The Sailors set sail on more ‘ships than one this week.
I’m starting to look at Sailor Moon as a kind of magical girl sitcom, where its strength lies not in its story but in its humor, complications, and–most importantly–character interactions. And, like so many shows both before and after it, SM relies on the pairing tactic: throwing two characters into a room (or boat) together and seeing what happens next.
Luna and Usagi were a winning combination for the early stretch of episodes, but there’s only so much you can do with a single pairing (I don’t really count Usa’s school friends, as they tend to function mostly as victims and/or Exposition Bears). But now the series has a foursome, and boy, are they having fun with them.
The two most natural pairings are, of course, Ami/Luna and Usagi/Rei, because their personalities match up so nicely. I adored watching our level-headed Mercury share a number of blank stares and sighs with Chairwoman Meow, mostly because I love the idea that Luna finally has a BFF. But Usagi and Rei provided the bulk of the action this week, butting heads and knocking shoulders and, when it counted, working together to form a winning one-two punch.
Because Rei, for all that she’s a badass exorcising miko (shrine maiden) with an air of sophistication, really IS a lot like Usagi. Headstrong and boy crazy, easy to get distracted from the “sailor mission” but always there to save the day in the end. One is quick to anger and the other quick to tears, but Rei and Usagi have more in common than they’d ever like to admit. (Heck, they even have the same taste in guys.)
Still, it’s only when the final pairing this week–Ami and Rei–occurs that we really begin to see those similarities, as Ami reacts to Rei with the same good-natured winces she uses on Usa. It’s a great way to let us see Rei through the eyes of someone other than Usagi, and what we see is a girl far less put together than she first appears. Don’t get me wrong, Rei is awesome, but she’s still a kid, and in some ways she may even be the least mature of the bunch.
That the creators were able to convey all that through two episodes of goofy filler is the mark of good character building, and a promising sign that this show just might hold up for 200 episodes. People trump plot for me any day of the week, so get me invested in your cast and I’ll be putty in your hands, Sailor Moon.
Episode 11 – The Trippiest Place on Earth
Luna attempts to hold a Scout Meeting, but the girls are bickering and Luna doesn’t know how to find the moon princess anyway (“I bet she’s carrying a big sign that says she’s the princess,” Rei decides without a hint of sarcasm), so they decide to just focus on beating up monsters for now. They ARE getting pretty good at it.
As it turns out, the local amusement park Dream Land has had people disappearing (and the media are actually taking notice for once), so the Moonies go to investigate. Well, Usagi goes to ride the carousel. But investigating was on her “to do” list! This leads to Rei basically deciding she needs to take charge, and Usagi making a lot of high-pitched noises in protest.
Luna splits them into pairs because she’s sick of Usa and Rei’s shit they can search more of the park that way, and as we all know splitting up ALWAYS works out great. Long story short, Ami gets trapped in the House of Sweets (it’s scarier than it sounds) and Usagi and Rei almost draw and quarter a small child.
Along the way, we learn that Dream Land is actually an eeeevil amusement park run by Jadeite and his minion, Princess Dream (also scarier than she sounds). They’ve been luring people into the House of Sweets, filling their heads with fantasies to create “dream energy,” and then sucking their hosts dry. And Ami just became one of those hosts!
Usagi and Rei transform and bust in, but things get sidetracked when Princess Dream shows up and reveals herself to be OH GOD I HAD A NIGHTMARE ABOUT THAT DOLL ONCE, KILL IT REI, KILL IT WITH FIRE.
And they try, but Princess Hellspawn spits hallucinogens at them before they have the chance. Everybody acid trip! The illusions completely fool Moon, but Mars handles it like a miko rock star until the Doll releases its secret weapon: A vision of Tuxedo Mask On A White Horse. For no mortal can resist the power of Tuxedo Mask On A White Horse!
No mortal, that is, except Tuxedo Mask himself, who sweeps in long enough to break the spell, pose in a window, and sweep out again. Moon and Mars flee to the Dreamatorium where they find Ami, who wakes up just in time to save their butts. Power source detected! Commands given! Flaming Tiara GO!
The day is saved, and I’m voting Ami in as Moonie VP (Luna is President, obviously). Usagi and Rei are WAY too busy arguing over whether or not Stalker McGee resembles Tuxedo Mask (hint: he does) to handle this whole leadership nonsense.
Episode 12 – ‘Ship Wars
This one begins with–whaaaat!? Character development for the antagonists?! Queen Beryl has put Jadeite On Notice because his minions keep getting murdered by those meddling kids, and even though Jadeite only has like three facial expressions, you can tell he’s stressed. Along comes Tetiz, Beryl’s minion and Founding Member of the Jadeite Fan Club, who has the perfect plan to help get Jadeite OFF Beryl’s shit list and INTO Tetiz’s pants.
So. Who wants to go on an eeevil couples’ cruise?
Usagi and Rei both do, and that whole “not having a boyfriend” thing is not about to stop them. Rei uses miko magic to win herself a pair of free tickets, then asks Ami to go with her because Ami will be a much better winglady than Usagi. This plan hits all kinds of snags once they actually get on the ship (Sailors on a ship looking for a ‘ship, how great is that?), and discover they’re the only ones who came without a significant other. Ami pines for her textbooks. Rei eats her feelings.
As for Usagi? She sneaks onto the ship using her Transformation Pen (man, the girls are abusing their powers all over the place this episode) and immediately runs into Captain Jadeite. Luna senses a menacing aura. Usagi senses a hottie. Jadeite senses charges of statutory if someone sees them snuggling, and hurriedly sneaks away.
Unfortunately for him, he only sneaks away to the next room, and Usagi sees him being all nefarious with Tetiz. She can’t hear what they’re saying but it’s clearly Bad News Bears, so Usagi puts on her crime-fightin’ cap and hurries to the ballroom to save the passengers.
Meanwhile in the ballroom, all of the couples have had their lovey-dovey energy drained from them, and Tetiz is VERY annoyed that Ami and Rei didn’t find a make-out buddy because THEY have no lovey-dovey energy to drain. Tetiz will just have to kill them the old-fashioned way, it seems. Surrounded by monsters and unable to Sailor shift (because secret identities), the girls prepare to die valiantly, until…
Sailor Moon to the rescue! (And Rei looks more upset that she had to be saved by Usagi than she did by the monsters trying to tear her limb from limb.) Moon has a tough time with the monsters alone, but she distracts them long enough for Mercury and Mars to come to her aid and help take out Tetiz.
Jadeite wants to fight them himself this time, but Beryl drags him back to the Skulltryoshka to yell at him for getting Tetiz killed without Beryl’s permission. Which is SO not what happened, but Beryl doesn’t wanna hear it, mister, now go to your room and think about what you’ve done.
With their enemies… uh, defeated, I guess?… the girls head home, still without boyfriends. Ami continues to be totally okay with this. Yeah. Definitely voting her in as VP.
This, That, and the Other
- Does anybody else shout “It’s Team Rocket!!” at the TV whenever Jadeite shows up in disguise? Just me?
- Let’s appreciate for a moment that Princess Dream is basically an evil Disney Princess who controls her animal companions via remote and murders people by pretending to grant them their hearts’ desires, and holy hell is there social commentary in my Sailor Moon again? (Side Note: I would totally watch an Evil Disney Princess movie.)
- Every time Rei begins her spell with “Fire…” I think she’s going to finish with “BALL!” a la Lina Inverse, and it makes me kinda sad when she says “soul” instead. In other news, it might be time for me to rewatch Slayers.
- C’mon, Moonies. The cruise ship held 666 passengers. How did you NOT suspect it was run by monsters?
- Rei’s game plan for landing a boyfriend? Find the guy who’s looking for a rebound. Oh, sweetie. Please stay single.
Hey Look, It’s…That Guy!
Stalker McGee on the kiddie train was everything you could want in a scene, from Rei approving of the nickname bun-head (“Now she’s looking like a steamed bun!”) to Usagi calling him out on his creeper hobbies (“What’s a guy your age doing riding the kiddie train? I bet you have zero friends!”) to Rei remarking that he looked a lot like Tuxedo Mask and Usagi being flat-out INSULTED at the notion. This guy’s scenes aren’t quite as absurdly wonderful as Tuxedo Mask’s, but they’re getting closer every week.
Also, he STILL doesn’t have a name, so I’m giving him another one. Stalker “Zero Friends” McGee, enjoy your time in my blog posts!
Oh, don’t give me that look. You know you love your new nickname, Zero-chan.