Sailor Moon Sailor Stars
After a six episode arc concluding the Queen Nehelenia saga from Sailor Moon SuperS, a new evil is terrorizing Tokyo; Sailor Galaxia. She sends out her subordinates, the Sailor Animamates, to look for Star Seeds, a true one of which will allow her to rule the entire galaxy.
Here we are; the final season of Sailor Moon. Years ago, when I first got into the series, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars seemed so far away to me. It had a huge following in the late 1990's, mainly because it was the only season not "ruined" with an English dub. (As if the English dub was the only version that edited the series. The Korean series gutted out all the kisses and shrine scenes, for crying out loud!) I couldn't wait to get to Sailor Moon Sailor Stars when I first got into the series.
When I finally got to the final season, though, I was not impressed the first time through. But only watching it again with THEM Anime fellow administrator Stig did I realize just how underwhelming it was.
So after a six episode arc to start the season (which is really just an excuse to throw back in the Outer Sailor Soldiers and give Sailor Moon another upgrade to her uniform, complete with wings for no reason), we meet the largely forgettable villain of the season, Sailor Galaxia. For most of the season she sits around and commands her henchmen to look for a Star Seed that, of course, will give her incredible power. Big shock, I know.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars' only real innovation is the arrival of three new Sailor Soldiers from space; the Sailor Starlights. They're male pop idols known as the Three Lights, but in actuality are Sailor Soldiers dressed in what I can only describe as leather bondage gear. They also double as the new Tuxedo Mask (since he's mostly absent from this season) and as the series' drama fuel, since they're always fighting against Sailor Moon and company. While their leader Seiya is cocky and clingy towards Usagi, he's mostly harmless and does have his moments. His partners on the other hand - Taiki and Yaten - are unlikable when they aren't being bland, with some of the worst voice acting in the series bar none to boot. They make season one Rei Hino look positively sympathetic in comparison. The Starlights wouldn't be such a big deal if they were likable, amusing, or interesting characters. They aren't. It sure doesn't help they're shoe-horned into near every episode after their debut, even among Usagi's friends' few starring episodes.
The Outer Soldiers return after being absent from SuperS, but don't expect much from them. Haruka and Michiru mostly stand around hitting on each other aside from the rare fight they participate, and Setsuna just kinda hangs around. Hotaru, after getting aged back up, mostly casts barriers in the rest of her appearances in the season.
Even the henchmen are disappointing this time around. Whereas the earlier seasons' weakest episodes could be lifted by an appearance from our resident baddie of the arc, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars robs you even of that. Sailor Iron Mouse and Tin Nyanko rival Eudial and Mimette for the most irritating lackies in the series, with all the appeal of sniffing long and hard into an expired bottle of mustard. And while Sailor Aluminum Siren's penchant for being ultra polite and sweet (even going so far as casting Kikuko "Belldandy" Inoue as her) is amusing for an episode or two, it wears off fast, as does her pairing up with the level-headed Sailor Lead Crow.
But while Sailor Aluminum Siren and Lead Crow might not be that amusing, they're still far funnier than the real attempts at humor this season. One episode, for example, has the entire core cast practically at Usagi's place. You'd think this would be a great set-up for some great comedy, but the series uses this instead for "men are evil" jokes from a very out-of-character Luna. Eternal Sailor Moon knocking stuff over from a buraeu with her back wings during her speech might be slightly funny, but it's not worth watching the rest of the episode for it. There's also episodes where the cast play baseball and Usagi tags along on a cooking show. Alas, these seemingly perfect episode set-ups for Usagi fall fast due to clumsy writing or poor attempts at humor.
Oh yeah, there's also yet another new character named Chibi Chibi, a little girl who says "Chibi" over and over again and serves little to no purpose until the finale.
And HOO BOY, the finale. I guess the writers weren't satisfied with having one badly paced six-episode arc in the beginning of the season, so they felt to need to end the series with an equally awful six-episodes finale. At least two or three of the episodes are taken up by endless talking and/or hiding from Sailor Galaxia, with minimal attacks in those episodes. Only in the very last episode does anything finally happen.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars's production values aren't stellar, either. The animation is a joke even for the standards of the franchise, and the character designs are stick thin and wonky quite often. The new music is the blandest yet, and the one Three Lights' song that plays over and over every episode will drive you insane.
Overall I can't recommend Sailor Moon Sailor Stars to anyone but the most die-hard Sailor Moon fan. The new characters suck, the pacing sucks, the animation and art suck, and the characters you do care about not named Usagi are reduced to filler episodes for the most part. Unless you're a die-hard Sailor Moon fan who has to see it all, avoid Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.
And here's Stig with some last words for an awful conclusion to an otherwise good anime series;
OK, so who decided that the thing Sailor Moon really needed was three cross-gendered intergalactic singing idols leading secret lives as leather-clad Sailor Scouts with, I kid you not, STAGE HEADSETS on added to its roster? Was there some kind of fetish quota that needed to be caught up on? I know that I made jokes in the duration of our synchros that Usagi and team didn't exactly look like fourteen year olds, but our intergalactic friends look so much alike in either gender that I'm sorely tempted to posthumously wonder whether they're just effeminate men or somewhat butch women. And of course the same voice actors play both genders for the three of them, and it just strikes me as pointless all around.
TIm's mostly said it all, though. The new sailor scouts are either jerks or pushy girlfriend takeover raiders, while the main cast is mostly pushed to the sidelines. The song they sing is an earsore. The insight to their fabulous lives as pop stars are tedious and uninteresting. The fact that they tried inserting some kind of love triangle in this is also a bit of a misfire, since firstly, Mamoru isn't even present for most of the show, and secondly, Usagi is actually not having any of that. It's actually kind of a positive in the show's favor that she remains as faithful as she does despite being nearly constantly hit on by a lanky, effeminate Ranma Saotome. And the main villain look like a female version of the king on those playing cards. The enemies the sailor scouts face look as ridiculous as always, and the show's attempts at keeping the new scouts' identities a bit of a mystery at the start of the season is just hilarious.
I like a "next generation/reboot" thing of a franchise as much as the next guy, but when you end up changing about everything I imagine the fans loved from the original franchise, maybe it would have been better to just let it end.
I wish I could say Sailor Moon ended on a good note. I really do. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Seven and over, for both the American and Japanese versions. Yes, the Japanese version had nudity, but never in a gratuitous or sexually-oriented way, and never detailed at that. The fight scenes are standard, as the enemies turn to dust, with a few exceptions, which are handled tastefully.
Version(s) Viewed: Digitial release
Review Status: Full (34/34)
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars © 1996 Naoko Takeuchi / Kodansha / TV Asahi / Toei
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