So this is interesting: the Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc, a fan manga (doujinshi) made by digitally altering Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga images. The fan artist is OhtoriArt (formerly Vivian exMoon), who is also an avid cosplayer.
(I suggest not reading it unless you’ve read/seen all the Sailor Moon stories to avoid spoilers. Also, read it right-to-left.)
I think even the goal of this doujinshi is impressive – first, you have to have a story idea, plot it out, write it, and storyboard it. Then, among the many volumes of Sailor Moon, you have to search for the closest original image that you can work with. Then you have to alter it the way you want and match the alterations’ visual quality to the source material.
Here are some more examples of just how extensive the modifications can be. I have a little retouching experience – it’s hard! It takes a lot of Photoshop layers, that’s for sure.
If you’re in the San Francisco area, go to the gallalery to see this in-person Sailor Moon art exhibit, Moon Prism Power! The show is December 9 through January 29th and features the work of 33 artists.
When we last left our heroines and heroes, Sailor Moon was about to open up a can of whoop-ass on the giant Death Phantom mummy head. When she attacks, the group is transported to the surface, except Sailor Moon. And then Tuxedo Kamen just pop! disappears!
The crystal surrounding the Palace glows and Neo Queen Serenity finally wakes up! She goes to King Endymion’s body, kisses him, and he wakes up too.
When they go outside, the queen says that Chibi-Usa’s transformation into a Sailor Scout woke her up. The two have a tearful reunion in which Chibi-Usa apologizes for all the hell she’s wrought, and the queen reassures her that she loves her. There are lots of tears.
She tells the group that she “lost nearly all [my] ability to fight as a guardian” when she became queen – say what? That sucks.
On the subject of the missing Sailor Moon, she says that the Nemesis planet that was going to collide with Earth was an illusion. Sailor Moon got sucked out to where Nemesis actually is – the far reaches of the solar system. Because of his bond with her, Tuxedo Kamen just (pop!) got sucked out there too. Is getting randomly transported to a burning hell planet because you love a girl romantic? I don’t think so.
Anyway, Sailor Chibi-Usa (Sailor Chibi-Moon, actually, although no one says it in this episode) is the only person who can find her parents-from-the-past, so the queen gives her a Space-Time key and a stubby version of the Moon Rod and sends her on her merry way.
Far away from Earth, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen float in space, protected by a yellow energy bubble. (Again, best and cheapest form of space travel.) The Nemesis planet/Death Phantom plans on enveloping the entire solar system with his evilness.
Tuxedo Kamen gives Sailor Moon a pep talk, and she happily tells him that she can only use her power in the presence of his power. If this was a podcast, I’d play the record-scratch sound effect, because that’s plain ridiculous. Maybe she means she can only reach her most powerful state (Super Sailor Saiya-jin, if you will) when he’s around – I’d buy that, I guess. Anyway, they are totes meant to be together you guys.
Chibi-Usa appears right after this romantic-ish moment, and she gets to do some trash-talking to Nemesis, aw yeah!
Nemesis can’t handle the power of two Moon Princess Halations.
But, like in the last story arc, their brooches break from expending so much power. I think this is a good symbol of rebirth and moving on, though – something has to end or be destroyed for a new thing to happen/be created. Last time, Queen Serenity (from the past) gave Sailor Moon a new brooch, and this time, her own future self gives her a new brooch, recalling the theme I noticed in episode 22, that Sailor Moon is empowered by both her past and future lives.
On (future) Earth, Neo Queen Serenity’s Moon Rod reappears and she heals Crystal Tokyo. I love the design of the city – it has interesting futuristic architecture and lots of pretty green spaces, like the future should.
She also gives the Scouts new powers. When they ask her about Sailor Moon, she says that “Meeting my past self is not part of history.” So, from Earth, she grants Sailor Moon a new brooch. Interestingly, she calls Sailor Moon the “Guardian of Mystery”, which gave me the shivers, man. “Mystery” can have pretty deep spiritual meanings (like the Eleusinian Mysteries, for example), and with all the time travel, transformations, and waking up that took place in this story arc, I think “mystery” does take on a deeper level of meaning than usual.
Meanwhile, Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen, and Sailor Mini Moon are at the Time-Space Door, and Sailor Moon is sad that she can’t be in the same place as the queen, since being in close proximity to one’s future self messes things up (as we saw in episode 20). The rest of the group is there too, as they are all prepared to go back to the present day.
But Sailor Moon hesitates, because she really wants to see her future self, and Neo Queen Serenity hesitates too because she wants to see her past self! So they do meet, and thank each other for doing all the stuff they did. (I would say Sailor Moon did most of the heavy lifting on this one, haha.) The future Scouts, King Endymion, and the cats join them, and Sailor Moon thinks, “Someday I’ll meet this future.” It’s a nice moment.
At home in the present, Usagi and Chibi-Usa are sad because Chibi-Usa can’t stay in the present time anymore. She, Mamoru, and Usagi go to their special fountain and Chibi-Usa gives Usagi a new Heart Moon Rod “from Mom” – which also looks like a plastic toy, but hey, that’s what they look like.
She leaves, but comes right back! – interrupting a kiss between Usagi and Mamoru much like the very beginning of this story arc. She presents a letter from Neo Queen Serenity thanking Usagi and Mamoru for “training” Chibi Usa in the arts of Sailor Scouting. So she’s back to stay.
The episode ends with “À bientôt!” which means “See you soon” – so I’m sure there will be another story arc of Sailor Moon Crystal. And it will be the best one! (The Super arc is my favorite, obviously.)
Overall, this has been a stellar series. With a few caveats – Tuxedo Kamen kissing Sailor Moon while she’s unconscious, the ridiculous trash-talking poses – I’ve enjoyed every episode. Visually, the series is a vast improvement over the 1990s anime and employed space imagery to stunning effect. Writing-wise, I was happy to see themes of female friendship, female empowerment, coming to terms with one’s identity, destruction and rebirth, drawing strength from love and emotions, and the fact that these girls get stuff done as girls.
If/when Sailor Moon S – or whatever they choose to call it – comes out, I will be there!
This episode is super emotional. Get yourself some tissues before you watch.
Last time, Sailor Pluto had broken the taboo of leaving the Space-Time door to help the Scouts. She shows up just in time to see Prince Diamond with the past and present Silver Crystals. He’s about to touch them together, which will destroy everything.
Pluto remembers Queen Serenity telling her the third taboo, which is that she shouldn’t ever stop time.
And then she stops time!!
Everything freezes except King Endymion, since he’s outside of his body. Then sparkles come out of Pluto’s Garnet Rod that wash over the Scouts, cats, Tuxedo Kamen, and Black Lady, allowing them to move. Tuxedo Kamen regains his own mind – perhaps with time stopped, it was easier for the Moon Rod to heal him.
Pluto flashbacks to when Queen Serenity told her that stopping time would mean she would probably die. She collapses and Usagi rushes over. Pluto tells her to get the two Crystals from Diamond quickly, because the frozen time effect won’t last long. Usagi does so and the rest of the good guys and girls join the fallen Scout. Jupiter puts Pluto’s head in her lap as she tells Usagi she always wanted to be useful and wanted to fight with them. She begs her to save Small Lady (Chibi-Usa).
She summons Diana from the Time-Space door and thanks her for guarding it. Pluto then apologizes to King Endymion for not protecting Small Lady. She looks beyond the Scouts to where Black Lady is, and dies.
Black Lady, confused at the feelings rising in her, at first tries to re-assert her evilness by saying “I am Black Lady. I have no friends or allies.” But she remembers being friends with Pluto, especially a scene in which she told Pluto that she’d gotten in trouble for visiting her. Pluto, who we know would be really sad to lose her only friend, accepts that she probably won’t see Chibi-Usa any more and says, “Just thinking of someone and quietly watching over them from afar is also a form of love.”
Black Lady breaks down crying, and her Black Crystal earrings shatter. One of her tears turns into a Silver Crystal, and she transforms into a Sailor Scout!
Everyone is shocked that this little girl, who had previously demonstrated no powers at all, broke from Nemesis’s evil control and turned into a Scout! She runs over to the group, apparently unaware that Pluto had just died. “Look, I transformed!” she tells Pluto, and then realizes what happened.
Usagi gets supremely mad that Pluto is dead and Chibi-Usa has lost her friend. She takes her Crystal, transforms, and attacks the Nemesis planet with a Moon Princess Halation. When Tuxedo Mask stands with her, their combined power heals the cracks in the Moon Rod. The other Scouts unleash their attacks at Nemesis too, while Chibi-Usa looks on in awe. Prince Diamond also watches them contemplatively.
The light from their combined attacks is blinding, and suddenly Nemesis disappears from the sky. But that was way too easy, don’t you think?
After a moment of silence, Nemesis reappears and attacks. But Prince Diamond protects them with his Evil Eye! He tells Nemesis that he’s the “only one” who gets to kill Neo Queen Serenity and get the Crystal.
Nemesis dissolves him for this betrayal, and the last of the Black Moon Clan is dead.
Nemesis warps the space around the Scouts and they start to fall into darkness, discovering a huge evil mummy head! It’s Death Phantom, the original criminal that Neo Queen Serenity had banished to Nemesis so long ago.
Over some cool rock music, an undaunted Sailor Moon swears to Death Phantom that he won’t have Earth!
Awesome, heartbreaking episode! I am super excited for the finale!
I’m looking forward to
more badass fighting!
Are there three Legendary Silver Crystals now??
Neo Queen Serenity has to wake up for the finale!
Congratulations to Sailor Moon’s voice actress, Mitsuishi Kotono, and Fukuen Misato, Chibi-Usa/Black Lady’s voice, for their performances this episode – they were really good!
You know how Pluto’s Garnet Rod is heart-shaped? Guess what – the planet itself has a heart on it!
We last left our reunited heras and heroes as they confronted Black Lady. She calls upon Sapphir and Prince Diamond to immobilize the Scouts, leaving Sailor Moon free. Black Lady presents her zombie-fied dad-boyfriend Tuxedo Mask to Sailor Moon and he very slowly attacks her with her own Moon Rod… because she is in such shock. (Seeing your evil adult daughter from the future kiss her young father from her past – your present boyfriend – is enough to shock anyone.)
Recovering from the blow, Sailor Moon apologizes to Black Lady. She admits her jealousy about Mamoru and Chibi-Usa was hurtful, and she sees that part of herself in Black Lady (to a ridiculous extreme, of course). Prince Diamond remarks that you can take love by force, to which Sailor Moon responds that people, and love, are not things.
You can see parallels between Black Lady and Prince Diamond here, in that they both think they love someone (Tuxedo Kamen/her dad and Neo Queen Serenity), but they really just want to possess those people, and they will go to great (evil) lengths to ‘acquire’ them.
Wiseman directs Black Lady to conjure a third Black Crystal megalith, which she does – and it is huge!
Diamond protests because a third attack on Earth will likely destroy it and everyone on it. Black Lady sends the megalith smashing into the Earth – in what would be a super badass move if it didn’t mean environmental destruction.
Angry, Diamond reveals that his Evil Eye power (which, ironically, Wiseman gave him) shielded him from Wiseman’s brainwashing in the previous episode. When brainwashed Sapphir attacks him, he uses the Evil Eye to kill him. Even though Sapphir had tried to stab Sailor Moon in episode 22, it’s a little sad that Diamond had to kill him.
Turning his Evil Eye on Wiseman, he ‘kills’ him too… only that hooded, clawed figure wasn’t actually Wiseman. The real Wiseman is Nemesis, the planet itself. When Wiseman/Phantom was banished to the planet by Neo Queen Serenity, his will merged with the evil planet.
Aaaaand Nemesis is about to collide with Earth!
Back at the Space-Time Door, Pluto notices that the storm has quieted, and she considers leaving the Door to help the Scouts. She remembers when she was little and Queen Serenity (Queen Serenity, Sailor Moon’s past-life mom), told her that there were three things she should never do: travel through time, leave the Door (and have, like, friends or a life or anything), and… the flashback ends there, with that tantalizing third thing left unspoken!
Sailor Moon, her energy in harmony with the Crystal surrounding the Palace, protects it from Nemesis’s onslaught with her sheer determination to save Earth. Diana runs to Sailor Pluto and tells her to leave the Space-Time Door to fight the bad guys – even though she’s a tiny kitten, she’ll guard the Door until Pluto comes back! Is that not super-cute? Moon kitties are the best.
Sailor Moon, unable to hold out against an entire fiery planet of evil, surrenders to Black Lady, begging her to turn back into Chibi-Usa. Tuxedo Kamen takes her brooch, which Blacky Lady yanks out of his hand to gloat about having both the past and future Silver Crystals… only to have Prince Diamond to snatch them out of her hands! I’m not prone to slang, but – LOL!
Pluto shows up just in time to see a wide-eyed, paranoid Diamond holding both Crystals. She knows that, if they touch, everything is going to be destroyed – and he’s about to smush them together!
Sailor Moon, Sailor Pluto, and the other Scouts stand on the edge of the Space-Time storm. Sailor Moon wants to go into it to find Tuxedo Kamen. Pluto warns that it’s too dangerous, but seeing the determined expressions of all the Scouts, she gives in.
Just then, Luna P, Chibi-Usa’s cat head toy, falls from above. She’s damaged and her eyes are all swirly. Then Sailor Moon faints, so they end up not going into the storm.
Elsewhere, Prince Diamond and Sapphir wake up in a cavern, and who’s there?
(She doesn’t introduce herself as Black Lady until the end of the episode, but I can’t keep calling her Evil Chibi-Usa the whole time – too much typing!)
She took Diamond and Sapphir to the Chamber of Darkness to save them from the fires sweeping the surface of Nemesis – its planetary reactor was disrupted by Sailor Moon’s energy in episode 22.
Now she takes them to a “contorted space” created by Wiseman – a sort of in-between space where Wiseman has a “castle” – it’s just a hunk of rock floating around.
Diamond, recognizing Black Lady as Chibi Usa, is immediately suspicious of both her and the fact that Wiseman has this secret castle.
She gleefully tells him that Wiseman killed Rubeus when he tried to run away from the planetary reactor. Angered at the murder of his ally, Diamond demands Wiseman explain himself. Wiseman zaps Diamond and Sapphir, bending them to his will. He’s going to give them more power now that they’re semi-brainwashed.
Wiseman reveals that he has the (future) Legendary Silver Crystal, but he can’t use it. Black Lady says that only Neo Queen Serenity can use it, and she has a plan to lure her out – she’ll launch another huge black crystal at Earth. She’ll also kidnap Sailor Moon and the (present) Silver Crystal, which was the crystal that disrupted the planetary reactor.
Sapphir, upset, points out that another Black Crystal attack on Earth will surely destroy the planet, but Black Lady just ain’t give a damn – she’s gonna wreak vengeance on her mom and play with her new boy-toy… brainwashed Tuxedo Mask.
Let’s just sit with this for a moment. This is Chibi Usa kissing her sixteen-year-old father. This is not right. It’s also not really necessary. We already knew that Chibi Usa had jealousy problems (which she obviously gets from her mother) – this was demonstrated in episode 21 when she was upset that shut-in Sailor Pluto was talking with King Endymion. So to have her pawing a brainwashed Tuxedo Kamen just seems superfluous.
I guess having Tuxedo Kamen in Black Lady’s clutches ups the ante for Sailor Moon, but she needs to get Chibi-Usa back from Wiseman’s clutches, and also there’s the whole saving the world thing. Saving the world in the present and the future!
Back to the plot – Usagi wakes up at home, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Although she’s glad the Scouts are together again, she misses Chibi-Usa and Mamoru and swears get them back.
In the future, King Endymion visits sleeping Neo Queen Serenity and asks her why she won’t wake up. Diana comes in and tells him that the queen is healing herself inside the Crystal, biding her time, and will emerge when she is needed most.
In the present, Usagi says goodbye to her friends at sunset. A Time Key drops out of no where and suddenly the whole world shifts – Usagi and the girls feel a deep shock.
Using the Time Key, they go to the future and discover something terrible. Black Lady indeed launched a second Black Crystal at future Earth.
She goes into the Crystal Palace and says “hi” to her sleeping mother. King Endymion comes in and is understandably disturbed to see his daughter as an adult and, you know, evil.
Sailor Moon runs in and Black Lady grabs her brooch! But in a flash, she disappears from the Palace – the queen transported her outside, and she can’t get back in. (It was awesome.)
Once everyone runs outside, Black Lady introduces herself as Queen of Darkness and Queen of Nemesis. Yikes.
I’m looking forward to
Sailor Pluto has to do some fighting sometime soon, right?
I noticed the directing in this episode more so than usual, especially how Black Lady is presented visually. Her hair is usually always moving (must be a power that Wiseman gave her, hee hee), and she looks dramatic all the time.
At the end of episode 21, Chibi Usa had taken Wiseman’s hand because she has a pathological need for people to be friends with only her. We then hear a heartbeat sound from Neo Queen Serenity, encased in crystal – she must know on some level that something very bad has happened to her daughter.
Chibi Usa’s decision also causes a storm to brew in Space-Time, knocking Pluto out as she guards the Space-Time Door. Tuxedo Kamen finds her there, and when she wakes up, Pluto tells him that Chibi Usa had been wandering around without a Time Key – this mistake has somehow caused the storm. So Tuxedo Kamen goes straight into it in search of his future daughter.
Usagi wanders around the evil castle to try to find Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter. She overhears Sapphir and Rubeus chat about the three Scouts dying in the Chamber of Darkness, and Sapphir says ominously that he feels that the planet itself is “acting with a will of its own.”
In an odd sequence, Diamond appears right behind her, knocks her out with a glance (not even the Scary Red Eyeball, just his regular eyes), and then whisks her away to a stone bench. He leans over and tries to touch her, but yellow lighting strikes between them; this was probably caused by Usagi, but she had a brief vision of Tuxedo Kamen in the storm… I dunno. But hey, no forced kissing, so I’m happy with that. Usagi runs away and stumbles upon Sapphir.
Sapphir had just made two droids, which apparently takes a lot of power. He explains to Usagi that Nemesis has a planetary reactor (whatever that means) that they have forced to work faster than it should, which I think means that it produces a lot of evil energy, but is unstable. He works with the Malefic Black Crystal and the planet Nemesis to do evil stuff, and compares Nemesis to Diamond… his brother. I don’t think that was made clear until this point, but they’re brothers.
Sapphir explains that Wiseman had convinced Diamond to go after the Silver Crystal, which was a detour from Sapphir, Rubeus, and Esmeraude’s plans to go back in time and kill Sailor Moon, thus preventing the peaceful future of the Silver Millennium. He asks Usagi’s forgiveness for Diamond’s rash actions.
So… right after he asks her forgiveness, Sapphir gets himself a big crystal shard and tries to stab Usagi! The two droids hold her down while he calls her a “dreadful woman” and blames her/Neo Queen Serenity for causing Diamond to obsess over her.
I’mma stop you right there, Sapphir – you are being sooooo typical! How about a.) you recognize that Usagi is not Neo Queen Serenity and b.) go slap your brother around for being an obsessive jerkface.
But it’s actually a good thing he said Usagi was a “dreadful woman”, because she gets really sad – she asks, “Is this all because I exist?” And even though we, the viewers, know this is all because Diamond is a bad guy, it’s still heartbreaking to hear her ask that question.
A vision of Neo Queen Serenity appears above Usagi and there’s lots of glowy light – oh you know something’s gonna happen! Usagi still has her brooch, since Diamond assured her she wouldn’t be able to use it… but now she uses it! To transform!
Oh and she is pissed.
Remember Mamo Vision in episode 14 when Tuxedo Kamen touched the ground and could see/feel where the Scouts were? This time Sailor Moon does it and finds the girls.
She lends them some of her own power so they can transform, and they literally explode through the floor and the badassery was beheld by all.
Then the badassery level goes up a notch when Neo Queen Serenity speaks through Sailor Moon to the Black Moon Clan. She admonishes them for their evil deeds and tells them they’re “using the Black Crystal all wrong”.
Rubeus runs away because all of this badass Moon power is causing the planetary reactor to malfunction, but Wiseman and a new mysterious (not really) sidekick show up and kill him. Who is this sidekick? We all know it’s Evil Grown Up Chibi-Usa. I can’t wait to see her for real instead of this ghostly, fuzzy image. You’re not fooling anyone, animators – we all know it’s her!
Sailor Moon calls out to Sailor Pluto and asks her to guide them – a key appears in her hand and the four scouts escape in a blaze of white light. They appear near the Space-Time Door, where Pluto had been using her staff to aid them, and there is a happy reunion between all the Scouts.
However, Tuxedo Kamen is still out in the Space-Time storm, searching for Chibi-Usa. And she finds him.
I noticed something interesting in this episode. In the first story arc, Usagi had trouble adjusting to the knowledge that she was a princess in her past life. She just wanted to be a normal girl, but she adjusted to her new powers and forged a new identity, becoming empowered by her past. In this story arc, Diamond commits all these terrible acts because he obsesses over her future self – but Usagi also takes courage from the fact that one day, she will be a powerful queen. Knowing about her past and her future makes her strong.
So there is this trinity of Usagis, with the present-day, non-royal Usagi being “our” Usagi. I like it.
I’m looking forward to
Evil Chibi-Usa cuz she’s coooool
epic levels of badassery
more Sailor Pluto!
Anyone notice the cool textures the animators use for Wiseman?