Sailor Moon S: The Movie is delightfully inconsequential. Is it essential viewing though? Let’s dive in and see what 1994 Toei was able to smash out…
Sailor Moon S: The Movie takes place in the TV series’ continuity at a time of… some sort. Like most of the Toei theatrical spins based off their popular series’ at the time, the TV series’ current cast, rather than the broader narrative, are the main point of consistency so there’s little influence from major points in the TV series. This makes it handy as a point of entry and means those who miss out on the movie aren’t at a disadvantageous when watching the TV series, but it reduces the movie’s ability to make a bigger impact.
In this instance, Sailor Moon S: The Movie’s 60-minute duration stems from Luna… getting a cold. As a result she gets the hots for a dude who saves her from stumbling in front of a car and nurses her back to health, said dude then has a falling out with his astronaut girlfriend because he thinks a goddess lives on the moon, monster of the week arrives via a meteorite and thinks she’s a moon goddess, all hope in the world is lost as Princess Snow Kaguya turns Earth into an icy wasteland until Sailor Moon saves the day using the power of love and friendship. Luna then briefly becomes a human and flies around in a yellow dress with said dude. Queue credit sequence to the awesomely melodramatic song, Moonlight Destiny.
While the preceeding Sailor Moon R: The Movie also acted as a glorified extended episode, it gets kudos for extending into Mamoru’s past to add something interesting to the broader narrative in Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon S: The Movie, in contrast, does not. It’s entirely inconsequential to the bigger picture for the series, and in a sense is difficult to place in the timeline given how the TV series ended. Much like the Dragon Ball Z movies, this is meant more as part of Toei’s theatrical schedule rather than something that drives all things Sailor Moon.
But, like all things with 90’s Sailor Moon, it comes down to what you’re after. Sailor Moon S: The Movie manages to do a few things very well – the production values really shiny here with some beautiful animation. Both the inconsequential slice of life stuff is given far more attention than it gets in the TV series, but it’s in the action sequences that things ramp up really nicely (similar to what happened with Sailor Moon R: The Movie). Audio production’s cleaner as well, benefiting from a Dolby Stereo mix that makes things a bit more interesting than the usual mono mix from the TV series. In terms of the narrative, there’s also a fair whack of time spent on the daily grind which is actually really nice – as we saw in the mix between Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal, it was in the comedic and shoujo stuff where this original adaptation really shines, and that very much applies to the (albeit silly) premise behind this story. It’s also incredibly heartfelt and sweet, though this shouldn’t be surprising given Naoko Takeuchi wrote the story for this one herself.
So – everything considered, it’s an interesting approach that leaves me with mixed thoughts if we’re being objective. It’s a rather light side-story that doesn’t really add to the bigger plot, and if you aren’t a fan of Sailor Moon I’m not sure how much value this would present to you. As a fan though, there’s more than enough in here to justify the 60 minute length and it’s really nice to see a story revolve so strongly around Luna given the cats rarely get a lot of attention in the TV series aside from a couple of episodes here and there. You also get to see Luna take on a human form which is pretty unexpected, but great fun for her character. Oh, and Sailor Pluto gets some screen time and unsurprisingly is radtastic and awesome.
While the movie itself may be a little mixed, this Blu-Ray presentation is amazing. As we’ve covered before (here, here, here and here), Sailor Moon TV’s move to Blu-Ray has relied on some exhaustive upscaling of the standard definition sources in its move to high def. In contrast, the movies are freshly scanned from the 35mm prints and are simply stunning. Similar to my gushing for Sailor Moon R The Movie, the colours and clarity are stellar – the contrast of crazy 90s Toei Sailor Moon’s primary colours on the main cast and the subdued water colour background paintings look great, and the print’s done a great job of balancing this against the soft wintery palette for all the environmental effects layered in here. The only downside is that it highlights some of the shortcomings with the TV series that has resulted from the lack of readily-accessible 16mm film masters when Toei went and prepared the series for Blu-Ray release in Japan. Audio sounds great as well – nothing particularly stellar, but with uncompressed stereo it arguably pips the laserdisc release thanks to the core assets being given a bump and the benefit of having a better DAC in my Blu-Ray setup (this part’s purely subjective of course – the LD’s demodulated digital output from a high-end LD player through an excellent DAC would probably sound pretty special!).
There’s not much else in the way of extras – in principle I’m not all that fussed as I’m more concerned with the quality of the audio and video presentation. However, while watching through this one I had a niggling feeling that I had seen some extra features years (decades!) ago on a VKLL release. Digging into my Sailor Moon laserdiscs revealed that the LSTD01212 widescreen release featured a trailer before the movie began, an extra audio track with just the score/background effects, creditless ops and eds, then finished off with some delightfully quaint toy tie-in ads. Turns out I was thinking of some of the other Sailor Moon LD releases, so really there isn’t anything critical missing, but it was fun to compare the two nonetheless!
So, is Sailor Moon S: The Movie worth a go? Absolutely – despite being a side-story with little relevance to the broader universe of 90s Sailor Moon, its ability to marry the shoujo, action and comedy elements into a well-paced 60-minute movie with some beautiful animation should make this essential viewing for fans. Sailor Moon R: The Movie is objectively a stronger production, but there’s still good fun in this one.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.