The real greats never go out of style, which is why Sailor Moon is still on so many top ten list more than 25 years after it first debuted. It was popular internationally, loved not only by girls who loved watching female superheroes but by anyone who liked cartoons with real stories and believable drama. Like any television show, even the most successful, there were some depressing lows that came with the elated highs. Here are five of the Sailor Senshi's best and most exciting adventures, followed by five other stories that were boring, awkward, or otherwise forgettable.
You can tell Rei is more than a bit caught out by this revelation, as she's been on Usagi's case for most of Season 1. And that's one of the reasons this episode is so great, because of that underlying message that people can surprise you. Some of the fight scenes and part of Usagi's transformation into the Moon Princess is missing from the original English dub because of concerns about nudity, so try to find the uncut subtitled version to really appreciate how gorgeous this episode is, which is also another great feature. The payoff of this story thread subverts audience expectations, as the Moon Princess was first thought to be Mina, any of the other soldiers, or someone who they hadn't yet found.
One of the things we loved about Sailor Moon was its message of female empowerment, so when we got a silly filler episode that fell back on tired sexual stereotypes it was always a let-down. There are some funny moments here, like Usagi putting on a ninja mask and trying to steal her mother's good curtains to make a dress, but that's not enough to salvage this cringeworthy whine-fest that revolves around women making wedding dresses and not much else. It wouldn't be so bad if this was the sub-plot, but the way it takes over the entire episode is annoying and boring instead of funny.
When we saw that Saturn symbol shining on Hotaru's head, it was pretty thrilling. This episode officially uncovers the identity of the Soldier of Silence, the ominous and most powerful of all the Senshi. We always suspected it, but to see her power manifest in such a profound yet subtle way makes our hair stand on end, especially since we're familiar with the quest of Neptune and Uranus. The juxtaposition is clever, as the weak and solitary Hotaru is actually revealed to be a very dangerous and formidable being. Will she help the Sailor Senshi or destroy them?
Sailor Moon R, the second season of Sailor Moon, gives us some great episodes, but this isn't one of them. It devolves into petty squabbling between the female characters over the leading role in a school production of Snow White. Ann is playing the whole elaborate plot just to get a kiss from Mamoru, who of course has been cast as the Prince. It's gagworthy and totally uninteresting. Never mind that it's one of the most archaic and stereotypical fairy tales out there, what makes things worse is the ham-fisted attempts at lame humor, like Makoto's comment about being the best choice for Snow White because of her bra size. Sorry girls, we're laughing at you, not with you.
The episode before this one is also a close contender, as features the Solitary Soldier, Pluto, using her forbidden weapon and making a quick reference to her demigod status. But we have to give it to this particular chapter, where we watch Usagi transform into her next most powerful form, Super Sailor Moon, to save Hotaru. A fully realized Sailor Saturn then fights Pharoah 90 at the cost of her own life, but Sailor Moon's not having it. She defies the odds and the will of the Outer Soldiers and manages to rescue Hotaru. Usagi was taking a chance here, as she knew that saving Hotaru would anger Uranus and Neptune, but in spite of that, she refused to leave anyone behind or sacrifice any of her friends.
An earlier episode that takes a stab at comedy, you could argue that it makes a case against working out too much and being overly obsessed with your weight, but the emphasis on body-shaming and the prevalence of skewed body image in this episode goes too far. Even friends and family, including the usually dependable Luna, tease Usagi about all the weight she hasn't gained. Certain episodes of the English dub had to change because the marketing and management thought the homosexual relationships were a bad influence, but this awful chapter is left completely intact? Please.
Move over, Game of Thrones, Sailor Moon was killing off your favorite characters before it was cool. One of the great things that set Sailor Moon apart as a show was the high stakes, and in this episode, they all die fighting the vicious DD Girls. The battles are brutal, too. Jupiter and Mars prove their badassery by taking out two each, and as they sacrifice their lives, they get Sailor Moon another step closer to Queen Beryl. This is part one of a two-part episode that ended the first season of the Japanese series, and the next episode, "Usagi's Eternal Wish: A Brand New Life" is also a contender for this list. So much of that ended up on the cutting room floor with the English adaptation that the North American dub combined the two episodes into one.
Sailor Moon Super S is a confusing season anyway, with storylines and characters that seemed as if they were designed for a whole other age group. This episode is one of those, and it's even more focused on Chibi-Usa than most of this season. It revolves around an athletics carnival, specifically the vault. Not the pole vault, when you have to jump over that "horsebox" platform. So basically, something that takes almost no skill at all. Why couldn't it be an activity that was actually exciting, instead of this? And it's the main plot, too. Ugh.
Captain America: Civil War might have stolen the basic premise of the film plot with this episode, where the Outer Soldiers and the other Senshi of Season 5 square off in an all-out brawl. Uranus and Neptune join Sailor Galaxia and fight the other soldiers, including the Sailor Stars. To thicken the plot, Uranus and Neptune planned to turn on Galaxia the whole time and are killed when they do. It's not just about the Soldiers in this episode. We find out some of Galaxia's backstory, like that she has no Star Seed, which is a hint to Chibi Chibi's identity, and that she was the legendary Sailor Guardian who defeated Chaos.
Pegasus is just creepy, okay? We can't get past that. In another entry from season 4, we have to sit through part of Chibi-Usagi's romance with Pegasus. This is hard to take too seriously or even be interested in because they're just kids and the interaction is cute but it's hardly dramatic or compelling. In a Freaky Friday-esque twist, Chibi-Usa switches ages with Usagi, who is so immature anyway that we hardly even notice. Chibi-Usa is happy because her dream of becoming an adult has come true, but Pegasus says he can't be with her unless she's a child. Wait, what? Before we can really think about what that means, Chibi-Usa has chosen to become a child again and break the spell. We roll our eyes when she kisses Helios, but at least it's over.