I’ve been hyped for this episode since the season started, because it’s so dense with revelations, plot twists and general craziness. I was not disappointed! Well, except for one small thing.
The episode starts right where the last one left off, with Chibimoon and Tuxedo Mask rendered speechless by the Holy Grail suddenly appearing in Sailor Moon’s hands. Even though the last episode ended on this cliffhanger, they felt the need to replay almost one and a half minutes of the last episode to start this one. But, hey... I don’t mind occasional reuse of animation if it helps the team keep up the quality for the rest of it.
Anyway, as Sailor Moon holds the newly-appeared Holy Grail, a pulse gets sent out from it and dispels the mind control afflicting the rest of the Senshi. They all immediately halt (aww... the fight was over too quickly) and return to the ground to watch her in wonderment. Suddenly, the Talismans start to react to Sailor Moon, and sensing that Sailor Moon was calling out for her comrades’ cooperation, both the Outers and Inners lend their power to her. This fills the Holy Grail and Sailor Moon uses it to transform into Super Sailor Moon, complete with a flurry of rainbows, hearts and butterflies.
Fuck yes, it’s the girliest thing ever and I LOVE IT. After everyone gawks, Chibimoon flashes back to her father bragging about how invincible Sailor Moon is (although the show gets Neo Queen Serenity’s hair color wrong...) and the villains realize they’re in trouble.
This rendition of the Super Sailor Moon costume is pretty good. There are no major deviations, and I’m happy to see that the tie-dyed effect on the skirt was kept from the manga, instead of going with the simplified stripes that the 90's anime opted for.
I would’ve liked the gradient effect of her sailor collar to have made it in too, but maybe that would have been too hard to animate. Either way, can’t complain - this is definitely the objectively best-looking form of Sailor Moon, so it would be hard to screw it up.
Meanwhile, Hotaru is still in her bedroom holding her head, trying to keep something from “coming out.” Pharaoh 90, the disembodied voice who’s been giving orders to Kaolinite and Prof. Tomoe, wonders what Sailor Moon’s incredible power could be - it’s now many times more powerful than the Death Busters’ Taioron Crystal. Suddenly, in her room, Hotaru raises her head and tells Pharaoh 90 that it’s the Legendary Silver Crystal. The evil face and creepy laugh is definitely not Hotaru’s.
Back at Mugen, Sailor Moon summons her rod with newfound confidence and blows Cyprine and Ptilol away with a powered-up Rainbow Moon Heartache. Kaolinite is pissed that the last of her servants have been defeated, thus stomping on her plans to become the master’s partner. But Creepy Hotaru is listening through her amulet and giggles maliciously at her frustration... before suddenly snapping out of it and collapsing. Whoa, what’s going on with Hotaru?
With the crisis averted, the Senshi start to recover from what just happened. Sailor Moon realizes that this new power wasn’t something she’d been carrying around with her this whole time, but was created from the power lended to her from the others: Super Sailor Moon is a symbol of the unity of the Sailor Senshi and requires their cooperation. The Outer Senshi are particularly shocked to see this happen, as their Talismans have never resonated and responded in this manner before. In light of this development, the Outer Senshi take the Inners back to Uranus’ apartment (by which I mean, they fly there) to have an important talk.
But not before squeezing in a laugh about how rich Michiru and Haruka are. Because they have benefactors and sponsors from racing and violin, they can afford the Mugen apartments, which run Haruka a million yen per month. I don’t know why she’s sweating glass and furniture repairs when she has that kind of money - it’d surely be a fraction of that, wouldn’t it?
Anyway, they’ve brought them here to start to explain what their deal really is. You see, the only other time they’e seen the Talismans resonate was long ago... during the Silver Millennium. Yep, the Outers were around back when there was still a kingdom on the moon, and Usagi was Princess Serenity, and Mamoru was Endymion. Because the Outers have rigid roles and jurisdictions to adhere to, they could do nothing during Queen Metallia’s takeover of Earth and attack on the moon. They protect the solar system from outside threats, and the Dark Kingdom developed on Earth itself.
But as they watched Earth fall, the Talismans started to resonate, and the final Sailor Senshi was summoned from the taboo planet, Saturn.
When the Outers saw Saturn, the Senshi of Ruin, appear, they knew the end of everything had arrived. Sailor Saturn swung her Silence Glaive and reset the world, ending the destruction happening on Earth. That’s right - while the Dark Kingdom technically caused the fall of the Silver Millennium way back in season 1, it was Sailor Saturn who actually destroyed everything and sent everyone to be reborn on Earth. She’s the oh shit button. The nuclear option. The last resort you turn to when all hope is lost.
Herein lies the problem: the true purpose of the Three Talismans is to summon Sailor Saturn, as a last-ditch effort in situations that have become hopeless. The Outers are protectors of Saturn’s “keys.” So, for Uranus, Neptune and Pluto to be reborn on Earth together and for their Talismans to be drawing together - it’s a really, really bad sign. It means that Sailor Saturn is on her way, and that everything is going to be destroyed again for the sake of rebirth.
And just to make everything worse, guess who the reborn Sailor Saturn is?
Yep. Hotaru. Which brings us to the kicker here: the Outers’ mission is to prevent Sailor Saturn from awakening. To them, that means they have to kill Hotaru.
Of course, this immediately elicits objections from the Inners, but it’s more common sense than you might think. Basically, Hotaru is doomed. Those weird muscle-like fibers and wires Chibiusa saw all over Hotaru’s arms are part of her artificial, cyborg body that her father has been forcing on her ever since the enormous fire that claimed her mother’s life. Her body is fragile and falling apart, and it can’t hold out much longer. The only way to save her is to allow her to awaken as Sailor Saturn - but to allow that would be to allow the destruction of the world. Either Hotaru dies, or everyone else dies. So really, because Hotaru is so close to death anyway, killing her makes an unfortunate amount of sense.
Nevertheless, Sailor Moon flatly rejects this plan. Maybe Saturn won’t awaken! They don’t know that she will show up yet! And there has to be a way to save everyone without anyone having to be sacrificed! But the Outers look disappointed to hear her say such a thing. They knew she’d be against it - which is why they’ve been keeping to themselves and insisting that they’ll take care of the problem on their own. That’s why they’ve been insisting that they can’t be friends. Neptune in particular looks sad to have to say all this, but the Outers aren’t interested in re-evaluating the situation. They swiftly hop out of the building and fly away, ignoring Sailor Moon’s pleading.
Chibimoon can’t comprehend the possibility of her dear friend needing to die. She can’t forget how soulful and lonely she always looked, the girlish promises they made to each other, or the gifted clay chalice. Upset, she suddenly storms out of the room and rushes to Mugen Lab, intent on apologizing to Hotaru and supporting her.
The Outer Senshi are already there, but for some reason, they don’t stop Chibimoon as she makes her way around to Hotaru’s room.
Of course, when she gets there, it isn’t Hotaru waiting for her. The girl jerks upwards, blows the glass out of her room’s sliding doors, and Hotaru’s hair suddenly grows impossibly long and a Death Busters star appears on her forehead. Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask show up in time to attempt to save Chibimoon, but it’s too late - bizarro-Hotaru has grabbed her with her long hair, grabbed her transformation brooch on her chest, and ripped it away.
Who is this long-haired version of Hotaru? Could it be Saturn, Sailor Moon wonders? No, it can’t be - the Talismans haven’t done anything, and Saturn can only be summoned with the Talismans. Rather, this is Mistress 9, one of the Tau System aliens who had been trying to vesselize Hotaru’s body for a very, very long time.
As the Senshi look on, lost and confused, they realize that Chibiusa isn’t breathing. And so, we end on yet another cliffhanger, with Hotaru lost to Mistress 9, Chibiusa rendered dead by the theft of her Silver Crystal, and the Senshi at odds all over again.
I LOVED this episode. In the span of 25 minutes, the stakes are raised higher than ever before. The Outer Senshi bring an entirely new dynamic to the show because they don’t adhere to the magical girl solidarity that has been its whole premise up to this point. They have their own duties, methods and entitlements. They introduce the idea that Sailor Senshi aren’t necessarily good, they’re not all some embodiment of friendship and hope. Sailor Saturn is the best and most severe example of that. And yet, Super Sailor Moon was born from the inner desire for everyone to work together and be friends. These two concepts are going to be battling it out now, for the whole rest of the reason.
I only have one complaint. For some reason, the script writer removed what I feel is an essential conversation that happens in the manga.
Here’s one of the problems with the Sailor Moon manga, and the series in general: it went too far too soon. In the second season of the show, we see the future, where Usagi has become Neo Queen Serenity, all of the Senshi are alive and happy, and the world is at peace. For the rest of the series, we already know everything is going to turn out perfectly fine. We already know they’re going to prevail against whatever they face, because if they didn’t, that future would not have existed in season 2.
The 90's anime never addresses this fact, letting it pile up with the other terrible narrative choices it makes as it successfully distracts you with excellent character-focused writing. But the manga, infinitely better written from an overall story perspective, DOES address this - in that page right up there.
Pluto explains that, yeah, this isn’t supposed to be happening. Something has gone wrong with the timeline; fate has for some reason pushed everyone in a different direction. And she doesn’t know why. Just look at the shame on her face as she has to say that. She’s supposed to be the Guardian of Time, but she can’t come up with an answer for why this is happening or how to stop or fix it.
This conversation was excised from the Crystal adaption, and all we get is an unsatisfying line from Pluto that the future happens despite what’s going on. That’s a totally pointless line to include, because by removing the rest of what she says, it only underscores how this doesn’t make any sense in the context of what we know about the series so far. If only they had taken the time to spare a few extra seconds to let Pluto explain that this is an anomaly and they don’t know why it’s happening. Not only would that acknowledge the contradiction, but it would keep the stakes high AND respect us as an audience who’s capable of putting two and two together here.
I’m really disappointed to see this removed from the episode. Maybe they’ll find a way to fit it in somewhere else, but I doubt it. I guess we’ll have to deal with Crystal never addressing the apparent inevitability that everything is going to turn out okay.
But, well, maybe that’s a small thing in the grand scheme and I care about the details too much. Either way, this is still a very satisfying and exciting episode, and I can’t wait for next week’s. Join me next time!!
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