When Luna passes out on the way home, she’s rescued by the kindly astronomer Kakeru Ozora, who she ends up falling in love with. The trouble for Luna, besides him being human and her being a talking cat, is that Kakeru is already love with his childhood friend, astronaut Himeko Nayotake, who is about to become the first Japanese woman in space. After Kakeru finds a mysterious fragment from a comet, the Earth begins experience extreme and unusual weather patterns and mysterious alien beings attack the Earth. Now Super Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians are called into action once again to defend the planet, but can they activate the Silver Crystal Power in time to stop these new enemies?
Unlike the first Sailor Moon movie, Sailor Moon S The Movie is not an original anime only film but is based on a special act, The Lover of Princess Kaguya, that the original manga author, Naoko Takeuchi, wrote. What I enjoyed about this movie is that it was focused on Luna, who is mostly a secondary character in the series, instead of the major characters like the Sailor Guardians or Tuxedo Mask. Even though Luna is a regularly appearing character throughout the series as Usagi’s mentor, she never had that much character development focus solely on her, so this made for a refreshing change of pace, and I always wanted to learn more about her as Luna has always been one of my favorite characters. The movie does a good job of taking the original manga special and streamlining the plot for an hour long feature film and I thought they handled developing Kakeru and Himeko as their own fully fleshed out characters well in spite of the film’s short length.
I found Kakeru’s struggle’s to accept never being able to fulfill his dream of being an astronaut because of of illness to be very moving. And seeing Himeko’s advances in her own career as she accepts her own feelings for Kakeru was always engaging You really felt for these characters as they worked out their relationship issues and seeing how they struggle with trying to reconcile their realities with fulfilling their dreams. Luna’s unrequited feelings for Kakeru was emotional and heartbreaking, especially when she finally breaks down and Usagi is there to comfort her during her emotional pain. I thought the movie could have done more to flesh out the film’s main villain, Princess Snow Kaguya, as her motivations and background are fairly simplistic and straightforward compared to the antagonist of the first movie. I also wish Sailor Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto had more involvement in the film besides mostly being a cameo appearance to please their fans. As this movie is mostly about Luna, however, these are mostly minor disappointments that don’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the film any. It also works as a good holiday themed film with the movie taking place in winter and also featuring a humerous scene where Tuxedo Mask shows up to rescue Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon by disguising himself as Santa Claus.
I was impressed with how Naoko incorporated traditional Japenese folklore into the story by drawing influence from the classic fairytale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, for the villain of Princess Snow Kaguya and Luna’s role in the film, and I always enjoy learning more about Japanese culture in anime. As mentioned in Naoko’s manga notes, she also visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the launch of the space shuttle, Columbia, as research for the film, so she put a lot of time and effort into bringing her story to life. This movie was directed by Hiroki Shibata, who also directed Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie,, and was an episode director and did storyboard work for the TV series. Shibata has also worked as an episode director for many anime classics like Dragon Ball Z, Digimon Adventure, Dr. Slump, and Cutie Honey Flash among other titles. He was also director for the movie Dragon Quest: Great Adventure of Dai! Disciple of Aban and the movie, Gegege no Kitaro: Saikyo Yokai Gundan!Nihon Joriku!. The animation looks much more refined andd smoother than the Sailor Moon R movie and doesn’t suffer as much from the first movie’s problems with clashing CGI. Naoko also mentions in her manga notes that she based the character design of Princess Snow Kaguya on the Art Decor antique “Salome” and the Snow Dancers’ designs are based on a German china piece. Series composer Takanori Arisawa returns again to compose the music for the S movie and I love all the beautiful piano pieces in the film, and the romantic ending theme, Moonlight Destiny.
As long as you have a basic familiarity with the Sailor Moon franchise, I think this film works well as a stand alone story and you shouldn’t have too much trouble following the plot. As with the first movie, I think it does a good job of capturing all the important themes of Sailor Moon. I highly recommend checking it out if you’ve always wanted to try out this series but don’t have the time to invest in a long running 200 episode show. And if f you’re a long time fan of the series, this film will give you more insight into your favorite characters, especially if you’re a big Luna fan, and it’s a chance to see all the Sailor Guardians in action with a bigger animation budget.
I normally try to avoid making comparisons between anime adaptations and their source materials in my reviews, but if you enjoy this movie, I also recommend checking out the original manga special act, as I think it makes a good companion piece to the anime film. I give Sailor Moon S The Movie a four out five star rating and I highly recommend it. It’s currently licensed by Viz Media and available on Blu Ray and DVD. It’s also available for digital purchase on Amazon Prime and iTunes.