Conflicted Josei is conflicted.
This week’s episodes saw a heavy focus on romance, and those tend to be the moments when I enjoy Sailor Moon the least.
On the one hand, the creators generally play these story lines for laughs, and there’s usually someone in the cast saying what I’m thinking (Usagi’s concern when she thinks Rei is dating a college student; Ami’s disinterest in the wedding dress competition). And, I mean, yes, we did get an episode where a bunch of women went insane over a free wedding reception, but we ALSO just last week got an episode about a female athlete, and Ami is an academic rockstar, and Rei can totes exorcise demons like it’s no big thang, so it’s not as if the show is strictly conforming to traditional gender roles.
…But on the other hand, I didn’t spend the last 20 years under a rock, so I know that Usagi and Ol’ Zero Friends eventually wind up in a relationship, and as Usagi’s student handbook has taught us, that’s all kinds of unacceptable. (I knew he was older but I was really hoping he was, like, a first-year in high school or something). A lot of people seem to ‘ship these two pretty hard, so I’m assuming there are some extenuating circumstances or a timeskip or something, but right now I am not diggin’ the idea that someday he’s gonna crush on her as hard as she’s crushing on him.
And as for the wedding stuff, I just… am not sure how to read it, I guess. I said a few weeks ago that I like how the girls are all different and how the show doesn’t try to make judgments about their lifestyles (well, sometimes it punishes them for being irresponsible or cowardly, but it doesn’t really mind that Usa’s flighty and Ami’s overly cautious and Rei’s got a temper on her), and I really DO like that, but… sometimes it just feels like, because Ami is SO calm, that her opinions get drowned out by the other louder, more aggressive sailors… and their female teachers… and most of the other ladies on the show, actually. Really, I just wish the numbers were more balanced. Ami can’t possibly be the only woman in this city without Wedding Fever, right?
Despite these problems, there was some pretty entertaining stuff this week too, and even a pertinent plot nugget. So let’s do the recaps and get to that, shall we?
Episode 15 – A Rose By Any Other Name
Ami takes the girls down to her favorite spot at a local park. It’s super romantic, which is why Ami goes there all the time with her true love (books). While looking around they meet Mr. Kokuritsu, a gardener who informs them that the park is going to be razed so they can build offices instead.
Sad Gardener is sad, but determined Rei is determined. To save the park? PSH, don’t be silly–she’s determined to get a date so she can take him to the park before it’s torn down. Because that is what you do when a man tells you his life’s work is about to be destroyed: Go to the local arcade and find yourself a piece of ass.
And speaking of asses, look! Ol’ Zero Friends is back!
Actually, I have to be nicer to Zero-chan from now on, because he jumped in front of a speeding truck to save Luna this week, and that means I love him now.
And if you weren’t sure of his Romantic Hero status yet, then look no further, because dude just pulled Romantic Moves #15 and #33 out of his (top)hat, first by bravely dashing in front of a moving vehicle and THEN by being nice to a kitty-cat. You can practically hear the creators shouting “See? See! He was nice to a kitty-cat! He’s not really a dick! He was just acting that way because Feelings Are Hard For Boys!”
Well, Usagi doesn’t believe you, Creators, and she nearly beats Zero WITH Luna to prove it, but Rei and Ami intervene. So does Motoki the Arcade Employee, who happens to go to the same college as Chiba Mamoru and HOLY CRAP THAT’S HIS NAME, HE HAS A NAME NOW.
He has a backstory, too! I mean, kind of. We know he’s rich and lives by himself in a condo, which is 100% more than we knew last week. Oh, and he’s totally not Tuxedo Mask. You guys. He’s totally not.
While we all take a moment to adjust to calling him “Mamoru” instead of one of the dozen nicknames we may have given him over the last 14 episodes (gonna miss ya, Zero-chan), Nephy shows up long enough to possess Sad Gardener’s hat and get him to go all Princess Mononoke on the people tearing down his trees. Except instead of wolves, he uses butterflies. Because nobody EVER suspects the butterfly.
While Nephy unleashes Hell (lovely, pollinating Hell), Rei decides that Mamoru will be her park date, laws against such behavior be damned. So she makes plans to gracefully bump into him on the street.
Mamoru ends up following her around without ever showing any actual interest in her, sort of like when you politely agree to go see your friend’s play and then find out it’s four hours long and doesn’t make any damn sense, but you’re already there so you gotta just suck it up and ride it till curtain. Usagi stalks them, convinced it’s the college student who’s being the gropey, seducey one here.
And once again, Conflicted Josei is Conflicted. Because at first, I loved Usagi for being worried about Rei (and given her history with Mamoru, I think she really WAS worried, at first). But then… uggggh… THIS happened:
Usagi: Alas, I cannot afford to go into the cafe and snoop on them! Whatever shall I do?
Umino: Hello, Girl I Have a Crush On! Fancy meeting you here!
Me: …Oh, bollocks.
Usagi: Umino! What a crazy random happenstance! I should totally feign interest in you so you will buy me a parfait and allow me to continue spying on my friend! Then I’ll string you along as we meander through the park, at least until you stop being useful. Then I’ll just ditch you. Oh, and when you find me again, I’ll yell at you for calling it a date even though that is exactly what I called it like 10 minutes ago. THIS IS A GREAT IDEA.
Me: NO. STAHP. THAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF A GREAT IDEA. THAT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA FOR TERRIBLE PEOPLE. DON’T DO THE THING.
Usagi: *does the thing*
Me: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
Someone needs to explain to Usagi how we treat other humans, even the awkward turtles. She can’t seem to hear me no matter how loudly I yell at my TV.
Back to the plot, Luna and Ami are sleuthing because Ami thinks Sad Gardener is acting strangely, and also because the park squirrels are viciously attacking litterbugs, which is both effective AND hilarious, but probably not normal squirrel behavior. They find Usagi at the park just in time to see Sad Mad Gardener hit his peak energy level and have a chlorofiend burst out of his hat. WOODLAND CRITTER FIGHT!
During the battle, a possessed flock of birds capsizes Rei and Mamoru’s boat, rudely ending their not-date (Bodies of water: Tuxedo Mask’s ONLY weakness!). When they wash up on shore, Rei realizes something eeevil’s afoot and runs off to investigate. This leaves Mamoru to scope out the coolest place for his alter-ego to make his big entrance, assuming the tuxedo he keeps shoved down the back of his boxers is still dry enough to use, that is.
Once the team’s fire-slinger shows up, taking out a plant monster is a snap. The Tux even gets there in time to pose in a tree and do his thing before leaving again. Then everyone un-transforms and Mamoru comes running up to them all like “Boy that was crazy right I was totally over there this whole time and who’s Tuxedo Mask HAHA NEVER HEARD OF HIM.”
Rei and I are unconvinced, Mr. Chiba. Now, get back to your condo before someone sees you creeping on these junior high school kids. And don’t come back next episode, either. Usagi WILL call the cops on you.
Episode 16 – Bridezilla vs. Moonra
Ugggh, do I HAVE to recap this one? There’s no Tux or Beryl, Nephy barely shows up, and the characters don’t grow or develop AT ALL. It’s filler, and not even very funny filler.
But if you REALLY wanna know what happened…
Usagi’s Home Ec teacher (Akiyama-sensei) is all twitterpated because she’s getting married soon. Umino, who apparently just hides under tables documenting everything that happens to people in his school (he’s a future writer, this one), paints us a picture of Akiyama’s fiancee: Short, pudgy, and balding, he’s neither young nor rich, but he loves Akiyama lots and lots. I think this is sweet. Usagi thinks Akiyama is settling because her fiancee isn’t hot enough.
For what it’s worth, Usagi’s ice cream cone DOES attack her for this speech, so maybe the creators think she’s being silly, too.
Akiyama dreams of designing her own wedding dress (which speaks to her talent as a seamstress), but all dem Wedding Fuzzies have raised her energy levels, and Nephy has taken notice. He sets up a “Wedding Dress Design” competition. And anyone can enter! Doesn’t matter when your hypothetical future wedding will be! Hell, you could stage a wedding just so you could throw a bitchin’ party! Who cares! Outlaw country! Woo!
During the mad dash for fabrics, Nephy gives Akiyama a piece of cursed cloth, turning her into a horrible person who yells at her adorable fiancee, throws his bouquet on the ground (so THAT’S where Tuxedo Mask gets his roses!), and dresses like she should be in a Richard Simmons fitness video.
Oh yeah, and there’s this whole “Usagi and Rei are frenemies” subplot where they try to make a winning wedding dress despite the fact that neither actually knows how to sew. It’s not that funny, and they both end up looking kind of petty and mean by the end of it.
Predictably, the girls fail to make their own dresses, but there’s enough weirdness going on with Akiyama that the Moonies go to the contest anyway. Akiyama shows up dressed as a Disney Villain and knocks out everyone except the Moonies, who make quick work of the gross arachnidemon that jumps out of the cursed dress. We didn’t even need The Tux’s help this time! (Although he would have been perfectly dressed for it, all things considered.)
The good news is that Akiyama was still able to make her own dress and marry her husband, and the two seem very happy together. The girls all agree it’s what’s on the inside that counts, except Usa, who’s still gonna marry a gorgeous asshole, so there. Then there’s some Standard Bouquet Throwing Shenanigans and Ami winds up with it. I suspect she will put them to good use in a botany project. Yay science!
This, That, and the Other
- Ami and Luna are so cute together. I want them to get matching half-heart necklaces that say “Best Friends Forever” on them.
- Mercury and Mars invaded Moon’s opening monologue both episodes this week. Seriously, Usa, you’d better step up your game or they might take your Lovely Items away, too.
- The random Sailor Mars panty shots will never not be weird.
- Usagi had been hemorrhaging Likability Points (LP) these past couple episodes, but she redeemed herself somewhat when she imagined her perfect wedding, complete with TWO bridegrooms.
It’s such a wonderful, goofy moment, because it really drives home that, for our sailors, marriage is still a very abstract concept, a short-term idea instead of a long-term reality. Plus Usagi the Swinger always makes me giggle. You be the tasty center of that manwich, Usa.
- Tomomochi Nishimura does such a good job with Rei’s grandpa. He could have easily looked like a major creep when he offered to marry Ami this week, but he plays it so jovially that it comes across as funny–even charming–instead of lecherous.
- Hark! A plot point! When nature got nasty at the park (or perhaps when Sailor Moon transformed?), Mamoru came down with a serious case of Totally Not The Same Migraine Tuxedo Mask Had Last Week. I really hope he doesn’t have a brain tumor. He’d have to change his name to Hospital Gown Mask and it would put a serious damper on the rest of the series.