Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Sailor Moon Sailor Stars

DVD & BD Part 2

Synopsis:
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars DVD & BD Part 2
Galaxia's minions are doubling down on their efforts to find the true star seed, and that means more work for the Sailor Guardians. The Sailor Starlights keep showing up as well, but they seem unwilling to commit to helping – or even to treating the Sailor Guardians like allies. As the stakes keep getting higher, Usagi's worries about Mamoru's silence also increase. Is there any way to join forces to keep Galaxia at bay? And where is this Light of Hope the Starlights are looking for?
Review:

The second half of the long-awaited final season of Sailor Moon Classic, Sailor Stars, is certainly worth the wait in many ways. Picking up the threads from the first half, this finale improves on them in terms of the humor and the emotional content, and if the ending is perhaps not what manga readers would have expected, it is still one well worth the journey.

That it opens with one of the funniest episodes in the season is certainly a bonus. Referred to by several cast members in the included interviews as “the sleepover episode,” it delights in poking fun at the characters and their situations, as well as the mechanics of the show overall. This is best shown in two particular instances: when Chibi-Chibi strips Seiya in front of Usagi and when Sailor Aluminum Siren freaks out that Uranus and Neptune are giving their dramatic speeches while standing on a table full of food in shoes. Having Eternal Sailor Moon's wings not fit in the house and her using a pizza as a “moon tiara” add to the humor, and this is just all around one of the most fun episodes in the series.

It's also a needed dash of humor in what becomes an increasingly dark story. Galaxia is among the more dangerous (and scary) villains Sailor Moon and the Guardians have taken on, and nothing drives that home more than watching her casually kill off her own minions; seeing her dissolve someone in their friend's arms is horrific. The many deaths in this arc, particularly those close to the end of the series, are definitely given the emotional heft they need, and each subsequent one is clearly a deep wound for Sailor Moon – and for viewers as favorites drop off the map. Even without the deaths, however, there are plenty of moments of darkness within the story, although some of them simply come off as simple jerk behavior on the part of the Starlights or Haruka as they try to keep their respective princesses safe. Taiki being an ass to a sick little girl in a hospital (he later redeems this bit) and Sailors Star Healer and Maker teaming up to intimidate/outright attack Chibi-Chibi at one point feel like crossing a line; Haruka's repeated insistence that the Starlights not be trusted and her attempts to keep Usagi from pulling her usual “sacrifice herself to save everyone” schtick come off a little bit better if only because we better know what her thinking is. Less easy to understand is the Starlights' decision not to tell Sailor Moon about Sailor Galaxia until episode 190. Even if they didn't want to team up, that would have been the responsible thing to do, given how many planets she's destroyed.

In the midst of all of this are the character relationships. Rei handily redeems her downslide from the first half of this season and easily becomes one of the best characters towards the denouement, but the most interesting relationship to watch is Usagi and Seiya's. Despite the fact that she's fated to end up with Mamoru, there's something appealing about Seiya's feelings for her, namely that there's a real sense of how her life could have been different had she had a “regular” boyfriend her own age. Dating Seiya is a glimpse of a normal high school life that she never gets the chance to have, and there's something bittersweet about that. That Haruka would see this as a threat to the future that the Sailor Guardians are working towards makes sense and that she'd be distrustful of them and their motives. Her understanding of the way Sailor Moon functions – that her first instinct is always to sacrifice herself rather than to fight, and that Usagi herself has said that she doesn't want to be a fighter – makes the appeal of Seiya's offer of romance that much more of a threat, even before she knows that he's Sailor Star Fighter.

It is difficult to discuss the finale without delving into too many spoilers, but suffice it to say that there are major differences here from the source manga. Among them are the reduced roles of Princess Kakyu and the elimination of several villains, including the awesomely named Sailor Heavy Metal Papillon. The changes do rob the original ending of some of its weight vis á vis the projected future and Sailor Moon's ultimate power, but even as an anime-only ending, it does manage to tie things together in an enjoyable way that works with the anime's more central use of themes of friendship.

As is common with Viz's releases, there are plenty of extras on these discs. Along with the usual art galleries (mostly turn-arounds) and clean songs, this one is also packed with interviews, including all of the Starlights, three of the Animamates, Galaxia, and a very entertaining one with Tuxedo Mask. The interviews with the Starlights' actresses are among the most interesting, specifically in listening to the pronouns they use in reference to the characters; Yaten's consistently uses they/them while Taiki's says she sees the characters as genderfluid. (Within the show, it's interesting to note that Kakyu refers to their male bodies as “disguises.”)

With a nice balance of humor and danger, Sailor Moon's final season does pull through as a good finale to the show. Even without the excitement of finally getting it in English (or at all), this brings everything together in a positive way as it links Sailor Moon and Galaxia and ultimately allows Usagi to be a strong woman without becoming a fighter.

Grade:
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B-

+ BGM well used towards the end, nicely brings the theme of “friendship” full circle. Good character work..
Some differences from the manga undermine the story, Sailor Moon's new attack has excessive posing

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Production Info:
Series Director:
Takuya Igarashi
Kunihiko Ikuhara
Junichi Sato
Series Composition: Ryota Yamaguchi
Script:
Kazuhiko Gôdo
Atsushi Maekawa
Megumi Sugihara
Katsuyuki Sumisawa
Sukehiro Tomita
Ryota Yamaguchi
Shigeru Yanagawa
Genki Yoshimura
Storyboard:
Yuji Endo
Masahiro Hosoda
Takuya Igarashi
Harume Kosaka
Noriyo Sasaki
Junichi Sato
Hiroki Shibata
Episode Director:
Yuji Endo
Masahiro Hosoda
Takuya Igarashi
Kunihiko Ikuhara
Harume Kosaka
Hiromichi Matano
Noriyo Sasaki
Junichi Sato
Hiroki Shibata
Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Kōnosuke Uda
Takao Yoshizawa
Music:
Masaki Araki
Takanori Arisawa
Tetsuya Komoro
Kazuo Satou
Chika Ueda
Original creator: Naoko Takeuchi
Character Design:
Kazuko Tadano
Katsumi Tamegai
Art Director:
Takamura Mukuo
Junichi Tanijuchi
Art:
Kazuhisa Asai
Kazuyuki Hashimoto
Hidekazu Nakanishi
Minoru Okochi
Yoshiyuki Shikano
Kenichi Tajiri
Animation Director:
Masahiro Ando
Ikuko Ito
Minako Ito
Hisashi Kagawa
Yoshihiro Kitano
Shigetaka Kiyoyama
Katsuji Matsumoto
Kiyoshi Matsumoto
Hiromi Matsushita
Akira Nakamura
Kunihiko Natsume
Miho Shimogasa
Michiaki Sugimoto
Kazuko Tadano
Katsumi Tamegai
Art design:
Tadao Kubota
Takamura Mukuo
Kenichi Tajiri
Producer:
Toshihiko Arisako
Iriya Azuma
Munehisa Higuchi
Kenji Oota
Kouichi Yada

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Sailor Moon Sailor Stars (TV)

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