Sailor Moon R (Part One: Episodes 47-52)
SAILOR MOON R:
The Makai (Demon… sorta) Tree, looking like a flying womb-tree-thing.
Which isn’t far from what it actually is.
Sailor Moon R is the name given to the second “Series” of Sailor Moon in Japan- the different arcs actually have different titles, rather than “Season 1/2/4/whatever” like you’d see over here. With the previous threat (and really, the Sailors’ ENTIRE REASON FOR EXISTING) defeated and dead, new threats suddenly emerge, and Sailors are reformed to fight THOSE, as well. And, of course, a new “status quo” is reached, much like the old- the main villains summon Monsters, which steal energy from Naru and other civilians, and the Sailors soon pound the daylights out of them.
The first part of SMR was a bit weird, as they needed to bridge the gap between production of the manga and the new season (then, as now, shows rarely wait too long before copying a hit manga, meaning that the writers soon run out of original material to copy- necessitating “Filler”). Therefore, a mini-arc was formed with the “Makai Tree” and a pair of sexy aliens that are trying to save it. Each of the Sailors also get new powers added in, which are notable for being A) super-awesome and cool-looking, and B) NEVER BEING SEEN AGAIN. Seriously, these powers were added in simple to allow focus on the Inner Senshi, only to be ignored completely for the entire rest of the run. Why they didn’t at least keep the POWERS around is beyond me.
The theme song is the same Moonlight Dentetsu as before, but with a different opening sequence- some more bits that ended up in the U.S. version, including the “Usagi & Sailor Moon as reflections” bit, her hugging a white-clad Mamoru, and the final bit where the Sailors all do a pose in front of a neon cityscape.
As a Recap for the series as a whole:
* Whiny, lazy, stupid Usagi Tsukino is Sailor Moon, the defender of love and justice. Her friends are the “Sailor Senshi” (sorta like Soldiers/Warriors in English), and back her up- Sailors Mars (bitchy), Mercury (smart), Jupiter (feminine & masculine) and Venus (sorta like Moon- they’re figuring her out slowly).
* She is the reincarnation of the Moon Princess from a thousand years prior- her true love was reborn as well- Mamoru Chiba, who defends her as Tuxedo Mask.
* The villains typically act as powerful “Generals” to a major Magical Abomination creature, and cast out Monsters of the Week as one-off threats.
* “Filler Episodes” typically involve a Monster of the Week doing stuff to civilians (either in groups or a “Friend of the Week” that gets targeted) and being beaten by the powers of Stock Animation.
* The reason for the Sailors’ existence… was beaten last season. But in so doing, Sailor Moon and all her friends were killed! However, the Legendary Silver Crystal used its powers to resurrect the girls… but without their memories of their time together!
Our primary villain, Ail, to whom I am not attracted at all.
And we begin a new era in Sailor Moon– with a non-manga arc designed to renew the girls’ partnership, and introduce a new enemy. The girls have all still had their memories erased (it’s pretty clear that nobody AROUND them knows that the girls had ever met, either- it’s a bit unknown as to WHY this had to be that way, but whatevs…), and are slowly meeting again. And a pair of aliens touch down on Earth- Ail & An, alongside their “Makai Tree”. Despite being all in love with each other, they pretend to be brother & sister at the Junior High School (Natsumi & Seijuro Ginga- former Ann & Alan Granger in the original dub), and both begin macking on other students- Ail finds himself enraptured with Usagi’s beauty (this becomes a bit of a recurring trend with villains and side characters), and An goes “sploosh” at the sight of Mamoru.
And naturally they need to absorb life energy to survive, and so send out a “Cardian” to drain people. Poor Naru gets attacked because OF COURSE SHE DOES, and even Luna’s getting in on the gag (“I gotta say that girl sure does get her energy sucked a lot…”), but this unfortunately draws Usagi into things, and now Luna HAS to bring her memories back. “Goodbye, my ordinary life…”- Usagi transforms into Sailor Moon once more, defeating the Cardian after Luna provides the distraction.
(First Appearance: An, Ail, Natsumi & Seijuro Ginga forms, The Makai Tree, Cardians)
Ail and An in their human disguises. Despite loving each other for years, they of course start trying to score with a pair of sexy humans as soon as they meet up.
And with Sailor Moon’s memories back, it’s time to re-introduce the OTHER girls. And poor Usagi gets rejected by Mamoru, because of course HE doesn’t remember her, either! This is a kind of funny thing… the show endeavored to keep the two apart for so long (they were rivals, then he was evil, then he was forgetful, then he was hiding away because of dire warnings in his dreams) that by the time they DID really get together, they had almost no idea where to go with him!
In any case, Ail & An set up a TV Studio audition that lures in “five special girls” (translation: Naru and the four Sailors), and Usagi tags along to finagle an audition herself. But instead they’re attacked by a Sexy Blue Minotaur Girl. I love that it chases the girls around for a while, until Mars & Jupiter realize that they’re the two Sailors so devoted to kicking ass that they’ve learned to kick ass in their CIVILIAN LIVES, and so they whup on the monster some. Makoto judo-flipping Minotauron through a freaking piece of scenery is worth the price of admission alone. The monster soon beats on Sailor Moon, and thus the four Sailors have their memories restored. This gives us one of the better “Sailor Team-Ups” seen, as it’s literally “Bubbles obscure, Thunder stuns, and Crescent Beam & Fire Soul combine to exterminate the beast” in about ten seconds. This makes one of the very, VERY rare occasions that a monster is killed by the OTHER girls- not them wearing it down for Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon Fan-Art is the best kind of Fan-Art.
This is a very, very famous one for the Sailor Jupiter fandom of the late 1990s- we are introduced to her friend Ken (here, he has a full name- Kenji Shinozake now), a completely-platonic buddy who helped her through the hard times of when “I was dumped for the umpteenth time”. Fans of Jupiter LOVED this little extra bit of backstory, and the Shipping began immediately. Sadly, Ken wasn’t a manga character, and so that part was totally out-of-continuity, and this potentially-interesting side character never appeared again (much like Greg/Urawa did from the first season). And of course the nice little song Rainy Day Man from the dub was taking the place of the Japanese original, which was apparently a soft jazz number (was that a HUGE GENRE in early 1990s Japan or something?).
SERIOUSLY OH MY GOD RAINY DAY MANNNNNNNNNNNNNN….!!! (seriously- you ever wanna reach into a cartoon and punch someone in the kidneys? That’s how I feel about Unnamed Ex-Boyfriend Who Callously Dumps Poor Mako-Chan)
I always like this kind of thing, though- Sailor Jupiter, while the toughest, trash-talkingest member of the Senshi, also has the most easily-broken heart. She’s big and tough and strong as hell, but she wears pink roses as earrings, wears a big flowing ponytail, and obsesses over domestic skills like housekeeping and cooking. She mixes the masculine AND feminine traits together in a way that I can’t recall basically ANY other character doing. In any case, she gives a ton of blood to help Kenji survive after falling off an embankment, but is still fighting the monster the next night (in a great moment, Moon begs her not to fight “Please, Jupiter, I don’t want you to die”, and Jupiter is all “OMG I’m so touched, I had no idea you were so concerned… but sorry because F*CKING VENGEANCE IS MINE”). Alas, the beast (a big pink lion, straight out of She-Ra or a Lisa Frank catalogue) is a remarkable fighter, and soon whups on everybody with a Breath Weapon from Hell. Only the intervention of a rose saves the day… a WHITE rose??? Yes, it’s the arrival of the Moonlight Knight, a rose-throwing Arabian-themed interventionist who is so TOTALLY Mamoru, but claims not to be. His scimitar shatters the Lion’s energy-draining spinning wheel, which basically wrecks it.
Mako & Kenji apparently have a relationship that’s “Closer than romance”, but Usagi finds it hard to believe that a boy and a girl can be that close, and still “just friends” after it all. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this in the futureHAHAHA NOPE WE NEVER SEE OR HEAR FROM HIM AGAIN.
(First Appearance: The Moonlight Knight, White Roses)
Seriously, did you think I was kidding about the pink lion?
A new Virtual Reality Game thing comes to town, and naturally it’s soon targeted by the villains. However, the crux of the episode involves An flirting with Mamoru, who is ansty around her and cruel to Usagi, who still loves Mamoru, yet is now being pursued by Ail. Then Usagi’s dad and brother show up at the place, and they get attacked by a monster, alongside Mamoru! Mamo holds his own pretty well, but then we get a series of shockers- Sailor Moon’s Tiara stops working (dropping in mid-spin)! The Moonlight Knight appears… with Mamoru standing RIGHT THERE! The Knight goes Ogami Itto with his sword, as the monster’s tentacles are sliced apart, but she soon recovers and traps him. The other Sailors finally arrive, however, and soon deal with the monster- Fire Soul tears off her remaining tentacles, and then a Crescent Beam/Supreme Thunder combo finishes her. This season’s been very odd with letting the girls actually kick some ass on their own.
This one takes place during “Cherry Blossom Viewing” season, and is basically all the girls showing up at a large park in order to enjoy one of Japan’s big sightseeing ventures. Haha, love the ’90s fashions in this one- Rei’s giant pink overalls, big puffy jackets and more. The school uniforms can hide the era pretty well, but during crowd scenes, you can definitely tell when this was made. Watching Naru & Umino flirt (not too long before they become irrelevant) is adorbz, and there’s some fun camaraderie/arguing between the girls as well, providing for some fun stuff. Really, I could watch stuff like this even more than the often-superfluous fighting.
Naru & Umino get energy-drained by the new Cardian- a phasing girl in traditional Japanese dress (this is literally the third time in FOUR EPISODES that Naru has been drained), and soon Ms. Haruna (called “Ms. Sakurada” in the subtitles, but still Haruna in the dub) joins them. Now, it’s a brawl- the other Sailors are drained in their civilian forms, trapped and helpless, and Usagi’s Tiara STILL doesn’t work! And now, her TRANSFOMATION BROOCH is shattered! It turns out that she’s being de-powered due to her angst over becoming Sailor Moon again- so long as she desires being “a normal Middle-School girl”, she will be unable to transform. Sent into the world within her mind, she comes face-to-face with Queen Serenity (her MOTHER, remember), who advises Usagi that her heartfelt desire to save her friends will allow her to use the Silver Crystal again- she gains a new brooch and power-up phrase (“Moon Crystal Power… Make-Up!”).
Alas, the dub changes the line from “Thank you, Queen Serenity… mother.” to “Thank you, Queen Serenity… thank you” for no apparent reason (it’s the SAME SYLLABLES!!). But in any case, she returns to Earth all powered-up and ready to fight… but the Cardian still kicks her ass (this thing is VERSATILE, too- tons of powers). However, the Moonlight Knight distracts it, and Queen Serenity tosses down, and I swear I’m not making this up, the CUTIE MOON ROD, and casts “Moon Princess Halation” (a spirograph of pink lights followed by a moon circling a sphere made of blue stars that Blasts the enemy), exterminating Cardian Leshy once and for all.
(First Appearance: New Brooch, New Sailor Moon Transformation Sequence, Cutie Moon Rod, Moon Princess Halation)
And that’s it for now! This season’s pretty short, so it needs to be cut into two separate bits. I figured I’d leave off with Usagi accepting her fate and getting new powers (and the Cutie Moon Rod, of course!) out of the deal.