The conclusion to the first season of the uncut Sailor Moon aired last Monday through streaming services Hulu and Neon Alley. Being able to see the last two episodes fully intact and how it should have aired in North America when Sailor Moon first burst onto the scene back in the ’90s was what I have been waiting for my whole life. I wasn’t disappointed either and I found myself deeply affected by the whole viewing experience. Fair warning, the following post will contain spoilers. If you’re interested in watching the series or haven’t seen the episodes, I suggest reading this afterwards.
The last two episodes of Sailor Moon is where, pardon my French, shit gets real awfully fast. The Sailor Scouts have prepared themselves to enter the belly of the beast by saving Tuxedo Mask and squaring off against Queen Beryl and the forces of the Dark Kingdom. What the scouts don’t anticipate is the little nasty surprise Queen Beryl has of her own to greet the girls––her most brutal and deadliest of Dark Kingdom henchman the DD girls (known as the Doom and Gloom girls from the American dubbed version).
All five of the DD girls gradually pick off the scouts one by one with the intent to kill them all and to steal the Legendary Silver Crystal from Sailor Moon/Princess Serenity. Each scout pledges to protect Sailor Moon at all costs and they do it by bravely sacrificing themselves. The scouts are tortured before being killed, but not without taking down one of the DD girls with them. The deaths are difficult to watch and each scene gets increasingly emotional as Usagi realizes the price her friends are willing to pay to ensure she survives and finishes their mission. With all the scouts and the DD girls eliminated, the episode ends where Usagi finds the strength to push on and find the enemy’s hideout deep into the far reaches of the Arctic.
The final episode of the first season brings Sailor Moon inside Queen Beryl’s domain, but Beryl unleashes the new, improved, and more sinister Prince Endymion––courtesy of the dark energy coming from Metalia herself. When Prince Endymion encounters Sailor Moon, there’s a dead look in his eyes and he has only one focus in mind, which is to kill Sailor Moon and take the Silver Crystal from her. Nothing seems to get through to Endymion, not even the healing power of Sailor Moon’s moon wand. Queen Beryl and Metalia have done quite a number on Usagi’s beloved Mamoru this time and it seems like there’s no way of stopping him from killing Usagi unless she kills him first.
Sailor Moon uses her tiara against Prince Endymion, effectively taking him out or so she thinks. The seemingly dead Mamoru awakens and struggles to stand up to put an end to Usagi. Queen Beryl laughs and proclaims Prince Endymion is far too strong to be easily killed by any of the usual tricks Sailor Moon has up her sleeve.
In a final last ditch effort to appeal to the goodness she hopes is still inside Mamoru somewhere, Usagi presents the star locket to him just as he has his arms raised to strike a deadening blow with his sword. The music coming from the locket somehow freezes him in place and he becomes instantly fascinated by it. As Prince Endymion’s gaze is transfixed by the locket, Usagi pleads with him to remember who he really is and he’s not the evil person Queen Beryl and Metalia brainwashed him into believing. Endymion has lowered his sword and reaches out to touch the locket. Once his hand is placed onto the locket, a bright white light washes over Endymion and a flood of memories come back to him. He remembers his life as Mamoru, his past life, and who Usagi is to him. The power of Usagi’s love has healed Mamoru.
Outraged and unable to accept that she has been beaten, Queen Beryl throws an elongated, sharp black crystal towards Sailor Moon with the intent to crush her enemy once and for all. Mamoru is quick on his feet and throws a red rose towards Beryl, shattering the dark crystal and embedding the rose deep within her chest. Unfortunately, one of the flying shards from the crystal Mamoru shields Usagi from ends up stabbing him in the back. There’s a nice moment between Usagi and Mamoru as he lays dying in her arms. Once Mamoru breathes his last breath, Usagi is beyond shattered to lose her soul mate. After shedding the necessary tears and regaining her composure, Sailor Moon steps into leader mode and is determined to make sure the deaths of all her loved ones isn’t in vain.
A dying Queen Beryl is renewed and restored after Metalia possesses her body to become a powerful dark force to be reckoned with. They’re hellbent on taking control of earth, but Sailor Moon won’t have it. Using the power of the Silver Crystal, Usagi is ready to sacrifice her own life to save the people of earth. Usagi succeeds in vanquishing Beryl/Metalia with a little help from her friends from the great beyond and earth is saved.
The story of Sailor Moon and her scouts could have ended there, as all of them have perished protecting the world they so cherished. Instead, the pink ball of energy that wiped out Beryl/Metalia ends up engulfing the lifeless bodies of Mamoru, Usagi, and all the scouts. In the last few minutes of the episode, you find out that everyone has been “reborn” and are living normal lives. The only downside is everyone’s memories of their former lives as scouts and their relationships to each other has been completely wiped clean. As Luna laments the trade off of everyone leading normal lives, Artemis is hopeful they’ll all meet each other and become friends again.
I sort of understand why the dubbed North American version of these two episodes were heavily edited when they first aired in the ’90s. I think the networks were trying to market Sailor Moon as a kids show and clearly it’d be a big no-no to air episodes where the scouts die or Usagi’s one true love is seen abusing and throwing Sailor Moon around like a rag doll, even though Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru is brainwashed. The episodes are dealing with dark stuff and most cartoons, at least American ones, are supposed to portray everything in a sunshine and rainbows kind of light. Everyone has happy endings and no one dies. That’s the takeaway I always took from most Saturday morning cartoons.
The edited versions of these two episodes really didn’t make a lot of sense when I watched them as a preteen/teenager. The edits were supposed to make it seem like the scouts were taken by the DD girls and not killed by them. I knew better though. Something about those scenes with the scouts and the DD girls didn’t feel right. I already got the feeling that the scouts were getting killed off. Thanks to certain TV protocols for children’s cartoons, they couldn’t very well show the episodes as they are.
Watching the uncut episodes gave everything leading up to Sailor Moon’s solo showdown with Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom a lot of context. I also felt the uncut versions had more emotional weight and impact than the dubbed versions had. I think on some level, the other Sailor Scouts knew the potential dangers and risks of their mission. They knew there was a chance they might not make it out of this alive. I think Sailor Moon might have been the least prepared to deal with the consequences and responsibilities of being a scout. Witnessing her friends die to keep her alive is traumatizing and Sailor Moon becomes desperate to stop their sacrifices by trying to give up the Silver Crystal to their enemy. It takes her friends to knock some sense into her in their final moments and a brief group pep talk from their spirit selves to instill the courage and strength she needed to continue for all their sakes.
The fights each Sailor Scout had against the DD girls made it more satisfying to watch, even if watching your favorite scouts die painful deaths becomes difficult to bear. Every scout were badasses in their own right. Even as they’re nearly drawing their last breath, they still have just enough fight in them left to exterminate one of the DD girls. It’s a good strategy. You’re taking me out? I’m going to make sure I take one of you out with me too. Also, kudos to Sailor Mars. She gets the award for most badass Sailor Scout to single-handedly take the last two remaining DD girls down. The girl is practically dead, but Mars finishes off the leader and last of the DD girls who thinks she got Mars good. Moments like the one I’ve just described made the episode a thrill to watch. The edited dubs really lose these incredible scenes when the studio edits them out. The death scenes also makes you understand the significance of their sacrifice and what they hope Usagi will accomplish on her own. The girls believe in Usagi, but she also has to find it in herself to believe she can defeat the dark forces and save earth.
The scenes where a brainwashed Mamoru is under an even stronger dark energy to ensure he doesn’t break out of its hold this time gives the healing scene more meaning. Simply getting Mamoru to remember who he is is no cakewalk. The dubbed episode almost makes it seem like getting the old Mamoru back won’t be so hard. The uncut actually makes the viewer think and fear the worst for Mamoru, as Usagi comes to the same conclusion in that moment––she may actually have to kill Mamoru. How does one begin to do that? Kill the one you love or be killed? Usagi has already lost so much in a matter of minutes. How much more loss and heartache can one person take when you’re faced with the possibility that the person you once knew is now gone and there may be no way of saving him? When Usagi manages to heal Mamoru with the locket that’s infused with memories of their love, it makes the struggle Usagi goes through to try to reach him worth it.
The uncut final two episodes of Season One has given me not only a brand new viewing experience for this longtime Sailor Moon fan, but they have imprinted themselves in my mind as episodes not to be forgotten. The episodes have everything from sadness and loss to love and hope. There’s no better way to close out the first season of Sailor Moon than by sending a message that says, “In darkness, light can always be found.”