Film Festival Week: Sailor Moon R: The Movie

Sailor Moon is one of those franchises that you’re almost certainly familiar with. It has five anime series with a sixth currently airing. I already looked at the first series, which was great if you watched the original and terrible if you watched the heavily censored Eglish dub. It also has a live action series, over a dozen video games, a musical version and a trio of anime films. Today, we’ll be looking at the first of them. Sailor Moon R: The Movie.

Story:

We open with the sailor soldiers going to a greenhouse/ garden to look at flowers. Everything seems to be going well and laughter is in abundance. That’s when a strange guy approaches Mamoru and takes his hand in a very suggestive fashion while telling him that he’s brought a flower like he promised. Usagi notices and tells him that Mamoru is her boyfriend. He responds by pushing her away, shifting appearance to look very similar to Ail and Ann & teleporting away with a flowery effect. But he vows to bring Mamoru lots of flowers. Mamoru mentions the name “Fiore” and goes off on his own. Leaving the soldiers to contemplate what it all means and Usagi to try to deal with her boyfriend’s probable bisexuality. Although she really has no room to judge given that she’s attracted to at least three other women over the course of the anime.

Now, I actually do like that they use their words and try to reason with the antagonist rather than just going into a long fight scene. I also do like that they make Fiore sympathetic, which is pretty common for Sailor Moon villains, instead of evil for the evils. The film also has some good comedic moments, some with Chibi-Usa, although I only begrudgingly admit that I liked some of her scenes. I also like that the film’s story is self-contained, giving you enough information that you can easily understand it even if you haven’t seen the series leading up to it. The film’s major narrative flaw is the ending. A lot of the stuff leading up to it is good, but it moves into an obvious fake out scene with a cheap resolution. Now, it really needed a little time after that scene to wrap things up properly. Instead, the movie just ends abruptly. It feels like they couldn’t think of a good way to wrap things up and just decided not to bother.

Characters:

The sailor soldiers remain fun, entertaining and interesting characters. Some of the best scenes in the film involve the five of them just having fun or explore their bonds with each other. Fiore is also a great character and I did, overall, like what they did with his story arc. The weak links are Chibi-Usa, who gets some funny scenes but is still a pretty annoying character, and Mamoru, who is just as bland and generically good as he’s always been. The difference is that in the series he stayed largely on the sidelines as a secondary character and in this film he’s one of the major focus characters. It does make his dullness more noticeable.

Art:

The art is good. The character designs look as nice as ever. The action sequences flow better than they do in most of the series with some of the stock attack animations being replaced by more active scenes, although there are certainly plenty of the stock animations present. The backgrounds are lively and nicely detailed, certainly moreso than was present in the first series at least.

Sound:

The vocal cast is superb, as it is in the main series. Mitsuishi Kotono, Hisakawa Aya, Tomizawa Michie, Shinohara Emi and Fukami Rica are joined by Touma Yumi as the Kisenian flower and Midorikawa Hikaru as Fiore. Sailor Moon fans may recognise them as the same duo who played Ail and Ann in R. Which is a little confusing given that the film’s story really has nothing to do with the main R storyline in spite of the title. Still, they all give great performances. The music is really good. Sure, some of it is recycled from the series but it was good music then and it’s still just as good.

Ho-yay:

Given that the plot revolves on another man with an obvious crush on Mamoru and that Mamoru does respond to his feelings pretty favorably in spite of Fiore’s feelings being arguably one-sided, I’m going to give it a ho-yay factor of a 5/10.

Final Thoughts:

Sailor Moon R: The Movie does have a lot to recommend it. The characters, aside from a certain two, are really good. The story itself is compelling and features a lot of good moments. The voice acting and music are great. It’s not a great film, however. It suffers from a weak ending. It feels incomplete. One of the focus characters is Generic Male Love Interest #403. If you’re a fan of the Sailor Moon franchise and you haven’t seen it, check it out. You’ll probably like it okay, at the very least. My final rating is going to be a 7/10. Tomorrow, a film from a different famous Toei animation franchise. Yes, this one is probably the first one you thought of. 

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