Well, whaddaya know. All this time, and it turns out the S stood for samsara.
Unlike the past two seasons, where the villain was defeated and all loose ends wrapped up in a whiplash-inducing 22 minutes, this time around Sailor Moon takes a hefty chunk of time to give us a proper denouement. It’s arguably too much time, but if it means I get a chance to digest the finale and say long goodbyes to some friends, then I don’t much mind. Plus I can keep the recaps short and cram a season retrospective in at the very end, and that’s always a nice bonus, too.
As my tag line notes, the big theme this week (and arguably for all of S) was the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This is most obviously found in the Tomoe family’s story, but it’s also a part of Pluto’s fate, the way Chibiusa and the scouts keep thinking of their future selves as different people (quietly rejecting the concept of an eternal “self,” the same way Buddhism does), HaruMi’s attempts at a “new start,” and really the entire season’s focus on growth and change.
Sailor Moon has always been loosely based on Hindu-Buddhist beliefs (given all the reincarnation going on), but this is the first time it’s really felt like a Japanese Buddhist tale, and its penultimate episode at times aches with mono-no-aware, a term that doesn’t really translate but refers to a kind of wistful longing, an acknowledgment of life’s transience and the beauty which can be derived from that. As such, S’s finale is both a hopeful and sorrowful one, allowing for future possibilities without ever losing sight of what its characters have lost.
In other words, I really freaking liked it, and as promised I’ll have more good things to say in my nice long S review at the end of this post. But before we can do that, let’s check in with the team one last time before this season comes to its Sailor Moon Stop.
Episode 126 – Sailor Moon: Death & Rebirth
This episode begins with Haruka and Michiru stealing a baby. (Man, Haruka really is trying to take Mamoru’s place, innit she?) The good news is it’ll get a lot better from there. Basically Usagi came back from her battle with an Elder God all traumatized, and in the ensuing blackout Sailor Duo ran up, grabbed Li’l Hotaru, and peaced out before the rest of the scouts showed up. So the Moonies have to go back to Chibiusa and tell her that her two best friends have vanished and no one knows if they’re alive or not. Go team go?
Okay, so while I’m still not sure why HaruMi felt the need to snag Li’l Hotaru, their end game was a noble one: They were basically just taking care of her until her poor battered father was well enough to look after her. Yes, Professor Dad is alive and… well, alive, anyway. He looks to have broken just about all of the bones, plus he’s got wicked amnesia, and has forgotten pretty much everything from his years as Mad Dad.
But he does remember Hotaru and recognizes the baby as his daughter, so while it’s bittersweet (Michiru admits she’s more sad than happy), there’s a good chance the two of them will be able to build something from all this rubble. I’ll take it, and so will the Duo.
As an added bonus, the Tomoes are staying at the most negligent hospital in history, so he’s able to wander off to the nearest park, infant daughter in tow, in time to have a chance encounter with Chibiusa. She recognizes him, and Li’l Hotaru recognizes her, and I—it’s so—that I just—
Then a nurse finally realizes her amnesiac wheelchair-bound patient has wandered off with a baby and calls him back, so the trio say goodbye for now, with the quiet hope that they’ll meet again. Given that they’ve got about 1000 years between now and Chibi’s time line, I’d say their chances are pretty good.
(Oh, and Doctor Puu is “alive” too, by the way—she appeared to Chibs in a Time Vision to explain that she “no longer exists in this world,” but they’ll meet again eventually. So bully for that, too!)
Meanwhile, Usagi is having a crisis of confidence, feeling like she failed Chibiusa and Hotaru both, which sounds like the perfect time for HaruMi to show up and yell at her again. They say the world was saved in spite of Usagi’s actions, not because of them, and that they can’t forgive her naivety and refuse to acknowledge her as the world’s future queen.
Then the Duo and Usagi’s friends are all
for a while, until Usagi agrees to fight them to prove her worth. She transforms and uses her Moon Disco Powers to escape a tight spot and get the Duo to attack each other on accident. It’s not much, but apparently the Duo were just testing her resolve anyway, because it’s enough for them to fall to one knee and be all “MY LIEGE.” They recognize her as their Messiah before driving off into the sunset.
Enjoy your vacation, you crazy kids, you. I’m sure we’ll need you well-rested for whatever interstellar force threatens the planet next season.
Episode 127 – Moon(s) Over Juuban
I’m not entirely sure why we needed another episode after that last one, but here we are in peace time, with Usagi and Mamoru snuggling(ish) and Chibiusa receiving a letter from the future, telling her to come home. Now she could, technically, ignore this order for as long as she wanted and still wind up back home shortly “after” her mother sent the letter because, um, muthafuggin time travel, but for some reason everyone thinks she needs to listen to it right away, and encourage her to go see her parents again.
Chibs interprets this as “go away,” but she handles it with way more maturity than she would have a season ago. She just sort of quietly sulks and then goes to Mamoru’s place for a cute future father-daughter moment.
Meanwhile, over in Juuban’s latest giant crater, a lightning storm has awakened one of the Daimon eggs, and it’s begun crawling towards the (somehow) unbroken Evil Microwave, crying out for pure hearts…
But first, a party! The scouts throw a going-away get-together for Chibiusa, complete with the kinds of gifts you spend several sleepless nights creating. Usagi sewed her a homemade bunny knapsack, Mako made a delicious home-cooked meal, Rei recorded a cassette full of original songs (including one she wrote just for Chibiusa), Minako pieced together a lovely scrapbook, Ami PROGRAMMED AN ENTIRE VIDEO GAME, and Mamoru… walked out on his balcony and picked a flower.
Usagi and Rei get into one of their classic arguments, Chibs is sad because her Friend Count is at Mamoru Levels these days, and then it’s time for everyone to say farewell. “Give our best to everyone in the future!” say the scouts (so…yourselves?), before Chibiusa dashes off to make the trip alone. Usagi hasn’t quite said everything she wanted, though, so she chases after her and the two get to have a little glowy crying moment. Then the Chibs is back to the future!
…Or IS she?
Because Sailor Moon is contractually obligated to reuse at least some of its magical girl animation every week, that Daimon from before starts wreaking havoc and the Moonies have to go take care of it.
Things go poorly until Chibi Moon appears from the Time Mist, thwacking the Daimon and leaving an opening for first Tux and then Moon to take it out. Grail or no Grail, this team can still take care of business.
So, yeah. Chibiusa’s back! Since she wasn’t ready to leave her friends, she popped into to the future for a few minutes to give the gals’ gifts to her parents (including King Tux, who I just realized wears a mask all the time now, which is just…why?), then turned around and came back. Her parents are cool with it. So it looks like Chibiusa will be a regular member of the team from now on. And it really says something about Sailor Moon S that I am 100% okay with that.
The Sailor Moon Survey
And so we come to the end of Sailor Moon S! You guys weren’t kidding: This was easily the strongest season of the three I’ve watched so far, filled with charming, silly character episodes and riveting, action-packed plot lines alike. I’m not sure the story always made sense, but it made up for it by getting me to care about what happened to pretty much everyone.
Hotaru and Professor Dad formed the emotional core of the season, as their complicated (split) personalities and tragic shared history were gradually revealed over a series of episodes, building them up into people I both (1) really wanted to get a happy ending, and (2) honestly didn’t know if they would. S played with expectations better than the other two seasons did, making the finale legitimately tense.
And, in the end, it resisted a neat tied-up-in-a-bow conclusion, leaving us with something hopeful but also heavy with sadness. Hotaru and her father are never going to completely get back what they lost, nor is Chibiusa (or Usagi or Pluto, for that matter). Sailor Moon carried the weight of its apocalyptic story line well, and we felt those repercussions even into our overall pleasant final episode.
But really, as great as all that was, Sailor Moon has always been 30% plot, 70% episodic stories, and if the one-offs don’t work then the whole season suffers for it (see: the Nephrite episodes; most of R). Fortunately for all of us, S rediscovered the charm from its first season’s best moments and even managed to improve upon them.
Introducing Haruka and Michiru was a huge bonus, and getting to know them over the course of the first 13-odd episodes injected the early “filler” with loads of extra energy and gave the scouts new characters to play off of—which, in turn, revealed new facets to their personalities as well. This was the “growth” season, as demonstrated by the focus on the upcoming high school entrance exams, and just about everyone had to spend at least a little time considering the kinds of young adults they wanted to become.
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure how much I like HaruMi at this point, but there’s no denying they’re good characters: complex, flawed, and frequently conflicted, with strong ideals and a willingness to act on them. Maybe next season they’ll spend less time as stubborn antiheroes and I’ll be able to support them wholeheartedly. And, ultimately, I think it was good for both Usagi and the show to have them around to challenge her decisions, forcing her to really think about why she acted the way she did, which, in turn, served to strengthen her resolve about those actions, and make her fight harder to save the people she needed to save.
The expanded cast meant the other scouts didn’t have much to do this season, but the creative team made their limited screen time count by focusing on (and fixing) characters who’d gotten pretty severely short-changed in past seasons. Minako skyrocketed up my list of favorite characters thanks to the series expanding on her role as “the former soldier finally allowed to be a kid again,” and Chibiusa went from being a long series of groans to a solid—even enjoyable!—member of the cast.
That said, the best transformation from R to S was by far Mamoru, a guy who never quite fit with the rest of the cast and whose “romance” with Usagi was fraught with kidnappings, brainwashings, unconscious make-out sessions, and nonsensical breakup plots. Much like the scouts, his role was pretty significantly reduced this season, but when he did show up he integrated well with the other girls (especially Ami—BroTP 5eva!) and was both a supportive boyfriend to Usagi and an understanding father-figure for Chibiusa.
Ikuhara is somewhat (in)famous for disliking Mamoru, and you almost get the sense he slammed his hands down on the writers’ table at the beginning of this season and was like, “Yo team, your romantic hero is problematic. But don’t worry. Imma fix him for you.” And boy, did he ever.
Outside of a few forgettable filler episodes and the sometimes flimsy “logic” surrounding the central plot (SENTIENT UNIVERSES), I’m not sure there were any real weak links this season. It was pretty much always entertaining, frequently funny, occasionally illuminating, and at times downright riveting. Color me pleased.
Then white that out and color me excited for the next season. Rumor has it that SuperS is the Ikuhara-est season of them all, and while I’m not sure if that means it’s good or bad, it’s all but guaranteed to be pretty damn interesting.
19 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 126-127 (S Finale)”
I feel I should warn you in advance about the next season, Sailor Moon SuperS is…. not well liked and is widely considered the weakest of the five seasons by many for reasons I can’t really going into yet because spoilers other then nearly all the plot advancement happens in the back half of it. I like it better then most as it has the best villain group in the entire series, some of the funniest episodes Sailor Moon ever had and Ikuhara going into full blown Utena/Penguindrum/Yuri Kuma mode with the visuals and themes but I won’t deny it’s also got some problems that were caused by a behind the scenes conflict between Ikuhara and the executives of Toei Animation over the direction of the series that would make this his final season as director. Just remember if you do join the majority that does not enjoy it, The final season, Sailor Stars will mostly make up for it.
The more conflicting opinions I read about SuperS, the more excited I get for it. And hey, if I do end up hating it, at least I’ll have a good excuse to use my folder full of rage reaction gifs!
TRUTH EVERYBODY THINKS SUPERS IS TERRIBLE BUT NOT ME. I HAVE SOME MASS NOSTALGIA FOR IT.
Now GRANTED I was like 12 when it was on, and I haven’t revisited it in any great depth as an adult, but boy oh boy do I remember liking it a lot. It has easily my favorite mini bosses outside of Kunzite and Zoisite (TEARS WERE SHED), and Usagi and Chibs both have some nice moments. Maybe it’s just that it’s the most “childish” of the franchise, definitely a fluffy step back from S, and…well, I was a child. Its bizarre surrealism and wistful tone really worked for me. And I’m all about embracing whatever flaws you find here in the present but I WILL FIGHT YOU FANDOM. IT’S GOT WORTHWHILE CHARM.
Ahem. Also the Outer crew disappears entirely until Stars. That is not so great. Full negative points on that one.
CANNOT. WAIT. TO START. SUPERS. Partly because it’ll be great to see where I fall on this crazy love-hate battlefield, but also because “bizarre surrealism and wistful tone” sounds so far up my alley it’s coming out the other side.
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I KNOW EVERYBODY SHIPS HOTARU AND CHIBIUSA (including me, they’re the OG Madoka and Homura) BUT I ALSO LIKED CHIBS’ DREAM-HORSE BOYFRIEND, OKAY.
I too am excited for you to make this journey.
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Damn it, Sailor Duo! Episode 126 is the other shoe I’ve been waiting to see drop. I get it, Sailor Moon won, but just barelyM, but…a win is still a win. And Hotaru didn’t have to die for it to happen. So that means Sailor Moon has 3 near-apocalyptic wins notched on her belt. How many do you have? TAKE ALL THE SEATS.
Thankfully, though, they improve much in the future.
So next week starts SuperS! As others have said, it’s a controversial season, and I have some theories as to why (I’ll wait until next week to lay them out), but I personally am a fan. The best villains out of all the seasons!
I’m getting so many diverse responses about SuperS that I’m actually more excited about it than I was about S. Can’t wait to see which side of the line I fall on!
I have to admit that HaraMi playing Mommy and Mommy to Hotaru hits a soft spot for me. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of them this season because of the whole, “Doom and Gloom” nonsense they spit out. The next Season is one of my favorites (I’m sure you’ll see why) and they are much more enjoyable in it as well.
That was kind of a sweet scene, plus I loved how they got a little flustered about the idea of the two of them having a child together someday. =^_^= I’m looking forward to more of them in the future, especially now that they’ve gotten their angsty antihero phase out of the way. Except… I didn’t think any of the outer senshi were in SuperS. Am I mistaken about that, or are you talking about Sailor Stars?
Oh, sorry. I meant they’re a lot more enjoyable in the Sailor Stars Season. :)
First time commenting, but I’ve really enjoyed reading these recaps, especially as someone who just finished watching the entirety of Sailor Moon. Regarding SuperS, I don’t think its much of a spoiler to say that a reason people might dislike it is that there is a LOT of filler episodes, moreso than any other season I think. The episodes that hit on the season’s story arc are pretty strong though (and I personally like the filler episodes that focus on recurring characters, particularly the ones from the early seasons who don’t really show up anymore). Overall I can’t say I disliked it but it is probably my least favorite season.
Also, since I know you’re going by the hulu releases, do you think you’ll do reviews of the OVAs and the films when they get official releases on DVD? I honestly think they’re worth going over because they have pretty strong material (particularly the S movie and all the SuperS OVAs).
The season one recurring characters are coming back?! YEEEES. You know, despite all these warnings that SuperS is really divisive, everything I’ve heard about it makes me think I’m going to love the darn thing.
I know VIz has licensed and is planning to re-dub and release the films, so assuming they’ll be available for rent (either online or at my local video store), then yeah, I’ll likely do write-ups. At this point there are no release dates, though, so I don’t have any set plans.
And hey, welcome to the comments section! Always great to see a new (metaphorical) face on the blog. Don’t be a stranger now~ ^_^
I LOVE Sailor Moon S.
Sailor Moon Super S is…well. ‘Problematic’ sums it up nicely, particularly in our first squad of mini-bosses. To say more would be to give it away, but trigger warning for like…ALL of the sexual assault allegories. ALL OF THEM.
Spent the last week and a half or so reading through your Sailor Moon recaps – really enjoyed them! Curious to read your thoughts on SuperS!
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Meant to add that I found these through TheMarySue.com :)
Hey, so I’m super late with this comment, not that that likely means anything to you seeing as it’s not as if you were expecting to hear from me. For what it’s worth when my life is less hectic than it has been lately I am here every Friday to catch your update, I’ve just never gotten around to leaving a proper comment. It’s always difficult since I only know 2 ways of doing it. The first is just a straight forward “oh my God, I love it” which always feels sort of empty to me (despite the fact that as someone who use to post so much fanfic and now writes litcrit I know first hand that even the shortest big of feedback makes you feel a little less like you’re talking into the void). The second is the type I’ve always personally preferred, which tends to be long, rambling discussions on the piece that makes every attempt to pinpoint precisely what you like, what a person has done of particularly noteworthy inventiveness or unique characteristic, and offer suggestions to emend as needed. I love a good bit of feedback and most people I know that put something out there for public consumption want to know that it’s being read and enjoyed. So seeing as I’ve now been with you through 3 seasons of magical girl power I felt it was really time for me to get around to leaving a comment of some sort, and since I believe this is pretty widely read you’ve probably been told plenty how you’re brilliant I decided to go long form.
I suppose it’s a little to late to warn you that I am practically a professional internet commentator so when I say I’m going long form… I’ve been made aware that even students paying for the pleasure of my time (or at least SOMEONE is financially invested in their ability to write a damn essay) don’t always appreciate having to slog through a whole page of evaluation even when I’m the one trying to ensure that the proffesor doesn’t end up assuming someone accidentally turned in their little brother’s fifth grade book report. Plus, there are a few people who feel awkward about receiving a lot of attention for their work. So hopefully you aren’t particular about reading overly long pieces of feedback. Also, just considering this, hope this doesn’t come off wrong somehow. Like, you know, condescending or stalkerish or anything. I just really enjoy your summaries and the only way I know of showing that is rambling on in the comment section.
It’s been well over 15 years since I watched Sailor Moon and the recaps not only give me that pleasant nostalgia buzz you get from remembering your early fandoms, they’ve also got me reexamining the series through older, critically aware eyes. I would still consider myself a fan of the short skirted soldiers but at the same time I know that it’s not the most quality anime, that it’s got some aspects that are problematic or silly or just plain bad. As someone who is watching it after it’s 20 years out of date, without the aid of childhood memories, I wouldn’t blame you if you had decided to just mock the he’ll out of it. I mean, I am a cliche academic type who reads critical works recreationally and even I don’t think these recaps would work as well if you took an entirely serious approach. A part of what makes reading these so enjoyable is how you can get as silly as the show itself, and every one of your recaps has gotten me laughing at least once, but while you could have easily played up the lack of subtle, totally 90s kiddie show (non)logic of it all you’ve taken the time to really consider the material and I really appreciate that. You’ve struck on a mix of analytical/comedy that shows care for the original work while still having fun with it. Plus you do a superb job discussing thematic qualities and cultural references that I missed as a kid. It’s gotten me rewatching episodes I probably had memorized back in elementary school and seeing then with a fresh perspective.
Also, the insight into the translation work is just fascinating to me, it’s something that I wouldn’t be able to spot on my own so I’m always interested when you bring it up. I have no practical knowledge of Japanese but I did studied a fair bit of linguistics. I could easily read a page of notes just on each episodes translation. On the other hand, observtions about the scouts’ characterizations, the importance of the girls’ interactions/relationships, and the female-centering theme of the show are right up my wheelhouse. I’ve really enjoyed reading the perspective of someone watching it for the first time, looking out for those things. First because I am terribly geeky and always up for some good old media studies! But also it’s interesting to get the reaction of someone who doesn’t have solidified ideas on the characters and story which does change the way you critique.
There’s part of me that keeps wanting to jump in and discuss certain things (I really wanted to talk about Hotaru, JUST managing to remind myself that not everyone appreciates spoilers) while struggling to be patient as you work your way through the episodes. I’m just anxious about you holding out until Stars. Look, I know fan consensus is that Super is the best of the stories, but I have always been a huge supporter of Stars. It is easily the season I have watched the most and every now and then, out of nowhere, I will randomly remember how much I adore Seiya. Not sure how your going to feel about it – it’s kind of weird in that there are two very distinct stories (I actually forget that the first part IS Stars and always want to place it with SuperS instead) and after a couple of ensemble seasons it goes back to being very Usagi heavy. But you see the characters mature into their high school selves, it adds a lot of mythology to the universe, and I don’t care what anyone says those last episodes are heartbreakers. Also, the only character cuter than the bad guys is Seiya.
Anyway, wanted to cut off before it got weird but it’s probably already weird. I’m going to catch up on the new posts but promise not to leave anymore long winded comments.
This made my day, so thank YOU for commenting! I’m so glad to hear the blend of silliness and commentary is working for you, and especially that my random Fun Fact Education Corners are helpful. I’m forever fascinated by linguistic quirks and cultural tidbits as well and have a tendency to get rather long-winded myself, so I always worry that I’m boring people. Glad to know that isn’t the case!
So by all means, come back to the comment section whenever you’re able, and leave as long a post as you want. I truly enjoy reading them. ^_^
For what it’s worth I really enjoy the cultural/language insights. I’ve actually found myself crossing my fingers when I get to the end of your posts hoping to see new ones included so in my rather bias opinion they couldn’t be further from boring. By all means please feel free to go on as long as you’d like! At the very least I can promise at least one person finds them very interesting.
Like I said, while I can deconstruct a story all day (and personally I find the more I really think and learn about something the more I enjoyment I get out of it) Japanese isn’t really my area of expertise but I find that kind of information really enriches my understanding of the show. Okay, so I am a person who owns multiple translations of certain works so I can compare and contrast and my favorite copy of The Divine Comedy is almost three times the size of the original with the translator explaining nearly every choice he makes so maybe I’m not the best gauge of your average reader but I assume that since they’ve stuck with you through three seasons that most you’r audience gets something from it as well. I know you’re still midseries, you have other projects on your table, and this isn’t exactly a day job, but if you had the time and maticisms. Assume your audience is familiar with the work – recap not a blow by blow – and the majority should be original research. Or in this case, facts mixed with fun. Part of why I’m eager for you to get to Stars other than my total bias love for it is some interesting gender issues I think will make for some thoughtful posts, so definitely all the fact bits are a big appeal.ke it all the way to the end I’d personally be really not interested in a post just containing your general observations on various memorable language/cultural quirks or stand out aspects.
Sort of a related side story, but back when I first started really falling in love with Sailor Moon there were no official subs, just fan stuff. One Christmas my big gift was a full VHS (yes, really) fansub of Classic, R, Stars, and the first movie (my parents didn’t really understand the whole anime thing, I doubt they were aware this was just a fan site they’d ordered from or that they’d ordered some combination of seasons but God they tried). My little brother and I stayed up all night watching those tapes. I remember very clearly that those translations had a few notes strewn throughout the episode. We were totally amused by their utter randomness – it seems like they would only remember they were doing them every ten episodes or so and they were quite uneven. They had a note defining sensei = mentor/teacher figure that they left up for like two scenes then later tried to explain the whole concept of the heavenly princes in a three second flash using maybe a single full sentence. We may have been watching for too long at that point, but my brother and I cracked up. “We’ll assume our preteen American audience has an in-depth understanding of Japanese fables but they’ve probably going to need a moment to digest the whole sensei notion.” That was only a marginally related story. Sorry.
Anyway, yes, don’t worry about going too long (clearly I don’t) or boring your audience. I think your reviews are light enough that they keep a really good pace so people aren’t likely to tune out, but also I would say part of what’s great about this series is how you do more than just summarizing each episode. It really is like a good piece of literary criticisms in that you assume your audience is familiar enough with the work that you can provide a simple recap instead of blow by blow report and most of it is “original research”. Or in this case, facts and fun.
One of the reasons I’m so easy eager to see you get to Stars – you know, other than my blatant, bias love for it – is because the season’s handling of some gender identity issues. I am really interested in reading your view on the show. So I think people are coming here for that kind of insight, not just the wit and gifs (although both are fabulous).
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Good recap, though I think Sailor Moon’s about 50% plot, 50% episodic adventures, this season was one of the fastest paced.