You know it’s getting serious in mahou shoujo when the ribbons become fancier
|I was able to make this approximately my 1000th anime finished (at least, based on what MAL considers an entire anime), which is nice since my first anime was also Sailor Moon. This series was actually pretty good too, so it’s nice that I didn’t waste this number on say, generic harem series #3209.|
One thing that always strikes me about Sailor Moon is how progressive the series was (especially for the 90’s). Of course, if you just watched the English dub as a kid like I did, they kind of wrote that out (oh man, those days of Haruka and Michiru being “cousins”), so I’m glad Crystal fully embraced how awesome some of the female relationships are. Between the duet ending song and some of the more intimate scenes, Haruka and Michiru really make a great looking couple. But aside from the obvious example, Chibi Usa and Hotaru really shared something special as well. It might not have been yuri exactly,even if Mamoru felt like he was giving Chibi Usa away for marriage. That was a hilarious line at first, but when I thought about it more, it was actually really touching that they have that deep of a connection. The female friendship was shown as a really powerful thing in the anime.
Of course, the most obvious instance of this was Hotaru giving it everything she had to protect Chibi Usa’s soul, but the build up of their friendship was also adorable to watch. Chibi Usa was accepting of Hotaru’s condition, and never really seemed put off by her darkness. Instead, she did her best to help her friend, which from how the faceless girls treated Hotaru, was something she probably didn’t ever have before. Even her father, the person Hotaru seemed to trust the most, was an evil jerk who planted some evil seed in his daughter in order to please an alien overlord. So yeah, Chibi Usa is way better for emotional support.
…And of course, Hotaru is going to grow up with three amazing moms and everyone should be jealous.
Though in the end, what sold it for me (aside from Hotaru’s struggle near the end to save Chibi Usa) was Usagi’s reactions to what was going on. She’s close to Chibi Usa obviously, and they know each other well. So while Usagi and Hotaru had some pretty brief interactions, one can assume that a lot of Usagi’s emotional investment in what happens to Hotaru is because of Hotaru’s and Chibi Usa’s relationship. Of course she wouldn’t want anyone to die to keep the Earth safe, but Usagi was really adamant about not sacrificing Hotaru. This ended up paying off in the end too, since Hotaru ended up saving them all. It would look pretty bad if Usagi wanted to kill the person who ended up being a saviour.
But back to the topic of how females are depicted in Sailor Moon, there’s always the interesting topic about how Haruka represents herself. As people before me have pointed out across the internet, Michiru’s line of how Haruka embodies both the male and female is often misinterpreted, since it makes her sound like her physical body is both male and female or perhaps that she’s transgender. However, the author explained that Haruka is a female who identifies as female, but she also embodies traits of masculinity, and just dresses like a guy when she wants to. I don’t want to brush this off as merely cross dressing though. Especially since Haruka has lines specifically stating that it’s not important being male or female when Usagi asks. Instead, I’m going to link to this article that explains things way more eloquently than I’m doing, and basically agree that yeah, Haruka does whatever she wants, and all of the power to her.
The characters were better balanced this season, and the rest of the Sailor Senshi actually had a role other than being Usagi’s cheerleaders. Of course, they were largely replaced with the Outer Senshi as the season went on, and just fell back to being background extras, but at least they were given more personality at the beginning. Actually, the Outer Senshi kind of lost their individuality near the end as well. It wasn’t about what the character’s personalities could add to scenes anymore, but instead their lines were pretty much reduced to “oh no! The sea/wind/time and space is telling us bad things about our current situation!” and that was about the extent of their characters. Admittedly, Usagi, Chibi Usa, and Hotaru pretty much took the stage in the final fight, but it’s always kind of sad to see the other characters being shoved into one line support roles.
The characters they did focus on though were really interesting to watch. As opposed to the original Sailor Moon where Usagi and Chibi Usa were perpetually arguing childishly (mostly over Mamoru), Crystal really built up a sense of family between the group. While both Mamoru and Usagi were temporarily distracted by Michiru and Haruka, they learned to get over that with Chibi Usa watching over them, and that just seemed to strengthen that family relationship they all shared even up until the conclusion. Chibi Usa wouldn’t have survived long if it wasn’t for Mamoru keeping her alive, and the whole chalice power up thing was due to all of them working together as a family.
I’ve already gone on about Haruka and Hotaru’s relationship with Chibi Usa, but Hotaru was also pretty interesting as Sailor Saturn. Everyone was so against her appearance, but in the end, her whole role is kind of like what the death card represents in Tarot. Some things have to end in order to create new beginnings. What she did in the original Moon Kingdom wasn’t entirely clear since we only got it from the Outer Senshi’s perspectives. However, this arc, she was definitely necessary in order to get rid of Pharaoh 90. It’s maybe kind of a let down that she wasn’t quite the indiscriminate destructive force that the other characters made her out to be since they made such a big deal out of it (in fact, the Earth was relatively unharmed), but in the Sailor Moon universe, all of the Senshi seem to do relatively productive things, so having a Senshi whose powers are based on destruction is understandably kind of an outcast.
…I really wish Sailor Moon went into the antagonist’s story a bit more. Sure it’s interesting that Kaori was hit by a space beam and joined an alien worshiping cult, but what was she like before that? What about the rest of Witches 5? What were their actual personalities? Though I suppose that’s what the original anime did (kind of) with all of it’s filler. The first couple seasons of Crystal were better at this, with the bad guys of the episode having backstories, but I guess since the villain(esses) of the week were all apparently artificially made, it makes sense that their back stories weren’t that deep. Plus this was a flaw of the manga, as opposed to something that the anime cut out due to time constraints.
As another flaw the manga had that was noticeable in the anime was just how fast all of the villains went down. Hotaru’s dad in his most powerful form didn’t even take half an episode to defeat. But I guess this is just what makes the series what it is, since it would be pretty bad if the defenders of the Earth had Pharaoh 90-sized problems with every underling the fought. Maybe the bad guys could have had an upper hand if the head evil lady did more than just sit by a fountain and give orders for most of the season, but it also wouldn’t be Sailor Moon without a bad guy sitting in the shadows and making foreboding statements until their henchmen supply has run out.
Compared to the first few seasons of Crystal, this was so much better just based on animation budget and that characters other than Usagi family trio had some personality to them. That kind of went away at the end (because the characters always need Sailor Moon to save the day), but the anime up until that point wasn’t as bland as it could have been. I guess whether or not it’s better than the original Sailor Moon anime is a matter of opinion. The original had a lot more personality to the characters, but that also came with a ton of filler, where this one was true to the manga, and told the story in a clean, concise way. Personally, I really enjoyed this season. The elements of the original anime (like the comedy aspects) disappeared pretty much after the first episode, but it was still more interesting than the first seasons of Crystal were.