The latest Sailor Moon musical, Princess Kaguya’s Lover, is now available to stream with English subtitles from Japan 2.5D Stage Play World. Tickets allow unlimited streaming for a two week period. I chose December 10th to the 23rd and so I had at long last had a chance to watch this musical a few weeks ago. I’ll share my thoughts in this post.
This musical is a pretty faithful adaptation of the Princess Kaguya’s Lover side story from the Sailor Moon manga. This story had previously been adapted as Sailor Moon S: The Movie so fans of the film will immediately recognize the story of Luna falling in love with a human Kakeru as his lover Himeko travels to space all while the evil Princess Snow Kaguya threatens the Earth! As this musical is a more faithful adaptation than even the S movie, which was itself fairly faithful, there will still be a lot of similarity between the musical and that film.
The musical starts out with a brief overview of the early events of the manga, which is not something included in the manga story it is based on. By the end of this we are pretty much where the manga is at the start of The Lover of Princess Kaguya though Diana is strangely absent, because her existence would be inconvenient to the story. Diana also doesn’t exist yet in the Sailor Moon S film adaptation. I suppose technically Diana isn’t born yet in any version of this story but in the manga we are introduced to her in 30th century Crystal Tokyo and she is in this time due to time travel. She only arrives in the 20th century during the Sailor Moon SuperS season of the original Sailor Moon anime.
We have a shared birthday party taking place which really situates the story in time more than any other. In the musical it is a shared birthday between Minako, Makoto and Setsuna. Minako’s birthday is October 23rd, Makoto’s birthday is December 5th and Setsuna’s birthday is between the two on October 29th. In the manga Setsuna is not included in the celebration, though she is present at the party. It’s okay though as she’s used to being ignored after having spent centuries pining after King Endymion. There’s quite a gap between Minako and Makoto’s birthdays but it’s not uncommon for groups of friends to get together and have a shared birthday party. It’s likely closer to Makoto’s birthday than Minako’s at this point since the events of the musical are leading up to the climax on December 24th, Christmas Eve. Yes, this is a Christmas musical!
An interesting thing which is mentioned in the liner notes for the Sailor Moon Eternal Edition manga is that voice actors Rika Fukami and Emi Shinohara share a birthday on August 8th. It’s possible that the party from the manga was inspired by a real live shared birthday party between those actors who’s birthdays are actually much closer than those of the characters they voice.
One of the main differences between this musical and the manga story it’s based on is the almost complete lack of Artemis. In scenes where he would actually be present in the manga he is instead only referenced. We will see him at the end of the musical… sort of.
The main plot of the musical centers around a comet that is going to hit the earth. At first everything seems fine because the comet just sort of died out. How exactly does this work? A massive object in space can’t just disappear. It’s said that it went close to the sun and burnt out. Was it on its way to the earth or not? The whole thing is very odd. The idea of an asteroid crashing into the earth isn’t unreasonable. The musical makes reference to the comet being roughly the size of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs and another like that would of course be very bad. So why a comet and not an asteroid? Well comets go around and around over and over. Asteroids do too, but that’s a bit what comets are known for since we are able to witness them due to the gas which trails behind them, often caused by water ice which evaporates when exposed to sun light. Since Princess Snow Kaguya, the musical’s villain, is said to be returning after 4.5 billion years, roughly the age of the earth, it seems this is meant to be a return equivalent to seeing a comet again.
It’s curious that since watching this musical a very popular Netflix film, Don’t Look Up, similarly features a comet which threatens to destroy the Earth. I have not seen the film and don’t intend to but from what I understand from this great review of the film, Sailor Moon sadly does not make an appearance.
This musical is all about Luna. After being harassed by the same group of kids or a similar group of kids to those who put a band aid on her in the first manga story she has the exact same thing done to her again. This disorients her and blocks her magic, yet again, which causes her to avoid an accident and end up in the arms of titular character Kakeru, the Lover of Princess Kaguya. Luna falls in love with Kakeru! Sadly Kakeru loves Himeko and while it seems like he may be returning Luna’s affection she’s sort of a Seiya to Kakeru’s Usagi while Himeko is his Mamoru. The difference being that Luna gets to kiss Kakeru.
There’s this very odd thing in the story where we act like going from Tokyo, Japan, to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is really not a big deal. It’s treated as if it was hopping on a train over to the next city. Knowing that Naoko Takeuchi was inspired to write this story after a trip to Cape Canaveral makes one wonder if she forgot having flown the 16 or so hours it takes to cross the Pacific Ocean and the entire width of the United States of America. Himeko travels there for work. Kakeru on a whim takes a couple of days off to join her. Once he falls ill Himeko brings him back to Tokyo and eventually flies back to the United States. Sounds expensive! Meanwhile Luna sneaks onto two of these flights.
Things get real which means that Usagi and Luna have to explain to Himeko what’s going on. They mention that Princess Snow Kaguya, the fairly lackluster villain of the musical, comes from space. She’s shocked, asking if that makes her an alien? Lady, the talking cat is also technically an alien and Usagi is sort of an alien so maybe show a bit of respect and as a scientist, have an open mind?
It’s repeatedly mentioned that Princess Snow Kaguya was around 4.5 billion years earlier. This date closely coincides with the age of the Earth. As she’s defeated she mentions having seen a light, like that from the silver crystal, 4.5 billion years ago. Does that suggest that there was a Sailor Moon type hero wielding the silver crystal or something like it when the earth was created? Not super clear.
So there’s a big fight and the bad lady is defeated along with a nice song. This means luckily that the plan to launch a spaceship to destroy the comet in a very Armageddon/Deep Impact sort of way isn’t needed anymore. After countless delays to launching due to unpleasant weather and radiation in space along with the main reason for the mission now disappearing do they scrap it? Well no. They instead completely change the goal of the flight and proceed anyway! They aren’t going to destroy the comet but instead they’ll just go on with their newly added crew member to the Moon Base. Wait there’s a Moon Base now? Is it anywhere close to the ruins of Silver Millennium? Does the space ship even have the right amount of fuel for this completely different mission? They don’t need to reprogram a bunch of flight paths? Is the Moon, where they didn’t actually plan on landing earlier that day, even in the optimal place to travel there at this time of the month? So very odd.
As the Silver Crystal was used to save the day it’s suggested it can simply be used to grant a wish and make Luna human. Since when is that an option? The Crystal seems to be a pretty versatile tool which can be used as a sort of energy weapon, to heal people on a massive scale, to purify or cleanse evil. It seems it’s also able to just sort of make wishes come true as well. In this case it’s “make the cat human for a while” which is actually making Luna turn into a human form which she already had which is in itself a bit odd. Is the Silver Crystal like the Dragonballs?
Human Luna shows up and … it’s a totally different actress. Human Luna is the same actress who played the shadow Luna who was showing up in certain scenes. What is odd is that the actress who plays Cat Luna is quite young but the actress playing Human Luna is an adult. This gives an odd impression of Luna’s age. I suppose that the intention in casting a younger actress as Cat Luna was a practical one because a cat happens to be smaller than a person but it makes Luna seem like she’s actually a younger woman and then when Human Luna shows up it seems that the idea here is that this is actually reflecting Luna’s actual age. Her feelings for Kakeru are a woman’s feelings and not those of a teenage girl. As a fan of Sailor Moon since watching the old dub in the 90s it’s always hard for me to think of Luna as anything but the older sounding lady from that dub, even if I understand that the canon seems to instead suggest that Luna is somewhere between Usagi’s age, and therefore a peer of hers, or a slightly older young adult, to match the physical appearance of Human Luna in the manga and S movie. The live action series further confuses this with Luna becoming a very young Sailor Luna, but that’s a whole other story.
We learn that Himeko is pregnant which is something that is very much not in the S movie but it is in the manga. It’s a bit irresponsible to go into space with an unborn child in your womb as it’s being exposed to higher levels of radiation. It is specifically mentioned that there’s a geomagnetic blizzard which I think could be dangerous for the baby once Himeko no longer has the protection which the Earth’s magnetic field gives the inhabitants of the planet while they aren’t in space.
Finally Artemis shows up and what a joke this is! He’s basically a very cheap little projected image on the wall. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t look anything like Luna. He’s totally shafted in this musical!
I did enjoy the musical quite a bit, though it’s far from my favourite of the Sailor Moon musicals. I was never a particularly big fan of the Sailor Moon S movie. It’s good enough but as the movies go it’s my third favourite out of the three. This is the same story and though the manga lacks some of what makes the S Movie a bit weak, it’s still not my favourite story. I understand and appreciate that a lot of people have a special affection for the S movie, consider it to be the better film and also have a great fondness for this manga story. Those fans should be quite pleased with this musical as it’s a very faithful adaptation. Sailor Moon Crystal has given us an accurate anime adaptation of the manga and this musical does a great job of doing the same with the Princess Kaguya’s Lover side story. If only we could get the rest of the side stories and Sailor V adapted somehow!
Bottom line is that you should absolutely support this streaming event. If you haven’t already signed up you can continue to do so until February 3rd. The cost is reasonable and the musical is well worth watching. If you’re a person who’s watched musicals over the years by downloading fansubs you really should be supporting this official release if you have the means to do so. This will show that there’s interest in Sailor Moon musicals and make it more likely that more get released outside of Japan in the future.
A final thought on the end of the musical where the cast speak to the audience. A lot of them mentioned how happy they were that this musical was actually able to be performed and that they were lucky that everyone stayed healthy throughout. This serves as an interesting reminder of how severe the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was when this musical took place in Tokyo in September of 2021. Even when I watched this musical in mid December things were going fairly well, pandemic wise, where I live and then in the short weeks since the situation has very quickly become more serious and strict lockdowns are in place in my home province. This musical was delayed a whole year and, like with the Tokyo Olympics, almost didn’t happen. We shall see what the future may bring with regards to a new musical in 2022. I’m hoping for the best but also that if we get a new musical that it’s because it’s safe to do so and that fans are able to travel to Japan to see it without any serious health risks.
Let us know what you thought of the musical in the comments!