Jab’s Reviews: Sailor Moon Season Finale (Episodes 44-46)
Pictured: Literally the greatest end to a Series ever. It’s pretty hard to top “The hero’s friends love her SO MUCH that even DEATH can’t stop them from coming to assist her in killing a giant green deathbitch.”
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back for the finale!! Since I’ve included a LOT of episodes-per-post, I created some fairly long articles that I’m sure some people TL; DR’d. Well now it’s only THREE episodes!! Except my wordiness is totally out of control when discussing the greatest Season Finale of all time.
The story so far: Usagi is the Moon Princess; a girl reborn in modern times after her people were attacked a millennium ago. Her lover from back then, Prince Endymion, is reborn into the body of Mamoru, who fights as Tuxedo Mask. His mission- to help the Moon Princess. Meanwhile, Usagi and her friends have transformed into Sailor Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter & Venus. Sailor Moon is whiny, wimpy, hyper-emotional and cowardly- none of the makings of a true hero. But she’s ultimately INCREDIBLY caring, and very sympathetic to outsiders, or those she’d told to avoid. Jupiter is her comrade-in-arms- a strong defender of Usagi to others, and just as boy-crazy and she is. Mercury is smart and stoic. Venus is a strong warrior prone to random goofball behavior. Sailor Mars is the most interesting- a study in contrasts. A great fighter and a stern warrior… but impulsive, emotional, hot-tempered and rude, particularly to Usagi, who she views as lazy and often not up to the challenge.
The Dark Kingdom has amassed to destroy the remnants of the Moon Kingdom, and gain their Macguffin, the Silver Crystal. Most of the Generals have died, leaving only Kunzite, a loyal general who misses his lover, Zoisite (executed by Queen Beryl for failing to follow direct orders), and Prince Endymion himself- now brainwashed by dark powers! Queen Beryl leads these two men, and wants power… but HER ruler is Queen Metalia, the disembodied force that empowers them all!
Queen Metalia- the TRUE power behind the Dark Kingdom. Basically an Eldritch Abomination.
One of the show’s best moments- Usagi confronted by the spectral image of her dead mother.
The Endgame approaches– Sailor Venus & Artemis have discovered the entrance to the Dark Kingdom! The Sailors investigate, but are thrown through time by Kunzite! The girls arrive in the ruins of the Moon, coming across a holographic-esque message of QUEEN SERENITY HERSELF, and she finally goes into detail about the backstory of their world: The Silver Millennium was the Moon Kingdom meant to watch over the Earth, but a human sorceress named Beryl was possessed by an “evil energy” called Metalia, and attempted to take over both. She leads a bunch of humans into attacking the Moon- it is Prince Endymion of Earth who delivers the warning to Princess Serenity, his love.
The war is quick and sudden, with hordes of humans (with armor, shields and swords) attacking, and Metalia one-shotting the Sailors (complete with in-your-face panty-shots, because of course there are). Princess Serenity & Endymion are killed as well, causing Queen Serenity (Past Usagi’s mother) to sacrifice her life in order to resurrect the dead, and to seal Queen Metalia away. Warning that Metalia could return at any time, Serenity orders Luna & Artemis to watch over the girls when they are reborn. The girls return to modern times, where Kunzite beats the hell out of their Cats, and starts throwing around Energy Boomerangs. The girls are badly-hurt, but Usagi pulls out the stops and uses Moon Healing Escalation. Pained, but with too much pride to say “Refresh!” and be de-eviled, Kunzite instead throws out one last Boomerang, which is reflected back. Fatally-wounded, he can only call out Zoisite’s name to lead his soul into limbo.
And with that, the gang knows the villains’ hide-out, and they promise to invade.
(First Appearance: Queen Serenity, Kunzite’s Time Teleport Attack & Boomerang Attack)
The DD Girls- the show’s most vile villains. Others may be meaner, but very few of them actually KILLED THE HEROINES.
The first of the Two-Part Finale, the Sailors invade D-Point and the Dark Kingdom, facing off against the DD Girls (a band of toughs who announce to Beryl that THEY’LL take the mission of killing the girls) in Arctic temperatures. But… this is a bit… DIFFERENT. When the DD Girls attack, a bound Sailor Jupiter lets out a point-blank Supreme Thunder on them. And DIES in the process. Mercury decides to “hold them off” to allow the girls to get to Beryl faster, and is surrounded by an “Illusion” that gives off real heat- the DD Girls (now only three in number- seems Jupiter killed two of them) trap and torture her… but Mercury reveals her ruse, using her Computer one last time to shatter the crystal that’s controlling their powerful illusions before the Girls kill her. A horrified, emotionally-wasted Sailor Moon offers up the Silver Crystal if the DD Girls will lay off, but no dice- they just keep coming.
Sailor Venus dies next, after vaporizing the pink Girl on-screen (with the monster’s face turning horrific when she realizes her death is near) with her Crescent Beam drawn at point-blank range- this leaves only two Sailors left- the two who’ve spent the entire series thus far arguing with each other. Sailor Mars admits that all their arguments in the past were fun (a pretty fatalistic comment), but falsely claims that “I’ll be fine!”. At which point she’s dive-bombed by the remaining two enemies. They’re fast and lethal, trapping her in ice, and the green Girl is prepared to kill Sailor Moon… when “Fire Soul” comes blasting out from under the ice, burning the monster alive! Then the blue, lead Girl comes up with Mars’ broken body, taunting and ready to make her attack.
Usagi is screwed with a capital “S” as the cruel bitch taunts her… but, in one of the show’s most perfect moments, a bloody, beaten and dying Sailor Mars weakly grabs one of her fairy wings. The confused monster looks down, and in the most bad-ass bit EVER, Mars just goes “I’m not beaten yet”… and before the Monster can fight her way free, we hear a light “Fire… Soul…” and the girl immolates before our eyes. Seriously, this is “Zuko in Iroh’s Tent in Avatar: The Last Airbender” storytelling right here- the single Sailor that’s been lecturing and berating Sailor Moon for thirty-ish episodes is the last one standing, and gives the last of her energy to save her dearest friend. And MAN that death is satisfying- the DD Girls were SO evil, and SO lethal, and this one doesn’t get any kind of light, quick death. She dies SCREAMING, burned alive. Sailor Mars can only say “You were right, Usagi… I should have kissed Yuuichiro…”
And with that, all four of the Sailors die. This move shocked the HELL out of the fans, and apparently angry mothers deluged the TV studio with complaints about their traumatized daughters, and of course in North America this was heavily edited to the point where Episodes 45 & 46 were turned into ONE, with all the naughty death bits taken out… but WOW. Now THAT is how you do a friggin’ penultimate episode?
The death of Sailor Venus.
The death of Sailor Mars.
Queen Beryl: Our head villainess.
Until THIS bitch shows up.
In the finale of the first Season, Sailor Moon is immediately swept into Queen Beryl’s Chamber, where she confronts our heroine with Endymion in tow- a Mind-Controlled Prince nearly slaughters his beloved (even after she tosses the Tiara into his chest of her true love, realizing that she can’t let her teammates’ deaths be in vain), until she brings out the LOCKET OF TRUE LOVE (his gift to her in the Moon Kingdom), which completely wipes out all the dark energy. Endymion, now back to Mamoru, is able to throw a single Rose straight through a crystal spear of Beryl’s, nailing her right in the cleavage- the “Good Energy” of the rose starts cracking her evil body.
Curiously, it only just now occurs to me that this is THE ONLY TIME BERYL AND SAILOR MOON MEET. Seriously, the entire rest of the show has been Beryl sitting in her chamber, giving orders. It’s a given that she’s more powerful than her henchmen (she slaughters two of them), but a bit odd that she gives zero effort otherwise. And considering that she’s this Season’s Main Villain (though Metalia’s in charge), it’s kind of funny that she has zero interaction with the main characters for this long.
Mamoru/Endymion dies from his wounds rescuing Usagi one last time, and Usagi refuses to kiss him… because “My friends weren’t able to kiss the boys they loved.” A wounded Beryl pleads with Queen Metalia for more energy- soon the two are merged into a Demonic Purple Giantess, who wields tremendous power. She blasts Sailor Moon, who transforms into Princess Serenity- the show’s Theme Song ends up being played over the battle, which is too bad, because the Original Dub used the AMAZING song Carry On in this case, making it an enormous one-off song (I think the Dub probably spent the budget it saved on animation on rockin’ music). Queen Beryl/Metalia is all “Life is pointless! I’ll kill you easily!”, and a weakened Serenity suddenly finds herself joined… by transparent ghosts of her dead friends. One by one (with Mars, of course, being the first hand), they join hands with Serenity, who calls out one last “Moon Cosmic Power!” and disintegrates the combined entity in one huge flash. And DIES, having unleashed the full power of the Silver Crystal.
But still… Princess Serenity unleashing her full power, with the spirits of her dead friends fighting alongside her, holding hands to ? Now THAT’S a Season Finale. And like so many Shoujo shows before it (seriously, this was apparently a trend), the heroine dies… but not before she’s resurrected by the Silver Crystal, along with all of the brave heroes who died before her. This is all still a bit weird- essentially undoing the deaths, but still giving us the “Bittersweet Finale” because the girls have all been mind-wiped (along with everyone in the world, I guess, because nobody remembers that the girls were once friends). Artemis can only suggest that the girls will have to just meet up again.
A blogger named KeystoJetWolf has done many reviews of the series, and I can’t word it better than she does here:
“Then it’s the main event, and — proving yet again that maybe Usagi’s on to something with her fervent belief in them always being there — her friends kick death in the nuts to heed her call and lend their strength in what is probably the biggest Their Friendship Is Awesome moment in a season packed with them.
Berytalia’s been screeching about how the world is rotten and people suck and there’s no love, and Usagi’s all oh bitch no, my friends and I love each other so much even you killing them didn’t do shit, so sit your gigantic ass down, shut up and suck on some pink light.
I may be paraphrasing.
But for real, Usagi’s relentless optimism even in the face of a hundred-foot high screaming green ladydeathmonster, and then being completely right because her friends are just not going to be stopped by something stupid like dying is about the purest embodiment of this series. If you don’t get goosebumps every time those ghostly hands come to join Usagi then you need to go immerse yourself in a bathtub of puppies stat because you are dead inside.
Also, because the tiny details are important dammit, mad love for Rei’s hand joining Usagi’s first, and for Mako’s hand being noticeably bigger than everyone else’s.
And then Usagi dies.
F*ck the end of this season is so good.”
And that’s it! That’s the entire first season of Sailor Moon! It’s a tricky show to define as a whole, because the success of the series resulted in FIVE SEASONS of equal length, and this is the only one to deal with the pasts of the characters. Sequels guaranteed a lot of “Monster-Of-The-Week” episodes, one-off Generals who were built up into recurring threats in the cartoon, Cosmic Death Monster Big-Bads, and endless power-ups and stuff for the main heroes.
Overall, this season was AMAZING, and has a real shot at being considered the best. It starts off VERY shakily, though- to the point where modern viewers will often drop out in the first handful of episodes, which only feature Sailor Moon as a solo act. As Usagi is rather whiny and annoying, this can be tough to take. Sailors Mercury & Mars add a lot to the festivities (with Mars driving most of the interpersonal conflict), and Sailor Jupiter takes FOREVER to show up. Sailor Venus still feels rather tacked on until the very end, and they don’t get good at writing her until well into the next season. There’s also a LOT of screwing around as they wait for the original manga to “catch up”, so you see a lot of Filler.
But… unlike many anime shows, the Filler can be THE BEST PART. This is where they let out the personalities of the girls (in the manga, they’re all a bit stoic and not dwelled on- the anime actually has to create MORE PERSONALITY for them). The arguments, the boy-crazy stuff, etc.- it all works. It creates some dead periods (especially with the whole “Oh by the way, the Silver Crystal was split up; we’re just telling you this now because we have seven episodes to fill”), but overall, it’s a benefit more than a flaw.
When the show ramps up, though, I’d put it against any other animated series out there. Even Avatar or Justice League. The final ten-ish episodes are among the finest television you can get- full of arguments, drama, characters fighting their own impulses, horrible villains, death-defying heroics, and even heroic sacrifices. The two final episodes are so brutal and shocking that they make the entire show worthwhile. Some argue that the third season is the best one, and the stakes are highest in the final season, but THIS is where the ultimate examples of heroism lie.