After five years of excruciating anticipation for new ‘Sailor Moon’ content, we are now blessed with a two-part, cinematic adaptation of the ‘Dream’ arc from the manga. This acts as a continuation of the remake ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’, which started back in 2014. After two rocky first seasons, the show found its groove in its gorgeous third season and I am glad to say that the level of quality has only gone up with these two new movies.
My introduction to ‘Sailor Moon’ started with my mother when we would watch it together on the Italian channels because that’s where we got the good anime. Eventually, when I was around fourteen I started watching the DIC dub from the ’90s but I never got too far into Season 1. My proper introduction to this world and these characters was really through ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’. It was only then when I fell in love with the franchise. My first time experiencing these arcs is through this adaptation and it has yet to change. The ‘Sailor Moon Eternal’ movies were my first time experiencing the ‘Dream’ arc and I have to say that I wouldn’t change a thing. There is a collective sigh from the fandom whenever ‘Crystal‘ is mentioned. For me, I can’t really speak too much on that because I’ve only seen the show once and I only remember loving it. To be fair, it’s been five years since Season 3. Now, as an “adult”, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching this continuation so it couldn’t be that bad right? But that’s a conversation for another time.
The ‘Sailor Moon Eternal’ movies are very odd in the sense that they shouldn’t work because of the televised approach in its storytelling yet somehow, it ends up working. It more or less feels like a compilation of eight episodes. It definitely doesn’t feel like it should be a theatrical release. The Netflix release makes much more sense in that regard. I definitely would have loved to experience these two movies on a big screen with an excited audience but as far as how the story should be experienced, streaming does fit better. They don’t stand well enough as stand-alone movies because there is no film structure. There aren’t three acts that obey the typical film laws. Had these movies actually released in theatres one month apart, as they did in Japan, chances are I would’ve left disappointed or cheated watching the first movie. Admittedly the first movie is definitely the lesser of the two. The pacing is much more manic and there really isn’t a solid ending to establish it as its own movie. That’s why this acts as a package deal. It’s a bit odd that they chose this route for the continuation of ‘Crystal‘ particularly because it wasn’t doing well enough to get a movie let alone two so there is part of me that wishes this was another 13-episode season purely because of pacing and structure. On the other hand, because it released on Netflix, I took as many breaks as I wanted because it genuinely felt like a compilation of eight episodes. The situation is odd, honestly because it is such a bizarre movie. It acts as an entire season in a remake of an anime. It would be weird to take off points because of structure even though the movies aren’t structured well, at all. Then again, this isn’t a movie that should be held up to the same standards of a regular movie. It should only be held up to the rest of the ‘Sailor Moon’ franchise and in that regard, ‘Eternal‘ is a goddamn blast.
Despite only having seen the first three seasons of ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’ once, I would say that the ‘Eternal‘ movies are the closest this remake has ever gotten to capturing the magic of the ’90s anime. These two movies carry a more mature look and feel but they never lose the atmospheric and colourful aesthetic. The watercolour backgrounds are still interpolated into the animation. The many outfits worn throughout are very chic. The magic is pure Shoujo magic and the transformations are still as exciting and wonderful as always. They also keep the bubbly appearance and personality from Crystal Season 3 as opposed to the stiff, hard-lined style used for the first two seasons. Overall, this movie is presented in a very soft, light tone. It also amps up the themes of feminity and womanhood significantly with the Usagi and Chibi-Usa dynamic. There is a constant pressure on Chibi-Usa to follow in her mother’s footsteps and this movie embraces Chibi-Usa’s transition into growing older and finding out what it means to be a true Sailor Guardian. I would’ve appreciated that they aged her up a bit if they knowingly prepared to give a love interest and a mature storyline. There is also the continuous use of semi-nudity in this movie which if you’ve ever seen an anime, chances are it’s being used in a perverted manner. In ‘Sailor Moon Eternal’, however, it never comes across that way. It genuinely felt like a subtle homage to the female body. They present the Sailor Guardians in a very soft, graceful manner as if to symbolize their purity. It always felt like an artistic choice and considering it’s an anime, it was also a breath of fresh air.
The characters were just as wonderful as ever. It really didn’t hit me how much I missed them during these five years until I started watching. Usagi and friends are just as charming and funny as ever. The banter and genuine camaraderie is always a delight to see. I love how each of them got a dedicated trial of loyalty in Part 1. It not only added to their character background but also their immense strength. Mamoru returns as dashing and handsome as ever, in fact, my crush on him returned with quite the vengeance. I love how he got a more prominent part in saving the day. He and Usagi are a package deal, they should be equally as important more or less. Mamoru having his own Golden Crystal and contributing to Usagi’s role as Sailor Moon was fantastic. He went from feeling like a burden to becoming a crucial part of saving Elysion. Just like Usagi is the Guardian of the Moon, Mamoru is Earth’s Guardian. Both incredibly important roles. We stan a power couple! Speaking of couples, the fact that Part 2 opens with around twenty minutes of Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna taking care of a young Hotaru was enough to give every gay on Planet Earth five years added to their lifespan. It was honestly EVERYTHING. They continue to be fantastic fan-favourites, it is always a treat whenever they’re around and luckily Part 2 involves them pretty intimately.
Overall, ‘Sailor Moon Eternal’ honestly made five years of waiting feel non-existent. I feel as though we’ve never even left these characters. Toei truly took their time with this movie and it honestly made me feel appreciated as a ‘Sailor Moon’ fan. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the final chapters of this story. Whether they translate into an entire season or a two-part movie is a decision I am honestly indifferent about. I enjoyed both formats so I honestly just hope they go out with a bang. As long as it’s done with the same love and care put into the last two stories, I honestly couldn’t care less if it’s a movie or a show. All I know is that I can’t wait to see these characters again!
‘Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie’ is now streaming on Netflix worldwide!