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What You Need To Know Before Watching Sailor Moon Eternal

Five years after the most recent "Sailor Moon" anime, "Sailor Moon Crystal," aired its third and final season, the scheduled sequel, a two-part movie called "Sailor Moon Eternal," is finally being released. The film was announced all the way back in 2017 and originally slated to come out in September 2020, but it was delayed because of the pandemic (Crunchyroll). Finally, on January 8, 2021, part one of "Sailor Moon Eternal" was released, with part two following shortly on February 11, 2021 (Anime News Network). Netflix acquired US streaming rights to the film, which is scheduled to premiere on the streaming platform on June 3, 2021.

While longtime fans of the "Sailor Moon" manga and anime may already know everything about the upcoming film and the franchise's overarching story, the rise in popularity for anime around the world recently has likely brought some new fans to "Sailor Moon." Even if you're already a fan, the franchise has 18 manga volumes (according to the first publication), two anime series, three movies — now four — and a live-action series. It's a lot to get through, and the characters and storylines shift around a bit depending on the adaptation and dub version you're watching.

In order to help prepare new and old "Sailor Moon" fans for the highly anticipated film, here's all you need to know before checking out "Sailor Moon Eternal."

Who are the Sailor Senshi and their leader Sailor Moon?

Beginning in 1991, the original "Sailor Moon" manga tells the story of a middle-school student named Usagi, an awkward, talkative, and love-obsessed girl. One day, she encounters a black cat that talks, introducing herself as Luna and giving Usagi a magical broach. This item allows her to transform into Sailor Moon, the leader of the Sailor Guardians, or Sailor Senshi, a group of warriors destined to protect the world from the dark evil attempting to take over. Usagi and Luna gather up the fellow Sailor Guardians, which include Sailor Mars, a.k.a. Rei, Sailor Mercury, a.k.a. Ami, Sailor Venus, a.k.a. Minako, and Sailor Jupiter, a.k.a. Makato. The Outer Senshi, including Sailor Uranus/Haruka, Sailor Neptune/Michiru, and Sailor Pluto/Setsuna, are introduced later on. Each Sailor Guardian has special abilities tied to the planet they represent and the corresponding Roman gods.

The Sailor Senshi are told that they must find and protect Princess Serenity. Over time, the group begins to realize that they are actually the reincarnations of the original Sailor Guardians who were destroyed long ago along with the Moon Kingdom, and Usagi is the reincarnation of the princess they are looking for. They also have a constant ally in Tuxedo Mask, a vigilante of sorts who always seems to appear right when they need him. His real name is Mamoru, a high-schooler from the area, who also happens to be the reincarnation of Princess Serenity's true love, Prince Endymion of the Earth Kingdom. Oh, and there's also Sailor Chibi Moon/Chibiusa, who is the reincarnated daughter of Usagi and Mamoru. While it all seems quite complicated at first glance, trust us, it's not hard to understand. Basically, the team of Sailor Guardians use their powers to fight evil queens and other enemies, working together to protect all that is good in the world.

The movie is a sequel to the Sailor Moon Crystal anime

While the "Sailor Moon" manga was being released from 1991 to 1997, the first anime adaptation ran on television at the same time. The show adapted the entire story of Sailor Moon and her friends. An English-dubbed version aired in the United States and around the world, although the North American version was heavily edited, cutting out any LGBTQ+ characters, nudity, or intense violence. The last season, Sailor Stars, also went completely unaired. Thankfully, in 2014 Viz Media, a US anime and manga distributor, announced that they would be rereleasing the original anime series with new dubbing and very little editing from the Japanese original (Crunchyroll).

The same year, a new anime television adaptation started airing, produced by Toei Animation, which advertised itself as a more faithful adaptation of the original manga. It was generally positively received, with Genevieve Koski of The AV Club writing that "the makers of Crystal are aware of what fans want from this series, and seem to be more or less giving it to them," while also giving particular praise to Sailor Moon's transformation, which she says is "wonderfully dynamic and true to the original—right down to the nail polish—while working in the new series' established art style."

The new movie, "Sailor Moon Eternal," will pick up where Season 3 of "Sailor Moon Crystal" ends, building off of the characterization and backstory established in the series, while sending the Sailor Guardians on a new, grand adventure.

What happened to Usagi and her friends leading into Sailor Moon Eternal?

The "Sailor Moon Crystal" anime has three seasons, with each one taking on a distinct story arc. Looking at the final season — also known as the Infinity Arc — Usagi and her friends face off against alien foes called the Death Busters who want to take over the Earth as their new home. The season introduces the mysterious Sailor Uranus and Neptune, two girls who are reluctant to work with Sailor Moon and the other Guardians. But once Sailor Pluto arrives, all of the Sailor Guardians discover the real threat.

An evil being called Mistress 9 is possessing a new classmate named Hotaru, who also has the spirit of Sailor Saturn inside of her. The Outer Senshi warn that Saturn has the ability to destroy the world, seeing her as a threat. In order to get rid of both problems, they want to kill Hotaru, but Usagi won't let them. Eventually, Mistress 9 awakens and takes over Hotaru, kickstarting the final battle between the Death Busters and the Sailor Guardians. In the end, Sailor Saturn awakens and sacrifices herself to stop Mistress 9 and her allies, before being reincarnated as a baby.

At the end of "Sailor Moon Crystal," all is well. The Outer Senshi take baby Hotaru, vowing to raise her as a family, while all the other Sailor Guardians are safe. While watching an eclipse together, Usagi, Chibiusa, and Mamoru hear the sound of a bell. This moment is right where "Sailor Moon Eternal" starts, leading into the introduction of Helios, a new character Sailor Moon meets at the beginning of the new movie.