Aliens are people, too!
These two episodes encapsulate pretty much everything I love about Sailor Moon, using supernatural events to develop characters and provide commentary on love, friendship, and gender roles. And it doesn’t hurt that they were darn amusing, too. This is kind of the show Sailor Moon R should have been from the beginning, really—when you have aliens masquerading as humans, it’s almost a crime NOT to have them constantly interacting with (and being confused by) (and being affected by) human culture and quirks.
If there was any question that Ail and An are slowly adapting to and enjoying life on Earth, I think this week put that to rest. Ail spending an entire episode baffled about lunch boxes but nevertheless presenting An with one to “show his love” was almost too perfect, and both of them getting so excited (and subsequently petulant) about the play was as human as it gets. I like how the series is painting them as psychologically younger than even the 14/15-year-old humans they’re playing, as they throw fits and get jealous in a way that’s more childlike than teenage-like.
Their rather juvenile ideas about love—that it’s something you take rather than something that’s given—are another good example of this, while also demonstrating the growing maturity of the other scouts, particularly Makoto, who’s still a bit boy-crazy but comes to understand that “love” is a many-splendored thing, and that friendship is just as important (if not more so) than romance.
Point being, I thought these episodes were great, and while I’ve been led to understand that the Ailien Arc is rather short, I hope we can get more of this in whatever episodes we have left. Because “this” is not only a ton of fun, but has some interesting layers to it as well.
Episode 55 – Lunchboxes Bring All the Boys to the Yard
While Mako and Ami wait for the perpetually late Usagi, they muse on the identity of the Moonlight Night. (Ah-hem—“The Sheik.”) Turns out Mako’s crushin’ on him because the way he says “adieu” is “just like the guy who broke her heart.” (Man, if the show ever brings that guy into the series, he is going to be one hella-fun amalgam of characteristics.) Ami is adorably baffled but nice about it, and will spend the rest of the episode in this state.
Meanwhile, love is in the air, as Umino brings a lunch of fried shrimp (it’s always fried shrimp) for he and Naru to share, and then she gets embarrassed-but-not-really when he tries to feed them to her. The way the show flips the gender roles here by making Umino the lovey-dovey, lunchbox-making pursuer and Naru the PDA-reluctant pursued is a delightful decision, and puts a fun spin on the lunchbox and romance discussions that take up the rest of the episode.
Mako, feeling down about how long it’s been since SHE got to make lunch for somebody (well, somebody not named Usagi, anyway), stumbles upon Ail/Seijuro playing his flute for a gaggle of admirers. “The way he enjoys music is JUST LIKE the guy who broke my heart!” Mako coos, which receives the proper reaction:
Then Ami notes that Seijuro DID transfer to their school around the same time The Sheik appeared (but fails to realize that TWO SIBLINGS showed up around the same time TWO ALIENS did, le sigh), so maybe, juuuuust maybe…
And that’s all Mako needs for another ill-advised head-over-heels romance! As Seijuro flees the girls begging him to share their lunches, Mako joins the swarm—and, because she IS a badass scout by night, she’s the only one who notices when he evades his pursuers by suddenly moving to the roof of the school building. “Dude’s got hops. That seems Sheik-like!” she thinks, and dashes up the stairs.
When she finds him, he’s puzzled as to why “they all want me to eat their lunches” (aaaaand euphemism). Mako has him taste some of her own lunch (oh God, this euphemism is going to kill me) and tries to explain the concept—it’s because they like you, it’s because girls show their love by doing things for the people who like them, even risking their lives (the gender essentialism might bug me if we hadn’t seen Umino doing the same earlier, so we’ll chalk this one up to Mako being 14). But Sei can barely comprehend octopus weenies, never mind high-falutin’ concepts like generosity and altruism, so it doesn’t go over real well.
An/Natsumi “rescues” him from his conundrum by getting all jealous and squabbling with Mako. The squabbling continues after school when Mako offers to walk home with Sei, and Natsumi storms off in a huff. The two go on a moonlit date to a playground (like mature adults), where Mako says she understands Seijuro’s relationship with his sister because “my sister hates me too” and HOLD ON BACK UP WUT. Makoto has a SISTER?! How have we gone 50+ episodes without learning this?! WHAT ELSE ARE YOU KEEPING FROM ME, MAKO-CHAN?!
But while my develops intricate Makoto Family Dramas, Seijuro really just wants to understand lunchboxes. He can’t seem to do it, though, because to him, love isn’t something you give away “just like that,” but rather “something to grab for yourself.” Mako doesn’t wanna judge, but she’s totally judging.
Meanwhile Natsumi has stalked them to the park (naturally), and so has Usagi (somewhat less naturally), with Ami and Luna in tow. Usa needed to confirm if it was a date, although it’s hard to tell exactly why—mostly she just seems pissed because Seijuro said he loved her a couple weeks ago, and no take-backsies, you two-timin’ scoundrel! This all works out pretty well though, because Natsumi has had all she can stands and can’t stands no more. She attacks as An, throws Mako to the ground with an energy blast, and NOT THE LUNCH BOX, ANYTHING BUT THE LUNCH BOX!
Sailors Moon and Mercury show up to help out, but Seijuro remembers his allegiances and reappears as Ail, helping An to draw Utonberino, the Hair Metal Cardian. Because all of these monsters have basically the same power, everyone gets stuck in a literal bind until The Sheik appears to offer his weekly pep talk. He reminds Mako of what love means to her—basically that you’re willing to give anything, even your life, to help someone—and Mako owns the episode with:
“I will risk my life for my irreplaceable friendship!”
That’s right, kids—this episode was a love story about FRIENDSHIP, not romance! Sailor Moon kills it again!
So does Mako, actually, powering up and taking out the Cardian with “Supreme Thunder Dragon,” by FAR the most epic of all the power-ups thus far. With the battle won and everyone vanishing into the night, Mako admits that Seijuro could never be The Sheik because their ideas about love don’t match up. I guess those aliens are just too different from us after all…
…Or, maybe not? Cut to Ail presenting An with an overflowing lunchbox of weirdness to express his love for her. She’s ecstatic, although since they live on Makai energy and not Omnomnom energy, neither has the faintest idea what to DO with it. Still, it’s the thought that counts, you adorable puzzled aliens, you.
Episode 56 – All the White Moves in All the White Places
Usagi and An are reading Snow White in English class, and while Usagi is more interested in food than kisses from princes, An thinks this kind of romance is right up her alley, because she’s ALSO into making out with unconscious people. “Love is meant to be stolen,” she claims (as the Josei smashes her face into her palm), and tries to think of the best way to steal a kiss from Mamoru.
What follows is either the world’s strangest coincidence or some exceedingly clever planning on An’s part, because Rei calls all the girls together to tell them that Mamoru’s in crisis. He was putting on a play but all his friends quit over casting disagreements. (Right. “Friends.” Because you totally have those, Mamoru.) He needs some schmucks kind people to be in his play, so the girls all volunteer, along with Naru and Umino.
Rei suggests Snow White, Mamoru agrees, and then all the scouts get into a kerfuffle about which of them should play Snow White. Their arguments run the gamut from reasonable (Ami: “She doesn’t have many lines and I’m busy with cram school”) to perfectly in-character (Rei: “Because it was my idea!”) to LOL WUT (Makoto: “Because my boobs are the biggest”), but eventually Natsumi appears to settle the dispute when she suggests they basically draw straws. Of course, Natsumi forgets to mention one important fact:
And of course she draws the (Snow) white one for herself. The play’s the thing where An will catch the kisses of the king! Okay, technically the prince, since everyone immediately decides Mamoru is made for the part. As Sailor Moon Crystal has taught me, he’s SUPER talented at making out with unconscious people, so this does sound like the proper role for him. As for the others, Usagi gets to be the Evil Queen and the rest are… fairies? Huh. Okay. Time for Snow White and the Seven Fairies!
…Actually, scratch that, too. Ail refuses to play if he can’t be the prince. Snow White and the Six Fairies it is! I can already tell this is going to be a smashing success.
Rehearsals are a hot mess because Mamoru lets the 14-year-olds take over his production and Natsumi is drama queen-ing up the place, demanding they rehearse The Kiss Scene And Only The Kiss Scene. Usa’s pissed ‘cause Natsu’s hanging all over Mamoru; the other scouts are pissed ‘cause she’s ruining their play, and they KNOW she cheated.
They didn’t say anything at the time, though, because it caused less Sailor drama if someone who wasn’t a scout got the part (says Minako, loyal as ever), Natsumi’s the new girl and seems lonely (says Ami, adorable as ever), and her determination was impressive (says Rei, as Rei as ever). Usagi replies to this heartwarming display of generosity with a resounding “Eff that! Friends call each other out on their bullshit!” and vows to speak to Natsumi the next day at school. And as much as I loved the girls’ reasons for letting Natsumi cheat, Usa’s definitely got a point here.
This plan gets derailed, though, when the girls spy Natsumi heading up to Hikawa Shrine. They sneakily follow to find her praying for the play’s success (although inwardly she’s praying for that Mamo Makeout Session), and the girls are so moved by her dedication that they change their minds again and decide to let this one go.
Opening night arrives, with a few snags: One, all the “fairies” are wearing awkward woodland critter costumes. Two, Ail REALLY wanted to be the prince, and since he can’t, NO ONE CAN. He summons Bipierrot, the OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE Cardian.
It trashes the stage, immediately knocks out Mamoru and An, and tries to drain the VERY confused audience’s energy. While the rest of the scouts fight through an awkward mascot pile, Usagi (somehow NOT paralyzed with fear at the sight of ol’ Twisty the Clown out there) transforms and hits the stage. But as has been the theme of the season, the monster uses Wrap, and it’s super-effective—at least until The Sheik shows up and out-creeps the demon clown with:
He buys enough time for the rest of the scouts to arrive (with snazzy new introductory lines, to boot) and put on a show for their audience, defeating the Clow(n) Card and saving the day. And the crowd goes wild! Encore! Encore! This is way better than some crappy musical version of Snow White!
Back at home, An is beyond upset that she didn’t get to suck Mamoru’s face, but Ail chides her because GAWD, An, I was just doing my job of collecting energy, REMEMBER, that’s our JOB, now stop getting distracted by STUPID HUMAN HOBBIES and FOCUS ON THE JOB.
…He REALLY wanted to be the prince, you guys…
This, That, and the Other
- About halfway through writing my Episode 55 recap I started switching out the lyrics from “Dick in a Box” to “Lunch in a Box,” and now Makoto and Umino are singing it in two-part harmony, and my brain may never be the same again.
- I love it when Ami uses MATHS! so solve mysteries. Also when she unmasks herself to an entire audience by telling them Sailor Mercury was Number One on the National Test. Also when she does anything else, really. I really like Ami, is what I’m trying to say.
- Luna dreams of settling down with a nice tomcat someday. Which brings up two questions: One, WHY AREN’T YOU DATING GENTLECAT RHETT BUTLER?! And two… did anyone else notice that Artemis was just, like, gone these two episodes?
- Just because I haven’t said it yet, can we take a moment to appreciate how freaking comfy everyone’s PJs look? No wonder Usagi is always late to school—I’d never wanna get out of those baggy pink pants either.
- And actually, can we also take a moment to appreciate the random Batman-esque transition where Luna basically ate the camera? I just want to know why that isn’t the transition between EVERY scene, all the time, always.
- This Week on the Moonlight Knight Poetry Slam:
The light of the moon even shines upon
Those who have lost sight of love…
Risking one’s life for love is true love.
Beautiful and courageous, it shines brightly.