Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 23-24

In the interest of posting this on time (I had to pack last night and I’m taking a flight today), I’m going to skip the long recaps and just talk in broad strokes about this week’s two-part Nephrite Finale.

Ah-hem.

So.

What the SHIT, Sailor Moon?!

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You know what I learned this week? I learned that you should never fall in love, because if you fall in love, you lose all sense of judgment and self-preservation, you throw yourself in front of dangerous objects, you FINALLY develop a conscience and a personality only to PUNCTURE YOUR LUNG and DIE moments later in the arms of your beloved as you slowly dissolve into rainbow sparkles while she cries your name AND YOU NEVER GET TO HAVE THOSE CHOCOLATE PARFAITS, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IF YOU LIKE THEM AND NOW YOU’LL NEVER GET TO FIND OUT.

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…Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but I really was upset by the time the end credits rolled around. This week saw a pretty dramatic turnaround for our big boring baddie, and no one was more surprised by it than me. And it’s such a shame when a show begins to redeem someone and then kills them off right before they have the chance to prove they can BE good and not just occasionally DO good (there is a key difference).

Because let’s be honest: Nephy’s willingness to protect Naru and be honest with her doesn’t change all the bad he’s done. He’s tried to kill a lot of people (including Naru), he’s possessed people (including Naru), he’s stolen valuables (with Naru as an accomplice), he’s lied to and manipulated people (including Naru… damn, I’m noticing a trend here), he’s even broken into bedrooms and performed secret nighttime medical tests (which, as Orphan Black has taught us, is NOT cool). Basically, he did whatever he needed to do in order to harvest energy and find the Silver Crystal.

None of that has changed or gone away, and Logical Josei is actually pretty glad he’s gone. But Emotional Josei isn’t so sure. I mean, it’s tough to watch scenes like this…

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…and not feel at least a LITTLE conflicted. While one episode isn’t enough time to make me change my entire opinion of a character (Nephy was too boring for too long), I’m also a huge fan of redemption arcs, and it would’ve been nice if Nephy could have stuck around long enough to prove himself a reformed man (demon? alien?).

And, if nothing else, I really do sympathize with Naru. True, it was incredibly foolish of her to fall for Nephy, but (in the immortal words of Jaime Lannister) we don’t choose who we love. And she is, after all, fourteen. Hell, older people have gotten themselves mixed up into relationships just as dangerous or ill-advised, and they’re supposed to know better.

I don’t think SM was necessarily advocating this relationship (the oh-so-subtle flaming moth imagery is a little too critical, I’d say), but I think they did a remarkably realistic job of showing how it feels to love someone you know you shouldn’t. And as those kinds of relationships are, by nature, conflicted ones, I suspect we’re not supposed to feel all one thing or all another in this case. We’re dealing with complicated situations and emotions, and it makes sense that our reactions would be complicated as well.

If SM is saying anything this week, then I think it is simply this: Love is an incredibly powerful force, for better or for worse. It made Nephy reevaluate his life as a manipulative, lying, boring (oh so boring) villain and spurred him on to a few moments of genuine honesty and selflessness. It made Naru tough enough to nearly pull cursed spikes out of Nephy’s chest with nothing but the Power of Her Feelings, but weak enough to have a table-flip-inducing conversation like this:

Nephy: So yeah, I’ve been using you this whole time. And I’ve lied to you. Like, a LOT. Oh and BT-dubs, prolly gonna keep lying to you, too.

Naru: NBD, baby, I still love you!

{Insert table flip here}

Keep in mind that love also played into Zoisite’s decisions this week, too, as most of his actions come as a direct result of Kunzite’s requests and Zoi’s desire to please him. Love may have saved Naru but it also killed Nephy, proving that it’s a force which can destroy as easily as it can create.

But there was another kind of love at play this week, and it was the one that tends to shine the strongest in the Sailor Mooniverse: The love between friends. Usagi can be cowardly and foolhardy and selfish, but she truly cares about Naru, and that love guided nearly all of her actions this week.

It gave her the courage to confront Naru and warn her that Nephrite was bad news, even if she did a rather poor job of it (and even if Naru didn’t listen, because when we’re in love, we so rarely listen to the people who love us, no matter how much we should). It also gave Usa the strength to stop her Tiara midflight (she didn’t even know she COULD do that) and to even plea for Nephy’s redemption, despite all the bad she knows he’s done.

Nephy may be gone but there’s still a powerful presence in Naru’s life, and here’s hoping the love of her closest friend is enough to help her to heal from the heartbreak she’s feeling now. I’m quite certain that it will. After all, Sailor Moon is, first and foremost, the guardian of love.

This, That, and The Other

  • …But seriously. DO evil organizations give you days off on Sundays?
  • I love that Usagi has called “dibs” on both Tuxedo Mask AND Motoki. You know, just in case.
  • Mamoru actually gave out some good advice this week when he told Usagi she needed to “have the courage to tell her friend the truth.” +5 Romantic Hero Points!
  • Scribbled in my notes as the Ep23 fight begins: UGH, if Naru jumps in front of Nephy to save him…

    Two minutes later:imageDAMN IT NARU

  • I may have started singing “I Wanna Know What Love Is” (I WANT YOU TO SHOOOOW MEEEEE!!), like, super loudly when Nephy was talking to Naru in her bedroom.
  • …I ALSO may have shouted “Nephy’s turning into a real boy!” when he went into that basement to rescue her. It’s possible I have way too much fun watching this show.
  • I’m starting to realize Usagi’s greatest superpower (much like most superheroes) is simply her ability to NOT die. Girl’s attacks could use some work, but she can run, dodge, and take a hit with the best of them.
  • I have decided to call the Moon/Mars Combo Attack a “Ti-flare-a.” I know, I know. My cleverness scares me sometimes, too.
  • Tuxedo Mask Elaborate Entrance Pose of the Week:
    image(And yes, this IS pretty much all he did this week. I am totally okay with that.)
  • Hark! A Plot Point! Nephy had to give up a “celestial orb” in order to obtain “the Dark Crystal,” which is basically a Geiger counter for other crystals and (for some reason) Feelings. I’m just waiting for it to crack and the world to be overrun with Skeksis.
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