30 years ago, the Sailor Moon anime premiered in Japan. Adapted from Naoko Takeuchi’s manga of the same name, the anime series follows teenaged protagonist Usagi Tsukino as she becomes a Sailor Guardian to combat evil and search for a reincarnated moon princess. Not only was the 1992 anime partially responsible for introducing anime to viewers in the United States, but the anime would also influence a generation of cartoonists such as Rebecca Sugar and ND Stevenson.
Since then, the anime and its spin-off films have not only been re-dubbed by a new English cast, but they have also spawned a modern remake. In 2014, Sailor Moon Crystal premiered and featured the same iconic characters in storylines that reflected the original manga series. Whether you’re an old viewer who missed out on some things or a new viewer who is curious, check out this Sailor Moon watch order.
(And if you want to get into the Sailor Moon manga, we have a companion Sailor Moon reading order for you.)
The very first season of the '90s Sailor Moon anime introduces the heroine Usagi, her magical mascot cat Luna, and Usagi’s fellow Sailor Guardians: Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, and Sailor Venus. Other major characters introduced include the mysterious protector Tuxedo Mask as well as the antagonists known collectively as the Dark Kingdom.
Not only does this arc focus on the Sailor Guardians' first adventures, but it also establishes some worldbuilding involving the Moon Kingdom and its reincarnated princess Serenity as well as her destined lover, the reincarnated prince Endymion. When this season was originally brought to the United States, Usagi became known as Serena and Endymion (aka Tuxedo Mask) became known as Darien.
In addition, the other Sailor Guardians were also Americanized as Rei (Sailor Mars), Amy (Sailor Mercury), Lita (Sailor Jupiter), and Mina (Sailor Venus). The antagonists were also affected, most notably Zoisite; while the original character was male and in love with another male character (Malachite), their gender was changed to female due to censorship. The series was also censored for scenes of death and mild nudity. In 2015, the season was re-released with uncut footage and redubbed by VIZ Media. As of this writing, this first season is available to stream dubbed and subbed on Hulu.
The second season of Sailor Moon features two different arcs due to the manga and the anime being in progress at the same time. The first arc consists of thirteen episodes known in the United States as the 'Doom Tree Arc' and features an original storyline that is exclusive to the anime series. It begins with the Sailor Guardians and Tuxedo Mask having no memory of the events of last season. However, a new threat soon arrives in the form of the alien Ail (Alan in the dub) and An (Ann in the dub). The two attempt to drain human energy to restore the Doom Tree, which forces Luna to restore everyone’s memories so that they can combat them.
Following this arc, a new storyline begins involving a mysterious girl named Chibiusa (aka Rini in English) who falls from the sky and becomes clingy with Mamoru, to Usagi’s ire. There are also new villians in the form of the Black Moon as well as a new Sailor Guardian known as Sailor Pluto. This arc features important character development for the Sailor Guardians as they learn what is in store for themselves in the 30th century, especially for Usagi and Endymion.
As with the previous season, Sailor Moon R has been redubbed and rereleased with uncut footage by VIZ Media. Released in 2015, it is available to stream dubbed and subbed on Hulu.
Taking place after the second arc of Sailor Moon R and originally released in December 1993 in Japan, the film tells the story of the alien Fiore (an old acquaintance of Mamoru) as he tries to drain the life energy from the Earth and take Mamoru away with the help of an evil alien flower known as the Xenian.
Despite having no relation to Sailor Moon R’s antagonists Ali and An, Fiore bears a striking resemblance to the pair. Furthermore, the film also provides a bit of backstory for Mamoru by explaining what happened to his family and why he lives alone. The film also highlights the importance of Sailor Moon’s bonds with her loved ones.
While the original English dub by Pioneer was released in 2000, the new VIZ Media English dub was released in 2017. In the United States, the latter is available to stream free with ads on YouTube.
The third season of Sailor Moon features the appearance of the new alien antagonists known as the Death Busters as well as the appearance of two new Sailor Guardians, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. This story arc is split into two parts.
During the first half of the series, the Death Busters and the two new Sailors collect Pure Heart Crystals from humans in order to find three talismans that will unlock a mysterious and powerful Holy Grail. Meanwhile, the second half involves the Death Busters continuing to collect Pure Heart Crystals to awaken the Messiah of Silence in order to destroy the world.
In the United States, the original 2000’s dub was notorious for a few reasons. One is that Cloverway Inc (the North American branch of Toei) replaced the voice cast. The other is that they made the characters Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune cousins when they were originally lesbian lovers in the Japanese version. Recently, the new uncut English re-dub was released in 2016 and 2017 and is available to stream via Hulu.
In the United States, this movie is known as Sailor Moon: Hearts On Ice. It was adapted from a side story by Naoko Takeuchi titled The Lover of Princess Kaguya, and tells the story of the Sailor Guardians battling an alien ice princess while the black cat Luna falls in love with a human astronomer named Kakeru.
The movie is notable for being a fun retelling of the The Tale of The Bamboo Cutter, a folktale inspired by that features Princess Kaguya as well as being a film that allows you to partially see through the eyes of Usagi’s magical mascot Luna. Until the release of Sailor Moon Crystal, it would also be the only film that showed the human form of Luna.
While the original English dub was completed and distributed by Pioneer in 2000, the VIZ Media re-dub was released in 2018. In the United States, this movie is available to watch for free with ads on YouTube.
Sailor Moon’s fourth season originally aired from 1995 to 1996 in Japan. In the United States, it would be the final season that would air before the series re-dubbing in 2015. It features the Sailor Guardians’ involvement with a magical Pegasus as they battle two sets of villains and search for the Golden Crystal. The first half involves the conflict with the Dead Moon Circus while the second half involves the conflict with the Amazoness Quartet and the evil Queen Nehelenia. This season is notable for its focus on Chibusa, Sailor Moon’s daughter and for having a theme of personal dreams versus nightmares.
As in the previous seasons, the original English dub featured cuts and censorship, most notably with the villain character Fisheye. While the Japanese version featured Fisheye as a gay man, the English version made the character female. In 2018, VIZ Media released the redubbed, uncut, and uncensored version of the season. It is available to stream online via Hulu along with the previous seasons.
The fifth and final season of the '90s Sailor Moon anime picks up right where the previous left off. For the first six episodes, we learn the fate of Queen Nehelenia, while the rest of the episodes focus on a new villain called Sailor Galaxia. Sailor Galaxia aims to take the Star Seeds of Sailor Guardians and humans in order to become the strongest Sailor Guardian ever. This season also introduces three new Sailor Guardians known as the Sailor Star Lights as well as a cute mysterious Sailor Guardian known as Chibi Chibi.
Unlike the previous seasons, this one didn't receive an English adaptation during the mid-'00s because it wasn’t licensed for dubbing by Toei. However, it received an English dub through VIZ Media in 2019. While this season currently isn’t streaming anywhere, it is available to buy on Blu-Ray and DVD. The Blu-Ray and DVD versions contain the dubbed and subbed versions of the season.
This remake of the Sailor Moon anime is a more faithful adaptation of the manga. The first season is known as 'The Dark Kingdom' arc and has the Sailor Guardians battling not only Queen Beryl but also a dark entity known as Queen Metalia.
Next is the second season known as 'The Black Moon' arc, which tells a fuller version of the Sailor Guardians’ adventures in the 30th century. Not only is there richer character development for Usagi, but Chibusa is shown in a more sympathetic light.
Finally, the third season is known as the Death Busters arc and features a more tragic and hopeful story for the character known as the Messiah of Silence. All these seasons are available with subs and dubs via Tubi, Hulu, Netflix, and Crunchyroll.
Picking up where the third season of Sailor Moon Crystal left off, this is a two-part movie that covers the Dead Moon Circus arc of the manga. Similar to Sailor Moon Super S, this film features the Sailor Guardians battling the foes from the Dead Moon Circus. However, there is more lore in this film in regards to Tuxedo Mask and Pegasus and more serious character development for the Sailor Guardians. The film can be streamed on Netflix.
It was recently announced that Sailor Moon Crystal would be getting another two-part movie called Sailor Moon Cosmos. The movie will be adapting the final arc of the Sailor Moon manga and will be premiering in Japan summer 2023. Until the movie makes its U.S. premiere, viewers have plenty to tide them over. From the classic 90’s anime and movies to the 2014 anime remake, Sailor Moon continues to shine bright.