The filler in the Sailor Moon anime has always been a double-edged sword, as the episodes can be repetitive in events and poorly animated; however, they also allow time for the characters to develop individually and as a group in order to flesh them out better as real people. The new Sailor Moon anime coming in 2014 will revolve around only the manga storyline, so let's take a look at the anime's most memorable fillers arcs. This list does not cover sole episodes, but storylines that spanned multiple episodes.
10.) CARDIANS GALORE!
To give the manga time to further develop and publish, the anime-exclusive Makaiju Arc was produced for the second season of the anime. These 13 episodes not only feature a totally original set of villains, but the beginning of this arc sets the status quo back in order, as the anime made all the characters lose their memories after the defeat of the Dark Kingdom. The Moonlight Knight appears as an astral projection of Mamoru's desire to protect Sailor Moon, and each Senshi gets an upgraded version of the attack she had in the first season (though these attacks are not used outside of the second season). The storyline is surprisingly good in it's simplicity, as the the villains are not about taking over the world, but simply about survival. Love is also an underlying theme, as Mamoru and Usagi's love transcends barriers once more, and Ail and An figure out what it means to really care for someone and how to make love flourish and grow.
9.) FOUR SISTERS OF SORROW
Most sub-villains in the manga are disposed of quickly, but the anime usually develops their personalities and stories. The Ayakashi sisters in the anime are each given distinct characterizations, and each goes through her own journey of enlightenment. There's something for everyone: from Koan's abusive relationship with Rubeus and her desperation to prove herself to him at the cost of herself, to Beruche having her talents dismissed before ultimately being abandoned and made to feel worthless, to Petz being corrupted and then taking a stand for her younger sisters in an attempted self-sacrifice. A testament to their link, the sisters have all their stories connected, as each helps the other in getting to where she needs to be.
8.) A GALAXY OF DIFFERENCE
One of the redeeming qualities of the lackluster fifth anime season is, of course, the character development. The Starlights' involvement in the plot was frustratingly inflated, but their personalities are much further explored, with Seiya involved in a full blown one-sided(?) attraction to Usagi; the manga merely hints at this. Usagi becomes more and more vulnerable as the season goes on, due to the psychological toil of being ignored by Mamoru (who, unknown to Usagi, has been killed). When their secret identities are revealed to one another, Starfighter resolves to become Sailor Moon's knight, even though his allegiance is to his own team and Princess. This devotion leads to disastrous fallout with almost all the other characters, and the feelings Seiya has for Usagi ultimately end up unresolved on his end, with him questioning 'Am I not good enough...?'.
7.) AMAZON TRIO'S FINAL STAGE
Though the fourth anime season contained a middling plot and the most filler episodes of any season, the exit of the Amazon Trio is a well done story that highlights just what makes Mamoru love Usagi so much, and what it takes to be yourself. What's notable about the fourth season is that we also finally get another group of villains that don't betray and backstab each other, but care for each other, as the Trio demonstrates by fighting together and mourning Hawk-Eye's near-death. After a disastrous attempt to target Mamoru, Fish-Eye realizes the Trio don't posses any dreams; this is because they are animals enchanted to be humanoids, and their only use is as servants to the Dead Moon. Though naive and childish at times, Usagi's compassion awakens Fish-Eye's own need to dream for himself and to do the right thing.
"Souls who have dreams will find salvation, always..."
6.) DEAL WITH A DEVIL
Professor Tomoe's origin in the anime is decidedly less sinister than the manga. Rather than a mad scientist through and through, Tomoe exchanged his free will and body to Germatoid, so that the Daimon could save the life of his daughter Hotaru following a massive explosion in his lab. Tomoe is implied to be the catalyst for the entire formation of the Deathbusters, establishing the Infinity Academy right after the accident as the villains' base, and then recruiting Kaolinite and the Witches5. After Germatoid releases his body, it is shown that he has at least partial knowledge of all the things the Deathbusters have set into motion, and he desperately tries to protect Mistress 9 (in Hotaru's body) during the battle in the Omega Zone. Even after being manipulated by Mistress 9 and being quite literally tossed aside by her, he shields her body with his own following a backlash of energy. His desperate apology to his daughter, for doing everything so wrong, helps Sailor Saturn awaken fully. His meories are wiped following his head injuries during the battle, and he is allowed to take the reborn infant Hotaru and start their life anew, in peace.
5.) PETZITE AND SAPPHIRE
Petz's initial personality can only be described as 'extreme'. She constantly warns her flirty younger sister Calaveras to stay away from the disappointment that is men, and flies into a rage at the mere mention of a girl wanting to find love with a man. Her temperament becomes more clear when we find out that the love she had Saphir was either lost or spurned. She gladly takes him in after his assault by Wiseman, though he chooses to warn his brother rather than stay in hiding with her. Her transformation from Black Moon warrior to normal human has apparently done nothing to dampen Petz's iron will and resolve. She senses Sahpir's death, and reveals she knew full well that he was walking to an execution. Knowing that his brother always comes first, Petz is content with the final smile that Saphir leaves, just for her.
4.) WE CAN DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN...
In a vein similar to the Makaiju Arc, the fifth anime season started off in an unusual manner by wrapping up the prior season's story. After Nehelenia curses the city, kidnapping Tuxedo Mask in the process, Sailor Moon sans her powers goes to the New Moon to try to save him. The Senshi must all band together to rescue the Prince and Princess, though they are separated into mostly pairs along the way. The episodes features the much awaited interactions between the individual Inner and Outer Senshi, and the inevitable clash of methods and ideology. Mercury and Uranus go through the classic brain vs brawn exchange, with Uranus rather disrespectfully assuming that Mercury's tactical retreat is cowardice. Mars gets a lesson from Neptune in how to better use her powers, which forces the usually in-control Rei to stop and admit her faults for a change. Venus and Pluto measure out what it takes to be a leader, while Chibimoon must once again stop Saturn from fulfilling her function as the Senshi of Destruction.
Nehelenia's story is further explored, as her insecurity and vanity is shown to stem from a lifetime of loneliness and isolation. Her heart has been closed off for so long that even pity directed at her is something that literally pains. Her suffering touches the Senshi via Sailor Moon's understanding, as Usagi freely admits she honestly can't understand what Nehelenia has gone through. Even more extraordinary is how Usagi willingly wishes for Nehelenia to take revenge solely on her, and to leave the other Senshi alone - so that they can be Nehelenia's friends from now on. Rather than revenge and misery, Nehelenia eventually remembers what she really wanted as a little girl, and is transported back into the past to do things over, at the very beginning.
3.) THE RAINBOW CRYSTALS
In the manga, the Silver Crystal is simply encased in one of Sailor Moon's tears. The anime has seven gems to be found that combine into the actual Silver Crystal. This arc replicates Tuxedo Mask's questionable loyalty from the manga, and his fascination with jewels. He makes it clear in the anime that he must have all 7 crystals for his own purposes, which puts him in opposition with Sailor Moon's team. We get mostly standalone episodes, though Ami's sorta-boyfriend Ryo makes one of 2 appearances. The arc culminates in the iconic scene where Tuxedo Mask sacrifices himself for Sailor Moon, and Usagi is revealed to be the Princess to the tune of 'Maboroshi no Ginzuishou' playing the background. The English dub uses their song 'My Only Love' in that scene, which most 90's kids from North America will remember fondly.
2.) IMPERIAL REGALIA
The third anime season's main theme is sacrifice, with the main arc dealing with finding the 3 Talismans. These are 3 magic objects sealed into the hearts of 3 random people; removal of the Talismans means the death of the holder. The question is: is it right to sacrifice 3 innocent lives, for the sake of the rest of the lives of entire world? This heavy material, and the impending and graphic apocalypse we see in Rei's visions, really highlight the dire situation the Uranus and Neptune are in. The anime also uses the material to create genuine conflict between the Inner and Outer Senshi at the very start; they are essentially enemies, though they slowly start to work together as the series progresses. However noble, Uranus and Neptune's own weakness for each other comes to head when it is revealed THEY are the holders of Talismans. Their duty to their mission comes through in the end, though it ends in a relatively happy way for the Outer Senshi. Uranus and Neptune's willingness to follow each other into death, however, remains a defining moment to their relationship.
1.) CHOCOLATE PARFAITS
Nephrite remains one of the more observant villains, figuring out a connection between Sailor Moon and Usagi via the people around her - in this case, Usagi's best friend Naru. Initially, he callously uses Naru in his schemes to attack the Senshi - he's drained her energy, indirectly attacked her with his monsters, and even possessed her body with his powers. Her devotion to him is something that he manipulates without guilt. When Sailor Moon herself reveals his true evil identity, and Naru almost gets sliced in half trying to protect Nephrite, this awakens genuine awe at Naru's feelings for him. His own devotion to Naru is shown when he saves her not once, but twice, from Zoisite's minions. With his allegiance to the Dark Kingdom gone after disobeying Queen Beryl, his future seemed to be a little clearer with the right guidance from Naru. That is until he protects her one last time, and Nephrite is killed in front of her, not even realizing himself that he's earned his redemption, so concerned he is for making Naru cry. This storyline carries over for several episodes, with Naru in a deep depression and Usagi feeling guilt for not being able to properly console her without revealing her secret identity. This is the greatest storyline the anime has produced by itself, and Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice actress for Sailor Moon, has stated how touched she herself was at it.
As always, thanks to zyuranger for the wonderful gifs!