Cedric_alpha back again, and I’m here to review the next chapter in the original Sailor Moon series, Sailor Moon R. Now, from what I read from the “Moonies” (again, that is what the Sailor Moon fanbase calls themselves), alot of people said R was not the best of the series, but it wasn’t the worst of it. I went into this a year back seeing the stuff from people, thinking it couldn’t be all too bad. How did it turn out? Well, let’s have you find out, shall we. This is my review of Sailor Moon R.
(Like before, this review will have spoilers. So if you haven’t watched it, be warned.)
Story and Characters
To start where we left off at the end of the first season, Usagi and the others are back to being normal teen girls again, with no memory at all of them being Sailor Guardians. Or in fact, of them being friends at all. Only Luna and Artemis know of what happened, and they want to keep them this way to live a normal life, even though the others sometimes run into each other, have some strange feeling about what happened, but can’t remember the past events. It’s not long though before a new enemy attacks the city. As much as Luna wants to keep Usagi like this, she gives in and has Usagi become Sailor Moon once more, and she defeats the MotD and gets all her memories, good and bad, back. Of course, she’s the only one to get her memories at first, and interacting with the others, especially Mamoru, is very awkward. After the first episode, the other Guardians then get their powers and memories back, after getting attacked too, and they are all happy to be with their friend again. As for Mamoru though? Yeah that’s a whole other story I’ll get to in a minute.
Now as for the enemies I mention, here they are.
These two are An and Ail, and they are … um, lovers? I say that, because they do love each other, but for some reason, the pair, trying to pass off as “siblings” Seijuro and Natsumi, fall head over heels for Usagi and Mamoru, respectively, and get jealous of the other when they see them with the other. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. But then again, they are filler characters, so who cares? Their mission on Earth is to get nutrients for their tree, to help sustain it, and keep them alive as well. And the thing it feeds off of? Why human energy, of course. Their adventures basically have them using Yu-Gi-Oh!-like card monsters to attack the Guardians/random people (including kindergartners and babies) to get said energy, and getting in jealous fights over Usagi/Mamoru over who gets who, until the final fight begins. (Also, should I point out how they live in an apartment complex, but somehow, someway, can hide a goddamn alien tree in said apartment complex? Only anime.)
Now on to Sailor Moon and co. Sailor Moon gets her powers back, but then loses them early on, only to have them come back with the new power up, “Moon Crystal Power, Make Up”, get her new “Cutie Moon Rod”, and her new attack, “Moon Princess Halation”, which sticks around for the rest of the season. The other Sailor Guardians also get new attacks, but for some reason, these attacks are only used during this filler arc, and used once, maybe twice(?), and aren’t seen again. Don’t ask. As for Mamoru? He still doesn’t get his memory back till near the end. So because of that, he thinks it’s weird that Usagi is clinging to him like a lovesick puppy. BUUUUUUTTTTTT, there is another thing that happens. Instead of Tuxedo Mask showing up, a new person named the Moonlight Knight appears in the times Tuxedo Mask usually does, and does the same thing he does. Throughout this, Usagi and the others try to figure out who Moonlight Knight is, if he is friend or foe, and even think Ail (Seijuro) at one point is the person. Even though looking at him, YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHO HE FREAKIN’ IS!! Anyways, it’s revealed that Moonlight Knight wasn’t exactly Mamoru, but instead “the part of Mamoru that always wants to protect Usagi/Sailor Moon.” So it manifested itself into the Moonlight Knight. Only in anime does this make any sense, and even then it’s still hard to comprehend.
Yeah, the first arc of Sailor Moon R is basically stuff to make room for the main story, and well, it’s not good. It has some moments in it, but mostly, it’s just a filler arc that not really much to lose sleep over. Although, this filler arc does give us the reason why Mako/Sailor Jupiter is best girl/Guardian, in my opinion, with this quote from her.
We now move on from the filler arc, and on to the main story, which starts at episode 60. We find Usagi and Mamoru in the park, enjoying a date together, as they are back to being a lovey-dovey couple. As they kiss each other, something in the sky forms, and out from it drops a little girl, and some weird cat thing, and right on to Usagi’s head, with her now kissing Mamoru. Usagi and Mamoru are surprised by this turn of events, and Usagi’s not happy with this. The little girl is also not happy with Usagi. Like really not happy.
She wants to know where the Silver Crystal is for some reason, and shoots Usagi in the process, but it turns out to be a fake gun, the little bastard. After all this, we learn the kid does have a name. Her name is … Usagi Tsukino? Yeah, that’s just a coincidence, right? (And so is her little rounded robot cat who doesn’t-at-all look like Luna.) Since there are two Usagi’s, and she is the smaller one, they decide to give her the nickname, Chibi-Usa. She then infiltrates and becomes a part of Usagi’s family, being “Usagi’s cousin”, by using mind control on them, infuriating Usagi even more. You can tell how this is gonna go for the rest of the show.
Before I get back to Chibi-Usa, let me talk about another thing that happens. Mamoru is happy and in love with Usagi, but then something happens. He has a nightmare where he marries Usagi, but she dies right after it, in a world-shattering event that predicts the future. What does he do after this? He breaks up with Usagi and says he doesn’t have feelings for her anymore “just to protect Usagi.” Ummmm, WHAT?! Mamoru, I’m sorry, but that is just fucking stupid. He could have just told Usagi about what he saw, and she more than likely wouldn’t have a problem with it, CAUSE YOU BOTH FUCKING DIED ONCE ALREADY!!! But instead, the plot here demanded this, and this break-up part is one of the worst/stupid things in the whole series. Also, it doesn’t last for only one episode.
Anyway, back to Chibi-Usa. She sometimes wants to go home, from wherever she came, and as her attempts fail, she has a weird power come from her. This power is what leads to the next batch of villains we see. They are the Black Moon Clan. There are alot of them here, and we start with these 4 make-up wearing, beauty-obsessed women.
They are the “Four Spectre Sisters”, (starting from left) Petz, Bertheir, Calaveras, and Koan. They are basically the bad guy versions of the Sailor Guardians, and they are after the “Rabbit”, the name they give to Chibi-Usa. These 4 are led by this jerk right here.
His name is Rubeus, and while he’s not the main leader of the Black Moon Clan, as I’ll get to in a bit, he is still pretty powerful himself. They are the main baddies through the first 15 episodes of the main story. They do have some intense fights, among some of the weird-ass moments (like the yoga dance class-turned wrasslin’ that Rei’s grandpa’s opens up, evil fruit attacking the Guardians, and even though the villains weren’t in the episode, there was one that involved a freakin’ dinosaur!! And no one freaking out about said dinosaur being alive! You think Ami would be the most shocked by this event.) During the fights, the Sailor Guardians do get new powers and attacks that help them in the fight with the quint group. The new “___ Star Power, Make-Up” with the attacks they get stay for this season to the next. As the teams fight, we do get some character development from the Black Moon women, and some redemption for them. They do become humans with Usagi’s Silver Crystal, and get to live their lives as sisters on Earth for the rest of time (Which, two things: 1. We only see them only for this season, I believe. I have no idea if they show up in Sailor Stars. And 2. They get more time and story to develop than on Sailor Moon Crystal where, SPOILER!, they are given 5 seconds of screen time before getting killed off.) and then Rubeus gets what’s coming to him. As I said, he’s a jerk, not only to the Guardians, but really to the Spectre Sisters too, even as one of them loved him. But him being an asshole did give us one of Usagi’s most badass moments in this series.
As we progress, we learn more about Chibi-Usa and where she came from, even though she does give some hints earlier on. She is actually from the future, and is known as “Small Lady” there. She talks a bit on her robot kitty at times to a person she calls “Puu”. After the Rubeus fight, we learn who this Puu person is. It is actually another Sailor Guardian, and the first of the “Outer Guardians”. She is Sailor Pluto, and her job is to not only protect Chibi-Usa, but she is also the Guardian of Space and Time, meaning, she protects time and space and all that jazz.
I do a bit more on her in a bit, but for now more villains. I should’ve mention this before, but we do meet another villain earlier, but he has more to do in the second half on here. His name is Wiseman, and boy ain’t he a looker.
Even if you can’t see his face, you do get the creepy vibes off of him. He’s has a part in this which I’ll also get to in a sec. But first, let me tell you about the other people in the Black Moon Clan.
We first meet up with the green haired beauty Esmeraude. And well, it doesn’t matter if you watch this show subbed or dubbed, you probably don’t want the volume up too loud when she lets out her infamous laugh. I learned that the hard way with earphones the first time.Anyway, she tries to open up “Dark Gates” throughout Juban with her own statues she had custom made so the past can be taken over by Black Moon. These mostly involve a bunch of filler-like episodes, but it does give us some character development for the characters, and it FINALLY ends the Usagi/Mamoru break-up after a long while. Also, it gives us Minako as a nurse. With her going batshit crazy.
We do have two more Black Moon members to meet. They are Saphir, and his brother, Prince Demande. Saphir is, well, kinda just there for it. He does protect his brother and all that. And has a love interest in one of the Four Spectre Sisters. Other than that, he doesn’t do much. Now for Prince Demande, he’s the Black Moon Clan’s leader. And he’s maybe, sorta, really obsessed with Sailor Moon. Yeah, for real.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. The Black Moon Clan has a crystal for themselves, The Malefic Black Crystal, but they also want the Silver Crystal, because greed and that. However, the Future Silver Crystal they wanted disappeared and they need Chibi-Usa to find what happened. Also, they use the Malefic Black Crystal to mess up the future badly, and that’s why Chibi-Usa went back in time to recruit Sailor Moon and co. to stop them. After all the stuff with the Dark Gates, Chibi-Usa finally decides to go back to the future, and it works this time, with her bringing Sailor Moon and the others along with her. They all pass through the time/space portal, and meet up with Sailor Pluto (who nearly attacks Sailor Moon, because no one is allowed through there. Except for Chibi-Usa apparently.) After arriving, they find that the Guardians of the future are barely holding on, trying to protect the Queen of Earth, who’s in a crystallized coma, from the Black Moon. Who is this queen you ask? You wouldn’t believe me when I say it, would ya? … I’m joking. Seeing as they show how she looks, you know immediately who the hell the Future Queen is. We ALL know. And we also meet up with Hologram Future Mamoru/King Endymion. Because holograms are still a thing? Anyway, after telling what happen to the future, he reveals a SHOCKING TRUTH!! about Chibi-Usa. She is … Usagi’s and Mamoru’s future daughter!! WHAT!!! Who saw that coming, if it wasn’t for the fact she had the same name as Usagi? So Mamoru and Usagi, how do you feel now that you two did it with each other?
Thought so. As I showed earlier with Prince Demande kidnapping and trying to have his way with Usagi (and Mamoru rescuing for her), we get that the real villain out of all this is Wiseman himself (or as he reveals himself to be, “Death Phantom”. Which is still not as stupid a name as Death Gun from SAO.) He wants to take over Earth and all that, and one of the ways he does that is by manipulating Chibi-Usa. Using her feelings against her and feeding false birthday memories, or real memories like of her taking the future Silver Crystal away and kinda causing this to happen. Using the Malefic Black Crystal, she transforms and becomes “Black Lady”, princess of the Black Moon Clan.
Hot damn, she looks good all grown up now-I mean, how dare you Chibi-Usa! Betraying Sailor Moon like that. She gets into multiple fights with Sailor Moon and co., as they try to un-brainwash her from Wiseman stunt. But even with her like this, not loving anyone in this emo-like fashion, she still has love for one person/thing. Her robot pal Luna-P.
Well, to bring it to a close, they do finally get to her, after the other Black Moon Clan members fall, and Sailor Moon and Chibi-Usa together, as past mother/future daughter they help stop Wiseman and save the future. Just like how families should. Should point this out too. The season really ends on episode 88. Episode 89 is just a little look ahead for Season 3.
Sub and Dub
Now to get to the voice actor work. Now to start, I need to point this out on the subbed version. Because of surgery, Usagi/Sailor Moon’s seiyuu, Kotono Mitsuishi, was out for a few episodes from Sailor Moon/Sailor Moon R. She was replaced for that time by Kae Araki, who actually went on to voice Chibi-Usa. And if you watched the subbed version, you can tell the difference in their voices pretty easily, even if she does a good job of being the title character. Her Chibi-Usa is about as fit as can be. Being the little brat that she is, and doing wonderfully. Same can be said of her new dubbed counterpart, Sandy Fox. She does as good a role of portraying Chibi-Usa, especially nailing her bratty moments. They are both good as her evil grown-up version as well. Overall, it’s pretty great.
To get the tree people arc out of the way, Ail and An are voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa and Yumi Toma in the subbed version, and by Brian Beacock and Johanna Luis in the dubbed version. And while both versions are okay, I leaned a bit more with the subbed versions here.
The Four Spectre Sisters are voiced by Wakana Yamazaki (Koan), Yuri Amano (Berthier), Akiko Hiramatsu (Calaveras), and Megumi Ogata (Petz) in the subbed version. And the latter seiyuu later went on to voice another Sailor Guardian in the next season, and also voiced a certain boy who didn’t want to get in his robot. In the dubbed version, we have Claudia Lenz (Koan), Cindy Robinson (Berthier), Cassandra Lee Morris (Calaveras) and Jessica Gee (Petz) voice the quad squad, with one of them, Morris, having a big role in another magical girls anime (“Would you like to make a contract with me?”) Overall, they are actually pretty good to me. Don’t know how others will find them to be, but I liked them just fine. As for Rubeus, he’s voiced by Wataru Takagi in the subs, and Steve Cannon in the dubs. The latter having voiced Neji in Naruto and Captain Hitsugaya in Bleach. As much as I said he was a jerk, he had one of the best performances from the new dub VA’s. I enjoyed it alot.
For the other members of the Black Moon Clan, Esmeraude is voiced by Mami Koyama in the sub and Rena S. Mandel in the dub. And as I said before, both of them you might want to lower the volume down with it comes to her infamous laugh. They both nail it perfectly. Saphir is voiced by Tsutomu Kashiwakura and Greg Feldman, respectfully. They are both fine in their limited role as Saphir. Prince Demande is voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa in the sub, with Matthew Mercer voicing him in the dubbed. I don’t know much about the sub version, but his dubbed version voices fangirl favorite Levi from Attack on Titan and Jotaro Kujo in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. He is as “menacing” (I’m sorry, I had to) as he has to be, but still not as menacing and evil as Wiseman, who is voiced by Eiji Maruyama in the subs, and Steve Kramer in the dubs. With the dub version most know work as the 3rd Hokage on Naruto. Even though Kramer is fine as Wiseman, I do prefer the subbed version a tiny bit more on here.
And to wrap it up, we have the voice actors who play the new Sailor Guardian, Sailor Pluto. The sub version has Chiyoko Kawashima as the Guardian of the used-to-be planet. But I have to go with the dubbed version here. Because the voice actor here is Veronica Taylor, or as you may know her from her best work, the original voice of Ash from Pokémon. (She also voiced May on there, and did voice April O’ Neil in the 4Kids Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Also, she voiced an ice skater in the first season on here as well.) Yeah, nostalgia here is big for me, and I still love her voice work. She’s really great as Sailor Pluto. Can’t wait to here more from her in the next season.
Yeah, not gonna spend much time on the animation. The animation is still done by Toei, and well, you know Toei. There are times when it looks pretty good for being over 20 years old. But there is still the signs of Toei being, well, Toei. It does have some good animated action scenes. And the overall characters are really colorful here, with the future Earth looking really grim, perfect for how it was told. But there are still some problems abound, and well you know it already.
Now on to the music. I’m not gonna talk about the opening here at all, because it’s literally the same opening as from the first season, just with different animation sequences. The end is different though. We get “Otome no Policy” by Yoko Ishida, and while it goes on the longest of any Sailor Moon song that isn’t the OP, it’s also not too bad.
This is actually one of better ED’s in my opinion of the series, and I enjoyed it alot. Also in this mix, we got two other songs that the Moonies love, and that I enjoyed myself as well. “Ai no Senshi” sung also by Yoko Ishida, is played during the Sailor Guardian vs. Spectre Sisters fight, and it does raise the epicness of the fight. Listen for yourself to the whole thing. Also played during the final battle against Wiseman, was this number. “La Soldier” is more known throughout the Sailor Moon universe being in the musicals, but for this one time, it was used here. It’s a good song as well, as you can listen to here. Just wanted to highlight them for the fans out there.
Sailor Moon R vs. Sailor Moon Crystal
I did this last time, as a compare and contrast thing, and I’m going to do it again, but only on a few things. The one I want to hit on is the main character of this act: Chibi-Usa. I have to say it, because it has to be said: Chibi-Usa is a little monster. She is really bad. It doesn’t matter if you watch this subbed or dubbed, she is just is the worst in everything on here. Hell, this pic represents what I wanted to do her throughout: Give her a good spanking.
She don’t like it? Too bad. Now compare that to her Crystal counterpart. Guess what? She’s actually better on Crystal by alot. Is she still a brat on there? Yes, but it’s almost night and day between the two. She takes forever to trust Usagi on here, even though she is her you-know-what. And when Usagi helps her, she just basically spites her. It took me awhile to warm up to Chibi-Usa. Does she get better? Well, that’s for you to say in future episodes.
Another thing is the time aspect in the future. In Crystal, they do tell about how much time has past in the future and how it happened, because of a bunch of stuff I won’t spoil for people. On here, they kinda give a hint, saying how far into it, but they just don’t really give much. Which, btw, Chibi-Usa is WAY older than she actually looks. Also on Crystal, they do give the ramifications of running into your future selves. Here, it’s like “Hi, how are you. Want to stay and talk about how we can save this miserable future?” Since Crystal follows the manga more closely, that actually something that’s should have been in this one, but wasn’t. It’s weird.
I also talked about the Spectre sisters too and how they didn’t have much time on Crystal compared to R. Esmeraude didn’t either, and so didn’t Rubeus. Hell, Saphir may have had more screen time on Crystal, if anything. And the Wiseman fight? Not too bad on here, but very anticlimactic on Crystal. Was expecting more, but it ended very fast. As least to me. Others I found enjoyed the Wiseman/Death Phantom fight more on Crystal.
And to close out, let me talk a bit about Sailor Pluto. On Crystal, she actually has a bigger role on there, as it follows the manga, and she gets to use her actual power on there as well. Again, won’t spoil what happens on there, but it gave some feels to some. (To me, meh.) On R, Pluto … ummm, opens and closes the time/space door? Like that’s it. Her role is diminished here alot, but she gets more a role in S though. So that’s good. I could go on (like the incest plot in Crystal, but no thanks. I had enough of that crap from other animes) but that’s mostly the big things I want to hit on. And yes, I did kinda defend Crystal here, even if I still don’t like the show.
Overall, Sailor Moon R has some good moments, but it also has its faults as well. Like a bunch of them. The filler arc is not good. Chibi-Usa is a nuisance. The break-up part was stupid as hell. And other moments as well. But it’s not too bad. Then again, it’s not great either. The dub is great yet again, and fight scenes are pretty good. So I say, for Sailor Moon R, this season was above average. Overall, I give Sailor Moon R 5.5 Pink Haired Brats/10. Now if you’re reading this, I will be back for Sailor Moon S (or as I like to say in Franky’s voice: Sailor Moon SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!! Cause the S is for Super. *sigh* Yeah, I’ll show my way out) but it won’t be out till its dub is up. And that won’t be till later on in 2016. So for now, enjoy this last pic of Chibi-Usa. Well, I think it’s Chibi-Usa.
Sailor Moon R is made by studio Toei Animation. It is licensed by Viz Media. It can be seen on Hulu and Neon Alley.