Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 49-50

The pretty guardian in a keffiyeh appears!

I’m on the road, sans my usual computer (and therefore my animated gif collection), and completely burned out from my week-long Utena watch-n-blog marathon, so today’s recaps are going to be an exercise in brevity. Fortunately it’s also an exercise is mostly-filler, so this should be doable.

In terms of general impressions, I had two thoughts this week: (1) Wow, the animation saw one hell of a dive during Episode 49, and (2) It seems like Sailor Moon might be trying to inject some life lessons into its relationships, and not just of the “love conquers all” variety. It’s nice to finally see a close boy-girl relationship that’s an actual friendship instead of a romance (even if we really didn’t get to SEE much of it at all), and I very much hope we get more of that in the future.

I also appreciated Mamoru finally yelling at An/Natsumi to get out of his area code already, as that kind of pushiness is generally rewarded in the Mooniverse, and it really shouldn’t be. So even though these two episodes were a little on the wheel-spinnin’ side, there were some trends in the storyline itself that I enjoyed seeing.

The Recaps

Episode 49 – Sailor Moon Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

With a looming exam on the horizon, Usagi and Mako are busy studying pressuring Ami into giving them the answers (because that’s how tests work?). But their school woes take a back seat to monster woes when they spot Phalion sucking the energy from a guy. Mako saves said guy only to realize it’s her childhood friend, Shinozaki. But she forgot to call “no save-backs” so when Phalion comes at them again, Shinozaki pushes her to the ground and gets severe head trauma for his troubles.

Then it turns into Sailor Moon ER for a while, as Mako offers to give her blood to the transfusion that saves Shinozaki’s life. This is followed by a musical flashback that is, without question, the worst-paced piece of money-saving/time-wasting animation Sailor Moon has ever shown us. Like we seriously just watch an unmoving still frame set to music for several seconds at a time without even dialogue to spruce it up, and meanwhile I’m over here having flashbacks to Fushigi Yuugi and those godforsaken music video montages of Tamahome identity crisising all over Tokyo. Why would you make me remember that, Sailor Moon?!

And not a single frame was animated that day.

Anyway, the important part is that we understand that Shinozaki has always been there for Mako and that he’s “more dear” than a boyfriend. Usagi cannot comprehend this, so she goes home and draws the children’s picture book version of The Tragedy of the Moon Kingdom, then shows it to Mamoru. He cannot comprehend it, either, and would really just like it if these insane middle schoolers would stop trying to draw and quarter him. But more on that later.

While Usagi is busy trying to get Mamoru his Mamemories back, the rest of the scouts do some actual sleuthing and find Phalion suckin’ energy again. Usa joins them in time for the crime-fighting, and also for a sweet scene where she begs the dizzy, anemic Mako to go home rather than risk fighting. But Mako is in Vengeance Mode, so she’s in this fight ‘till the end. This goes about as well as you’d expect, and things (as always) look grim for our girls until…

WHOA. Who dat ninja?!

Our Mamoru-ish newcomer introduces himself as “the Moonlight Knight,” which is a mouthful, so I’m going to call him The Sheik.

If this isn’t EXACTLY HOW Sailor Moon R ends, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Our newcomer tosses white roses, monologues a whole lot, and fights with actual blades, which it turns out are actually LESS useful than roses, as Phalion keeps coming at the gals. Usagi gets knocked around and pinned to the ground, which is when Mako gets SO ANGRY that her blood comes rushing back through sheer willpower and she Supreme Thunders Phalion into next week. Another Clow card defeated! Shinozaki avenged!

Later, Mako watches Shinozaki stumble out of the hospital with his mom, but she opts to keep her distance because they’re all about “watching over” one another. Usagi goes home and ponders to the moon: “Is there a kind of friendship between a boy and a girl that’s different from love?”

I have now decided that Sailor Moon’s new goal should be to make Usagi become besties with one of the guys at school, because it’s really, really sad to me that she even had to ask that question.

Episode 50 – Futures Made of Virtual Sailor Moon Reality

There’s a new “Virtual Reality Theatre” game in town, and our alien antagonists think it’s a prime spot to drain some folks of their energy. Luna thinks it’s a prime spot for the scouts to practice their monster-killing skillz, so she and Usagi head down to meet the other girls. But the girls are late and Mamoru is not, and despite still being kind of a dick to our local “bun-head,” Usa’s still all a-flutter over him.

So is An/Natsuki, actually. Oh, and Ail/Seijuro is still kinda into Usagi, too. All of which leads to a cluttered little love quadrangle hitting the virtual arcade together, because “they’ll draw less attention to themselves” if they go in with dates. Is anyone else getting the sense that Ail and An are enjoying being human a lot more than they let on? Well, being human, and hypnotizing people into bumping them up to the front of the line. This is what evil alien mind powers are meant for.

Virtual Reality Theatre is basically a cross between laser tag and an FPS, and hijinks ensue, as the girls fight over Mamoru and the boys get into a pissing contest over who can zap the most monsters, all of which is FURTHER complicated by Papa Tsukino and Shingo playing the game as well and sort of hovering around Usagi, ‘cause Papa Tsuki might trust his daughter but he sure as hell doesn’t trust that college student hanging around her, because seriously, da fuq, college student? And meanwhile poor Mamoru is like:

Mamoru finally snaps at An that “You can’t make people like you by forcing yourself on them,” (and the Josei gives a thumbs-up to her tablet screen) then he snags Usagi’s hand and runs off with her so they can get the high score together. Left alone, Ail and An summon the Cardian “Hellant,” which is exactly what it sounds like, and proceed to attack the other gamers. This inevitably leads them to the Tsukino boys.

Shingo escapes long enough to find Mamoru and Usagi, then he and Mamoru tell Usagi to stay put while The Big Strong Menfolk go back to fight the monster and save Papa Tsuki. That’s right: It’s time for another round of Men Ineffectively Trying to Protect People! Everybody do a shot!

Papa Tsuki does get in a nice hit with a fire extinguisher, although it doesn’t do much in the long run. Sailor Moon shows up to help the boys out of a rather literal bind, but HER TIARA DOESN’T WORK?!

And then The Sheik shows up and occupies a room with Mamoru AT THE SAME TIME?!

While Usagi’s head a splodes from all the plot twists, the other scouts arrive on the scene in time to take out the monster, ‘cause Moonlight Useless over here and the plastic saber he got from the local Halloween shop are doing exactly jack to stop these guys. The Sheik bids us “adieu” and vanishes, leaving poor Usagi to bang around in her glass case of emotion and wonder exactly what is going on, not just with her own powers but with the madness that is Mamoru.

This, That, and the Other

  • “Congratulations! I love you!” – Ail knows just what to say to the ladies
  • I’m so glad Ami just immediately connected the “new threat” to the bright lights and crater that showed up in town a couple weeks ago. That’s our genius!
  • There were a lot of weird off-model moments in these two episodes, but by far the most badass was Jupiter in this shot:

    It’s like the tiara is her eyebrows and they MEAN BUSINESS.
  • Usagi would like us all to know that math is “way harder” than relationships between boys and girls. Seems about right.
  • Hark! A plot point! …Kinda! When Mamoru first sees the sailor scouts, he has no idea who they are, which is weird given that Shingo and the other normies clearly recognize them from all that crime-fighting they’ve been doing. This suggests that not only were his Endymion/Tux memories wiped, but that some of his “ordinary civilian” memories got lost in the reboot, too. Either that or it’s a plot hole. Yeah. Could possibly be that second one.

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