It seems uncanny and surreal, but here we are – celebrating not only closing the loop around Sailor Moon’s 90s adaptation being officially released in Australia, but doing so in high definition. Let’s dive in to explore what makes this such a special occasion.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars: Part 2 picks up from where the previous collection left off with the Sailor Senshi defeating the monster of the week alongside the cranky Sailor Starlights. On the upside though, the general grumpiness eventually leads to conflicts amongst the Sailor Starlights as secret identities begin to fall away and the thought of working together starts to make waves. In typical Sailor Moon fashion everything leads to a multi-episode climax featuring shiny crystals, the power of friendship, biffo and some nice closure that finishes the series as a whole.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars: Part 2 wraps up the absolute finale for the 1990s adaptation of Sailor Moon. While I know all the other seasons pretty well, the relative scarcity of Sailor Stars episodes in the Australian fansub scene in the late-90s meant I hadn’t watched this season anywhere near as often as those prior. Licensing issues also meant Pioneer’s excellent DVD runs in the US for Sailor Moon S and SuperS didn’t extend to Sailor Stars which locked me out of official subtitled releases 20-something years ago.
Because of all these factors, I went into this final season with a degree of curiosity to see how I was going to feel about where this one goes. From memory I wasn’t a huge fan of this season because I felt the dismissal of Mamoru was to its detriment and the Sailor Starlights and other antagonist Sailor senshi weren’t as strong as other seasons.
But on the whole I think this is actually a really good way to finish up the series. The tension between Usagi and Seiya was really good (and at times super sweet), and it was nice seeing Ami getting the chance to get a little silly when she fangirls out over The 3 Lights. The broader universal conflict amongst Sailor Senshi was a nice bit of world-building too, and the concluding few episodes did well to round out what happens. I do feel the tight focus on Usagi and Seiya pushed some of the other characters to the side, whereas I felt that despite the expanded cast in S it was able to maintain a good flow with the Outer Senshi and the Inner Senshi beyond Usagi.
In terms of how Sailor Stars on the whole compares to the other seasons, I’d place this somewhere in the middle – the first season ends on such a strong note that it deserves the top spot, but I think S is probably the better season. Sailor Stars trumps SuperS (reviewed here and here) as the expanded cast keeps things interesting, leaving R in last place (though ironically, Sailor Moon R: The Movie is the strongest theatrical release).
With 3 movies, 5 seasons and 200 episodes now fully released locally on Blu-Ray it’s a pretty amazing journey.
Sailor Moon first debuted locally in early 1996 on Agro’s Cartoon Connection and would continue until the abrupt end in the middle of Sailor Moon R due to DiC being rather ineffectual in their handling of the localisation process. Since then it’s been a weird local experience – VHS fansubs proved the only way to continue the story and we relied on networks of like-minded otaku back in the day. We had to deal with technical issues around generational tape quality and format compatibility as well since NTSC decoding was pretty new on TVs at the time and a super premium feature on VCRs.
In the early 2000s Pioneer snagged the DVD rights which opened up access for those willing to import Region 1 DVDs at a considerable cost, a release schedule that was then padded out by ADV (of all groups) who brought together limited release DVD box sets for the first 2 seasons.
But we bought it, and we loved it because that’s what Sailor Moon fans do. Well, we were also grumpy that Sailor Stars never got released in the West, but that’s neither here nor there.
With the excellent Japanese DVD releases out in the market in the years following, things went quiet as far as Sailor Moon was concerned in the West. For fans, the general understanding was that there would never be a return to the series on home media and we had made our peace with this.
With this background in mind it’s amazing at the recent journey we’ve had in Australia. It all started with the new bilingual DVDs from a few years ago, then evolved into the highly anticipated Australian Blu-Ray releases which featured the superior upscale from the Japanese HD box sets. Now after an anxious delay we can wrap up the whole experience.
And you know what? It’s a pretty awesome place to be in.
The release itself is reasonably bare bones – bilingual audio, solid software upscaling on the video assets and creditless ops and eds. It would have been amazing if there was a Japanese retrospective featurette on this release talking with the creative cast, or an exhaustive run through of the various mid-season changes in the ops throughout 90s Sailor Moon, but on a pragmatic side it meant plenty of space for the encoding. At the end of the day I’d rather we get a solid encode (and actually get the damn thing released!) than stuff on the side.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars: Part 2 makes for highly subjective viewing. If you’re not on board with 90s Sailor Moon this won’t make you a convert, but for anyone on the journey it’s a great ending to an iconic series that brings a sense of closure to the proceedings. We’ve been incredibly lucky that the Australian Blu-Ray run has received the very best of the global release in terms of content and quality, and 25 years on it’s nice to put an end to this journey.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.