Film, Film Review

REVIEW: Sailor Moon Eternal (2021) dir. Chiaki Kon

Now streaming on Netflix

by

Sailor Moon Eternal (though if we were to put some respect to the name, the full title is Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie) is a two-part movie that serves as the fourth season to Sailor Moon Crystal, the most recent revival of the series. The story origins aren’t complex, but I find it hard to explain who/what/how/why Sailor Moon is. As an adult that hasn’t kept up (or honestly finished an entire installation), choosing to watch anything related to the series is really just for vibes. Would I discourage anyone who’s not familiar from watching this? That’s beyond my power of online words. Sailor Moon Eternal won’t convert an atheist into a churchgoer or a non-believer into a fan of the Moon Prism Power Make Up, but if you’ve seen any episode before and liked it, Eternal won’t be disappointing.

Since it’s only two hours, the movie forgoes the overarching villain build-up that episodic seasons have the luxury of stretching out. In the third season, the Sailor Guardians (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Moon) defeated the Death Busters with the help of the Outer Sailor Guardians (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) at the sacrifice of Sailor Saturn’s life. Saturn comes back as a baby, and the Outer Sailor Guardians leave the party to raise her. Eternal begins at the calming aftermath of the Death Busters, where Chibi-usa (the daughter of Usagi/Sailor Moon and Mamaru/Tuxedo Mask) decides to head back to the 30th century. They plan to watch the total solar eclipse, which is the perfect opportunity for the film baddie Queen Nehelenia to roll into town with the Dead Moon Circus. Like villains before, her plan is to take down the Sailor Guardians and rule all sectors of the universe (the galactic real estate is getting more relaxed since the competition is getting wrecked season after season). Queen Nehelenia’s minions, the Amazoness Quartet (in their outlandish outfit coordination similar to trainers in a Grass-type Pokemon gym), decide to toy with the Sailor Guardians’ insecurities in order to take them down.

The movie stays true to the Crystal aesthetic that has carried the show since its initial release (re-release?) in 2014 — particularly befitting for the month of Pride (the amount of shimmering iridescent power that emits against darkness is simply too grand). One of the Sailor Moon series’ distinguishing characteristics is the vast contrast between the Scouts’ ultra-femme glory in the face of the villains, which tend to be gray-skinned figures in devious purples and greens. If you remove the evil characters from context, it’d be a fair assumption to think that the show would be more horror-based, and our protagonists would be of the He-Man variety. The core of the color palette in battles and Sailor transformations hasn’t changed since its inception, which feels like a visual exercise ingrained in us like muscle memory.

What else is there to say that’s not expected? The minutes-long speeches of self-doubt and anxiety adjacent to each Sailor whooping ass still live on, but that comes with the territory of being a teenage girl balancing school and fighting crime by moonlight. What I do live for are the Outer Sailor Guardians living as a throuple, the Scouts’ breezy summer outfits outside of the Sailor Scout wear, and the story’s unapologetic saccharine goodness. In this day and age of doomed remakes, it’s warming to know that the girls can stay the same and still be relevant.

Sailor Moon Eternal
2021
dir. Chiaki Kon
160 minutes (80 minutes for each part)

Now streaming on Netflix!

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