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The Fine Print
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Sailor Moon © Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha/Toei Animation
The basic stories of the Sailor Moon movies (Warning: Beware of spoilers!)
Sailor Moon R: The Movie (1993)
When Darien was only a child, his parents died in a terrible car accident. Alone in the hospital shortly after this event, Darien happens upon and befriends a stranded alien child named Fiore, who had just arrived on Earth. When Fiore is forced to leave, due to the fact his body could not long survive on this planet, Darien gives him a single rose as a token of their friendship.
Years later, an adult Fiore tries to seek out his old friend and discovers Darien on a summer outing to the park with his girlfriend Serena. Having spent years searching for the most beautiful flower to give Darien in return, Fiore has discovered the alien Kisenian flower - a malevolent, sentient being resembling a beautiful woman that quickly takes over his mind. His emotions distorted by the siren call of the Kisenian flower, Fiore jealously attacks Serena and the Sailor Scouts, assisted by deadly alien flowers. In the melee, Darien is wounded trying to protect Sailor Moon, and a horrified Fiore quickly whisks his injured friend away.
Combining their powers, the Scouts transport themselves to the asteroid home of the flowers, which Fiore plans to bring to the Earth, transforming the entire world into a garden of deadly beauty. Though hopelessly outnumbered by the plant monsters, the Scouts fight bravely, to no avail. Finally, only Sailor Moon stands against Fiore, who finally comes to his senses and shakes off the effects of the Kisenian flower when the wounded Darien drags himself into the battle to save Sailor Moon.
With Fiore's power destroyed, the asteroid plunges on a deadly course toward Earth's atmosphere, but Sailor Moon's power, agumented by the strength of her friends, returns them all safely to Earth. The effort of protecting them all through the heat and radiation of re-entry nearly costs her life, but a kiss from Mamoru - gifted with new energy by the spirit of a penitent Fiore - restores her.
Note: Sharp-eyed viewers will notice a strong similarity between Fiore and the two aliens of the "Doom Tree" story arc - Alan & Ann. In fact, both Fiore and the evil Kisenian flower from the Sailor Moon R movie are meant to be "homages" to the Alan & Ann characters - Fiore's full name is actually "Fioreail," ending in "ail," Alan's original Japanese name, and the Kisenian flower, obviously, ends in "an." The two characters are also played by the same Japanese voice-actors as Ail and Ann.
Sailor Moon S: The Movie (1994)
Luna falls in love! But it isn't with Artemis...! Although the American dub of Sailor Moon made Luna sound fairly old, not to mention cranky and British (something like Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote), Sailor Moon's cat mentor would seem to have some life in her yet. After falling ill and nearly being run over, Luna is rescued by a handsome young astronomer named Kakeru and taken to his home at a nearby observatory to recuperate. And even though she is a cat and he is a human, she develops feelings for him. Besides the obvious problems of an inter-species relationship, there's the fact that Kakeru is in love with someone else. Luna's rival for Kakeru's affections is a Japanese astronaut named Himeko, who has been in America for the last year training for a Space Shuttle mission. It had always been Kakeru's dream to fly in space himself, but health problems washed him out of the astronaut corps. However, while they obviously love each other, Kakeru and Himeko are kept apart by philosophical differences. Himeko regards the moon as a subject for scientific research and little more, but Kakeru is dreamy and mystical, and half-believes in a Japanese legend about a beautiful princess named Lady Kaguya who lives on the moon (presumably the same legend which forms the basis for the anime Rei Rei). Kakeru insists that while looking through his telescope he saw a comet near the moon, but Himeko scoffs since NASA doesn't know about any comets.
It turns out that there really is a Kaguya, or at least an extraterrestrial princess who likes the name, but she isn't the benign fairylike girl of the story who was too pretty for her own good and whose main problem was discouraging suitors. This Kaguya combines another Japanese legend, that of the "Yuki-Onna," the Lady of the Snow, a beautiful but vampire-like female snow-spirit that embodies death by freezing. The comet that Kakeru saw was really Kaguya coming to invade Earth. Her plan is to freeze Earth and everything on it, and add it to her collection, and she sends a group of living ice-maidens called Snow Dancers down to begin her conquest.
There are two set-piece battles with all nine Sailors (and as short as the movie is, giving each of them time to transform and do something takes quite a bit of footage). The first encounter takes place in the city, with the Sailors battling the Snow Dancers in three groups (Inner Sailors, Outer Sailors, and Sailor Moon/Chibi-Moon/Tuxedo Mask). While the Sailors defeat the first Snow Dancer attack, this is only a preliminary skirmish. Later, when Kaguya's plan is well-advanced and the entire world is nearly frozen solid, the second and climactic battle is against Kaguya herself and wave after wave of Snow Dancers that form faster than the Sailors can smash them. The tide turns only when Sailor Moon combines her power with that of all the other Sailors, transforms into Super Sailor Moon, and uses the power of the Silver Crystal in her brooch to blast Kaguya.
After defeating Kaguya, Sailor Moon then uses her Silver Crystal to turn Luna human for a while. As a quite attractive woman and able to talk to Kakeru, Luna takes him into space to look at the Earth from above. She has a chance to express her feelings at the same time she tells Kakaru goodbye, and Kakaru is able to fulfill his dream of going into space even if only for a moment. Meanwhile, Himeko looks up from her space walk outside the Shuttle and sees a comet-like flash shooting across the Moon, and wonders if it's the Moon Princess that Kakaru saw.
Later, at the Tokyo airport, Luna watches a little sadly as Kakeru and Himeko meet and embrace, but Artemis is waiting for her....
Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie
If the Sailor Moon S movie was based on Japanese legend, the Super S movie borrowed from Western legend. In particular, it was the story of the Pied Piper.
True to its origin, the opening even takes place in a German city, where the children of the town are put into a mysterious trance by mysterious music and led to a flying ship waiting to take them away. This is happening all over the world, and when the kidnappers come to Japan and Rini is among the children snatched, the Sailors are on the case.
It helps that there is a defector among the ranks of the kidnappers, a boy named Peruru (in the gemstone-happy world of Sailor Moon, that's probably meant to be "Pearl"), who balks at kidnapping children. He is one of four fairies who live in the dreams of children, enlisted by wicked Queen Valdian with the idea of letting children stay in their dreams forever. Pearl has his doubts and after making friends with Rini decides he wants no part of the scheme.
In hot pursuit of the ship taking Rini away, the five Inner Sailors persuade Pearl to take them on his own flying ship to Queen Valdian's colossal hovering base in the clouds. It's a credit to the ingenuity of the animators that a flying ship that looks like an amusement park ride with a giant snail shell in place of a sail could be taken seriously enough that, after being hit with cannon fire on its approach to the base, the landing turns into an analogy of a damaged airplane trying to land on an aircraft carrier.
Somehow the Sailors and Pearl survive the crash, but the three other dream-fairies are waiting for them with hordes of candy-monsters (silly-looking but deadly). There will be no miraculous rescue from Tuxedo Mask - he was hurt in the last attack and is in bed at home. Instead, Sailors Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto arrive just in time. The dream-fairies and their monsters are dispatched and now it's nine Sailors and Pearl against the evil queen.
Queen Valdian's justification is that she wants to put all the world's children into eternal sleep where they will dream peacefully and happily for the rest of time. It also happens that she's using the sleeping children's dream energy to feed the "Black Dream Hole," a growing black hole that will soon engulf the entire Earth. And Rini, as Sailor Chibi-Moon, is chock-full of extra-special psycho-energy that Queen Valdian needs to make her Black Dream Hole grow all the faster.
To rescue Chibi-Moon, Sailor Moon must penetrate the innermost core of the Black Dream Hole (which by this time has become identical with Queen Valdian herself) and destroy it from within with the help of the other Sailors. The battle is psychological as well as physical when Valdian tempts her with making her most cherished dream seemingly real - but Sailor Moon knows when a dream is too good to be true.
The Super S movie makes use of many of the same themes as the Super S TV series: the fairy-tale background, the emphasis on dreams, a wicked queen out to conquer Earth, Rini's sort-of romance with an otherworldly dream guardian. Unlike the TV series, however, the focus is still more or less on Sailor Moon rather than on Rini. Besides all that, the theatrical-quality animation is a treat.
Amy's First Love (Ami-chan no Hatsukoi) (1995)
This brief (about 16 minutes) featurette was shown theatrically along with the Sailor Moon Super S movie, and puts our favorite genius into the spotlight. The title, however, is just a little misleading....
During the national exams, somebody is tying with Amy for the top scores. Because the scores are publicly posted under aliases, she knows her rival only as "Mercurius," the Latin form of Mercury. The other girls tease Amy about being in love with the mysterious competitor, but she sees it as strictly an academic contest for the highest grades. The competition drives Amy to ever-greater feats of studying and memorizing.
Unfortunately, all this mental effort attracts the attention of a vampirish female phantom that feeds on people who are obsessed and selfish. The phantom mistakes Amy's obsession with Mercurius for first love and moves in for the kill with a "Love Letter Attack."
What follows is a confused fight. The phantom thinks Amy is wrapped up in her first love. Amy thinks the phantom is Mercurius, trying to get the highest score on the exams by distracting her from her studies. The phantom is shocked when Amy transforms into Sailor Mercury right in front of her (Super Sailor Mercury, actually, to judge by the costume), and even more shocked when the Mercury Aqua Mirage attack sends her into oblivion.
As for who Mercurius really is... his name is Suuri Kurume, which spelled backwards (Japanese style, by syllable instead of by letter) gives you Me-ru-ku-ri-us, and he's a boy from another school. Melvin knows him. In fact, he looks like Melvin.
The story ends with Amy vowing to redouble her academic efforts. Love and romance can wait.