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- Genre : Drama, Magic, Romance, Shoujo
- Original Airing Date : Dec. 1993
- US Theatrical Premiere : Jan. 2017
- Studios : Toei Animation
This January had a great start for fans of Sailor Moon. VIZ Media, the publishing giants in charge of licensing hit anime like Naruto, Dragon Ball, and Pokemon in the U.S., launched a countrywide event to bring our favorite magical girl to the big screen. And though places like Los Angeles had red carpet affairs with voice actors in attendance, even smaller cities were able to enjoy the special event that was the uncut U.S. theatrical premiere of the 1993 film, Sailor Moon R: The Movie.
The showing we had the pleasure of attending was in El Paso, Texas, at a local theater known for presenting anime films; the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The -dubbed- showing was on a Thursday night, but that didn’t stop tickets from selling out, or young cosplayers from showing up in their Sailor Moon garb!
Once inside the theater, we witnessed the latter half of an odd but entertaining pre-show with a guy cross-playing as Sailor Venus singing and dancing, shortly followed by an impromptú Sailor Transformation contest among some brave fans. This being the border with Mexico, one of the contestants even recited the transformation chant in Spanish! And somehow, the only male to try was the most impressively accurate. It was amazing to see a theater mostly full of people who were around 10 to 15 years old when this movie came out for the first time.
Attendees also received elegant black envelopes emblazoned with the movie’s title and a random collectible postcard-sized image of one of the five Sailor Scouts featured in the film!
Make Up! Sailor Guardians Short (Spoilers)
Before the audience can even get to the main feature, they are presented with a 15-minute recap/introductory short titled “Make Up! Sailor Guardians”, in which Chibiusa and Usagi are at a café eavesdropping on the girls at the next table.The girls keep talking about who their favorite Sailor is, which one’s the prettiest, the strongest and the smartest; at every point, Usagi thinks they’ll be talking about her, but no. In fact, at the end, when the girls end their conversation with no mention of Sailor Moon, she ends up asking them “What about the other scout? Aren’t you forgetting someone?” after even Tuxedo Mask has been mentioned and his backstory revealed to the audience.
This little intro episode is really neat because every time a Sailor Scout is mentioned, Usagi goes on and on about them and we are shown how they met, as well as each girl’s personalities and strengths. If you’d somehow never seen anything related to Sailor Moon, you could still enjoy Sailor Moon R: The Movie, as you are introduced to all the characters even before getting into it. We learn that Ami Mizuno is Sailor Neptune, the smartest one; Minako Aino is Sailor Venus, the prettiest one as well as the first active Sailor Scout; Rei Hino is Sailor Mars, as well as a priestess; and Makoto Kino is Sailor Jupiter, an amazing cook and the strongest one of the group. Of course, we are also told about Usagi and Mamoru’s past lives as Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion respectively, and that they are now an item in this lifetime as well.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R: The Movie Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
The film begins with a scene from Mamoru’s past as a child. He is on the roof of a hospital giving a rose to another boy and saying goodbye as this mysterious child promises to bring little Mamo a flower as well. Skip to the present, and we find Ami, Minako, Makoto, Rei, Chibiusa, Usagi and Mamoru visiting a beautiful botanical garden. Usagi and Momo are separated from the girls, so Usagi makes a move and tries to kiss him, but aware that the rest of the group is spying on them, Mamo leaves her hanging and leaves. Usagi opens her eyes to find the girls holding a fuzzy caterpillar within kissing range of her face. Of course, Usagi freaks and screams and cries like a big baby.
Outside, they all catch up with Mamoru and suddenly, within a flurry of petals, a stranger appears who is obviously the grown-up child from Mamoru’s past. He grabs Mamoru’s hand almost romantically and acts way too familiar, which bothers Usagi, so makes sure he knows Mamoru is her boyfriend. At this point, the unknown man shoves her and she hits the ground. Mamoru does nothing as he seems somewhat confused by the situation. The stranger leaves, but not before telling Mamoru he will fulfill his promise no matter what. As he disappears, Mamoru murmurs the name ‘Fiore’ and seems shocked to realize that stranger is the little boy he gave a rose to in the hospital after his parents’ death.
Later we see the Scouts learning about an asteroid that is supposed to pass near the Earth and which Luna and Artemis have found out has traces of vegetal life. While most of the team is trying to figure out what the asteroid’s unique features and seed-like shape mean, Usagi can’t stop thinking about how close Mamoru and this Fiore person seem to be. Ami even suggests they may have been romantically involved, which almost kills Usagi, who is sincerely having doubts about her boyfriend's romantic preferences; and more so, wondering why she’d never heard of this person before when Mamo had told her he had no family and Usagi promised to be his family from that point on.
Suddenly, Tokyo is shaken by zombie-plant-people stealing humans’ energy and wreaking havoc. The girls transform and begin to kick plant zombie butt, and realize that the root - pun definitely intended - of the problem is a flower on the sidewalk, which then turns into a man-eating flower monster called Glycina. Glycina attacks little Chibiusa who comes out of nowhere and Sailor Moon protects her, sending both of them crashing into a nearby building.
In the meantime, Sailors Mars and Mercury are caught by Glycina and are on the losing side of their battle, until Jupiter and Venus come to their rescue. That’s when Fiore shows up and Glycina transforms into a mini human-flower and it’s revealed she is a Xenian, an alien plant-being that can destroy entire planets by manipulating weak-hearted people. Sailor Moon rejoins the fight and uses all her her signature moves, as do the rest of the scouts, but they’re not doing so well. Lucky for them, Tuxedo Mask arrives to help, but Fiore attacks because he believes Sailor Moon is deceiving Mamoru and wants to save him from her. Of course, Tuxedo Mask ends up jumping in front of Sailor Moon to protect her and gets fatally wounded. In shock, Fiore takes Tuxedo Mask with him and disappears, leaving the girls rattled and wondering what will happen; especially Usagi, who is afraid Mamoru will die because he protected her.
After the battle, Fiore takes Mamoru to the approaching asteroid and puts him in a healing pod of sorts, where he will recover from his wounds. While he’s in there, Mamoru clearly recalls his childhood memories with Fiore. Fiore explains that he was sad and lonely as a small alien child on an unknown planet - and so was Mamoru since his parents had just died. They found solace in each other and when Fiore had to leave because the Earth’s atmosphere wasn’t good for him, they said a sad goodbye and Mamoru gave Fiore a rose very similar to the one he uses today as Tuxedo Mask. Moved by this gesture, little Fiore vows to bring him an amazing flower and sets out into the vast universe to find a flower worthy of his beloved Mamoru.
In his search, we’re shown that Fiore finds the Xenian flower sitting on the debris of a destroyed planet. Now with the flower he was looking for, and a thirst for revenge against Earthlings for making him feel lonely, Fiore headed back to Earth.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Ami figures out that the asteroid’s signature is the same as the Xenian monster, and that Fiore is probably there, along with Mamoru. Usagi is torn because she feels responsible for what happened to Mamoru and, while the Scouts all agree to teleport together onto the asteroid to confront Fiore and rescue Mamo, Sailor Moon says she doesn’t want them to go because she’s afraid of them getting hurt - or worse - like Tuxedo Mask did when he tried to protect her. Of course, they all console Usagi and all five Scouts end up teleporting to the asteroid together.
Once on the asteroid, Fiore tells the girls he’s planning on releasing Xenian flower seeds which will take over Earth and destroy it, fulfilling his revenge. The asteroid is then itself covered in pink lilies and the girls are faced with hundreds of vicious Xenian monsters. Being as strong as they are, they can hold them off for a good while and defeat many of them, but the Inner Senshi (Inner Scouts) are caught.
Usagi then confronts Fiore and he tries to convey to her his loneliness and make her feel it, but as she has close friends who love her and who she loves, she can’t understand where he’s coming from. It seems like her words of friendship and love will convince Fiore of letting them go and love will win the fight, but, alas, that is not the case. Fiore is even more enraged and captures Sailor Moon, binding her in his thorns and stealing her life force.
By this point, Mamoru has recovered enough to break free and, as Tuxedo Mask, manages to throw a rose at Fiore’s chest, both freeing Sailor Moon and hitting the Xenian, thus liberating Fiore from her control. The flowers disappear from the asteroid and the Inner Senshi are released, but Fiore is still angry, lonely and very confused, so he aims the asteroid toward Earth.
Sailor Moon decides she will use the Silver Moon Crystal since she knows it is meant to keep the Earth safe, but Tuxedo Mask and the other Scouts beg her to think about it, as she will most likely die if she uses it. But just as one would expect from the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, Sailor Moon calmly tells them she must do it and not to worry, because she won’t die. And so, Usagi calls forth the Silver Crystal and transforms into Princess Serenity.
Using all her might, she works towards slowing down and deflecting the hurdling asteroid, but of course, Fiore’s not going to just sit back and let that happen. Fiore realizes she’s using the crystal to save Earth and he reaches out to take it from her, and as he clutches it in his hand, he realizes that a very young Usagi had actually given little Mamoru a rose to console him for losing his parents at the hospital; that was the very same rose Mamoru then gave to Fiore. This shocks Fiore and makes him realize that Sailor Moon isn’t deceiving Mamoru as he thought, but instead, she truly cares for him and is a genuinely good person.
Bravely, Sailor Moon stands her ground and manages to defeat Fiore. But the asteroid still needs to be diverted, so she puts in all of her strength and effort into steering the asteroid away from Earth. Watching her give it her all and afraid to lose her, Sailors Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, along with Tuxedo Mask, put in their remaining power as they think about the first time they each met Usagi. With tears in their eyes, they all remember how she helped them overcome their own loneliness, giving them more power and strength to support Princess Serenity as she tries to save the Earth.
On Earth, Artemis and Luna worry about them taking too long, to which Chibiusa says “Don’t worry, Sailor Moon is everybody’s mom. Everything will be ok”. And as the asteroid manages to miss the planet, the crystal shatters and Sailor Moon’s lifeless body collapses. Shocked and inconsolable, the girls and Mamoru cry over Usagi’s death. But then Fiore reappears in his child form to thank Mamoru and to tell him he now understands everything. Fiore is happy to finally keep his promise and gives Mamoru the most precious flower, one of which the nectar is Fiore’s very life essence and can give Mamoru back his most precious family, Usagi... Mamoru wets his lips with the nectar and kisses Usagi, which restores her life as well as the crystal. Fiore says goodbye and retreats into space, alone but happy.
What I Liked About Sailor Moon R: The Movie
The fact that this remastered version of the movie can be enjoyed by old-time fans as well as newbies thanks to the short at the beginning is a big selling point. The remastering itself is wonderful, keeping the original art but with much clearer and crisper images and colors. It’s also important to remember that this is an uncut version of the movie once released in the US, thus including scenes that may have been edited for American release due to cultural differences between audiences. For example, the BL feel of Fiore’s obsession with Mamoru, the fact that Ami hints at it and Usagi’s honest concern that maybe Mamo-chan is into guys. We all remember the other scenes and concepts that were edited out the first time the series was released in the U.S.
The nostalgic feel of the chants, music and special moves is something that any fan of the franchise will adore; especially on the big screen, and with a quality that TVs of old could not achieve. This new release of Sailor Moon R: The Movie really puts into perspective how far anime has come in the last 20+ years; both story-wise as well as animation and character design.
Discussion Time: Should You Watch Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R: The Movie?
While the remastered version is amazing and it can be enjoyed by all, there are a few things to keep in mind in deciding whether you want to watch Sailor Moon R: The Movie or not. Part of the nostalgia in watching this movie is in the fact that it is, well, a Japanese anime film from the 90’s; which depending on your tastes, can be great or not.
1. Not a Stand-Alone Movie
A refreshing part of it is that the movie’s plot incorporates some very important aspects of the underlying story in Sailor Moon as a whole; like Princess Serenity using the crystal, the connection between all the characters and even Chibiusa’s “mom” comment. And as mentioned before, the little intro short makes it so that you’re caught up with the story when you watch the movie, even if it’s your first exposure to Sailor Moon.
2. Great Writing
While most of the movie is filled with battle and transformation scenes, the story is very well delineated and plotted out. There are no plot holes; not only do we get a background story for Mamoru that we never would have imagined, but the entire reasoning behind Fiore’s villainy is clearly explained, leaving us with no questions or doubts as to why the events of the movie take place. This makes up for it being otherwise so similar to the series’ episodes.
3. The Character Development We Know and Love
Also, the fact that the story basically revolves around the usually mysterious Mamoru is refreshing and interesting precisely for that reason, and the love and friendship theme is very moving. If you’re a Tuxedo Mask fangirl, you’ll enjoy knowing more about his past, and if you’re just a Sailor Moon fan in general - whether new or old - you’ll enjoy the well-developed character development, and the strong interpersonal relationships Sailor Moon is known for.
1. Things Happen As You’d Expect
This means, in a way, it’s a lot like a very long episode of Sailor Moon; a monster that’s half-something suddenly appears and drains the lifeforce out of people. The Scouts go through their transformations; nails get painted, ribbons cover their bodies in sailor uniforms, cute shoes appear, spells are chanted, music plays... and you know the rest. This happens several times in the movie.
2. It’s Definitely a 90’s Anime
A tell-tale sign of it being a 90’s anime, are the tropes. While we see many throughout the movie, there are a couple that stood out; first, the old-school Japanese morals shown by Mamoru not wanting to kiss Usagi in public, and then the typical prank with a caterpillar thereafter.
3. More Tropes!
There is also an uncomfortably long silence when Chibiusa is trying to wake up an unconscious Usagi by covering her nose and mouth to shock her into breathing. And of course, the Hero dies but then is revived by love and all is back to normal at the end. These are both situations that, while they can still happen in modern anime, they don’t have the slightly old-timey feel you get with an anime that is literally straight from the 90s.
We hope this helps you decide whether you will watch the movie or not, and if you’ve seen it as well, please let us know what your take was on it in the comments below!
Also, we’d like to give special thanks to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in El Paso, and especially creative manager Kyle and awesome Alamo Drafthouse-employed angel, Ceci, who helped us out after a last minute issue almost caused us to miss the show, but had us on our way to super comfy lux seating in no time!
And remember, if you didn’t get to see the movie in the big screen, you can purchase the DVD from VIZ Media and enjoy this uncut remastered version of Sailor Moon R: The Movie in the comfort of your own home!
‘Till next time!