When Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, invited me to join the Wilhelm Scream Blogathon, I had no idea the “Wilhelm Scream” was even a thing. However, I was determined to find the perfect selection for the event! After searching high and low on the internet, it was down to two choices: F9 and Sailor Moon S: The Movie. I ultimately selected the latter because it’s been some time since I last reviewed an animated movie. As a matter of fact, the most recent animated film reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane was 1990’s The Nutcracker Prince back in December of 2021. I was also surprised to discover the “Wilhelm Scream” was featured in Sailor Moon S: The Movie! Even though this is my first time writing about anything Sailor Moon related, I have watched the English dub version of the show years ago. With that said, it has been years since I’ve seen anything Sailor Moon related. To avoid confusion for my readers, I will refer to the characters by their Japanese and Americanized names, if applicable. The version of Sailor Moon S: The Movie I watched is the English dub version. So, “in the name of the moon”, let’s start this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The animation: Despite Sailor Moon being released in the ‘90s and 2000s, the animation quality still holds up! One consistent element was the use of color! Princess Snow Kaguya, the film’s villain, wants to blanket the world in an infinite layer of snow and ice. Even though wintery environments typically don’t feature an expansive color palette, Kaguya was presented in hues of blue, green, and purple. The wardrobe of the Sailor Guardians/Sailor Scouts boasted bright hues; from Makoto’s/Lita’s orange sweatshirt to Usagi’s/Serena’s pale green sweater. This showed the creative team’s incentive to use as much color as possible. In some scenes, sparkles were added to provide a layer of dimension to a specific piece of animation. One example is when Luna is looking out at the ocean, as the sparkles give the illusion of the water moving. Another example involving Luna is when she is crying, with the sparkles emphasizing Luna’s emotions. Though the sparkles don’t make the animation 3-D, they do bring depth, in varying degrees, to the film. The fluidity of the animation’s movements also showcase the impressiveness of the movie! In some scenes, snow falls from the sky. The snowflakes fall in a steady progression, to the point where you forget it was likely added as an extra layer of animation. The fluid movement of these snowflakes brought realism to a given scene as well as the world of Sailor Moon!
Interconnected stories: Sailor Moon S: The Movie contains three plots. But it never felt like these plots were clashing or in competition with one another. Instead, they were interconnected, woven together by a strong thread! Two of the plots, Luna’s growing feelings for Kakeru and Himeko’s space journey were heavily affected by Kaguya’s attempts to cover Earth in snow and ice. While Kaguya’s plans provided the tenser moments of the movie, the other two plots served gentler moments, where the scripts messages of selflessness, dreams, and doing the right thing are instilled on the audience. The Sailor Guardians/Sailor Scouts are the glue that keeps the stories together, as they have some connection to each one. All of these components help the script move in a cycle.
Differing views on astronomy: In the Diagnosis Murder episode, “An Education in Murder”, Dr. Mark Sloan explains to his class how medicine is both an art and a science. This statement, though applying to astronomy this time, is brought to life in Sailor Moon S: The Movie! As I just mentioned, Himeko, a local astronaut, is preparing to make a journey to space. Her approach to astronomy is more scientific, as she chooses to think logically and “by the book”. Her friend, Kakeru, is also an astronomer. But his approach to the subject is more artistic. This is because he uses his knowledge and skills to prove the existence of a moon princess. These characters don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to their respective scientific field. However, they not only care about one another, but they also recognize the importance of space exploration. Himeko and Kakeru’s story shows the audience how everyone can come to any subject differently.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Not feeling cinematic: When I choose to watch a movie, I expect that production to feel cinematic in some capacity. However, that wasn’t really the case for Sailor Moon S: The Movie. Most of the story was episodic, as these plots could have also been featured on the show. As good as the animation was, it looked like it came straight from one of the show’s episodes. The moment that truly felt cinematic was the final battle, with the Sailor Guardians/Sailor Scouts going up against Kaguya. Every member of the Sailor Guardians/Sailor Scouts present and the high energy excitement serve as two reasons for the cinematic feel. Even Usagi’s/Serena’s monologue about protecting life made that scene feel larger in scale. But outside that moment, Sailor Moon S: The Movie feels more like an extended episode.
The limited presence of Haruka/Amara, Michiru/Michelle, and Setsuna/Trista: The Sailor Guardians/Sailor Scouts from the Outer Planets, Haruka/Amara, Michiru/Michelle, and Setsuna/Trista make an appearance in Sailor Moon S: The Movie. But outside of their transformations as Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, and Sailor Pluto, they only appeared in the film twice. Their limited presence was a missed opportunity to learn more about Haruka/Amara, Michiru/Michelle, and Setsuna/Trista. It also prevented these characters from having a stronger connection to the three aforementioned plots. If anything, the presence of Haruka/Amara, Michiru/Michelle, and Setsuna/Trista make it feel like they were there for plot convenience.
Confusion over the moon princess: As I mentioned earlier, Kakeru uses his knowledge and skills to prove the existence of a moon princess. While this part of the movie was easy to understand, I was confused over the true identity of who this princess was. Based on what some of the characters said, it seemed like Kaguya claimed to be the moon princess. Her place of origin happened to be the moon itself. But Luna planned on pretending to be the moon princess, in order to make Kakeru’s dream come true. When everything was said and done, I don’t feel like I received a definitive answer of who the moon princess was meant to be.
My overall impression:
One of my reasons for reviewing Sailor Moon S: The Movie was the inclusion of the “Wilhelm Scream”. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear this scream while watching the film. Then again, I was so engrossed in the story that I must have missed it. As I said in the introduction, it has been years since I’ve seen anything Sailor Moon related. However, it was nice to revisit the series, even for an hour! The animation still holds up, maintaining its color, depth, and fluidity over twenty years later. Like the show, Sailor Moon S: The Movie features important messages and themes. But it also contained differing views on astronomy, a topic that wouldn’t typically be found in the Sailor Moon series. Despite all these strengths, I wish the movie felt like a movie, instead of an extended tv episode. I also wish Haruka/Amara, Michiru/Michelle, and Setsuna/Trista had more appearances in the story. If you are a fan of Sailor Moon, ‘90s entertainment, or animation in general, then this is worth an hour of your time!
Overall score: 7.5 out of 10
Have you watched Sailor Moon? Do you prefer the Japanese version or the English dubbed version? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!