Part Five: The Crybaby's Uncorruptible Eternal True Self
"Things end. That's all. Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's... always happy."
I don't believe it. After months of watching this show, months of thinking about it, and months of trying (and stalling) to put those thoughts into words... we're finally at the end. Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. Once we get these couple of thousand words out there into the air, that's it. I'm finished. Well, almost finished. There's a little surprise that will be lurking at the very end, but we've got a whole show to talk about here. One I've been all but chomping at the bit to talk about. Let's get it all out there, clear as day, like a real thesis statement sort of thing. Sailor Stars is not my favorite season of the show. What it manages to be is both a greatest hits compilation of many elements that made the previous four seasons resonate with me in some way, as well as managing to introduce some concepts with inspirational weight that still remain with me. It all sounds like a recipe for great success, but it just doesn't come together in the end. It's so tantalizingly close to doing it, but at the last second they make a blunder. No, I take that back. A blunder is something akin to stubbing your toe. This is a creative writing decision that utterly betrays the show at the eleventh hour and very nearly murders it before it can ride off into the sunset. In the Sailor Moon R post I made a big show out of Usagi and Mamoru's manufactured relationship "drama" and how goddamn toxic it was. I called it the first of two betrayals the show would pull on me. Sailor Stars has the second. We will get to it, and we do have a way of reading it that still crackles, but by God am I going to be angrily scrawling about that one. I just want to put that out there before I begin. This season was still really engaging and had some amazing concepts to think about, and I'll be singing its praises for the next... oh, 2000 words? Rough estimate? We'll take a lot of sugar with our bitter pill. For now, it's time to begin Sailor Stars.
|Oops, must've thrown on Dragon Ball Z by mistake--no? Okay...|
-At a certain point, everyone gets separated in Nehelenia's world and we get like an episode and a half of two Senshi each having to fight together. The pairings are really neat, the standouts for me being Uranus/Mercury and Neptune/Mars. It's really cool to see these two groups of different ideologies and strengths having to work together.
-The bit where Sailor Moon gets brainwashed by a beautiful dream and just sort of sits in a field, blissful and oblivious until Jupiter's rose earrings remind her of Tuxedo Mask and break her out of the spell. This is interesting because like, the third episode of the show is all about people falling into comas and Usagi longs to be able to just sleep in a beautiful dream forever. The fact that now she wants to break out for Mamoru's sake is real character development!
-Chibiusa. Oh god. This is actually the end of her time on the show, as well as Mamoru's. We'll get into all of that soon, but I want to point out the threat to Chibiusa here. I mentioned it in R when I was screaming into the void, and now here's the conflict I was alluding to. Nehelenia has Mamoru mind controlled and the clock is ticking before he'll be her slave forever, and this manifests in Chibiusa actually fading out of existence, Back To The Future-style, due to the fact that if Mamoru is lost she'll never be born. Any attempt to reconcile this with what the hell King Endymion did boggles the mind and reduces one to Cinema Sins-esque nitpicking. Look, not even Doctor Who can get consistent time travel rules right. The Endymion breakup gambit has to work on a predestination paradox case because Chibiusa isn't blinking throughout the series any time either Mamoru or Usagi is in danger, whereas this Nehelenia threat is absolutely something that should not be happening and time is being rewritten. More on why that might be later, but at the time watching I just threw up my hands and went "oh so NONE of the villains threatened her existence before, but this one mirror girl all of a sudden will rewrite time? What the fuck?". Again. There's a reason for this. This was not supposed to happen. I'll get to play with that soon, which leads us to our last point...
-The tone. Christ, this is all a bit dismal and grim, isn't it? Even when we have those cool pairings of the different Senshi, they're all still getting defeated and trapped in mirrors. Mamoru's going to lose his mind forever, Chibiusa and her utopia will never exist... we haven't had something this hopeless and full of despair since the first season when everyone died to the DD Girls! This whole thing is just misery and spite and hate, and that's the point. Nehelenia wants Usagi to suffer. It's maliciousness we've not quite seen on this show before, but despite all that... Usagi still pities her. There's no hate. There's only empathy and sorrow. It's enough to free everyone. It's enough to break her hold over Mamoru. It's enough to give her a power boost and, finally, do what couldn't be done at the end of SuperS. Queen Nehelenia, the lonely girl on the other side of the mirror, is healed. HEY. HEY Y'ALL. THIS GRIM TONE AND UTOPIAN IDEALISM WILL BE KEY TO THE FINALE OF THE SHOW. IT MIRRORS ITSELF. Yes. Now then... on with Sailor Stars when it isn't wrapping up stuff and moving chess pieces along. Wave bye bye to Chibiusa and Mamoru, because everything's about to change again.
|Goals. (Also they have a bitchin' theme tune.)|
It would have been enough if Sailor Stars had stopped then and there with its inspiring and interesting trio of new Sailor Senshi, but it actually goes one further. Sailor Stars, knowing that it's the finale of Sailor Moon as a 90's television thing, takes steps to expand its mythos and lore. For all our adventures, we haven't really ventured outside of the solar system that much. The Death Busters and Pharaoh 90 came from Tau Ceti or some nonsense like that, but otherwise it's all been very focused on our sun and its nine planets (and Earth's moon). Sailor Stars makes it 100% canon that other planets in other galaxies and solar systems have their own Sailor Senshi, with their own powers and goals and whatnot. That's what I was talking about earlier. You pair that fact with the entire concept of the Sailor Starlights transcending gender, and anyone from anywhere, in any corner of the universe, could be a Sailor Senshi. This is one of the biggest reasons why Sailor Stars sparkles so well with me. There's an infinity of possibilities now. Think of it! Anyone, from anywhere, could be a Sailor Senshi! For someone like me, someone who came this close to writing Sailor Moon fanfiction, this is nothing less than the show telling you that it can be anything you want it to be, and explicitly making that process so much more possible for you. Do you want to write the story of Sailor Fire-n-Ice's battle on the planet Frostflame? You can! Wild crossover fanfiction where Sailor Shovel Knight battles the forces of evil? Absolutely! All of these interpretations were valid before, but with the revelation that Sailor Senshi exist across the universe in this world, it all becomes that much more tangible. With its last breaths of relevance, Sailor Stars has opened Sailor Moon up into infinity. How fitting, then, that Sailor Moon's newest form is called Eternal Sailor Moon. That's exactly what the show does here with this reveal; it makes itself eternal by creating an infinity of Sailor Senshi. This is brilliant. It should be the high point of the series, and a fitting end point... but there's someone else. Opening up this infinity allowed for something else to sneak in. Something with more power than anything we've seen up to this point. Lurking in the swirling red shadows of nebula is our villain of the season, Sailor Galaxia. Oh yes. That infinity means that there are both good Sailor Senshi and bad ones. Galaxia's might will be felt, trust me... but let's avoid her gaze for now. Let's move on.
|Not until six episodes from the end, when the writers have|
put it off for as long as possible, anyway...
|Sailor Galaxia, gaining the almighty power of script editing.|
Well, right away Sailor Galaxia makes her claims known. Her final corrupted Sailor Senshi, Sailor Tin Nyanko, had been half-healed by Sailor Moon's new power. Redemption was possible for this here little kitty in Sailor Moon. In the Sailor Galaxia show, not a chance. Tin Nyanko is vaporized. So, too, is Princess Fireball, the princess whom the Starlights were trying to find all this time with their pop songs. They'd found her halfway through the show and that was lovely... but oops. Different show now. Goodbye, Princess. Tokyo; hell, the world is under assault from Galaxia's sheer energy... and where has the portal to her base been this entire time? A TV studio called Galaxy TV. The show is practically HANDING me this narrative! Of course Galaxia can rewrite this long-running TV show to suit her grimdark needs! She runs a goddamned TV studio! If you thought the Queen Nehelenia arc needled things into dark despair territory, then you've not seen anything yet. Our Inner Senshi are ready to fight and their final battle is all set. One last go-round for the girls we've grown to know and love over 190+ episodes. I'm sure you all have your favorites. You know mine's Venus. Maybe you're a Mars booster. Perhaps Jupiter is your fave? Regardless, you're ready to see them take their last stand and have one final moment in the spotlight. Sailor Galaxia sees this narrative building up, and her show cuts it down. All four Inner Senshi, minus Sailor Moon, are shitblasted and vanish as their True Star Seeds are taken in a long and drawn-out sequence of misery. Sailor Moon, I don't feel so good. Christ almighty. Oh, but it gets worse. Remember how Mamoru was studying abroad? Well, Usagi hasn't heard from him at all since he left and she's been real worried about it. I wonder where he is? Oh. Oh no. He's been dead the entire time, his True Star Seed harvested. Sailor Galaxia has gone back to rewrite the show to put Sailor Moon through the wringer even more. All of this is terrible, of course. Galaxia's hold over the narrative is strong... but Galaxia also has no mercy within her. While we're still reeling from those series of punches, Galaxia delivers her strongest attack yet on the show... and it lands. What happens next is the single worst betrayal the show has ever pulled, and it is nearly strong enough to poison the well entirely and allow Galaxia to win, there and then. The Inner Senshi confront Galaxia and are handily beaten, but not harvested. Not yet. Galaxia is in need of new powerful Senshi to corrupt, after all, and offers the Inner Senshi a choice. Join her as her vanguards, or have their Seeds taken and die. Pluto refuses, as does Saturn. Nobody touched by Sailor Moon's utopian idealism would be so stupid as to sell it all out just for--
Oh my fucking god. There it is. In a ghoulish display, Sailor Uranus and Neptune join Sailor Galaxia's side, becoming EEEEVIL. Now, I'll tell you how this goes outright; it was all a ploy so they could use the power of Galaxia's bracelets to betray her and harvest her Star Seed in order to finally defeat her, but this plan doesn't work because Galaxia has no Star Seed and she just kills them then and there. That in itself had a slim chance of playing out well, and I am talking slim here... but it gets worse. I'm not clear on what happens when Uranus and Neptune take on Galaxia's bracelets; either her power is actually strong enough to overwhelm and brainwash them to her side, and they break out after a while to enact their betrayal plan... or, worse, they play along as grimdark antagonists for an episode to lull Galaxia into a false sense of security until they can backstab her. I am at a loss for words, and that's astounding considering how I've been mulling over this bullshit in my head for three months. To pull this grimdark edgy "I'M BAD NOW" bullshit with any of the Senshi we've grown to know and love would be damaging. To do it to Uranus and Neptune? The pair who started off as ideological antagonists, only to seem to learn and grow from Usagi's idealism? To piss all of that away and very nearly ruin them as characters-- no, very nearly ruin the entire climax of the goddamned show? It's sickening. For all of our troubles, all of the complete lack of any sort of understanding of what made these characters beloved, what do we get from this shocking twist? 25 minutes. 25 minutes of precious precious grimdark conflict. It's not like it matters in the end; Uranus and Neptune fail, and they're killed anyway. For the sake of one episode of this putrefacted bullshit, the show fundamentally wounds Uranus and Neptune. Not in a "they literally died" sense, but extra-narratively. They've been wounded. I had a friend warn me about Uranus and Neptune's heel turn when I was going through Sailor Stars, and I assumed they meant the pair not being friendly with the Starlights. I WISH THAT'S WHAT THEY MEANT! THAT I could have dealt with? This? This is awful. Right at the very end, the Sailor Galaxia show deals a mortal wound to Sailor Moon. How can utopian idealism possibly come back from this? You've taken the two people most touched by it and turned them into edgy antiheroes because you couldn't squeeze out an extra 25 minutes without ruining them! What the fuck? What possible response could utopian idealism have to such a fatal blow?
|The crybaby who saved the soul of Sailor Galaxia.|
That's that. That was Sailor Stars, the final season of Sailor Moon. I can't hate it. I can hate the absolute bullshit they did to Uranus and Neptune, and lament for what could have been... but I can't hate this season. Not when it gave us the Sailor Starlights. Not when it opened the universe up to other Sailor Senshi beyond our solar system. Sailor Stars, for all its faults, has so much more going on with it beyond the surface level stuff. With its dying breaths, it makes itself absolutely eternal. Really, it was already there with all the merchandise and whatnot. Sailor Moon has stood the test of time, and it's utterly iconic. Anyone, anywhere, can be a Sailor Senshi. Despite all this, I lament what could have been. Things could have been stronger, especially where Uranus and Neptune are concerned. They were the most fascinating new characters of S, and seeing them grow and change would have been superb. Instead, we get... well, the shit I've been complaining about for hundreds of words. I managed to make something interesting out of the situation with it all being an extra-narrative battle, but it has to be said: Someone, be it Naoko Takeuchi or one of the anime staffers, betrayed me. Someone chose to do this to Uranus and Neptune, and fly in the face of utopian idealism for the sake of 25 extra minutes of twisting the knife. It's indefensible. It really is a small miracle that I didn't sour on the entire thing, but somehow they pulled it off. Maybe you can see this as a "darkest before the dawn" situation, but my Sailor Moon isn't about that kind of shit. I don't think it was needed. Maybe your Sailor Moon, or the writer's Sailor Moon was... but not mine. Not the Sailor Moon I've been writing about for all this time. It is time to say goodbye to my Sailor Moon, though. We've reached the end. There's one more thing to do, one more bit of wrapup and reveal... but that's a wrap on actually talking about the show. It was beautiful. It was messy. Most of all, it was inspirational. There's not much left to say beyond this. Usagi Tsukino... Thank you, and goodbye.
Epilogue: The Second Transformation
She is the one named Sailor Moon.
June 7th - September 14th, 2018