SAILOR MOON SUPERS:
-… sigh… well, HERE GOES…
Out of all the seasons of Sailor Moon, the fourth seasons, Sailor Moon SuperS (said like “Supers”, but with a big “S”, because reasons), is almost universally the most disliked by the show’s adult fanbase. Even back in the 1990s, in the early days of the widespread online anime fandom, SuperS was seen as pretty weak- the only thing helping it was that it went un-dubbed for years, and hadn’t entirely been released by the time most North Americans had seen the show (the first episode of the English dub came out near the end of this season in Japan).
Of all the show, SuperS feels the most like a “post-script” season. As if both Naoko Takeuchi (the writer of the manga) and the show’s producers were like “WELP, we have to keep the show going to make more money, but… what do we do? Um… an evil Queen character, I guess? Maybe a TRIO instead of a quartet or quintet of villains? And they’re hunting for HEART CRY–shit, we already did that one. Okay, they’re hunting for DREAMS”. It’s just… filler. Like they were done all the big stories and good ideas (and had introduced Sailors for all the planets in the Solar System), so they just threw in some generic stuff for the bad guys to hunt and made some odd-looking villains. Takeuchi’s character designs took an even bigger turn for the weird, we met a new ally, and they all got new powers again.
The point of this season is that the villains are hunting a magical being called Pegasus, who hides in the “beautiful dreams” of innocent people. So each episode, our “Victim of the Week” gets attacked by one of the evil witch Zirconia’s minions, who search the victim’s dreams for Pegasus, then try to kill that person so Pegasus can’t hide out their later- so we have our victims, our Filler, our baddies, and what they’re searching for. First, Zirconia orders around the goofy Amazon Trio, then the immature Amazoness Quartet. Finally, we see Zirconia’s boss- the immortal Queen Nehalennia, who wishes to remain young and beautiful forever. THANKFULLY, the show tells us within the first episode that Pegasus is hiding in Chibi-Usa’s dream, so we’re not left pretending to not think that the main characters AREN’T going to be the owners of the Magical Macguffin this season. So instead, the baddies are hunting Victims while Chibi-Usa is having nightly conversations with the wise, emotionally-mature Pegasus, often about the nature of love, jealousy, or respect.
More Chibi-Moon, All The Time:
-So yes, out of all the seasons of the show, THIS is the one that’s absolutely bleeding with way, way too much Chibi-Usa, who has at this point more or less replaced the main character as the focus of the series- almost all of the “Victim of the Week” characters are introduced via a reaction to Chibi-Usa. If it’s a “Sailor Focus” episode, it’s Chibi-Usa who spends the most time interacting with them, or speaking to Pegasus about their actions. To say this does not help this season’s reputation with adult fans is to be a master of understatement.
There’s… weirdness here. Chibi-Usa & Pegasus are clearly in love, even though one is either a horse with wings or a young-looking boy who is millennia old. He blushes around her, at one point sees her shirtless and looks away all embarrassed and let’s just say you’ll be doing a lot of cringing. What it comes right down to is this season is meant to be a love letter to the show’s core audience of little girls. First they wanted to see older girls in pretty costumes (a core aspect of the “Shoujo” genre of anime, and part of what makes Barbie and other fashionable-girl shows popular), but once Chibi-Usa showed up, the girls suddenly saw themselves in the character. So her wild popularity led to more and more Chibi-Usa until we finally had this- a whole season DEVOTED to the character. And in the process they dialed down her immaturity and made her a more pensive, emotionally-mature character who was curious about human behavior. Then gave her a pretty-boy love interest who was also a pretty horsie. This made her less annoying… but also made her more boring. And as she’s the main character, this turns the season into kind of a slog.
Speaking of weird, the Amazoness Quartet appear to be between Chibi-Moon (in Elementary School) and Sailor Moon (Middle School) in age… yet are depicted as scantily-clad girls who flit about in micro-bikinis while sporting large amounts of cleavage. It’s one of the cringey-est things for adult fans of the show to see. Maybe not quite as cringey as Chibi-Usa getting her wish to turn into a busty adult, and suddenly Pegasus being all “EW YOU LOOK OVER EIGHT YEARS OLD NOW- GROSS!”, but pretty close to that.
The Other Sailors Tag Along:
-One of the biggest crimes of SuperS is conflated with the biggest crime of Sailor Moon as a whole… the other Sailors feel largely ignored. The girls all have an episode of focus in the “Amazon Trio” section, but then we get a big “The Sailors Power-Up!” episode… and it STILL HAS A VICTIM OF THE WEEK! Like… they go through all of this rigmarole to power-up the girls, but it’s done off-handedly and without any focus- they gain heart-shaped chest crystals, chokers, and see-through shoulder bits on their outfits, but don’t even showcase new powers until several episodes later. Worst of all, in the “Amazoness Quartet” season, Venus & Jupiter have to SHARE an episode again! Yes, in a season so full of filler that we have various Chibi-Usa hangers-on getting attacked as Victims, two Sailors can’t even get more than a few episodes of focus across 40-ish episodes.
Never mind that the Outer Senshi, used so well in Sailor Moon S, COMPLETELY VANISH and we only get a cameo from Uranus & Neptune. Despite the manga version featuring not only those two, but the reawakened Sailor Saturn as well. Like, there’s a SHIT LOAD of filler in this season- you couldn’t manage to throw in “Sailor Saturn ages back and returns”?
The Boring Season:
-And “Slog” is the best word for it. While I was never quite up on watching the show very consistently (look at how long my “Reviews” topic has been going for; it started at Ronin Army and has continued on here!), I sometimes went at a pretty good clip, especially at first. By this point, I was going through episodes often a MONTH or so apart! It’s just… dull. The villains are more one-note, the “Victims of the Week” more boring, there’s way more bad filler instead of fun stuff, and most of my favorite characters have been de-emphasized for MOAR CHIBI-MOON. Hell, once again, Sailors Jupiter and Venus have to FRIGGIN’ SHARE an episode of focus! In a season where “a kid who is afraid of a pommel horse” and “a young girl is physically abused by her swordfighting mother… out of love” are featured! That kind of filler is present and they made two of the core seven characters share, because God forbid they take some spotlight from Chibi-Moon?
It doesn’t help that the maturity and frightening situations of the prior season, Sailor Moon Super, has mostly fallen away. And the popular new characters, Sailors Uranus, Neptune and Saturn, are nowhere to be seen! Uranus & Neptune only get a single third of an episode to focus on what they’ve been doing, and then they step away! Considering that in the original manga story, the “Dream Arc”, both characters are present, this is especially egregious- there is literally no good reason for the characters to not be around!
This season also lacks the moral questions of the first bunch, nor the worst of the drama- Saior Moon is no longer a reluctant heroine, having accepted her role a couple seasons ago. She & Chibi-Usa no longer hate each other. There’s no adversarial, unhelpful Sailors chiding and bossing the younger ones around. Usagi & Mamoru are together in a fairly platonic, boring way and we don’t see that much of them. There’s no question as to whether or not it’s worth murdering a young girl to ensure the safety of the universe. This entire season is just… there.
The pace picks up near the very end, at least, but I feel like the Queen doesn’t get enough focus at first, Zirconia is dealt with too quickly, the Quartet are FAR too interchangeable and unfocused.
This season also gives us our last look at various members of the supporting cast. We catch a shot of Motoki’s girlfriend Reika, unseen since the first season! Usagi’s brother Shingo makes his final appearance, as does Rei’s grandfather and Yuuichiro, putting a bit of a sad cap on that subplot. It seems a bit odd that with 40 episodes left, we’d have no more room for the main character’s brother or father, but that’s what happens when you’re speeding through things and shift the focus to another character.
-The seasons is at least funny, though. The first villains, the Amazon Trio, are a bunch of slack-asses who sit around a bar all day and pick their victims based off of who’s the most doable, with one picking on MILFs (ATTABOY), and another, a gay male, disguising into the world’s most convincing drag to seduce handsome young men. It leads to a lot of goofy circumstances. In the manga, they’re more one-off in nature, so the show elaborates upon them before discarding them in the typical “Happy Ending For The Villains”. There’s a few good episodes here and there- Uranus & Neptune have a fun one, you see more of Sailor Mercury being an adorable, love-obsessed romantic dork despite all her bookworm tendencies, and more. Pegasus occasionally gives good advice to Chibi-Usa, who is a bit confused as to the nature of adults and how they behave.
Queen Nehalennia, who turns out to be our Big Bad, is a pretty great-looking villain, and her mad, selfish desires put the entire planet at risk. So there’s some stakes, as well. She was probably one of the biggest highlights of this show, especially after years of Generic “I’m Evil Just Cuz” villains at the root of everything.
Queen Nehalennia (named for an ancient Goddess, and the spelling is all over the place so don’t even bother trying to keep it consistent) is the Big Bad of Sailor Moon SuperS, though we don’t really know her true purpose for ages. Hell, Naoko Takeuchi must have kept it a secret until the very end, because we know NOTHING about her until a couple of episodes before the Season Finale- she’s just some Evil Queen hoping to gain Pegasus’s power for herself. We don’t see her at all for the first half, and it isn’t until the Amazoness Quartet debut that we even see what she looks like- she’s a smoking-hot Demon MILF with elf-ears, purple Narrow Mature Woman Eyes Of Evil, and long, long hair. She appears to her minion Zirconia from behind a mirror, and grows more and more impatient with all the failures. Finally, we learn that she’s after the “Golden Crystal”, held by Pegasus… who is actually Helios, Guardian of Elysion.
Finally… FINALLY… we get some backstory for the Queen- as the ruler of her own land in the ancient past, she desired not only the Crystal, but “The Prince himself”, as she wanted Helios (despite him being suuuuuuuuuper young-looking compared to her). But with her darkness being sensed by Queen Serenity, she was exiled to the “Dead Moon”, living in darkness for centuries. Finally, she gained access to our world via using the dreams of the Amazoness Quartet to power her arrival. And they invaded Elysion and captured Helios, who cast off his essence as “Pegasus”, lying wait in the beautiful dreams of an innocent person. And it turns out that Zirconia is the embodiment of her greatest fear- growing old and ugly.
See, it turns out that the Queen gives her full backstory in the VERY last episode of SuperS– she describes her life as a beautiful Queen (complete with Round Eyes Of Beautiful Youth) and fawning subjects, but how gazing into a mirror made her realize she was doomed to turn into a wrinkled old purple crone. Fearful, she consumed the Dream Mirrors of her entire kingdom, giving her eternal youth and turning the entire land into a sea of Living Corpses (the weirdos that make up the Dead Moon Circus). So her desire is to never grow old, while Chibi-Usa’s dream in this season is to grow older and see what life holds- a contrast between villainess and heroine. Zirconia had captured Chibi-Usa and the Queen used her to capture Pegasus for real, gaining the Crystal and absorbing the dreams of all humanity. Finally, however, the Queen is beaten- when she betrays the Quartet, they spitefully steal the Golden Crystal back from her- Chibi-Usa does a “Clap If You Believe!” thing and empowers all Earth’s young dreams to give the Crystal more power, and the Queen is beaten and turned into a crone. Finally, she is re-exiled back to the Dead Moon- trapped in the mirror, she retains her beauty, so is at least partially satisfied.
Curiously, however, we would not see the last of her! Sailor Stars, the final season of the show, would tack on an extra “Nehalennia Redux” arc, as she’s empowered by Sailor Galaxia, the ultimate Big Bad! Eventually she’d get a “Redemption Arc” of her very own!
The Manga Version:
-The manga version is so incredibly different as to be a whole different story. In the manga, the Queen is seen as the dark mirror image of Queen Serenity. She is the queen of the “Dark Center of the Moon”, having existed for centuries. When Princess Serenity was born, Nehalennia just Maleficents in and is all “HEY YOU FUCKERS!”, but Queen Serenity seals her away with the Moon Stick. Trapped in a dark mirror, Nehalennia cast a curse that the Moon Kingdom would fall, and the Princess would never inherit the throne- the backstory for the invasion of the Dark Kingdom. Laying in wait, she breaches her prison during a solar eclipse and brainwashes Sailor Chibi-Moon’s four sleeping guardians, the Sailor Quartet, and turns them into her minions. Desiring the Silver Crystal, she invades Elysion and takes over the world of Dreams, capturing Helios in the process- he enters Chibi-Usa’s dreams to hide out, and finally the Golden Crystal is found within Mamoru’s body, and Nehalennia is defeated by Eternal Sailor Moon, who shrivels her into a wizened old woman, then traps her in a mirror once more. She never reappears, so the big Sailor Stars arc was merely filler. A big part of the story is the Sailors all gaining their “Sailor Crystals” to power-up. Sailor Saturn reawakens and gives the Outer Sailors their Crystals, too, so the Outer Senshi are a big part of the story. There’s also Sailor Phobos & Deimos (Rei’s crow friends turn out to be Sailors).
Hell, I think this version is even more awesome, and would have been way more cool. Some people love SuperS, largely based off of the funny villains and the Queen herself, but this is easily the worst of the seasons for me, just based off of length and endless filler.