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Sailor Moon R: The Movie
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is the first of three films based on the series "Sailor Moon"; specifically, it's set sometime during the second season, Sailor Moon R. It was originally released in Japan in 1993. It aired on Toonami in 2001, but I don't remember if I saw it at the time. The first time it was released in the US was by Pioneer, in 1999 (VHS) and 2000 (DVD). But I didn't get it until 2017, when a re-dubbed version was released by Viz. And I didn't get around to watching that until 2018. And I really don't think it seemed familiar to me at all. That doesn't necessarily mean I never saw it before, because I'm pretty good at forgetting stuff. But... well, I suppose it doesn't matter. Anyway, it's kind of weird seeing the first movie on DVD last, some years after having seen the second and third movies on DVD... and also weird because this is the first time I've watched the new Viz dub of Sailor Moon, since I have the older releases of the second and third movies. (Which also means this DVD uses the characters' Japanese names.) And... I have no idea how much the earlier release of this movie (either on TV or VHS) was edited, but I'm sure the version I just watched on DVD is pretty much uncut. So that's nice.

Well, it begins with Mamoru and the girls visiting a botanical garden, where Mamo has a memory of something from his early childhood, when he gave a rose to a boy... who then vanished. In the present, he thinks this is just something he had imagined, you know, an imaginary friend. But then the same boy, now grown up, appears and talks about keeping his promise to Mamoru. It's rather unclear exactly what's going on, and Usagi steps in and tries to stop the guy from seemingly hitting on Mamo, but then the guy knocks her to the ground. And then vanishes again.

Later on, Luna and Artemis try to warn the girls about an asteroid that's going to pass near Earth, which apparently has some kind of "flower energy." But the girls don't take it very seriously. They're more interested in talking about the earlier incident with Mamoru and the stranger... which kind of segues into talking about the possibility that the two of them might have had a homosexual relationship, not that there's anything wrong with that. (Seriously, the way they talked reminded me of an episode of Seinfeld.)

That night, a strange flower blooms nearby. The next day, as the girls are walking to school (I assume), they find a bunch of people passed out on the street. And soon the girls are attacked by a flower creature. So they transform and fight off the creature. But then the guy from before, whose name is Fiore, shows up and starts fighting them. And of course he's much stronger than the flower creature. But Tuxedo Mask comes to the rescue. And Fiore immediately recognizes him as Mamoru, and believes Usagi/Sailor Moon is tricking him into being friends (or whatever). So he kidnaps Tuxedo Mask, and takes him back to the asteroid (which has a ton of those flowers that can turn into monsters).

Well, there's this whole subplot about how when Mamoru was little, his parents died in a car accident. So he was all alone. But then he befriended Fiore, who had been all alone, himself, drifting through space for a long time before landing on Earth. But he couldn't stay for long, and when he left, he promised to return with flowers for Mamoru. After that, he searched throughout space for a flower worthy of his friend, and found one... which turned out to be an evil flower that possesses people and uses them to destroy worlds and steal people's energy. And of course, Fiore is now possessed, and it's actually the flower that is convincing him Usagi has been lying to Mamoru. Anyway... the Sailor Guardians teleport to the asteroid to save Mamoru and defeat Fiore and all the flowers. And in a rather neat (and ironic) parallel to the loneliness felt by both Mamoru and Fiore, we get to see how Ami, Mako, Rei, and Mina were each shunned and alone before they met Usagi.

Needless to say, the Guardians ultimately save the world, as usual. But I felt like this story was more genuinely dramatic than usual, for the series. And there's a nice little plot twist in one of the flashbacks, that leads to important stuff in the present. And... I guess that's all I can think to say.

Followed by Sailor Moon S: The Movie

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