Sailor Moon S
Rei has been getting premonitions of everyone being slathered by an unknown entity. At the same time, Sailor Moon finds herself confronted by the arrival of two new Sailor Soldiers - Sailor Uranus and Neptune - who both it quite clear that they don't want to partner up with Sailor Moon and her "weak" friends.
At the same time, an evil, insane scientist named Professor Tomoe has been attacking the town with his monsters named Daimons. His assistant Kaorinite is the first to go out, soon replaced by a new group of girls called the Witches 5.
And here is where the Sailor Moon franchise drops the ball.
Sailor Moon S, much like Carlos already said in his Sailor Moon series retrospective, is where the series wears itself thin. Too much of the series is focused on monster of the day fights, Usagi's friends are pushed into the background by the 14th episode's coming, and Usagi is barely the focus anymore! Instead it's Haruka and Michiru who are our "heroines" of the season, with poor Usagi reduced to little more than a walking plot device (when she isn't being used to spout our morals at the end of the episodes).
You seriously might as well call this season Professor Tomoe & Sailor Uranus and Neptune, since most of the plot (what little there is) of Sailor Moon S is engulfed by them. In their civilian forms, all Haruka and Michiru do is make the other Sailors look bad as they show how smart, talented, wonderful, and gorgeous they are. (Hell, Haruka has whole episodes where the other Sailors do little than blush around her most of the episode, for crying out loud.) In their Sailor forms, they're super powerful bad-asses who have to show the other Sailor Soldiers "how it's done".
Give me a break.
Yes there are some nice scenes with Haruka and Michiru (the famous hand-holding scene in-particular), but when you compare them to the other Sailors and even their own - and far superior - manga counterparts, they're not fun. Say what you will of Chibi-Usa hogging a decent chunk of Sailor Moon R and almost all of SuperS, but at least she had actual qualities that made her a likable character. Haruka and Michiru are 90% of the time alternatively boring, mean, and unlikable.
This isn't helped by the arrival of Tomoe's female cronies replacing the super-bland Kaorinite 13 episodes in; the lab coat-wearing Witches 5. And even though this group of girls are supposed to be intelligent, the two the series decides to spend the most time on - Eudial and Mimette - are shallow, uninteresting, unfunny clowns who steal the pure hearts out of guys they find physically attractive. And unlike Nephrite or the later Amazon Trio, who at least bother to integrate themselves into the episode's plots, these girls just come, get shot down, and then attack (if even that). The other 3 Witches are actually pretty cool, but they each only get a single episode dedicated to them.
Also, for a season that so many Sailor Moon fans proclaim as dark and moody, there sure is a lot of over-the-top monsters. The second monster of the day in S is - and I'm not kidding - a cat-woman in a polka-dot dress made out of a jigsaw puzzle. Other dumb monsters include: a monster woman who doubles as a race car, another who uses life preservers to trap people, and yet another who tries to trap the Sailors with books. Oh yeah, and most of them fire beams to steal pure hearts from an area that is often around their breasts, because this season is directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara.
With all that said, I don't completely hate Sailor Moon S. Professor Tomoe is hilarious, and easily one of the best villains in the series' history. He's not an intergalactic alien or monster from the future or whatever; he's just an insane human being with glowing white glasses. His interactions with the Witches 5 are the only time Eudial or Mimette are even kind of amusing, and I really do wish he had more screen presence.
The last few episodes of S also feature some great fights. And although the level of peril in the finale isn't as high as the first two seasons, it's still there. When the series finally stops playing with the kiddie gloves, it results in some of the most intense moments in the franchise. It is a little annoying how latecomer Hotaru's whole purpose in Sailor Moon S is just set-up for the finale, but that's all water under the bridge now. I actually like how they wrap up Haruka and Michiru's plot in the penultimate episode though, even if the pacing could have been better.
So where do I stand on Sailor Moon S? It's definitely not the worst Sailor Moon season (Stars holds that honor), but it's definitely the most overrated. The "dark elements" that make this season popular take a long time coming, and the new Sailor Soldiers aren't particularly interesting or likable. It's nice to see Chibi-Usa back and being way less annoying than in R, but again like Hotaru she's only there to serve the plot, not to add anything to the show itself. The reduction of importance of Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako begins here as well (they don't even get new transformation or power-ups), and it only gets worse in the next two seasons.
I suppose if you can't enough Sailor Moon, then I guess you should watch Sailor Moon S (in Japanese; do NOT watch the abhorrent dub). If not, there's literally dozens of other magical girl shows that may interest you more. Go watch one of them instead.
Like in the last two seasons, Stig has kindly added once again his own thoughts on this season as well:
And then, there's S, quite possibly the angstiest of Sailor Moon seasons. (Even despite the whole "Mamoru breaks up with Usagi in R" side plot.) Tim mentioned how much our newest scouts piled on the cynicism, but trust me; the former two seasons doesn't show even remotely just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Chibi-Usa also returns, and thanks to our new jackasses, she can step down and be a normal child (for the most part, at least) for once. Curiously enough, they de-angsted the villains in this one compared to the original manga, so that's something. Bottom line, Sailor Moon is still quite digestible. It's only going to get worse from here.
For the die-hard fan who couldn't get enough after R only. That, and little kids. Everyone else can move on. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Seven and over, for both the American and Japanese versions. Yes, the Japanese version had nudity, but never in a gratuitous or sexually-oriented way, and never detailed at that. The fight scenes are standard, as the enemies turn to dust, with a few exceptions, which are handled tastefully.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (38/38)
Sailor Moon S © 1994 Naoko Takeuchi / Kodansha / TV Asahi / Toei
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