July 20, 2020

Adventures in Anime #5, Part 1: Sailor Moon

 

Adventures in Anime is a collaborative feature I have with Alexa Loves Books! The idea is simple – we watch anime together and then we answer 6 questions about what we enjoyed most. We'll do our best to keep it spoiler-free but we will be mentioning our favorites so keep that in mind!

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This has been our most epic Adventures in Anime yet! We decided to do an entire rewatch of all five seasons of Sailor Moon, including the three movies. It took us two months (by pure coincidence, we finished on June 30 which happens to be Usagi's birthday!) and it was so much fun. This was the series that kickstarted my love of anime. I first saw the American dub-version (never again) in middle school but then in high school, one of my classmates introduced me to the real sub-titled versions and that's really the only way to go. But during that time, my only access to anime was through bootleg copies from a local comic shop so while most of this rewatch was nostalgic, the last two seasons and movies were actually completely new to me. Watching Sailor Moon now as an adult made me love and appreciate the show even more. It definitely has parts that don't hold up and had lots of lines that were either laziness on the writers' ends or maybe not the best translation? But the powerful friendship between these different women and how they empowered each other stuck out to me then and now. Because there is so much to say about Sailor Moon, Alexa and I are making this a two-parter! Today we'll be talking about the series as a whole and then a breakdown of each of the seasons and movies. 

In case you didn't know, Sailor Moon is a Japanese anime series that first debuted in Japan in 1992 and then 1997 in the US. The series follows the adventures of Usagi Tsukino, a middle school student, who discovers she has the power to become Sailor Moon. Along the way she is joined by other Sailor Scouts who fight alongside her to defend Earth against evil. And as the seasons go on, we also get to see the girls and particularly, Usagi, grow and mature from middle-schoolers to high school students, and all the emotional up and downs that go along with it. 


Season 1, Sailor Moon •  It was super nostalgic to experience this first season as an adult! It was a little rough in the beginning because Usagi was more of a crybaby than I remembered (and Tuxedo Mask did not hold up at all!) but I loved seeing the Scouts slowly band together and Usagi come into her own. It's funny because my reactions to each of the Scouts were almost exactly the same as it was when I first watched. I had a soft spot for Usagi, Mako/Sailor Jupiter was still my favorite Scout aside from Sailor Moon, and I intensely disliked Rei/Sailor Mars. Then that season finale! Even though I knew what was going to happen, I got way more emotional than I expected to. Like there were actual tears involved. 

Season 2, Sailor Moon R• The first half was absolutely terrible and there no point to the villains whatsoever.  The second half was an improvement because I liked how the future came into play but just like the first time around, Chibiusa drove me crazy. How the show wrote her dynamic with Mamoru and how Usagi saw her as a rival made me extremely uncomfortable. It really makes me wonder what the writers were thinking or trying to say with that. But I will say I loved seeing the friendships between the Scouts deepen in this season and the finale was really good. 

Season 3, Sailor Moon S • Wow, when I got to this season I thought this was, without a doubt, the best season so far. It wasn't perfect but the writing and pacing were super strong. There were less filler episodes, the stakes felt higher and compelling, and the Outer Senshi were a great addition. The way Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune approached their roles as Scouts and having a mission was such a great foil to the Inner Scouts, who seemed so much younger and naive by comparison. I enjoyed seeing them come together and even having that conflict. It was just so good. 

Season 4, Sailor Moon SuperS • Worst season ever. I could've forgiven this season had it been season 2 when the show was clearly still finding its footing. But to be right after such an amazing season was extremely disappointing. There wasn't a single compelling storyline or villain. After all the growth we saw from Usagi, the writers chose to have her character fall back on her immaturity at an exaggerated level instead of acknowledging how far she'd come. I would like to pretend this season doesn't exist and honestly, you wouldn't miss much if you chose to skip it and go straight to season 5. 

Season 5, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars • From the first episode of this season, it just hit the ground running and I knew early on that it would probably end up becoming my favorite (and it is!). The first arc was incredible and didn't let up once. I was so impressed by the pacing and plot. But I also loved the second arc too. It introduced the Starlights (Seiya was my favorite!). But more than any other season, it genuinely made me laugh out loud, appreciate the friendships and the individuals even more than I already did, and even swoon a few times. There was just so much growth from everyone and we actually got to have every single Scout in this season! 

Final season rankings (in order from favorite to least) | 5, 3, 1, 2, 4

Then some quick thoughts on the movies ...
Sailor Moon R the Movie: Promise of the Rose • Unfortunately I had to watch all the movies dubbed because I rented them through Apple. So not only did I have to put up with the terrible voice actors but the movie was just bad. I barely remember the plot and I think it's because my brain has chosen to block out the memory of watching. 

Sailor Moon S: The Movie • I had very low expectations for this so imagine my surprise when it ended up being really good. I enjoyed the story and it was nice to focus on Luna and see this whole other side of her. It was just beautiful and romantic. 

Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie • This was another bad one and while I, at least, vaguely remember the story, I wasn't entertained by it all. 

Final movie rankings | Just watch the Sailor Moon S movie. 


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So fellow anime fans, have you watched Sailor Moon?
And if so, what did you think?

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