Category Archives: Sailor Moon Crystal

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 33: INFINITY 6 Three Guardians

Review:

In the aftermath of Pluto’s arrival, Usagi finds herself taking her Princess Serenity form, at which point the three Outer Senshi pledge their loyalty to her and explain their purpose; however, they blatantly refuse to work with the Inner Senshi and intend to conquer the enemy on their own. Mugen Academy is closed down due to Hotaru’s father’s connection to it, and his past crimes. In an effort to spy on him, Chibi-usa reaches out to Hotaru to get together with her and see a movie; however, Hotaru is unable to make the meeting due to a sudden surgery that her father performs on her. Concerned, Chibi-usa visits Hotaru’s home and accidentally stumbles upon Hotaru post-surgery, at which point she becomes scared and flees. Elsewhere Cyprine, the last of the Witches 5 is called into action, using hail to drain the Hostes of the people in the city and turn them violent. She also hunts down Haruka and engages her in battle. Neptune and Pluto arrive to help. Eventually, Usagi figures out that they are under attack, and she urges the rest of the Senshi to help. They arrive just in time to deflect an attack by Cyprine, who then unleashes a new move that turns the Inner and Outer Senshi against each other. As the only one unaffected, Sailor Moon attempts to defeat Cyprine; however, she only succeeds in revealing that Cyprine has a second “half” known as Ptilol. Tuxedo Mask and Chibi-usa arrive on the scene and, together with Sailor Moon, summon the holy grail.

This episode was another example of how the show manages to do both good and bad story telling at the same time. The plot points that have been developed over time are great: Chibi-usa’s friendship with Hotaru would understandably lead to her eventually discovering the darker parts of Hotaru’s life as she did in this episode, for example. On the other hand, the show’s need for an episodic monster kind of drags the whole pacing down. True, Sailor Moon has always been about a “monster of the week”, but generally speaking there is usually some build up. The monster is disguised as a seemingly normal person, and the audience is generally in on it. There is some sort of simplistic plot device revolving around the monster’s actions, the Senshi somehow get drawn into it, and then they defeat the monster. Simple, redundant, but fleshed out. Cyprine, on the other hand, kind of just bursts into the scene out of nowhere (right after Chibi-usa sees Hotaru’s bionic arm, no less) and begins sapping people’s energy. Yes, I know, she was introduced in the little pool of water, but there was no build up to her attack. It just happened.

Storywise, perhaps it would have been better if we didn’t have Cyprine attack this week. Chibi-usa could have stumbled upon Hotaru’s secret, run away, but be noticed by Professor Tomoe or Kaolinite. Cyprine could have captured Chibi-usa and used her as bait. This is just a quick idea, but the point is it would have tied everything together a lot nicer. I get that Cyprine’s primary targets were the Outer Senshi (and specifically Neptune and Uranus, since they revealed their identities), but these aspects of the plot just don’t flow together well. More time could have been spent drawing out the tensions between the Inner and Outer Senshi (which would have made their clash all the more climatic) on top of the aforementioned possibility of fleshing out the scenes with Chibi-usa and Hotaru. It just feels like the writers are insistent upon sticking to the age old formula, and it feels really forced in this case. And yes, I get it, this is all ultimately based on the original manga, but it’s not unheard of for an anime to take certain liberties or deviations from the source material. Certainly this would be acceptable if it meant delivering a more solid, cohesive story. Alas, such is not the case. They don’t even give us the benefit of suspense until the next episode: the preview clearly shows Sailor Moon gaining new powers (and they add it to the next episode’s title, to boot), which I called in the previous episode’s review, so we pretty much know that things will quickly resolve themselves! Conflicts resolve themselves in this series as quickly as they present, and the show ultimately suffers for it.

A Christian Perspective:

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Let’s be blunt: the Outer Senshi are pretty prideful. They completely brush off any offer of help from the Inner Senshi and act as if they don’t need any assistance. The depth of their feelings is revealed in the fact that Cyprine’s powers are able to draw out the feelings deep inside a person, which in this case sets the Inner and Outer Senshi against each other. While it also reveals the hostility within the Inner Senshi, we know that the Inner Senshi wanted to help the Outer, but the Outer were the ones to refuse that help. The pride of the Outer Senshi not only put them in a bad place where they were attacked and overpowered by the enemy, it also put them in a position to be susceptible to Cyprine’s powers, and it caused hostilities that would not have otherwise been there. It goes to show that one little act of pride can have some pretty big consequences, so the next time you’re feeling prideful, as yourself if it is worth it.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Usagi’s dress shows cleavage; two enemies show cleavage; Hotaru is shown in her night clothes; Hotaru is shown on a hospital bed seemingly only covered by a sheet (some slight cleavage is visible); Haruka’s top shows cleavage; Uranus transformation sequence

Violence: People attack each other in the streets and riot; the Senshi battle a member of Witches 5 and then each other

Blood/Gore: Hotaru is shown with a grotesque arm and later all of her arms and legs are shown the same (they look as though they are stripped to the muscle)

Other: A flashback to Uranus kissing Sailor Moon; Uranus is said to be both a man and a woman; magic powers

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 31: INFINITY 4 Haruka Tenoh, Michiru Kaioh – SAILOR URANUS, SAILOR NEPTUNE

Review:

Uranus and Neptune may have bailed the other Senshi out of a hard place, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to team up and play ally. After saying as much, they then proceed to attack the Senshi, knocking Usagi unconscious. After she awakens in the Senshi’s base, the girls resolve that they will fight the two newcomers if necessary. Distraught over this, Usagi later encounters Haruka while waiting for Mamoru, resulting in Haruka putting her in another questionable position just in time for Mamoru to show up. This creates tension between Usagi and Mamoru, until Chibi-usa shows up to break the tension by convincing the angry lovers to “help” her with her clay project. Her plan succeeds, and the three spend the night together. On the B-side, Ami is recruited to be a temporary student at Mugen Academy, where her identity as a Senshi is uncovered by the Witches 5. After disabling a security camera, Ami flees and finds herself in a room full of experimental animals, where she is ultimately captured. With her Hostes about to be stolen, she is saved at the last moment by Haruka and Michiru, leading to battle with the latest member of the Witches 5. Outclassed on her own, Ami is rescued by her friends, with Uranus and Neptune joining the fray to ultimately defeat the enemy.

One of the most endearing aspects of this episode is the difference between this incarnation of Chibi-usa and the original 90’s incarnation. While the Crystal version retains some elements (namely, her clinging to Mamoru in season two), this version actually seems to care about the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru—a wise investment, given that her existence depends upon them staying together! It has been quite some time since I’ve watched this portion of the 90’s anime, so it’s possible that Chibi-usa may not have been as bad at this point even in that version, but I don’t remember her having very many redeeming qualities. Of course, the fight itself seems a bit silly as a whole, especially since Haruka was the one forcing herself on Usagi; then again, Usagi did get jealous when she saw Mamoru with Michiru, so perhaps this is a sign that the two of them need to work on their trust issues.

In regards to the second half of the episode, the Ami fan in me was certainly happy to have a focus on her, although the revelation that Mugen Academy is behind all of the attacks seems a little to slow in happening, given that Mugen Academy always seemed to be involved in pretty much every attack that the Senshi have dealt with thus far. There is also the fact that the episode chooses this point to introduce a new plot element without explanation; namely, the so-called “Hostes”. The enemy seems to place a high value on whatever this source is, but we have no idea what it is. On the other hand, Uranus and Neptune seem to finally throw their lot in with the rest of the Senshi, so it’s not all bad.

A Christian Perspective:

Genesis 5:2 – He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were crated, he called them “man.”

During her discourse with Usagi, the subject of whether Haruka is a man or a woman is brought up, to which Haruka asks if it really matters. Based on the above verse, I believe it does. If God created us “male” and “female”, then the distinction is important to make, because God Himself felt it important to make that distinction. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where what people “feel” matters more than what is actually true. A man can simply declare that he doesn’t “feel” like a man, but rather “feels” that he was born as the wrong gender and should actually be a woman. People try to rally around this vain philosophy by declaring things like “sex and gender are different”. Everything comes back to the fact that God created us male and female, though, and our genetics attest to that. A person can say that they “feel” they are a different gender, but their genetics will attest otherwise. If our genetics, our DNA, attests to what God has created us as, then anything else is simply in our minds. Some might argue that God may have created the person this way, but this is wrong, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33a). If God is not a God of confusion, then it would not make sense for Him to create a person with a certain set of genetics and then set that person’s mind on a path to be at odds with the physical evidence of what He created. Such tactics belong to our enemy, Satan, not to God. What all of this “gender confusion” comes down to, then, is at best a state of mental confusion or disorder, and at worst a Satanic deception.

Yes, it really does matter whether someone is a man or a woman, because God so defined it that way. Let’s not be so casual as to discard God’s definitions as “unimportant”.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Cleavage; Uranus and Neptune transformation sequence

Violence: Uranus and Neptune attack the rest of the Senshi; Michiru and Haruka hit two Mugen students; the Senshi do battle with a member of the Witches 5

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Usagi and Chibi-usa are shown sleeping in bed with Mamoru; the magical nature of the Senshi’s attacks

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 30: Infinity 3 – Two New Soldiers

Review:

After Sailor Moon’s unexpected encounter with Sailor Uranus, the Senshi meet to discuss the potential implications of the two mysterious figures. Meanwhile, Chibi-usa tracks down Hotaru in order to return her handkerchief, and the two begin to discuss Hotaru’s condition, at which point Hotaru begins to have an episode and asks Chibi-usa for her amulet. After retrieving the amulet, Chibi-usa produces her Silvery Crystal and provides healing to Hotaru, with the two forming a closer friendship as a result. Outside, Haruka and Michiru show up and offer Chibi-usa a helicopter ride home, while trying to press her for information on Hotaru. Usagi and her friends also have encounters with Haruka and Michiru, ultimately ending up with tickets to Michiru’s performance. Minako uses it as an excuse to see a performance by a prominent pop idol who is only performing at Mugen Academy. Unfortunately, the pop idol turns out to be a member of the Witches 5, who attempts to drain energy from the students. Minako transforms and interrupts the witch’s plan, to be ultimately joined by the other four Senshi. The witch summons three additional monsters, which are dispatched by the two mystery Senshi, with Usagi dealing with the witch.

Before I begin, I really do want to emphasize that I am actually a Sailor Moon fan, and that overall I am actually enjoying this arc in Crystal. That said, I keep finding myself noticing small annoyances. First up are the seeming abundance of lesbian undertones to the series. Usagi is quite obsessed with Haruka’s kiss, complete with blushing, and Chibi-usa also seems to blush quite a bit when it comes to Hotaru. It’s possible that I am just reading too much into this given the presence of Haruka and Michiru in this season, but it certainly feels like those are the undertones present in the series. Another criticism comes in the form of the dreams that the Senshi are sharing. Specifically, one scene shows the Senshi lying dead on the battleground; however, this loses its weight when we consider that the Senshi traveled to the future in the previous season. In other words, we’ve already seen that the Senshi are alive past this point, so the current threat to their lives means nothing. Sure there’s the possibility of the future changing, but since Chibi-usa hasn’t disappeared, that would be unlikely. Again, this is probably thinking too much about it, but from a story telling standpoint the threat death seems to diminish when you involve a future arc, especially when you consider all of the paradoxes that would exist. Finally, my previous criticism from the last episode concerning the simplicity of the fights against the Witches 5 still stands.

As for positive points, this season is taking its time to tell its story. I believe I complimented the second season for the same thing. Future paradoxes aside, the writers are taking the time to tease out the story, and although the fights themselves could stand to have a little more tension, the beginning of this season suggests that doing two-part episodes may not be the best approach. At the end of the day, Sailor Moon Crystal is a great entry in the Sailor Moon franchise.

A Christian Perspective:

1 Corinthians 8:4 – So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”

Yes, I am taking a bit of a cheesy approach here by using the presence of a pop “idol” as a bridge to talk about actual idols; however, much like real idols—false gods that are set up as if they are real—the “idol” in this episode was also a fake, simply an enemy masquerading as a musical performer, rather than an actual performer. As we can see, this came with its own dangers: students were pulled in to hear her performance, which put them in a potentially deadly place. Even Minako, one of the heroines, was not safe from this deception, as she, too, ended up falling prey to the deception. This brings up a good point about how easy it is to fall prey to idols.

While our minds almost immediately conjure up images of crude statues made from wood, stone, gold, etc., the generally accepted principle among Christians is that an idol can literally be anything that takes the place of God in our lives….even anime and/or video games. We get caught up in these things and before we know it we have little interest in God, putting Him off to the side for more time with our favorite games or shows. Truly, these things are “nothing” in the grand scheme of things, whereas God is everything, but our finite human minds are easily distracted and lead astray. We don’t comprehend the concept of eternity and living with it in mind because we are trapped in the reality of living day-to-day, so we think of our immediate gratification more than our eternal souls. And don’t think I speak of any of this as someone who has mastered these things or ascended above these traps—I probably struggle with the concept more most.

That said, I don’t hold to the view that an idol is simply the thing you spend the most time with. I know that some will disagree with me, but we know that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7c) It is completely possible to spend most of our time doing “God stuff”, yet have our hearts be far from Him; conversely, it is also possible to spend little time specifically doing “God stuff”, yet have that small bit of time impact the rest of our day and cause us to reflect on God throughout our various daily activities (perhaps by finding biblical lessons in the anime we watch?). Again, I don’t pretend to even come close to being perfect at this; however, I feel a lot of Christians focus too much on “how much” we do, and not enough about the quality of what we do. Even Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7) That’s not to say that long prayers are inherently bad, but they can be if we are only praying long prayers because we believe we are “supposed” to. If Christianity is indeed a relationship with our Creator, then it stands to reason it would grow like any other relationship: we start out spending some time with someone, and as we get to know them we desire to spend more time with them.

Yes, it takes discipline to take time from our fleshly desires and focus on God, but that discipline should lead us into a relationship where we eventually want to spend more time with Him, rather than spending a certain amount of time with him for the arbitrary reasons such as “my pastor said I had to pray for at least an hour”. I speak as someone who has, for a long time, spent long amounts of time in prayer because I felt I “had” to. For instance, I once prayed for two hours, and had convinced myself for the longest time that I always had to pray for at least two hours from that point on, or I was telling God He wasn’t worth it. Only recently have I had the presence of mind to ask Him to help me develop a relationship with Him based not on ritualistic rule keeping (reading enough chapters a day, praying long enough, etc.) but rather on who He is and a desire to know Him better. I haven’t gotten there yet. I struggle with a lot of depression and doubt. But as I sit here typing this, I have a sense of hope that one day He will bring me to that place.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: A “Deity of Destruction” is mentioned

Language: 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Haruka shows cleavage; Mimi Hanyu’s outfit shows cleavage; multiple female episodes show cleavage

Violence: The Senshi fight monsters

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Haruka kisses Usagi at the beginning of the episode and in a dream; magical nature of Senshi’s attacks

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 29: INFINITY 2 Ripples

Review:

In the aftermath of the previous battle, Hotaru heals Chibi-usa’s injury, but does not receive the rejection that she expects for her strange powers and instead finds herself with a new friend. Afterwards, they go their separate ways, although we see that everything isn’t well off for Hotaru, as she returns home and collapses in pain, rejecting the help that her father’s assistant offers her. Worse off is the fact that her father doesn’t exactly seem normal. Elsewhere, the Senshi investigate Mugen Academy and reflect on the appearance of two new Senshi. Mamoru encounters Michiru in town, and Usagi stumbles across the two of them, feeling a tinge of jealousy. Usagi encounters Haruka at the game center, but the other Senshi step up and demand that “he” leave Usagi alone. Despite all of this, the girls still find themselves in a pleasant mood as they discuss having a party for Rei’s 15th birthday, though it turns out that Rei has gone to the mountains to train. Of course, this means the others set off into the mountains to find her, where they also find that Mugen Academy is having some sort of retreat. They encounter Haruka there during the day, where Makoto faces off against “him” in a judo match, and at night both Rei and Makoto notice something weird happening in the Mugen camp. Upon investigating, they find a member of the Witches 5 possessing the students. They launch into battle and are almost defeated until Sailor Moon and the others appear to aid them. They successfully dispatch their enemy, and Sailor Moon takes off after one of the new Senshi who again appears at the conclusion of their battle.

This was a much more satisfying episode than the previous one, with a much deeper and more drawn out episode story. We’re introduced to a little more of Hotaru’s backstory, which will become more important as the series progresses. Meanwhile, we begin to uncover more about Mugen Academy’s secrets (although did any of us not see that it was an evil organization?), and we get an actual excursion into the personal lives of the five main Senshi. Having more time spent watching the Senshi in their normal lives makes the show feel a bit deeper, as we get to see that the girls are more than just warriors.

My main criticism is how quickly the member of the Witches 5 was dispatched. Perhaps it’s because of my primary Sailor Moon experience being from the original anime, but I would expect the evil masterminds to pose a greater challenge than the throw-away, one-off monsters of the week. Then again, since I have very little knowledge of the manga, this may be the way things were originally designed. Still, having the enemies pose a greater challenge (and perhaps having multi-episode fights, a la shonen anime) would give a greater sense of tension to the show. Still, this episode did a much better job of deepening the mystery behind Mugen Academy, Haruka, and Michiru, so the episode managed to serve a greater purpose than its predecessor.

A Christian Perspective:

Ephesians 4:14 – Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

This time I’m reaching way out of the box to make an abstract point, possibly to the point of stretching. If so, please forgive me, but this idea occurred to me, and it was better than the “pride comes before a fall” application I originally had in relation to Mikoto’s match with Haruka.

As for the application of Ephesians 4:14, my inspiration came from Usagi’s decision to chase after the mysterious Senshi at the end of this episode (although her insistence upon investigating everything as commented on by Michiru in the previous episode can also be raised here). Without applying any sort of discernment, Usagi races ahead, hoping to catch the mysterious girl, without any consideration for the fact that she could very well be an enemy. Such a decision could, of course, be dangerous or fatal to her, but her actions are undisciplined and therefore not thought out. This seems like a good metaphor to what Paul mentions as our ultimate goal as Christians in Ephesians 4:14. Without discernment as Christians, we can be blown about by various teachings, chasing after things that are ultimately dangerous to us and our spiritual growth; however, as we mature, we become capable of telling truth from fiction, and won’t be moved by people who wish to harm us with their lies.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Hotaru has healing powers; magical nature of Senshi powers

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Female enemies show cleavage; Sailors Mars and Jupiter transform

Violence: Mars and Jupiter battle an enemy; Sailor Moon destroys an enemy

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Haruka embraces Michiru; Usagi and Chibi-usa are shown sleeping at Mamoru’s place; Sailor Uranus kisses Sailor Moon

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 28: Infinity 1 Premonition – Second Part

Review:

A new foe is revealed, and as can be expected, their targets are the Sailor Senshi, who ultimately have the power to put a stop to their plans. While Usagi and company plan their investigation of Mugen Academy, Chibi-usa ropes Mamoru into a fun outing to an amusing park, much to Usagi’s chagrin. Despite her protestations, Mamoru reminds her of her obligations and promises to be there should anything go wrong. In order to get into the academy, Usagi uses her disguise pen to dress herself like a Mugen student, granting her access to the building, where she stumbles upon Michiru playing the violin. With cold eyes, Michiru calls Usagi fearless, and warns her that it would be her undoing, just before another student demands to know Usagi’s class and name. Lacking a cover story, Usagi takes off. Outside, Haruka approaches the other four Senshi and warns them to stay away. Meanwhile, Chibi-usa loses her hat while on a rollercoaster at the park. She chases it down, only to discover a mysterious girl who appears to be in pain. During this time, she encounters Usagi, and the two are attacked by a monster. The Senshi transform and defeat their foe just in time to see two mysterious figures watching them from a distance.

I have to say, I am very much enjoying the fact that the show now has a weekly release as opposed to season 1 and 2’s two episode per month schedule. I’m also enjoying the slightly slower pacing. It is always nice when a show decides to take its time to draw out a plot. That said, the pacing didn’t seem to produce much in this episode. We get a little bit of background information on Mugen Academy via exposition, and we get something of an introduction to our new enemies, but that’s about it. Usagi’s exploration of the school doesn’t really produce anything, other than a brief encounter with Michiru, and the amusement park subplot really only serves to introduce Chibi-usa to Hotaru. Beyond that, there isn’t much worth noting in the episode. On top of it all, the episode features another full transformation sequence for all five Senshi, plus Chibi-usa. While this made sense for the first episode—it allowed for a reintroduction of the characters and a chance to show off the new transformations—it just feels like a time sink this time around. Chibi-usa’s animation makes sense, as she is being shown for the first time in this season, but the inclusion of the rest just feels like an excuse to take up time.

On a somewhat more positive note, this season seems to bring back some of the more slapstick elements of the original anime. While Usagi is still less whiny and annoying than her original anime counterpart, the hijinks between her and Chibi-usa combined with the comedic fleeing from enemies is a nice throwback to that era. More of this and less of the time consuming transformations and empty plots would be most welcome in the episodes to come.

A Christian Perspective:

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Okay, this isn’t the most positive message, but I honestly felt like there wasn’t much to pull from the episode. I already stated my criticisms of the episode above, so I’ll spare you the redundancy of repeating those complaints here, but the episode’s lack of any real substance combined with another drawn out transformation sequence certainly suggests something not done “with all your heart”. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re all guilty of this. How often do we go to work and just get through? Or come home and just do the bare minimum? The verse above tells us that whatever we do, we should do with all of our heart, as if we were doing it for the Lord Himself. We may not always know what that looks like, but we should still try our best, and creating a two-part episode where nothing noteworthy happens in the second part is not really our “best”.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: The new enemies are known as the “Witches 5”

Language: 1 “j**z”, 1 “d*rn”, 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Cleavage/side-boob: The five main Senshi and Chibi-usa are shown going through their transformations

Violence: Slapstick comedy; the Senshi battle an enemy

Blood/Gore: Chibi-usa has a small scrape on her arm

Other: Magical nature of the Senshi’s attacks; a mysterious girl magically heals Chibi-usa

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 27: Infinity 1 Premonition – First Part

Review:

The episode opens on a mysterious voice discussing light and how it is the enemy to their darkness. A partial shot of a woman’s face is shown, before shifting to a young girl dreaming of the Senshi being killed. Mamoru seems to share her dream. We then shift to Usagi, who is dreaming of marrying Mamoru before being abruptly awakened. As she scrambles to get ready, Chibi-usa catches a glimpse of the news, where the reporters are talking about a monster attack and theorizing that it may be “reversion”–humans reverting back to a primal state. Usagi and Mamoru meet up, but before they can kiss, they are interrupted by Chibi-usa who ultimately joins her friends. As they finally go to kiss, the scene from earlier replays, giving them both pause. As they part ways, Usagi theorizes that her peace won’t last long. The focus shifts to a swimming girl, and then to a “boy” who is driving a race car. These two, named Michiru and Haruka respectively, are briefly touched upon as being members of Mugen Academy, as well as boyfriend and girlfriend, before the focus shifts back to our main cast, reintroducing us to each one. Usagi and company have a brief encounter with Haruka in the game center, while Mamoru briefly encounters Michiru outside the game center, with an enemy encounter following shortly thereafter. The girls defeat their foe, and begin to draw a connection to the attacks and Mugen Academy.

So begins the arc known as “Sailor Moon S”. Despite the controversial content in this arc (more on that in a moment), this is by far my favorite arc of Sailor Moon (though admittedly, I’ve never read or seen StarS) because of how dark it is. I’m sure that won’t sit well with some, but I believe I’ve said in the past that in reality, a magical girl’s life would not be sunshine and happiness—they are battling forces of evil and putting their lives on the line. As such, a certain level of darkness is appropriate for the setting. Although the new players are barely touched upon in this episode (we only see brief shots of Hotaru, and Haruka and Michiru’s identities are not revealed yet), they will ultimately play a key role in why this arc is so dark.

I mentioned controversy, and I mean that more in the sense that I am obviously writing for a Christian audience. Let’s just be blunt: Sailors Uranus and Neptune are in a lesbian relationship with each other. This isn’t explicitly spelled out in this episode (people believe Haruka is a boy at this point), but the ending credits kind of give it away (if 20+ years of Sailor Moon’s existence hasn’t already). It’s not something I approve of as a Christian, but I also don’t feel it is enough to throw the show away as a whole, especially because Sailor Moon Crystal is its own incarnation of the story, so seeing how everything will play out in relation to past incarnations will be most interesting.

The show does take the time to reintroduce the main characters, presumably in case you are jumping into the series at the beginning of season three. While such approach is not recommended, you will at least get a crash course in who’s who if you have chosen to do so. Each of the five Senshi’s transformations is also shown, and the animators seem to have listened—gone are the awkward CGI transformations, replaced with transformations artwork that is the same as the rest of the artwork. In fact, the artwork as a whole received a complete overhaul, it seems, and while that will make for some awkward transitions if you watch straight from season 2 into 3, the new artwork does certainly feel more appealing.

Other than that, there’s not much to say for this episode, except that it was a good Sailor Moon episode. It was clearly meant to be more of an introduction (or reintroduction) than anything, and it serves that purpose well while simultaneously laying the groundwork for the new plot that will most certainly begin to unfold in the next episode. Ladies and Gentlemen, Sailor Moon Crystal is back, so let’s see how it delivers!

A Christian Perspective:

John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Okay, okay, I know, this isn’t really the most insightful or groundbreaking connection, but I honestly didn’t have anything else come to mind, while this concept (if not this particular verse) came to mind during the unknown villain’s opening monologue. While there’s not a whole lot I can expound upon (it’s a pretty clear comparison—the villain mentioned how the darkness could not thrive because of the light), it is still interesting to see how biblical concepts make their ways into stories from cultures that certainly aren’t influenced by the Bible. The number of Christians in Japan is low, and Sailor Moon is not exactly a Christian allegory (though I have made plenty of connections in the previous two seasons), yet this concept of the darkness not overcoming the light pops up right at the beginning of season three. It’s like its a natural concept or something, a reality embedded in our very subconscious by a power greater than us…

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Mars uses talismans in an attempt to exorcise an enemy

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Chibi Usa and Hotaru are shown lying down naked in the intro—their limbs cover their private areas; a bust shot of a naked Usagi is shown in the intro—her hands cover her breasts; Usagi dreams that she is wearing a cleavage-revealing wedding dress; Michiru is shown in a one-piece bathing suit; the five main Senshi all go through their transformation sequences

Violence: The Senshi engage an enemy in combat

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Haruka plays herself off to be male; Sailors Neptune and Uranus are in a lesbian relationship – Neither of these things is explictly shown in this episode, but this is common Sailor Moon knowledge. The ending theme song features Neptune and Uranus exclusively, and includes scenes of them holding hands and lying down, embracing each other.

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 26: Replay -Never Ending-

Review:

When we last left our heroes, they were facing off against Nemesis in some sort of dark dimension. This series finale picks up there, with Sailor Moon shortly delivering what seems to be a death blow to their foe. Shortly thereafter, the Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Mask find themselves once again on the barren landscape of the future Earth, but just when they think it is all over they notice that Sailor Moon is missing. It doesn’t take long for Tuxedo Mask to be whisked away to wherever his beloved is. Meanwhile, the long sleep that had enveloped Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion begins to wear off, and the two exit their palace to meet the remaining Senshi in the flesh. Serenity discourages the Senshi from pursuing Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask while ultimately sending Sailor Chibi Moon to assist them. In space, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask reaffirm their love for one another, which provides a catalyst for Chibi Moon to appear. Together, Sailors Moon and Chibi Moon face Nemesis to deliver what is truly the final blow to this battle. The aftermath of this finds Serenity bestowing new powers upon the Senshi and Sailor Moon before they head back to the past. Both Sailor Moon and Neo Queen Serenity surrender to their curiosity and briefly meet face-to-face before parting ways. Back in the present, Usagi must deal with the reality of Chibi-usa having to return to the future for good, but just when things appear to be back to normal a previous scene repeats itself.

If we needed further affirmation that this is ultimately Sailor Moon’s story, this episode certainly provides it by excluding the Senshi from the majority of the final battle. While the previous episode received praise for actually including them in the final battle, it is evident that they really weren’t part of the true final battle. Perhaps their powers helped get the fight to the point it is in with this episode, but it again feels like they were sort of just…there. Given that the earlier part of this arc had an episode focused on each of the Senshi (with some getting a deeper look than others), it would have been nice to see an ending that relied on some unique aspect of each girl to defeat the final boss. I realize that the goal in all of this is to be more faithful to the manga, but it feels like the Senshi ultimately get the short end of the stick when it comes to the big battle, while Sailor Chibi Moon gets to play a pivotal role in defeating the final enemy despite having only recently awoken.

That gripe aside, it really was a satisfying ending. True, there is not a lot of action this time around, but the climax of this arc has been a slow build over several episodes, and there has been significant action spread out across those episodes to make the final battle(s) actually feel like battles, instead of long-winded speeches that were just waiting for Sailor Moon to find some new power. Of course, new powers do seem to awaken (such as Tuxedo Mask’s ability to teleport to Sailor Moon), but Sailor Moon ultimately uses what she already has to defeat Nemesis. Granted, it could be argued that it still takes a new power to defeat him (it?), as Sailor Chibi Moon aids in Nemesis’ destruction, and her powers are newly granted. Either way, the ending doesn’t really seem to rely on any kind of deus ex machina, which is nice. My one question here is in regards to continuity, though. I may be wrong, but I had thought that it was previously determined that the two Legendary Silver Crystals could not be used in conjunction with each other—the past had no power in the future and vice versa—yet it would seem that both are in use for the destruction of Nemesis between Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon. Then again, there are some minor things that still stick out, such as the lack of weakness from the past characters being in the presence of their future selves (even though this was played up as a plot point earlier on) and the lack of consequence of Sailor Moon and Serenity meeting each other, despite it being said that this shouldn’t happen. Then again, maybe that’s the whole point of that second one: there really wasn’t anything wrong with it, despite their misgivings.

Whether my previous thought is right or not does, in my opinion, have some impact on the ending, because if the two crystals weren’t supposed to function in conjunction with each other, then the victory was only possible by overwriting a plot device. If I’m wrong (which I would prefer to be the case) then there is no concern. Either way, the episode does nicely tie up all of the threads that have been hanging loose thus far (Pluto even gets a “burial” of sorts), and it ends on a happy note, with Usagi and Mamoru seeming to finally have some time alone together. Prior to this, Usagi’s tears over Chibi-usa having to return to the future were a nice touch, as it truly showed that the two had grown to care for each other despite Usagi’s initial hostility and jealousy. And, of course, the ending is both touching and comedic at the same time.

Of course, we all know that this isn’t the end of Sailor Moon’s journey, so while the ending of Crystal could be accepted as a series finale, there is always the possibility that the rest of the story will be animated as well. If so, hopefully the writers will release episodes weekly instead of only releasing two a month because, honestly, that was one of my biggest grievances with this show. Still, it would be nice to see the other arcs covered with the new art style and manga-centric story lines. Only time will tell. If this was your first encounter with Sailor Moon, then I encourage you to see the rest of the story, although there are content concerns tied up with that. The biggest (and perhaps most well known) is the inclusion of Sailors Uranus and Neptune, who are a lesbian couple. If you want to check out more of the story, then I want you to know that going into it. If you plan to just leave it here, then you have at least been given a satisfying ending. And, of course, if you’re a Sailor Moon veteran, then you already know all of this. If Crystal does continue into the other story arcs, then you can certainly expect these reviews to continue.

A Christian Perspective:

1 Corinthians 13:8a – Love never fails.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to write as a perspective for this episode. Nothing particularly stuck out at me as a “lesson” this time around, but as I thought about some of the events that have transpired in the last couple of episodes I came to settle on the above verse, short as it may be. Truly, it was love that brought about the victories of this episode and the last. Love caused Pluto to violate the rules of her post. Love caused her to sacrifice her life for the Senshi and, more importantly, for Chibi-usa. Love is what transformed Dark Lady back into Small Lady and awoke her powers as Sailor Chibi Moon. Usagi and Mamoru’s love is what seemingly allowed Sailor Chibi Moon to appear with them in space, and it was the combined powers of Sailors Moon and Chibi Moon that defeated Nemesis. Finally, love—which had developed over time—is what caused Usagi to grieve over Chibi-usa leaving. In short, it was only because of love that the victories were won in these final episodes. Not only that, but it was love that changed and transformed both Usagi and Chibi-usa. While this may be a fictitious story, it still serves as a powerful example of what love can do, as well as an example of the verse above—love never fails.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Chibi-usa is encouraged to pray (mentioned here because what or who she is praying to is not mentioned)

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Neo Queen Serenity’s dress shows cleavage

Violence: Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon cause Nemesis to explode

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Magical girl powers; Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon float inside of some kind of force field in space

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 25: Showdown

Review:

With the destruction of all life as we know it imminent, Sailor Pluto breaks the third and final taboo of her position and stops time, providing the opportunity the Senshi need to stop the threat at great cost to herself. Pluto’s sacrifice is enough to finally break through Black Lady’s hard shell, restoring her to her original form and awakening a new power within her. While that threat is dispatched, the Senshi still have to deal with the threat of Nemesis looming overhead once the time freeze ends, and while their combined powers seem to initially end the battle it quickly becomes clear that Nemesis will not be dealt with so easily. While the Senshi seem to briefly find an ally in the form of an enemy, it doesn’t last long, and they are plunged into darkness, where the stage is set for the true final battle.

In terms of storytelling, this may have been one of Sailor Moon Crystal’s stronger episodes. Pluto’s final taboo is actually explained, and more of her backstory with Chibi-usa is explored. Unlike some of Sailor Moon’s previous solutions, this actually provides a strong and believable catalyst for Dark Lady’s return to Chibi-usa, as it confronts her with the fact that there was someone who truly cared for her, and how the hatred and anger within her were so ill-placed. The episode also does a good job of tying up loose ends (namely, Demande) by giving him a scene that is almost redeeming, were it not for the comments that he makes. It was also a nice change of pace to see all of the Senshi working together to take down Nemesis, instead of having the Senshi knocked out and Sailor Moon taking on the final boss alone.

It probably isn’t surprising that the final battle does not end here, and really it is better that way, as the Senshi haven’t really dealt with Nemesis directly up until this point. To have such a great threat dealt with in only a few minutes would have been anti-climactic at best, and would have undermined all the danger that has been previously presented. Instead, the episode focuses on tying up the other plot lines that have been introduced before leading into the climax of the series. While I have had a lot of negative things to say about Sailor Moon Crystal throughout its tenure, I can honestly say that this was a completely enjoyable episode, and I have no real criticisms to offer.

A Christian Perspective:

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Be honest and raise your hand if you saw this one coming. Yeah, I thought so.

Sailor Pluto’s sacrifice in this episode was a perfect example of the above verse, as she knew exactly what would happen to her when she chose to stop time. Her desire to help her friends was greater than her desire for self-preservation (although she would have died had Demande touched the Crystals together), which lead to her decision. That’s pretty much cut-and-dry laying one’s life down for one’s friends.

It gets a little trickier, though, because in order to do this she had to break a taboo. While it’s not clear what (or who) makes the three taboos “taboo”, the question that I have is whether these things amount to sin, which brings up a discussion about how the above verse plays out if you sin in the process. To be fair, I don’t have an adequate real life example, but if Pluto essentially sinned in her methods, then was her sacrifice truly godly? It’s not my intention to say if she did or didn’t, but to rather present an alternate thought that occurred based on the fact that she broke a “taboo” in order to protect her friends.

Whatever your take on the taboo stance, we can at least take this at the surface level as an example of someone laying their life down for their friends. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we would be ready and willing to do the same.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Black Lady shows cleavage; Neo Queen Serenity shows cleavage; Chibi-usa is shown naked (but clothed in light, so nothing worse than a transformation sequence); Sailor Moon transforms

Violence: Sailor Moon and the Senshi attack Wiseman; Wiseman attacks the Senshi; Demande is engulfed in dark energy; Demande is blown up

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Magical girl powers; Demande’s third eye

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 24: Attack -Black Lady-

Review:

Black Lady’s identity is now known to the Sailor Senshi, and despite their pleas she refuses to budge or turn from the path that she is now on. Joined by Demande, Saphir, and Wiseman, she presents an overwhelming force that the Senshi cannot stand against despite their intentions. Once again, Sailor Moon must watch as her friends are effortlessly beaten around her. To add insult to injury, she must also watch as the man she loves approaches her and beats her without a second thought. The odds are completely turned against the Senshi, even when Demande plays his trump card and appears to be a temporary ally. Though he attempts to kill Wiseman, he only serves to uncover the mysterious figure’s true identity, which is a power that even Sailor Moon cannot continuously resist. As she collapses, her crystal continuously falls into evil hands, with the very fate of the world on the line. Meanwhile, Sailor Pluto struggles with her desire to leave her post and join the fight, knowing that it violates her responsibilities. Although she is finally given the opportunity to leave, it may be too late for her to offer any assistance.

As far as finales go, this is shaping up to be much better than the finale for Sailor Moon Crystal’s first arc. True, it still contains more dramatic talking than it does fighting, but the enemies here still manage to be fiercer than their counterparts from the first arc. One point of criticism, though, is how easily the Senshi are defeated, much like in the end of the last arc. These are supposed to be the strongest warriors who defend the Earth, yet they certainly seem to be easily beaten. While the idea is most likely to show how much power the enemies possess, it would have been nice to see the Senshi actually put up a fight before being beaten, instead of them all being incapacitated in about thirty seconds. Once again, this leaves Sailor Moon to face the threat all on her own.

This episode contains perhaps one of the strongest characterizations the form of Black Lady. Through her reactions to the pleadings of her former friends, we see how truly dark her heart and feelings are. While these have no doubt been played on and amplified by Wiseman in order to manipulate her into doing his will, we still get a pretty good idea of where these things started, and how far Black Lady is willing to go to get her way. The inclusion of Demande’s plot twist also adds to the episode, as it adds a wild card element to the story. While the conflict between the Senshi and Nemesis is pretty clear cut, where Demande stands once he turns against Wiseman is unclear. Although his betrayal of Wiseman would raise hopes that he is now an ally, the conclusion of the episode seems to betray that hope, leaving us instead with a cliffhanger that, for the first time in a while, is truly tense.

Of course, Sailor Moon manages to pull out another now power in order to resist the enemy’s attacks, but at least this time it makes a little more sense. Also noteworthy is that, despite the immense power she is able to draw, it still ends up not being enough. Perhaps one of the biggest annoyances with the Sailor Moon series is that, no matter what trouble the titular character finds herself in, she is always able to pull out some new power that quickly negates the advantage her enemies had. While there is no doubt that the Senshi will prevail in the end, it is a nice change of pace to see Sailor Moon struggle for her victory this time around.

Only two episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal remain, so we should get to see how things resolve themselves soon. Of course, “soon” in this case means about another month, given Crystal’s release schedule. Will Demande be stopped in time? Will Pluto’s arrival on the scene make a difference? Will Black Lady see the error of her ways? Let’s keep watching and find out.

A Christian Perspective:

2 Timothy 3:12-13 – “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

This verse seems applicable to Black Lady’s character in this episode. Despite Sailor Moon’s attempts to plead with her, reason with her, apologize to her, and relate to her, Black Lady refuses to hear it, and is instead stuck on following the path that she has begun following with Wiseman. Of course, we don’t know for sure if Black Lady is Small Lady consciously choosing to behave in this matter, or if she is actually being controlled by Wiseman in some way, but given Wiseman’s history it is likely that she is being controlled to a degree. Either way, she could be called an evildoer or an imposter depending on the situation (evildoer if she is acting of her own accord, imposter if she is Wiseman’s will masquerading in Small Lady’s adult body). She has already been guilty of deception in a way (she took control of Mamoru), and she continues to be deceived by Wiseman. Given Wiseman’s threat to crush both Black Lady and Tuxedo Mask, it would seem that Black Lady is more of a pawn rather than the queen she sees herself as.

As far as going from bad to worse, we see Black Lady continue to bring about greater and greater destruction throughout the episode as she calls down more Malefic Black Crystals and, eventually, Nemesis itself. She becomes intent on fully destroying the Earth and her enemies, going from being someone who was simply malcontent with the way she had been treated as Small Lady to what amounts to a genocidal maniac. If we need a lesson in how these things go, though, we get that at the end when her plans suddenly go awry once Demande gets his hands on both Legendary Silver Crystals. In other words, evil will always suffer the consequences, no matter how many benefits it seems to have or how much power it gives.

The lesson for Christians, I think, is to consider how we should handle situations in our own lives. While there may be times where it seems like a great option to take revenge or follow some other evil path, we have to ask ourselves if we are ready to suffer the consequences. Of course, if we truly have Christ in us, then we cannot possibly live continuously in unrepentant sin, but we could make one bad decision that leads to a string of bad decisions, which potentially wreck our lives or relationships. It may seem satisfying at first to abuse our power, take revenge, hurt our offenders, or any other number of malicious solutions, but we have to ask ourselves if the long-term effects will be worth it, both in this life and in eternity. (Spoiler: the answer no, it isn’t).

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: A character is revealed to have had his will merged with a planet

Language: 2 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Black Lady’s dress shows cleavage and has a long slit running up her leg

Violence: The Senshi are slammed around; Sailor Moon is struck on the shoulder; a character is potentially killed

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Demande has a third eye; magical attacks

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 23: Covert Maneuvers -Wiseman-

Review:

With the Malefic Black Crystal reactor going haywire, and with Sailor Moon gone, Black Lady leads Demande and Saphir into another dimension, where Wiseman has set up his own “castle”. It is here that Wiseman ultimately begins to make his move to use the Black Moon brothers for his own ends, and where the plan is put into motion to use the Malefic Black Crystal’s power to once again attack Earth. Meanwhile, Sailor Moon and the other Senshi set out into the dimensional storm in hopes of finding Tuxedo Mask and Chibi-usa, which turns out to be too much for Sailor Moon. While she is ultimately granted a reprieve to return to her own dimension, this doesn’t last long. Shortly after, the girls return to the future and prepare to battle what was once a friendly face.

In all honesty, this episode may have had a better build up if it wasn’t for the amount of time in between episodes. It’s already bad enough that new releases are typically spaced two weeks apart, but since May had five weeks (and new episodes are only released on the first and third Saturdays of the month), there was a three week gap in between the previous episode and this one. Unless you are a die-hard Sailor Moon fan (or unless Sailor Moon is the only show you’re following), it is easy to lose whatever anticipation you had for the next episode. Granted, that is no fault of the show or its story, but with such a regular gap of time (and with other anime in between) it becomes easy to forget plot details and lose the sense of excitement sparked by the evens of an episode. With that little criticism out of the way, lets take a look at the episode itself.

The fact that Wiseman was a snake wasn’t very well hidden from everyone except Demande. In this episode, Wiseman finally makes his move and shows that the Black Moon were ultimately just pawns; otherwise, why would he possess Demande and Saphir and rob them of their own will? As a villain, Wiseman has mainly lurked in the shadows and only played a supporting role, so perhaps we’ll get to see his true character in these final episodes. These reviews have previously applauded the much heavier and darker atmosphere of the Black Moon arc (not because “darker” is better, but because it feels like a better representation of the threats the Senshi face by battling the forces of evil), so hopefully that will continue as the final battle escalates. Of course, we all hope for (and can pretty much expect) a happy ending, but an ending that the characters have to work for is always more satisfying.

One thing that was weird in this episode (and that has happened previously) was how the Senshi all took on something of a carefree attitude during the brief return to the present. Once Usagi wakes up, the girls spend a few moments just chit-chatting and laughing. This felt kind of odd and out of place, considering the fact that Chibi-usa and Tuxedo Mask were still missing, on top of the situation with their enemies still being kind of urgent. Certainly it would not have been realistic for Usagi to just jump out of bed and get right back to action, but replacing the laughter with a serious discussion of how to proceed would have seemed more natural. At least the writers found it pertinent to draw Usagi’s mood back to the situation rather quickly by stilling her laughter with the realization that Chibi-usa was not around.

Overall, the episode did a decent job of setting the story up for what may be the final battle (or at least, one of the final battles). Dark Lady has finally been fully revealed, instead of just being a shadow lurking in the darkness, and the Senshi are fully aware that she is now their enemy. How this will play out is yet to be seen, and is certainly something to be anticipated for any fan of the series. It is just unfortunate that we will now have to wait another two weeks, which may serve to kill some of said anticipation.

A Christian Perspective:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

In this episode, comments are made about Wiseman’s will being absolute. This reminded me of the “man of lawlessness” that Paul speaks of in the above passage of Scripture. We know from Scripture that the only absolute will is that of God, and that ultimately nothing will prevail except what God has decided (and if you need proof, just take a read through the book of Revelation… or just the whole Bible). The man of lawlessness, however, will exalt himself over God and anything else that is worshiped and proclaim that he himself is God. This, presumably, means that he will claim to have attributes of God, similar to how Wiseman’s will is claimed to be absolute, even though there is no absolute will apart from that of the one true God.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Wiseman seems to take control of Demande and Saphir with a dark attack; a flashback shows Neo Queen Serenity possessing(?) Sailor Moon; King Endymion mentions that he is a spirit

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Dark Lady’s dress shows cleavage; Sailor Senshi transformation sequences

Violence: Wiseman hits Demande and Saphir with an attack

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Usagi accuses God of playing a trick on her; Wiseman is shown with his crystal ball; Dark Lady professes her love for Mamoru and kisses him (creepy since Mamoru is her father in the future)