Just over a year since its premiere, Sailor Moon Crystal’s first season is coming to a close. There’s been much discussion around this show and its obvious flaws since its release, which is to be expected for a remake of a franchise that meant so much to a lot of people. Now that we’re at the end of this series (at least until season two comes out), does it go out with a bang and a strong closing for the Black Moon Clan story arc, or are we going to get yet another disappointing ending such as the one we got to the Silver Millennium story arc, which many would see as fitting for a series that has been plagued with so many glaring issues? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Sailor Moon and her entourage falling through an endless abyss of some sort towards the disembodied skull of Wiseman or Death Phantom or Nemesis, or whatever the hell it is. The point is that Sailor Moon has nice big target to aim her magic wand at and she does just that.
Once her Kamehameha of friendship connects with the source of all evil, a white light flashes and her posse finds themselves back on Earth, minus one blonde haired savoir.
Naturally everyone begins to panic because they have to carry the show by themselves now which is when Mamoru’s hands start to glow and then he disappears to who knows where. So wait, his magic hands give him teleportation powers too? We don’t have long to ponder on this though because inside the Crystal Palace, Neo-Queen Serenity has finally woken up. I’ve got to say that they do a pretty excellent job here with her awakening considering how much of a divine presence she’s been in the show up until this point. Despite being more or less completely out of commission since the beginning of the story arc, almost everything has revolved around her and how much the world is in need of power. Now that she’s awake, what will she do? How will she save the world from the brink of annihilation!? Well first things first. She needs to wake up her hubby!
So after Ghost Dad goes back into his body, she leaves the mausoleum thingy without waking anyone else! What the hell!? You don’t think the other Scouts might provide some assistance!? No wait, they’re younger selves haven’t done a single useful thing since arriving in the future so maybe she SHOULDN’T waste her power on them just yet. That or the show still doesn’t give a damn about the Scouts. Still, once Neo-Queen Serenity makes it outside and sees her daughter, the show starts throwing some serious feels around!
Once again, Chibi-Usa’s story to find her place in the world is the heart of this entire story arc. Neo-Queen Serenity’s reconciliation with her daughter (who’s made some PRETTY big mistakes recently) is quite heartfelt and Chibi-Usa’s relief at not only getting her mother back but finally finding what power lied within her is palpable. She’s come through hell and back, but came out the other side okay. After their moment to make up, the Queen goes over to Sailor Pluto and transports her remains to… the castle’s grave yard? I joked about the room where the King and the Scouts were resting as being a mausoleum, but I didn’t think there was literally one in there! Still, this is not the time for a funeral or even to process the grief. Neo-Queen Serenity informs everyone that Nemesis is still alive and whatever the hell it was that was trying to smash its way into earth was actually an illusion. While I’m not a fan of the “it was all a dream” style hand wave, I AM happy they acknowledge how insane it would be for a planet to travel all the way to Earth’s Atmosphere and shrink itself small enough to destroy just an island. More than likely, Sailor Moon (and Tuxedo mask soon after) were taken to Nemesis in order to have their final confrontation with Death Phantom. According to Neo-Queen Serenity, the only one who can aid her in this final battle is Chibi-Usa. NOT the other Scouts! JUST Chibi-Usa.
Look, I know that this is ultimately a story about the Royal Family, but the fact that the Scouts are SO tertiary THIS early into a series is one of the most unforgivable things about Sailor Moon Crystal. Now I have no idea if the manga does a better job with these character being sidelined (Crystal follows it to an almost overbearing degree from what I hear with occasional RADICAL changes out of nowhere) or if the fact that the original anime had filler meant that these problems were less prominent (more episodes means more chances for character development), but having seen or read NONE of it before, I can say that Sailor Moon Crystal on its own has done a terrible job with the making the other Scouts feel like important participants of this story. It started to turn around in the beginning of this season with an episode dedicated to each of the Scouts, but it ultimately led to them being kidnapped and removed from the story entirely for so many episodes. Even Sailor Venus who DIDN’T get kidnapped was pushed to the background once they got the future, so much so that they called attention to it in episode 22. The fact that there are at least three more scouts that I’m aware of who will have to show up in season two should perk my interests, but if the show is struggling to handle four or five Scouts right now, I’m unconvinced they can handle any more. Then again, maybe I’ve been looking at this show the wrong way. Maybe the fact that it’s called Sailor Moon and not Sailor Scouts should have been a bit of an indication that this is about Usagi. They COULD have made the team aspect strong without losing much of Usagi’s prominence, but would it still be the same show they wanted to make? Is asking for a stronger presence of the team asking the creators to make the show I want instead of actually critiquing the show we have? I’m still leaning on the side of no because teamwork and friendship has LOTS of lip service in the show, so when those aspects are underwritten it ends up feeling like cut corners rather than a creative decision. Still though, it’s something to think about.
Chibi Usa is given Neo-Queen Serenity’s Moon Stick Thingy and is teleported away, leaving the Scouts and the Royal couple on Earth to either wait for them to succeed or for their own annihilation from an angry planet. We cut to the depths of deep space where Usagi is just waking up and appears to be in an air filled bubble that’s slowly approaching Nemesis. With her inside the bubble is a reassuring Mamoru who’s there to give her the strength needed to stop Nemesis once and for all. I’ve got to say that I really like Tuxedo’s Mask’s evolution in this series and his relationship with Sailor Moon. Maybe not so much Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship (not enough with them just being themselves and what we’ve seen can be a bit… questionable) but when Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask are working together, it’s done perfectly. Sailor Moon probably has more power than probably anyone in the galaxy, yet she’s still a human being with the fears, flaws, and doubts that come with that. When Tuxedo Mask is there though, it all falls away and she can stop up to the plate with confidence and do what needs to be done. This isn’t some dude coming in to save the weak hero, this is EMOTIONAL SUPPORT!
Now she DOES have a line in here which KINDA goes back to the other thing where she says that the power of the Silver Crystal only activates in his presence, but I’m willing to let that go as either her own view of her experience instead of an actual facet of her powers or maybe even a translation error. If it DOES bug people more then I understand, but I still think their relationship overall is very well handled. Sailor Moon now has the resolve to fight Nemesis once again, but still may not have the power to defeat them. That’s when Chibi-Usa floats her way into the scene and declares her determination to kick some planetary ass!
And so the two Princesses of the Moon (I think Sailor Moon is still considered a Princess at this point her life) aim their sticks at the planet and blow it the fuck up! The effects can be felt all the way on Earth and it causes the three Malefic Black Crystals to disintegrate. Because of this, Neo-Queen Serenity is able to hold aloft her mighty stick and COMPLETELY HEAL THE ENTIRE PLANET INCLUDING ALL THE BUILDINGS AND PEOPLE!!!
Um… okay. I mean, I guess the show can’t end with the future being a Mad Max hell scape, but that seems PRETTY convenient. Oh well, Neo-Queen Serenity is in a very good mood and decides to give the other Scouts some buffs so that they can hopefully be effective members of the team in the future instead of just standing around waiting for Usagi to solve everything… right?
On top their power boost, Sailor Moon gets a new compact that increases her power as well. She just beat up a planet, how much more power does she need!? The queen informs the other Scouts that Sailor Moon will reappear at the door of time (because magic or something) and that they should greet her there so that they can return to their own time. The Scouts are confused that the queen won’t go there herself to see Sailor Moon off, but she says that doing so is not a part of history and could cause a paradox or whatever. I don’t know why the paradox didn’t happen when Mamoru met his future hologram self, but I guess holograms don’t count. Maybe Usagi and Neo-Queen Serenity can have a phone call, or can talk to each other from behind a door. Oh well. They may not get to express their gratidute to each other face to face, but I’m sure they both understand how much the other appreciates them and don’t have to risk the universe to confirm it. Oh never mind. Neo-Queen Serenity says fuck it.
To be clear, I’m NOT criticizing the meeting between these characters. What I’m taking issue with is that they gave us about thirty seconds of misdirection for seemingly no purpose. WE CAN’T MEET OR ELSE IT MIGHT RIP A HOLE IN THE UNIVERSE!! Oh wait, no it won’t. So they have their little goodbye (along with the other Scouts whose doppelgangers have since woken up) and they head back to the present. The scene fades to white and Usagi wakes up to find herself in her own bed at her house in the present and it seems that her long journey is finally at an end. Well… there’s still ONE loose thread.
Chibi Usa has returned to the past but her time here is all too brief as Usagi soon realizes. She has to return to her own time and live her life there, leaving just as they were starting to get along. Needless to say they don’t take it too well.
Once they let out all their feelings, they finally have the strength to say goodbye and the two of them (along with Mamoru) head for the park to see Chibi-Usa off. After giving Usagi a new Moon Stick Thingy as a gift from Neo-Queen Serenity, Chibi-Usa heads back to the future, presumably to not be seen for another hundred years.
Once she is gone, the two of them sit on a nearby bench and think about what has happened in the last couple of weeks. They’ve been through a lot and have been pushed to the limits several times, but they’ve grown stronger because of it and will face whatever challenges the future may hold together. To cement their bond, Usagi goes in for a kiss from the love of her life. Then this happens.
Well of course they weren’t going to get rid of her! She’s been the best part of this series and had JUST turned into a Sailor Scout herself! They’re gonna milk this for all its worth, and that’s definitely not a bad thing! But what is her excuse for coming back?
And so the episode (and the season) ends with Usagi’s tearful reunion with her not yet daughter and they all lived happily ever after until the next crisis rears its ugly head!
So this is it. After a year of ups and downs and lots of justified hate (and secret enjoyment), Sailor Moon Crystal’s first season is at its end. So what have learned from this experience? As someone who’s never had much exposure to this franchise until this series, what can I take away from it? Despite its glaring flaws, I very much enjoyed this series, even when it has some startling low points (especially in the first arc). No matter how many problems this series has, either in execution (choosing to follow the manga as closely as it did) or production (the startlingly bad animation at points) the core of what this series is and the mythology it develops shines through. We’ve seen instances where a reboot or a remake or a new adaptation of something beloved has really lost the heart and soul of what the original was trying to accomplish and while this show is incredibly frustrating at points (the team is swept under the rug and the pacing is all over the place), I always felt that the good aspects of the series, and what made this franchise special in the first place, still managed to shine through. Now I can’t speak for fans of the other iterations who may find so much more to object to when they have something concrete to compare it with. Because of this, I do plan on using the Season one and two break to try and recap the first two story arcs in the original anime and see if Sailor Moon Crystal really does miss a lot of what great about this franchise and its characters. Until then though, I did enjoy my time with this show and look forward to seeing how they handle things in season two!
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]