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Sailor Moon S (season three; 38 episodes)
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Caution: spoilers!

This season there is a new version of the opening theme, "Moonlight Densetsu," though it's still the same song. The first two episodes use the same closing theme as season 2, but then there will be a new closing theme for the remainder of the season. Also this season, Cloverway took over the North American license from DiC (for the Toonami run in 2000). So there were new voice actors dubbing the show, and I'm fairly sure it was during this season's broadcast on Toonami that an internet friend of mine asked what I- or maybe a group of us- thought of Serena's new voice. And I said Sailor Moon now sounded like Cotterpin Doozer (from Fraggle Rock), which he agreed with. But looking it up now, I find that Serena's new VA definitely wasn't Cotterpin's VA. (And it doesn't matter, because I'm watching the subbed version, in 2015. And I'm sure the new VIZ dub will be totally different from the 2000 dub, anyway.) But, you know... nostalgia is fun.

Death Busters arc
Well, I don't think I actually omitted any major spoilers from my review of season two, so I can get right into talking about season three. It begins with Usagi and her friends in their third year of middle school, thinking about high school entrance exams. Also, Rei has a very dark premonition of the end of the world, apparently. Soon after that, a new enemy attacks. There's a sort of mad scientist named Professor Souichi Tomoe, and a woman who works for him, named Kaolinite. (They're part of an organization called the Death Busters.) And of course, true to the show's formula, they have monsters (this time called "Daimons") doing their dirty work for them. (The Daimons start as eggs- which look more like seeds- that possess and transform objects into humanoid monsters with the properties of the possessed object.) The villains are seeking out people with pure hearts, from which they extract crystals (the loss of which could kill the bearer of the pure hearts, though it doesn't do so immediately). Specifically, they need three pure heart crystals that contain certain talismans, which they could use to summon a Holy Grail, which would allow them to conquer the world. The first Daimon that the Guardians face turns out to be too powerful for them, and disables Sailor Moon's brooch. But the Daimon is defeated by two mysterious figures, who don't yet reveal themselves to the Guardians. In episode 2, Usagi can't transform into Sailor Moon. However, it seems like... the love she shares with Tuxedo Mask somehow creates a new Spiral Heart Moon Rod, which apparently restores the brooch's power so she can transform again, as well as providing her with a new, more powerful attack. (When she uses her new attack to defeat Daimons, they exclaim "Lovely!" which reminds me of how weird I thought "Refresh!" was in season one. I think actually there was a different silly exclamation made by monsters each season, but somehow I didn't think as much about it in season two.)

In episode 3, Usagi and Minako meet someone named Haruka Tenoh (Amara, in the dub), whom they both immediately develop crushes on. Haruka has a friend named Michiru Kaioh (Michelle, in the dub), who the girls worry may be his girlfriend (though when they finally ask about it, Michiru says she's not). But at the end of the episode, they learn that Haruka isn't a guy, as they'd assumed. (Haruka and Michiru are first year high school students, just a year ahead of the others, though I'd say they look a few years older.) It's also in that episode that the Guardians get their first good look at the mysterious figures who had previously helped them. They're also Sailor Guardians (Sailor Uranus, whose attack is "World Shaking," and Sailor Neptune, whose attack is "Deep Submerge"), but they're not really allies. Uranus is really Haruka and Neptune is Michiru, but the other Guardians fail to make this connection. Uranus and Neptune know something about what's going on; they occasionally mention an impending disaster or invasion by something called "the silence," which they want to prevent. To do this, they also must obtain the talismans... and they're willing to sacrifice the lives of whoever's pure hearts contain those talismans. They're also seeking someone called "the Messiah," who can wield the Holy Grail to defeat the silence. But for now, they refuse to share their knowledge with Sailor Moon and her friends... and it seems like they don't know everything, they just have a few memories of their own past lives. So they remain something of a mystery. But while Uranus and Neptune will be rivals to the other Sailor Guardians, Haruka and Michiru will sort of become friends to the girls. (And Haruka takes to calling Usagi "Odango," just like Mamoru used to, in season one.) I also want to mention that episode 6 of this season is probably the first time I was really sure that Naru and Umino had become a couple, though there were times I suspected it in season 2. (But they've both made a lot fewer appearances in the series, after the first season.)

In episode 13, Kaolinite is defeated, and in episode 14 she is replaced by a woman named Eudial (who is part of a department called Witches 5). Also in ep 14, Chibi-Usa returns to the 20th century, to train as Sailor Chibi Moon (Sailor Mini Moon, in the dub). In ep 20, the two different teams of Guardians finally learn each other's secret identities (though I think there had possibly been some suspicion for awhile before that). But Eudial also learns all their identities. In episode 21, two of the three talismans are revealed. Also, Usagi meets a young woman named Setsuna Meioh (Trista, in the dub), who in the next episode turns out to be Sailor Pluto (her attack is "Dead Scream"). (Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus are the Guardians of the Outer Solar System.) Pluto has the third talisman, and she, Uranus, and Neptune summon the Holy Grail. Sailor Moon uses the Grail to transform into Super Sailor Moon, so she can defeat Eudial. However, Sailor Moon isn't the Messiah, so she can't use the Grail's full power. (From now on, she'll use the Holy Grail for her "double transformation," which provides her with yet another even more powerful attack. But it leaves her greatly weakened, for a brief period after each battle.) After Eudial's defeat, another one of the Witches 5, Mimete, kills Eudial for her repeated failures. In ep 23, we learn that the enemy will still be seeking out pure hearts to steal, even though they are no longer looking for talismans. The pure heart crystals will instead be used to "awaken" their own Messiah of Silence. Meanwhile, the Outer Guardians continue looking for their Messiah (who I assume is supposed to be a different person from the enemy's Messiah). It's also in ep 23 that Chibi-Usa befriends a 12-year-old girl named Hotaru Tomoe, who has a healing power and suffers frequent seizures. And if her surname sounds familiar to you, it's because you read it two paragraphs back. I'd forgotten it, since I wrote that months ago... and it's a name I'd only read online, and probably shouldn't have mentioned it until later (like now). But whatevs. Yes, Professor Souichi Tomoe, of the Death Busters, is Hotaru's father. Anyway, Chibi-Usa and her friends sometimes visit Hotaru at her house, where Professor Tomoe has a servant named Kaori, who looks suspiciously like Kaolinite. (She's acting as a secretary/maid for the professor, and caretaker to Hotaru, though Hotaru dislikes her.)

Eventually, the Outer Guardians realize that Hotaru is most likely the Messiah of Silence, and the reincarnation of Sailor Saturn (the Guardian of Destruction). They believe the only way to stop Sailor Saturn from being reawakened and destroying the world is to kill Hotaru, though of course Chibi-Usa and the others beg them not to. And while the three of them constantly tell the Inner Guardians that their way is the only way... they still inexplicably hold off on trying to do anything to Hotaru. Anyway, in episode 31, Professor Tomoe plans to replace Mimete with the third witch, Tellu, though Mimete makes a last ditch effort to succeed in her goals. But she's killed by Tellu, who becomes the Guardians' new nemesis in the next episode. And for a change of pace, she uses flowers to try and steal pure hearts, instead of a daimon. However, she is defeated, herself, at the end of episode 32. (Oddly enough, the Messiah of Silence seems to be getting closer to awakening, despite the fact that she has received, as far as I know, absolutely no pure heart crystals.) Also in ep 32, we learn that the Professor had resurrected Kaolinite after her death, though apparently without any powers. He now restores her powers and transforms Kaori back into Kaolinite. Episode 33 introduces the fourth witch, Viluy, who uses nano-robots to steal pure hearts. But like Tellu, she was defeated after just one episode. Also in that ep, Professor Tomoe learns the identities of the Sailor Guardians. In ep 34, the fifth and final witch is revealed, though actually it's not one person, but a pair of twins named Cyprine and Ptilol. They have their own plan for stealing a ton of pure heart crystals en masse (in a way that I thought would have made much more sense for them to do in the first place, instead of letting all the other witches spend so much time trying to steal random pure heart crystals individually, and giving the Guardians time to find out where the Death Busters' headquarters was). Of course, the Guardians ultimately defeat the final witch(es).

However, Kaolinite steals one very special pure heart crystal, which she uses to awaken the Messiah of Silence, who is indeed Hotaru... but not Sailor Saturn. Hotaru transforms into an adult called Mistress 9, the major antagonist for the next few episodes. She wants to steal the Holy Grail from Sailor Moon, in order to summon her ruler, Pharaoh 90, from a distant galaxy. Meanwhile, she activates all the remaining daimon eggs to attack all the Guardians, but abducts Sailor Moon to fight her one-on-one. Also, Professor Tomoe had been possessed by a daimon or something, which is why he began working for the Death Busters, several years ago. But he's released now, and just wants to rescue Hotaru (though he has no power to do so). Finally, Sailor Saturn awakens within Hotaru's body, and takes control from Mistress 9. She leaves to destroy Pharaoh 90 before he could come to our galaxy and initiate the silence, believing she is the only one who can do so, though it would cost her life. But Sailor Moon follows her; we don't really see the battle, but apparently the enemy is defeated. Sailor Moon returns, carrying a baby (Hotaru, whose age had regressed, for some reason). Uranus and Neptune take the baby from Sailor Moon, and give her to Professor Tomoe (who has been badly injured and lost parts of his memory). The Holy Grail is apparently gone now, so Sailor Moon will no longer be able to make her double transformation. In ep 37, Uranus and Neptune finally find the Messiah they'd been searching for, though I don't want to spoil the identity. (And I'm not sure how much sense it makes, anyway. Besides which, it seems kind of pointless, considering the enemy had already been defeated.) In ep 38, Chibi-Usa receives a letter from her mother, asking her to return to the future. She doesn't want to leave her friends in the 20th century, but they throw her a going away party. Meanwhile, a final daimon appears and attacks. It nearly defeats the Guaridans, until Chibi Moon returns to the present and helps them defeat it.

As a final note, I need to mention that when this season first aired in the U.S., the dub referred to Haruka and Michiru (or rather, Amara and Michelle) as cousins. In the original Japanese version, they're not related, but good friends (or more). Some years prior to watching the sub in 2015, I had heard or read that they were lovers. I wasn't surprised that that fact would have been censored for the American audience, but I was looking forward to discovering how exactly the relationship was portrayed, now that I was watching it uncut. So I was surprised, early in the season, that the characters explicitly stated that they weren't a couple. After that, I kept waiting for them to either reveal that that had been a lie, or else for their relationship to move beyond friendship. And there were occasional subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints that they were a couple. I mean... it seemed implicit, perhaps, but I didn't think that anything that was said or shown ever really made it explicit, which I found mildly disappointing. Not that I was looking for an actual love scene or even necessarily a kiss, or anything, but... I do think that even if the season hadn't been edited for the U.S., it still would have been entirely possible for viewers to believe they were just friends. Adults or teenagers might have had strong suspicions, but I think any kids watching the show easily could have failed to pick up on it. I just wish the show would have been more open about it.

There was also a movie, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, which I may or may not have seen on Toonami in 2001. But I did see it on DVD in 2013 (prior to re-watching the series on Hulu).

Continued in Sailor Moon SuperS (Which incidentally is a bit confusing, since the "S" in the title of season 3 stands for "Super," which I'm assuming makes season 4's title redundant... or not, I really don't know how the titles work. Maybe the second "S" shouldn't even be capitalized, but rather just "Supers." It's confusing!)

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