The threat of Mistress 9 nears, and Sailor Mars’ vision of the untold destruction unleashed upon the world draws closer. With the mysterious Sailor Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto as rogue heroes bent on saving the world at any cost (including the lives of children), the Sailor Guardians are caught in the horns of a moral dilemma: save the world from the daily monsters that the mad scientist Professor Tomoe throws at them, or sacrifice one for the greater good? Sailor Moon S wraps up with Part 2 in this Blu-ray/DVD box set, but is it truly Super?
There’s something to be stated at the beginning of any Sailor Moon review: VIZ is doing a great job with these releases. To checklist a few items and get back to the actual meat of the show, here’s some things to know:
- The animation looks rather good on Blu-ray, and probably as good a treatment as this show will get.
- The voice acting for the new dub is enjoyable and doesn’t make any dialogue-leaps or odd casting decisions.
Audio and video? They pass the bar, and while not outstanding in either regard, they’re perfectly good for this series. Sailor Moon S was a weekly cartoon on a budget that required good usage of stock footage from the 1990’s, and none of the voices will stick out one way or another, great or horrid.
While Sailor Moon S focuses mainly on the ongoing friendship between Chibi-Usa and Hotaru Tomoe, at least in the latter half of the series, the most interesting and entertaining characters are Professor Tomoe and the Witches 5. With the Sailor Guardians numbering nine at this point, it’s hard for any of them to get a focus episode if you’re not part of the grand destiny of the season. An early focus on Minako affirms her ability to be unexpectedly comedic (the MacGuffin of the season is stealing “pure hearts,” and Minako feels left out for not having her heart stolen; her glee when it invariably is stolen is both disturbing and delightful), but a later episode’s focus on Ami could be boiled down to “teachers need to be good to students.” Not exactly character development when Ami later watches the villain-of-the-week destroyed by their own machinations without any consolation or analogy to how this is a lesson learned.
No, the Witches 5 (honestly, just two of them), this season’s vaguely-despicable human generals, get more focus than any individual Sailor-That’s-Not-Moon-In-Some-Fashion. Eudial and Mimette each have their turn for multiple, stock-footage-filled, episodes in their grand schemes to steal pure hearts. Eudial ends her term as Primary Antagonist early in the volume in a surprisingly-dark fashion, but Mimette, the star-obsessed fangirl, definitely dominates this set when it comes to these five women. Her character is 100% fallible and, while almost always succeeding, is turned away right before snatching victory from the heroines. She’s able to jump from playing Twister to falling in love with a track star, only to be chided by a whistleblower when she tears down a sign. There are more of these Generals, but as the season begins to wrap up, none of them are given more than two-episodes apiece.
All great villain Generals need a boss, and Professor Tomoe is about as perfect as the franchise gets. Queen Beryl had the connection to Sailor Moon, and further villains make their threats known, but Tomoe is a whole-different beast. He’s out to get the various trinkets for a (somewhat noble) goal, but his mannerisms are insane and entertaining. He can whip up a new monster only after going for a ride on a treadmill (even as he finds that cackling while running is a bad idea), or take a spot in the aforementioned game of Twister. Amazingly visualized in the shadows as a pair of glasses and a cheshire grin, peak-Tomoe might be reached in the episode that can be summed up as “The One Where The Bad Guy Gets Locked Out Of His House.” While the Sailor Guardians help his civilian identity (believing a monster has taken over and trapped his daughter inside), he goes with pleading for their assistance as the civilian to ravenously devouring snacks as he sits on the stoop in the shadow as the main villain. The final villain, Mistress 9, is the standard world-ending drama that every season feels the need to have, and he gets a bit serious for it, but his gloriousness until that point is a true glory of the franchise as a whole.
Sailor Moon S does seem to have a bit of fun with its concept by now. One line particularly sums up how absurd some co costs and plot lines are; when Mimette attempts to flirt with Mamoru, he gives the plainly-stated fact that he is on a date with his future-wife and future-daughter. If your life includes casually dropping “future-daughter,” who is a person you regularly interact with, in conversations with randos, your life may be a bit out-there.
Be warned that if Chibi-Usa is as Scrappy-Doo-annoying to you as she is to others, you may want to get off the Moon Train with this set. Super S (pronounced as “Supers” in the next-episode preview) fully commits to her being the co-star; Usagi rarely gets a chance to transform without her. Her plot in this story is fine, but it’s the required thread to give the rest of the story some weight. It’s not fun, but it’s not offensive here. She’s a sweet girl who tries to be nice to a chronically-sick friend, and that’s about the plot every episode.
The extras on this set can all be knocked out in an hour, which accomplishes the “They Tried” metric of a modern release of a Japanese cartoon from 20+ years ago. Each disc has a gallery of promotional artwork for the characters and series, and the last disc has interviews with the voice actors for Professor Tomoe, Hotaru Tomoe, Sailor Uranus, and Sailor Neptune. One of the features that’s worth a (1.5x speed if your player has the capability) watch is a live commentary of one of the later episodes in the season. The cast are mixed between “having never watched the show” to “knowing how to explain what’s going on to the cast member who has apparently never seen the show,” and while it’s not as hilarious as a commentary from Mystery Science Theater 3000’s hilarity or as insightful as one from The Simpsons, it’s entertaining if you want to see what the voice cast thinks of the show. Admittedly, it’s hard to justify most commentaries on Japanese releases; rarely is anybody commenting involved with production beyond scripts, voice directing, or voice acting, so insight is constrained. Clean openings and endings are always appreciated.
Sailor Moon S’s second half takes the required plot to drive the show and factors in some great characters to make it worthwhile. With cast overload occurring, many of the characters you once knew and loved may only get a line or attack per episode, and the addition of some new characters (all varied and dynamic in their own way) crowd out the others. Still, this series has given us the greatness that is Professor Tomoe, and that’s well worth the watch.