Welcome to the filler-free viewing guide for Sailor Moon S, the third season of the original Sailor Moon anime! The objective of these guides is to help newcomers more easily get into the series by cutting back on the excessive number of filler episodes in the original 90’s Sailor Moon anime. I point out the required non-filler episodes while recommending certain non-required episodes for viewing, either because they’re classic episodes, entertaining, include good characterization, or all of the above. I invite you to check out my guides for season 1 and season 2!
Finally we have arrived at Sailor Moon S. I’ve tried to keep my personal opinion on Sailor Moon to a minimum during these guides, but in my opinion, this is probably the best season of the original Sailor Moon anime. Sometimes I flip-flop back and forth between S and “Classic” (the fandom’s name for season 1), but after rewatching season 3 for this guide, S is the clear winner in my eyes. Sailor Moon S is what cements the series as a classic; even if a case can be made for other seasons being better, season 3 left a huge mark and altered the way future seasons were approached from the start.
You can tell from the very first episode that everything is better: the animation is better; the story is more coherent and dramatic; the jokes are less about huge sweatdrops and outrageous anime faces and more about the situations, self-parody and comedic timing; and the soundtrack is iconic. And the inclusion of Uranus and Neptune, two new Sailor Guardians, inject a new sense of intrigue into this arc’s overall story. Every moment they are on screen together, they basically steal the show. And probably most significantly for the purposes of this list, there is markedly less filler in this season. Not only is it shorter than either of the previous seasons, but it does a better job building up the story and actually using its screentime instead of sticking so closely to the monster-of-the-day formula. For example, in season 1 the third to last episode is still skippable filler, whereas season 3 is finished with a solid 5 episode finale that doesn’t feel rushed or padded.
The higher quality is probably in large part thanks to Kunihiko Ikuhara, who began as series director during Sailor Moon R. He seemed to be somewhat limited in his creative control by decisions made earlier in R’s production; Sailor Moon S is the first season he directs entirely, and it shows. (For those of you unfamiliar with who I’m talking about, he would later go on to make Revolutionary Girl Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum and Yuri Kuma Arashi.)
✮The bare minimum “required” episodes:
90, 92-93, 98, 101-103, 109-113, 115, 119-126.
Total of 21 out of 37 episodes.
✮ Required + all potential recommended episodes:
90, 92-93, 96-98, 101-103, 106, 109-113, 115, 117, 119-126.
Total of 25 out of 37 episodes.
Season 3 starts with a batch of mixed filler and required episodes, many of which fall prey to the “include 2 minutes of relevant information within an otherwise unimportant episode” format that plagued seasons 1 and 2. However, the overall quality of Sailor Moon S - even its filler - is way higher than either of the previous seasons, so many of these episodes are absolutely great and worth watching. Again, just as a reminder, just because I mark something as filler doesn’t make it a bad episode - it just means you can skip it.
✮ Episode 90: Required.
Episode 91: Filler. Usagi gets a new transformation brooch and a new wand.
✮ Episode 92: Required.
✮ Episode 93: Required.
Episode 94: Filler.
Episode 95: Filler.
Episode 96: Recommended. Makoto’s pure heart episode. Generally speaking, the pure heart episodes involving the Inner Senshi are all fantastic and should probably be watched by everyone but the most time-sensitive viewers.
Episode 97: Recommended. Ami’s pure heart episode.
✮ Episode 98: Required.
Episode 99: Filler.
Episode 100: Filler.
✮ Episode 101: Required.
✮ Episode 102: Required.
Kaolinite is replaced with a group of much more entertaining characters, the Witches 5, starting with Eudial. This is the part where this season really starts to get amazing, culminating with probably my favorite episode in the whole series (110).
✮ Episode 103: Required.
Episode 104: Filler. This episodes provides a little bit more explanation for why Chibiusa came back, but basically, Neo Queen Serenity thought she needed to learn how to make friends and sent her back to the 20th century for training.
Episode 105: Filler.
Episode 106: Recommended. This is Uranus and Neptune’s backstory episode. The characterization this episode provides is important, so I highly recommend it.
Episode 107: Filler.
Episode 108: Filler.
✮ Episode 109: Required.
✮ Episode 110: Required.
✮ Episode 111: Required.
You may be thinking, with the Talismans located, what could possibly be next? They got the Holy Grail, so that basically means they’ve won, right? Well, no. WE’RE JUST GETTIN’ STARTED. As great as this season has been up to this point, this is when it starts to get real, and almost all of the remaining episodes in the season are great.
✮ Episode 112: Required.
✮ Episode 113: Required.
Episode 114: Filler.
✮ Episode 115: Required. Following this episode are several filler episodes that, while pretty good, don’t move the plot forward too much. All you need to know is that, following episode 115, the Outer Senshi start to become increasingly more suspicious of Hotaru having connections with the Death Busters. (This episodes ends on a cliffhanger about how Chibiusa and Hotaru shouldn’t be friends, but they pretty much go back to being friends immediately.)
Episode 116: Filler.
Episode 117: Recommended. This episode helps bridge the gap between 115 and 119, and we get a little more characterization/screen time for Hotaru. But more importantly, this is probably the most bizarre episode in this season. It’s just... so... Ikuhara. A skippable episode for sure, but I think it’s pretty amusing and helps slow the pace of this sub-arc a bit, and it’s a better episode than either 116 or 118.
Episode 118: Filler.
✮ Episode 119: Required.
As the season heads towards its conclusion, the remainder of the Witches 5 are pushed into episodes that are quite padded while still containing important developments. The actual finale is episode 125.
✮ Episode 120: Required.
✮ Episode 121: Required.
✮ Episode 122: Required
✮ Episode 123: Required
✮ Episode 124: Required
✮ Episode 125: Required.
✮ Episode 126: Required. This episode contains important epilogue information in its first half.
Episode 127: Filler. This is a pure filler episode with no impact on the transition into season 4.
And there you have it, my filler-free viewing guide for season 3 of Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon S. Once more, let’s look at the breakdown:
- The bare minimum “required” episodes: 90, 92-93, 98, 101-103, 109-113, 115, 119-126.
- Required + all potential recommended episodes: 90, 92-93, 96-98, 101-103, 106, 109-113, 115, 117, 119-126.
If you decide to follow my recommended episode list, please leave a comment to tell me how it worked out for you, and whether there were any moments where you were confused because you felt like you missed something. The same goes for anyone familiar with the series who might disagree with me on any episodes. I am certainly open to any input or suggestions on how to make this viewing list better. You can leave me a comment here or at @lambdapower.
If you enjoyed this guide, check out my guide for season 4, Sailor Moon SuperS!
Screencaps are from mooncaps.