New goddamn Sailors- that’s right.
And we’re back!! Sailor Moon S, possibly/probably the most beloved season of the massive series, started off with a bang last episode, as Usagi desperately watched her best friend (Rei/Sailor Mars) almost die. They were saved… by two MYSTERIOUS SAILORS!! Just what’s going on?!?
Usagi’s Silver Crystal has stopped glowing after the last battle, and she fears she’ll lose her powers for good! But she & Mamoru immediately come across our Victim of the Week, as naturally the “Heart Crystal” thing has become our new Standard Default Episode. It’s a little girl who’s caring for stray cats, and of course Usagi decides to help. Curiously, when she asks the other Sailors to adopt some, Mako gives us our first indication that she lives alone, which is something the anime totally glossed over. NINETY EPISODES IN, and they’ve never shown the families of 80% of our main cast. You would NEVER see that nowadays in anime.
Holy CRAAAAAAAAAAAP the animation takes a major upgrade here- at one point, the Daimon’s extendable tail gets caught in a doorway, dissolves and turns into a pile of puzzle pieces. That’s nuts. The character animation, complete with little gestures and careful maneuvering. The Daimon takes out all four Sailors by deflecting a Mandalah/Pressure attack back at the entire group, while Usagi can’t transform. And once again, the two new Sailors use their attacks and finish her off instantly. But when they toss the Heart Crystal back, the monster regenerates! And when Venus is all “WTF?” when they start leaving, they just reply “Don’t get the wrong idea. We’re only here for the Talismans” and LEAVE THE SAILORS TO THEIR FATE! Those BITCHES!!
Usagi refuses to leave Mamoru and her friends to die, and only then can she re-energize, as the love between her & Mamo brings forth the “legendary Spiral Heart Moon Rod”, which of course Artemis & Luna recognize now that it’s useful. She unleashes a Moon Spiral Heart Attack, which basically throws a GIGANTIC heart at the Daimon, smashing her through it, and leaving a star-shaped hole within the thing. This finally kills her off.
(First Appearance: Spiral Heart Moon Rod, Moon Spiral Heart Attack)
Check the animation on these attacks compared to the other Sailors’ special moves.
Another huge one for the fandom, as we’re finally introduced to the two new Sailors in their civilian identities: Sailor Uranus of course debuts as Haruka Tenoh, a very… handsome boy? Yup, she’s a girl who likes dressing as a boy, flirting with young girls, and car racing. And Sailor Venus LOVES her. And so does Haruka’s GIRLFRIEND, Michiru Kaioh. Yes, LESBIAN SAILORS- the thing that resulted in the hugest amount of Dub Changes in the show’s history (making them “cousins”). The opening also slots these two into various “Sailor Sequences”.
Best moment: Minako’s all going on about how you’re only young once, and need to put off studying to have fun, and says “Slow dancing wins the race!”. At which point Motoki (who’d invited her over to take a break from studying) just gets this dark expression and goes “You’d be better off studying”. Haruka walks into the arcade and immediately begins flirting with the girls, who are stunned by “his” gorgeous features. But then a lady named Michiru shows up, and the two walk off, the most perfect couple in the universe. But it’s too late- Minako’s already decided that this is the man she’s going to marry, and begins stalking them.
Their voices seem alright- Haruka’s not believable as a male, but is noticeably deeper than the other girls. Michiru is a bit overly “feminine” in a way- like someone doing an affected “rich girl” voice without going full “Katharine Hepburn”, though I guess that’s appropriate enough for the character.
Haruka’s teasing is AMAZING, as “he” reveals to the girls that “Michiru might even be closer than (my girlfriend)”, breaking their hearts… but then goes “but you still have a chance”, at which point Michiru walks up and starts kidding around- “Haruka says that to all the cute girls”. Then Rei, back at the study group, IMMEDIATELY correctly guesses why Usagi & Minako are late, Ami says “they wouldn’t really do that!”, and then all three girls sigh and realize that yes, they actually would.
A car mechanic who’s had literally two lines in this whole show is our Target of the Week, and a car turns into a Daimon. She reveals the Crystal Locator Star through a LITERAL boob window (as in, the window of her car-torso literally rolls down to reveal half of her boobs), and Usagi has to act as the voice of reason, getting Minako to stop focusing on Haruka. USAGI. THE VOICE OF REASON. God this show is amazing.
The Daimon’s a LITTLE silly this time around, driving around on her back, with her legs up and her arms holding a steering wheel in front of her, shouting “Vroomvroomvroomvroom” as she speeds about. But they make up for it when Haruka drops a MOTORCYCLE at her. Three Sailor Attacks (including the full displays of World Shaking & Deep Submerge, which are so far beyond the Sailor Attacks seen thus far that it’s scary- they’re BEAUTIFULLY animated) are all it takes to finish the Daimon, at which point the girls head back to the arcade… and are stunned when a jacket-less Haruka now looks like a somewhat-chesty, wide-eyed GIRL. “I don’t recall saying that I was a boy…” is all she can say, her eyes mysteriously wider and more eyelash-y instead of narrow “adult male eyes” that we usually see. And we have a new ending theme, replacing the past entire season’s “Usagi Running” finale.
(First Appearance: Move Animations, Haruka Tenoh, Michiru Kaioh, New Opening & Ending Sequence)
Sailor Neptune- the most impossibly-perfect feminine girl in history. Which is why she was so impossible for everyone to write properly.
Michiru now gets an episode with a bit of focus, detailing… well, basically how PERFECT she is. That’s kind of her character- aloof, impersonal, but good at EVERYTHING. The “plays a violin while bouncing a lemon on it” was a gif from like… back when gifs took up every bit of memory you had. It’s also a neat look at Usagi & Mamo’s relationship- the show REALLY had no idea what to do with them in the early seasons, so there were always artificial means to keep them apart (he was mind-wiped for a while, then was forced to call it quits). Here, she gets a glimpse of how much more mature and studious Mamoru is than she, so she feels inadequate (“I’m not fit to be your briiiiiiiiiide!”), thus attempts to improve herself. Naturally, the other girls are horrified at the thought of having to TEACH her anything.
Rei gives her the “tough love” approach while the other girls run off with excuses, but Luna’s comments hit her hard- about how Usagi “never listens” and how “At this rate, Mamoru is going to say he doesn’t want to marry you.” Only when Usagi breaks down AGAIN does Luna realize she was being serious this time. This leads her to hero-worship the ultra-feminine, ultra-capable Michiru.
Interestingly, Haruka gives some explanation about how they’ve been “given a few memories of our past lives”. And we also learn that extracting the three talismans will kill the owners (a massively-important plot point that drives a ridiculous amount of the story considering what turns out to happen). The Sailors arrive at a violin recital so Usagi can get some culture (the girls apologize for their actions, but Rei of course makes a spectacle of herself by admonishing Usagi for ogling Mamoru in his white tuxedo instead of paying attention), and IMMEDIATELY a Daimon reveals itself. The “Violin Monster” design is pretty stupid, though. Curiously, only the Sailors are awake after her “Octave!” attack. And the poor violinist victim is so much a backdrop that he doesn’t even get any LINES.
Finally all the Sailors meet, though the newbies are aloof & unfeeling as always (Mars of COURSE notes how rude they are). Neptune merely adds that “the heart of an artist is a delicate thing” and prefers caution when they return it.
So with the two new Sailors now fully introduced, with their quirks and foibles (Haruka is serious and ruthless, but a playful flirt; Michiru is ethereal and feminine, and is usually happy to spare others).
Next up: We enter the “Template Episodes”!