One of my favourite anime shows of all time is the 90s classic Sailor Moon. The original anime based of the hugely successful manga by Naoko Takeuchi ran from 1992-1995 for five seasons following teenager Usagi Tsukino who is an underachieving schoolgirl by day and a crime-fighting hero by night. Along with the other Sailor Senshi who are introduced as the series goes on. The five seasons are known as Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor SuperS and Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars (also known as Sailor Stars), respectively. One of my favourite shows for a long time, Sailor Moon is one of the most popular animes in the world and for good reason. It’s relatable look into the life of teenage girls as they deal with relationships and friendships while also having to pass school exams and think on their futures.
There are times when the show hasn’t dated well (insert the weight-shaming episode here) but overall, the show was pretty progressive considering it was made in the 90s with children being the target demographic. I say this because there are a slew of LGBT relationships throughout the show’s run from first season villains Zoisite and Kunzite to the third season’s addition of Sailor Uranus and Neptune who are in a relationship. Also, the depictions of death and loss grow more violent as the show goes on to reflect the greater threats as well as acknowledging that the audience has grown up alongside the show and its characters.
With its wide array of characters with distinct personalities, there aren’t a lot of shows like Sailor Moon around and it’s that resonance that has made it a pioneer of the Magical Girl genre within anime. With a staggering run of 200 episode, I have decided to rank my top 5 favourite in order which was insane given how many there was to choose from.
Here are my top 5 episodes:
5) “The Dark Queen: Birth of the Black Lady”, Sailor Moon R
The first episode to kick off this ranking is one from the show’s second season. Chibiusa has been manipulated by Wiseman into believing that no one loves her, conjuring up memories from Crystal Tokyo. Using her sadness and anger, Wiseman transforms Chibiusa into Black Lady. Given how the relationship between Usagi and Chibiusa is extremely turbulent during this season, it’s hard to watch as the former is unable to heal Black Lady. The foundations of their growing relationship seemed to have been wholly crumbled by Wiseman’s tricks and now Black Lady is another obstacle in the Sailor Senshi’s way to saving the world. All through Sailor Moon R, Chibiusa is seen as extremely stubborn but she is also a child and this is what makes her emotions easily swayed when she is constantly brainwashed into thinking she isn’t loved. Black Lady seems to be that culmination of negativity brewing inside Chibiusa that she feels against herself.
4) “Shadow of Destruction: The Messiah of Silence Awakens”, Sailor Moon S
The first of two Sailor Moon S episodes to make this ranking, this episode takes place later in the season and sees the second arc come to a brilliant climax. We see the innocent Hotaru succumb to the darkness that has ruled over her through the season and the revelation that she is the feared Sailor Senshi and the last to be revealed, Sailor Saturn. Having captured Chibiusa, the Mistress of Darkness has ruled over Hotaru and takes Chibiusa’s heart crystal and consumes it. Hoping that the light inside Hotaru will win and she will transform to Saturn is diminished and we see her change into the evil Mistress 9 instead. What puts this episode on my list is the heartbreaking betrayal that the darkness has made Hotaru carry out on Chibiusa. Their blossoming friendship is one of the highlights of this season and seeing the frail Hotaru succumbing to darkness is a sad turn of events. The strength of the evil seems to be hugely advanced as well and appears that it will overwhelm the Sailor Senshi. Hotaru has now become a figure to be feared rather than sidelined.
3) “Usagi’s Love: The Moonlight Illuminates the Galaxy”, Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
It would be insane not to put the final episode of the whole show on here. Rounding of a fantastic 200 episodes in its 5 season run, the whole saga concludes with Eternal Sailor Moon defeating Chaos Galaxia. This episode sees Sailor Galaxia falls under the evil entity Chaos’ control thus becoming Chaos Galaxia and everyone except Sailor Moon is lost. Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity and manages to defeat Galaxia by refusing to fight and holding onto her hand until she has rid herself of Chaos. Despite no violence, it’s still intense and action filled as Galaxia struggles to fight the darkness within. The series is rounded off nicely afterwards as Usagi is reunited with Mamoru and recounts the voice-over thay we were so used to from the first season when she introduces herself as the original theme song plays. Despite the Sailor Stars anime differing hugely from the manga, I think the ending ties everything up perfectly combining the more mature Usagi that has developed through the seasons with the more nostalgic and innocent Usagi we were first introduced to in episode 1.
2) “Death of the Sailor Guardians: The Tragic Final Battle”, Sailor Moon
The penultimate episode of the first season definitely comes as a shock to those who watch the show from the beginning. The Inner Senshi venture to the North Pole where Queen Beryl resides with her minions in a bid to end her plans once and for all. What happens next is a sequence that threatens to shatter the foundations of Sailor Moon’s strength that she has been building since the very first episode. One by one, the Sailor Senshi are taken out by minions until Sailor Moon is the last one left. It’s not so much that is alone that is sad, it’s the explicitly and way that the other four are killed. As the others are more mature than Sailor Moon, they understand and acknowledge the sacrifice that they must make to save the world and particularly when Rei is killed in a huge blaze, we see vacancy in Sailor Moon’s eyes. The hopelessness she feels as she staggers on threatens to undo all of the hard work that she has achieved making it one of the most intense sequences in the entire anime’s run.
1) “The Death of Uranus and Neptune: The Talisman Appears”, Sailor Moon S
By far my favourite Sailor Moon episode from my favourite season, the structure and execution of this midpoint episode is so unique and brilliant. Following the Witches 5’s failing search for the talismans, the story climaxes with the revelation of two of the three mysterious items. In a shocking twist, the two talismans are found in the hearts of none other than Sailor Uranus and Neptune and this episode is as heartbreaking as it gets. We see the Sailor Scouts in their most iconic scene in the anime as they hold hands and reflect on their mission and its importance. What follows is them agreeing to meet Death Buster, Eudial, who lures them to a cathedral where the showdown begins. The scene in which Neptune escapes a trap and tries to save Uranus who has a gun pointed to her heart is fantastically drawn. What is unique about this episode compared to other episodes is that the main focus is on Uranus and Neptune but also the structure differs. Rather than delving straight into the action, the first half is more of a character study into how Uranus and Neptune are outside of the Senshi. It’s a rare insight into their relationship that is slower paced and then the second half deals with that fast paced action sequence in the cathedral.
So that’s my episode ranking! As you can see, none of my favourite episodes are from Sailor Moon SuperS. It is my least favourite season due to its focus on Chibiusa and the absence of the Outer Senshi but there are a few good episodes in there, particularly “Mirrors on Dreams: The Amazon’s Last Stage”. I think the show thrives when it explores those moments of hopelessness and showing the characters pushing themselves past their limits. Overall, Sailor Moon S is my favourite season because it pushes the envelope with the introduction of Sailor Neptune and Uranus as well as seeing Usagi mature.
What do you think of my choices? Which Sailor Moon episode is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!