Bold statement: Few people have ever loved anything the way Teenage Me loved Sailor Moon.
I LOVED this show when I was in High School. In a time when it was massively uncool for a boy to watch a “show for girls”, I was like openly talking about this to several of my male friends at the time. I remember seeing snippets of it at first, glossing it over as a silly, powdery girl show, and making fun of it with my buddies at school. Then one day I was SUPER-bored after school (it aired at 4:30 on YTV in Canada I believe) and caught an episode… it ended up being the EPIC story where the Scouts met up with the spirit of Queen Serenity, who showed them their entire history with the Moon Kingdom, and then they subsequently killed the villainous Malachite. THEN, the next episode was the major “Them (vs) Beryl and the Doom & Gloom Girls” story. Bam. Hooked. Just like that. What a series of episodes to run through to start my fandom with this show (not in any way diminished by learning just HOW edited and hacked-up that finale was- they took two ultra-violent episodes- even for JAPAN- and merged them into one where you couldn’t see the girls die, and everything was shortened in general). Plus, all the ladies in it (especially one Raye Hino… *sigh*…) were extremely hot, and I was like fifteen.
I became a HUGE fan of the series, and told my best friend at the time about it- he was hesitant to like it at first, but pretty soon we were a couple of secret Sailor Moon marks, hiding it from our ultra-macho High School buddies. This was my first major introduction to anime fandom (I loved Astro Boy and Saber Rider and the Star Sherrifs as a kid, but never acknowledged them as anime, being like seven or something), and I became one of those classic mid-90s teenage anime fans, who had no outlet for the love aside from what was shown on TV at the time- VHS tapes cost a FORTUNE at that time, meaning I could only look wistfully at them at the local HMV store. Season Boxed Sets? HAH- not even a thing. So this meant watching Sailor Moon and Hello Kitty for my anime fix, pretty much, as the Animesplosion that Dragon Ball Z started (and Naruto & Bleach later ultimized) was YEARS away.
Was it good? Well let’s just say that Sailor Moon kicks the ever-loving crap out of Dragon Ball Z on every possible level, and leave it at that. Sailor Moon even has good FILLER. You LOOK FORWARD to Sailor Moon filler.
I figured I’d review the episodes in batches of eleven or so. Too much? Too little? I dunno- I can keep going on about this forever.
Heh- it’s funny how quickly they just gloss over the main plot here, since we need to introduce Usagi, her mother, her classmates, Luna and the villains. Queen Beryl already mentions “our great master” right away (something I remember coming by surprise in the original dub), and Jadeite is pronounced “Jade-ite” in stead of “Jed-ite”. Mamoru makes his debut as a random sarcastic rude guy, but isn’t named, yet is clearly this “Tuxedo Mask” fellow that saves Sailor Moon’s life in her first fight. Moon uses a weird “Sonic Cry Attack” that stuns the Monster and ALL of her controlled minions. And yeah, Usagi’s mission is mentioned by Luna SO QUICKLY that it’s easy to forget- “you must find the Princess”. Luna doesn’t even EXPLAIN WHAT THAT MEANS. Naturally, Usagi is introduced as a clumsy, lazy idiot. I wonder how common this character archetype was in Japan at the time? I know in the West we had very few Klutzy Female Heroines at the time- most female stars were usually impeccably-kind and skilled.
(First Appearance: The Dark Kingdom, Queen Beryl, Jadeite, Usagi/SailorMoon, Luna, Usagi’s Mom & Brother, Naru, Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask, Umino, Ms. Haruna, Sailor V/Venus & Naru’s Mom, MoonTiara Action)
Sure enough, we’re right into the Standard Sailor Moon Plot- New Business opens up; is revealed to be Negaverse Energy-Sucking Plot. We meet Motoki, Usagi’s first crush, in the meantime. Class Nerd Umino getting brain-controlled into being a flirtatious sex offender is pretty funny (he flips up THE TEACHER’S SKIRT!). I actually don’t remember this one AT ALL.
(First Appearance: Motoki)
A new Popular Radio Show (hosted by “J. Daito”) is draining lovelorn women’s energy with a brooch they receive when they write in their love letters! A pretty easy plot to guess (especially since Haruna & Naru are immediately fatigued by them), but it DOES feature the first meeting between Sailor Moon and Jadeite.
Hilariously, Sailor Moon defeats the Monster WITHOUT HELP, simply by barely-dodging attacks, throwing the Tiara (which misses), then REDIRECTING IT, tearing the Monster in half! Jadeite then casually drops the Tiara and avoids a physical attack, preparing to end the series by the third episode, but Tuxedo Mask’s rose sends him off with a smirk… man, Jadeite got a HELL of a power showing there, but by just LEAVING when he could have finished Usagi, he looked like a cowardly idiot, even though he was chuckling as he teleported away. Heh- this episode makes it pretty clear that Usagi’s mother has her husband COMPLETELY whipped, too.
(First Appearance: Moon Tiara Redirection, The Disguise Pen- used to get Usagi into the radio station)
Ah, I remember this one quite well. See, back in the Before Time (in the Long, Long Ago), it was common to have to record things you didn’t have time to watch on something called VIDEO TAPE. And since I was missing this episode, I had it taped, and for some reason, just kept going back to watch it, while the show was still ongoing. As a result, I probably saw it like 10 times or so. The new villain plot involves a Gym that’s draining people’s energy, while Usagi has weight issues. This one’s notable for introducing a pair of girls that seem like they’d be “Part of Usagi’s Group” characters (a skinny, lovelorn freckled girl and a chubby girl), but they never appear after this. Curiously, Jadeite is just using three mind-controlled Gym Rats as minions, and Sailor Moonactually KICKS SOME ASS, after Luna tells her she’ll lose some weight if she fights them- she throws some good kicks and punches, then knocks their Mind Control Headbands off with her Tiara. Jadeite’s plan is called “close to a success” by Queen Beryl for getting so much energy, but his plan ends after this. (Monster Powers: Being Ripped)
(First Appearance: Those two loser girls who never appear again)
Another one skipped in the original dub- Usagi’s brother Shingo adopts a New Fad Pet that of course is a Dark Kingdom trick- soon he and tons of other kids are hypnotized by cute fuzzy rabbit-puppy things to get their energy absorbed. There’s also a subplot about Shingo being terrified of Luna, who is now established as the family’s adopted pet. The first mention of finding the Moon Princess since the opener, as well. The weirdest moment is Sailor Moon suddenly whipping out a new power as she nullifies the Mind Control of the animals by sprinkling Tiara Stardust on them- she also throws the Tiara from a position of being choked- the first time we see it out of the Stock Animation sequence. I don’t remember a Stardust attack AT ALL- this is an anime-only attack and the only time she’s ever used it.
(First Appearance: Moon Tiara Stardust, Mika Kayama- a little girl Shingo likes that only appears once more)
ANOTHER one left out of the original dub. Hey- the girls appear behind the veils in the opening- in full Sailor regalia and everything! This opening stays until the 27th episode. In this episode, we get our first Sailors Meet Someone Who Is a Victim Later, in an older jazz musician who can’t tell a co-worker he loves her. Jadeite’s plan in this one is to put a subliminal energy-draining cassette tape (and there’s a CD in this ep, too- making it one of the few things I’ve seen to feature BOTH) into music recordings, and his minion is this bat creature with giant fingernails. Usagi sneaks into a jazz club by dressing as “a hot musician” that would get kicked out of The Holograms for being too garish. In a very strange situation, Usagi OUTSMARTS the villain, using a live mic to reflect Ultrasonic Blasts back at the monster- she then kills it WITHOUT TUXEDO MASK EVER SHOWING UP. This is two in a row he’s missed.
One I barely remember, it involves the villains coming up with a Fake Talent Show using an Idol Singer that the Monster imitates. It’s REALLY bad, though- featuring amateur-hour variety acts that aren’t even really “Funny-Bad”, they’re just “Bad’. The final battle is weird, because it’s just a standard 100% all-Monster ass-kicking, then it’s Tuxedo Distraction and Dead Monster in like five seconds. The moral: Don’t obsess over becoming famous. Weak. (Monster Powers: Suffocating Snare)
Thank GOD- we finally get another Sailor. I guess seven episodes with only one isn’t THAT bad, but considering the point of the show is that it’s an ensemble cast all Sentai-like, you can easily see why the dub team just axed three episodes out of this pit of nothing. We also finally get a bit more to the Myth Arc, as Luna discusses strategy with the Crown Game Center Machine, and explains to Usagi that even SHE doesn’t really know what their threat represents- the Machine would be used for exposition quite a bit before we realize that it’s her teammate Artemis behind the screen.
The dub includes an unfunny gag about the new genius student Ami’s IQ- it’s 300 originally, but Umino makes an “Over 9000!” joke that falls flat because he doesn’t even bother to scream it- he just says it slightly louder in a nerd voice. Hey, we see the Short Fat Girl again! And she SAYS SOMETHING! Bizarre.
We finally get an inkling as to Usagi’s better nature (shown only in the Pilot so far, when she saves Luna from abusive little boys), as she tries to be Ami’s friend, even while the other kids assume she’s stuck-up because she keeps to herself. And Ami gets a bit of backstory, living with her Doctor mother. Ami’s voice sounds familiar to me- it’s a distinctly-nasal little-girl sounding voice. Hah, no wonder I recognized it- Kate Higgins, the actor, plays Frankie Stein in Monster High! Which I’ve never watched. Shut up, I haven’t.
Hah- giant 1990s Computers. And comments about how “in this age, everyone should know how to use a computer”. Totally dated.
(First Appearance: Sailor Mercury/Ami, Sabao Spray/Bubbles Attack, The Crown Game Center Machine)
* Observation: “Meatball-Head” is a much better joke-nickname than “Bun-Head”- Mamoru should have totally kept calling her that. Dub Accuracy be damned.
* Yeah, if you look away from the screen, it can be hard to tell Usagi, Ami, Luna & Naru apart. Very annoying- they should really have used some different-sounding voices. They’re more polished and professional than the old cast, but I still miss Brooklyn Molly and Usagi/Serena’s squeaky Canadian voice actress, and at least everyone was distinct. Jadeite & Tuxedo Mask feel largely the same.
* God every time I want to call characters Serena & Molly. Lita is going to mess with me, too. At least Rei & Amy sound mostly the same.
The only episode to feature the Moon/Mercury tandem by themselves, this one is a bit weird- the big Evil Plan is to drain energy by using clocks that make everyone impatient, so their manic energy hits a peak. Once Usagi starts getting to school EARLY, Luna knows something’s up. Mercury’s personal computer is actually remarkably-similar to an iPad, considering this episode is from like 1993. The Monster easily defeats both girls, but Tuxedo Mask breaks the Magic Clock leading to the time-altering world, and it’s Bubble Spray/Tiara Action for the win.
(First Appearance: Mercury’s Detecting Visor & Personal Computer)
Finally, ten episodes into the show, we have our Official Trio, in the form they’d keep for a long while. A series of buses are disappearing on the route to the local Shinto Temple, and the unfortunate Shrine Maiden there, Rei Hino, is quite distressed. Queen Beryl finally names their group The Dark Kingdom, and points out how many times Jadeite’s F’d up so far. Rei is a bit forceful and grouchy (funny how in Japan, it’s considered pretty normal for girls to blush at how pretty other girls are- this is Usagi & Naru’s reaction to meeting Rei for the first time), nearly chasing Usagi away permanently after she gets too nosy about the disappearing buses. Sailor Moon debuts a weird technique when the monster grabs her Tiara- the thing expands and contracts around her body! Rei transforms (after initially wonder why the hell a CAT just talked to her- something Ami never did), becomes Sailor Mars, and immediately immolates the monster with “Fire Soul”. Jadeite wusses out despite being all “Next time I’ll CRUSH you!” and having vast powers and all, and we have our mouthy, contrary, grouchy Sailor, which means that all’s right with the world.
(First Appearance: Rei/Sailor Mars, Fire Soul attack, The Shinto Paper Attack, Moon Tiara Snare, Rei’s Grandpa, The Furukawa Shrine)
It’s another “New Thing Turns Out To Be Evil Plot” episode, with a Dream Land amusement park being the source of Jadeite’s scheme now. Rei is right into character immediately, arguing with and taunting Usagi, leaving poor Ami & Luna as the “Straight Men”. The Animatronic Animals in this place are WAY too advanced- they’re just walking around TALKING to people. Rei & Mamoru meet and hit it off calling Usagi “Bun-Head” (though he’s STILL just “that guy!”). Sailor Mars being a bossy, derogatory bitch is pretty funny once she IMMEDIATELY goes chasing after Tuxedo Mask like a goofy schoolgirl when the creepy Puppet Princess starts up with her illusions.
It’s actually a very long, involved monster fight, as the Illusions keep coming- soon, all three Sailors team up to beat the Puppet. And we see one of those things routinely cut from the first dub- as we get a HUGE upskirt shot of Sailor Mars. Funny how in Japan, they usually throw in Fanservice for the opposite gender of the intended audience, just to double-up on potential fans… Also, Mars is supposed to be like 14. Not that she looks it.
(First Appearance: Fire Soul/Tiara Combined Attack, Mars Panty-Shot)