If you’ve ever been in a room with me for longer than thirty seconds, you know that I will find literally any excuse to talk about Sailor Moon. I don’t care about your astrological sign; which Sailor Guardian(s) are you? A crescent moon tattoo? Is he…you know? *Replicates the pose Sailor Moon does after she transforms.* Why unpack our trauma at the bar when we can unpack Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship—especially early on, when he was actually kinda shitty to her and gaslight-y????
Like any child of the nineties, I was glued to my TV watching the English-dubbed version of Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network every day after school. My day revolved around four o’clock, when I could plop down and hang out with the girls—yes, the girls, I didn’t have a lot of friends. They were there for me when no one else was! It became my entire personality…and, reader, it has been that way ever since.
Of course, looking back, I realize that the English-dubbed version from the nineties was purposefully kid-friendly. When I started reading the manga a few years later, I was like, “This…did not happen on Cartoon Network,” and, “I knew Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were not cousins.”
I continued watching the cartoon and reading the manga because I couldn’t get enough. I’d watch the cartoon every day after school and then sit in the aisles of Barnes & Noble reading the manga on the weekends, familiarizing myself with both iterations of the Sailor Moon universe.
All these years later, I still perennially re-watch the entire series. (It’s all on Hulu, FYI!) And it’s even more enjoyable as an adult, because I catch things that were literally lost in translation when I was a kid. Also, the VIZ Media dub, which is the second English localization of the Sailor Moon series, does not Americanize the characters’ names or cut content that was deemed inappropriate for children. Best of all, the show is portrayed IN ALL OF ITS QUEER GLORY. There are trans characters! Queer couples! Gender bending! (See: Sailor Moon Sailor Stars). The manga is even more queer, but it’s still nice to see the boost in queer visibility.
Let me preface my “review” (lmao, I’m not smart enough to write an actual review, so instead you’re really just getting unhinged word vomit) by saying that the reboot is more faithful to the manga than the original cartoon. And while I appreciate that fact, I will say that the pacing of Sailor Moon Crystal moves just a wee bit too fast for me, which is a stark contrast to the original, which, at times, seemed to move like molasses. This was because Naoko Takeuchi, the creator, was outpaced by the cartoon, so there were a lot of filler episodes. But this allowed more time for the characters and their relationships with one another to develop in depth, which is what drew me to the show in the first place. (Please give me three-hundred episodes of just Usagi and Rei bickering and I’ll be happy.)
These things are still true in the reboot: Ami is the brains of the operation; Rei is a hot-headed shrine maiden; Makoto likes to cook and fight boys; Minako wants to become a pop star; and Usagi is still a gluttonous crybaby. But I feel like all of these traits were diluted in the reboot? At least they were for me. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it immensely and will continue to watch and re-watch it for time immemorial.
Alright! Time to get to the review! I know I’ve already digressed before getting to the actual content that the title of this post suggests, BUT, it’s my newsletter and I can prematurely digress if I want to!!!!!!!!!!!
Eternal continues where Crystal left off, adapting the Dream arc from the original comics and cartoon. It opens with a solar eclipse, during which, the Dead Moon Circus announces its arrival by way of a flying ship that only Mamoru, Usagi, and the other Guardians can see (????). The next day, they set up shop with a giant ass circus tent right in the middle of the city? Like, it literally shows up overnight—no chatter about the circus coming to town, no production vehicles, no news coverage—and everyone is just fine with that. Then shit hits the fan real fast.
(Let me say this: if you’re unfamiliar with Sailor Moon and are watching this anime movie just for the sake of watching, it may be a little confusing, but it can work as a standalone flick. But! If you’re a diehard fan like me, this arc feels aggressively abridged. That being said, it still works in a self-subsistent capacity, in case you're just trying to get your eight-year-old to watch something while you stare at the wall.)
The circus, like its name suggests, has a nefarious underlay, for it is a Trojan Horse for Queen Nehelenia, the leader of the Dark Moon Circus, and Queen of the Dead Moon, to infiltrate Earth and bring darkness upon all.
She wasn’t always evil. Her own kingdom enjoyed peace and prosperity under her rule until one day when she gazed at her reflection in the mirror to see her future, but instead saw an old, ugly crone staring back at her. Motivated to retain her youth and beauty forever, she extracted the dream mirrors from her subjects, which allowed her to stay young forever. Then she set her sights on the Moon Kingdom (because all of a sudden, she isn't happy living on the Dark Moon anymore, so she shows up uninvited with evil intentions) until Queen Serenity, ruler of Silver Millennium (Sailor Moon’s mother from her previous life, before she was reincarnated into a fourteen-year-old girl, centuries later on Earth, in an act of protection enacted by Serenity), banished her into a mirror of darkness (same).
Anyway, Nehelenia’s back in town and SHE IS PO'D!!!!!!!
She deploys Zirconia, who is the embodiment of her fears of turning into an old crone, to execute orders from the other side of the mirror. Zirconia, in turn, deploys the Amazoness Quartet, loyal followers of Queen Nehelenia (after being brainwashed by evil and darkness!!!), to unleash a tiger into the streets of Tokyo now that the circus has been breached by Chibiusa (Usagi’s daughter from the future who is visiting the present) trying to use her Space-Time Key to go back home to the future.
Usagi and Chibiusa run out to try to…confront the tiger…by attempting to transform into Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon, respectively? WHAT? Just call Animal Control???????? But they are unable to transform until a mysterious Pegasus appears and is like, HERE IS SOME POWER.
After they successfully transform, they’re confronted by two of the Amazoness Quartet, whom they manage to stave off—but not before being promised to still be dealt with! The Amazoness Quartet regroup and decide to go on the offensive and infect each of the Guardians with their own worst nightmare. The Guardians, of course, defeat each respective attack, and end up with new powers, and—more importantly—new outfits!!!!!!
While all of this is happening, Mamoru (aka Tuxedo Mask) has come down with a mysterious illness, ending up in the hospital and coughing up blood subsequent to his discharge—gross! X-rays of his lungs show a dark spot, and his doctors are like: What? Is? That??? It doesn't show up in any of his tests, but the audience sees that it’s a black rose shedding its black pedals! (Obviously it’s a vitamin deficiency, you nimrods!!!!!)
Next, it's revealed that Queen Nehelenia has Helios—who has taken on the form of the Pegasus we saw earlier—trapped in a cage in her dark mirror world. Helios is the guardian of Elysion, which is the capital of the Golden Kingdom of Earth, ruled by Prince Endymion—Mamoru’s past life. Mamoru, Earth’s guardian, falls gravely ill as a result of his connection to both Elysion (his kingdom, which is under attack) and Helios (its guardian, who is trapped).
The first part of this two-part movie ends with all of the Sailor Guardians and their upgraded powers/outfits facing off with the Amazoness Quartet and their army of nightmares that look like a bunch of little angry fuzz balls you’d find at a craft store.
The second part of Crystal opens with a look into the lives of the Outer Sailor Guardians: Sailor Uranus (Haruka), Sailor Neptune (Michiru), Sailor Pluto (Setsuna), and Sailor Saturn (Hotaru), who is a baby that they are raising together as a family living in another realm.
STAY WITH ME. (Even if I’ve lost you, which I probably have if you have a life, humor me.)
We LOVE a diverse family unit: Haruka and Michiru are partners and drive around talking about deals on diapers; Setsuna lives with them and is Hotaru’s second mother. The best part is when Hotaru calls Haruka, who is this hot ass stone butch, “Daddy Haruka,” and I need that on a baseball cap immediately.
They’re also concerned with their inability to transform but, WHO CARES—THEIR OUTFITS ARE ON POINT. Haruka just wears a bra under a button-down shirt that’s open save for one button! Swoon! Setsuna is wearing a black bra underneath a sheer crop-top and black shorts. Michiru exudes pure timeless elegance! Everyone is HOT and PERFECT.
All of that is interrupted by Hotaru’s awakening as Sailor Saturn, who appears before her and is like, 'Shit is about to go down, here is what you and the other Outer Guardians need to transform.' They transform successfully—with upgraded powers and outfits to boot—and travel across realms to help the other Sailor Guardians fight the Dead Moon Circus. Helios uses the last of his power from where he is, trapped by Nehelenia, to protect those fighting on Earth. Chibiusa is freaking out because she has a crush on Helios, who kissed her on the lips earlier, which is weird because she’s like six????
Those from the White Moon kingdom and Dead Moon Circus face off, the final battle moving from Earth to Elysion (after the Dead Moon Circus is vanquished on Earth once the Sailor Guardians have helped Sailor Moon destroy them). Nehelenia retreats to Elysion, looking for the Golden Crystal—she can’t rule over the Earth and moon without it—which has been in Tuxedo Mask this whole time.
In Elysion, the Guardians upgrade again, not just once, but TWICE MORE. HELL YEA. They need more power to help Sailor Moon defeat Nehelenia, so they’re awakened as the princesses of their respective castles, each donning their gowns in their correlating colors. Then, they call upon the power of their castles to transform into Eternal Sailor Guardians, which include knee-high white boots, and that’s all you need to know. *Chef’s kiss.*
They combine their powers to help Sailor Moon turn into Eternal Sailor Moon (whose outfit now includes wings, which are not sustainable in combat?). She then turns into Neo Queen Serenity, future queen of the moon in the thirtieth century, and defeats Nehelenia once and for all with her gaudy moon staff. Helios is like, YOU DID IT, and peace is restored in time for everyone to go back to school on Monday, and act like they didn’t just brush up against death multiple times the day before. Careful, girls, the body keeps the score!!!!!!!!
It was great! This review…not so much! But let me just say one more thing.
I will not rest until they reboot the fifth and final season of the original Sailor Moon series, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, because I STAN THE THREE LIGHTS and also, (this may be controversial among some fans, but) FUCK MAMORU. USAGI AND SEIYA FOREVER. Seiya is HOT. AND when he transforms, it's into a bad bitch in a latex outfit who is just as hot? DUMP MAMORU INTO MOUNT FUJI. At least Seiya can communicate, which, as I’ve come to learn in adulthood, is not Mamoru’s strong suit.
I’m not sure if this review has convinced you to watch Sailor Moon Eternal, but if you do watch it, please let me know what you think. I will drop everything—work, my watering can, my cousin’s new baby—to respond.