Not all filler is created equal.
In Sailor Moon’s defense, I spent a good portion of this week’s episodes fighting with my tablet, which I was pretty sure was dead (turned out it was just mostly dead), and then with my laptop which for some reason hates taking screenshots. So part of my lukewarm reaction to this week’s episodes probably have to do with the fact that I spent them in a constant state of mild annoyance. (There are also fewer screenshots, for similar reasons.)
That said, this still feels like something of a weak, er… week. It’s pure filler—barring some mild progression from Endymion, there’s no real character or plot development from either of these eps—and while it’s nowhere near as irritating or dull as the filler from when plant Nephrite was in charge, it’s lacking the exuberant silliness or unabashed warmth of SM filler at its best.
Also, WAY too many “jealous women” subplots. Also also, why is it that all the Mako-focused episodes have been about her falling for a guy? The other scouts have gotten family and/or friendship stories. I hope Mako gets the same, otherwise she’s going to quickly turn into a one-note character, and that’d be a huge shame, since I think there’s a lot more they can (and should) do with her.
But hey, if nothing else, we DID get to watch Sailor Moon on Ice this week. So it wasn’t a total bust, I figure.
Episode 39 – Triple Axel Rose
Usagi and Minako (who seem to share a lot more in common besides just cats and blonde hair) are hangin’ out and fangirling over the gold medalist ice skaters, Janelyn and Misha. This gives Artemis hope that Usagi’s taking this whole Princess Gig seriously, as ice skating was the hobby of choice in the Moon Kingdom (‘cause if there’s one thing the moon has a lot of, it’s water). Princess Serenity was especially skilled at it. And since Usagi is so VERY much like the graceful princess of legend, it stands to reason that SHE’LL be skilled at it too, right?
That’s what Kunzite thinks, anyway. (Segueway’d. Boom.) After bickering with Endymion for a bit (I really wanted Beryl to shout “Aw, snap!” AT LEAST once), Kunzite heads out to set his latest plan in motion. He monsterfies the squabbling ice skaters and has them offer “groups of five” entry to the skating rink. The thing I love about this is that Usa and Mina KNOW it sounds suspicious as hell, so they bring the rest of the scouts to both “investigate” and get their skate on.
Fortunately EVERY girl in Japan has an adorable figure skating costume (I can only assume it came free with the school uniform), so the girls head down to meet Janelyn and Misha. And… surprise! Misha’s “hair flows” JUST like the guy who broke Mako’s heart!
As Usagi Epic Flails her way onto the ice (little-known fact: Epic Flailing is also MY special skill), Makoto figure-skates like a pro (because of course she does), earning Misha’s attention and Janelyn’s RAGING JEALOUSY. As the girls and Misha dance and/or slip around on the ice, desperately trying not to drown in bubbles, Janelyn heads back to her Super Secret Security Lair to match the skaters’ body types to those of the sailor Scouts, and—
Whoa. Wait. Wait wait wait. WAIT. Is a minion using something vaguely resembling ACTUAL SCIENCE to uncover a mystery? Who are you, and what have you done with my Dark Kingdom?
Kunzite must have sensed that the story was getting a little too realistic, so he interrupts the investigation by getting all up in them TVs and telling Janelyn: “Science? PSSSH. All you need to judge them by is their agility and athleticism, because that’s been working out SUPER WELL for us so far.”
Janelyn’s response is even better: “I’m a former Olympic gold medalist. This is totally my field of expertise.” And then of course she completely skips over Usagi because she’s so clumsy there’s no WAY should could be Princess Serenity. Oh, Kunzite. You and your stupid, stupid assumptions.
As the skate party wraps up, Misha asks Mako to stay behind for “special lessons” (Stranger Danger, Mako! Stranger Danger!). The rest of the girls, sans Usagi, head outside just in time for the whole place to shut down, FINALLY triggering their It’s A Trap! alarms. Meanwhile Usagi has stayed inside, ready to demand her own “private lessons” (dammit, girls!) so she can be the skater everyone expects her to be. And as proof of her supreme grace and catlike reflexes, she promptly runs into a door.
It’s Janelyn on her way out of the monitoring room. She’s MAD WITH JEALOUS RAGE about all dat pair skating, and (after putting her fist through one of the many TVs) storms down to the rink. Usagi follows. Or rather, Usagi gets exploded in the same general direction. Because that’s what happens after someone puts their fist through a TV. Let that be a lesson to you, kids.
Things are heating up on the ice as Janelyn monsters up, accuses Misha of two-timing her (“No! I was just testing to see if she was Sailor Moon!” he explains to deaf ears), and decides to kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out. She triple axel kicks Makoto into the wall, which gets Misha all hot ‘n’ bothered. They reaffirm their love (hooray?) and Misha monsterfies as well. Things look grim for poor Makoto, until…
But since she can’t actually, you know… skate… things still look pretty grim, until…
He says he’s there because he “doesn’t like dirty tactics involving the innocent” (meaning Makoto, lawls), but we all know he’s only there because he likes to piss off Kunzite. Then there’s some surprisingly good skating animation from both sets of couples, and the villains strike a bunch of Team Rocket-esque poses while speaking in unison.
Sailor Moon does learn to skate along the way, but she’s still no match for the gold medalists, who triple axel curb stomp her and Tux right proper. And once again, things look grim, until…
Sailor Jupiter ON ICE to the rescue! And also, the whole sailor gang! Which would have been great if Kunzite hadn’t shown up as well, activating ABSOLUTE ZERO ICE HELL(SO METAL). Boy, Kunzite, that spell of yours would have been impossible to stop if not for that obvious weak point right at the center of the ceiling. The Tux uses his JAVELIN!CANE (for no gentleman leaves home without his JAVELIN!CANE) to break the spell.
You know the drill: Fleeing villains, Moon Healing galore, happy-ish endings for all. Makoto is a little torn up about Misha, but then she finds ANOTHER boy who reminds her of “him,” so she’s good, too. On the one hand, I like the realism of a girl quickly bouncing from one crush to the next. On the other hand, “I need to hurry up and find another guy” is an eyebrow-twitchy line if I ever heard one. I hope Mako spends a large portion of the story single and happy BEING single. I think it would be very good for her.
Episode 40 – National Lampoon’s Hot Springs Vacation
Usagi has taken off for the weekend on a family vacation, and has left Luna with nothing but an explanatory note and a bag of cat food that she can’t open because she doesn’t have thumbs. So don’t blame HER if you come home and there are kibbles all over the linoleum, Usa.
Out on the road, Usagi and Shingo squabble over video games, her dad almost kills them when he goes all OMG MY DAUGHTER HAS HORMONES NOW and forgets to watch the road, and at last they arrive at the mountain inn, complete with hot springs and a haunted lake. Also, turns out this is where mum ‘n’ dad first got to know each other. Presumably in the Biblical sense. Aww yeah.
Speaking of that lake, it’s bubblin’, toilin’, and troublin’, and the Dark Kingdom has taken notice. The lake is emitting an “abnormal energy” similar to their own Monsters, and Beryl reckons they should send Endymion over to check it out and see who’s ignoring the DK patent. After Endymion bamfs out, Kunzite warns Beryl that he thinks Endymion is regaining his old memories. She orders Kunzite to go along and spy to see if Endymion’s brain needs another scrub-a-dubbin’.
Back at the inn, the family is hanging out in the shared hot springs. Towel-stealing shenanigans lead to Usagi spotting “Mamoru” at the bottom of the cliff, and she abandons her family in favor of a comfy-lookin’ robe and a conversation with her nemesis-turned-crush-turned-enemy. (And you thought YOUR teen romances were complicated.) She introduces herself as Usagi and calls him Mamoru, but he claims he doesn’t know her. This is typical dickish Mamoru behavior if you ask me, but for some reason Usa’s upset about it.
Usagi’s mom finds her moping down by the lake near a statue, which is as good an excuse as any for story time: There’s a “Legend of the Lovers” about a woman who came down from heaven and fell in love with a human man, but then the guy’s old girlfriend was all AW HELL NAH and turned into a monster consumed by jealousy. The woman and her lover trapped the monster at the bottom of the lake, although they lost their lives in the process and went to heaven together.
The important thing is that Creepin’ Endymion was listening in. He puts two and two together and connects the story with the “dark energy” in the lake. And then… a couple of hilariously weird things happen. First, Kunzite appears in the background. Then (possibly because of Kunzite’s presence?) a wind sweeps off the lake and tousles Endymion’s hair. Like, permanently.
And then Endymion starts making these angry grunt/whine noises in the back of his throat, and I seriously thought he was just SUUUUPER pissed about his tousled hair and was about to turn around and start laying into Kunzite with his cane. I would have watched the two of them fight over Endymion’s ruined hair for the next 15 minutes, EASY, but it turns out angry grunt/whine noises are just how Endy awakens the Green-Eyed Loch Ness Monster.
She’s not as entertaining as my head-canon Tousled Hair Battle, if you were wondering. All she does is fly around shrieking “Give him back!” and attacking people, specifically Usagi and her family. I do like this scene, though, because when Mermonster shows up Usa’s family freaks the eff out, but Usagi immediately goes into Superhero Mode, knocking her family out of harm’s way. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how far Usagi has come as a character since the early episodes (when she would have been frozen in terror right along with the others), and this was a good way to remind us that just because she’s not as badass as the other scouts, she’s still a whole lot more capable than a normal person.
Usa’s dad treats us to another round of Men Ineffectively Trying to Protect People (you could play a drinking game with that and this show, I think) and gets strangled for his troubles. Usa is just about to transform, secret identities be damned, when…
The Tux ain’t down with hurting innocents, so he’s here to put the Mermonster in her place. And, apparently, so are the rest of the sailors, as they take a page out of Deus Ex Maskina’s book and show up out of absolutely nowhere for no discernible reason and start kicking ass and taking names.
Usagi takes the moment to send her family away into the fog so she can transform and help her friends (“Thanks for protecting Usagi!” she tells The Tux oh-so-smoothly). There’s some trial and error, but in the end the team remembers that the Mermonster isn’t a monster at all, but rather a human filled with negative emotions. Purification Specialist Sailor Mars busts out some cleansing fire, and Usagi follows it up with a little Moon Healing.
And the Mermonster… turns into a normal human woman, freed from her jealousy and at peace, finally able to leave the earth and ascend into heaven. It’s a surprisingly sweet, optimistic ending to a one-note character, continuing Sailor Moon’s ongoing theme that people are basically good and it’s the scouts’ jobs to return them to that original state of goodness.
It ends up being a bit of a worthwhile character moment, too, as the Woman Formerly Known as Mermonster shares a smile with The Tux. He throws her a salute of sorts, heavily implying that Endymion purposely awakened the Mermonster JUST SO he could save her from her jealous, soggy prison. Creeper Kunzite is thoroughly intrigued by this. As am I, to be honest.
With the day saved, the girls can all head back to the inn to get their spa on. Which, apparently, is why they all showed up in the first place. And no, don’t ask how they got there without an adult to drive them. The answer is Friendship. The answer is ALWAYS Friendship.
This, That, and the Other
- You guys. You guys. YOU GUYS. Ryo is back next week.
- Is it just me, or have they been drawing Mamoru/Endymion really oddly ever since he went all Big Bad on us? I think they’re trying to make him seem more menacing by making him look older (squarer jaw, wider chest, etc.) but it ends up just looking like Mamoru needs to cool it on the ‘roids.
- I’m thoroughly jaded thanks to modern anime—where every bath scene is an excuse for fanservice and brocons/siscons run wild (if you don’t know what those terms mean, you’re a very lucky person)—so it was sort of a relief to see a couple of siblings squabble and goof around like normal siblings, and nudity treated not like something we should ogle at, but as just an everyday part of life. Good on you, SM.
- Unreasonably Nerdy Confession Time: The song playing during the last scene of Episode 40 is called “Yume Miru Dake ja Dame,” performed by Usagi’s voice actress Mitsuishi Kotono. I know this because I downloaded it off of Kazaa roughly a decade ago when I was on a Mitsuishi Kotono music kick, wherein I promptly made it a “character song” for one of the original characters in my Fushigi Yuugi fanfic. (That’s right. I made Japanese-language soundtracks for my own fanfiction. That is the kind of person whose blog you have chosen to visit.)Of course I’d forgotten all about this until the song started playing, at which point I promptly lost my geeky marbles. Oh, and turns out I still know most of the words, too. +10 Otaku Points! ♪ Just like a wing (yeah) ryoute wo hirogete whoa~whoa~…♪
- Hark! A plot point! Uhhh… honestly, I think the only plot-worthy event this week was Endymion going all goody-two-shoes and Kunzite getting suspicious. Like I said, it was pretty filler’tastic.