Sailor Moon is learning that you can have your rice cakes and eat them too.
I’ve noticed that my recaps have gotten a lot longer since Zoisite showed up, and it’s not just because I’m enjoying the episodes more (although there is that). What’s happened, quite simply, is that there’s more to cover each episode, because SM has discovered B-plots.
Take this week’s Episode 30, for example. In the past SM would have spent the entire episode focusing on one major conflict/relationship, and if you weren’t all that invested in it, then you were just stuck with a lackluster episode. Now, though, thanks to an expanded cast and an interest in multitasking, this episode focuses on no less than three relationships: Rei and her Grandpa (family), Rei and Yuuichirou (romance), and Rei and Usagi (friends) – to say nothing of the budding rivalry between Tuxedo Mask and Zoisite (and I will be saying plenty about it, rest assured).
SM has always known that it was a show about friendship, romance, family, and superheroes, but in the past it thought it could only be ONE of those shows at a time. Now though, it’s starting to realize it doesn’t have to choose – it can be all those things at once, and be that much better because of it.
This doesn’t solve my problem, mind you, and I’m still trying to figure out a way to shorten my recaps so I’m not producing (and you’re not reading) a novella each week. But until that happens – onwards, noble followers! To the novella-length recaps!
Episode 29 – Survival of the Shippiest
First rule of pedestrian life in a city: Do not trust the weatherman. Doesn’t matter what he says, you come prepared for everything—snow, rain, kitten stampede, whatever. You know who doesn’t know this rule? Makoto. That’s why she begins this episode running through the rain, cursing the weatherman as she slips and falls in a puddle.
And you know who DOES know this rule? Motoki, who finds Mako in the street and offers her his umbrella to share. As an added bonus, his umbrella is full of sparkles, which cause flowers to grow and girls’ soaked uniforms to dry in the blink of an eye.
In case you forgot, Mako has a crush on Motoki, and to prove it she offers to become his maid, cooking and cleaning for him over the weekend. Since no sensible college student ever turns down a free meal, he takes her up on the offer and gives her his home address. They make a dinner plans just as the rain clears and Lady Scientist Reika appears. Mako excuses herself in a hurry.
Reika sticks around just long enough to exchange some cryptic dialogue with Motoki, then Mamoru shows up and Reika runs off to go do Science. Mamoru and Motoki go sit in a cafe and talk about girls. That’s right: The GIRL is doing Science and the GUYS are discussing relationships. Sailor Moon, you are a magnificent creature.
During Guy Talk, we find out that Reika has been given the chance to study abroad in Africa. Thing is, she’s also dating Motoki and the two of them are pretty serious, and she’s not sure she wants to leave him. Motoki admits to Mamoru that, although he’d of course like Reika to stay, he also refuses to stand in the way of her dreams.
Then, because this entire episode is basically a long equation with the solution “Motoki > Mamoru,” the conversation turns to our young sailor scouts. Motoki assures us that while he’s quite fond of Usagi and Makoto, he thinks of them as his cute little sisters. “I’m not going to date middle school girls,” he tells Mamoru, in a tone of voice that suggests this is the one of those things no college student should EVER have to say out loud, right up there with “I could use another cup of coffee” and “I sure wish my roommate would stop having sex on my futon.”
Mamoru quietly rethinks his life decisions.
Cut to the next day, where Mako goes all Overly Attached Girlfriend on Motoki, showing up at his apartment before school and scrubbing it clean. Along the way she discovers a photo of Reika and finds out that she really is Motoki’s girlfriend. Mako then rides her blues all the way through lunchtime, when Usagi finds her moping beneath the school’s Mopin’ Tree.
Usa correctly guesses that some guy broke her heart, but is shocked to learn that the “guy” was Motoki, because Usa called dibs on him, like, WEEKS ago! Of course she ALSO called dibs on Tuxedo Mask, so it’s hard to feel much sympathy (“Pick one already!” Mako grumbles like an annoyed Hunger Games fan). The girls agree to go down to the arcade and settle this once and for all, but Motoki is… off?… today? And there’s… another?… employee?… there? That doesn’t sound like a real thing.
Mamoru appears in the entryway so he can be an ass to both Usagi and Makoto, and then also to drop the important plot point that, if Reika decides to study abroad, Mako “might have a chance” with Motoki. Makoto responds appropriately (by strangling him) and then runs off to talk Reika into leaving the county. Because when I’M struggling with a potentially life-changing decision, nothing helps me make up my mind more than the ravings of a strange young schoolgirl.
And Mako does rave—gloriously, in fact, about how Reika shouldn’t waver and how she has to choose between love and her studies because THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. The outcome of this conversation is unclear, though, because Reika has bigger problems on the horizon: She’s the next of the Rainbow Monsters, and Zoisite is comin’ ta get her. Right after he and his boyfriend have Snuggle Time, anyway.
Unaware of the baddies on their way, Usa and Mako go over to Motoki’s to make that dinner they promised him, and by “they” I mean Makoto does all the cooking and Usagi sniffs Makoto’s coffee mug like a big creeper. Their plans are interrupted when Reika calls—she’s made a decision and wants to tell Motoki in person. He steps out, leaving the girls to wait for him at his apartment. So they wait. And wait. And wait.
In Motoki’s defense, he has a good reason for being late: Zoisite has set the street on fire. Motoki tries to fight our big baddie, but, like anyone whose name isn’t Makoto, he loses pretty handily, allowing Zoisite to suck the Rainbow Crystal out of Reika and turn her into Rikokeida: Lady scientist by day, glam rocker by night.
Sailors Moon and Jupiter show up (thanks to Luna), as does Tuxedo Mask. Like last time, The Tux goes straight for the Rainbow Crystal while the Moonies take on this week’s Pokemon. A combination of single-celled organisms (those are some mighty big single cells, SM) and magic flasks make the fight a difficult one, until Ami and Rei show up with a one-two punch. They heal Reika and turn her back into a human.
Zoisite: Oh shucks. My monster lost. Here, you win. You can have the Rainbow Crystal.
Zoisite: What? No! You seriously thought I…? Oh, you are just ADORABLE. But still. The answer is no. *flower-pedals away*
I swear, between The Tux’s shit-eating grins and Zoisite’s sass, I could watch an entire spin-off series about these two.
And speaking of winning pairs, Motoki and Reika are saying their farewells. Looks like Reika decided to study abroad after all! AND she and Motoki have agreed to keep in touch and try to make the whole long-distance thing work. So basically Reika’s response to Makoto’s challenge of “love or school” was:
Way to be an awesome role model, Reika! And way to be a supportive boyfriend, Motoki! Exclamation points for everyone!
Episode 30 – The Family That Prays Together Stays Together
There’s a hobo on the steps of Rei’s shrine. And a grandpa on the roof. And a Zoisite in the air. Well, this episode certainly hit the ground running. Zoisite’s here to take the Rainbow Crystal from—surprise! Rei’s Grandpa! But Grandpa’s not going down without a fight, and he uses his own priest powers to disperse Zoi’s evil energy, although he tumbles off the roof in the process.
Zoisite exits, pursued by crows, just as Rei rushes to her grandfather’s side. The ruckus also awakens the hobo on the steps. (His name is Kumada Yuuichirou, but it’s such a mouthful that I’ve decided to call him Teddy. This is partly because “Kuma” means “Bear” and partly because he has the kind of hair that makes you want to take a nap.)
Teddy begs Grandpa to take him on as an apprentice and Grandpa agrees, because apparently there’s some rule where if a random stranger asks a priest to make him an apprentice, the priest has to say yes. It’s not totally clear if this was Teddy’s plan all along, or if he just did it because he’s totally hawt for Rei.
The attack on his Rainbow Soul leaves Grandpa full of crazy mood swings, which worry Rei enough that she asks the other Moonies for a second opinion. Usagi thinks he’s just being a funny old man, and Rei thinks Usa needs to keep her big nose out of “shrine business” (never mind that it was REI who asked for her help in the first place, nngh). She gets so worked up that she even knocks Usa to the ground.
Ami finally gets fed up and leaves. And you know if AMI is sick of your shit then you probably need to take it down a notch. Makoto soon follows suit. Rei gets angry at them for abandoning her EVEN THOUGH SHE JUST FREAKING TOLD THEM IT WAS SHRINE BUSINESS AND THEY SHOULD STAY OUT IT AND
Rei exits, pursued by a Teddy. He tries to reassure her about her grandpa, saying that it’s probably just the changing seasons. Rei isn’t convinced but she does thank him for being so sweet.
From the trees, Usagi sees two human beings having a conversation and assumes they’re in love. Living up to her new role as Sailor Cupid, she abuses her Transformation Pen so she can turn into a “fortune-teller of love” and make a bogus prediction that basically amounts to “Snog her furiously, bro!” Rei sees through Usa’s disguise and, simultaneously annoyed and embarrassed, declares that they are NOT friends anymore, so THERE.
Usagi is understandably upset. She goes home to mope and seek solace from her magical cat. However, Luna is WAY too busy eating delicious daifuku rice cakes to give much thought to consoling her human. Usa can’t believe how heartless Luna’s acting, I mean what could be more important than
HOT DAMN THESE ARE GOOD RICE CAKES.
So good, in fact, that Usagi decides to take them to Rei as a peace offering (for all that Usa bumbles around a lot in this episode, her heart is definitely in the right place).
She picked a good time to head to the shrine, too, because Zoisite is back for Round Two. Grandpa can’t stand up to the furious power of Petal Dance, and this time Zoisite extracts the Rainbow Crystal and turns Gramps into Jiji, another proper Pokemon who can only say his name.
The Tux shows up again but he’s even more ineffective than usual this time, as Zoisite quickly retrieves the Rainbow Crystal, though he does stick around long enough to taunt Tuxedo Mask from the trees. Geez, you two, just make out already.
Teddy spots the monster and flees, searching for Rei. She’s in the middle of getting dressed, so he finds her ass first, making this the second butt he’s seen this episode, if you count Usa’s panty-shot. (Careful, SM, or Teddy’s going to start thinking he’s in a harem anime.) But now is not the time for that! He’s here to get Rei to safety, because MONSTER! Rei is somehow surprised, even though she sensed an evil presence when she was chilling in the tub, like, five minutes ago.
Jiji intercepts them on their way out. Teddy is under the impression that Rei needs protection so he attempts to do just that, and Jiji quickly knocks him out. Still, it was brave of him to try. Rei uses her mad miko skillz to identify the monster as her Grandpa, which means that instead of fighting it, she tries to reason with it. As much as I WANTED this to work, I’m sad to admit that it emphatically does not.
But that’s okay, because delicious rice cakes to the rescue! I mean, Sailor Moon to the rescue! She distracts Jiji, giving Rei time to perform a supremely cool Back Flip Exorcism, sealing the monster’s power long enough for Moon to turn him back into a human. (And can we all just take a moment to appreciate that Rei did all of this WITHOUT transforming into Sailor Mars? Rei can be kind of a brat, but you can’t deny that she’s a serious badass.)
As Rei hugs her grandpa, her Too Cool For School demeanor slips, and a few tears touch her eyes. It’s super sweet.
In the aftermath, Usagi shares her cancer-curing rice cakes with Rei and the Shrine Boys (there’s a band name for you), and they convince Teddy that he dreamed up the monster attack. Remembering his kindness and bravery from earlier, Rei tells him that he’s a much better man than she initially suspected.
You guyyyys! Rei is learning about inner beauty! Can we get another thumbs-up gif up in here?!
Thank you, Internet.
Caught up in the moment, Rei surprises everyone (including herself) by kissing Teddy on the cheek, which leads to a lot of blushing, teasing, threatening, and general shenanigans. By the time Ami and Makoto should up to play peacekeeper, things have devolved into a Benny Hill-esque chase sequence. And, because this is what “getting along” looks like for Usagi and Rei, Ami and Mako’s work here is done.
Friendship is weird, you guys.
This, That, and the Other
- Shinohara Emi did a bang-up job with Makoto this week. Her voice got noticeably louder every time she was with Motoki, which was a cute, realistic way to play up how overzealous and awkward Mako is throughout those scenes.
- The facial expressions in Episode 29 were some of the best all season. Just a smorgasbord of hilarity, start to finish. I know I shouldn’t be comparing ‘90s SM to SM:Crystal, but it’s hard not to look at the exuberance of the art in this show and wish a little more of that had transferred to the new series as well.
- Rei’s supernatural powers make so much more sense when you realize that her grandpa is a reincarnated Rainbow Monster. You reckon this means Ami and Ryo’s adorable children will have adorable I superpowers, too? In the name of the Moon, someone should make that spin-off series.
- How old d’you suppose Teddy is supposed to be? His nervous reaction to romance makes him seem fairly young (early high school, maybe?), but it’s rare to find an anime character under 20 with stubble on their chin, so… I really have no idea. But he and Rei were cute together, you guys! I really need him to NOT be a Teddy of the PedoBear variety.
- Crystal Count: For those of you keeping track at home, Zoisite is kicking ass, 4-1-1. And there’s only one crystal left, so… who’s up for infiltrating the Skulltryoshka and stealing the others back? We’ll call it Moon’s Eleven! C’mon. You KNOW you’d watch that.
The Sensei Next Door (Moon Prism Digest Edition)
Just two fun facts before we go:
- Sharing an umbrella is considered a romantic gesture in Japan, hence why Makoto gets so gooey-eyed about it.
- Grandpa’s Rainbow Monster form is meant to resemble an oni (鬼 – pronounced like “only” but without the “L”), a common monster in Japanese folklore. As I mentioned last week, each Rainbow Monster’s demon form tends to be a perversion of their greatest human strength, so it makes sense that a traditional Shinto priest would turn into a traditional Japanese demon.