For the first time ever, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars is being officially released in English, via weekly new episodes on Hulu.com. LET’S WATCH ‘EM!
I grew up with Sailor Moon, and back in the day, Stars was this unobtainable forbidden fruit. The public secret that anyone with an internet connection knew about, despite the localizers’ attempts to shield our eyes from more lesbians, transgender Sailor Senshi and naked Usagi. The last time I watched it was in high school, back in the days when fansubs were low-quality copies of copies of VHS tapes. The thought of ever seeing Sailor Stars officially released in English was fanciful. Maybe someday, but no time soon enough for anyone to care.
But here we are. Just opening Hulu to see that the cover image for the show had changed to one featuring Eternal Sailor Moon, Chibi Chibi and the Starlights was so exciting. Then I hit play on the first episode, and it was like magic.
There’s always so much to say about any individual Sailor Moon episode, whether good or bad. I could talk about SM for hours. (Literally.) And as I’ve rewatched the series, I haven’t had a place to put my thoughts down - my viewing guides aren’t the right place for them. So, since I’m going to be watching Sailor Stars as it updates on Hulu every week, why not why not make this rewatch something fun? These are meant to be fun, casual recaps of each new episode posted every week, along with my thoughts on them.
If you’ve never seen Sailor Stars, you should totally watch along! Although, er, obvious spoiler warnings for the episodes I recap every week.
This week there are three episodes because the week before was the final episode of SuperS, plus the first episode of Stars. So this article covers both this week’s two new episodes, and last week’s single new episode. Between the extra episode and this introduction, I apologize for the excessive length. But every week after that will be two.
Without any further delay, let’s jump right in.
The Flower of Nightmares Scatters: The Queen of Darkness Returns (S5E1/167 overall)
Episode 167 starts with the brand new OP Sailor Star Song, which is amaaazing and very refreshing after 4 seasons of Moonlight Dentetsu. Then the episode starts...
It’s the apocalypse baby, Hotaru! She’s been hanging out with her Dad ever since autumn, the last time we saw her in Sailor Moon S, and now she’s enjoying the spring sakura. So I guess she’s still not even a year old at this point. But that’s not gonna stop her from having prophetic baby visions of Sailor Moon, because she wouldn’t be the anti-christ without those.
Sailor Moon standing on a big piece of ice in her Neo Queen Serenity outfit, which turns into a new Sailor Moon form, before she turns to smile at the baby vision camera? It’s not really that suspicious, if you think about it, except for the fact that anti-christ babies probably don’t have a lot of positive supernatural experiences with the messiah.
But the real point of this scene is much more important, as we hear a familiar voice just as Professor Tomoe joins Hotaru under the sakura. I know that hair and bow and earring! It’s Sailor Pluto! SHE’S BACK!
The excitement doesn’t last forever, as we cut to Usagi and the girls. They’re wearing brand new school uniforms (with the exception of Rei, who goes to an expensive K-12 private school) and are quick to celebrate that they are now in high school, which means 10th grade by our standards. Dang. I dunno, but they’ll never feel that old to me. It’s like they are perpetually 14 in my mind.
Eventually Mamoru and Chibiusa show up and make an important announcement: it’s time for Chibiusa to head back to the 20th century. The other girls look surprised by this, but my boyfriend and I were pretty relieved. No more pink rat? Yes, please, no more pink rat. I had my fill of her when she got an entire crappy season devoted to her and her weird pedo romance with a horse. I mean, if this were manga Chibiusa, that would be different, but this is anime Chibiusa we’re talking about.
It then cuts to something you may not be expecting: Nehelenia, the major antagonist from SuperS, floating around silently in the seal she’ll be stuck in for the next several millennia. She thinks to herself that a place this cold and quiet may be the best way to preserve her beauty after all, which is what she went insane over in the first place, but just as she’s accepting her situation she hears a voice. Who could that voice be?!?! Hmm. Very suspicious. But the disembodied voice announces that it’s going to free her from her seal, and before she knows it, she’s floating in space above Earth again.
Soooo, yeah. Basically, the beginning episodes of Sailor Stars are the real ending to SuperS. Which I’m sure was done for filler purposes - why not just have the real ending in the season itself? - but also maybe because a smart person spoke up and said, “That season and ending was fucking terrible, let’s do a new one and have the Outer Senshi and Eternal Sailor Moon in it like we probably should have from the start.”
I am mostly okay with this, even when it effectively extends SuperS by another 10 episodes or so, if I recall the length of this arc correctly. I mean, so far this single episode has had more happen in it than all of SuperS’s pre-ending episodes combined, so if we can salvage that season I’m all for it.
Anyway, we’re back to Usagi and the girls, who have met up with Chibiusa and Mamoru at the park in the evening to see her off. Chibiusa raises her time key to the sky and says the magic words, opening a gate into time and projecting a huge pink beam of light into the sky.
Nehelenia sees this beam from afar and the disembodied voice - I’m gonna call it “Totally Not Sailor Galaxia,” or TNSG - informs her that those White Moon girls are, in fact, very much alive, and did not become giant splat marks on the pavement after falling thousands of feet back to Earth. A black Dream Mirror appears in front of her, and TNSG urges Nehelenia to break it, saying it’s the embodiment for her hate for the White Moon.
The broken shards rain down on Tokyo and disrupt Chibiusa’s beam of light, stopping her from going back to the future. (DANG IT.) One shard falls into Mamoru’s eye, making him flinch in pain. But when Usagi asks if he’s okay, his eye starts blinking a yellow light and oh god he’s become a Terminator probably.
USAGI! Don’t just accept that he’s okay when something like that happens?! Oh, but then she does. There is no way this will come back and be a problem.
HARUKA AND MICHIRU! OH GOD, I MISSED YOU SO MUCH! There was this really bad season, right? All about Chibiusa, and her having this weird romance with a fucking horse? And you guys weren’t there at all, and the Inner Senshi basically disappeared for 20 episodes, and all the characterization between Usagi and Chibiusa got retconned so they could bicker incessantly again, and the villains were super corny circus things, and....... and it was awful! Don’t ever leave me again!
Ahem... Haruka and Michiru are hanging out at the aquarium. Haruka is as clueless as usual to Michiru’s romantic innuendo, and they wander outside and get a glimpse at the mirror shards raining down on Earth like meteors. Michiru gets a weird feeling and looks into her mirror, which briefly shows her an image of a dark planet. Haruka is inclined to let it go... until a shard hits and embeds itself in her hand, and upon being removed, turns into a Nehelenia-shaped glass monster.
They’re quickly surrounded, and although they’re up for the challenge, these things are probably gonna make short work of them both. That’s when we hear a “Deado Scream” and OOOOOH DAMN PLUTO IS BACK FROM THE DEAD! YEEEEEEAHHH And carrying the baby Hotaru!
Understandably, Haruka and Michiru are immediately kinda pissed. What are you doing here with the anti-christ baby, Pluto? Remember how they almost had to kill her and just barely managed a happy ending? Pluto explains that she “borrowed” Hotaru because they will soon need her power. But the glass monsters are coming back, so Sailor Pluto cuts her explanation short and puts baby Hotaru aside in the bushes.
Haruka and Michiru transform - iirc, this is the last time we ever see them transform in the anime, so enjoy it while you can - and the three of them start bustin’ up the glass monsters. The problem is that this only creates even more shards, which even more monsters grow from, and soon they’re back to being outnumbered and surrounded.
One monster attacks Uranus and breaks through the fence surrounding the edge of the roof, and Neptune just barely grabs onto Uranus’ hand to stop her from falling. Then two of the most memorable lines in the entire original anime are said.
OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH. Hur hur, sex jokes.
The moment is interrupted by a scream from Pluto above - one of the glass monsters has noticed baby Hotaru and is menacingly lurking over to her, sharp nails at the ready. Damn it, those bushes were FOOLPROOF! Who could have seen this coming?!
But the glass monster is dealing with the wrong baby. The symbol for Saturn appears on her forehead, and suddenly Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are granted the Super Senshi power they missed out on in SuperS. With extra power, they easily obliterate the glass monsters... but the bigger question now is, what could be going on that Sailor Saturn is starting to awaken again, so soon?
Sure enough, she’s now she’s a small child, spouting prophetical predictions. “Change is coming. If this continues, the princess will be in danger.” And we get one more creepy vision of Eternal Sailor Moon bound in vines.
After the big flop that was SuperS - which had only just finished in the past episode - this episode is like taking off a sweaty, stinky Halloween mask and taking a huge breath of clean cool air. This is a very very good episode, with good, non-sloppy animation, a script where things actually happen, and new season 5 music that helps ramp up the drama. Everything I love about Sailor Moon is back here, and it sets us up for a proper ending to the Dream Arc that will segue into the main plot of Sailor Stars. I mean, we really shouldn’t have to devote time to wrapping up SuperS in this new season, but because it’s a return to quality I can tolerate it.
Saturn Awakens: The Ten Sailor Guardians Unite (S5E2/168)
The next episode opens apparently a few days after the last one, with Usagi and Mamoru on a date at the park. What happened with all those glass shards raining down a few days ago? Maybe only a handful attacked Uranus and Neptune and none of the others turned into monsters? Your guess is as good as mine.
Usagi tries to tell Mamoru that she’s totes DTF since she’s a high school student now, but Mamoru is zoning out and not listening. Usagi gets angry and stands up, but the sunlight starts to reflect off the metallic balloon she’s carrying, and the light agitates the glass shard still embedded in Mamoru’s eye. Irritable from the shard, he snaps at Usagi and bats her hand away from him before quickly apologizing and going home to rest. Methinks something is not okay with Mamoru.
Down at the cafe above the Crown Arcade, the girls are chatting about how nice it is to have peace again and what they’ve been doing with their free time. The topic of Mamoru’s odd behavior comes up and the girls encourage Usagi to talk about it instead of keeping it to herself.
Elsewhere, we see Haruka and Michiru exit a car at the house they’ve chosen to live in with Setsuna (Pluto) and Hotaru. Little Hotaru runs out to greet them home and brag about everything she’s learning from Setsuna. The three older Outers raising Hotaru has always been one of my favorite downtime periods during Sailor Moon, and it’s good to see it make an appearance in the anime, even if it’s hamfisted into one or two episodes instead of being done correctly in SuperS. More proof of how you can skip SuperS entirely and just start watching Stars after you finish season 3.
No sooner than Hotaru runs off to chase butterflies do the three girls lose track of where she went off to. They search the entire house until the only room left is her bedroom (really? you didn’t look in her bedroom first?), where they find little Hotaru zoning out she creates a simulation of the Big Bang in an illusion in the air. Lest they enjoy its beauty for too long, it quickly turns into another spooky prophecy and Hotaru warns the older girls that something bad is going to happen.
Back in Juuban, the girls try to reassure Usagi that she’s worrying about Mamoru too much and to brighten up. Meanwhile, Mamoru is sitting at his computer in his apartment in the dark, working on code for a computer program for school; when his program doesn’t work he loses his temper and throws his keyboard across the room. He then thinks to himself that he needs to rest because something is wrong with him. Uhhhh, duh? Back at Usagi’s house, while she’s worrying about Mamoru, she has a sudden premonition of Nehelenia and wonders if it’s her imagination.
At the Outer Senshi house, Hotaru has been put to bed, but she is awoken by an image of Nehelenia watching her as a reflection off her bedroom window. The spirit of Sailor Saturn appears in her room to soothe the girl’s fears and complete her awakening. She restores Hotaru’s memories of her past life and the symbol of Saturn appears on her forehead. A few minutes later, a physically matured, naked Hotaru comes out to the living room to tell Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna that they gotta go bust some more monsters.
The Inner Senshi, too, are starting to figure out that something is wrong. meeting at Hikawa Shrine, they talk about a string of strange events they’d witnessed recently involving mirrors. Then the glass monsters appear and it’s Make Up time. As usual, the Senshi start to get overwhelmed, only for Tuxedo Mask to swoop in and interrupt their doom with a rose... but even that gets cut short, as his eye begins to hurt again.
The Outer Senshi arrive just in time to save them all, including the newly awakened and puberty-fied Sailor Saturn. Saturn instructs the Senshi to focus their power on Super Sailor Moon, which grants her a temporary transformation into Eternal Sailor Moon (what a fugly costume), who then easily defeats the remaining glass monsters. Sailor Saturns says she was reborn so that she could tell Sailor Moon about her “true form” that she will need to fight, but... if you think about it, shouldn’t she have told her about that back in season 3? Probably would have saved everyone a lot of grief. Sloppy senshi work, Saturn.
The episode ends with Usagi walking Mamoru back to his apartment, and Mamoru being embraced by an image of Nehelenia in his bathroom mirror. This episode was not as exciting as the last one, but it continues to grow the story seeds planted in the previous episode and helps give us some breathing room - Hotaru, the Outer Senshi returning, Nehelenia, Mamoru’s illness, that’s all a lot of stuff going on at once, and the slower pace helps us digest it. It’s the next episode where everything starts to coalesce.
The Cursed Mirror: Mamoru Caught in a Nightmare (S5E3/169)
It appears to be the day after the events in the last episode. A strange malady is spreading across Tokyo, making people - mostly young women - listless and apathetic and obsessed with staring into mirrors. The Outer Senshi watch a news broadcast about the affliction and Hotaru mumbles her prophecy from the last episode. Is it me, or does it look like she went back to being younger again? She doesn’t look like a preteen anymore...? Michiru looks into the Deep Aqua Mirror, which has been shown previously to have the power to reveal the truth, and a shadow of Nehelenia appears. How many Nehelenia cameos need to be made before these guys figure it out?! Well, the Outer Senshi weren’t around for SuperS, so I guess they’re excused.
In Juuban, Minako and Usagi are rushing to class late, to wonderful comedic effect. I’m so happy these two characters, my two favorites, are finally together in school, because they are really made for each other. Ami and Makoto inform them that their first period class has been cancelled because the teachers are at an emergency meeting re: the mysterious malady - tons of female students did not show up at school that morning. Speaking of which, the girls passed a boy staring at his reflection in a mirror on the way to class, and there’s a girl standing in the hall looking at herself in a hand mirror. Efforts to get her attention are unsuccessful until Makoto feels something strange from the hand mirror and knocks it away.
This is an awesome scene. It’s got all the charm and character that the dialogue had in SuperS, except here it’s incorporated into events that are actually relevant to the story. Plus, this thing with the mirrors is really unsettling: the girl asks aloud, “How am I supposed to go on living without this mirror?” after her mirror is knocked away and broken. Drama and uneasiness accomplished without resorting to those weird rape metaphors in SuperS! Hooray!
Also, Usagi sees the girl’s eye flash gold, which pretty much confirms that something is seriously wrong with Mamo-chan. After school, she goes over to Mamoru’s apartment and sees one of his classmates repeatedly ringing his doorbell, with no answer. But ah-hah, Usagi has an extra key to his apartment, so she happily lets herself in so she can check on him.
Inside, it is quite clear that Mamoru is losing his mind. All the lights are turned off and the floor is littered with empty cardboard boxes and crumpled packaging. He went out and bought dozens of mirrors, and now every room is full of them; Usagi finds Mamoru in a back room, staring at himself in a full-length mirror. Her reaction is a lot more mild than mine would have been.
Usagi sees a Nehelenia shadow appear and try to grab Mamoru, so she darts forward, stepping on and cracking a mirror on the floor as she does. This affront to mirror fandom gets Mamoru’s attention, and he spins around to yell at her about coming into his apartment without asking. When he walks over to soothingly pet the broken mirror (wtf?) he cuts his finger, and immediately refuses any assistance from his girlfriend. So far, Mamoru isn’t really becoming apathetic and listless from this malady, he’s becoming a douchebag. Sensing this, he apologizes and repeats that he needs rest. Usagi hesitantly agrees to leave, but not before glancing back to see him staring back into a mirror again.
With something clearly going on now, the Inner Senshi assemble at Hikawa Shrine. As they start to discuss Mamoru’s situation, Setsuna and Hotaru show up. Hotaru explains that she doesn’t know what’s about to happen, only that it’s going to happen, and that it’s gonna be bad.
What follows is a strange montage of various images superimposed on each other as Hotaru and Setsuna give us lots of exposition, mostly just piecing together all the hints they’ve been given such as the mirrors, the malady, the repeated appearances of Nehelenia’s shadow, and the meteor shower a few days earlier. It mostly shows the Senshi running towards something against a nondescript background, with the conversation happening at the same time. It’s weird.
It cuts to Uranus and Neptune fighting glass monsters outside. As usual, their power duo dynamic is mesmerizing. The other Senshi catch up to them, and we learn they’re outside Mamoru’s apartment building, which they’ve rushed to in order to make sure the prince is alright.
While the Outers keep the monsters at bay, Sailor Moon and the Inners wait for the elevator (lol), but inside are more glass monsters. Jupiter ices them all without causing them to multiply, because she is a badass, and they decide to take the stairs. Good call, guys. Along the way, Sailor Moon finally figures it out: that black shadow is none other than Nehelenia, the villain they sealed away only a few weeks earlier. Knowing this, everything has been escalated into a serious emergency.
Mamoru is still standing exactly where Usagi left him earlier, staring into the same full-length mirror, mumbling about how awesome it is to stare into mirrors. Judging by his dead-eyed smile and the fact that the animators have dyed his apartment a clashing mix of dark blue and neon pink, things are looking crazy. Sailor Moon runs up to him to try to gently persuade him to idk, maybe stop staring at the mirror, when he BACKHANDS HER. With a loud smacking sound and everything. DAMN, SAILOR STARS, THAT’S KINDA EXTREME DON’T YOU THINK.
Chibimoon barely has time to ask him what his deal is before Nehelenia herself appears in Mamoru’s mirror. Sailor Moon looks impressively horrified upon seeing her, but I can’t help but wonder if that reaction, and the one before it in the stairwell, was earned. What did Nehelenia do during SuperS to justify that abject panic? Not really a whole lot. I guess she tried to throw Chibimoon off a cliff and was really mean to the nice pretty horsie, but Sailor Moon has seen worse than that at this point.
Nehelenia explains that while she was sealed away, Sailor Moon was out in the real world alive and well, enjoying her youth, even though she wasn’t aware of any of this until TNSG let her out. Sailor Moon is quick to correct her claim that she was laughing at Nehelenia the whole time - she had never “laughed” at her, not even after they beat her - but Nehelenia doesn’t care. She intends to take the things Sailor Moon loves away, starting with the now practically comatose Mamoru. She sticks her hands out of the mirror and begins to pull him inside, to Sailor Moon’s horror. She chases after him, but hits the surface of the mirror.
Sailor Moon stands up and asks everyone for their power, planning on transforming into Eternal Sailor Moon again. But almost as soon as she does, the transformation fades away, and she fails to retrieve Mamoru. Nehelenia just grins and rubs it all in her face before making off with Mamoru, and the episode ends on a cliffhanger.
This basically wraps up the set-up of this “real” ending to SuperS, with the next episode bringing us into act two. It’s sorta odd that so much of the episode was devoted to the characters reviewing things that the audience would have already pieced together, but I think that’s there to help build up the tension. You can really see and hear the fear they feel over their situation, even if it’s kiiiinda unwarranted for someone like Nehelenia. Either way, much better than anything in SuperS, so I’ll take it!
New episodes go up on Hulu every Monday, so I encourage you to watch along, as I mentioned earlier! Also, I’ve never done any series of posts like this before, so if anyone has any feedback that would be great. When is a good time to post them? Right after the new ones come out, or the Sunday before the next week’s episodes, or what? I went for the middle ground for this post, but I can change it for the next time. And any other feedback is welcome.
See you next week! 🌟