Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 57-58

The plots (and tree roots) thicken!

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As is so often the case, SM dropped lots of exciting story stuff on me the week I have Far Too Much To Do. Between packing for a trip and actually going on said trip, we’re gonna have to do what we did way back during the Nephrite Finale and Sailor Moon Restrict this post to general recaps and overall impressions.

Episode 57 – Not in the Card(ian)s

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I mentioned last week that I was digging the show’s new focus on Ail, An, and how they react to human relationships and culture, and this week cranks all that up to eleven. Episode 57 highlights the more negative elements of humanity seeping into Ail and An, as they stop harvesting energy indiscriminately and instead try to attack people for personal reasons. Ail wants to send his latest Cardian, Amanju, after Mamoru so he won’t have any competition for Usagi’s affections, and An tries to sap Usagi’s energy for similar reasons.

Most unsettling of all, they both express their intent to kill rather than simply drain, suggesting a malice they never displayed previously. Whether either of them would have actually gone through with it is debatable, but the fact that they even consider it points to a very human darkness seeping into their actions.

Of course, none of this actually works out because Cardian Amanju is not only ignoring Ail’s orders, but seems to be actively disobeying them. “Attack Mamoru!” he says, and it flees into the city, randomly attacking humans. “Randomly attack humans!” he says, and it strangles some ducks. “Get those sailor scouts!” he says, and it stomps on his head in its haste to go the opposite way. And meanwhile the Makai Tree is glowing an unpleasant purple color and making the kind of noises that, if your car was making those noises, you’d take it to an exorcist, ‘cause hell if the mechanic is gonna know what to do.

Which you’d think would be a good place to leave the show for another episode or two, as our Ailians deal with this sudden change in the status quo after weeks of stasis. But this is SM we’re talking about, and once you open those plot floodgates you don’t close ‘em until Usagi is in mortal danger and Mamoru has been stabbed at least three times. Which brings us to…

Episode 58 – The Mean Green Makai From Outer Space

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I regret to inform you that Ail and An can no longer focus on their strange little love quadrangle, because the Makai Tree is dying.

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Not even an entire rooftop full of actors, children, and the always-delicious Narumino (yup, they have a couple name now) can sate the tree’s thirst. Preoccupied with not dying, the duo start skipping school, which is when Usagi & Co. decide to check up on the ailing (hah!) pair and things get all kinds of interesting. Ail/Seijuro is ridiculously happy to have visitors, and every time Usagi stops by he finds himself inviting her in and happily serving her tea and steamed buns.

“Hospitality? Da fuq is that all about?” An wants to know, but Ail can’t explain it—it’s just “the right thing to do.”

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And what happened next? Well, in Juuban, they say
That Seijuro’s small heart grew three sizes that day.

Other things An would like to know what da fuq they are about: Classmates visiting you when you miss school, classmates encouraging you to come to school, and classmates calling themselves your “friends” and professing “concern” for your well being. Weirdos. She’s still pretty Grinch-y, is what I’m trying to say, and would really just like Usagi and the rest of the scouts to leave her and her boyfriend alone so they can wither and die in peace.

But Usa is having none of that! She utilizes her greatest superpowers—Friendship and Getting Into Trouble—to speed the plot along, first by continuing to visit the “siblings” and then by sneaking a peak at The Atrium and nearly getting eaten by the Makai Tree. After only a few Usagi Drops of energy, the tree sprouts a new leafy green bud—which the Ailians promptly kill by watering it with human energy. The Makai Tree has changed its diet, and An intends to give it what it wants.

Even Mamoru’s sudden visitation can’t quite warm her up to Seijuro’s new levels of kindness. She feigns hospitality long enough to get both Mamoru and Usagi inside, then distracts the boys with the high-rise apartment version of “look over there!” and shoves Usagi into The Atrium so that the latest Cardian can suck her energy. Whereupon the Makai Tree proceeds to lose its shit, attack all the things, and turn the apartment complex into a Treehouse of Horror.

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Yeah, yeah, I know: The Simpsons did it first.

The episode ends with the Ailians, Usagi, and Mamoru trapped inside the apartment and the rest of the scouts trapped outside, mostly because they STILL don’t know how to match elements, like SERIOUSLY, Mako, you’re gonna use thunderbolt on a tree even though electric types CLEARLY aren’t very effective against grass types and there’s a fire type standing RIGHT next to you and an ice type standing RIGHT NEXT to her, I mean come ON gals, get your shit together!

…Ah-hem.

At any rate, there’s a whole lot of mysteries and not a lot of clear-cut answers at this point, and I genuinely don’t know how this is going to turn out. Which is a fun place to be—usually the series ends its arcs on even-numbered episodes, so it’s rare for me to have what is functionally a two-parter divided in half like this. Gives me lots of time to wildly speculate, and I do so enjoy wild speculation.

I think it’s fair to say that Ail and An are probably both way off about what’s wrong with the Makai Tree—it’s neither rejecting the Earth’s atmosphere (Ail’s theory) nor jonesing for some more Usagi Drops (An’s theory), but reacting to something else altogether, and most likely to the way our space duo have been behaving recently. Whether the Makai Tree is changing for better or worse is still up in the air—and perhaps we could have the same conversation about Ail and An, who have shown us both the light and dark sides of humanity these past couple weeks.

Yet for all their flaws I’m actually rather fond of our Ailians, so I’d like to believe this will end in a nice, happy conclusion, with the Makai Tree’s metamorphosis somehow allowing the duo to live peacefully on earth as humans. That said, given SM’s track record with happy endings, I suspect it’s going to be much more complicated and bittersweet than all that. Regardless of how it shakes out, I’ll be back next week to give it a proper, full-length recap, complete with screenshots and feelings—whatever those feelings may be.

This, That, and the Other

  • …And even in a truncated post, I managed to work in my obligatory Pokemon reference. ‘Cause I am just. That. Good.
  • Okay, so Ms. Sakurada isn’t the worst teacher in anime history because, um, do you WATCH anime? But she’s sure as hell not gonna be winning any awards. I actually cheered a little when her date got ruined by the Cardian.
  • In other Awesome Mako News, she wins Quote of the Week with: “Disturbing the peaceful lives of those birds is a serious crime!”
  • I love how Luna and Artemis always know just enough information about their enemies to scare the hell out of everyone, but not enough to actually provide solutions or strategies. So, basically, they’re anchors on a 24-hour news network.
  • How quickly next week before Mamoru jumps in front of someone to save them and gets root-shanked for his troubles? Five minutes? Seven?
  • This Week on the Moonlight Knight Poetry Slam:
    “A wicked world is
    Where the wicked belong. Be
    Gone from the light of
    This lovely moon!”

    Buuuut you were four syllables over haiku length, so you’ve been disqualified this week. Better luck next week, buddy!

    (…I miss Tuxedo Mask so much, you guys.)

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