tek's rating:

Sailor Moon R (season two; 43 episodes)
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Caution: Spoilers!

First I want to say that this season has my favorite eyecatch of the series; I find the way "R" is said in the first eyecatch to be super kawaii. (Oh yeah, unlike some seasons, the eyecatch at the start of commercial breaks is different from the one at the end of the break.)

Anyway, to get you up to speed on the revelations I didn't want to spoil in my review of season 1, it turns out that a long time ago on the Moon there was a kingdom (apparently called Silver Millennium). There was a queen there named Serenity, and her daughter was also named Serenity. And there was a prince from Earth named Endymion, who was in love with Princess Serenity. But then Queen Beryl attacked, planning to take over both Earth and the Moon. Queen Serenity managed to defeat her and seal her away, but not before the Moon Kingdom was destroyed. So, I guess she sent her daughter, and Endymion, and several guardians, into the future (our present), to be reborn on Earth as normal people with normal, happy lives. And of course, Usagi is the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, the Moon Princess she and her friends were supposed to be searching for. (In the English dub, since Usagi was called Serena, that seems like it would have been a dead giveaway. But even without that glaring hint, in the Japanese version, it's strange that Luna and Artemis didn't know Usagi was the princess... unless that was explained with some kind of handwave that I forgot about.) And Mamoru is the reincarnation of Endymion, and Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako, are the reincarnations of the guardians. They all had to have their latent powers awakened when Beryl and the Four Kings were themselves reawakened, to once again defeat the Dark Kingdom. After they did so, everyone had their memories erased, so they could go back to living peaceful, normal lives.

Makaiju (Hell Tree) arc
And that brings us to season two. A pair of aliens, a guy named Ail and a girl named An, arrive on Earth after traveling the galaxy, looking for someplace to settle. But they need to drain life energy to survive, and while they could drain the energy of plants or animals, they choose humans. Anyway, I guess they're lovers, but they disguise themselves as humans, and begin attending Usagi's middle school as brother and sister. (I feel compelled to say that I find An prettier as an alien than as a human, not that it matters.) Pretending to be siblings seems like an unnecessary complication, to me, but whatevs. Ail takes the name Seijuro Ginga, and An becomes Natsumi Ginga. All the girls at school instantly start crushing on Seijuro (and he crushes on Usagi), which makes An jealous... but then she herself starts crushing on Mamoru, so she and Usagi will fight over him, though he isn't interested in either of them. Anyway, Ail and An have monsters called Cardians (because they are stored in cards until summoned to drain energy for their masters, which is the kind of thing that happens in so many animes). Luna and Artemis try to battle the first Cardian by themselves, not wanting to disrupt the happy lives of Usagi and the others. But they fail, so by the end of the first episode, Luna restores Usagi's memory, so she can become Sailor Moon again. Which of course makes Usagi sad, and she bids her normal life bye-bye, but she does seem (a little) more willing to accept her fate than she was in the first season. And by the end of the second episode, Luna restores the other four girls' memories, to help Sailor Moon. (But Usagi still wishes Mamoru could remember their past together.) In the third episode, a mysterious guy called the Moonlight Knight appears, and acts pretty much like Tuxedo Mask did in season one, so Usagi thinks he must be Mamoru. However, she discovers in episode 5 that he's not (even though she still has no idea who he might be). In episode 4, Sailor Moon's tiara stops working, and in episode 5, her brooch gets broken, so she can't transform. However, Queen Serenity fuses the Silver Crystal with the brooch, which allows Usagi to transform into a more powerful version of Sailor Moon, I guess. She also gives her the Cutie Moon Rod, which lets her use a new attack called Moon Princess Halation. (Throughout the season, the other Guardians will also get new attacks.) In episode 13, Usagi learns the Moonlight Knight's identity, which I won't reveal. But also in that ep, Mamoru regains his memory, which means the Moonlight Knight is no longer needed. We won't see him again, because from now on, Tuxedo Mask will be back. Also in this ep, there is a peaceful conclusion to the Ail and An story arc.

Black Moon arc
In episode 14, a pink-haired girl who looks to be about five years old shows up. Her name is Usagi, so the main Usagi starts calling her Chibi-Usa (Rini, in the dub). She has a rubber ball (called Luna-P) that looks like Luna's head, which can transform into different things that allow her do various things, like hypnotizing Usagi's family into believing she is Usagi's cousin, and Usagi can't convince them otherwise. So Chibi-Usa starts living with the Tsukino family. Chibi-Usa also uses Luna-P to communicate with someone called Puu. And she's searching for the Silver Crystal, for some reason. Also, there is a group of aliens called the Black Moon Clan, who are from the future. They are also looking for the Silver Crystal, as well as someone they call "Rabbit" (Chibi-Usa). They want to destroy Crystal Tokyo, which is the future version of Silver Millennium. And one of the ways they try to do that is by infusing different areas of present-day Tokyo called "Crystal Points" with dark energy, which would prevent them from becoming... important parts of Crystal Tokyo, in the future. (Kind of neat use of time travel, that.) Anyway, one of the aliens is named Rubeus. There are four women known as the Spectre Sisters (Koan, Berthier, Calaveras, and Petz) who work for Rubeus. He sends them on missions, and they have servants called droids (actually they're androids that turn into monsters, which serve the same purpose as the monsters from season 1 and the Cardians from the first part of this season). Meanwhile, at the start of this story arc, Usagi and Mamoru are dating (and he now calls her "Usako" instead of "Odango"), but before long he breaks up with her, without really explaining why. But it has to do with some disturbing visions he's been having. In spite of the split with Usagi, he continues to help fight the new enemies, as Tuxedo Mask.

Starting at episode 24, one by one the Spectre Sisters come to realize they're being used as pawns by Rubeus, and Sailor Moon turns them into normal humans, who become friends with the Guardians. In episode 26, Chibi-Usa learns that Usagi and her friends are actually the Sailor Guardians. In episode 27, we meet Esmeraude, another member of the Black Moon Clan who is waiting for Rubeus to fail in his mission, so she can take over. Over the next couple of episodes, Rubeus comes close to victory, but is ultimately defeated. Then in ep 29, Usagi and the others meet Sailor Pluto, or at least communicate with her through Luna-P; Pluto is the one Chibi-Usa calls "Puu." In ep 30, Esmeraude begins her attempts to do what Rubeus failed at. She hopes to impress Prince Demande, the ruler of the Black Moon Clan, with whom she is in love. But we eventually learn that Demande is in love (or more accurately, in lust) with Neo-Queen Serenity. It should come as no surprise to viewers that Neo-Queen Serenity is Usagi's future self, and she's married to King Endymion (the future Mamoru), and together they rule Crystal Tokyo. It seemed like the show was trying to hide these facts, in spite of their being glaringly obvious, but I suppose that could have been to hide a (possibly) less obvious fact which is finally revealed in episode 37. (However, this is something I remembered, this time around, because of having seen seasons 3 and 4, years ago. I don't recall whether I'd suspected it when I first watched this season... in fact, I don't recall for certain if I even saw season 2 until I watched it on Hulu in 2015.) Anyway, I'll spoil this now, but I do think it was pretty predictable: Chibi-Usa is the daughter of Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion. Which is pretty weird for Usagi and Mamoru. But of course it made them feel closer to Chibi-Usa and to each other. (Incidentally, they had gotten back together a bit earlier, when Mamoru finally revealed why he'd been avoiding Usagi.)

Anyway, in episode 36, Sailor Moon and the Guardians and Tuxedo Mask and Chibi-Usa all travel to the future, where Chibi-Usa is called "Small Lady." They meet Sailor Pluto in person, who is the Guardian of the Gates of Time. They also meet King Endymion, who explains a bunch of things about why the Black Moon Clan are doing what they're doing. Also we learn that Neo-Queen Serenity is in some kind of coma-like state. And Prince Demande tries to hypnotize Usagi into loving him (because she obviously looks like her future self), which is pretty disturbing on a couple of levels. And there's this mysterious wizard named Wiseman, who had previously advised Rubeus and now advises Demande, but Esmeraude doesn't trust him. Nor does Demande's younger brother, Saphir. And Wiseman transforms Chibi-Usa into an adult version of herself, called Black Lady, whom he tricks into becoming evil and fighting the Guardians. After a few episodes in the future, they all return to the present, where the battles continue. And Saphir discovers that Wiseman has plans of his own, and has just been using the Black Moon Clan all along. He tries to warn his brother, but Wiseman kills him before he can do so. Anyway, eventually Demande learns the truth, and sacrifices himself to help the Guardians. And Black Lady turns back into Chibi-Usa. And Neo-Queen Serenity wakes up, and they defeat Wiseman, and Chibi-Usa returns to the future. (I'm probably confused about a number of details, but you get the gist.) Then in episode 43, there's a recap of the first two seasons and a preview of the third.

There was also a movie, Sailor Moon R: The Movie, which I'm not sure if I saw when it aired on Toonami in 2001, but I did see it on DVD in 2018.

Continued in Sailor Moon S

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