Sailor Saturn- The terrifying “Senshi of Destruction”, with the power to destroy the entire world.
And now we’ve reached the finale of Sailor Moon S! The story- Hotaru Tomoe has been transformed into the evil Mistress 9 by her father, Professor Tomoe. The Mistress calls forth her master, the faceless Pharaoh 90, who shall now enact “The Silence”- the end of everything. So… Armageddon. Sailor Moon and her friends, who loved Hotaru, now have to fight her, while Sailor Uranus, Neptune & Pluto, antagonists for the past bit, are out to KILL HER, like they’ve been planning to do for a while.
Pharaoh 90, our “Big Bad”- it never speaks, and it only wishes to destroy the world. A terrifying, soulless villain, but lacks that “Human Element”- thankfully, it has minions.
Professor Tomoe explains that “this world of light, full of falsehoods” will soon be destroyed, giving way to a world of darkness, as The Silence wipes out the Earth. And Mistress 9’s role as the Messiah of Silence is to place the Holy Grail on a device that will lure Pharaoh 90 to our solar system. The girls transform (using the “Slow Dramatic Music”, no less!), but are immediately besieged by literally HUNDREDS of Daimons, which have burst directly from their eggs, and so are amorphous blob-monsters that can take humanoid shape. This is actually what all the Daimons were in the manga, by the way. The girls use their attacks to blow some of them up, but then Sailor Moon uses the Moon Spiral Heart Attack… which covers HUNDREDS OF FEET (!!!), wiping out a vast swath of them.
The Sailor Teleport attempt is stopped by a renewed assault, and Mistress 9 reaching through a friggin’ portal with her kaleidoscope demon hand and DRAGGING Sailor Moon through it, into her lair! Meanwhile, the Outer Sailors attempt to fly in via their Mystery Helicopter, and the Daimons electrify it, BLOWING IT UP!! They’re, of course, completely screwed… except Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time, reveals her Secret Ultimate Power- She STOPS TIME. That’s really freaking cool- they’re basically sitting in a blowing-up helicopter, mid-explosion. That is really well-done conceptually.
Pluto reveals that this is the “Greatest taboo” she could commit, and teleports Uranus & Neptune out of there, saying “farewell” just as the ‘copter blows up completely. Mistress 9 is all about to talk smack, despite being impressed, but then Hotaru speaks through her (“you will not use that pure heart for evil!”). But she turns into Hotaru Form and moves on, while leaving the Professor (called “Daimon Germatoid”) to fight Uranus & Neptune. He taunts them, announces that he’s just a Daimon possessing Tomoe, and then imbues a horde of “Dolls” with his essence- damn, those things look straight-up like things out of Neon Genesis Evangelion. They even move like the baddies from Attack on Titan! Uranus & Neptune are screwed, as they’re immune to most harm… but then Pluto’s voice says “The Talismans!”, the girls manifest the Mirror and Sword, and the Mirror flash-fries all the assembled Dolls but one, and Uranus stabs it through the eye.
The creepy-ass Daemon Dolls.
The Sailors, realizing they can’t break in through the force field, simply opt to combine their efforts with an Energy Field that counters the growing field. I’d say that’s an Ass Pull, but that’s literally what they do in the Crystal Tokyo of the future, so I guess this is just a prelude to THAT. The animation here is so far above the norm here it’s crazy. Like, MOVIE good.
Mistress 9 has Sailor Moon, Uranus & Neptune with her, and the two elder Sailors attempt to wipe her out, especially after she confirms their message that “Hotaru Tomoe is dead”. However, Sailor Moon gotta Sailor Moon, and so she JUMPS IN THE WAY, one of the few times I’ve seen a regular Sailor take damage from another Sailor’s major attacks- she’s hurt but, like, not even as much as most villains do to the girls normally. Mistress 9 just casually says “thank you” and then whups the two others, who are all “You fool!” and “Don’t interfere!” to Moon, but are immediately grabbed by Mistress 9’s Prehensile Hair and tied to a giant, scythe-wielding angel statue. SUBTLE.
Mistress 9 threatens their lives if Moon doesn’t give her the Holy Grail, and naturally she’s about to sacrifice everything when Professor Tomoe staggers in. 9 just taunts this “disgusting shell” and strikes him, but Hotaru’s voice breaks through again, despite 9’s insistence that “Hotaru died just now” earlier on!
Mistress 9 feeling the presence of Hotaru Tomoe taking back over their shared form. And also rocking the cleave.
Mistress 9 collapses (“this body’s rejecting me…”), crying out “Daddy!… help me!…”, but Uranus is all “Finish her off now, Sailor Moon!”, because she’s gotta be Uranus. Sailor Moon of course REFUSES, and brings forth the Holy Grail, insisting that “I refuse to accept a world that can only be saved if she dies”, because Hotaru has done nothing wrong. But OH SHIT THAT JUST MAKES IT WORSE, as Mistress 9 cackles and blasts everyone, but you can still see her struggle. She finally describes what the Holy Grail is- the “crystallization” of the emotions, good and bad, elevated to their highest forms by Pure Hearts. Helpfully, however, she says “the only way” to defeat Pharaoh 90 once he assimilates the Holy Grail is to have a “Superior Pure Heart Crystal”, which pretty much gives the whole ending away right there.
Pharaoh 90 begins to arrive- a giant black sphere with several waving tendrils- inhuman and never speaking. A blast from the Moon Rod does nothing- and a cool “reverberating” noise simply fires a beam through it, hammering Sailor Moon. His arrival sends out a series of blasts, one of which slams Mistress 9, who was JUST bragging about how she & he were going to rule the world together. The other one… is blocked by SAILOR MOON, who has guarded Professor Tomoe… and Hotaru?!? Yes, Hotaru & Mistress 9 continue fighting for dominance, with a tearful Professor remembering happier times, but confessing he’s got no way of returning his daughter to safety. But then Hotaru finally thinks of those who need her protection, the “black star” forehead mark on 9’s head shatters, and is replaced by the symbol of Saturn! Chibi-Usa’s Pure Heart is returned as Mistress 9 disintegrates into nothing.
And yes, the Guardian of Destruction finally returns to the world. She calmly thanks Sailor Moon for guarding her physical body, then points out that she can destroy planets at the cost of her own life, and that only she may enter Pharaoh 90 at his core and destroy him. Sailor Moon LOSES IT, begging her not to sacrifice herself, and desperately attempts to use “Crisis Make-Up” for a switch to Super Sailor Moon. This is, of course, impossible without the Holy Grail… but then the other Sailors (who’ve had their Force Field wiped out by Pharaoh 90’s arrival) have their tiaras glow… and then URANUS & NEPTUNE (clearly impressed/saddened by Moon’s breakdown) join in, and soon we have Usagi powered up once more by the power of her friends’ love for her (god that is so fucking Shoujo Anime, I love it). With her shining “Super Pure Heart”, she slowly walks through the ebony energy and joins the fight.
We never really see the INSIDE of Pharaoh 90- just the aftermath, as the black portal disappears, the sun shines, and the hole where Mugen Academy once stood now fills with a slow, rising pool of calm water. And Super Sailor Moon returns, carrying an infant Hotaru wrapped in cloth.
(First Appearance: Sailor Saturn)
Super Sailor Moon: The picture of PTSD. Jesus, look at those eyes.
She won, but that had a COST.
So Pharaoh 90 has been defeated, but now we have TWO EPISODES LEFT. And we still have Sailor Moon standing their, eyes completely blank, with this expression on her face that’s just like “ffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkk…”.
And then they just jump to the following day, where they’re like “Hey, where are Pluto & Hotaru?” because Uranus & Neptune had just absconded with Baby Hotaru seconds after Sailor Moon walked out. They plop her back in her father’s lap after bonding with her for a few days, making Neptune sad- it’s a bit odd, because they’re all like “He has amnesia and can’t remember the past few years”, but the hospital just lets him motor around with the kid in his wheelchair (never mind Haruka & Michiru speeding along in that convertible with no car seat for the baby- she’s just in Michiru’s lap!).
Chibi-Usa is feeling it over losing her two best friends, but Pluto appears from outside reality (or, you know, death), giving her and the audience the necessary exposition- Sailor Saturn & Mistress 9 possessed the same body, and now Mistress 9 has been destroyed and Hotaru is reborn as an impossibly-cute infant. Chibi-Usa sadly/hopefully tells Hotaru they’ll meet again someday.
Meanwhile, Uranus & Neptune aren’t DONE being bitchy, and so they call out the Sailors for the naivete that nearly destroyed the planet. All “sure you DID save the world, but you also RISKED it!”. Sailor Moon acknowledges they’re right, but the elder Sailors demand a FIGHT! Everyone’s like “WTF?”, but the big smirks on their faces imply something’s up. And then Tuxedo Mask prevents the Inners from interfering (“let them fight”). Things seem to go sideways when Neptune hits “Deep Submerge” (one of the few times a Sailor’s attack strikes another Sailor- Moon sells it like a regular punch, oddly), but Usagi’s able to dodge World Shaking AND a ton of punches, then does a big Light Burst that knocks both of them into each other.
And then they just get up and BOW. Usagi’s all “WTF?” again, but they both acknowledge her as the strong, true Messiah and Future Queen. This was all a TEST! They’re like “you proved your power yet again”, are all “you turned the Guardian of Destruction into a friend”, and say their goodbyes, pointing out their mission is now done. And that’s it for the Outer Sailors.
AND NOW ONE MORE!! I guess with all the planets represented by Sailors, they needed two episodes to wrap everything up. Chibi-Usa gets another childishly-written letter from her mother, asking her to return home, and she makes preparations. In a very Jem and the Holograms move, she gets upset when they appear too happy with her leaving, but the audience knows they’re clearly going to miss her, and want to make the send-off better. Finally, the two Usagis cry as Chibi-Usa gets pulled into the sky… but then A DAIMON shows up, having survived the purge and merging with the “Daimon Oven”! She makes short work of the Sailors with some strong attacks and defenses, but is stopped… by Sailor Chibi-Moon? Yup- time being what it is, she pops back an indeterminate amount of time later, distracts the villain, Tuxedo Mask nails it with a rose, and then Sailor Moon wipes it out. And I guess she’s back in the past full-time, now.
A very low-key finale, but establishes the new “Chibi-Moon is always there” status quo.
THE FINAL WORD:
And thus concludes the epic tale of Sailor Moon S. I would put it right up there with the original season as the best the show ever put out- the stakes are just as high, and the villainy just as personal. The crux of the whole thing is moral ambiguity- the “Killing Infant Hitler in His Crib” thing. Hotaru Tomoe has the power to end the world, so do they kill her to prevent that? The elder Sailors are all “Yes”, and frequently chide the younger ones for being weak-willed, naive and clueless as to the nature of the world. But since this is Shoujo, Sailor Moon and her friends are ultimately correct- the power of their love and friendship is too mighty for the cynicism of Uranus & Neptune.
The first half of this season was incredibly interesting, with the writers completely being in love with their new “toys”- Uranus & Neptune were interesting, threw a wrench into things, and dominated every story. They have some great interactions with the rest of the cast (especially Makoto’s girl-crush on Haruka), their attacks were awesome, and more. And the second half of the season introduced Hotaru & Chibi-Usa’s friendship, and they did an awesome job making us want to defend the incredibly-innocent, sickly young Hotaru- very few characters have ever come off so sympathetic.
The villains were great fun- Kaolinite was mean, Eudial was clever, and Mimete was a hoot (her frequent attempts at quitting the Death Busters because she had a crush or wanted to become an idol were AMAZING). Having to rush through the final three Witches felt weird considering the tone of the series (and was totally the result of them having used too much “Filler”), but we ended up with the great Mistress 9, the end of the Professor’s evil nature, and one of the best “I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!!” ending cliches ever. Pharaoh 90 is a fairly unmemorable villain by contrast, but that’s kind of his point- Mistress 9 was the one with all the dialog and motivation.
Ultimately, it’s possibly the best season Sailor Moon ever had- after the speedbumps of Sailor Moon R (which ambled on with some boring subplots for too long, and had some mediocre villains), the show came roaring back, completed the Sailor unit with the rest of the Solar System, and gave us this insane, biblical, dark story. Truly an amazing piece of work.