So, remember when I said that some people think Sailor Stars is the worst season of the original Sailor Moon anime, while mentioning that I disagree? Thanks to this week’s episodes, I’m... starting to understand that a little bit more.

Now, I still don’t really agree - this is still nowhere near as bad as SuperS - but this week’s episodes are pretty poor. They’re plot episodes, but they fail at delivering on several plot elements that had been building up the whole rest of the season.

Crusade for the Galaxy: Legend of the Sailor Wars (S5E28/194)

So as you’ll recall, last episode we left off on a cliffhanger, as the much-hyped Princess of the Starlights finally made her appearance. This episode picks up exactly where we left off, dropping us right back into that scene on the same day.

The Starlights, bowing before the Princess, are overwhelmed with relief upon finding her and driven to tears. Princess Kakyuu kneels in front of Star Fighter to take her hand and explain where exactly she’s been at this time and what she was doing: she came to Earth because she had an important mission to fulfill.

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For several weeks now, she’s been watching Usagi and the other Inner Senshi through the incense burner that Chibi Chibi was carrying around. She explains that a holy war has been waged across the entire Milky Way galaxy for ages, known as the Sailor Wars. Long ago, Chaos - the source of all evil in the galaxy - was defeated and sealed away by a Legendary (with a capital L) Sailor Senshi with unparalleled power.

A long-haired, sword-wielding Senshi is shown on screen plunging her blade into the ground and sending a beam of light into the red, cloudy sky. A pure light spreads through the galaxy, and when it cuts back to the sword, it’s aged and tarnished, and the sky has become peaceful.

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But that was centuries ago, Kakyuu explains, and the evil being Chaos has returned. Sailor Mars asks, is she talking about Galaxia? Without saying yes, Kakyuu bows her head and says that Galaxia has been ravaging the galaxy, stealing the star seeds of Sailor Senshi and decimating their planets, “in order to turn the entire galaxy into a maelstrom of chaos.”

However, they have one weapon to use against Galaxia: the Light of Hope, a power left behind by the ancient Legendary Senshi. Kakyuu came to Earth not out of a desire to abandon her own, but in order to find that secret power so that it could be used to finally stop Galaxia.

Of course, Healer (Yaten) and Maker (Forehead) interrupt with an over-emotional outburst about how they TOTALLY don’t need any kind of secret weapon to use against Galaxia! As long as they have the Princess, they can go back to their planet and save it! So they should leave right now and do that! God, why the are they so consistently so hysterical? This is the emotional maturity of a small child demanding to see his daddy again, while his mother is trying to explain the concept of a domestic violence injunction.

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Princess Kakyuu, in the face of her underlings’ blatant failure to have listened to anything she said, patiently shakes her head and says no. Unless they can find the Light of Hope, they’ll never get rid of Chaos again and never stop Galaxia’s onslaught. Finally turning towards Usagi, she begs for her help with finding the Light of Hope.

Purehearted Usagi agrees immediately, but then....... those other stubborn knuckleheads show up.

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Sailor Uranus and Neptune are here to yet again obstruct any kind of open, productive communication between the Sailor Moon group and the Starlights group. How dare they ask Sailor Moon to do something like that, they ask? The Starlights take offense, and Kakyuu commands them all to chill out. She leads the Starlights away to avoid any further conflict, but not without slipping to Sailor Moon that she implicitly trusts her to make the right, good, obvious decision here.

Elsewhere, long, shimmering hair flows in the wind amidst the backdrop of stars and intersellar clouds in Galaxia’s lair. Galaxia’s voiceover once again muddles over the Senshi who are opposing her on Earth. She’s realized that they are growing in number and becoming even stronger, but why?

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Tin Nyanko abruptly interrupts her monologuing, and for a brief moment we see Galaxia standing beside her throne, her long flowing hair let loose from her tiara. Her usual attire appears around her again a second later as she turns angrily towards Tin Nyanko.

How dare she return to Galaxia’s presence having found the true star seed, but failing to have retrieved it yet? Galaxia barks for her to leave, and Nyanko, too terrified to argue, retreats back to the Galaxy TV building on Earth. Apparently, what Tin Nyanko saw was Galaxia’s “true face,” and she’s very touchy about other people seeing it. Hmm...... wonder what they could be implying here...?

That night, Michiru and Haruka are sitting in their car outside Usagi’s house. They’re keeping surveillance to make sure that nobody attacks her now that the enemy knows her identity. Haruka broods that Usagi is “too sweet,” and Michiru pretends to mistake her words for a comment on the coffee they’re chugging to stay awake. As always, their dynamic is wonderful.

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Usagi is still awake in her room, though. She’s sitting at her desk, the picture of her and Mamoru in front of her, as she holds the phone to her ear, listening to the voicemail greeting message on Mamoru’s home phone in Tokyo. He’s not here at the moment, so he can’t answer the phone, but because he’s in America right now, try calling his American apartment’s number — a number which Usagi has never been given. Usagi hangs up the phone and immediately redials the number, just to hear Mamoru’s voice again, before breaking into tears.

Meanwhile, Seiya gets a busy signal when he tries calling Usagi. Kakyuu calls him away from the phone, and he sits beside her. She asks him if he’s been “dressed like that” the entire time on this planet. Embarrassed, he stammers that they thought that doing so was the best way to find a woman on Earth. Uh... so they are women? Is that what that’s trying to say? We’ve seen them shirtless, though.

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Kakyuu apologizes for not appearing earlier, as she’d heard their song a long time ago. But she didn’t want Galaxia to find her. She asks Seiya to show her their song again, and while it’s unclear whether Seiya is singing it to her or playing a recording, the song brings back flashback memories of their time on their home planet, enjoying the wind and flowers and living in peace — until the image of Kakyuu in the memory is supplanted with Usagi, jerking Seiya out of the vision. The boy has it bad for her if Usagi is taking the place of his beloved Princess.

Taiki and Yaten return to the studio from the store, and before they can say much, Seiya swiftly excuses himself outside to a public phone booth. When he tries to call Usagi this time, it finally goes through, but Usagi has fallen asleep at her desk. Seiya only gets more frustrated with himself and his emotional situation.

The next morning, Minako and Rei have cheerily come to Usagi’s house to escort her to school. Usagi is a bit miffed that they went to such lengths, but to Minako and Rei, anyone around them could be the enemy in disguise. The man walking his dog! The old lady sorting her garbage! The utility man fixing an electrical pole! As they continue down the street, Tin Nyanko - disguised as the utility man fixing an electrical pole - marvels at how sharp these Senshi are.

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At school, the over-protection continues. The girls crowd Usagi with pepper spray, good luck charms, and even a whistle that hilariously summons Rei from her school on the other side of town. During class too, Minako and Makoto crowd Usagi’s personal space in the name of protection, even going so far as to exercise right up next to her in gym class. They want Usagi to relax and leave her safety to them, because it’s their job! Who knows - the enemy could be at their school, disguised as a student! (Minako points at a random girl in the distance......... who just so happens to be Tin Nyanko again.)

But by the end of the day, Usagi is so exhausted from their zeal - and how unreliable they apparently think she is - that she asks them to leave her alone for a while. Minako ruins things further by bringing up Mamoru, which immediately brings Usagi to the point of a total breakdown. Seeing how miserable she is, they agree to give Usagi some space. But later, at Crown, Rei is totally horrified that Minako, Makoto and Ami agreed to such a thing. Whether Usagi is unhappy or not, she’s being targeted by the enemy.

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Back at school, Usagi has gone to the roof to be alone. She watches the soccer team practice down below, and planes pass by above. But Tin Nyanko appears, interrupts her crying and throws off her student disguise.

Downstairs, Seiya has come to the school to retrieve all the things from his desk for the last time. As he’s leaving, he passes Usagi’s desk and sees a doodle on it of her and Mamoru. It reminds him of the good times they’ve had together, and he takes the rose out of his breast pocket (it’s usually there during Three Lights performances) and places it on her desk. Rei suddenly bursts into the classroom. Has he seen Usagi?!

On the roof, Usagi is doing her best to dodge Tin Nyanko’s blasts from her bracelets. She transforms while Nyanko watches on, supporting that theory about how magical girls are so powerful while they’re transforming that nobody can interrupt them lest they be vaporized. Meanwhile, Seiya and the Inner Senshi split up to look for Usagi, with Seiya heading to the roof.

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Sailor Moon vows to handle this herself, just as she’d told her friends earlier that day, but the battle doesn’t get very far. Out of nowhere, a rose suddenly flies out and strikes Nyanko, interrupting her attacks, before landing on the ground, stem embedded in the cement.

Ohhh, shiiit. Flying rose interrupting an enemy in an effort to help Sailor Moon? Could it be? Sailor Moon looks up and sees a figure with what looks like a long flowing cape... but it’s not Tuxedo Mask. It’s Seiya, holding his suit jacket over his shoulder. Usagi gapes at him, speechless.

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Seiya transforms and attacks Tin Nyanko, giving Sailor Moon an opening to use Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss. This is the first time it’s being used on one of the Sailor Animamates, and for a second it seems to be working - one of those mysterious bracelets of theirs shatters and falls off of Nyanko’s wrist, turning one half of her Sailor costume white instead of black. But she’s able to snap out of it before it can effect all of her, and she flees.

Sailor Moon falls to her knees, still emotionally overwhelmed by what’s going on. She stares at the rose as it begins to rain and her and Star Fighter detransform.

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As the sky pours, Usagi pours her heart out to Seiya. Come to think of it, she says, she’s never been good at enduring when things get hard. Even if she tells herself she wants to do homework, inevitably she’ll end up snacking, which leads to napping, and homework never getting done. She thought she should try to be independent for once, stay strong and get through what’s been going on... but seeing the rose made her finally break. After desperately listening to Mamoru’s recorded voice on the phone and having none of her letters answered, she just isn’t strong enough to do things by herself. (Amazing vocal performance by Kotono Mitsuishi.)

She falls to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably and begging to see Mamoru again. Seiya stares at her wordlessly.

Until.

Until.

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....................What.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT.

THAT’S NOT A REMOTELY APPROPRIATE OR DECENT THING TO SAY IN THIS SITUATION.

So here is probably the most controversial and infamous moment in all of Sailor Stars: Nice Guy Seiya. Usagi is an emotional wreck, her mind is swirling with self-hate and feelings of hopelessness, she’s desperate for her number one confidant, the man she loves, and she’s been bottling up her stress and despair for a long time... but instead of supporting her, Seiya makes it all about himself.

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That isn’t even remotely okay. If you’re a Seiya/Usagi shipper, this scene is why you are Wrong and your ship is Bad. Mamoru’s biggest sin is that he’s poorly written and bland, but this?

Since Monday, the Sailor Moon community has been making a pretty big rabble about this scene. You see, the fans have already seen Sailor Stars a million times before Viz did its first ever official release, and the version we know is the original fansubs done way back in the early 2000s, which got passed around on VHS tapes and later DVDs and torrents. Thus, the translation of those original fansubs have basically become the standard among the community; it’s the version we all know. The line Seiya says in this scene in Japanese - Ore ja dame ka? - is translated significantly differently in the fansubs.

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(@Deb_Crane is the script writer at Viz for Sailor Moon Crystal. Naturally, she didn’t have anything to do with this, as it’s not Crystal. But worry not, because.............. yep, you guessed it, this isn’t in the manga and won’t be in Crystal if it gets to Stars.)

Seiya defenders will debate with you endlessly about how Seiya is a good person, and he cares about Usagi, and how he’s under his own stress right now too, and what he did and didn’t know about Usagi’s relationship with Mamoru in this scene, and what exactly “ore ja dame ka?” means in Japanese and its connotations, but none of that has ever been particularly convincing to me. They are right that the original fansub’s translation of this line is absolutely the correct translation, and it does show that he’s being more gentle in this scene than Viz’s translation makes him out to be. But what he’s ultimately asking is the same, and he’s still ignoring what Usagi is going through to make it about his manpain; no matter how you want to hash it, this is a douche move on Seiya’s part.

How many times has Usagi gleefully gabbed about Mamoru in front of Seiya? How many times has she reminded Seiya that she isn’t interested in him? And yet he pulls this bullshit. Hey, remember in that one episode where Seiya laid flat Usagi’s precious framed photo of her and Mamoru, out of petty jealousy? Or the umpteen number of times he touched Usagi’s shoulder or invaded her personal space? This isn’t just one moment, this is a trend. Seiya is a jerk. And this moment is him at his worst.

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Usagi just stares at him, giving no answer, as the girls stand in the doorway of the roof stairwell and watch. And the episode ends on that note.

So, we learned a few things in this episode: 1) Kakyuu is on Earth to get the Light of Hope and needs Usagi’s help, 2) the Starlights and Outer Senshi still don’t want the two groups to work together in spite of this clear, obvious established reason to finally do so, 3) Seiya, the one Starlight who has been reasonable up to this point, is being objectively awful to Usagi. But the only one of these developments that’s really “bad” in the sense of bad writing is the second one, and as I’ve said previously, this is a problem with the way the conflict is set up in Stars overall. So while nothing too significant happens in this episode, it’s sort of like a “breather” before real shit starts to go down.

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Princess Kakyuu Perishes: Advent of Galaxia (S5E29/195)

Err, yeah, so... the title of the episode spoils it, again. If you’re thinking, “didn’t she just show up two episodes ago?” ...you’re right.

It’s raining again, and Rei is standing outside Usagi’s house. Usagi is in the bathtub replaying the events of that day (the day before?) in her head. When Usagi retires to her room, Rei is there with Chibi Chibi, waiting for her. She instantly gets right to the point and asks what Usagi is planning to do about this situation. Usagi already has someone she’s devoted to, and if she doesn’t set things straight now, she’ll end up hurting Seiya’s feelings too. But is Rei forgetting that Usagi has already told Seiya about all these things multiple times, or was she not there for it because she goes to a different school?

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Usagi, emotionally unable to really respond to Rei in a meaningful way, turns away from her and begins to think aloud. She wonders, what’s Mamoru doing right now? It’s morning in America, so is he just getting up? How are his studies and research going? Has he made a lot of friends? Rei is confused by all this hasn’t she talked to Mamoru over the phone? No, Usagi says, she hasn’t. Not one returned phone call, not one reply letter. Rei is stunned and chastises Usagi for not telling everyone this was going on sooner.

I know Rei has always been the character who impatiently and gruffly - but with all the good intentions of a best friend - helps Usagi get herself together when the going gets tough, but I can’t help but think she’s being harsh in this scene, especially if this really is still the same day as the last episode. Last time everyone was insisting Usagi leave everything to them, but now Rei is pushing her to make a decision on what’s going on AND gets unnecessarily accusatory about Mamoru? I dunno, it feels a little callous. Usagi isn’t doing great right now, Rei, maybe back off for once.

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CC interrupts their serious conversation when she turns on the radio, but it’s at the precise perfect moment: the Three Lights have suddenly announced that they are breaking up.

At their studio, the boys are in their work-out gear, getting back from rehearsals. Taiki tells Princess Kakyuu that they’re going to use their farewell concert to summon the Light of Hope, in the same way they’d summoned her - through their music. But Kakyuu seems to have some reservations about this. Isn’t it the time for them to join forces with Earth’s senshi and work together? Taiki dismisses that immediately, reasoning that as long as Kakyuu is there, the Starlights can deal with it alone. Holy obvious foreshadowing, Batman! Seiya, who has been silent this whole time, takes a seat and turns away from the others. Like Usagi, he’s replaying the earlier events of that day in his head.

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With the rain still pouring, the girls have assembled at Crown Parlor, sans Usagi. Ami sullenly tells everyone that she contacted Mamoru’s university in America, but they told her he never showed up. Did something happen to him? This is exactly the time when they need Mamoru the most, when Usagi needs him the most. Rei is still upset that Usagi never told them this was going on - Usagi was quietly enduring all this time, but it isn’t something she should be dealing with alone.

Usagi, meanwhile, is out with Chibi Chibi, walking down the road somewhere. A car flies by and blows her umbrella away, but after it passes, Haruka and Michiru are on the other side of the street. Hmmm, I wonder what this conversation could POSSIBLY be about! Are they here to repeat yet again, for the dozenth time, that she should stay away from Seiya because they can’t trust the Starlights??

Yes. Of course. Yawn. Usagi says she’s certain she can sway them if they just talk, but Haruka says they won’t be moved by her ideals, and tells her (again) to tell Seiya that this is the last time she’ll see him (again). Holy repetitive plot points, Batman!

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Outside the concert hall, the audience is slowly coagulating for the Three Lights’ final show. A knock comes on the green room door - it’s Usagi, chaperoned by Haruka and Michiru.

Usagi wishes them good luck on their final concert, but before she can say much, Seiya asks everyone else to leave the room so they can talk in private. Now alone, the two of them stand in awkward silence for a few seconds.

Seiya tells Usagi he was serious about what he said yesterday (barf), and interrupts Usagi’s attempt to respond (barf) by flippantly congratulating himself with...

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As Usagi just kinda stares at him, Seiya continues on with his own self-absorbed thoughts, ignoring every attempt by Usagi to say something. He wanted to confess his feelings to her before this was over, he says, and he hopes she can feel that message in their final concert. For good measure, he throws in a scummy, horribly manipulative “I hope you see your boyfriend soon,” which forces an apology out of Usagi. GIRL, NO, DON’T. YOU SO DON’T HAVE TO BE PUTTING UP WITH ANY OF THIS RIGHT NOW. Seiya then leans in, invading her personal space and making her lean away from him, to kiss her cheek. Seriously.....??

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You know how, over the entire season, Seiya has been the only one of the Starlights to have acted reasonably? To have not unnecessarily antagonized the Outer Senshi, to have not acted like a humorless asshole to fans and co-workers, to have recognized that the way they were behaving was against their values? Well, pretty much all of that good will is gone now. Or at least it is for me. Seiya isn’t reasonable, he’s selfish.

And of course, by the end of that conversation, Usagi still hadn’t had a chance to say what she wanted to say.

Outside the green room, the rest of them continue acting pig-headed. Yaten and Taiki antagonize Haruka and Michiru, who antagonize them back. Seiya joins them, knowing that if they can’t summon the Light of Hope, this might be their last battle to the death.

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After the commercial break, the concert is in full-swing. They’re performing in what looks like a Super Bowl-quality arena, in front of an enormous crown. The Outer Senshi are watching from the crowd, while Usagi, Kakyuu, CC and Haruka and Michiru watch from way in the back, near an exit. Three Lights start their final song, Nagareboshi e, which up to now has been the song they’re usually singing at all of their performances during the series, but this time they let it go on for a while to let the lyrics sink in. It’s about searching for someone you love and calling out to them, and hoping to get an answer - pretty apt for a lot of what is going on in this season, including now, where they’re hoping the Light of Hope will appear.

As the song nears its end, the roof of the arena begins to open, letting sunlight pour down onto the stage and audience. At almost the same time, Chibi Chibi starts to glow faintly. Hmm...!

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However, once the roof is completely open, the concert is interrupted by Tin Nyanko. Her explosive attacks towards the stage cause the audience to panic and flee the arena in record speed (seriously, the stands are empty within two seconds).

But, there’s something wrong with Tin Nyanko. She’ll say something evil, and then be hit with a jolt and say something completely opposite. Galaxia will rule the Milky Way! - no, no, Galaxia is controlling me! Hand over the true star seed - no, no, letting her have it would be disastrous! She’s still missing one of her bracelets from the last episode, and one half of her black costume is still white.

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Princess Kakyuu solemnly explains that Sailor Tin Nyanko, and all the prior Sailor Animamates, actually are real Sailor Senshi - the good, justice-seeking kind - but they’re being controlled by Galaxia through the bracelets they wear. Poor Nyanko can’t resist it forever, and she launches another attack at Princess Kakyuu, prompting the Three Lights to transform. After the transformation sequences play out, we sit through the Star Serious Laser animation too, and then Sailor Moon’s arrival animation as well. A lot of filler for a big battle scene...

Tin Nyanko is totally outnumbered, but again - A G A I N - everything comes screeching to a halt as the Starlights and Uranus/Neptune start to argue over whose fight this is. Who the fuck cares! It’s both your fights! While they’re bickering, Nyanko attacks them, and instead of snapping them out of it they keep arguing, with the Inner Senshi joining in this time.

Kakyuu tells everyone to stop arguing, thankfully, insisting that harboring so much animosity will do nothing for either side. Star Maker (Forehead) somehow looks shocked at hearing Kakyuu say something so obvious and reasonable, but Sailor Moon agrees, happy to hear someone on the same page as her. For a second it feels like maybe, finally, we’ll be spared any continuation of the artificial inter-Senshi conflict that’s long since outstayed its welcome during this season, but...........

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A mysterious blast erupts over the area, covering the blue sky with foreboding purple and black clouds. Galaxia has arrived while everyone was standing around arguing. Tin Nyanko bows and tells her she’s in the process of getting the true star seed, but another jolt hits her, and instead she begs that Galaxia take her instead. With Nyanko’s usefulness having passed, Galaxia steals her last remaining bracelet and kills her.

Galaxia scans the group of Sailor Senshi until her gaze stops on Kakyuu. Assuming that she’s the one trying to summon the Light of Hope, Galaxia launches a pre-emptive attack on her. The Starlights catch Kakyuu when she stumbles from the blast, but Galaxia throws half a dozen more at them right after.

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Kakyuu uses her power to stop and hold back Galaxia’s attack, and she has enough time before the next wave to turn to the Starlights and tell them to run. The onslaught doesn’t cease, though, and while all the other Senshi there are just.... standing around, watching all this happen, doing nothing, Kakyuu’s hold finally breaks. Galaxia’s power strikes her and her star seed emerges.

Claiming Kakyuu’s star seed for herself, Galaxia announces that this is the “true” star seed she’s been looking for this whole time. For some reason, it’s this moment that finally makes Sailor Moon stop staring and doing nothing, Galaxia is completely unfazed by Sailor Moon’s standard attack. She announces that she’ll be stealing the rest of their star seeds next before disappearing.

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Princess Kakyuu, meanwhile, is slipping away. She can hear the Starlights trying to call out to her, but she’s falling into the void of her mind in the meantime. A glimmer appears - it’s CC, transforming into Chibi Chibi Moon - and the girl reaches out and grabs Kakyuu’s hand. In the real world, Kakyuu mutters “The Light of Hope...” before fading away into nothing but sparkling dust amidst Star Fighter’s screams.

They don’t have much time to mourn. The purple clouds above begin to rain black lightning down on Tokyo, and the sound of screaming spreads through the city. The episode stops at that cliffhanger - we’ve finally entered end game.

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But the problem is that this episode, and to a similar extent all the previous ones setting-up this end game, is hot garbage.

We’ve spent the ENTIRE season so far doing two things: 1) dwelling on the nonsensical animosity between the Starlights and the Senshi, and 2) hyping the crap out of the Starlights’ princess. Princess Kakyuu finally showed up a couple episodes ago, and you may have been really excited for her - for good reason, because she looks really cool. But a measly two episodes later, the show kills her off. And for what? What, exactly, did Kakyuu’s arrival and death accomplish from a story perspective?

1. The Solar System Senshi are aware of the Light of Hope now.
2. Kakyuu delivered some backstory about the Legendary Sailor Senshi.
3. She told the Starlights to start being more cooperative.

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That’s it. What a colossal waste!! She was one of the huge focal points, but that’s all we get out of her? That’s it? I can’t help but feel like this was a major, major fumble. I’ve heard people say before that Stars was the worst season of Sailor Moon, and until now, I’ve never understood that. I still disagree (again, SuperS is unmatched in its pointlessness and shallowness) but now, I can understand that sentiment. The mishandling of Kakyuu is just one of many problems with this season - the forced drama between the Senshi, Seiya’s shitty behavior (that I think we’re meant to sympathize with, but yeah right), the fact that so little of consequence happened between the beginning and end, characterization problems, etc.

And I know I’m biased here - and I know I say this a lot - but all of this stuff is just so much better in the manga.

As I’ve mentioned before, in the Stars arc of the manga, Usagi actually sees Mamoru’s star seed get stolen, and she’s so shocked and confused that she subconsciously suppresses the memory of it ever happening. This gives her a much better excuse for never telling any of her friends what happened. But even that is besides the point, because Usagi remembers that Mamoru is dead only a few chapters later!

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From missdream.org

Manga Seiya, likewise, isn’t anything like her anime counterpart. While she loves Usagi, she’s always very gentle about it, and she doesn’t drop any selfish truth bombs on her at inopportune moments. She’s basically just one of many characters who flirt with Usagi over the course of the Sailor Moon manga, not much different from how Uranus/Haruka was during the Infinity Arc.

The Starlights are much more minor characters, but even then, they don’t intentionally antagonize the Senshi. Uranus does have a moment where she blames Seiya for the enemy attacking Usagi, but it’s a misunderstanding fueled mostly by the fact that they don’t know anything about the Starlights or enemy yet - and naturally, the Outer Senshi quickly regard the Starlights as friendly allies once they get a better understanding of the situation. They even leave Usagi in their care when they travel to their outer planets to erect a barrier around the solar system. This all happens, by the way, before the halfway point in the Stars Arc.

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But the anime’s biggest flub has got to be Princess Kakyuu herself. Kakyuu was in that incense burner CC was carrying around, “watching” what was going on with Sailor Moon. But why was she just watching? Why did she wait to show herself? The only possible reason is that she didn’t want Galaxia to detect her. But if she needs to find the Light of Hope, how does staying inside an incense burner help her? She’s got to put herself in danger in order complete her mission, so what was the point of putting it off and hiding for a few extra weeks?

And her death is A COMPLETE WASTE! If you watch this episode, I promise you will be thinking to yourself “Why are none of these other TEN Senshi interfering with this clash between Galaxia and Kakyuu? Why is nobody helping her? Why are they all just standing around, watching this horrible thing happen to their new ally?”

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Of course, Kakyuu’s manga version, too, is much better. When the Inner and Outer Senshi are all murdered by Galaxia early on in the arc (er... spoilers), Sailor Moon’s only remaining companions are Kakyuu, CC and the Starlights. Usagi and Kakyuu find kindred spirits in one another, as Princesses of their respective systems who are guarded by other Senshi but have powers of their own. Princess Kakyuu even has her own Senshi transformation, Sailor Kakyuu, and accompanies Sailor Moon and Chibi Chibi to the galaxy cauldron when they decide to confront Galaxia.

But now I’m getting into manga plot differences, so I should probably leave it at that. At any rate, you have to ask yourself, why not introduce some of these ideas earlier in the anime so the writers could take advantage of them? In Sailor Moon S, a big event happens halfway through the season (Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune discover that they are the ones who possess the Talismans). Not only did this change the status quo of episodes that followed, but it also helped spread the story out through the season better, and allowed the writers to explore how the characters interacted with each other following this revelation. With S as an example, I can’t help but wish they had done something similar in Stars by introducing Kakyuu much earlier.

The only thing I can think of is that Toei thought the Formula was really that important to the show’s success, but considering the fact that Sailor Moon’s ratings had tanked during the filler-obsessed SuperS and continued to be low through Stars, that’s far from true. It’s a shame, and it’s why people asked for something like Sailor Moon Crystal for so long.

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So, we’re heading towards the end of the season here, but I can’t help but feel like I’m not nearly as hyped and invested in this as I should be. It’s not SuperS levels of boring, but all the lapses in logic and contrivances that have been used to get us to this point make it feel so cheap.

I didn’t remember this episode feeling like this. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become more critical about the media I consume as I’ve gotten older, or maybe it’s because I last watched Stars as a teenager, which is closer to its target audience. But either way, I am, honestly, disappointed.

Hopefully we can salvage some of this in the five episodes that remain, so join me next week for 30 and 31. Just so everyone knows, the final three episodes will be covered in one single article, and it will probably take two weeks since only two episodes are released per week.

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Vectored logo used in header image is by bleuette on deviantArt. Screencaps are from mooncaps, except where there are Hulu subtitles, which I took myself.