Moon Prism Power, Level Up!
Doncha just love shoujo and their emotions-based power-ups? Who needs training and fighting and slowly gaining martial experience when you can just feel feelings SO HARD that you turn jewellery into legendary crystals and absolutely nothing into magic rods? I wish I could’ve spent MY middle and high school years having my FEELINGS converted into Lovely Items: I was a fairly chill teenager and I still would’ve been able to ride into battle atop a sparkling Jayhawk while shooting flaming arrows from my longbow made of dreams and stardust. To victory!
All joking aside, it’s nice to see the scouts getting some development in the Superhero Department, if only because I look forward to seeing them use a few new attacks and weapons in the coming weeks. Plus, despite my little eulogy above, they actually have been fighting evil for a while now. Stands to reason they’d finally level up to the point where they’d learn new abilities. It strikes me that these early episodes all feel like build-up to whatever epic saga will be R’s focus, and I reckon some extra powers will come in handy once we get there.
But before we do get there, we’ve got cherry blossoms to view, children to save, and Crescent Beams to buff up. Let’s get Sailor Moon Rollin’!
Episode 51 – How Usagi Got Her Groove Back
It’s cherry blossom viewing season! And you know what that means: It’s time for teachers to chaperone four of their actual students and a bunch of strangers (two of whom don’t even go to her school) on a weekend potluck picnic! Umino, who 10 years from now will be seen camping outside of an Apple Store, arrived the night before so he could get the gang a perfect spot beneath the branches. All to show his love for Naru, he says! She responds by getting embarrassed and trapping him in his sleeping bag cocoon. Oh, middle school.
The picnic goes about how you’d expect – Usagi brings derpy rice balls, Rei brings McDonald’s, the two fight about which of them fails the hardest, and Usagi spikes Rei’s snack with hot sauce – and despite the obviously small budget it ends up being a fairly cleverly shot and amusing little scene.
But when you’re an energy-sucking alien, Playing Human can only last so long. An’s creeper-senses tingle, alerting her to her Ail’s presence – and, more importantly, to the sparkles in his eyes every time he looks at Usagi. He deflects her accusations with a handful of Clow cards, and she summons Leshy the man-eating plant monster.
First on the menu: Naru (of course) and Umino, whose budding relationship is not only charmingly awkward but also upgrades them from Hero’s Friends to Hero’s Resident Couple, increasing their chances of wandering into danger to roughly Guaran-damn-teed Percent. Fortunately Joss Whedon isn’t writing this sucker, so Leshy just knocks them out. Sakurada’s next, along with seven other people at the festival. To the First Aid Tent with you, Convenient Victim Friends of the Sailors! We have Moonie Business to attend to.
Most of that Business involves all of the scouts except Usagi getting caught in energy-sucking tubes next to a glowing tree, and then Leshy beating up on Usagi (now Sailor Moon), shattering her brooch (okay, she’s Usagi again), and then dragging both Usa and Luna into a magical sinkhole where they proceed to be Spirit Naked, which is a special ‘90s anime kind of naked that you have to awkwardly explain to your friend’s parents when they come downstairs to offer you popcorn halfway through a middle school watch party.
Here Usagi meets her Fairy Godmother again, who shows her how to level up. The power of Usa’s FEELINGS (wanting to help her friends) are so strong that the brooch transforms into a Silver Crystal, then back into a Superbrooch. “Moon Crystal Power, Make Up!” she cries, shattering both Leshy’s trap AND the status quo with a new transformation sequence.
But she’s still Usagi and still tiara-less, so she spends a lot of time running and dodging until The Sheik shows up to give her a pep talk. This awakens yet more FEELINGS within her (although one imagines of a slightly different sort), and she receives a “Cutie Moon Rod” which allows her to cast “Moon Princess Halation” on the monster, “cleansing” it back into its card form. The Moon Princess is back, baby! And Rei is still unimpressed with her.
Episode 52 – I Do Believe in Sailors, I Do, I Do!
It’s a Day in the Life of Minako Artemis! Man, that human of his ACTS like she’s got it all together, but she puts her sailor suit on one transformation scene at a time like everyone else. Except along the way she saves little girls from being bullied, makes jaded kindergartners believe in fairies magical vigilantes, and opens up a can of Crescent Beam whoopass on some nasty monsters. But look at her, running to school LATE! Just like USAGI! Such a MESS, that one.
So, yeah. I sorta feel like the point of this episode was to make Minako seem as ditzy as Usagi, but honestly, it just made me like her even more. So she sleeps in and is late for class, big whoop – all that Fighting Evil and Making Children’s Dreams Come True and Looking Supah-Fly Doin’ It is bound to tucker a gal out.
And speaking of children, here comes Mie, the precocious kindergartner who fervently believes in a thing called love Sailor Moon, even though the boys at school pick on her and assure her that the Moon is a Lie. None of them have ever actually SEEN Sailor Moon, after all, which means she can’t possibly be real. After Minako saves Mie from two separate groups of bullies (and finds out that “kids these days” are WAY more cynical than teenagers), the two bond over their shared “belief” in Sailor Moon.
Mina says that “believing is important” (as if Sailor Moon is Santa Claus instead of that girl who just ran past with a piece of buttered toast in her mouth, late to school again), but also assures Mie that Sailor Moon is totes real ‘cause she’s totes met her. Mie gets Mina (gah, these similar names are driving my typin’ hands crazy) to promise her that she’ll come by the school and share her Moon stories with the class. You’d think all of this would be so saccharine and precious that we’d choke on it, but Mie straddles the line between being a wide-eyed innocent and a grouchy old man (who can cry at will, to boot!), so it works a lot better than it should.
“Hmmm, it works,” said someone on the creative team. “But you know what would make it work better? MONSTER ON A BUS.” And lo, Ail and An swooped in to make the story a little more Sailor Moon-y, because they’ve decided to take a break from teenagers and go after “younger, fresher energy.”
Their latest monster, Gigaros, is on a rampage as he busts into preschool and elementary buses and drains children (but not the British children?). The scouts use their high-fangled Mooninite technology (newspapers) to learn about the attacks, and Ami uses MATHS to determine the “67% probability” that Shiba Kindergarten is next. Cut to…
Shiba Kindergarten, where Minako is desperately trying to get a group of snot-nosed materialists to beliiiiiiiieve in life after love Sailor Moon, with absolutely zero success. She’s being irrational, they tell her! She needs to think about this scientifically, they say! These poor children simply do not realize they are in a shoujo anime. Oh, but they’re going to learn. Ail and An will see to that.
Teacher conveniently can’t ride the bus home with her class, so Minako volunteers to go along. Usagi has also arrived at the school (the other scouts made her investigate as punishment since she wasn’t paying attention during the Moonie Meeting, which I sort of get except for the part where they made her go alone because WHO SENDS THE CLUMSY WHITE MAGE WITH THE BROKEN TIARA IN ALONE TO FIGHT A MONSTER, I MEAN JUST WHY), and she uses her pen to transform into a teacher herself. They let her on the bus because psssh, credentials, this girl looks teacher-ish.
Minako, apparently the only member of the cast without face-blindness, immediately recognizes Usagi and gets clued in on the Moonie Business that might be going down. But all the intel and karaoke in the world can’t prepare the girls for the deep dark mountain tunnel and the Attack of the Gigaros.
During the ensuing kerfuffle, both Usa and Mina manage to duck out long enough to transform into Sailors Moon and Venus and give the kids a pretty great superhero show. And they didn’t even have to go to a mall rooftop to do it! When Venus’s Crescent Beam proves inefficient, The Sheik even guest stars for a bit, giving one of his classic “believe in the me who believes in you yourself” speeches.
And, since he is the World’s Greatest Motivational Speaker (sorry, Tux, but you only ever gave speeches to Sailor Moon, not her besties), it unlocks Venus’s latent power: Crescent Beam Shower. She kicks Gigaros into next week and Usagi halates him into the week after that, saving the children (yes, even the British children!) and making believers out of all the tiny Doubting Thomases. Best of all, Mie finally knows what a badass Sailor Venus is, and makes sure to tell Minako all about it. To which Mina surely replied:
This, That, and the Other
- Oh my God, Usagi’s teacher cat-shamed her. Bunny-shamed her? Is bunny-shaming a thing? *opens a new window in Chrome*
Why, yes! Yes it is.
- “Hey, don’t you guys think it’s weird that Natsumi disappeared right before the monster started attacking people, especially given that she made some offhand comment about how she lives on energy instead of food?” ~Things Usagi will NEVER think to say
- Poor Artemis just gets banged around every episode this season, it seems. Someone should give HIM a power-up, too.
- So did the people of Tokyo just forget about Sailor V, or…?
- Sailor Moon’s platitude-filled “children are our future” speech made me giggle a lot more than it should have. She’s turning into not just a great monologuing superhero, but a damn fine politician as well.
- Hark! A plot point! Luna says that Usagi’s tiara isn’t working because she hasn’t fully committed to her vigilante lifestyle – she still wants to be an “ordinary girl.” Embrace your Inner Crime-Fighting Princess, Usagi!
The Sensei Next Door (Moon Prism Edition)
When Usagi meets her Fairy Queenmother, Queen Serenity tells her that they are in Usagi’s “kokoro,” which the subs translated as “mind.” It’s a fine translation given the context, but kokoro (心) is one of those words that I sort of wish we could just appropriate into the English language, partly because it doesn’t translate especially well and partly because I love it (and not just because of the way it rolls trippingly off the tongue).
Kokoro embodies the idea of the mind as well as that of the heart or the spirit–it is thoughts and feelings, emotions and energy, and it’s a great word that serves to encompass a whole lot of ideas. English doesn’t really have an equivalent–sometimes I think “spirit” or “soul” comes close, but there are too many Judeo-Christian connotations attached, so it’s not exactly right, either. When I do my own translations I tend to leave it as kokoro until the very last draft, and then I sadly translate it into an English word. So can we steal it? The Japanese took cake (keeki!) and beer (biiru!) from western languages, so I feel like we can have kokoro now…