Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 25-26

Hey, look at that–I love this show again.

As anyone who’s been following these posts knows, I spent much of the last cour becoming progressively more annoyed at Nephrite, High Lord of Blandsylvania, and what often felt like stagnating character arcs and relationships. I didn’t HATE it (and there were some episodes I quite enjoyed), but I wasn’t having nearly as much fun as I’d had during the first cour.

Of course, then last week’s two-part Feelsplosion happened, throwing my emotions into all kinds of turmoil, because dammit if I didn’t feel bad for Naru and even a little for Nephy, boring old bastard that he was. I got so tangled up in the short-lived romance that I was actually pretty sad by the end of Episode 26, and had forgotten one vital fact: Nephrite wasn’t our bad guy anymore. Zoisite was, which meant the show was all but guaranteed to get fun again.

And boy, did it ever. This week SM burst from its cocoon like a lame Metapod transforming into a badass Butterfree, complete with a neat premise, a fabulous villain, ridiculous monsters, a shiny Lovely Item, and a rockin’ addition to the Sailor Squad. It’s campy, hilarious, and awesome, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

The Recaps

Episode 25 – Jupiter Jazz

We begin in the Skulltroyshka, where Beryl is trying to awaken The Great Ruler. Fortunately he just loves the smell of energy balls in the morning, so he wakes up long enough for a chat, although he’s unwilling to leave his… um…

Bloody Incubator? Fleshy Canopy Bed? Placenta Papoose? Anyway, it’s super gross.

He tells Beryl that the only way she can wake him for realz is to get the Legendary Silver Crystal (henceforth known as LSC) and that the best way to FIND said crystal is to revive the “Seven Great Monsters.” (And by “great” he means “absurd” and by “monsters” he means “Pokemon.” But we’ll get to that.)

Turns out the Dark Kingdom’s “enemies” sealed seven shards of the LSC into these monsters and had them reincarnated on earth as normal human beings. The shards inside the monsters are called “Rainbow Crystals,” and if Beryl (or more accurately, Beryl’s minions) can remove the shards, they can revive the monsters. And bonus points: if they can bring all seven Rainbow Crystals together, then…

…Okay, I actually didn’t follow this real well, but when you collect all the Rainbow Crystals it either forms the LSC, or when they’re all gathered together they basically work as a honing beacon to find the LSC, or you summon the eternal dragon Shenron, or…

Point being, everybody wants to taste the rainbow, including Luna and the Sailor Squad! Huzzah for a plotline!

Beryl rounds up her two remaining minions and promotes Zoisite to Top Henchman, giving him a tricked-out Dark Crystal that can now find Rainbow Crystals (because of course there’s an app for that). Also, Beryl makes ZERO mention of Nephrite or of the fact that her new Top Henchman totally just murdered her old Top Henchman. I honestly don’t even think she noticed Nephy was gone. But don’t think too poorly of her. In another couple episodes, no one else will, either.

Back in Japan, Usagi (literally) runs into a bunch of street thugs and then gets saved by this Badass Guardian in a Sailor Suit:

“I’m here to kick ass and make cute and yummy lunches. And I’m all out of cute and yummy lunches.”

She’s strong, courageous, helps the weak, and has zero time for your shit. Oh, and her earrings are roses. You can almost SEE Ikuhara drafting the early outlines of Revolutionary Girl Utena, here.

Later at school, Usagi sees Lady Badass hanging out on the school grounds. Exposition Bear Umino pops up with his notebook full of what I can only assume is erotic friend fiction and gives us the skinny: Her name is Kino Makoto, a transfer student who’s rumored to have gotten kicked out of her old school for fighting.

Undeterred by Makoto’s bad-girl reputation, Usagi uses her SUPER FRIENDSHIP POWERS and marches right up to the lonely-looking Makoto, thanks her for saving her earlier, compliments her on her mad cooking skillz, and even gives her a nickname (“Mako-chan!”).

She also invites her to the arcade, where Mako gets to yell at the Sailor V game and meet Ami, Rei, and Luna. Mako hits it off with the whole gang, especially Luna, whom she chin-scratches ferociously, and Ami, who is apparently a little turned on by ferocious chin-scratches.

I ship it.

But wait! We interrupt this femslash to bring you–a douchebag! No, it’s not Mamoru this time. It’s “Joe the Crane Game Troll,” who’s a MONSTER… at collecting stuffed animals out of claw machines, that is. Makoto is sooo into this.

So is Zoisite, actually, because he appears in a cloud of flowerpetals (dude knows how to make an entrance) and tries to drag a Rainbow Crystal out of Joe’s chest. But before he can finish the job, Mako flies in out of nowhere and TOTALLY LANDS A PUNCH ON A MEMBER OF THE DARK KINGDOM USING NOTHING BUT HER FISTS AND HER FEELINGS YEAHHH GO MAKO.

“You scarred my precious face!” Zoisite wails before disappearing in a swirl of flower petals.

Once he leaves, Mako immediately turns her attention to Joe, who is (as previously mentioned) a douchebag. She offers to stay with him and be his bodyguard, but he tells her he doesn’t need her help and leaves her on the street corner while he goes to drink coffee alone. And while, yes, Mako is being a bit of a creeper here, she ALSO just saved his douchebag life. Least he could do is buy her a parfait. (Just…not a chocolate one. Bad things happen to people who want those.)

Around this time Usagi catches up to Mako and points out the obvious: Joe is kind of The Worst. Makoto says this is what she likes about him, because he “reminds her of the guy who broke her heart.” Okay, so Mako has terrible taste in guys. Guess nobody’s perfect.

Thankfully she has good taste in friends, because Usa keeps her company on the street corner while Mako gazes stalkerishly through the window at Joe, and then urges Mako inside when Joe finally gets creeped out enough to invite her in. I love this version of Usagi. I want to hang out with her all the time, please.

Inside the cafe, Joe admits to Makoto that he’s good at the claw machine because he’s a cheating cheaterpants: He has a special power that allows him to levitate small objects. “But doesn’t that make you a cheating cheaterpants?” Mako wonders, and you can see the crushin’ fires dwindling behind her eyes. Before Joe can make an even bigger ass of himself, Zoisite appears in the middle of the cafe and oh wait, my bad, Joe actually DOES make an even bigger ass of himself when he flees the cafe, leaving Makoto to handle the big baddie alone.

Of course, the big baddie doesn’t really care about Makoto, so he follows Joe out into the street. “I’m taking your Rainbow Crystal,” Zoisite says in a way that manages to be both super threatening and not threatening at all, and then he does just that.

With the crystal removed, Joe transforms from a human monster into a Pocket Monster, “Gamecen,” who shoots claws and whack-a-mole hammers from his arms and (like a true Pokemon) can only say his name. He’s much more pleasant this way.

Sailor Moon shows up around the time this is happening. Zoisite introduces himself right off the bat, because undercover antagonizing is for squares named Jadeite and Nephrite, then disappears with the Rainbow Crystal in hand.

Usa gets crane gamed for a bit until Makoto appears and throws Gamecen into the bushes as punishment for “bullying her idol,” Sailor Moon. Luna recognizes Mako’s inherent badassitude as Sailor Spirit and teaches her how to transform into the electrifying Sailor Jupiter.

“Welcome to Thunderdome, bitch.”

She fries Gamecen real nice around the edges, but Luna tells Usagi that she can’t Moon Tiara him into the netherworld because he has a “human heart” (um, have you MET this guy?). Instead, Usagi gets a new Lovely Item: The oh-so-cleverly named “Moon Stick,” which allows her to use the spell “Moon Healing Escalation“ and turn Joe back into an asshole. I mean, person.

So, basically, Usagi is the party’s White Mage now. Given how good she is at dodging and how bad she is at fighting, this may be the best possible role for her. Of course, Luna says that holding the Moon Stick also makes Usagi “the Leader.” This is ridiculous because I already made Luna the President and Ami the Vice President, but if you want to tell Usa that to make her feel better, I guess that’s okay.

The girls head back to the arcade to celebrate. When they get there Makoto finally meets our Friendly Neighborhood Part-Timer, Motoki, and falls head over heels for him. Apparently his voice is “just like the guy who broke her heart.” Usagi is not pleased. But hey, at least Mako-chan picked a nice guy this time. Progress!

Episode 26 – Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like an Usagi

We begin this one with another of Mamoru’s Tuxedo Dreams, which doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know but is accompanied by a hauntingly lovely music box version of the opening theme, so it’s a winner in my book.

This is followed by a quick check-in with Zoisite, who’s found his next Rainbow Crystal hiding in a priest {insert joke about his molestache here}, then it’s off to Usagi’s class, where we learn that Naru hasn’t been to school since her boyfriend became rainbow sparkles.

Somehow Umino DOESN’T know this (StalkerFail), so when he and Usagi go over to Naru’s house to cheer her up, Umino keeps shoving his foot in his mouth, talking about “heartbreak” and “chocolate parfaits” and okay, no, I call shenanigans. Umino knows damn well what happened and is just playing dumb. I bet he knows Usagi is Sailor Moon, too. Anyone who spends as much time hanging out under lunchroom tables as he does is bound to accidentally overhear a Moonie Meeting at some point or another.

Anyway, Naru actually does seem to be doing better, which is good, because now that Zoisite is running this parade I’ve already forgotten that other guy’s name (Plain? Bland? Ann? I think it was Ann). The three decide to spend the afternoon out on the town.

This reflects well on Usa as a friend but not so well on her as a leader, because at just that moment the rest of the Moonies are having a meeting about how best to find the Rainbow Crystals before the Dark Kingdom does. Luna claims she made Usagi the leader in order to force her to be more responsible, which is a good idea when you’re dealing with a middle school class project, but a really shitty one when you’re dealing with the fate of an entire planet.

Above: A grievous abuse of both power and piggies.

Luna also explains that the Moon Stick can detect Rainbow Crystals, and Rei (tactlessly but correctly) points out that giving such a vitally important device to Usagi was a srsly dumb move. And you know, Rei is REALLY right about this. Sorry, Luna, but I’m revoking your position as Moonie President. You can be the secretary instead. Ami is President now, and Makoto gets to be VP. Sorry, Rei, you’re still treasurer. Usagi, you can handle Public Relations. You’re actually very good at that.

Ami tries to stick up for Usagi, until Rei (who is a mega-brat here) bullies her into submission. Makoto tries to stick up for Usa, too, but this backfires when she calls Usagi and asks her to join their Super Important Meeting, and Usagi says she can’t because she’s going to Chinatown, k thx bai.

Over in Chinatown, the Cheer Up Naru Game hits a snag because there just happens to be a HUGE cemetery RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Chinatown. C’mon, kids, how did none of you remember this? Naru reflects on how Nephrite (who?) doesn’t have a grave, then gets upset and runs off.

She encounters That Priest From Zoisite’s Vision hanging out in the cemetery and asks him for his advice. He replies in the kind of accented Japanese that anyone who’s taken Japanese will recognize because it’s exactly how you sounded in your second year, no matter how long you practiced your pronunciation or listened to the audio files on Blackboard, and if you thought you sounded better, you were lying to yourself, but it’s okay, don’t worry, we all were, which is a run-on-sentency way of saying that the priest is a foreigner.

Fortunately, unlike Joe the Crane Game Trololol, he’s actually a nice guy and tries to comfort Naru with some talk of “love being right next to you.” His timing sucks, though, because Zoisite happens to show up right then, too, and Naru could never forget the face of the guy who murdered her plant. I mean Nephrite.

Naru’s in trouble. It must be Tuesday.

Just as Usagi finally tracks down Naru, her Moon Stick starts beeping. Luna pulls a Deus Ex Maskina and shows up out of abso-freaking-lutely nowhere to explain the situation and get Usagi to transform into Sailor Moon. Fortunately both Naru and Zoi are too busy staring each other down to notice. They’re so busy, in fact, that Moon even has time to strike her own Needlessly Elaborate Entrance Pose (she’s been taking lessons from The Tux!).

Usagi really should have been attacking instead of posing, though, because while she’s doing that Zoisite drags the Rainbow Crystal out of the priest. The crystal flies off and gets lost among the trees, but we don’t have time for that, because another of the Seven Legendary Pokemon is about to show up, and this one is…

Okay, so you know how Joe hung out at arcades and then he turned into “Gamecen,” and it made sense? Well, our foreign priest turns into “Boxii,” the Demon Boxer, which reeeeally does not. It kinda feels like the creative team just spun a wheel marked “Foreign Things That Could Beat Up Sailor Moon,” and it landed on “Boxer.” Honestly, though, I don’t mind, because his belt has a bell on it, his attacks are shrieked in majestic Engrish, and basically everything he does is pure gold.

“I’MA ZA CHAMPION OO-WAAA!”

He uses his “I’m a Champion Lovely Punch” on the girls, and… sigh… both Naru AND Sailor Moon get dramatically saved by Potential Love Interests. It’s a bit eyebrow-twitch-worthy, but my annoyance is mitigated significantly by two great things.

The first is that Umino is the one who saves Naru, which means the little awkward turtle actually, FINALLY did something right for once.

And the second is this Gem of a Line from Tuxedo Mask:

“Boxers are gentleman! They don’t hit beautiful young ladies! They embrace them tenderly!”

While I’m cackling on the couch, The Tux uses his TWIRLY!CANE (for no gentleman leaves home without his TWIRLY!CANE) to distract the monster long enough for Sailor Moon to use Moon Healing Escalation and turn Boxii back into a preacher man (molestache still included, alas).

And then, just as I’m about to calm down from my previous case of gleeful giggles, The Tux finds the Rainbow Crystal, picks it up, and gives Zoisite the most MAGNIFICENT shit-eating grin:

U mad bro?

I love you, Tuxedo Mask. Even if you did just steal a Rainbow Crystal from your girlfriend. I forgive you. Because it is impossible not to love that shit-eating grin.

Stealing that crystal shard was also Very Important, it turns out, because it gives Tuxedo Mamoru a shard of his memory back as well. The Tux and Mamoru now know they’re the same person. Okay, split personality man. Now get your two halves together and start comparing bunheads. You will have sooo many mysteries solved if you do.

In the aftermath, Naru uses the same orange handkerchief she used on what’s-his-name to bandage Umino’s arm. She’s ready to move on! Good for you, Naru! Let’s all dance merrily into the Zoisite Arc! I’m not sure where this road will take us, but it’s sure to be strewn with flower petals.

This, That, and the Other

  • The opening theme animation is now sadly lacking in Jupiter Goodness. I hope that gets remedied soon.
  • A stark contrast to our previous Undercover Baddies, Zoisite apparates in broad daylight, introduces himself to Sailor Moon, picks fights in cafes, and just walks up to people in the middle of the street and sucks crystals out of their chests. Ask him how many fucks he gives. Go ahead. The answer will NOT surprise you.
  • This new story line has so much built-in tension! It pits The Tux against the Moonies for the first time, encourages new battle tactics, and actually requires the girls to go out and actively SEARCH for something instead of just waiting for a monster to attack again. Who’s excited for the third cour? The Josei’s excited for the third cour!
  • I know there isn’t going to be a subplot where the blood on Naru’s handkerchief gets into Umino’s system and turns him into a Dark Kingdom Overlord, but I just wanted you to know that I would read the hell out of that fanfic.
  • Hark! A Plot Point! During the fight in the cemetery, Usagi finds a star-shaped key chain on the ground. For some reason I think this belongs to Tuxedo Mamoru, but I don’t know WHY I think that, so it could be just about anything. Whatever it is, look for it to be a Pertinent Plot Device before too long.

Magica(al Girl) Moments 

Can I just say how much I love Makoto’s character? While I think in terms of pure huggable likability she’s not quite on Ami’s level (yet), in terms of actual character development and traits she’s by far my favorite of the scouts.

While everyone else sort of fits into an archetype (the ditz, the brain, the hothead), Makoto seems to have been crafted to intentionally ignore traditional tropes. She’s wicked strong, a skilled fighter, and absolutely ruthless to people she views as enemies, but she’s also kind to her friends and a fantastic cook. She has a touch of Usa and Rei’s boy-crazyness too, although hers is focused specifically on the unnamed “guy who broke her heart.”

Point being, Makoto embodies a number of qualities that make it hard to pin her down as a single “type,” and while I know that could change as the series progresses, I really appreciate how well-rounded her personality is right now. Welcome to the Moonies, Sailor Jupiter!

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