A Few Rambling Thoughts on Sailor Moon S
Even with the Monsters of the Day, I’m impressed with how well Sailor Moon S’s structure has held up during this rewatch. Pretty much every episode either introduces a new major character, an important fact about a new character, reveals something new about an old character, or deepens an important relationship (*coughChibiusaandHotaru*).
After the Talismans and the Holy Grail are revealed in 110/111 (and even more so after Hotaru is formally introduced in the next episode), the tension builds steadily toward the climax.
If I could change one thing about this season, I would have placed just a little more emphasis on Rei’s visions. It’s so close—this plot point is brought up just enough times for it to have an impact—and Rei does act distant, distracted, and uncharacteristically nice to Usagi in a few episodes due to her visions of the approaching Silence.
But then there are episodes where she slips back into her old characterization, and when Setsuna finally reveals that Rei has been having these visions for months, Rei’s reaction is just sort of “hmm, well.” Meanwhile, everyone else is like, “Wha? Oh, OK.” It would’ve been nice if they’d leaned into that moment a bit more: made it more of a “ah, so that’s why she’s been acting different lately” moment.
Basically, I want the anime to import Manga!Rei for this season is what I’m getting at.
Meanwhile, the budding friendship between Chibiusa and Hotaru is just about perfect (which, to its credit, I’d say the same thing about Crystal as well). Look, this is the season that made me care about Chibiusa. And I’ve already said on this blog that Hotaru is kind of my favorite. These are not unrelated.
Hotaru is so, so relatable for me. She’s a sickly, depressed, somewhat self-loathing young teen who has been isolated from her peers because of her father’s job, her mother’s death, her odd appearance, her shyness, and her violent outbursts (I’m not going to say which one of these things I relate to, but it is more than two of them). We learn in a later season that she’s also preternaturally smart, which doesn’t help with the social isolation.
When Chibiusa first meets Hotaru, and throughout the course of their friendship, Hotaru is resistant to trust herself around Chibiusa, and yet at the same time she’s drawn to this cheery pink-haired girl’s warmth.
And Chibiusa—gosh, I love her so much in this season. Yeah, as a senshi-in-training she’s kind of silly and useless, but I kind of love that about her. She’s like Kitty Pryde in her first appearance: more earnestness than skill, and still trying way too hard to be Very Grown Up.
It’s her friendship with Hotaru, though, that really makes me love her. We know that Chibiusa was lonely in Crystal Tokyo. Her arc in R was about coming to terms with her parents, but it didn’t resolve her feelings of loneliness and isolation from her peers (this is more of a manga thing than in the anime, but enough of it crosses over that I’m gonna run with it). We also know that her mother, Neo Queen Serenity, sent her back to the 20th century in part for Chibiusa to train as a senshi, but more importantly—and this is an explicit instruction from the queen in Chibiusa’s introductory episode—Serenity wants Chibiusa to make friends.
Serenity wants her daughter to make one friend in particular, but we don’t know that just yet.
Anyway, Chibiusa meets Hotaru for the first time, and she immediately understands this pale, awkward girl. Chibiusa sees the same loneliness in Hotaru that she, herself, has felt all her life. Remember the Wicked Lady bit? Yeah, that.
And the more Hotaru tries to push her away, the more she learns about Hotaru’s strange illness, her painful home life, her crippling loneliness, the more Chibiusa reaches out to offer love and support.
And it’s done with such subtlety, too! There’s a scene in one episode (I forget which one) where someone—Hotaru maybe?—makes a casual statement about Hotaru being alone, and the frame pauses for just a moment on Chibiusa looking sad. I completely missed this the first time I watched the series, but on rewatch, I could tell exactly what Chibiusa must’ve been thinking: she was thinking, “Hotaru is my friend. I don’t want her to be alone. I don’t want her to suffer like I did.”
Her friendship with Hotaru becomes so important to Chibiusa that she tells Sailor Pluto—Puu, her one friend in all of Crystal Tokyo—that she (Chibiusa) hates her (Sailor Pluto) for threatening her (Hotaru’s) life.
And considering how lonely Pluto was/is/was guarding the Door of Time, that is harsh.
(Side note: I love how loneliness is a common theme in this show. All of the scouts were lonely before they met Usagi/Chibiusa/each other, as the R movie and the opening arc of Stars makes clear. That series-long theme is the reason why Stars!Anime!Nehellenia and Galaxia are my favorite villains: because they’re such obvious contrasts to Usagi’s light and warmth and effortless ability to make friends.)
But yeah, the Hotaru/Chibiusa friendship is great.
And it’s all more painful and wonderful knowing where all of this is going. I’m still a couple episodes away from the climactic moment, but, oh, we are getting there.