Our favourite pig-tailed transforming heroine returns in season 2 of the classic Sailor Moon anime and this time we have aliens, time travel, and once again the potential end of the world. If you missed my review of season 1 it can be found here.
Review (Spoiler Warning):
There are fewer things more satisfying than a sequel to something you are desperately in love with, and as a young teen, I was very in love with Sailor Moon. Unfortunately, Foxtel (or it might have even been a Galaxy pay-TV service at the time), simply replayed season one over and over again. So when they finally aired season 2 and there were episodes of Sailor Moon available that I didn’t already know word for word, I was ecstatic. You know what they say though about high expectations.
As a result, Sailor Moon R became one of my least favourite in the franchise (though it would be a considerable time before I’d finally get to see future seasons). It wasn’t until I became an adult anime watcher and rewatched Sailor Moon through, that a lot of the charm of season 2 became really apparent. I’ve now rewatched it many, many times, and I’ll admit some of my favourite moments from Sailor Moon in general come from season 2. But equally, some of my least favourite moments come from this season.
So what is season 2 about?
That’s hard to say straight up because there are two quite distinct arcs in season 2. The first has two aliens coming to Earth to harvest energy for a tree that keeps them alive. That sounds kind of cool but as a kid I mostly just wanted these two characters to go away. Alan and Ann have a weird dynamic where you can never tell if they are siblings, lovers, or just co-dependent. They also both developed crushes on the Serena and Darien leading to a really weird temper tantrum fuelled by jealousy.
When you throw in the fact that these two don’t really do anything for the majority of their arc other than sit around and have Alan play a flute before some weird monster shows up, rinse and repeat, it doesn’t make for compelling viewing. On top of that, the story is trying to get us back to the status quo that was kind of destroyed at the end of season 1.
The scouts and Darien have all lost their memories. They don’t remember being scouts or anything that they did. So a large part of the Alan and Ann story has Luna waking Serena up and then the other scouts. But Darien doesn’t awaken. Serena, with all her past life knowledge plus the memory of their most recent shared experience, pursues him fairly relentlessly and tries to force her emotions onto him, but he doesn’t remember her at all. It’s a bit awkward and uncomfortable and that’s even before the Moonlight Knight appears.
Don’t even get me started on how lame that guy is. Even in my early teens I didn’t have any patience for his particular brand of bull.
However, this is one of the parts I did appreciate more watching as an adult. Alan and Ann still come off a bit creepy and possessive, but their overall motives made a lot more sense to me and I almost felt some genuine empathy for them, which made swallowing their arc a lot easier. Even if a lot of other things about this series of episodes makes for some cringe worthy viewing.
Once that arc wraps up though, we get into the real meat of the series when Rini, Serena and Darien’s child from the future literally drops in and is there to steal Serena’s crystal so that she can go back and rescue her mum (who of course she doesn’t know is Serena because we’re still going with the ridiculous line that they look different when they are transformed even though that is clearly not the case). Rini however doesn’t come alone. She’s pursued by members of the Black Moon Clan who for various reasons have declared war against the earth. And hey, while they are in the past they may as well take steps to make winning the war in the future easier.
While the villains by and large suffer similar issues to Beryl’s minions in season 1, I couldn’t help but feel that most of the characters were a bit more fleshed out in terms of their personal motives. The relationships they had with the rest of the members of their clan also seemed more established. So while they still served the villain of the week role, they were quite a bit of fun to get to know over the course of the series, and some of them even lived through it.
And this brings us to my very second anime crush, Sapphire. As the younger brother of Prince Diamond he realises something is wrong with what they are doing in terms of actually meeting their original objective. Unfortunately, someone tries to kill him before he manages to tell his brother what he knows and he is forced to flee. This sequence was fantastic and while Sapphire had a pretty limited screen time, he left a lasting impression on me. Even more so than Nephrite back in season 1. He may have betrayed Beryl when he fell in love with Molly, but he was still a bad guy. His death was heart-breaking more because it left Molly in tears than because I felt bad for him. Sapphire is very different. And Sapphire’s death is truly tragic.
However, we can’t discuss Sailor Moon R without discussing Rini’s presence. She was so incredibly annoying. I loved that she could use hypnotism and that was how she got into Serena’s house as her ‘cousin’ and I loved Luna P. But Rini’s character kind of irritated me at every scene. The number of times she’s lose her temper or have an argument with Serena and run off alone, only to get attacked again, was just ridiculous. More importantly, by the time she decided to tell Serena and Darien the truth, you were kind of wanting the bad guys to squish her flat.
Which is possibly why Rini’s transformation to the dark side as Wicked Lady worked so well. Again we see events very much mirroring season one when Darien was taken in by Beryl. Only this time we see Rini step up and she actually plays the role of the villain so incredibly well. Admittedly this did lead to the awkward sequence of the grown up child trying to cling on to her future father and even as a teen that made me do a double take, but I think most people will admit Wicked Lady was a great addition to this story.
We also get to meet Sailor Pluto, the first of the outer scouts that we meet as the guardian of time. Again, her presence in this season is pretty small but the impression she leaves is quite favourable which serves her well in future seasons when she, and the other outer scouts, will have a much larger role to play.
But what really captured me about season 2, even when I wasn’t such a huge fan of it way back when, was the vision of the future it presented. It was so incredibly bleak and I couldn’t help but wonder about the sequence of events that will lead the world there. For a young mind, there are so many possibilities for imagining opened up by this series as it plays with time and space.
Still, the beating heart of any Sailor Moon story is Serena and season 2 Serena has a few issues. The first is that she spends the entire first arc pining after her boyfriend. The second is that even after Rini drops in from the future, Serena continues to be a bit of a brat and really, two brats are too many. Thirdly, she’s unreasonably dense at a number of moments in the series, failing to pick up critical clues. And finally, after accepting things she suddenly becomes this amazing, forgiving and nurturing person in the space of about five minutes. I’m all for Serena growing up but they could have eased us into that a bit.
That isn’t to say that Serena doesn’t have a few shining moments. Her fight against Rubius is brutal, it is really quite horrific (particularly for a teen viewer) when she’s kidnapped by Diamond, and she actually does accept her role as a scout and the Moon Princess so much more readily in this season.
The other scouts start getting pushed to the periphery of the story where at times they seem important and at others they seem to just fill up space on the screen, and this is a trend that tragically continues into future seasons, but with so many other characters getting screen time it would have been hard from them. They do all get at least one moment just for them throughout the season, but at times they do start to feel unnecessary.
Overall, season 2 is riddled with issues, and yet it retains a lot of the fun of season one. It improves upon the villains, the settings are cool, and there are some great fights. While we will have to wait for season 3 to get something that surpassed the original series, season 2 still hits a spot for Sailor Moon fans, new and old alike. And if nothing else, you can always turn it into a really cool game of eat a malteaser when…
I’d love to know your thoughts about Sailor Moon R.
Thanks for reading.
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