After a period spanning months, I’ve finished watching Sailor Moon SuperS, the fourth season of the show. As far as I’ve been able to tell, while it was the first of the seasons to be completely fansubbed, it also seems to be the least popular season. I’ve found two reasons for this on the web: the lack of of the Outer Senshi that show up in the third season, and because many people seem to find Chibi-usa, who is undoubtedy the main character of this season, distasteful. I’ve never had that problem, and I found the season both interesting and amusing even without the Outer Senshi.
Every season of Sailor Moon contains a group of enemies who are usually seeking some McGuffin from within individual human souls, a mysterious ally, some romance, stock transformation footage and a theme that shows up again and again both in individual episodes and in the overarching plotline. In SuperS, this theme is growing up and the value of childhood. Possibly it’s the theme that makes people dismiss the show so easily; it is certainly less ‘adult’ than the thought-provoking themes of the season before. Nonetheless, it provides for some important character growth for our heroines as well as producing some of the most interesting and well-developed enemies of the seasons I’ve seen so far.
The Dead Moon Circus, seeking dream mirrors inside of people, is the framework for the enemies this time, and we get nine of them throughout the season, including two teams. The first team is the Amazon Trio, three young men who have a disturbing approach to finding and dealing with prey– and prey the victims of the week are. They spend a lot of down time in a strange bar poring over pictures of targets and arguing and commiserating among themselves, and I am equal parts disturbed and amused by them. Once they pass out of the spotlight (in a completely satisfactory way), we are introduced to the Amazoness Quartet, who seem to be direct contrasts to Chibi-usa. While Chibi-usa often acts more mature than her older companions, and dreams of being an adult, the Amazoness Quartet are young girls who scorn adulthood and revel in the irresponsibility of childhood. The social encounters and conflicts between the street identities of the Quartet and the Senshi draw the opposing ideals out, with reasonably interesting arguements presented on both sides.
The mysterious ally of the season is a winged unicorn called Pegasus who lives in dreams; there is a less emphasized theme of friendship and trust that is developed between he and Chibi-usa. He remains veiled in mystery throughout most of the season and for this reason is mostly only developed through the snippets of advice he gives Chibi-usa and his occasional blush. I liked him the most at the end of the season, but in general he was a touch too subdued for my tastes.
As far as stock footage goes, the season features both an attack power-up and a costume power-up for all of the Senshi into super versions (thus its title). The monsters of the week are amusingly and individualistically portrayed, and the variations on the framework of the fight scenes are funny enough that they’re worth all the standard sequences.
The overarching plotline is pretty simple, leaving lots of room for the theme and character development that are the stars of the season. While the character development does focus on Chibi-usa and the enemies, there is a subtle attention paid to Usagi that provides an important bridge to her astonishing maturity in the fifth season, Stars. The other senshi get one or two episodes apiece, as well as group interactions. There’s a handful of episodes that deal with the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru, sometimes from Chibi-Usa’s point of view, and Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen gets some fun scenes that people like me who are unfamiliar with the first two seasons will cherish.
Overall, while the season isn’t the most tense and gripping Sailor Moon you could choose, it /is/ a funny, character-driven series that has an awful lot to say about childhood and adulthood and is well worth the time of anybody looking for something easy to watch.