner Senshi. They never get much to do in these conclusions, they’re just there as motivation for Sailor Moon.
Now, the next few pages get very confused. It feels a bit like… Roland Emmerich’s 2012. Just scenes of shit getting destroyed. It does ramp up the tension a bit, but it’s no Akira in terms of the levels of destruction.
It’s also comical how a news report cuts in to declare martial law. This is like the first time anyone in Tokyo has paid any attention to any of this super natural bullshit.
It’s also hard to visualise where eveything is. This goes hand in hand with this floating business that Naoko gets the Senshi to do. I always like to map visually in my head where everything is when reading, so it’s particularly jarring for me. It may not be so for others.
So, the Outer Senshi and Sailor Moon are now floating high above the Mugen Delta. There’s a kind of platform with the Inner Senshi floating about around that which Sailor Moon can’t get close to while she;s flying about. Then there’s Mistress Nine hanging… somewhere in darkness?
Regardless, Mistress Nine begins giving the old “bad guy plans” spiel, giving Pharaoh 90’s motivations. I’m not sure it needs one, it should be such an alien life form to be beyond such psychology, but in the manga he’s just a generic evil-laughing bad guy. Remember when he said “Bwahaha“?
Next cheesy and obvious bit is the Outer Senshi finding an excuse for hanging around. Neptune notices a tidal wave. Uranus notices, like, evil winds. Pluto notices an earthquake. Cue triangular shield.
This is what they ended up doing to the Inner Senshi in the anime. It’s just as anticlimactic here. These guys are so awesome, and within one page Takeuchi has thought up some reason for them to be there, to stand around for a bit.
This isn’t bad, it’s entertaining, but by no means is it good writing. I continue to marvel at the anime adaptation that turned this good story into a brilliant one. Normally adaptations always disappoint, but here it surpasses it in nearly every area. Not all, I grant you.
We now have the much anticipated and foreshadowed breaking out of Hotaru from Mistress Nine. The impact of this is lessened by the previous acts heavy-handedly suggesting this will happen. Sailor Moon S’ moment suggesting that Hotaru had completely died made her revival all the more beautiful.
It’s not bad, in fact it’s pretty good, but it lacks pathos. I’m really nitpicking now, I do like this, believe me.
A really great exchange is Mistress Nine threatening to discard this body when she’s able to get a new one, and Hotaru replying that she doesn’t care about her body, she just wants to protect the Silver Crystal.
So with Mistress Nine writhing about and screaming, she decides to finally do something with these unconscious Senshi she’s got littered about the house, and takes their souls.
I have the same problem with this as when Chibi-Usa had her “soul” ripped out. With Pure Hearts (an invention for the anime), you get this tangible object that must be fought over and defended. It’s also separate from theology and (rubbish) metaphysics. Seeing the “souls” of the Senshi being “shielded” in Hotaru’s cleavage (bit weird but whatever) is just a step too far here.
It’s a bit too fluffy, a bit too airy, a bit too ill-defined.
Hotaru’s introspection is pretty sad, and pretty cool. It’s great to see her decide to save lives, bursting from her own mutilated body.
So the Inner Senshi have their souls back. Well that threat lasted all of 2 minutes. Hotaru’s smile at finally having accomplished something useful was rather touching. It’s still been about 4 or 5 acts since we’ve seen her with clothes on, though, which has made this all a little awkward.
AND IT DON’T STOP.
Hotaru’s soul/spirit/whatever turns up at Chibi-Usa’s bedside. For once she’s… hiding her modesty? I can only imagine it’s because Mamoru is there, whereas previously she’s only been hanging around women. Thing with Japanese culture is, it’s completely fine to be nude in front of people of your own sex. Might stem from the bath culture there.
So Chibi-Usa gets her soul back and looks completely fine. Her heart stopped. She’s just smiling and laughing, and so at ease with this naked ghost in her room. Their friendship and trust is sweet, but I really didn’t see the development of the relationship, the understanding of their loneliness and redemption in each other that I expected.
And then Mistress Nine seems to tear out of Hotaru’s body, killing her, and Hotaru’s soul vanishes. It’s done well, with Chibi-Usa breaking down into tears. I feel it!
But then Mamoru wrecks everything by suggesting they go help Sailor Moon. Dude, your daughter just came back from the dead like 2 minutes ago. Give her the night off at least.
Mamoru’s little moment is actually great too. He finds strength by seeing Chibi-Usa’s determination to help her mother, and has a great little transformation too. So much cooler in the manga…
Meanwhile, hard to see things are flapping about on the page. I *think* it’s Mistress Nine’s true form. Like all the Daimohn’s it’s super disappointing. Just kind of hard to make out.
This thing is so rubbish that Chibi-Moon’s Pink Sugar Heart Attack is enough to knock it for 6.
Sailor Moon finally realises she can transform into Super Sailor Moon once again… well no actually Tuxedo Kamen has to remind her… but it’s another great moment actually. I feel the drama, the climax. This is happening, guys.
Chibi-Moon getting a smaller Grail of her own is just kind of silly though. Does she need everything miniaturised for her? Takes away the uniqueness, the mystery of the Grail. Now it’s just a Happy Meal toy.
I didn’t expect Chibi-Moon to be such a major part of this climax here. It’s not awful, but it does irk me a little. I don’t mind her, but she does take away from the awesomeness of Super Sailor Moon here.
And there you are! A great act as Sailor Moon goes. Good moments with Hotaru, a bit clunky in places, but great set up for the finale!
Act 37 – Judgement
WAAAH THAT THING IS STILL ALIVE!
Yeah you forgot about Mistress Nine didn’t you? Not so pretty any more is she? I said before that this was something of a disappointment, but she still does look super threatening.
Also, I previously said that all Sailor Moon had to do to win a fight in the manga was to enter a room and blast everything with an attack. Here a Double Rainbow Moon Heartache (apparently Super Chibi-Moon’s powers are on par with her mother’s?) doesn’t actually kill it first try. It just grows bigger.
So what do you do in Sailor Moon when you can’t solve a problem? That’s right, COMBINE POWERS! I’m being snarky, but it’s really cool seeing all the Senshi start whacking that thing with everything they have. It’s not the usual close-your-eyes-and-give-your-energy stuff, they’re all just laying into this thing.
The thing that used to be Mistress Nine can’t even escape the battering because the Outer Senshi are still using their barrier, so I guess that thing came in handy for something. Would have liked to see them join the action, however.
Sadly, this is where the Senshi lose. Pharah 90 himself, the Tau Nebula, has finally made it after taking a wrong turn somewhere thanks to Google Maps.
And, just like in the anime, Pharaoh 90 has had it with the rather presumptuous and clingy Mistress Nine. Except here he just snipes her in the dead. Done and dusted.
Pharaoh 90 is just… super, super evil you guys. He just smacks everyone down with his other-worldly fart cloud. No attacks do any good either. It looks pretty beautifully hopeless. The enemy has never felt so… awe-inspiring in the manga till now. I’m impressed.
After the Inner Senshi fall 1000 feet (it’s literally that high), they get knocked out AGAIN, but strangely this time Super Sailor Moon doesn’t lose her transformation. Bit weird that.
Super Sailor Moon decides that she’s gotta get this shit done herself. We see that sacrificial side of her again – apparently whatever she’s planning to do with the Grail is fatalistic, at least that’s what her weak smile says as she turns to Tuxedo Kamen. Good stuff.
And she jumps into the Tau Nebula. Great shot. Very impressed by her cahones.
So it seems her plan is to, uh, well… suicide bomb Pharaoh 90. She’ll unleash the Grail and the Silver Crystal at the same time and explode Pharaoh 90 in one move.
Obviously that can’t happen with a happy ending, but after the dark stuff in the Sailor Moon manga thus far, I could believe it.
The Outer Senshi, just like when the Silver Millennium fell, notice their toys start to glow.
And then, here’s where it gets icky, the corpse of Mistress Nine’s head seems to explode in goo, leaving… Sailor Saturn! Is there any more gross birth than this? Reminds me of that bit in Attack on Titan…
This was foreshadowed before, of course. The Outer Senshi call on Saturn when all is lost to fucking nuke everything back to nothing. Great call, ladies.
And goddamn Sailor Saturn was worth the wait. I mean, my god. Just look at her.
The jagged star motif on her outfit seems to signify her danger to everyone around her (including herself, that thing on her neck looks PAINFUL). I imagine some bright spark saw this and thought “Heeeey PURE HEARTS”, leading to the design in the anime of the series McGuffin. The anime design of Saturn certain has a Pure Heart design in place of these stars, which I always loved.
Everyone seems terrified of Saturn, and rightly so. She mentions the last time she was called upon to destroy everything, and passive-aggresively drops the hint that every time she seems like an uninvited guest. Poor Saturn. Just wants to kill everyone and be loved.
“And now that I have awakened, I have no other choice but to lower my Silence Glaive.”
There screams an uninvited guest. GOD I LOVE HER. She’s actually even cooler in the manga than the anime.
Considering that the Outer Senshi’s Talismans kinda summoned here, they don’t seem to be too thrilled that Saturn is about to end the world. I really like this, I love that she’s uncompromising, she’s just as terrible a fate as anything else.
And then that attack… DEATH REBORN REVOLUTION. Wow. I have no words. I so wish, so so wish, that this was more in the anime. While I think tonally it was perfect there, and that I didn’t need any more, a glimpse of this dark side of Saturn, and the Death Reborn Revolution, would have made it something else…
I have zero faith in Sailor Moon Crystal portraying this as epically as I think it should be.
I love that Sailor Saturn, while killing Pharaoh 90, is still adamant that she’s about to end the world, right after she gets done kicking his ass. She’s so COOL.
And that’s where they end! Great cliff-hanger. Loved this act, think it might be my favourite, simply because of the levels of awesome that Sailor Saturn reaches.
Act 38 – Infinity – Beginning a Journey
We’re still missing one more element to this puzzle, of course. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Sailor Moon can possibly resolve a Saturn hell-bent on destroying the Earth. Really enjoyed this arc thus far, and I feel as though if she nails the ending here, the Infinity Arc might go down as not just being “good” but actually “great”.
There are some great dark shots we’re opening up with here. I’m finally getting the sense of scale here, the odds, the feeling that time has run out.
Saturn tells us this herself. “The world is ending” is a chilling line.
Tuxedo Kamen’s breakdown, lamenting his inability to help Usagi, is great. “You’ve saved my life so many times…” – this is great, really keeps Sailor Moon as the hero of the manga. Always get the impression in the show that Tuxedo Kamen has a weird level of authority over her. It’s not explicit, just an uneasy feeling I get from his cocky condescension.
Creeps me out that Sailor Uranus feels the same way as Tuxedo Kamen, considering she’s shown no real affection for Usagi other than to flirt with her. She’s displayed no inclination to protect Sailor Moon at all, really. This seems… out of place I think. And derivative too, how many times in the manga have we seen Sailor Moon disappear with everyone lamenting her death, only for her to reappear?
Of course, with Saturn kicking Pharaoh 90’s ass, a glow appears and, yes, it’s Super Sailor Moon. It’s hard to tell, but the characters inform me that her costume has changed again? Think it might be the shoulders. Bit silly. Harmless, but silly.
Funny to see Pharaoh 90 turn tail and run like a goddamn coward. Its hilarious in fact. Completely takes away from the gravity of the situation, but fits in with the “Bwahaha”‘s we’ve had.
Sailor Saturn has yet another amazing line here. “It’s so beautiful… the moment before imminent destruction.” What an awesome line. I’ve always loved Saturn in the anime, but I’m shocked to see how much cooler she is in the manga.
This continues too, as Saturn tells Sailor Moon not to despair in destruction, but know that it’s followed by hope and rebirth. Beautiful. Saturn actually fulfils her destiny. This is great stuff.
Actually sends shivers down my seeing Saturn, looking so calm and supreme, telling Sailor Moon that she can save the Earth with the Silver Crystal and the Grail. Very, very cool.
She even explains (Usagi’s a bit dense) that Tokyo will one day be the site of Crystal Tokyo, and that this is how she’s going to resurrect the Earth when the calamity that causes that happens too. I love that she’s tying this in with both the first and second arc. Too much separation of stories between series in the anime.
Now here comes a bit I’m unclear on. So Saturn yells at Pluto to use her taboo powers to close the portal to the Tau Nebula. And Pluto does, albeit reluctantly. Even though they don’t really know each other, Pluto seems distraught by her actions, as it seems to seal Saturn away behind it too… although I can’t be certain.
As I understand it, she’s dying here too.
And then… the Earth’s destroyed? That’s what Saturn threatened anyway. There’s no… sign of it here. There’s just suddenly Princess Serenity shimmering in the void. It’s beautiful… but a little sudden. Think there should have been more time to dwell on this state right here, whatever it is.
And, rather beautifully, Princess Serenity, Neo Queen Serenity now really, emerges to revive the entire Earth. I think? It’s hard to tell. It might just be the city… but then what was Saturn on about when she was going to end the world? Bit confused really, but I can’t deny that this moment is so fucking cool.
This is the moment that Usagi becomes Neo Queen Serenity. We’ve seen this building up in terms of her power level before. As much as I disliked it, Sailor Moon’s Moon Healing Escalation was reviving people from death from the first arc of the story. Here is the completion of that power, his beautiful theological, biblical stance.
This really does live up to the Messiah name. I loved the anime and it’s subtly, and I love the manga for it’s obvious grandeur. Two different approaches, both work great for their medium.
Hotaru’s rebirth as a baby is, like Neo Queen Serenity reviving the Earth (maybe?) a little sudden. It’s not really played up for the drama it could have been. I feel as though Takeuchi was running out of page space at the end of this arc, which is a real shame, because a few more nice empty moments of drama could have really made this more impactful.
This rebirth also makes a lot more sense in the manga, with Serenity reviving everyone, and her limitless abilities. In the anime it’s all very mysterious and unexplained (completely fine with that), but here at least it’s in-keeping with the themes.
Neptune immediately grabs this baby and decides to raise it. There’s no father to worry about this time, and she and Uranus… and Pluto… are going to become parents. Unorthodox, three women raising a kid, but I actually love this.
This is entertained in Sailor Moon S, and they bring this co-parenting thing back in Sailor Stars, but the manga is very clear that the Outer Senshi are going to raise a kid together. It’s an interesting view on same-sex couples having children (because gay couples are perfectly entitled to, and in fact probably more capable than us stupid annoying heterosexuals), but that third leg of Pluto is that much more strange, unusual… and completely Sailor Moon.
The Outer Senshi say their goodbyes here. I probably would want to stick around a friendship group with 7 potential babysitters at your beck and call, but these guys are rather self-sufficient. They leave on solid terms though, and allude to another meeting, which I like.
In yet another move that utterly baffles me, Neptune actually gives the Deep Aqua Mirror, the legendary Talisman, to Sailor Chibi-Moon. It’s not as though she’s bursting with a bunch of other free shit though, is it? Like the wand and the new chibi-Grail and a mother who is queen of the fucking Earth.
Bloody One Percenters, eh?
Sailor Moon cries a bit as they melt into mist, etc etc. Strangely unaffected by their departure, while I was a little heart-broken in the anime. Must be their characters being less engaging in the manga. They never really did sort out that attraction between Haruka and Usagi, did they…?
The Richie Riches have already vacated their billion dollar apartment, flying off in…
THREE COPTERS WHAT THE FUCK YOU RICH DIPSHITS, ONE AIN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU AND YOUR FUCKING BABY IS IT, WHY NOT BUY A FORTH FOR HOTARU!?
Ahem. My socialist sensibilities poke their head out from time to time.
So, back on track, Chibi-Usa has written to Neo Queen Serenity, the future one, to tell her that her training is pretty much over since she’s now Super Sailor Chibi-Moon (too… many… syllables…)
These scenes where everyone is normal and happy seem really rare in the manga lately. Feels like ever since… gosh, the middle of the Dark Kingdom arc, they’ve been constantly stressed and in peril, without that everyday slice-of-life feel to it.
So the gang have moved up to High School! This doesn’t happen until Sailor Stars in the aniem. Inexplicable to me, actually. Maybe the animators just couldn’t be bothered to draw them in new uniforms.
Mamoru, meanwhile, is now in University. I like that Naoko has remembered that he too is moving up in his life. He appears to be studying at a medical school, actually, which is quite surprising to me. Didn’t think him the medical type.
Usagi and Mamoru seem… completely OK with Chibi-Usa going home. Not in that resolved kind of way where they’re hiding their sadness, just super thrilled they have their life back.
How many times have we seen a leaving scene with Chibi-Usa by this point, between the anime and the manga…? GO HOME, FUTURE SPAWN.
I like that the family do this by themselves, and that Mamoru is forced to carry Chibi-Usa.
Aaaaand this is where we enter the next arc. Naoko always sets it up at the end of the previous one as a teaser, but I don’t think it’s necessary. For me it takes away that sense of completeness after the end of an arc, and makes it feel as though the Senshi are constantly fighting, without any rest. Give these kids a break, evil guys!
So, a total solar eclipse occurs… and Chibi-Usa hears bells. The two of them turn around to find…
WOW PEGASUS IS UGLY AS HELL.
Gosh. I’m speechless. Naoko Takeuchi doesn’t know how to draw a horse without it looking stupid. No kidding, I actually laughed. I was expecting something graceful and magical… this looks like a 10 year old whipped it up. Sorry Naoko!
It’s actually a rather funny moment, as the Pegasus appears in some kind of forest in a vision before the girls, and asks for help from the young maiden…
The title of which the girls fight over. I actually found this hilarious. Mamoru saw this too, of course. This is quite a departure from the anime, where it was Chibi-Usa’s weird creepy secret for a very long time.
The arc ends on a total lunar eclipse… It looks as though we’re entering the Dream arc, as we’re soon to meet the Dead Moon Circus…
BUT NOT FOR A WHILE YET.
I really enjoyed the Infinity Arc in a way I wasn’t expecting. It has some questionable writing here and there, and I really didn’t take to Uranus and Neptune as I would have liked, but Saturn is better, there’s some really interesting drama, it’s different enough from the anime to make both feel markedly interesting on their own merits.
I may not have wanted to recommend either the Dark Kingdom arc nor the Black Moon arc, but the Infinity arc is where I really would encourage any Sailor Moon fan to read.
The art reaches a height too, with some of the best scenes Naoko has ever produced. So bravo!
I actually don’t like the stories of Sailor Moon SuperS or Stars, so I’m interested in seeing if the source material is better. So far it’s lost out to the anime’s writing, but Naoko seems to be hitting a stride here…
Thanks so much for reading this manga review series, I’m looking forward to getting more blog posts out per week. Just been insane the last few weeks, what with my new podcast and all (SUBSCRIBE! I compare everything I see to Sailor Moon, I promise), but I’ve moved stuff around and am ready to smash Sailor Moon S: The Movie, followed by a few weeks of Sailor Moon: Another Story.
Join me won’t ya? I need your powers to turn into Super Sailor Vincent after all.