And then, every so often, Usagi gets shit done.
I was worried when I started this adventure that blogging a show meant for young teens would never work–that I had waited too long and the Sailor Moon bandwagon had left the station for good. But in some ways I actually think I enjoy it more now than I would have as a kid, because now I can watch Usagi and, instead of wanting to shake her, I can appreciate her for the flawed but spirited kid she is.
I can also appreciate how the show actually acknowledges her weaknesses. Unlike a lot of series led by well-meaning screw-ups where the MC’s horrible habits are played as charming or even laudable (*cough* FushigiYuugi *cough* ButseriouslyMiakawastheworst *cough*) SM never pretends its protagonists are perfect. Just think about the number of people we’ve seen calling Usagi out on her flaws, thus (hopefully) encouraging her to recognize and overcome them.
Plus, by telling the audience that yeah, we know, Usagi’s a bit of a mess, the series makes her admirable qualities shine through all the more noticeably, such as when she goes out of her way to help resolve things between Shingo and his crush this week. She fluctuates in terms of likability and maturity (particularly where romance is involved), but really, that just makes her a kid, not a bad protagonist. And as long as the show keeps gradually moving her towards adulthood, I’m pretty okay with that.
But enough retrospective. There’s recaps to be had!
Premiere Week has significantly upped the amount of both watching and writing I’m doing right now, so in the interest of not murdering my wrists, fingers, and eyeballs, we’re going to keep these fairly short. Fortunately this week was mostly filler, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Episode 17 – The Very Model of a Modern Moonie Magic Girl
Nephy is on the prowl again, and this time he targets prodigy photographer Shinokawa Kijin. The poor kid doesn’t even get a backstory–Nephy just shows up and curses his hilariously large camera (insert penis joke here), turning him into a voyeur-in-training who only wants to photograph girls. Girls girls girls! All girls all the time! He even has a new catchphrase: “Art is an explosion!” And if that ain’t Sailor Moon’s most unsubtle euphemism yet, then I don’t know what is.
Kijin sends out a Call For Models, and of course Usagi wants to apply. Both Brother Shingo and Mamoru inform her that she’ll never get in because good photographers look for girls who are beautiful on the inside, and they all think Usagi’s insides resemble a troll (and not a charming Froud troll, either).
And I… don’t know how to feel about these scenes. I like that the theme of the episode was that inner qualities (kindness, courage, a sense of justice) are what make a person beautiful, and I suppose it’s nice to know that Mamoru isn’t a shalow d-bag, but… well, he does insult the hell out of Usagi here, so he’s still a d-bag, all things considered. And it’s irritating that it’s only the menfolk explaining to us what photographers look for in their female models, while meanwhile the women are all standing around in swimsuits worrying about if they’ve put on weight. I like the words. I just wish they gelled better with the actions, is all.
Regardless, Usagi proves everyone wrong when she’s accepted for the photo shoot (along with everyone else who entered, but shh, technicality). Things are even more eeevil than usual, though, because Kijin’s camera is trapping all of the women in photographs. Luna tells Usagi about the vanishing girls, and then Usagi actually sees the camera suck up Naru and Haruna-sensei. Time for a heaping helping of Vigilante Justice!
Sailor Moon literally kicks the monster out of the camera, which looks badass but backfires quickly, as this week’s monster then proceeds to trap EVERYONE in photos, starting with Kijin, moving on to Luna (LUNAAAAAA!), and even finishing up with Mercury and Mars. Usagi is alone.
And that’s when she gets awesome.
Exhibiting a cleverness she hasn’t shown in weeks, Usagi uses the mirrored walls to force the monster to take a photo of itself. This doesn’t trap it but it does weaken it enough that she can then Moon Tiara its face off.
No Deus Ex Maskina, no lucky breaks, no Moonie back-up. Just our klutzy heroine putting on her stylish boots and kicking some monster ass. It’s been so long since she did that, I’d almost forgotten she COULD. Hats off, Usa-chan. You might get no respect from your family, but you sure get some from me.
…And in other news, Zoisite is still mocking Nephy for sucking so very, very hard. Zoi is supposed to be searching for the Legendary Silver Crystal, but I don’t blame him for ignoring his job. Mocking Nephy looks like WAY more fun.
Episode 18 – Night of the Living Dolls
Picking up right where we left off, Zoisite is being sassy and Nephy is not amused. He even turns down Zoisite’s suggestion–and Beryl’s order–that they team up to collect more energy. Nephy is now officially on Berly’s shit list, and I couldn’t be happier. Dude is way less fun than Jadeite. At least Jadeite dressed up in silly costumes from time to time.
Meanwhile back in Juuban, Usagi’s little brother Shingo has a crush named Mika, who likes to build creepy-ass dolls. After she wins a competition for Best Creepy-Ass Doll, she tries to give the winning doll to Shingo, but his classmates’ teasing (“K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”) coupled with the fact that it is one creepy-ass doll causes him to reject the gift, accidentally dropping and breaking it. Oh, great, now it’s covered in splintering cracks. That won’t haunt my dreams tonight.
Some of Mika’s friends hunt down Usagi and tell her what happened. Usa’s ready to dish out some Big Sister Justice, but Shingo already feels bad about it, so she doesn’t have to say much. He goes over to Mika’s house to apologize.
Enter Nephy, posing as an art dealer or something (not that you can TELL since he’s NOT IN DISGUISE, the boring old bastard). He immediately curses Mika’s latest project, Sad Topless Creepy-Ass Doll. The curse turns Mika into the little-used second definition of “child abuser,” and also has the side effect of making her creepy-ass doll even creepy…assy…er. Ah-hem. Yes.
Mika’s too busy crafting to see Shingo when he comes over. Usagi lends a very sympathetic ear to her brother when he comes home upset, and suggests he give Mika a gift as an apology. He immediately sets to work crafting an adorable Lumpy Space Sailor for her.
Meanwhile, Usagi’s Moonie senses are tingling, so she recruits Ami to go to the doll exhibit with her to scope the place out in case any monsters appear. Rei and Mamoru show up as well. They appear to be dating now, and Mamoru has no idea how this happened. They’re going to end up married at this rate simply because the dude’s too damn baffled to ever get a word in edgewise.
While everyone mills around looking at the creepy-ass dolls, Usagi and Shingo seek out Mika so Shingo can give her his present. They arrive just in time for the creepy-ass doll to become a creepy-ass monster-mannequin (monsterquin!), sucking Mika dry and knocking Shingo unconscious AND DESTROYING THE LUMPY SPACE SAILOR?!
It’s Sailor Time!
Alas, Sailor Moon is still a hero-in-training, and she gets by with a little help from her friends this time. Mercury and Mars distract the monster and find its weak points, and then The Tux shows up just long enough to save Moon from strangulation so she can Tiara the monsterquin back to whatever hellish department store it came from. Remember that one time you defeated a bad guy all on your own, Usa? That was a good time.
On the pint-sized romance front, Shingo and Mika make up. She even gives him a Sailor Moon figurine… and then gets jealous when Shingo says he likes it, because CLEARLY that means he likes Sailor Moon more than he likes Mika. WOMEN, AMIRITE?
…Aaaaand this was no shorter than any of my other recaps. It’s official: I am physically incapable of brevity.
This, That, and the Other
- You know, Nephy, you might have an easier time harvesting energy if you didn’t ONLY choose targets from the ONE CITY on Earth where Sailor Moon has appeared.
- Convenient how Ami always has cram school anytime Usagi wants to do something ridiculous, but she’s totally available whenever there’s Moonie business. I’m onto your games, Ami-chan.
- When Tuxedo Mask appeared this week he just stood there on the ground (like a peasant!), which led me to realize he is not NEARLY as suave when he doesn’t get to perch on a tree branch or a window ledge or some other high, billowy place. Mostly he just looks like he got lost on his way to the local cosplay convention.
- It strikes me that if Sailor Moon is really becoming this famous, Usagi would have pulled an Iron Man and revealed her identity AGES ago. The girl pretty much only has two goals in life, and one of them is becoming an A-list celebrity. (The other is holding hands with Motoki and Tuxedo Mask at the same time. Usagi lives dangerously.)
- Lovely Item Alert! Luna hooks the girls up with cute pink communicators and then acts all surprised when Usagi uses hers to chat with Ami. It’s sort of like parents who give their kids cell phones “for emergency use only.” Yeah. Good luck with that.
- Hark! A plot point! Nephy and Mamoru have A Moment at the doll exhibit. After they gaze smoulderingly into each other’s eyes for a few moments, Nephy says he “mistook” Mamoru for someone else–probably Tuxedo Mask, since they’re Totally Not The Same Person. This makes Nephy the second baddie to recognize Tuxedo Mask (Jadeite did, too). Could The Tux be some kind of defector from the Dark Kingdom? I’m developing fan theories, gang. Glorious fan theories!
The Sensei Next Door (Moon Prism Edition)
Hinamatsuri [hee-nah mah-tsu-ree]
When Usagi mentions “Girls’ Day” in Episode 18, she’s talking about Hinamatsuri. Literally “Dolls’ Festival” but sometimes translated as “Girls’ Festival” or “Girls’ Day,” this is a Japanese holiday celebrated on March 3. (For all your nostalgic anime fans out there, the Indigo League Pokemon episode “Princess vs. Princess” takes place on this day, too.)
The holiday features a seven-tired hina ningyo (ornamental doll) set which represents the Heian Period’s Imperial Court. Hence why Usagi tells the monsterquin that “even the Girls’ Day dolls are angry.“
I direct you the Wikipedia article for more info, including historical background and doll organization details. Go forth and know them better, man!