The first time anyone sees the Sailor Moon R movie, I’m pretty sure one of the things to pop into their head is that, you know, the villain of the movie looks an awful lot like those villains, Ail and An, who appeared in the Cardian Arc of the anime. Surprisingly, though, despite the fact that it’s pretty obvious and seems like a consistency issue you’d like to address, absolutely none of the Sailor Soldiers (or even Fiore himself) address this issue. As silly as it sounds, this has been nagging at me for years and I finally decided to take a look into it.
One of the things that makes it much more difficult to use the Sailor Moon anime as a source when trying to pin down its various mysteries is the fact that you can never quite be sure what parts of the story are meant to be canon (i.e., fit into the larger context of the story and “actually happened”) and what events are meant to be side stories. Making matters worse, the anime wasn’t even too concerned about internal consistency for events that were clearly canon, like Sailor Pluto’s death at the end of Sailor Moon S and her casual reappearance in the SuperS movie and in the Stars anime, as if nothing had happened.
Typically, though, I think it’s safe to say that the Sailor Moon movies are non-canon, especially since the Sailor Team doesn’t seem too particularly concerned with other enemies at the time (the Black Moon Family is never mentioned in the R movie, etc.) and at the beginning of each season and the arrival of the next threat, it seems pretty clear that they haven’t been fighting any other enemies in the mean-time. That said, the Cardian Arc itself could be considered non-canon, which leaves us with a possible double-non-canon interesting plot issue.
Researching this issue lead me to a source I’ve gone to before to answer series canon questions; the December 1993 edition of Animage magazine1 which featured an interview on page 28 with the Sailor Moon R series (and movie) director, Kunihiro Ikuhara2 as a part of the promotion machine for the then-upcoming Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie.3 Much to my surprise, he actually addresses this question head on:
“As you can tell by looking at the enemy, this story is a renewal of the Ail and An arc. Of course, the angle we’re telling [the story from] is completely different.”
“Renewal,” when used like this in Japanese, would be akin to a remake in the West, with the implication that something has been updated and redone better than before, as with a shop being renewed, or the re-release shinsouban manga which was referred to as the “Renewal Edition.”4
So after all these years of wondering if they’re from the same planet, if they were siblings, or if maybe all aliens outside of the Sol system looked that way (though this was disproved in Stars), it turns out the answer is really quite simple: the movie is taking the basic premise of the Cardian Arc and is a retelling, using story elements from the Black Moon Family (primarily ChibiUsa’s existence) to flesh out the story.
I’m happy to have this mystery finally put to rest, though to be honest a part of me does wish that there was a bit more to the story. I’ve always been a fan of the Cardian Arc and the characters appearing therein, so it would have been nice to see the story expanded upon rather than re-written. But it is good to know that Mr. Ikuhara did address the issue!