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This Is The Correct Order In Which To Watch The Sailor Moon Franchise

"Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon" is a Japanese manga by Naoko Takeuchi that ran in the young women's magazine Nakayoshi starting in 1991 (via The Mary Sue). It was first adapted into anime in 1992, and the series ran alongside the manga until 1997.

However, if you want to read the manga along with the anime, you're better off starting with the newer series, "Sailor Moon Crystal," which follows the manga more faithfully. It also streamlines its storytelling — if you just want the story, "Sailor Moon Crystal" has a lot less filler. On the other hand, the shorter runtime means less time spent with the individual Sailors and their adversaries. If you want to really revel in the character development, alongside every step of their powers and evolution, the original 1992 anime is a better bet.

Of course, a completist wants to see both versions, so that's the order we're going to explore: First, the reboot series, then the original anime. That way, you can get the full story and then enjoy the more discursive route the older cartoon takes. Both series are five seasons long, but the length of the seasons varies. A lot of the movies that occur throughout the anime series fall out of sequence and are usually disconnected from the main plot, as is the live-action "Sailor Moon" that retells the story (via Kotaku) — which is why we're focusing here on the anime only. So let's dig in and find out the best order to watch "Sailor Moon."

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 1: Dark Kingdom

"Sailor Moon Crystal" was released over twenty years after the original anime and even had an advance screening on Sailor Moon's canonical birthday, June 30 (via Crunchyroll). The "Dark Kingdom" arc starts when harried 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino accidentally steps on a magical black cat named Luna. Luna can talk, and she's been looking for Usagi to introduce her to the world of Sailor Guardians. At a moment of great need, Luna helps Usagi attain her Sailor Moon form.

As Sailor Moon, the Guardian of love and justice, Usagi must spend this season assembling a party of Guardians and find the Legendary Silver Crystal before the Dark Kingdom does. Luna also tasks her with finding a mysterious Moon Princess. Sailor Moon's allies eventually include her friends Ami Mizuno, Rei Hino, and Makoto Kino. Over the course of the earliest episodes, each of them is called to their own Sailor Guardian form: Ami becomes the Guardian of water and intelligence (Sailor Mercury), Rei the Guardian of fire and passion (Sailor Mars), and Makoto the Guardian of thunder and courage (Sailor Jupiter).

These four Guardians are joined later by Minako Aino (Sailor Venus), a famous superhero in Usagi's world who goes by Sailor V, the Guardian of love and beauty, and claims to be the Moon Princess Usagi is looking for. She's mistaken, and by the end of the season, Usagi has discovered the identity of the true Moon Princess as well as that of her reincarnated lover, Prince Endymion.

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 2: Black Moon

A little pink-haired girl who looks like Usagi — and whose name is also Usagi — falls from the sky at the end of the "Dark Kingdom" arc, and she is the focus of the next story. She seems to be a "chibi," or "little," version of Usagi, which is why she is eventually nicknamed Chibiusa.

Chibiusa uses hypnotism to make herself part of Usagi's life and family because she's on the run from the Black Moon Clan, a collection of far-future villains who have pursued Chibiusa, whom they call "Rabbit" ("Usagi" means "Rabbit"), through time from the 30th century. After the other Sailors are abducted by the Black Moon Clan, Sailors Moon and Venus learn that Chibiusa is from the future and that only they can save her future home, Crystal Tokyo. Chibiusa opens a path back to her future, where they meet Sailor Pluto. Pluto is the Guardian of the underworld and the Protector of the Space and Time Door.

Things certainly are different in Crystal Tokyo, which is in ruins thanks to the Black Moon Clan. King Endymion (who is Tuxedo Mask's future self) explains that in the future, he is married to Usagi — and that Chibiusa is their daughter!

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3: Death Busters

Usagi and the Sailor Senshi are more powerful than they've ever been and ready for anything. They've even got new Super Sailor forms, including Chibiusa, who eventually evolves into Super Sailor Chibi Moon.

This is good because there's a whole lot of trouble coming down the road! Daimons are attacking on the behalf of the Death Busters, this season's villains, while two mysterious new Sailors appear. Beyond that, Sailor Mars and Tuxedo Mask are having recurring nightmares about the end of the world.

Super Sailor Chibi Moon and Super Sailor Moon attack the Death Busters' leaders, Mistress 9 and Master Pharaoh 90, with Chibiusa's Holy Grail (also called the Purity Chalice or Moon Chalice, depending on the version). This awakens the last of the Sailor Senshi: Sailor Saturn, Guardian of silence. She turns out to be more powerful than anyone expected, and there are disastrous consequences to her awakening. In the end, it's Super Sailor Moon, in her futuristic form as Neo Queen Serenity, who puts things right. Sailor Saturn gets locked away behind Super Sailor Pluto's Space and Time Door to be reborn as a child for Sailors Uranus and Pluto to raise together.

Sailor Moon Eternal

There hadn't been a "Sailor Moon" movie in theatres in over two decades when "Sailor Moon Eternal" was released (via Crunchyroll). It came out in two parts, released in January and February of 2021, and these two halves form what is essentially the fourth season of "Sailor Moon Crystal." It involves the Sailor Guardians' defense of Elysion, a sacred site on Earth, from a large group of circus-themed villains called the Dead Moon Circus.

The Dead Moon Circus' major power is summoning lemures to fight the Sailor Guardians. These lemures use various techniques and schemes to take the Guardians apart physically and mentally. For example, at one point the Dead Moon Circus magically switches Usagi and Chibiusa's ages, and later they trap Sailor Venus using a fake pop-idol audition.

The Amazoness Quartet of Dead Moon villains creates the Amazon Trio, which is composed of three animal-based lemures, to trap the Guardians in nightmares one at a time. A former priest named Helios, now in the form of a pegasus, arrives to help as the team looks for the Golden and Silver Crystals the Dead Moon Circus seeks. They are opposed by an old witch named Zirconia and an evil queen named Nehelenia, the leaders of the Dead Moon Circus.

Sailor Moon Cosmos

A sequel two-part film, "Sailor Moon Cosmos," has a summer 2023 release date (via Sailor Moon News). It adopts the "Stars" arc from the manga, in which a league of corrupted Sailor Guardians, called the Shadow Galactica, come to steal the Star Seeds, or essence of life, from everyone in the Milky Way.

We meet Sailor Galaxia, who takes the form of a small girl. In this way, she's like Chibi-usa, who began as a smaller version of Sailor Moon before we got to know her origins. Sailor Galaxia is the leader of the Shadow Galactica, a sort of dark version of Sailor Moon, whose goal is to defeat Chaos and become the new Golden Queen of the galaxy. Her henchwomen are called the Sailor Animamates, led by Sailors Phi and Chi, although none of them are truly Sailor Guardians. In fact, they murdered their home planets' Guardians to get in Galaxia's good graces.

"Sailor Moon Cosmos" is a fitting end to the "Sailor Moon Crystal" saga, as it is satisfying to see Usagi, alongside her friends and allies, come up against a scary and powerful group of their magical opposites.

Sailor Moon

Now that you've experienced as much of "Sailor Moon Crystal" as you can, it's time to go back to the beginning and see where the whole saga started. That said, if you're more into the retro style and '90s vibe of the original, you might even start here, as they both tell the same basic story.

"Sailor Moon" originally ran from 1992 to 1997 on TV Asahi. There are 200 episodes in all, as well as three movies and various other spin-offs. Where "Sailor Moon Crystal" focused mainly on plot, these episodes sometimes open up the focus to spend more time with different characters.

In each episode, the season's main villains try to steal some precious resources from humanity such as Heart Crystals, Dream Mirrors, Star Seeds, and other valuable items. A monster, sometimes a transformed victim of the episode's villains, attacks. Sailor Moon eventually takes care of things with her special attack, which changes each season as her power grows.

Sailor Moon: Season 1

In Season 1, Usagi discovers her powers as Sailor Moon thanks to a talking black cat. She helps unlock the powers of four Inner Guardians, so named because they are Guardians of the solar system's inner planets. She also meets Mamoru Chiba and his superheroic alter ego, Tuxedo Mask, as the group goes up against the Dark Kingdom.

In "Sailor Moon," the first arc sees Usagi fighting off the attacks of Queen Beryl's henchman Jadeite all on her own. Cursed jewelry, tarot cards, and cassette tapes are just some of his tools. A mysterious radio station, health club, and pet shop are all sites that Jadeite uses to steal humanity's energy for Queen Beryl.

It's not until Episode 8, "Computer School Blues," that Usagi gains any allies (beyond Luna) in her fight. The talking cat is suspicious of classmate Ami Mizuno, who turns out to be Sailor Mercury, another Guardian. She helps Usagi with Jadeite's latest scheme, a clock that drains human energy.

Later, the duo investigates a Shinto priestess, Rei Hino, who seems to have strange powers. At first, Usagi thinks she's the Moon Princess she's looking for, but it turns out she's another Guardian, Sailor Mars.

Sailor Moon R: Season 2

As is common in the manga and anime industry, the first 13 episodes of the 2nd Season were an original story since the manga needed time to catch up, which means that big parts of the season can be skipped if you would rather avoid filler episodes. In fact, much of "Sailor Moon R" has no equivalent in the comic.

According to Tuxedo Unmasked, the "R" in the title can refer to "Romance," "Return," or "Rabbit," all of which have deeper meanings as the season continues. For example, Usagi and her friends have lost their memories of being Sailor Guardians when the season begins, so the early episodes are about reawakening those memories — a "Return" indeed.

It begins with the attack of the Doom Tree aliens, who seek to harvest human energy, much like Queen Beryl, to revive the Doom Tree. They infiltrate Usagi's high school, forcing Luna to restore Sailor Moon's memories. Another attack, this time at a movie casting call, necessitates bringing back the memories of the rest of the Inner Guardians.

Eventually, the Doom Tree attacks and breaks Usagi's brooch during a cherry-blossom viewing party. This leaves Sailor Moon and her friends helpless until Queen Serenity, Usagi's future self upgrades Sailor Moon's talismans. The Doom Tree starts going after younger and younger victims. Soon, Usagi discovers the truth about the Doom Tree: it's supposed to thrive on love, and not life energy.

After you see this season completely, it's time for "Sailor Moon R: The Movie" — in this one, an old acquaintance of Tuxedo Mask appears and drives a wedge between Mamoru and Usagi.

Sailor Moon R: Season 2 continued

Back on track with the manga, the rest of Season 2 of "Sailor Moon" focuses on the arrival and the mystery of a small pink-haired girl who falls from the sky onto Usagi, demanding the Legendary Silver Crystal. Mysteriously, this little girl — whose name is also Usagi — seems to have become part of Sailor Moon's family. They call her Chibiusa and it's eventually revealed that she is Sailor Moon's daughter from the future.

The Black Moon Clan arrives from the 30th-century city of Crystal Tokyo, looking for Chibiusa, just as Mamoru breaks up with Usagi after he starts having nightmares about her. The Black Moon Clan has come to set things up in our time to steal energy from sites of power that will be known as Crystal Points. In addition to fighting off the Black Moon villains and protecting Chibiusa, it becomes vital to protect these future Crystal Points.

Mamoru ignores his dreams and rushes to a sleeping Sailor Moon for a kiss after she's put into a deep sleep by the Black Moon. Following this, the Guardians spend several episodes teaching the Black Moon villains the value of friendship and true love — not that it makes a lasting impression — and the story leaves the planet for space altogether.

Sailor Moon S: Season 3

"Sailor Moon S" is known as the darkest season of the original anime. The villains of this season are the Death Busters, who are searching for three talismans they can use to end the world.

The season begins with an attack by a new monster called a Daimon, which takes away Usagi's ability to transform into Sailor Moon, and therefore her ability to fight. The team must rely on the powers of a heroic lesbian couple, new Sailors Uranus and Neptune, who are Guardians of the sky and sea. Eventually Usagi and Mamoru are able to rekindle her powers with the strength of their love, and later Usagi must rescue Tuxedo Mask at the same time the rest of the time is facing down the Death Busters.

Soon Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, along with Sailor Pluto, become part of a plot to protect the pure hearts of Infinity Academy from the Death Busters and their ultimate leader, Pharaoh 90. "Sailor Moon S: The Movie" follows, although, like any of the movies besides "Sailor Moon Eternal," it's optional and doesn't play into the main canon storyline, instead revolving around an alien ice entity named Princess Snow Kaguya.

Sailor Moon SuperS: Season 4

"Sailor Moon SuperS," the 4th Season of the show, is a return to a more lighthearted mood after "Sailor Moon R." This season takes place in two major arcs, both of which are about fighting off an infiltrating force known as the Dead Moon.

In the first 22 episodes, the Guardians face off against the Amazon Trio, an animal-themed group of baddies pursuing a Golden Crystal. This Golden Crystal belongs to a deity called Helios, a pegasus who lives in dreams. Sailor Moon's daughter has returned from the future to train with the Guardians, bringing back a more innocent vibe to the story, and Chibiusa's dreams are key to saving Helios.

The following 17 episodes introduce the Amazoness Quartet, the true evil force behind the Amazon Trio, and followers of the Dead Moon Circus's Queen Nehelenia. These villains want to steal Dream Mirrors in order to stay young forever, and they don't mind killing to get them. "Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie" follows, and is a fun mythological adventure about fairies and dream mirrors.

Sailor Moon Sailor Stars: Season 5

"Sailor Moon Sailor Stars" is the final season of the original anime. The Queen Nehelenia storyline from "Sailor Moon SuperS" wraps up over six episodes, with Mamoru falling under her spell again, threatening Chibiusa's very existence. 

The remaining and final 28 episodes are all about the Sailor Wars, in which corrupted Sailor Guardians called the Shadow Galactica arrive in Tokyo to steal Earthlings' Star Seeds. Their leader, Sailor Galaxia, is a dark and twisted version of Sailor Moon who wants to rule the whole galaxy. 

The Shadow Galactica's arrival is preceded in the story by a pop idol group called the Three Lights, who are men in their civilian forms but become women when they transform into the Sailor Starlights. Refugees from Sailor Galaxia's onslaught, the Three Lights, become on-and-off love interests for some of the Sailor Guardians, making much of the season into almost an identity farce. Of course, the fun and games are over once Sailor Galaxia comes calling, setting up a showdown that will shape the "Sailor Moon" universe and end the original saga.