Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 198-199

When you wish upon a star seed…

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The plot is everywhere, and its devices are right there with it. My ongoing struggles with Stars continue into its penultimate episode, alas, but overall I was far more invested this week than I thought I’d be, thanks to some heart-wrenching character beats and a surprisingly layered backstory for our previously 2-D antagonist. Compelling antiheroes and sympathetic villains? Yep. Some of the magic might be missing, but it’s still Sailor Moon, all right.

The Recaps

Episode 198 – Sailor Star-Crossed Lovers

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Hankies at the ready, team! This one’s gonna Deep Submerge you in feels and leave you World Shaking by the end of it.

While Usagi’s buying HaruMi’s “traitor” act about as much as I am, our deadly duo sure are getting into their roles. Haruka and Seiya throw enough energy at each other to briefly knock Usagi unconscious, where she has THE SADDEST DREAM about how everyone faked their own deaths as part of an elaborate scheme to defeat Galaxia–they just couldn’t tell Usagi since she can’t keep a secret. So not only does it speak to her own lack of self-worth (something she’s always struggled with), it is also THE SADDEST DREAM.

HNNNNGH.

HNNNNGH.

She wakes up with C.C. and Haruka, so Usagi’s all “Yo, what’s the plan?” and Haruka is all “SLAP!” And thus the fighting resumes. This elaborate ruse goes on a bit too long (given that I wrote “get on with it!” right before the halfway mark), but the relentlessness does serve two purposes: One, it wears Usagi down to the point where she actually does doubt HaruMi’s loyalty (something positively unheard-of for our trusting bunhead); and two, it fully convinces Galaxia that she’s got two bad mutha-shut-yo-mouth! minions under her command.

She orders HaruMi to take their opponents’ star seeds…to which the two respond “PSYCHE!” and turn their bracelets on Galaxia, using their power to try to steal her star seed instead! HOLY CRAP THAT IS GENIUS. I did not even consider that and it is genius. GET ‘ER, LADIES! Rip ‘er like a pickpocket! Take that star seed like she owes it to ya! OUTER GUARDIAN POWAH!

pumped up - love lab

Their attack…tickles? Because Galaxia doesn’t have a star seed?! OH NO. It looks like the “PSYCHE!” is on the other foot! The very, very angry foot.

Galaxia’s impressed that they’re the first guardians she couldn’t control (“they never were very good at listening to others,” your blogger affectionately scoffs), but she’s also not a fan of insubordination. So she rips off their bracelets and leaves them to slowly die?!

shock horror - tamaki

In a sequence of heart-stomping dying words, Usagi apologizes for doubting them (stomp); Haruka encourages Seiya to fight to protect people instead of some abstract ideal (stomp STOMP); the two lament that not only did Saturn and Pluto die for nothing, but they’ll surely be condemned to Hell for killing their own allies (stomp STOMP STOMP); and our young, fading cousins couple reach out to hold hands one final time (aaaaand SQUISH).

It is brutal in its one-two punch of despair and love, and so perfectly in-character for these two fierce, loyal, morally flexible soldiers. They made a lot of mistakes along the way, but you can’t doubt their dedication to their duties, or to one another.

And then some other stuff happened but I didn’t care ’cause all my favorite characters were dead. THE END, BUH-BYE, SEE YOU FOR THE FINALE NEXT WEEK.

feels eat - colbert

…Okay, fine, I guess I can finish recapping these. But I’m not gonna enjoy it. So there.

Shaken by her own doubt, Usagi actually considers giving up until Seiya reminds her of all the people who believe in her, including the Star Lights, who FINALLY accept that friend request that’s been sitting in their notifications for months. And all it took was an impending apocalypse and the deaths of almost everyone they knew!

Okay, you're right, sorry Seiya. You sent the friend request to Usagi, so you're exempt from my snarking.

Okay, you’re right, sorry, Seiya. You sent your friend request to Usagi, so you’re exempt from my snarking.

The quartet (and C.C. or whatever) stand to face Galaxia again, but she’s got one more plot bomb to drop on us before the end credits. Because remember that story about the Legendary Sailor Guardian that Princess Kakyu told us? Yeah, she left out one important detail. Miss Legendary didn’t just seal away the chaos–she sealed it away inside herself.

Whereupon I shouted “Holy shit the Legendary Guardian is Galaxia!” and not five seconds later Galaxia announced that as well. The list of bummers just keeps on a-growin’, don’t it Usagi?

Episode 199 – Twinkle Twinkle Little Sailor Star

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There’s a lot packed into this one, but it’s also pretty repetitive, so I’m going to play fast-and-loose with my usual “chronological recap” format this time. The whole thing is built around the present-day battle, but throughout we get sporadic flashbacks to Sailor Galaxia shortly after she sealed the Chaos: Exhausted, lonely, and feeling as if she had no one to rely on. Convinced there was no one else she could trust to keep the peace (and likely infected by the Chaos she’d trapped within herself), she decided to “create a new future for the galaxy” with herself as ruler. And thus the conquest began.

Galaxia’s story is, in effect, a tragedy about the price of power–its isolating effects both socially and emotionally, and how “I’m the only person who can save everyone” can so quickly turn into “I’m the only one who matters.” It suggests that Usagi not being the strongest is actually a boon to her kingdom, and once again highlights the importance of community and teamwork.

It also makes Galaxia a damn sight more interesting. The most compelling antagonists are usually the ones who believe they’re on the side of justice (as the Black Moon Clan and Nehelenia both did to varying degrees), so the fact that she thinks this is the best way to save the galaxy adds an extra intriguing layer to her arc. I wish we’d seen flashes of this previously, as it would have made this season’s conflict a lot more compelling in the early going, but it’s solid characterization even so.

Also the butterflies are back. I'm sure that doesn't foreshadow that Galaxia is tied to C.C. at all.

Also the red butterflies are back. But don’t worry. I’m sure they don’t foreshadow Galaxia’s connection to C.C. at all.

After learning all this, Usagi (like me) is pretty sure it’s not the Legendary Guardian who decided this, but the Chaos inside of her. She does her ample best to defeat Galaxia with Friendship!, but it’s shockingly ineffective every time she tries. Along the way, Team Seiya keep trying to go all Charge of the Star Light Brigade on Galaxia, and Usagi keeps jumping forward to protect them from that final blow.

This all happens a few times with slight variation, leading to a broken Moon Rod, a bunch of battered Lights, combo attacks that actually deal damage (OF COURSE THEY DO, I’VE BEEN TELLING THEM TO COMBINE THEIR POWERS FOR THE LAST…ah-hem, sorry), and Galaxia finally going “Eff the star seeds, I’ll just kill you punks.”

SUPER SENSHI LEVEL TWOOOO!

SUPER SENSHI LEVEL TWOOOO!

Eventually Usagi tries to release the energy from her star seed to save the day (yeah, I don’t think she had a plan here), to which Galaxia responds “Mine now!” and tries to steal her seed from her. Then we get one last flashback that isn’t entirely clear, but the important part is that Sailor Galaxia yanked out her own star seed and sent it away so that it could be nurtured in peace and one day awaken as the Light of Hope.

And where is that Light now? I’ll give you three plot devices. I mean, guesses. Yes, after standing around while her allies died (some of them crushed under the guilt of knowing they killed their fellow guardians in a last-ditch gambit to save the world that still ended in failure, NNGH), Chibi-Chibi finally gets off her ass and does something. She returns Usagi’s star seed to her, and I guess gets ready to defeat Galaxia or whatever. Because who needs battle tactics when you’ve got plot devices!

great sarcastic - john oliver cookie monster

This, That, and the Other

  • You know shit’s getting real when Usagi is the one stepping between someone else and a sharp stabbing object.
  • I’d say Chibi-Chibi is the worst character in Sailor Moon history, but that would suggest she’s an actual character, so…
  • Episode 199 got a “mature audiences only” warning on Hulu. This was either a mistake, or someone caught a glimpse of this scene out of context and assumed something very different was going on.
  • Hark! A plot character point! Galaxia accuses the Lights of abandoning their planet, and the trio seem to accept this even as they promise they won’t run anymore. This, by the way, would have been a FANTASTIC season-long conflict for the Lights, both in terms of their own personal struggles with their choices as well as a valid reason for why the Outers wouldn’t want to fight alongside them (“they ditched their own people; who’s to say they won’t do the same to us when the going gets tough?”). Instead, like so many of the great glimmers of ideas this season, we barely scratch its surface. Shame, that.
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11 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 198-199

  1. For the big reveal at the end of 198. I went into this knowing a few basic things already, one being what it’s villain is called. So I honestly hadn’t even noticed that they hadn’t called her a “Sailor” before this point.

    I had thought to myself watching these two episodes “we’ve seen other people jump in-front of Usagi to shield her form approaching danger repeatedly, I’d like to see her do it for a change” and then BOOM!!! it happens, perfect timing.

    I also thought pretty quickly that Sailor Galaxia’s fall was kind of like Anakin Skywalker’s, she couldn’t handle loss. Some of the Prequel haters might respond to that here with “that’s how Lucas should have done it” so which I will say ____ you. In general the motive for falling is part of what the haters hate, they talk about wanting a generic slow ends justifies the means gray area pushing power corrupts message, even though that would utterly contradict the entire premise of how they tired to turn Luke. For all the ways Luke’s journey was different, that flaw he absolutely shared, it’s what lured him to Cloud City.

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    • I can’t speak to the Star Wars comparisons, but I don’t really see how Galaxia’s fall involved her inability to handle loss. To me, it was more about isolation and pride, and how being “the strongest” can lead to feeling like there’s no one you can trust or rely on to help you. So she took on this massive responsibility all by herself, but it was too much for her to handle, and the Chaos within her was able to use her loneliness, twisting her desire to protect others into a desire to control and own them. She is, I think, like Nehelenia in that she’s intended to be a foil for Usagi, showing how Usa’s understanding of her own weaknesses is actually a strength, as it keeps her humble, open-minded, and respectful of others’ opinions and feelings.

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  2. In what time made episode 199 special to me, is how similar it is to the new SMC anime.
    That same sense of cheapness, ugly art, awful execution, zero direction, and overall clueless sense of nobody in the crew knows what they’re doing… Ep 199 is what SMC would have been like had it been made in 1997, and wise versa, what the whole of Sailor Moon may have been like had it been made by modern Toei.
    After surviving SMC, ep 199 has ths eerie feel akin to time travel, like “wow this feels so modern for something thats 19 years old.”
    Also, is it just me, or does it feel like the episode is really slow paced, like if they wanted they could cut some bits, redistribute the rest between the eps before and after, and it would work better that way?
    As if the entire episode 199 is an unnatural existence that Toei forced into being just so the series would end on a nice and even number. And didn’t even give it any extra budget, hence the art.

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    • Heh, dang, and I thought I was being harsh to this season! I didn’t think 199 was that bad, but I do agree that it felt padded out and repetitive. It has some relevant and worthwhile pieces to it, like Galaxia’s back story, so I wouldn’t say it’s a total waste of time, but it could definitely have been paced a lot better, maybe taking up half the time it did and leaving us with more room for a proper epilogue in the final episode.

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  3. Wow, I kind of forgot about the revelations in this episode, since I haven’t seen this since the early 2000s. Having read the manga much more recently, where Chibi Chibi’s role is completely different, episode 199 actually came as a surprise. It’s funny how the manga sort of became more confident as it went on, and the anime seemingly became less confident as it went on.

    I’m kinda bummed you didn’t enjoy this season as much as we all kind of talked it up. But rewatching it again, I definitely see the seams, and the plot points being rehashed from previous seasons is pretty frustrating. I’m not sure where I rank it anymore? I used to put it right behind S, but I’m starting to think that the first season is a bit stronger as a whole.

    I’m just curious if you’ll be doing a series-long recap since the last episode airs today? I think it would be neat to see your summed up feelings, season by season, now that you’ve seen the whole series (notwithstanding the movies and specials, which are stand-alone stories anyway)

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    • Right now my plan is to do a Stars season “review” rolled in with the final episode recap and then an overall series retrospective in a separate post. I’ll talk about that some more in the Stars finale post once the darn thing is finally ready for publication.

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  4. I’m not crying. What are you talking about? SHUT UP. 😭

    For serious though, I choked up a bit at the death of HaruMi. Much as I was disappointed by their use this season they had a pretty good death scene, as short of a death it will likely be.

    Am I the only one who thought 199 was really padded out? I mean, it felt like they could have ended it in half the time, or even wrapped up the fight with Galaxia entirely. I’m not saying this made the episode bad, it just felt like the show was stalling a little bit.

    I hope the fight with Galaxia ends quickly next time. I’d much rather the majority of the episode be epilogue where we get to say goodbye to all the great characters we’ve gotten to know for 200 episodes.

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    • You’re not. Another commenter mentioned that too, and I agree with you both. It felt like they were marking time a bit so they could tie the series up at a nice, neat “200.” Sadly, they didn’t even use their finale episode to give the series a proper epilogue, so the padding in Ep 199 doesn’t feel particularly justified.

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