July 20, 2020

Adventures in Anime #5: Sailor Moon, Part 1

It's time for more Adventures in Anime! My best friend Rachel & I team up for this collaboration where we pick out an anime, watch it together and then answer a series of questions about it for the blog. Since we've been alternating between anime shows that are new-to-us and shows we've seen before, we decided on a whim to embark on our most ambitious adventure yet - a rewatch of the entirety of Sailor Moon, including the films! I'd like to note that we watched the original anime, though I'm definitely planning on watching Sailor Moon Crystal as well.

Since this is the longest series we've committed to watching for this collab (5 seasons and 3 films, to be exact), it seemed only right to split up our thoughts into two posts. Today, we're sharing our thoughts on the series, including our thoughts per season and per film.

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Sailor Moon
 is one of the earliest anime shows I can remember watching when I was still living in the Philippines. My viewing of the series wasn't straightforward (it was in bits and pieces depending on what I could catch because getting access to it back in the day wasn't very easy), but I watched a good chunk and it cemented my interest in stories about magical girls who work together to save the day. (Listen, I spent years waiting for a magical cat to find me and gift me an item that would allow me to call on my own powers, thank you very much). 

Sailor Moon follows Usagi Tsukino, a middle school student whose entire life changes when she discovers she has the ability to transform into Sailor Moon. As she learns how to use her abilities and comes into contact with the other Sailor Scouts, Usagi finds herself and her friends acting as Earth's primary defense against evil (particularly of the intergalactic variety). The series follows Usagi and company over the course of a few years, not only highlighting their battles against all their enemies but also their individual journeys and their friendships.

It was so much fun rewatching the entirety of the series (and doing it with one of my best friends)! I genuinely enjoyed getting to know Usagi and the Sailor Scouts all over again. I laughed a lot, I cried a lot and I may have occasionally swooned (though don't get me started on Mamoru because I have a lot of thoughts and most of them not positive). I was entertained, and still swept up in the magic of this concept and the adventures and struggles and triumphs of this group of young women. This is not to say that the series doesn't have its problematic elements, as there are definitely episode themes, lines and situations that really bothered me as an adult (and sure, it's partly a product of its time and partly the translation perhaps, but still though, those things were not good). I still had a great time revisiting the series though, and can certainly say that the good parts - the Sailor Scouts, the friendship, the strong moments of empowerment and empathy - still really worked for me.

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Season 1, Sailor Moon | This is the season I've watched the most times, so I'm pretty familiar with the character reveals and series of events. But that didn't stop me from still really enjoying it! I loved the experience of meeting Usagi and the rest of the Inner Sailor Scouts all over again, though it was also fun to see all the pieces of the plot come together. I did find the villains even more underwhelming than I remembered, as they felt formulaic and underdeveloped (though the motive does make sense as a whole), and there were a few problematic themes tackled in some of the episodes. I definitely still got emotional at the end though!

Season 2, Sailor Moon R | I really dislike the first half of this second season. It took me a while to figure it out, but my problem with it lies in the fact that it felt like a lot of filler due to underwhelming villains and the low stakes. It just felt like a repeat of the first season (where the gang has to learn to work together and to unleash their abilities) by fighting the monster of the week. The second half of the season, which is marked by the arrival of Chibi-usa, was better, though I was still uncomfortable with the way they portrayed Chibi's relationship with Mamoru. The plot picked up, and I was definitely pleased with the finale for this season as well.

Sailor Moon R the Movie: The Promise of the Rose | While I do think that this film is better than the first arc of the actual season, it was simply okay. I did think they did a better job using elements from the series to make a cohesive story, but I was still pretty unimpressed with it overall.

Season 3, Sailor Moon S | I still love this season so dang much! It was really nice to have a lot of time just hanging out with the Sailor Scouts, and to see how they (as individuals, and in terms of their friendship) grew a lot stronger. I also thought that the main conflict was pretty compelling, especially because it was divvied up into a number of smaller parts and culminated in a very solid ending. Granted, I'll admit to being a little biased because this is also the season where the Outer Scouts become a bigger part of the storyline. I was living for seeing them interact with Usagi and company, and it was interesting to have the conflict between their goals be a big part of what pushes all these characters into growth by the end of the season.

Sailor Moon S the Movie | Unlike the first film, which drew a lot from the season prior to it, this felt like a standalone addition to the series. I really like that it focused primarily on Luna (who is a character I adore)! It was a short, sweet, and romantic little tale, and it ended up being very heartwarming.

Season 4, Sailor Moon Super S | This is a season that had a solid start, as I was immediately interested in the fantastical aspect of the lore centering around Pegasus. But my interest quickly burnt out, as I found myself quickly getting tired of the villains and their antics. It just fell back into the formulaic 'monster of the week' setup (and the way they conduct their business was so disturbing and made me very uncomfortable) that lasted all through the end. Worse yet, it didn't give Usagi and the others any semblance of the maturity they could have had after all they faced in the previous seasons. Even though it had its moments, this season was disappointing (especially after S).

Sailor Moon Super S the Movie | Much like the first film, I found this one underwhelming as well. The plot itself felt very much like a fairytale, so you'd think I would have enjoyed it more, but alas, that was not the case. The only thing that I really liked about this film? The appearances by the Outer Scouts (and yes, I'm well aware I am biased).

Season 5, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars | The first arc of this season is incredible and, to me, is the best arc in all of the Sailor Moon anime (including the films). The combination of excellent characterization, a compelling villain and a strong plot really had me going, and I was a total mess when that arc wrapped up (and for good reason, I assure you). The rest of the season was really fun too, especially with the presence of the Outer Scouts, the arrival of the Sailor Stars and the overall plot. I enjoyed so much about this season, and while it didn't quite end up becoming my overall favorite, it was definitely a solid season to end the anime series with!

SEASON RANKING (from favorite to least favorite):
Sailor Moon S | Sailor Moon Sailor Stars | Sailor Moon | Sailor Moon R | Sailor Moon Super S

FILM RANKING (from favorite to least favorite):
Sailor Moon S the Movie | Sailor Moon Super S the Movie | Sailor Moon R: The Promise of the Rose

Have you watched Sailor Moon?


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