Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 Review

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the third season (technically arc) of a well-known anime series known as Sailor Moon. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

After the disappointment that some Sailor Moon fans got with the first two arcs of Sailor Moon Crystal, they weren't really enthusiastic when the Infinity Arc was greenlit for production. Being one of the few people who actually liked the first 2 seasons (or the entirety) of the original series that aired online, I was pretty excited to see where this arc would go with Sailor Moon Crystal. With new staff announcements and promising signs of better animation, I was getting more and more excited to see what would happen with this series, and if it would give Sailor Moon Crystal a better rep.

After seeing the series, getting hit with more of the nostalgia feels that Sailor Moon Crystal always seems to bring to me, and seeing some of the characters grow in bigger and better ways, did SMC's 3rd arc prove its worth to me and many others?

Well, I'm happy to say that yes, Sailor Moon Crystal once again proved to be a very entertaining watch. And even better, it managed to be better than the first 2 arcs by proving its potential with better animation and giving the Inner Senshi more room to breathe and have more personality, which is great for me, since I found all of them (aside from Minako) to be pretty boring originally. The Outer Senshi prove themselves to also be interesting characters, and the story itself gets so intense that, at some points, it's hard to believe that what you just watched was what happened in the first run, because Sailor Moon Crystal explores some more darker themes this time around the block.

Let's start off with how this arc sets itself up to be:


After Wiseman and his latchkeys are defeated, a peaceful life has returned for Usagi and friends, and Chibiusa has been allowed to stay in the present century for the time being so that she can further train and perfect her power. But danger is still just right around the corner. An entity named Pharaoh 90 is planning to take over the world (no originality in terms of a villain plan, but I can let it pass for this series) as he is sensing a magical power that can only be the Legendary Silver Crystal, and instructs his assistant Kaolinite to seek out the powers that are threatening him and try to nab them for himself so that he will be able to merge with Earth itself. Also, Rei, Mamoru, and even Usagi herself are getting strange visions of a girl narrating about an "awakening" that will bring out doom, as well as 3 special talismans.

Kaolinite's latchkeys, the Witches 5, are assigned with the task of locating and eliminating the Sailor Guardians, while Professor Soichi Tomoe, another assistant to Wiseman, just twiddles his thumbs for the time being while waiting for the resurrection of the final key piece of the plan of world domination, Mistress 9. In the meantime, a new academy that's all the rage has just popped up in Japan known as Mugen Academy, where the top idols, artists, and geniuses all gather. However, the area where it is located also serves as the main bases for the Death Busters, which our villainous group is known as.

Also, the Inner Senshi meet a few new people who may either be enemies or just untrustworthy. They also attend Mugen Academy, their names being Haruka Tenoh, a famous auto-racer, and Michiru Kaioh, a famous violinist. At first, the girls think that these two are trying to have nothing to do with them, but Usagi feels like they could be trusted. They are later revealed to be two of the Outer Senshi, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune respectively, and with their own mission at hand. Even Setsuna Meioh, a reincarnation of Sailor Pluto, the guardian of the space time door, pops up in Japan as well. 

But the main focus is a girl that Chibiusa stumbles into one day while looking for a hat blown away by the wind: Haruka Tomoe, Soichi's daughter who seems to be very sick, often staying secluded in her room, having a very frail body, and sometimes getting into coughing fits. But she proves to be someone important, but why exactly? And what secrets is her past hiding?

Once again, the story is very fast paced, and doesn't feel as dragged out compared to the original anime series. Even though the pacing does leave some of the villain development in the dust (especially for the Witches 5), it isn't that big of a loss, considering that there are a higher level of villains. There are various nitpicks still with the story itself, but the show doesn't feel as rushed or dragged out as it once felt, making it smoother all around. I became incredibly engaged in this show more than I thought I would, with the focus on the character development for the well-liked Outer Senshi, as well as Hotaru.

Another thing that I liked about this season was that it took no risk in becoming darker in its themes and morality. The last few episodes are some of the most intense throughout the entire show, especially with the news about Mistress 9 being stored inside Hotaru so her body could be used as a vessel to reawaken her. We also find out that Hotaru herself is actually the reincarnation of Sailor Saturn, the Guardian who only really comes out when it's time to bring the world to an end. The question on how to deal with all this, considering that the other Outer Senshi plan to eliminate in order for Sailor Saturn to not destroy the current Earth, is very empowering, and the stakes only get higher as the battle continues on.

The writers once again showed no mercy at not holding back ,and while there's less jaw-dropping cliffhangers that made me do this:

It still gave me a lot of tension from battles, as well as made me emotionally attached to what was going on. It's always a surprising thing when a magical girl show of all things makes you feel this way. and since it's Sailor Moon, that shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

Let's move on to the character section now.


Since I talked about the Inner Senshi in my last review for Sailor Moon Crystal (I'll be looking at them again at the end of this section), this time I'm going to be covering the Outer Senshi, because they are the most beloved out of the main characters for this franchise, as well as being the most interesting, due to their personalities and their quirks.

I'm going to talk about Haruka/Sailor Uranus and Michiru/Sailor Neptune together, because they're somewhat of a package deal, and they are the most well-known lesbian couple in anime:

Can I just start off this section with how much I managed to love this scene that this screenshot is from? It gave us a nice couple of minutes of seeing Haruka and Michiru alone and not doing Mugenzu uniforms or their Sailor Senshi attire, and also showed more of their relationship which I liked. I couldn't have been the only one who was disappointed when this scene cut to black. I really wanted to see a kiss. XD

I'm going to start off with Haruka first. Haruka's always been an intriguing character in my eyes, mostly because she typically dresses in guy attire, as well as passing herself off as a male, though her gender is technically female (making her androgynous). Though I haven't seen all of the original anime or have read the manga, I think it's safe to say that Haruka's gender is explored more in the manga, as well as in the Crystal adaptation. There are moments where Haruka does dress more feminine besides just wearing a Mugenzu male uniform, but while in her sailor form, Uranus is technically not a single gender. This is pretty cool, and definitely is a topic that much like with Grell's supposed gender (I use male pronouns to address him, though he refers to himself as female) could inspire some pretty insightful and thoughtful discussion.

Besides spying in on Mugen with Michiru, Haruka takes a job as a racecar driver, which required her to take on her masculine appearance. She also starts taking a liking for Usagi, even kissing her once after Eugeal, one of the Witches 5, is taken out (though this could have related to the mission, which will be explained in further detail in Hotaru's section). This leads to some pretty great conversations between both Usagi and Hotaru, as Usagi contemplates the mystery of both Uranus and Neptune and their hesitance to work with the Inner Senshi. The Space Sword, Sailor Uranus's weapon (mainly used for Space Sword Blaster), is one of the 3 Talismans.

Michiru, on the other hand, is much more refined and composed compared to Haruka. She's a famous violinist and also likes to swim. She is seen as very sophisticated, and often has this graceful aura when she appears. In the beginning of the 3rd arc, she is often seen as temptation for Mamoru, as much as Haruka is for Usagi (though it, again, could have related to the overall mission). Unlike Haruka though, Michiru doesn't make as many dramatic advances, though Usagi does get jealous when she sees the two of them together. The Deep Aqua Mirror, Sailor Neptune's weapon (when she typically uses for Submarine Reflection), is one of the 3 Talismans, though she seems to not have a big attachment to it, as she lends it to Chibiusa at the end of the series following the final battle for her to keep while the Outer Senshi are away.

Though I would say she isn't as engaging as Haruka is, I still think Michiru as a character still has a strong personality. I like her maturity and composure, and how she serves as the more calm side of things in her relationship with Haruka. But I think the reason as to why the Outer Senshi are popular aside from just these two are the maturity of the girls, and how they balance off the main group in terms of experience and how behavior. Plus, they seem to have a firmer grip on their powers, as they seem to help the other girls when they're in a pinch. They also are able to create barriers.

Time to discuss about Setsuna/Sailor Pluto now:

When we saw Sailor Pluto last, she was the Guardian for the Gates of Time. After her death at the end of the 2nd story arc when she breaks one of the rules regarding her position in order to save Chibiusa, she is reincarnated by Neo-Queen Serenity in the human form of Setsuna Meioh, an intern as well as a student in the university's psychic department. She is more emotional in this reincarnation than she was back when guarding the Gates (it is also applied that this Pluto was revived), as she often acted distant and lonely, and also a little cold when Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, and Tuxedo Mask approach the Gates for the first time before telling Sailor Pluto of their goal.

Setsuna is still somewhat of a mother figure to Chibiusa, referring to her as Small Lady while a Senshi, She is also the oldest out of the Guardians altogether, appearing to be in her late teens or early twenties (whereas Haruka and Michiru are around one year older then the Inner Senshi), Her attacks come from the Garnet Orb, which is positioned on top of the Garnet Rod. The former is Pluto's Talisman, which make up the group of three.

While I did manage to like Sailor Pluto in the 2nd arc of Crystal, I liked being able to see more of her personality on display and her as a alternative mother figure to Chibiusa is honestly really sweet. Seeing her reincarnated self more helped build more of her personality, but also seeing the fact that she is able to express her emotions more easily shows how her development is a good thing, as well as her staying in the show's story.

But now it's time to talk about my personal favorite out of the Outer Senshi, and that is Sailor Saturn, or Hotaru:

When we first meet Hotaru, she is depicted as a girl in her early teens who is often sick, as she occasionally has coughing fits and seizures. She isn't very popular with her classmates at Mugen, due to her appearance of being unwell, as well as occasionally strange outbursts. Both Chibiusa and Usagi befriend her after Hotaru heals Chibiusa after a fight with a Hoste monster, in which the latter gets a scrap on her arm. It is more evident that she becomes closer with Chibiusa though, and eventually grows to trust her.

It is later revealed that not only is Hotaru the reincarnation of Sailor Saturn (hence the reason for her healing powers), but she also is the host for Mistress 9, a malevolent entity that serves under Master Pharaoh 90, and who the Death Busters use in order for Master Pharaoh 90 to begin converging the galaxy where he is from with Earth. In addition to that, Hotaru has parts of her body machine-made after a fire in Soichi's old lab caused Hotaru's mother to perish, and Hotaru herself to be critically injured. Because of this, Soichi decides to restore his daughter's body by making her cybernetic, but not without making a deal with Pharaoh 90 to allow the use of some of his power to revive her. This proved the cost of some of his sanity, and was only made worse when he consumes a Hoste egg himself, but not without adding another touch to Hotaru by making her the host of Mistress 9, which caused Hotaru's seizures and her moments of coughing to be as severe as they were.

Sailor Saturn in an interesting Guardian out of the Sailors, only appearing in times of dire crisis by the power of the 3 Talismans. When she's called out, it is due to the fact that Saturn is the Guardian of Rebirth. If she's called, the world will end and start anew. The other Outer Senshi wish to eliminate Hotaru before her powers awaken out of the possibility that the world could end again, causing a bit of unrest among Usagi and Chibiusa, wondering if there is another way so that Hotaru could still possibly live. Of course, this is before Mistress 9 first awakens and makes her first move by snatching Chibiusa's Legendary Silver Crystal, causing her to enter a coma. This only makes things more complicated, as the Outer Senshi begin to question if they can kill a innocent girl, when she seems to promise the destruction of the world in her current state. Her weapon is the Silence Glaive, which signifies the end of the world when swung downward.

Throughout the arc, I couldn't help but feel really bad for Hotaru. She's had to go through some pretty nasty stuff, such as almost dying from a fire and having another soul placed inside of her, but she's been able to pull through them in a way, despite the cost of her psychical body. She gathers the courage to help the Inner Senshi (aside from Usagi) to gain their souls back, as well as Chibiusa before perishing for the first time, and it's a powerful moment. Her trying to fight against Mistress 9 showed her strength in the end, and her commentary whilst as Sailor Saturn and attacking Master Pharaoh 90 is a bittersweet moment, in which she talks about the unfairness of Hotaru's life in general. I always liked seeing her in Crystal not only because I've never seen her arc in the original anime, but because she always proved to be fascinating and likable, whether it'd be moments with Chibusa, or when with her father.

Now onto the topic of the Inner Senshi, one of the major complaints that many viewers had with Crystal. Aside from Usagi, once Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus all came together, they became the same person, with very similar thoughts on what was happening, and they weren't all that interesting in battle (also, they sucked at fighting). Minako was able to have moments of her own personality, but the rest were mainly ignored, even while in civilian form.

However, good news is that in this season, the writing between all of them incredibly improves, and as such, we are able to see more glimpses into their personalities. This leads to some great moments in the series itself with some lovely comedy, which was probably the most unexpected part out of Crystal's 3rd arc:

Though some instances of the girls having one mind do make an appearance in the last few episodes, it's still great to see their individual personalities, rather than seeing them treating like one human being. It makes me hope that Uta no Prince Sama's 4th season can be able to do this for both STARISH and QUARTET NIGHT, even though there are high chances of that not happening thanks to Nanamiprofen.

Other new characters introduced in this season are the Death Busters, which include Master Pharaoh 90, Mistress 9, Soichi Tomoe, Kaolinite, and the Witches 5 (Eudial, Mimete, Viluy, Tellu, Cyprine, and Ptilol (yes, the last 2 make one witch, which technically makes this the Witches 6, but whatever)).


Toei Animation once again produced the animation for Crystal's third arc, and they are also known for their work on the original Sailor Moon series, Toriko, and World Trigger.

As I mentioned last time, a big problem that contributed to the reasons why most viewers didn't like Sailor Moon Crystal's first 2 arcs was the animation. Though I thought as a whole the animation wasn't too bad, there were moments that definitely didn't look good (such as off-model characters and not detailed facial expressions), as well as CGI transformations (which didn't bother me as much as it did for other people, who found them too jarring). DVD animation did improve some of these bad shots, but fans were still looking for more improvement, especially when a new character designer was confirmed. The PV's looked promising, and I went into the 3rd season hoping for improvements.

Good news is that we got them. Gone are the CGI transformations and the awkward instances where the animation quality drops. Here are Inner Senshi attack sequences from other than Usagi, as well as some beautiful art. This arc of Crystal actually managed to prove very consistent when it came to the animation as a whole, and it's actually very odd to go back to the first 2 arcs of Crystal because of how different the animation style actually is. Not that it's a bad thing, because I do think the animation for this series is a lot stronger.

Though the Inner Senshi do look more cutesy and have wider eyes, the character designs in a sense help distinguish them from the Outer Senshi, who manage to look more mature. I also really liked particular moments of the animation, such as hair movement, comedic expressions, and some of those crazy eye movements from Mistress 9 when Hotaru was trying to get her body back. There's some lovely moments scattered all throughout this season, and they even manage to outshine the moments where the animation slips a bit.

If the next arc from Sailor Moon's manga is confirmed for a Crystal adaptation, I'm curious to see if it will remain the same, because this is a step-up in the right direction for Toei, especially considering that this season seems to have had a higher budget overall.


The score for this series was composed once again by Yasuharu Takanashi, most notably known for his scores towards a few series from the Pretty Cure franchise (from Fresh Pretty Cure to Smile PreCure), Shiki, and Naruto Shippuden.

Once again, Yasuharu Takanashi managed to really impress me with the score. Besides some of my old favorites returning, some new ones also made their appearance, and the music as a whole also makes more of a dramatic impact this season during battle sequences, something that the first 2 arcs had but not as much of it. This comes after hearing a score that wasn't his best work (The Testament of Sister New Devil, but it's only based off of one episode), but I still have hope that I can hear more great things from him in the future. After all, he's still at the top of his composing game.

Once again, we get a brand new group of seiyuus for returning characters, which isn't a big deal for me, considering I haven't seen a lot of this arc in the original anime. Once again, the voice acting for the most part is great, with some of the new seiyuus who took over the characters in the first 2 arcs showcasing more of their strengths, and new additions also show some great work. The best example of this would have to be Yukiyo Fujii, a seiyuu who I have heard in in other anime before, such as Fairy Tail, Madan no Ou to Vanadis, and Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle, but yet haven't seen a performance where she's been this good until now. Her range between Hotaru, Mistress 9, and Sailor Saturn is absolutely fantastic, and her delivery for Mistress 9 is easily the best part about this show in terms of voice acting. This just makes me more excited to get to see a first taste of Christine Marie Cabanos voice Hotaru, because she is in a similar boat to Yukiyo Fujii, having shown a higher range to most of the roles I've heard from her thus far, so it'll be exciting to see her take on a character such as Mistress 9.

Other additions into the original Japanese highlights include Junko Minagawa, Sayaka Ohara, Takuya Kirimoto (whose creepiness works better here in terms of character compared to Ivan from Gangsta), Hikari Yono, Chiaki Takahashi, Yuki Nagaku, Naomi Ozora, and Umeka Shouji (as both Cyprine and Ptilol).


In one GIF, here's what I think of Season 3 of Sailor Moon Crystal:

This season was much stronger that the past 2 arcs, even though I managed to like those as well. The story pulled me in, the Inner Senshi were able to have more of their personality come to light, the animation vastly improved, and some of my highlights from the web animation managed to remain consistent. With the little tease of what's to come (Pegasus) following the final battle, I only want to see Toei produce a fourth season if this also manages to do well, because I am still beyond pumped for what Sailor Moon's manga has to offer next.

I'd say if you were turned away by the first offering of Crystal, you should check this season out. I also recommend this to Sailor Moon fans in general, as well as ones who like magical girl shows. Sailor Moon is iconic for a reason, and I think once you'll see it, you'll find out why.

I'm going to leave off this review with one of my favorite scenes from the series, that being:

I'll always consider you my favorite Sailor Senshi Minako! :3

Score: 10/10


Story becomes more intriguing.

Inner Senshi are better characterized and have more personality.

Outer Senshi are interesting.

Stunning animation.

Score is still great with some new pieces.

Dramatic moments now have more tension.

Yukiyo Fujii's performance.

Nostalgia feelings still at work.


None major.

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