Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 7-8

Luna caught her first water-type!

image

Like most origin stories, Sailor Moon is really a pair of tales: one is about the junior high student Tsukino Usagi, and the other is about the hero-in-training, Sailor Moon. Usagi hangs with her friends, struggles with her grades, and argues with her mom. Sailor Moon hangs with her magic cat, investigates mysteries, and works to resolve conflicts.

Both make a lot of mistakes, to be sure, but one is portrayed in a much more positive light than the other, and it’s no surprise that the Sailor Moon stories interest me more than the Usagi ones. So watching her spend an episode getting mad at her friends and Luna for not helping her become a STAR! is much less interesting than watching her help a jazz musician defeat a bat-lady.

Fortunately, the creators must have sensed that the Usagi Show was flagging and picked this exact moment to bring in a new character.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Recaps

Episode 7 – Both of you, dance like you want to win!

image

Everyone in Usagi’s class is all a-flutter about Mikan Shiratori, a girl who went to their school and is now a fabulous celebrity. The class decides they want to become fabulous celebrities too, so Usagi and Naru start a pop band. This begins with a classic “anime characters sing their own theme song” sequence and ends with an equally classic “you stepped on my foot one times too many so now we’re RIVALS!” scene.

Naru uses some frankly nasty lies (“Usagi said you’d be more attractive if you knew a little more about socializing”) to trick the oh-so-awkward Umino into becoming her new duet partner, thus triggering the standard “put dat boy in a dress!” sequence of scenes. As for Usagi, she decides to make Luna do all the work for her. Luna calls this a Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Fabulous Celebrity Mikan is forced to reenact several horror movies when a glass monster pounces on her in the shower, cocoons her in glass, and steals her identity. DoppelMikan then uses hypnosis to give everyone in town Celebrity Fever so they’ll compete in her eeeevil talent show, the “Cinderella Caravan Contest.”

Everyone who goes to tryouts gets in. It’s basically like Little League. I assume they all got plastic trophies of faceless humans in action poses, too.

Usagi wants to enter as well, but Luna finally puts her adorable paw down and tells her there are more important things going on, and no matter how many sad teenage whimpers Usagi uses (and she uses ALL OF THEM), Luna won’t budge on this.

Our heroine throws a tantrum, but soon changes her tune when she comes to school the next day to find everyone ignoring their teacher. Their teacher calls this a Tuesday. (“Now is not the time for class!” the students cry, as if ANY day is the time for class on this show.)

For some reason this totally normal occurrence triggers alarm bells for Usagi, so she and Luna go to investigate the eeeevil talent show, where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. It is still slightly more organized than a regular talent show. It’s also run by a monster (so, again, a regular talent show). Sailor Moon sees through the Mikanganger’s disguise… and reacts EXACTLY THE WAY YOU SHOULD to that terrifying neck-twist. I mean seriously, that is some scary stuff for a 14-year-old. Thank you for being human, Sailor Moon.

After some bathroom tears, Usagi bucks up when she remembers there are people in danger, and dashes back in to save the day. This monster is a level up from the previous ones, and actually manages to encase our hero in glass. Thankfully Tuxedo Mask shows up to actually do something this time, shattering the glass with a well-thrown rose.

And yes. That IS how roses work. I don’t care WHAT your horticulturist friend tells you.

Then he gives us some trademark dorky encouragement (“You’re the star of this show now, Sailor Moon!”) and dashes off again. Sailor Moon makes short work of the monster, and everything is back to normal.

All in all, not a terribly noteworthy episode. Not much in the way of character or plot in this ‘un. But hey, at least it gave us this great “Act sorry!” reaction image:

image
So not a total waste, I figure.

Episode 8 – The Brainwashing Cram School of HORROR!

image

(Okay, I know I said I was never going to call the episodes by their actual titles, but come on, there’s no way I can top that. You win, Sailor Moon.)

We begin with Queen Beryl and Jadeite having an extended conversation about kids struggling to fulfill expectations at school, and… wait, is there social commentary in my Sailor Moon episode? Why, there is indeed, and it’s capped by this very funny (and sadly true) punchline about the priorities of the education system:

Beryl: So what do they do after they leave a first-rate university?
Jadeite: I have no idea…

This whole scene is particularly true of the pressure put on students in Japan, where entrance exams and cram schools take up so much time and energy, but I think it translates pretty effectively for western audiences as well.

…Aaaand cut to Usagi, basically the antithesis of the “study till your brain breaks” student. She’s reading comics and throwing a hissy fit because her mom’s request that she “try not to fail” is SO UNREASONABLE that she flees in tears. Usa, seriously. Your mom is the most lenient woman on the planet. I have zero sympathy for you.

Upstairs, Usagi complains to Luna that she wants to be a cat (doesn’t everybody?), but Luna quickly reminds her that this swingin’ cat does a whole lot more than her owner, thank you very much. Then, to prove this point, we cut to Luna sneaking into the arcade, unlocking the Sailor Venus game, then talking and pawing at the glowing screen.

(I wouldn’t read too much into this, though. MY cat talks and paws at glowing screens all the time, too.)

Besides–look! A new character! Everyone at school is abuzz over Mizuno Ami, top of ALL the classes and with a rumored IQ of 300. She also has a weird energy about her, which Luna thinks makes her a bad guy. Luna uses POUNCE but it’s not very effective, and then Ami counters with CHIN SCRATCH, and it’s pretty much all downhill from there.

Usagi decides to be Ami’s friend, if by “friend” you mean “someone I can use for my own ends.” Usa’s not the best role model this week, but dammit if her facial expressions aren’t glorious.

Ami and Usa bond over the Sailor V game (Ami smashes the high score in a single try), then Ami has to run off to the Crystal Seminar cram school. Naturally it is an eeeevil cram school full of eeeevil floppy discs that drain the energy from the students. Fortunately Ami doesn’t use the disc because it gives her headaches and also because, she says, “I’m a badass genius who don’t need no magic study guide, bi-yatch.” (I may be paraphrasing slightly.)

Usagi ends up with Ami’s disc and Luna wants to check it out to see if Ami really is a baddie. Luna, the Original Keyboard Cat, discovers that running the disc gives the computer a Blue Screen of Death. The HORROR!

image

This is certain to sap the life out of anyone who sees it.

Our dynamic duo sneak into the cram school only to find that all of the students have turned into zombies, and not just because they’re out of coffee. No, it’s because the lady running the cram school is a Quiz Monster (the HORROR!). She distracts Sailor Moon with academics (the HORROR!), but when the monster grabs Ami and tries to sap her energy, it activates a glowing symbol on Ami’s forehead.

And Luna realizes she’s not a villain at all! She’s on their team! Luna tosses Ami her own Lovely Item and helps her transform into Sailor Mercury, with the power of BUBBLES!

image

Sailor Mercury tricks the monster into destroying the energy-sucking computer, then steps back like a good sidekick and lets Sailor Moon finish her off. I hope this system is set up to evenly divvy up EXP, because if not, Mercury just got screwed.

Flash forward to the school rooftop, where all Proper Anime Conversations are held. Ami is super on board with this whole crime-fighting thing. Usagi is pretty sure Ami is going to be a better Sailor Scout than she is. I kind of think so, too.

Welcome to the Moonies, Sailor Mercury!

This, That, and the Other

  • I feel so bad for that police officer. The ONE adult in town actually trying to do his job, and he gets hypnotized by an evil celebrity for his troubles.
  • I’m usually really into smart gals, so I wanted to just adore Ami, but I don’t really have an opinion yet. She seems nice enough, and I like that she’s level-headed and clever, but her character struck me as a little bland overall. Hopefully the next few episodes will take some time to flesh her out more.
  • Floppy discs! And Usagi doesn’t know how to computer! I love it when Sailor Moon dates itself.
  • Hark! A Plot Point! Usagi and Luna discuss the Sailor’s mission–“to find the princess and battle your foes”–but Luna claims she doesn’t know who these “foes” really are. I might have been willing to believe her if this scene wasn’t immediately followed by that status report at the arcade. Whatever Luna does or doesn’t know, she’s playing her cards close to her furry chest.

Quote of the Week (Moon Prism Edition)

Usagi: “Whoa! Two million yen?! I wonder how many pieces of shortcake I could buy with that…”

Never let it be said that Usagi doesn’t have her priorities in order.

The Sensei Next Door (Moon Prism Edition)

When everyone wakes up after the talent show, one of Usa’s classmates asks her friend “When did you start speaking with that accent?” This doesn’t really make sense (especially since Viz didn’t bother to actually give her an accent in the subtitles), so allow me to explain.

Usa’s two classmates enter the talent show as a “manzai (漫才)” comedy duo, an Abbot-and-Costello-style stand-up act where one person pays the straight man (tsukkomi) and the other plays the clown (boke). Manzai has been around in some form since the Heian period (795-1185 A.D.), but “modern manzai” was really made popular in the 1930s in the Osaka region. The primary dialect of Osaka is the kansai dialect, so it’s not uncommon to have manzai performers speak in this accent–and this is the accent that one of the two girls adopted during their act!

Manzai acts are so full of puns they don’t always translate well, but Tutorial’s Bike Bell is pretty solid. You can also search “manzai subtitles” on YouTube and go adventuring. Have fun!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s