Welcome back to more Sailor Stars reviews! The series is now in its last season, but has oddly brought back the villain from the PRIOR one, having found the way she went out disappointing. This is probably one of the most well-thought-of arcs left to go, and is the only time we see the entirety of the Sailor Senshi fight as a unit! So let’s get to it!
Shock of shocks, as Mamoru is taken away by Queen Nehalennia, Chibi-Usa begins to flicker, de-powers, and passes out! Setsunah gives us the dire diagnosis- if they don’t free Mamoru from Nehalennia’s grasp, “Small Lady” will never have been born! Time paradoxes and what-not. And while this is serious, I’m nonetheless amazed, because FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, we get All Ten Sailors, all in one place, in their civilian outfits, talking business. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
So Usagi gets so upset she transforms into Eternal Sailor Moon on her own, then flies off (oh shit she can just fly now- guess the wings aren’t just for show). The others are like “this is a trap” and naturally Rei is the one most upset (diving into the dirt to stop Usagi), but Hotaru’s the one to cut to the chase- they have a mission to “Protect Our Princess!”, so they must follow. Everyone kinda smiles and agrees, and we’re off, as we see now Nehalennia’s curse has messed up Tokyo.
The Sailors use “Sailor Teleport” (which here is really just “Sailor Flying Around While Holding Hands”, which is possibly the most shoujo thing ever), but despite their best efforts, they’re split apart by Nehalennia throwing a wine goblet at her mirror, creating a shard-storm in space or whatever. This splits up the girls into some odd groups, creating some unique character interactions we don’t normally see- unathletic Mercury (who spent all of her school years ignoring athletics for academics) is paired with ultra-fast Uranus, who grows impatient with her pace, but is herself kept from a Death Maze when Mercury suspects their struggles would be pointless and they should stay put. Nehalennia’s like “Well guess that didn’t work” and starts deflecting their attacks, knocking them around. It’s the weak “Triangle Eyes” Director, so the fights aren’t great, BUT…
And then, in an AMAZING moment, the “Dramatic Serious Music” plays as Ami recalls her own weaknesses, but also her true strength- “This is my way to fight”. She begins calculating using her visor and computer, assessing things as Nehalennia slowly fries her (“I hate that look” the Queen says, looking at Ami’s determined expression, “The determined look of one who doesn’t know how to give up. Don’t look at me that way!” *red eye glare*). Uranus is shocked, and insists she fight, but Ami just goes back to her childhood- she didn’t play basketball, but she was smart enough to make the strategy to help the team WIN! And so she figures out where Uranus should strike- she shatters a “Moon” casting an illusion- Nehalennia was a Mirror Paredri, which Uranus shatters with her sword. “How did you know?” “Her hair wasn’t flowing in the wind”. BALLER.
But then Nehalennia grabs both of them anyhow and traps them in mirrors, and we see Mars & Neptune next (Mars’s confused reaction to Neptune saying that Mars & Moon are close “Like Uranus and me” is pretty funny).
Okay, this one turned out awesome. Can’t wait to see the other groups fight on.
Sailor Mars & Neptune get the focus here, but immediately we can see that it’s a “wacky one” by contrast, with Sailor Mars plotzing at how much better Neptune is at everything, including spiritual intuition (THIS IS WHY PEOPLE THINK NEPTUNE’S A MARY SUE, WRITERS!), accidentally talking out loud (“You can read minds?!?” “But you were talking out loud…”), and being fooled by illusions and laughing it off when Neptune declares that they’re too smart for such tricks (“HAHAHAHAA OH OF COURSE I KNEW IT WAS AN ILLUSION!” *nervous look*). Mars gets one of those ego-stripping moments that’s kind of at the heart of her character (a lot of bluster to hide insecurity and self-doubt), realizing how great Neptune is, but Nehalennia arrives and GRABS Neptune, who demands Mars kill her to get at the Queen, because their mission is “to rescue the Princess, even if we die!”. Mars struggles deeply, readies her Flame Sniper… and just unleashes it perfectly through Nehelennia’s torso, not even grazing Neptune. Neptune congratulates Mars for her “finely honed senses”, but both flop over in the water, which I guess was booby-trapped- they’re both captured.
Venus & Pluto only get a little bit where Pluto figures that Venus is their leader (WTF?!? That’s a MANGA thing, not an anime one! Plot hole! PLOT HOLE!) and to leave her behind, but of course Venus ignores that directive and saves them both, getting over a collapsing bridge by using the Venus Love-Me Chain as a whip. However, Nehalennia traps them both. Then Nehalennia tries to torture a now-brainwashed Usagi, trapped in a forgetful dreamscape… and Jupiter catches her arm, then friggin’ JUDO-FLIPS HER! Well at least she gets a good solo showcase here- she talks smack to the Queen even when “Jupiter Oak Evolution” bounces off, then stands in the way to take a blast for Usagi! Nehalennia freaks out when Jupiter points out Usagi’s strengths (using some pretty flowery talk that is probably comes off less awkwardly in Japan, like “She brightens our lives like the light of the moon”), but then asks if the Queen ever had a friend like that.
Naturally, Nehalennia freaks out and wipes the floor with Jupiter with blasts, freezing her in a mirror, but then makes the ABSOLUTELY HUGE MISTAKE of talking shit about friendship within hearing range of Sailor Moon. The sight of Jupiter’s fallen rose earring is all it takes to snap Usagi back to reality, reminding her of Tuxedo Mask and his roses, and BOOM- she’s back.
The Queen creates an ocean of thorns between her base and Usagi, bragging about how “I can’t wait to feast my eyes on the blood flowing from your body”, but just as Usagi starts, in come Sailors Chibi-Moon & SATURN, threatening her as the episode ends.
So it’s Chibi-Moon & Saturn against Queen Nehalennia, who taunts the two about the hopelessness of their mission while Usagi crawls through a massive bridge of thorns. When Mamoru starts to break through the mind control that the Queen SWORE was unbreakable, Saturn calls out “Silence… WALL!” to block her energy reapplying itself, thus giving her more combat besides “Killing Pharaoh 90 Off-Camera”. Then she threatens to unleash the “Power of Destruction”, while the Queen mocks her- “Do you think I don’t know?”. Of course, she realizes that the power would kill Saturn, too! The Queen smirks until Saturn uses the same eyes Mercury and the others used, and gets this great look of “ah, f*ck- she’s not bluffing” from the villain. “Silence Glaive SURPRISE!” shatters the entire castle (with the sound going out halfway through the blast so it sounds even BIGGER), but Chibi-Moon saves her friend before it gets out of control!
Chibi-Moon begs her friend to not die, but collapses from the strain and begins to fade away once more, and the Queen confesses to underestimating Saturn before freezing her in a mirror, too. And right then, a scratched-up Usagi collapses into the throne room, and Chibi-Usa disappears into sparkles in her very arms. “I love that look!” the Queen taunts, “Do you hate me?”- this bitch is ICE COLD! Nehalennia goes back over her origin and her eternal loneliness, and how she wishes to give Usagi that feeling, lashing out with energy blasts and knocking her around the room, recalling when Usagi’s own mother sealed her away… and now tears well up in our heroine’s eyes. Tears of SYMPATHY. “Don’t look at me with pity!” the Queen begs, as suddenly her whole thing with noticing eyes gets twisted further.
Usagi confesses she could never handle or understand that kind of loneliness, driving the Queen mad with those pitying looks, but all her power doesn’t work- The Power of Friendship undoes not only Mamoru’s curse, but frees the other Sailors and returns Chibi-Moon to the world, and the Sailors work together to allow Nehalennia to be reborn and fix past mistakes! She strikes them with more energy, but they never falter, instead telling her to trust in them (“there’s still time to atone for past sins”- Pluto, Guardian of Time), and she confesses that “the light feels so warm…”, as Eternal Sailor Moon gets her to take their offer. And with that, Sailor Moon’s compassion for the woman who tried to murder all her friends and family, then leave her alone for eternity, was enough to save the day, as Nehalennia is reborn as a young girl, and asks for something beyond blind worship of her subjects.
(First Appearance: Silence Wall, Silence Glaive Surprise)
And that does it for the first arc of Sailor Stars! What I thought was going to be a mere “Fixer Arc” turned out to be rather incredible, as we got an “All Ten Sailors” thing, some great fights, fun character bits (especially Mercury/Uranus), the return of Sailor Saturn, and even some GREAT moments with Queen Nehalennia, who gets even more depth (she was a late-bloomer in Sailor Moon SuperS) and a ton of great moments. Here, she comes out as MAXIMUM EVIL, yet Sailor Moon’s innate goodness was too much for her.
Next up- The “Galaxia Saga” of Sailor Stars! Twenty-eight episodes of an abridged season to go!