The return of Nehalennia.
Welcome back! And it’s time now for the very, very last season of Sailor Moon, as I delve into Sailor Stars! This one is the season I know by far the least about- final notes hadn’t quite been made of it when I first got into the fandom, and later on, the fansites had kinda disappeared and I wasn’t as obsessed with the show. So I know OF what happened, but I haven’t gone ENTIRELY into it.
What starts us off is actually a handful of episodes for a “Nehalennia Redux” arc, as the villain from SuperS gets to return and vex our heroines anew! So let’s dive right in!
EPISODE #167: And it’s the beginning of a new season- Sailor Stars! Naoko Takeuchi’s final arc and the show’s swan song is in motion! 34 episodes to go. And like, it’s immediately apparent something’s different because BOOM- out comes the Sailor Stars Theme Song, replacing 166 straight episodes of Moonlight Dentetsu… and the girls are all in High School!
OH MY FREAKING GOD AND IT’S BABY HOTARU IMMEDIATELY!!! Setsunah (Pluto… who’s supposed to be DEAD, mind you) comes to pick her up from her father and we’re off! The girls all prepare for High School, with Minako now finally at the same school as Usago & co. (though Rei’s still in her T*A Academy outfit and goes elsewhere)… and we even have new background music! I actually bought the Sailor Stars CD when I went to Japan in 1997 or so, so it’s a kick to hear the same music I listened to for 20 years in an episode, finally.
Chibi-Usa & Diana finally prepare to return to the 30th Century… but Queen Nehelennia is awakened from her peaceful slumber! A mysterious voice informs her that her revenge was not complete (Sailor Moon & Chibi-Moon are still alive), and so she shatters the black mirror that represents her heart, sending shards of fear to Earth. So yes, for the first time ever, our vanquished foe returns for a later season, as Sailor Stars begins with a “Nehelennia Redux” arc! The shards cut a bunch of people (and one lodges in Mamoru’s eye) as we finally see HARUKA & MICHIRU again (Michiru even flirts with Haruka by joking about staring at her all day), and they form Naked Nehelennias, which attack, but are destroyed by Pluto’s “Dead Scream”. Naturally, the others are stunned to see her again.
Then, in a wild scene, they smash around the “Mirror Paredri”, but the things keep multiplying. Neptune saves Uranus from falling (“I said to cut back on the sweets” “Save the pillow talk for when we’re in bed” !!!!), but while Pluto’s been grappled, one of the Paredri prepares to impale baby Hotaru! Before anyone can be all “Um, why’d you bring the baby to the fight?” we get the creepy “Laaaaa laaaa… la-la-la-la laaaaa…” music, the Paredri is immolated, and the three Sailors are bathed in energy- they get their “Super” versions, with the transparent shoulder bits and heart-shaped chest crystals! With “New Powers”, they use their old techniques and this time the Paredri are destroyed.
Oh, and then Hotaru stands up, appearing about 12 years old, stating “A great change is about to happen”, as her foresight of Eternal Sailor Moon reappears in her eyes… but now the Princess is in danger, ensnared by vines.
So, um, this is different. The whole “Yay, High School!” beginning now sees the elder Sailors brought back into the fray, complete with the Senshi of Destruction.
(First Appearance: NEW OPENING SONG, New Ending Song Eternal Sailor Moon, Super Sailor Neptune, Super Sailor Uranus, Super Sailor Pluto, Mirror Paredri)
EPISODE #168: So now the Outer Senshi appear to be raising a toddler-aged Hotaru as a strange surrogate family (“Daddy Haruka, Mommy Michiru & Mommy Setsunah!”), but she’s growing each day, and SMART, too. But then she begins scrying our solar system, revealing a dark “malice” enshrouding the Moon, and becomes terrified in the most adorable way humanly possible. She tries to rest, but is awakened by the spectre of Queen Nehelennia, at which point that damn “Saturn” theme starts up, and her Guardian, the spirit of Saturn, brings back her proper age and memories. It’s really amazing how they show the little girl smile sweetly at the memory of Hotaru meeting and befriending Chibi-Usa… but growing more and more upset as she recalls Uranus & Neptune attempting to kill her, Professor Tomoe’s death at the hands of the Death Busters, and more- a harsh reminder of the brutality of their life.
But now Saturn is awakened. Meanwhile, Mamoru isn’t himself, lashing out at Usagi and his poor 1990s computer as the shard in his eye glows stronger. And now the girls take Sailor form for the rest time this season, all transforming at once to fight some Paredri. However, their “one-frame-attacks” fail to stem the tide, and then the OUTER SENSHI arrive. And if that isn’t shocking enough, they part to reveal “The Guardian of Ruin and Rebirth, Sailor Saturn”! Chibi-Moon has the expected reaction to seeing her old friend reborn, and Saturn is finally HAPPY for once, and that’s adorbz. But Saturn tells Sailor Moon that “you must awaken as the True Moon Princess”, and so everyone pulls their hearts together and empowers her for her ultimate form- Eternal Sailor Moon!
And there she is- in a costume so frilly it’s got FIVE SETS OF WINGS ON IT, she now has two pairs on her back, long gloves & thigh-high boots, puffy pink shoulders, and a skirt that’s yellow on top of red on top of blue- INSANE levels of detail for a 1996 show. Her old wand transforms into a giant sceptre, which one-offs all the Paredri before she reverts back to Sailor Moon and drops.
So with a more powerful Sailor Moon, things look great… except now Mamo feels that his body isn’t his own. “Precisely. You’re mine now” says Nehalennia, who appears beside him in the mirror. “Princess of the White Moon- I will take everything you love from you”.
(First Appearance: Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss, Super Sailor Saturn)
EPISODE #169: A “lethargic sickness” is spreading throughout Tokyo, but the girls notice it’s revolving around mirrors when a student becomes transfixed with hers (“How am I supposed to go on living without my mirror?”), and then Mamoru absolutely FILLS his apartment with them. He snaps at Usagi when she uses her duplicate key (HEY-OHHHH!) to “just barge in”, but confesses to not being himself lately when she asks him what’s going on… then immediately starts staring at himself again. Usagi FINALLY confesses her troubles to the other girls, and Rei makes the connection about mirrors, given the enemy they’ve all been fighting. This is a lot more introspective and slow than usual for this show, and I think it’s a good fit. It really helps with the big close-ups of concerned faces on the girls, too- the art direction really takes a step up with that stuff.
So Setsunah & Hotaru show up to corroborate this, and the Sailors all run in to blow up Mirror Paredri at Mamo’s apartment, but Usagi now recognizes the shadows she’s been seeing, and Nehalennia appears in the mirror to confirm her worst fears! And then Nehalennia cuts this mega-heel promo about how Sailor Moon “laughed at my misfortune” while she was trapped, and she’ll murder all of Usagi’s friends, “Starting with this one”, and pulls in a fawning Mamoru to her breast through the mirror in a terrifically evil moment. “Your little tricks are nothing compared to my power of darkness” as Mamo is like “yayyyyy my queeeeeennnnn…”.
Queen Nehalennia: “Watch as I hold the man you love in my arms. And watch as I fill the world with sorrow, hatred, and despair! My curse has filled this man’s heart with nightmares- your voice can no longer reach him. By the coming dawn, this man’s heart will be under my complete control. Can you reach me by then, Sailor Moon?”. MIC DROP.
God damn what a bad guy.