Sailor Moon Sailor Stars
After a six episode arc concluding the Queen Nehelenia saga from Sailor Moon SuperS, a new evil is terrorizing Tokyo; Sailor Galaxia. She sends out her subordinates, the Sailor Animamates, to look for Star Seeds, a true one of which will allow her to rule the entire galaxy.
Here we are; the final season of Sailor Moon. Years ago, when I first got into the series, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars seemed so far away to me. It had a huge following in the late 1990's, mainly because it was the only season not "ruined" with an English dub. (As if the English dub was the only version that edited the series. The Korean series gutted out all the kisses and shrine scenes, for crying out loud!) I couldn't wait to get to Sailor Moon Sailor Stars when I first got into the series.
When I finally got to the final season, though, I was not impressed the first time through. But only watching it again with THEM Anime fellow administrator Stig did I realize just how underwhelming it was.
So after a six episode arc to start the season (which is really just an excuse to throw back in the Outer Sailor Soldiers and give Sailor Moon another upgrade to her uniform, complete with wings for no reason), we meet Sailor Galaxia, our bootleg Queen Beryl. She then sends out her Sailor Animamates, our bootleg Dark Kingdom generals, as they go and try to find for Galaxia a Pure Heart, er, Golden Crystal, er, Star Seed. Yeah, that's what they call it. In case my sarcasm didn't give it away, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars's characters and plot are a retread of the last four seasons. But whereas the last 4 seasons of Sailor Moon had interesting, likable characters, this season does not.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars' only innovation is the arrival of three new, outer space Sailor Soldiers; the Sailor Starlights. They're male pop idols known as the Three Lights on the outside, but on the inside are Sailor Soldiers dressed what I can only describe as leather bondage gear. They also double as the new Tuxedo Mask (since he's mostly absent from this season) and as the series' drama fuel, since they're always fighting against Sailor Moon and company. While their leader Seiya is cocky and clingy towards Usagi, he's mostly harmless and does have his moments. His partners on the other hand, Taiki and Yaten, are easily the most loathsome, irritating characters to come out of the franchise period. They make Rei Hino and Chibi-Usa look as sweet and cuddly as Alicia Florence. Even Sailor Moon S-era Haruka and Michiru weren't this big of pains.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars also once again shafts Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako. I had already talked about this before in my Sailor Moon S and SuperS, but here you can actually count on your fingers the amount of lines they get an episode. (Makoto doesn't even get her own episode.) And the episodes that do star them of course have to be hampered by the damn Starlights, who can't leave the screen for more than 5 minutes of any given episode. Again this wouldn't be so bad if the Starlights were actually likable or entertaining, but they're the ultimate killjoys of Sailor Moon. The Outer Soldiers come back too, but they're also rather worthless. Haruka's only job in Stars is to sneer at the Starlights and makes endless sexual innuendoes at Michiru, whose only purpose in the season is to to also throw innuendoes and sneer at the Starlights. Hotaru again serves as a plot device, and Setsuna is just there. Why even bring the old characters back when most of the series revolves around Usagi, the Sailor Starlights, and the villains? For the occasional throwaway joke and/or innuendo? Not worth it.
The villains, as already described earlier, are inferior clones of earlier ones. Whereas the earlier seasons' weakest episodes could be lifted by an appearance from our resident baddie of the arc, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars robs you even of that. Sailor Iron Mouse and Tin Nyanko rival Eudial and Mimette for the most irritating lackies in the series, with all the appeal of sniffing long and hard into an expired bottle of mustard. And while Sailor Aluminum Siren's penchant for being ultra polite and sweet (even going so far as casting Kikuko "Belldandy" Inoue as her) is amusing for an episode or two, it wears off fast, as does her pairing up with the level-headed Sailor Lead Crow. It's like The Odd Couple, but with two anime girls and not that funny.
Sailor Aluminum Siren and Lead Crow might not be that amusing, but they're still far funnier than the real attempts at humor this season. One episode, for example, has the entire core cast practically at Usagi's place. You'd think this would be a great set-up for some great comedy, but the series uses this instead for "men are evil' jokes and other sexist trite. (Seriously, though. What the hell was with that totally out-of-character moment with Luna in that episode?!) Sailor Moon knocking stuff over with her back wings during her speech might be funny for 5 seconds, but it's not worth watching the rest of the episode for it. There's also episode where the cast play baseball and Usagi tags along on a cooking show. Again, these seemingly perfect episode set-ups for Usagi fall fast due to clumsy writing or poor attempts at humor.
Oh yeah, there's also yet another worthless new character named Chibi Chibi, a cute little girl who basically says "Chibi" over and over again and serves little to no purpose until the finale.
And hoo boy, the finale. I guess the writers at Toei weren't satisfied with having one badly paced six-episode arc in the beginning of the season, so they felt to need to end the series with an equally awful six-episodes finale. At least two or three of the episodes are taken up by endless talking and/or hiding from Sailor Galaxia, with minimal attacks in those episodes. Only in the very last episode does anything finally happen.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars is also not a good-looking/sounding show. The animation is a joke even for the standards of the franchise, and the character designs are stick thin and wonky quite often. The new music is the blandest yet, and the one Three Lights' song that plays over and over every episode will drive you insane.
Long story short; Sailor Moon Sailor Stars is terrible. The new characters suck, the pacing sucks, the animation and art suck, and the characters you do care about not named Usagi are reduced to occasional cameos. Unless you're a die-hard Sailor Moon fan who has to see it all, avoid Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.
And here's Stig with some last words for an awful conclusion to an otherwise good anime series;
OK, so who decided that the thing Sailor Moon really needed was three cross-gendered intergalactic singing idols leading secret lives as leather-clad Sailor Scouts with, I kid you not, STAGE HEADSETS on added to its roster? Was there some kind of fetish quota that needed to be caught up on? I know that I made jokes in the duration of our synchros that Usagi and team didn't exactly look like fourteen year olds, but our intergalactic friends look so much alike in either gender that I'm sorely tempted to posthumously wonder whether they're just effeminate men or somewhat butch women. And of course the same voice actors play both genders for the three of them, and it just strikes me as pointless all around.
TIm's mostly said it all, though. The new sailor scouts are either jerks or pushy girlfriend takeover raiders, while the main cast is mostly pushed to the sidelines. The song they sing is an earsore. The insight to their fabulous lives as pop stars are tedious and uninteresting. The fact that they tried inserting some kind of love triangle in this is also a bit of a misfire, since firstly, Mamoru isn't even present for most of the show, and secondly, Usagi is actually not having any of that. It's actually kind of a positive in the show's favor that she remains as faithful as she does despite being nearly constantly hit on by a lanky, effeminate Ranma Saotome. And the main villain look like a female version of the king on those playing cards. The enemies the sailor scouts face look as ridiculous as always, and the show's attempts at keeping the new scouts' identities a bit of a mystery at the start of the season is just hilarious.
I like a "next generation/reboot" thing of a franchise as much as the next guy, but when you end up changing about everything I imagine the fans loved from the original franchise, maybe it would have been better to just let it end.
I wish I could say Sailor Moon ended on a good note. I really do. — 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: Digitial release
Review Status: Full (34/34)
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars © 1996 Naoko Takeuchi / Kodansha / TV Asahi / Toei
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