Queen Badiyanu is stealing children. Every night, her servants lure children from their beds with the music of their magical flutes and lead them through the streets of Tokyo. Eventually they go into wooden ships that are floating in mid-air in a playground, and thence to Marziapannu Castle. Can the Sailor Senshi stop the kidnapped children's dreams from becoming a Black Dream Hole? Meanwhile Chibi-Usa has made a new friend...
That's more like it! A good movie and a good instalment of Sailor Moon that's far more interesting than the SuperS TV series! It looks lovely, it does the characters justice and it even takes the trouble to work on different levels.
Sailor Moon has a reputation for going a bit further than it should in the opinion of its American licensees. Unfortunately its fourth season was its least outrageous, so the corresponding movie is more clearly child-targeted than anything else in the franchise. It's Sailor Moon versus the Pied Piper! The villains are kidnapping children by playing magic flutes and leading them through the streets of Tokyo. This is creepy. This Sailor Moon movie is tapping into that tradition of childlike horror which feeds off playroom imagery, which is surprisingly effective. I've seen criticism of this film for its fairy tale plot, but that's exactly why I find it interesting. For a while you honestly don't know where all this is going.
There's startling imagery (candy airships like giant spacegoing snails) that's every bit as eye-catching as anything in the SuperS TV series. Wild art design won't save a bad show, but it adds spice. In the corresponding TV episodes it was merely a saving grace, but here it's the icing on the cake.
However as well as the kiddie stuff, there's a mass nude scene for all the perverts out there, which as usual got snipped for the American release. There's also a "Mummy, what did she mean?" joke that probably caused a few red faces in 1995. You can always rely on Haruka and Michiru for blatant lesbian innuendo. Hey, I laughed.
I couldn't recommend this film to fans of spectacular battles and budget-busting animation. It's hardly a blockbuster. Its visuals are only slightly flashier than an average TV episode, while its fairy tale plot and imagery are eccentric even by Sailor Moon standards. Nevertheless unusually it's an anime film I actually like, outdoing the SuperS TV season and even being fit for comparison with the best of previous years too. In my opinion, anime movies based on TV series are often better than the famous ones that everyone knows about. Being faithful to existing characters and their world imposes focus. The creators have less room for flights of self-indulgent wank. Admittedly even such movies often aren't as good as the original TV episodes, but that's the anime industry for you. Ignore people who slag off the Sailor Moon movies. Admittedly the middle one is amusing for all the wrong reasons, but overall this franchise's theatrical track record is impressive.