Sailor Moon

Tagged: Film | TV

1. Sailor Moon. Japanese animated tv series (1992-1993). Also known as Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn. Based on the Manga by Naoko Takeuchi. Toei Animation. Directed by Junichi Sato. Written by Sukehiro Tomita. Voice cast includes Mika Doi, Rika Fukami, Keiko Han, Aya Hisakawa, Chiyoko Kawashima, Kotono Mitsuishi, Emi Shinohara, Michie Tomizawa and Noriko Uehara. 46 24-minute episodes. Colour.

Fourteen-year-old Usagi Tsukino (Mitsuishi) is a shallow, self-absorbed crybaby who is not academically gifted (in a later season a teacher writes on her test paper "I'm begging you, study harder!"). Her life changes after rescuing a talking cat called Luna (Han): on its instruction she declares "Moon Prism Power, Make Up", transforming into superpowered Sailor Moon, a tall (mainly acquired via leg length) young woman in a sailor's uniform. She is eventually joined by four other Sailors, to become the Sailor Guardians: hot-headed Mars (Tomizawa), ditzy Venus (Fukami), intelligent Mercury (Hisakawa) and strong Jupiter (Shinohara); the latter two usually being the group's voices of reason. This season's adventures mainly involve foiling the Dark Kingdom's attempts to drain energy from humans in order to feed their ruler, Queen Metaria (Uehara). Both sides also search for the lost but powerful Silver Crystal.

Usagi was once Princess Serenity of an ancient Moon kingdom called the Silver Millennium, which watched over the Earth, the other Sailors being Serenity's bodyguard. All died in a war with the Dark Kingdom – however her mother, Queen Serenity (Doi), used the Silver Crystal to overcome the villains and have the Guardians reincarnated (see Reincarnation) on present-day Earth. Now Metaria has awoken from Suspended Animation and plans to instil hatred and greed into all living creatures. In the showdown the Guardians die again, but not before Sailor Moon defeats Metaria. Fortunately their passing is briefer this time round, as the Silver Crystal quickly restores them.

2. Sailor Moon R. Japanese animated tv series (1993-1994). Also known as Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn Āru. Details as 1 above, excepting: Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara and Junichi Sato. Additional voice cast includes Kae Araki and Eiji Maruyama. 43 episodes.

In this season's first arc, two Hell Tree Aliens arrive on Earth, using Monsters to drain the energy of young girls (see Vampires) and feed the Hell Tree, which in turn maintains them. Despite one remarking "I love the screams of young women, more beautiful than any sound a musical instrument could ever make", they are eventually reformed.

The second arc begins with a small child holding a gun to Usagi's head, demanding the Silver Crystal. She is Usagi's future daughter, nicknamed Chibiusa (Araki), who has come from the thirtieth century via Time Travel. Chibiusa is pursued by the evil Black Moon Clan, from the Solar System's furthest planet, Nemesis – presumably a reference to the hypothetical dwarf star of that name and locale, posited in 1984 (see also Outer Planets) – who are also after the crystal. Eventually all travel to the future, where Sailor Moon (as Princess Serenity) rules, to defeat the Clan's leader, Wiseman (Maruyama). They also meet Sailor Pluto (Kawashima), the protector of the door of space and time, who helps the guardians enter Chibiusa's mind (see Dream Hacking). Later, Chibiusa becomes Sailor Chibi Moon.

3. Sailor Moon S. Japanese animated tv series (1994-1995). Also known as Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn Sūpā. Details as 2 above, excepting: Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Written by Yōji Enokido. Additional voice cast includes Akira Kamiya, Masako Katsuki, Megumi Ogata and Yuko Minaguchi. 38 episodes

Scientist Souichi Tomoe (Kamiya) creates demons (see Gods and Demons) to steal away the pure hearts of the three chosen ones, so enabling him to acquire the Holy Grail. He is possessed by the Death Busters, Aliens from the Tau Nebula, who wish to awaken "the Messiah of Silence" using the Grail; a side-effect being the destruction of Earth. Also after the pure hearts are Sailors Uranus (Ogata) and Neptune (Katsuki); they are clearly a lesbian couple, though this was censored in most foreign dubs: the first English dub called them cousins, despite retaining some of the flirting dialogue (the show's other LGBT characters were similarly transmuted). Ironically, they are two of the chosen ones, with Sailor Pluto being the third. Sailor Moon is fooled into handing over the Grail to Mistress 9 (Minaguchi), the Messiah of Silence, who has possessed the Professor's daughter, Hotaru (Minaguchi); fortunately she is also the incarnation of Sailor Saturn – the Guardian of Destruction – who sacrifices herself to defeat Mistress 9. However, Sailor Moon rescues her and she is reincarnated as baby Hotaru.

As well as the demons, the guardians are also contend with high-tech Weapons and Nanotechnology.

4. Sailor Moon SuperS. Japanese animated tv series (1995-1996). Also known as Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn Sūpāzu. Details as 3 above, excepting: additional voice cast includes Taiki Matsuno and Yoshiko Sakakibara. 39 episodes.

With fewer sf elements than the other seasons, the Guardians' main antagonists are the Dead Moon Circus, who seek Pegasus (Matsuno), an alicorn (see Supernatural Creatures), who guards the Golden Crystal and hides in beautiful human dreams. The Circus wants the Crystal to free evil Queen Nehelenia (Sakakibara), ruler of the Dead Moon, who has been sealed in the shadow of the New Moon. One set of antagonists, the Amazoness Quartet, are named after Asteroids.

5. Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. Japanese animated tv series (1996-1997). Also known as Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn Sērā Sutāzu. Details as 4 above, excepting: Directed by Takuya Igarashi. Written by Ryota Yamaguchi. Additional voice cast includes Mitsuko Horie. 34 episodes.

The Sailor Wars, fought in ancient times between light and evil, only ended when Sailor Galaxia (Horie) sealed the source of all malice, Chaos, in her body. It gradually corrupted her, so she ejected her star seed (or soul) before it could be spoilt; afterwards Galaxia destroyed civilizations, collecting their star seeds, seeking to control the Galaxy in the name of Chaos ... and now she has reached Earth. Fortunately, so has her star seed, attracted by the purity of Usagi's love. In the end, Sailor Moon, though wielding the sword Galaxia's star seed has become, refuses to fight: her love for the world shatters Galaxia's sword, whose hand she takes, expelling Chaos from her body.

6. There were also three films, all original stories: Sailor Moon R: The Movie (1993; vt Sailor Moon R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose); Sailor Moon S: The Movie (1994; vt Sailor Moon S the Movie: Hearts in Ice) and Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie (1995), known in Japan as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Soldiers Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. The latter's theatrical release also included the short film Sailor Moon SuperS Plus: Ami's First Love (1995). Save for the 1995 film, the Japanese titles to the above Television series and films translate as "Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon", plus any suffixes.

Primarily a fantasy, but using many sf tropes, Sailor Moon is one of the most influential and popular Anime (and Manga) series, revitalizing the "magical girl" genre, inspiring many subsequent shows, both in Japan and the West (two notable examples of the latter being Star vs the Forces of Evil and Steven Universe). The number of episodes means there is much filler, with many (deliberately) silly Monsters-of-the-week and incidental storylines. Characters often overcome unsurmountable odds by the sudden acquisition of new powers: thus Usagi becomes Super Sailor Moon, then Eternal Sailor Moon. But the show also focuses on Usagi's growth: her compassion, perseverance and willingness to talk to her enemies – most of whom are not irredeemably evil. The mood can shift between humorous soap opera, adventure, Horror and high drama; the animation, though limited by budget, can be effective. Though there is often fretting about boys and fashion, the show does also show the empowerment of women and was a positive influence for many young girls (see Feminism and Women in SF). Despite its age, the show still stands up reasonably well and has a great deal of charm.

Subsequent spinoffs have been a live-action television series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (2003), with 49 episodes; two DVD specials; and a concert. In 2015 the franchise was rebooted as Sailor Moon Crystal (the Japanese title translating as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal), with 26 episodes released as original net animation (as two seasons), then a third season of 13 episodes shown on television (2016). A film, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal is scheduled for 2020, with a second announced. [SP]

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