by Rebecca Silverman,

Sailor Moon S: The Movie

Sailor Moon S: The Movie
Despite whatever hopes Artemis may harbor, Luna has never been in love. All of that changes one day when she collapses in the street and is saved by handsome (human) scientist Kakeru. Kakeru literally sweeps Luna off her feet and she finds herself falling hard for the young man. But all is not well in Kakeru's life – a few days prior to meeting Luna, he spotted a strange comet and gathered a small crystal from it. Now that crystal is draining his energy, mere days before his girlfriend Himeko is about to join a NASA mission to space. Even worse, the comet was carrying an evil ice queen determined to turn Earth into a frozen ornament. Can the Sailor Guardians and Luna save both the planet and Kakeru's life?

The Sailor Moon S movie is the only one of the three full-length feature films in the Classic franchise to be based on a side story from Naoko Takeuchi's original manga. In some ways, that really shows: the plot is much more involved in the relationship between Luna and Usagi than the threat to the earth, with the chief emotional investment being that saving the planet will also save Kakeru, the human Luna has a crush on. It's not that the rest of the world isn't worth the Sailor Guardians' time, but rather that it's more worth saving because the man Luna loves is on it.

If nothing else, this movie does great things for the relationship between Usagi and Luna. The other Guardians, minus Saturn, are all present, as is Mamoru, but they're more or less window dressing. Luna's newly developing emotions lead her to seek out advice from the more experienced Usagi, which makes for an interesting reversal of their usual relationship. Luna has taken the teacherly role since the two met in the first season, so for her to switch to being the student gives us a chance to see that the two really do have a deeper bond than we might expect. Usagi takes all of Luna's questions seriously and kindly, and her warmth as a person truly shines through as she helps Luna come to terms with the fact that she's in love with someone who will never see her that way. It's a visible demonstration of what we mostly hear about Usagi but rarely see – that she's really, truly a good friend and a caring person, making everyone's devotion to her as Sailor Moon feel grounded.

Along with the emotional trajectory of the story, the film's plot also plays with two different folkloric elements and the apparent disconnect between science and fantasy. Kakeru and his girlfriend Himeko are at odds because Kakeru has never lost the romantic outlook on space that he had as a child – he still dreams of the legend of Princess Kaguya (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) and sees something romantic in the nigh sky. Himeko, on the other hand, is about to go to space as part of NASA's Luna Frontier Project. Almost of necessity she sees things in a much more black-and-white way, and she worries that Kakeru's romanticism is warping his credibility as a scientist. She's clearly coming from a place of concern and just as obviously loves him, but she seems unable to truly understand that science and folkloric fantasy can coexist; in fact, it's the latter that at times leads to the former as people chase legends.

The legends in question are twofold here – both the aforementioned story of Princess Kaguya, the princess of the moon in Japanese folklore, and the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the Snow Queen, an icy woman who freezes men's hearts with a shard of mirror-ice. The snow queen of the film is a woman who flies through space on a frozen comet, and when she passes by earth, a crystal shard falls to the ground. Kakeru picks it up, and it begins to drain his energy, which makes him act coldly to Himeko. Granted, it isn't because his heart is frozen, but the result is the same: he drives Himeko off with harsh words due to the shard.

Most of the action in the film comes from the Sailor Guardians fighting the ice woman and her snow dancers. Unlike the SuperS movie, all of the guardians get their own separate transformation sequences, plus Sailor Moon's chalice-aided super power up. These are all back to back, which means that about ten minutes of the movie is just people transforming, although for fans of the transformation scene, it's kind of great. Everyone also gets to use all of their attacks, barring those involving the talismans. The only glaring omission is Chibi-Moon's Pink Sugar Heart Attack; granted, it is fairly useless, but it feels odd that it was left out. It is worth noting that even when the magic isn't working against the snow dancers the guardians aren't down and out: just before Sailor Moon comes in to defeat the ice woman, Jupiter starts punching youma while Pluto whacks them with her staff.

The animation and art for this film is gorgeous, with the girls' bright colors forming a good contrast to the pale colors of the snow dancers. The background music gets a little weird at times, with the second fight between the Outer Guardians and the snow dancers being strangely perky, although nothing can top Tuxedo Mask's Santa Claus entrance for weirdness in the film overall. With its storyline that has more focus on the relationship between Usagi and Luna than any threat to the world in general, the Sailor Moon S movie is an interestingly different entry into the franchise, and a story that holds its own well since its release back in 1994.

Production Info:
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : B-

+ Emphasis on the relationship between Luna and Usagi helps develop both characters, interesting thematic elements
Some odd soundtrack choices, not much development for the other guardians or Himeko

Series Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara
Director: Hiroki Shibata
Yoji Enokido
Megumi Sugihara
Katsuyuki Sumisawa
Sukehiro Tomita
Shigeru Yanagawa
Screenplay: Sukehiro Tomita
Yuji Endo
Takuya Igarashi
Kunihiko Ikuhara
Harume Kosaka
Noriyo Sasaki
Junichi Sato
Hiroki Shibata
Kōnosuke Uda
Episode Director:
Yuji Endo
Takuya Igarashi
Kunihiko Ikuhara
Harume Kosaka
Noriyo Sasaki
Junichi Sato
Hiroki Shibata
Kōnosuke Uda
Takanori Arisawa
Takeshi Ike
Tetsuya Komoro
Akiko Kosaka
Original creator: Naoko Takeuchi
Character Design:
Hisashi Kagawa
Mari Tominaga
Art Director:
Kazuyuki Hashimoto
Tadao Kubota
Animation Director:
Masahiro Ando
Hideaki Anno
Shinya Hasegawa
Ikuko Ito
Hisashi Kagawa
Kazuya Kuroda
Hideyuki Motohashi
Taichi Nakamura
Katsumi Tamegai
Mari Tominaga
Masahide Yanagisawa
Jouji Yanase
Director of Photography: Motoi Takahashi
Executive producer:
Teruo Miyahara
Tan Takaiwa
Tsutomu Tomari
Iriya Azuma
Kenji Oota

Full encyclopedia details about
Sailor Moon S (TV)
Sailor Moon S Movie: Hearts in Ice (movie)

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