Life, The Mooniverse, and Everything: The Sailor Moon Newbie Retrospective

A two-year-long journey through a twenty-year-old classic.

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A couple springs ago, when I was just getting into the planning stages of launching this blog, Viz hit us with some big news: They had licensed the original Sailor Moon, and they were going to re-release the entire series with a brand new uncut(!) translation. And just like that I had my first ever blogging project: A 200-episode series of Newbie Reviews. (So, you know. A nice, easy commitment.)

I loved Sailor Moon‘s directors’ later works (especially Ikuhara of Utena fame), and I knew a little about the series itself, but I really had no idea what to expect–whether I’d like it, or find it too childish, or get trapped in Filler Episode Hell. What followed were 24 months and 100 posts of quips, critiques, praises, giggles, feels, and flails, as I slowly fell in love with the cast, the stories, and the silliness. It was easy to see why the franchise had so many long-time fans. And, as the final credits rolled, I counted myself among them.

It’s been a fun journey, but now that I’m sitting at the destination, I wanted take a moment to look back, talk about the series as a whole, and maybe reminisce about the characters and moments that stuck with me the most. I, er… got a little carried away, and the post ballooned like a Dead Moon Circus tent. I’ve done my best to break it up with my favorite Sailor Moon gifs. Hit the jump to take a leisurely stroll down Memo(on)ry Lane.

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Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 126-127 (S Finale)

Well, whaddaya know. All this time, and it turns out the S stood for samsara.

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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.

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Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 124-125

I hope you brought your camping gear, ‘cause these episodes are IN TENTS.

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Wow, but this was a really good week for Sailor Moon. A slightly less good week for my emotions, but hey, when you’ve got two episodes stuffed with possessions, schemes, battles, “deaths,” tender reunions, redemptions, evil universes, and apocalyptic battles, it’s bound to be a bit trying on the ol’ FeelBox. (Only… don’t think too hard about the plot. Everything works great on a character- and engagement-level, but the sciency magic is mostly nonsense, a backdrop in front of which our protagonists can struggle. Just roll with it.)

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Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 122-123

WHAT HATH SCIENCE WROUGHT?!

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Sailor Moon is so steeped in fantastical elements that I’m usually prone to calling it a fantasy, but this week takes special care to remind me that, technically speaking, it’s probably more accurate to call it science fiction. Pretty much every major plot point of the story is rooted in some kind of SF element, from interplanetary foes to time travel to alternate dimensions to li’l universes. The scouts themselves are the most magical thing in the series, and even then I’m sure there’s some kind of “technical” explanation for their powers involving microorganisms or elemental particles or some such.

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Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 120-121

Four little Witches jumpin’ on the bed… ♪

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We’re quickly approaching the S finale, which means we need to get rid of all those pesky minions so the path to the Big Bad is nice and clear. In fact, go ahead and think of this as the clean-up week, since we’re also learning pertinent (tragic) backstories and restoring the ties between everyone’s favorite Doctor and her very favorite companion. Could this be the first step toward a team-up between our two gangs of roving Guardians? I sure do hope so. I miss hanging out with Haruka and Michiru almost as much as the scouts do.

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Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 118-119

The gang’s all here…

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If you were wondering why the sailors skipped a planet along the way, wonder no more, for we’ve found Saturn at last, and she is… somewhat less interested in saving the world than the others are, it seems. And the Outer Guardians are a VERY exclusive club and don’t seem inclined to let her join. But that’s fine. I’m sure the Moonies can print up another Inner Guardian membership card if she asks. They gave Jupiter one, after all, so clearly their definition of “inner” and “outer” planets is already real flexible.

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Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 116-117

Roses and absurdism? Man, it’s almost like Ikuhara’s the showrunner or something.

mimete-okAbsolutely no one will be surprised to learn that Episode 117 was storyboarded and directed by Ikuhara himself, as it is hands-down the weirdest Sailor Moon to date and also one of its silliest. I’m not sure anyone else in the ani-business combines both meanings of the word “funny” so skillfully as Ikuhara does, and the result is just endless sight gags and WTF-ery that kept startling laughs out of me.

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