Sailor Moon Eternal 2021 Movie Review
Director: Chiaki Kon
Writers: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu (script), Naoko Takeuchi (creator)
Stars: Kotono Mitsuishi, Stephanie Sheh, Kate Higgins
There was a time when someone would mention the “Sailor Moon Eternal” movie and my eyes would roll. Not because the idea of putting what had been season four of the original anime in a two part film was silly. But because it seemed that the film was taking forever to be finished.
The film was to act as part four of the “Sailor Moon Crystal” remake of the show. Season three had wrapped up in 2016, and we were just left waiting. Originally the film(s) had a release date of sometime in 2020, but it was pushed back to 2021 because the pandemic had affected production. But after watching this movie, I can say in all honesty that it was one hundred percent worth the wait.
There are three different ways that people are going into watching this. (Four if you count people who have no connection to the story at all.) The first is your die-hard fan who grew up with the original anime and reading the manga however they could. The second is your traditional manga fan who may have read the story and not had time to watch all 200 episodes of the original show. And the third is the newer generation fan who started watching with “Sailor Moon Crystal” back in 2014. Each type of fan is going to be happy with the way this film turned out. And it has something for everyone.
The Technical Stuff
The films are presented to you in two episodes. The movies were released in part one and part two but play out as one story. Within each film, especially the first you will notice what I consider to be episodic breaks. Natural stopping points that you would have seen the credits roll had this been a traditional season. The movies play out at about three hours if you watch them together. Let me tell you though it will not feel like three hours and you won’t miss the time you spent watching the film.
The films start out during a solar eclipse where season three of “Sailor Moon Crystal” leaves off. Everyone is getting ready for Chibi-Usa to go back to the future and are saying their goodbyes. But because we know that season four of the original anime has Chibi-Usa as a center for the plot we know that’s not going to happen as planned. It’s probably best to share what the synopsis is first before going into why I loved the film. And why I think you’ll love it too.
Starting with part one of the film you will see that the whole thing follows the manga very closely. The story of the Dead Moon Circus and how they are after the golden crystal moves quickly throughout the first half of the film. Something we never got to see in the original anime was when each senshi was confronted with their deepest desires and that’s something you’ll get to see happen here. They each get a backstory and you get to learn more about their past which is really a nice touch since the previous seasons of Crystal didn’t touch on them as much. When the senshi were introduced in the anime they had their introductions but here is where we see their backstories. This part of the film is where the waiting really pays off in that respect.
Part two we get to see the outer senshi who went on hiatus at the end of season three of crystal. We see Hotaru and the rest finally join the fight against the Dead Moon Circus and become reacquainted with the active team. There is so much happening that you won’t want to look away. If you loved reading the manga for the imagery then you will probably be glued to the screen. Every single picture that you loved looking at and reading is somehow incorporated into the film. It’s almost as if they used each panel and created the story board from that. Which in all likely hood they did but also it’s really wonderful to see. These movies were made for us.
Representation and the Chibi-Usa Problem Solved
It’s nice that I can write that the characters that are LGBTQ in the series were appropriately represented onscreen. Haruka is called “Haruka Daddy” by Hotaru just like in the manga. And the relationship between Haruka and Michiru isn’t tip toed around.
The Chibi-Usa problem that I reference is the utter disdain for the character by people who watched the original anime. There is a hatred for her that is unmatched because of her annoying tendencies and her selfishness. I never had those qualms but I have talked to many who spoke with fervor about their dislike for the character.
In these films since it’s not just about her but the entire team it solves the issue that she had in the original anime. With so much screen time and writers trying to make filler they made her character brattier than she was ever intended to be. She’s a child who just wants to grow up and be like those she admires so much. And she’s a good kid in the manga who may antagonize Usagi but never has any real malicious desire to cause her trouble.
Here we get to see her in a new light and watch her inner struggles just like we watch the other senshi overcome theirs. We get to see how this group of friends includes her and how she’s a valid and important part of the team. We get to see a bit of what her future holds as well through these films and that’s one of the most exciting parts.