Why were there so many Sailor Stars musicals?

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MementoNepenthe

Systema Solare
Mar 8, 2012
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#1
The manga's Sailor Stars arc ran from March 1996 until February 1997 in Nakayoshi. The anime adaptation aired concurrently (March 9, 1996 - February 8, 1997).

The first musical based on the Sailor Stars arc was the imaginatively entitled Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, which ran from August 5 to August 30, 1996. Given that the manga and anime arcs were only halfway through, this musical naturally took quite a few liberties.

The second musical based on Stars was the obligatory revision of the first musical, which ran from December 28, 1996 to January 12, 1997. So far so good.

But then the next musical they did was also based on Stars: Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ The Eternal Legend ran from July 25 to August 18, 1997. This musical seemed to take inspiration from the anime's Nehellenia arc, only swapping Nehellenia out for Beryl.

This feels like an odd move to me: Why not start over and do another Dark Kingdom musical? (Perhaps the use of Beryl and two of the Four Generals was meant to be a compromise?) Why not do a Black Moon musical since they'd skipped over that arc before? Why not do an original story? A musical based on one of the movies, the Doom Tree arc, Sailor V, the side stories - anything? Why not end the musicals altogether? Why do another Stars musical?

Okay, maybe it was because the first (two) had come out before the manga and anime versions had ended. With the story complete, they could do a more informed adaptation. Fine.

Then, in February 1998, this version of the story got its own obligatory revision. Fine.

But then, once again, the very next musical they did was Stars: Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ Beginning of the New Legend, which ran from July 10 to August 31, 1998. This musical is essentially a second revision of The Eternal Legend.

This musical was - finally! - followed by some original stories and adaptations of the Black Moon and Infinity arcs. And then, in July 2003, another Stars musical, another glorified revision of TEL, premiered (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ Starlights ★ Legend of the Falling Stars), followed by its glorified revision, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ The Advent of Princess Kakyuu, in January 2004.

That's a total of SEVEN musicals based on Stars during the Bandai Myu era. SEVEN. And I find that so puzzling??? Stars was the lowest rated season of the anime. I don't think the manga version was particularly popular either. So why did they keep doing musicals based on it? And why, despite doing, once again, SEVEN of them, and having the space to invent the characters of Sailor Pewter Fox, Sailor Titanium Kerokko, MC Fly, Sailor Theta, and Sailor Buttress, did they never find the time/space to include Sailor Mnemosyne, Sailor Lethe, Sailor Kakyuu, or Sailor Cosmos? (At least Cosmos finally got to appear in Le Mouvement Final, but that musical skipped Heavy Metal Papillon, Phi, and Chi, along with the Sailor Quartet, who only appeared in one of the Bandai run's Dracul arc musicals.)

In other words: what made Stars a success on the stage when it was a flop on TV and in print?
 
May 31, 2009
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Tankei Kingdom, Kinmoku
#2
Maybe the previous Stars musicals sold well (do we have any info on how the musicals performed?) and so they made more. Maybe because the producers thought Stars would be fresher in people's minds being the most recent arc. Maybe because Stars marked the end of Sailor Moon as a story and doing more Stars-based shows was a way to celebrate Sailor Moon as a whole.
 
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Masquerade

Aurorae Lunares
Nov 22, 2016
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#3
Did the Stars manga sell badly? Where did you get that info?
Anyway, I think the answer is simple. A bigger cast of heroes and villains to work with. More plot possibilities.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#4
People’s opinions and tastes change over time.

As a kid, I thought “Dream” was the best arc of the manga and now I think it’s the worst.

10 years ago my favorite season of the 90’s anime was the first one, but now it is “Stars.”

I hated Crystal and now I love it.
 

MementoNepenthe

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#5
Did the Stars manga sell badly? Where did you get that info?
Anyway, I think the answer is simple. A bigger cast of heroes and villains to work with. More plot possibilities.
I don't know if the Stars manga sold badly, but Nakayoshi seemed to pay less and less attention to it over the course of its run. Sailor Stars was very likely intended as a soft reboot for the franchise, so there was a big push at the start, but by the end the enthusiasm for it had fizzled out.

Yes, the bigger cast size theoretically = more plot possibilities, but they just ran the same "Eternal Legend" story five times; it's not like they even used the Starlights in any of the original plot musicals they did.

AFAIK there's no information available on what the ticket sales, CD sales, home video sales, or any other merchandise sales for the musicals were like. Clearly the musicals were financially successful enough to keep them running long past the end of the manga and anime (and to bring them back for the 20th-25th-30th anniversary celebration). That they did five Stars musicals in a row (seven in all) suggests that those were particularly popular with fans, which leads us back to my last question: what was it that made Stars successful on stage but not on screen or in print? Did the arc just need more music? Did it need Pewter Fox and Titanium Kerokko? Did it need the return of Beryl and the Generals?
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#6
Because I loved Sailor Moon, I used to have some Nakayoshi issues when I was a kid.

I remember that “Sailor Moon” clashed with “Cardcaptor Sakura.” All of a sudden, “Cardcaptor Sakura” became a huge hit and Sakura was on all Nakayoshi covers.

I remember that some of the issues of Nakayoshi came with little gifts. I think one came with a journal/planner (?), very good quality, and it had many Nakayoshi characters on the cover.

No, I cannot read Japanese, I just wanted to see the pretty pictures. I had literally no idea that the Sailor Moon book arts existed.
 

MementoNepenthe

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Mar 8, 2012
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#7
In the interest of trying to figure out what made Sailor Stars successful on the stage, I've decided to re-watch all the Stars musicals. I just finished watching the first one (Summer '96). Here are my observations:

  • "Chasin' After You" is a much better song than Nagareboshi He"
  • Yaten and Taiki actually have personalities!!! And they're likeable!!!
  • Lots of humor. (Okay, it's all very over-the-top and cringey, but it's something. The anime and manga were almost oppressively melancholy. Even when there were humorous moments, they were always tinged with a bittersweet aura. This wasn't such a big problem in the manga, which is always kind of wistful, but coming off the heels of SuperS in the anime? Holy tonal whiplash, Batman!)
  • The Outers are a lot more involved.
  • Chibiusa is also a main character. (I wonder if this inspired Naoko to bring her and the Quartet back into the action for the second half of the arc?)
  • Mamoru also doesn't get killed off (though we don't really get to see him until the end when Tuxedo Mask just kind of turns up out of nowhere.)
  • There's no Chibi Chibi
  • Aluminum Siren and Lead Crow are replaced by Pewter Fox and Titanium Kerokko. (I wonder why they did that, especially since Pewter Fox and Iron Mouse are almost impossible to tell apart. I also wonder if Fox and Kerokko were original creations by the Myu staff, or if they were unused Animamate ideas from Naoko.)
  • I want a Pretty Girl Detective Squad spin-off. That whole scene was a #vibe.
  • The Inners transformed with "[Planet] Crisis Power" which I thought was interesting.
  • The time travel stuff in this musical is really bizarre, but I'm all for Chibiusa and Hotaru as time-traveling girlfriends having wacky adventures as they meet everyone's incarnations in various historic eras. That said, Mamoru as a feudal lord and Usagi as a male fishmonger named Usanosuke Isshin (i.e. making them a gay couple) was an...interesting...choice. (Of course, Anza's hideous wig and performance completely undercuts being able to see Usanosuke as male, but still.)
  • The Battle Labyrinth scene was obviously inspired by the Nehellenia arc
  • There's no mention of Chaos (I don't think he'd been mentioned in the manga yet)
  • Princess Kakyuu doesn't appear (She had only *just* made her first appearance in the manga, so it's understandable that they'd leave her out, but it also leaves the Starlights' search for their princess completely unresolved)
  • Eternal Sailor Moon revives the Inners and Outers so we can get a big final showdown
  • Galaxia escapes at the end :lol:

Conclusion: If the manga and anime had had more humor, given Yaten and especially Taiki personalities, not sidelined the Outers (and Inners), not killed off Mamoru, and not (almost entirely) written out Chibiusa, I think it would have gone over much better with fans.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#8
But the Stars anime has humor. The episode in which Yaten briefly adopts Luna as a cat is one of the best. My theory is that SuperS made people lose interest in “Sailor Moon” and that by the time that Stars aired, people were tired of “Sailor Moon“ and needed a break.
 

MementoNepenthe

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#9
Just finished watching the Sailor Stars Revision (Winter '97) musical. And, like, yeah, I guess technically it's a revision in that they made some changes from the original musical, but none of those changes improved the story any, and the lighting, staging, and camera work were all perhaps even more confusing to follow. (I want to love the Bandai musicals, but they're all such exhausting hot messes.) Like, cool, we got to see Princess Kakyuu...for literally thirty seconds. What even was the point? And they mentioned Sagittarius Zero Star, but none of the action took place there. Galaxia name dropped her Saffer Crystal at the end, so what? We still got no kind of back story for her, and still no mention of Chaos. (But hey, at least Galaxia didn't just Peter Pan it out of there at the end :lol:) MC Fly was still a weird, annoying character. Theta, Phi, Chi, Titanium Kerokko, and Iron Mouse might as well not have even been there since they contributed literally nothing to the plot and had maybe four lines of dialog between them. The Starlights still conveniently rescue Neo Queen Serenity off-stage, so that plot point is still utterly pointless, other than to be a needlessly contrived way of inserting Chibiusa into the story. Mamoru impersonating MC Fly was necessary why? The biggest plot change was probably the Edo period sequence: while I found it more engaging overall (I'd love to see more of Rat Boy and her squad of Female Ninjas), I also found it a lot more confusing, "This is a Pen" was racist at worst, uncomfortably in poor taste at best, and of course they made Usagi's Edo-era incarnation female here.

tl;dr The revision was mostly a downgrade and I didn't observe anything that would provide further insight into the Sailor Stars arc's stage success.
 
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MementoNepenthe

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#10
Finished watching Eien Densetsu/The Eternal Legend (Summer '97) and......what a mess. Once again, uneven pacing, strange acting choices (especially from Anza and her perpetually distracting facial expressions), bad camera work, bad lighting, and bad scene blocking made so much of this musical difficult to comprehend. The lack of any kind of overarching continuity/canon for the musicals didn't help either, so be prepared to experience total confusion over who this Chibi Chibi girl is, why Sailor Moon doesn't recognize Queen Beryl, and why Hotaru can't transform into Sailor Saturn even though she could last musical.

That's not to say everything in this musical was bad; just that a lot of it was...weird...and the overall production is so incompetently handled from start to finish that whatever good stuff the songs and story may have had to offer got almost completely obfuscated.

Yet this is the version of the Stars story that they ran five times, so obviously some of its elements resonated with audiences. (I can only hope the subsequent four takes are more polished.) Certainly this production borrowed a lot more from the anime than the previous musicals did (namely Ginga TV, the Nehellenia arc (now starring Beryl), Chibi Chibi's being Galaxia's Star Seed and the Uranus/Neptune fake-out betrayal thing, two of the worst parts of the anime, though at least they foreshadowed the Uranus/Neptune thing from the start?), but that only complicates the question of why the Stars musicals worked when the anime flopped. The "Pretty Girls Detective Squad" and Taiki and Yaten's being total goofballs seem to be the only holdovers from the previous Stars musicals.

Anyway, here are the rest of the observations I made while watching:

  • I thought Galaxia killed Tuxedo Mask right at the start, but I think she actually just knocked him out to give to Beryl later, and then either she or Beryl brainwashed him, and then Galaxia randomly killed him for no reason, then brought him back to life as her minion? I have no idea what was going on with him.
  • I like "The Holy Soldiers of Orleans" sequence, but the musical never gets back to the whole everyone's-working-on-a-TV-movie plot, so it just feels completely out of place. It really only serves to foreshadow Uranus and Neptune's betrayal later on. The school music festival from the last two Stars musicals made a lot more sense and worked much better within the story. I think keeping the Chibiusa-and-Hotaru-travel-back-in-time plot from the previous musicals and just substituting the Edo period stuff for the Holy Soldiers of Orleans would be the best compromise.
  • The Little Match Girl scene is incomprehensibly bizarre. I don't understand the purpose of that scene at all. It literally makes no sense and does nothing to build on characterizations or theme or anything.
  • They did not even try with Kunzite and Zoisite. (And where are Nephrite and Jadeite?)
  • So I guess they winnowed down the Sailor Animamates from four to two in order to make space for Kunzite and Zoisite, but why did they keep Tin Nyanko and Titanium Kerokko (now called Mitis Kerokko for literally no reason)? Tin Nyanko is played by the same actress as last time (but with a new, bizarre wig), but Kerokko isn't, so it doesn't seem to have been a decision based on actress availability. Was there some indication that those two were the most popular? Seems so random.
  • The basketball game sequence is one of many tedious, unnecessary, and strange dance interludes that needlessly drag out the musical's run time, along with every time Chaos/Kyaos is on stage. (Also, literally what is his outfit and what are they doing with him? I guess making Chaos be chaotic is a reasonable choice, but also no. They replaced MC Fly with this? Bring back Sailor Buttress! And why even have Sailors Phi, Chi, and Theta if you're just going to keep dressing them as Shadow Bugs and give them literally no dialog? Why even have all three of them when one of them is usually off-stage anyway?)
  • Zoisite's actor is like twice Ami's age, so those romance scenes between them were...yikes. (See also: 95% of Usagi/Mamoru scenes in the musicals. Could they not find young male actors to be in these things?)
  • I appreciate that Haruka wore the boys' school uniform instead of the girls', but I wasn't expecting it, so it was very confusing at first to see her dressed like the Three Lights and I kept thinking she was Taiki.
  • Did Beryl summon Pluto's Garnet Rod for her? That whole scene was so strange, but yay @ the start of my Beryl/Pluto shipping.
  • Yaten x Kunzite
  • This musical had a faint whiff of Usagi/Seiya, after the previous musicals pretty much entirely avoided that, but again it's only the faintest of whiffs here.
  • Every Chaos/Kyaos scene is the worst. GET BACK TO THE PLOT. ENOUGH SHENANIGANS PLEASE.
  • Chibi Chibi shows up, disappears, Kakyuu shows up, Galaxia vanishes. 1) I really thought they were doing Chibi Chibi-was-actually-Kakyuu, and got excited for a second because that would make so much more sense than her being Galaxia's Star Seed, but no. 2) Yay Kakyuu.
  • This musical really tries to make it seem like Kakyuu is the biggest threat to Galaxia and that the two maybe have some kind of past beyond just Galaxia's destroying Kinmoku, but no. Kakyuu is easily killed off without ever using any of her powers. L A M E.
  • I guess in this universe, Usagi and the others awoke as Sailors without ever having regained their past life memories some how.
  • I kind of low-key also ship Kakyuu and Beryl now
  • I thought this was a La Reconquista invention, but this musical also seems to be saying Beryl was legitimately the queen of Earth before and engaged to Endymion. (And Kunzite and Zoisite were both her and Endymion's guards.)
  • We actually get a scene set at the Galaxy Cauldron this time!
  • "SAILOR COSMOS ATTACK" WHY NOT GIVE US ACTUAL SAILOR COSMOS YOU COWARDS? (Also that final battle was so weak and anticlimactic :lol:)

Conclusion: Stars needs Taiki and Yaten to be goofballs, the girls to be a detective agency, no Seiya/Usagi romance drama, and Beryl and Setsuna to be a couple.

ETA: The "wedding" during the curtain call was cute I guess. I also wanted to say that it kind of bothers me that in this musical, as in the last two, Mercury and Mars both got special focus, while Jupiter and Venus got pretty much completely shafted with no moments to really shine. Outside the manga, those two really got the shaft, huh?
 
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MementoNepenthe

Systema Solare
Mar 8, 2012
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#11
Finished watching the Eien Densetsu/The Eternal Legend Revision (Winter '98.) and its senshuuraku. Again, there weren't really any radical differences from the original. Here are the changes I clocked:

- This time around, Galaxia explicitly kills Mamoru and takes his Star Seed right at the beginning.
- The little match girl scene was removed, making it all the more baffling
- Beryl mentions her "Dark Moon Clan," but we never see them. Kunzite and Zoisite do not appear in this musical, so she's without subordinates.
- Hotaru is the star of the school made-for-TV musical drama thing instead of Haruka and Michiru, which means their fakeout betrayal at the end isn't foreshadowed (apart from a passing remark from Taiki or Yaten)
- Chibiusa is never mentioned (though I don't remember if she was mentioned in the original version either)
- Instead of the Ami x Zoisite stuff from last time, in this musical Kyaos and not!Mamoru/Tony Chiba try to coerce her into studying abroad, a plot point that comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere just as fast.
- In the original, there's a scene where the Sailors confront Kunzite and Zoisite, having worked out they're responsible for trying to frame Rei for attacking students. Here, they confront Kyaos and Endmyion...without reacting at all to Endymion...
- Once again, Saturn awakens off-stage, an anti-climactic finish to an unnecessary plot point
- Sailor Moon's kiss somehow turns mud puppet!Endymion into...the actual Mamoru? Or something?
- Kyaos saves Mercury, but she does absolutely nothing but stand around on stage for the rest of the show, so...
 
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MementoNepenthe

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Mar 8, 2012
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#12
Two months later and I finally got around to watching Shin Densetsu Kourin (The Beginning of the New Legend, the 1998 Summer musical). Of the five consecutive Stars musicals, I'd say this one is probably the best in terms of being engaging and having a comparatively more focused plot than the previous four. (Don't get me wrong: there are still TONS of issues, but they're all fairly easily remedied compared to the problems the last musicals had.) Unfortunately, the new cast members are all total drips (sorry to any Fumina fans, but she was an absolutely dreadful Usagi, and why on earth did they let the new guy playing Mamoru lighten his hair? It looked AWFUL!), the choreography is as uninspired as ever, most of the songs still do little to further the plot or our understanding of the characters, and the scene blocking and camera work are still terrible and confusing. Still, with some script doctoring and a better production, I could see a revival of this musical being really successful.

Anyway, here are the rest of my observations (and there are a lot of them, so get ready):

  • The musical opens with Chibi Moon fending off Galaxia's six minions, who are apparently Sailor Phi, Sailor Chi, Sailor Theta, and three others called Dark Moon, Lemures, and Nightmare. I don't know why they bothered giving any of them names when they have about two lines of dialog among them and they all look exactly the same. It is impossible to tell these back-up dancer fodder villains apart. Anyway, the fight makes no sense and is never explained or brought up again.
  • Chibi Chibi and Tuxedo Mask appear on stage and sing Double Moonlight Romance, leading me to wonder why this adult man is singing a love duet with a literal toddler and why no one working on the show questioned the optics of this scene. (I get that they're probably not meant to be *actually* singing the song to each other, especially once Usagi, King Endymion, and the Inners all join in, but it certainly reads that way at first and it is uncomfortable and confusing and they should have just cut the number entirely.)
  • Galaxia kills TM and takes his star seed either at the airport or while he's on board his flight. Either way, I'm left to wonder why Mamoru was traveling as Tuxedo Mask in the first place.
  • We get an exchange between Setsuna and Usagi on the school roof that would have been nice if these two actors weren't so horribly miscast. In any event, Setsuna and Usagi's friendship is the only inter-Sailor dynamic to be even remotely developed in this musical, which makes Mercury's highlight solo at the end of "Sorezore no Hika" later on all the more baffling.
  • Galaxia revives Queen Beryl and gives her King Endymion as a gift. (Galaxia, as we find out later, also killed King Endymion, and so in this musical, Beryl gets two Mamo-chan mud puppets. King Endymion serves absolutely no logical purpose in this story and was clearly just shoehorned into it to give Yuuta a role and to find a contrived way of working Chibi Moon into the story (see: Neo Queen Serenity in the first two Stars musicals).)
  • Beryl says her Dark Kingdom has been revived, and then Galaxia gives Beryl the Amazon Trio as her team of loyal servants. On every level, the Amazon Trio are infinitely more developed and entertaining to watch than the Four Generals could ever hope to be, so I welcome this change, but it's unclear whether or not the Trio worked for Beryl in the past. Additionally, Beryl later speaks of her "Dark Moon Clan" (which is in and of itself confusing; why would an Earth queen have a Dark Moon clan?) and the Trio still pose as members of the Dead Moon Circus, so we just end up with a handful of competing terminologies and it's just a confusing mess.
  • We get an annoying scene where Haruka, Michiru, Usagi, and the Inners are all wearing athletic uniforms with "AZABU" on them. King Endymion shows up as "Mantle Chiba," the new phys ed teacher. This makes it seem like they're all going to the same school, but later on Rei states she attends a different school (and is shown in her T*A uniform).
  • Chibi Chibi shows up with a clown, and then Hotaru shows up to tell the girls about the Dead Moon Circus, at which point the Trio shows up to invite the girls to audition for the circus. (The Outers decline because they're suspicious. Also, Chibi Chibi is in this scene basically just to remind the audience she's in this musical, but she won't appear again until the end of the act. Hers is such a thankless and completely unnecessary part and the musical would be a lot stronger without her in it.)
  • (I guess I'll mention here that there are lots of jokes about Tiger's Eye being a crossdresser throughout the musical. Maybe this is because he's the only member of the Trio to actually be played by a man? In any case, later on Fish Eye is dressed as a woman, a perfect opportunity for Tiger's Eye to turn around and call someone else a crossdresser. But he doesn't. And that makes me think Fish Eye in this musical actually is a woman.)
  • (I guess I'll also mention here that the Starlights and Kakyuu aren't in this musical.)
  • As in the anime (sort of), the Trio realize they haven't any dreams (leading them to learn that they're not human, but "beasts"), which is why they're interested in the girls' dreams and want to steal them. (Or something. It was very confusing.)
  • Tiger's Eye talks to Beryl on a cell phone and the mental image of Beryl using an iPhone (or a Blackberryl, ba-dum-tish, thank you, thank you) sends me.
  • Like last time, Galaxia reveals that she revived Beryl because she needed her to awaken Saturn so she (Galaxia) could get all the Star Seeds. But once again, that is not what happens: Not only does Hotaru awaken as Saturn off-stage yet again, but she awakens because Chibi Moon shows up from the 30th Century to tell the others King Endymion has disappeared, which was entirely Galaxia's doing. Literally nothing Beryl did in this musical had even the tiniest thing to do with Saturn's awakening.
  • Beryl confronts Usagi et. al and asks if she remembers her, etc. And once again I'm left to wonder what even is the universe of this musical where Usagi and the others all met and awoke as Sailor Soldiers without Luna or Artemis or regaining any memories of the Silver Millennium (except for Hotaru who has not awoken as Sailor Saturn but whom the others still know *is* Saturn) and where they also know Chibiusa and know about Crystal Tokyo and apparently think nothing of the fact that in the future they're all just inexplicably Earth/Moon royalty. Like... Make it make sense! (Furthermore, "memories" is one of the themes of this musical: it's something Setsuna talks about at the beginning, and it comes up again, which we'll get to in a bit. Anyway, if you're going to have "Usagi and the others regain their past life memories for the first time" be a plot point in a musical where there's a general "memory" theme, you'd think it would only make sense to actually show us some past life scenes, especially since the Outers are in this musical and we could see their past lives too for a change, but you'd be severely disappointed.)
  • Anyway, in the previous musicals, this is the scene where Saturn shows up, having awoken off-stage, and sings her image song, but in this musical, Saturn shows up later and instead Pluto sings a new song to Beryl ("Stay Alone"). I like this change since it's just more fodder for my Pluto/Beryl shipping heart.
  • So Pluto and Usagi try to reason with Beryl, but she's having none of it and abducts the Inners. She tells Usagi to come to "the place of memories" where she "triumphed and gave the cry of victory." This is never explained. We're never told where or what "the place of memories" is, but it sure sounds like a good place for Mnemosyne and Lethe to turn up. Too bad this franchise apparently hates them.
  • The Amazon Trio and Galaxia's Backup Dancers are about to attack Usagi, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto when Tuxedo Mask shows up to stop them and duel with King Endymion. (Remember how Tux and the King are evil mud puppets? Well, whoever wrote this musical seems to have selective memory (#theme) re: that plot point because Tuxedo Mask is sometimes good and sometimes evil depending on whatever they needed for the scene in question and it is all just super confusing. (See also: the Inners, which we'll get to in a minute.)
  • Anyway, Endymion takes Tuxedo Mask to the place of memories, and this is where Chibi Moon shows up, followed by Saturn.
  • At the "place of memories," we find that the Inners are apparently evil now. Were their Star Seeds stolen? Were they just brainwashed with nightmare power by Beryl or by having their dreams stolen by the Trio? I really couldn't tell you because this plot point was super confusing and poorly handled. But it's later revealed that they were just pulling a Uranus/Neptune-style fakeout betrayal in order to defeat Galaxia, and while this plan works somewhat better with the Inners (who don't kill any of their comrades in the process) than it does with Uranus and Neptune, and it's still poorly thought out and just raises a lot of questions that go unanswered.
  • The Outers arrive, there's a brief fight, Chibi Moon arrives to call Beryl old (which is kind of funny but also really the only thing of any entertainment value that Chibi Moon has to bring to this musical), then Super Sailor Moon arrives, saying she was guided there by a light (obviously Chibi Chibi). She uses Starlight Honeymoon Double Therapy Kiss with Chibi Moon and they put Beryl to sleep (which is really weird, but okay). Tuxedo Mask then shows up and acts like he's been healed and he's okay now, but he was evidently just faking, literally for no reason.
  • Galaxia shows up to steal everyone's Sailor Crystals (so I guess the Inners' weren't stolen after all?) but that mysterious light shows up to stop her. Galaxia exits, then Chibi Moon runs off to discover the light's identity, and then Sailor Chibi Chibi Moon appears at the act break, and suddenly the Inners are all smiling even though they're still supposed to be pretending to be evil (I think? Again, everything in this production is bad and confusing)
  • So it's Act 2 now and Ginga TV is introduced because anime, and Usagi and the Inners are competing in a Senior High School Quiz Show that results in the Inners getting braceleted. Later, Setsuna shows up to tell Usagi, Chibiusa, and the other Outers that a hole in space-time has appeared above the TV station and it's sucking up the town's energy, but we never really feel the threat of this and it basically goes nowhere.
  • Anyway, they go to the station for the next fight scene, which is where the Inners reveal their fakeout (apparently it was Mercury's idea). Of course they fail to defeat Galaxia as it's revealed she hasn't got a Star Seed. Chibi Chibi's light appears to thwart Galaxia's attempt to kill the Inners, but Galaxia has inadequately explored control over space-time that allows her to split everyone up.
  • Usagi and Chibiusa end up facing Beryl. Usagi somehow knows that Galaxia revived Beryl so Saturn would be awakened. She points out that when Saturn awakens, it means Earth will be destroyed but Beryl is unbothered by this (also, this doesn't happen, so...). Chibiusa proves that Beryl's King Endymion is a fake and Galaxia shows up with the real Mamoru's star seed. Galaxia kills Chibiusa, then kills the others in front of Usagi/Super Sailor Moon.
  • The evil backup dancers are about to kill Saturn and Pluto when Beryl appears to confront Galaxia. Beryl (and Galaxia) kill the dancers. The Trio show up to reluctantly kill Beryl on Galaxia's orders but Pluto and Saturn protect Beryl. They send her to safety, then get killed by Galaxia.
  • Later, the Trio refuse to kill Sailor Moon. Beryl shows up to protect the Trio and Sailor Moon, but then King Endymion kills her. She dies, somehow taking the fake King with her.
  • Chibi Chibi Moon arrives to prevent the Trio from interfering when fake Tuxedo Mask shows up to kill Sailor Moon. Usagi's love somehow turns fake!TM good and real again, and then he dies. Chibi Chibi then reveals she's Galaxia's Star Seed and brings Sailor Moon and the Trio to the Galaxy Cauldron where Moon powers up to Eternal Sailor Moon and uses Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss to send Chibi Chibi/The Light of Hope back into Galaxia, healing her, but in the process releasing Chaos, who is just a giant evil bubble. Healed Galaxia shows up to sacrifice herself to stop Chaos, followed by the Trio also throwing themselves into the cauldron for reasons that are unclear to me.
  • Usagi is all alone until, surprise!, it turns out Galaxia's Light of Hope revived the others. Together, they battle some cauldron-born backup dancers while singing La Soldier, defeat Chaos, everyone who died gets reborn, and the musical is dragged out through two further unnecessary musical numbers with bad dancing.
  • The End

Conclusion:

Apparently you don't need the Starlights to do a Stars adaptation. You just need one or two evil Mamorus and returning villains from past seasons.
 

MementoNepenthe

Systema Solare
Mar 8, 2012
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#13
I watched Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ Starlights ★ Legend of the Falling Stars last night. Here are my thoughts (I'll try to keep them brief):

  • Casting: Other than the villains, I was obviously not a fan of the cast of the previous musical. Fortunately, I thought this musical's cast was phenomenal. Marina is wonderful as Usagi, Yu is the best live action Mamoru, and Yumie might be my favorite Galaxia. Everyone else was great, too (though I don't think Akiko was as good a Beryl as Yuri was)
  • Music numbers: All the songs were great and did a slightly better job of progressing the plot and/or our understanding of the characters, but especially towards the end they did too many songs back-to-back and they threw off the pacing of the action. It's like they had a bunch of songs they liked and couldn't decide which one to use, so they just decided to use all of them. But at least the choreography was a little better this time around.
  • Likes:
    • This musical addressed some of my biggest criticisms about the last one(s):
    • Galaxia doesn't revive Beryl to force Saturn's re-awakening; she revives her to steal Mamoru's Sailor Crystal (though she later says she actually just revived her to betray her later on, I guess to hammer home the fact that Galaxia's a psychopath?).
    • The characters are more distinctive and you can actually get a sense of each one's personality (though they introduced like 20 characters and had them all on stage within the first ten minutes which was very overwhelming).
    • Chibiusa is present simply because she hasn't returned to the 30th century yet, so there's no contrived, half-hearted subplot to work her into the story. Chibi Chibi is also a lot more present throughout so she doesn't feel like a completely useless, peripheral character, and the musical actually starts out with everyone meeting her so she's not just inexplicably hanging out with the gang. (Chibiusa still barely contributes anything to the show.)
    • While we didn't get a full-on flashback scene, Usagi and Mamoru did fully regain their past life memories here, so I'm happy that plot point from the last musical was sufficiently fleshed out here. (I also liked how the musical drew parallels between the meteor showers that brought Galaxia and co to Earth, and the meteor showers that brought Metalia to Earth in the past.)
  • Ehhh:
    • Between MC Fly and all the accidents happening at the (school? theater? I forget) while Usagi and the girls try to put on their (concert? talent show?), the first two Sailor Stars musicals gave me Phantom of the Opera vibes, so this musical explicitly referencing Phantom felt vindicating. However...it was really poorly done. You can't just slap a cloak and mask on Beryl and call her the Phantom of the Concert Hall. The parallels between her and Erik, Mamoru and Christine, etc, just aren't there. It's also very weird that they made Ami a Phan(TM) since she's never been characterized as a mystery buff (was it just a clumsy way of explaining the "Try me mystery" line in her image song?). She also brings up The Mystery of the Yellow Room, but at no point does the plot of that book have any relevancy with this musical.
    • Building on the previous musical's theme of memories, this musical brings up Mamoru's amnesia, which made me momentarily excited and hopeful, but then this was immediately forgotten about.
    • This musical brings back the Four Generals and I think handles them well, but I'd still rather have the Amazon Trio. They also brought back the Sailor Animamates (this time consisting of Iron Mouse, Lead Crow (for the first time in a musical), and Metal Papillon (for her first and second-to-last appearance outside of the manga). I think they were handled much better here than they were in the previous musicals, but they're still not handled very well.
  • Dislikes:
    • The pacing is still really bad
    • I'm not a fan of the whole "Chibi Chibi is actually Galaxia's Star Seed" plot point, and it was really poorly handled here. It felt a little less obvious this time around than it did in the last three musicals (and at least we were spared Chibi Chibi's horrendous song), but it resolves itself by having Chibi Chibi Moon just fling herself at Galaxia and merge(?) with her, which I guess heals~ Galaxia but also releases Sailor Chaos. It's just hugely anticlimactic.
    • Actually, the entire ending is bad. It's like a twelve minute medley / showdown that just goes on and on until it just abruptly ends with all the villains being killed in one fell swoop by Starlight Honeymoon Double Therapy Kiss. It's like they couldn't work out how to end the show and then just got bored and gave up.
    • Usagi and Chibiusa seem to refer to their scepters as their respective Silver Crystals, and it's just really weird.
    • Chibi Chibi is shown to have some kind of connection to Mamoru throughout the show (particularly during Part 1), but absolutely no resolution is given to this.
    • The Starlights are back, but this time with their bland, unlikeable anime personalities.
    • As in the first Stars musical, the Starlights never find Kakyuu.
    • Queen Beryl doesn't interact with Pluto, has no redemption arc to speak of, and is generally portrayed unsympathetically, apart from one or two brief moments where she maybe feels regret concerning her actions.
    • No matter how competently it's handled, I will never be a SenxShi fan, especially when the Inners are 16 and the Generals, given that they're posing as businessmen, are presumably in their twenties. (Also, Kunzite's laugh got real old, real fast.)
    • Early on (I think this was just after Phantom!Beryl first appeared), Mamoru finds a chrysoberyl necklace. He and Usagi both seem to recognize it, though they can't remember from where, and Jadeite/J. Taitou (I think? Might have been another of the Generals) mentions that chrysoberyl was once believed to protect people from evil eyes. I really thought this was foreshadowing something, but nope. We never see or hear of the necklace again.
    • Beryl's history/relationship with the Four Generals is never really clearly explained. Galaxia tasked the Generals with stealing the Inners' Sailor Crystals. As with evil/not evil Tuxedo Mask and the Inners' fake-out betrayal~ in the last musical, it's really hard to tell if the Generals are evil and just occasionally pretending to be good, or if they have some kind of split personality complex going on, or what. (But at least there were no fake-out betrayal schemes on the part of the Sailors.)
    • I think one of the themes of the musical is "What does it mean to be a Sailor Soldier? / What does it mean to be a hero?" but it's so poorly handled that I don't know what the answer is supposed to be, or even if there's supposed to be one at all.
  • Stray Observations:
    • The Four Generals pose as a jewelry company called "Jewel Metalias." Their aliases are Light Mifune (Nephrite), J. Taitou (Jadeite), Izou Saitou (Zoisite), and Kun Saitou (Kunzite). It's weird that Kunzite and Zoisite use the same last name. (Laziness, or is the musical trying to suggest they're brothers?)
    • Kunzite gives Chibiusa a piece of hiddenite, which is what the Nephrite stand-in is named in the next musical.
    • The girls freak out over Michiru's having given Setsuna ruby earrings, and I too find that kind of strange. Setsuna the adulteress strikes again.
    • Lead Crow uses the alias "Manila Karasu" and poses as Japan's leading expert on Filipino Dance. Is she meant to be Filipina?
    • Galaxia observes that "another galaxy has just been destroyed" at one point, but by whom? If she has other henchmen out there, they're not dealt with and thus still on the loose destroying galaxies.
    • Ami and Nephrite claim soleirolia is the smallest flower, but actually it's watermeal.
    • The jewels associated with each of the Inners' respective planets are:
      • Venus = White Sapphire (= Kunzite in white)
      • Mars = Ruby (= Jadeite in red)
      • Mercury = Green tourmaline (= Zoisite in green)
      • Jupiter = Yellow sapphire (= Nephrite in green)
    • Beryl is again portrayed as having legitimately been a queen in the past, of a "small, happy land."
    • Apparently in the universe of this musical, losing your Star Seed doesn't kill you? (Though it's kind of unclear and it's possible Beryl didn't steal Mamoru's star seed at the end of Part 1?)
    • Kunzite: Stone of coordination. Zoisite: Stone of imagination. Nephrite: Stone of vitality. Jadeite: Stone of repose. (What did Crystal say they were the knights of? Because it wasn't that.)

Conclusion: Give me Pluto x Beryl, spare me the Starlights and pointless pink-haired characters, and for the love of god resolve your plot points! Clarify your themes! Learn what pacing is!

I really hope the final Bandai era Stars musical addresses this one's issues. We shall see...
 

MementoNepenthe

Systema Solare
Mar 8, 2012
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#14
It's taken, like, three weeks, but I finally managed to slog my way through Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon ~ The Advent of Princess Kakyuu, the last of the Bandai-era musicals.

Kakyuu did a few things right, such as the inclusion of the title character and portraying Beryl more sympathetically, but for the most part it was a massive, confusing downgrade from Legend of the Falling Stars.

For starters, the musical opens with Pluto, Prince Endymion, the Four Generals, and *Sailor Moon* (not Princess Serenity) on stage. Queen Beryl and the Animamates show up, a brief fight ensues, and Endymion and Sailor Moon are left alone to sing NEW Double Moonlight Romance (with Chibi Moon). Like, what even is this scene? It never gets acknowledged or explained. It's not a flashback, it's not a premonition any of the characters has, it's just...nonsense.

In the previous musical, Chibi Chibi is introduced when she steals Setsuna's parasol and gets chased by her. Here, she's instead stolen the Garnet Rod, which she uses to briefly fly around, and it's just...really bizarre? And not in a good way. (Oh, and again she seems to recognize Mamoru, which again goes unexplained, but maybe when she says "Mamoru" she's actually saying the verb and the characters and fansubbers have simply misunderstood the intention of her dialog?)

- The "Jewel Managers" (formerly "Jewel Metalia") sing an absolutely dreadful song that is apparently a rehash of a song from Eien Densetsu that I must have blocked from my memory. Anyway, let's talk about the "Jewel Managers" a.k.a. the Neo Four Generals. Literally what was the point of renaming three of the Generals (Jadeite > Kalunite, Nephrite > Hiddenite, Zoisite > Hematite), but still leaving Kunzite as Kunzite? Like, what did that contribute? Were they trying to make something out of the completely random mention of hiddenite in the previous musical?

- Look, I was happy to see Lead Crow and Metal Papillon in the last musical, and I was happy to see Aluminum Seiren in this one, but 1) why not just throw in Tin Nyanko too while they're at it, and 2) the musical makes no attempt to give any of the Animamates anything to do to distinguish themselves from each other, so why even have them?

- The "Phantom of the Opera" stuff is handled a little better with the throw back to Kick Out a Bloody Mystery (now Excite a Ghost Mystery), but it's still just not working for me. Like, the original Sailor Stars musicals had stuff going wrong at the theater as the girls prepared for the talent show. You know, like how the Phantom causes things to go wrong at the Opera House? But Beryl doesn't interfere with the concert being planned (which the plot quickly forgets about anyway) so...it's just an idea that goes nowhere.

- Mako says her favorite flower is the calla lily and I'm left to wonder if the people who worked on this musical even read the manga?

- This time around the chrysoberyl necklace is described as being "cold" and the stuff from the last musical about chrysoberyl being believed to protect people from the evil eye is dropped. The necklace is still unexplained, though later Mamoru throws it at Beryl (which is odd since previously *Haruka* had taken the necklace).

- In what I can only imagine was an ill-guided attempt at a callback to the Sailor Saturn stuff in the earlier Stars musicals, there's some muddled talk here from the Dark Kingdom posse about Saturn being their "trump card" and I guess they want to prevent her from using her scythe to destroy Earth, but it's never really clear to me what they're on about and it goes nowhere anyway, so...

- In a rare positive, this musical actually had Chibi Chibi Moon and (good) Galaxia (albeit in a really terrible wig) on stage to explain their whole backstory, instead of the musical just presenting it via text scroll and voiceover as in earlier musicals.

- There's a scene where Zoisite Hematite pretends to be Chibi Moon in order to kidnap Chibi Chibi when a peddler woman with poison apples a la Snow White (though they mention Hansel and Gretel instead) shows up, and at first I thought it was maybe Lead Crow or Papillon in disguise (since the Animamates and Neo Shitennou have a sort of rivalry going on), but I guess it was Nephrite Hiddenite?

- The ending repeats a lot of the usual story beats, but in a very convoluted way that the bad camera work/editing only makes harder to follow. I had trouble understanding a lot of character motivations (namely Beryl's and Galaxia's), but I was too tired and bored by that point to even care anymore.

- Uranus and Neptune fake out betrayal for bonus awful points!

- The final confrontation is against Sailor Chaos/Galaxia and Beryl (as Queen Metallia in a purple jumpsuit) along with evil-er Animamates. "Silver Moon Crystal Eternal Power" plus "Moon Double Gorgeous Meditation" saves the day somewhat anticlimactically, but at least everyone (including Galaxia, Beryl, the Animamates, and the Four Generals) are all healed and alive at the end for a change, so that was something?



Anyway, now that I've rewatched them all... Even though these musicals are an absolute hot mess, I still enjoyed them a lot more than the anime and manga versions of the arc, so I guess I can understand why they presumably were more successful than those counterparts. The anime should have never dropped Chibiusa and Mamoru from the show, they should have given the Three Lights likeable personalities, they should have included more Animamates, and they should have brought back Beryl (and other previous villains) to make things feel more "full circle."