Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 61-62

Huh. So apparently the “R” stands for “Rage-induced table-flipping.”

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These past couple weeks I’ve been merging my reactions with my recaps, and I actually like the way it flows better (it’s also helped me to keep these a little shorter and write them a little faster), so we’re going to try that for a while longer and see how it works out. If you’re not a fan of the new format, let me know and I’ll consider shifting back to the old way, but hopefully this works just fine.

And on that note—to the recaps! The angry, angry recaps.

The Recaps

Episode 61 – Moon Crystal Powahhh… Break Up!

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There’s trouble in paradise this week, and her name is “Chibiusa.” That’s what we’re calling the pink-haired kid, it looks like, since two Usagis gets a little confusing. When Mamoru and Usagi find her moping in the park, she immediately latches on to Mamoru again, bumming a ride on his shoulders and declaring him to be her boyfriend. This is a cute little kid thing and Mamoru treats it as such, but Usagi gets stupidly jealous about it and storms off in a huff, because CLEARLY Mamoru likes Chibi better since he didn’t immediately shout “GROSS!” and chuck her off his shoulders into moving traffic. Siiiigh.

But there’s even BIGGER trouble following in the Chibi’s wake: Touching her seems to have given Mamoru the ability to see visions of massive crystal cities and Usagi in danger. He also, I guess, can now brain-hack into the bad guys’ coms system? It’s not super clear, but after Rubeus lays out his Super Secret Plan to Spectre Sister Berthier, Mamoru gets all:

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“So that’s their plan,” he says. And what IS their plan, you ask? Instead of finding the Silver Crystal, they’ll keep the Crystal City “of the future” (called it!) from being built at all by ruining the “Crystal Points” of the future city’s layout. Cram enough Dark Energy into a Crystal Energy Point, and the point becomes useless. Why this would prevent them from building the Crystal City, like, 10 miles down the road, I don’t know, but We Have A Premise Now, so let’s start taking over some makeup stores!

But we’ll get to that in a second. First, Mamoru has to react to his new Incredibly Useful Divination Powers by explaining it to Usagi and alerting her to the danger they’re about to PFFT, no, I’m kidding, of course. Mamoru, COMMUNICATE things? That’s crazy talk. No, his reaction is to not only share NONE of this with Usagi, but also to break up with her on the spot and lie about why he’s doing it.

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You know, between Usa’s unreasonable jealousy and Mamoru’s crap communication skills, I can’t decide if this is proof that these two belong together, or that they should IN NO WAY be in a relationship right now. But I’m leaning towards the latter.

So anyway, yeah, there’s a lot of teary eyes and shadowy faces and falling rose petal imagery, and by the time Usagi is curled up in a phone booth I’m really ready to not have to deal with these emotions anymore. Not because it’s badly executed (quite the opposite, in fact: the piano score is wrenching and the art is visceral and candid, even if you’re not that invested in the relationship itself), but because I’ve seen Usagi go through a lot of shit these last 60 episodes and it’s high time the poor girl catch a break.

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My heart breaks a little every time I look at this screencap.

The creative team must have known it was time to change gears, too, because our baddies put their plan into action, taking over the beauty supply store atop one of the Crystal Points and selling eeeevil products that gradually destroy people’s appearances. Usagi stumbles upon a flier and wanders shell-shocked into the store, singing her sorrows to the woman Droid Atsugessho at the counter. This leads to the best conversation of the episode.

Usagi: You think Mamoru will love me again if I’m prettier?

Atsugessho: Absolutely! NOW BUY ALL THE THINGS.

Usagi: No… I guess not… that kind of stuff doesn’t matter to him…

Atsugessho: Of course it does! All men are shallow! NOW BUY ALL THE THINGS.

Usagi: Hey, #NotAllMen! How dare you insult Mamo! I’m outtie.

Atsugessho: YOU COME TO THE SHOP, YOU PUT ON THE MAKEUP.

That last line is a direct quote, by the way. The rest I may have paraphrased. You know. Just slightly.

All the other customers leave once Atsugessho starts assaulting Usa, at which point it drops its human mask and goes all monsterific on the room. Luna uses her facehug attack to buy Usagi enough time to transform into Sailor Moon, whereupon she runs around the store using the special move she learned from Piccolo’s School of Combat:

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“DOOOOOOODGE!”

She’s in a tight spot until The Tux shows up and uses his TWIRLY!Cane (for no gentleman leaves home without…well, you know the rest) to deflect Atsugessho’s makeup-removal vomit right back at it. While it scrambles to put its face back on (literally), Sailor Moon uses her Halation spell to turn the monster (or droid, I guess?) into a pile of diamond dust.

And then it’s just Sailor Moon, standin’ around with her ex. Awk-ward. Tux senses the Feels that are about to come flying his way and tries to “Saraba da” himself, but Usagi calls out to him by his real name (Shh! What if someone hears you?!) and begs him to at least give her a reason.

Here is a list of things he could have said to make this understandable:

  • Because I don’t want your dad to call the cops about the college student dating his 14-year-old daughter
  • Because you got jealous of a five-year-old and those don’t feel like the kind of trust issues we could work through
  • Because I’m hallucinating about crystal cities and I don’t think I can commit to a relationship until I figure out what’s going on with my brain-space
  • Because I’m having visions of you in danger and I’m so afraid of losing you again that I’m trying to distance myself from you to avoid that pain, and while I know it’s not a good answer I hope you’ll understand and give me some space so I can work through these complicated emotions

That’s what he COULD have said. What he DOES say is:

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Oof. Right in the insecurities.

And vanishes into the sunset like a big, stupid dumb-face. So naturally Usagi vows to become stronger (yay!) so that she can win back Mamoru’s heart (boo!). And as nice as it is to see Usagi deciding to make a concentrated effort to be tougher and more self-reliant, the fact that she’s only doing it to make her idiot ex-boyfriend like her again is… just…

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Hopefully she’ll realize along the way that she should be “stronger” for herself and not for anyone else. But until then Conflicted Josei is, well, conflicted.

…Although, mostly, the Josei just wants to pop Mamoru in his big, stupid dumb-face.

Episode 62 – Ami-tings and Partings

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I always write the real episode titles at the tops of my notes, and this time those notes read:

A Guardian’s Friendship: SAYONARA AMI-CHAN?!

WHAAAAAA

I REJECT YOU, SUBTITLE.

So, yeah, that’s where I was when this episode began.

Fortunately for all of us, the episode title was (for once) a big troll instead of an actual spoiler. Even so, Ami is thinking of leaving: She’s been offered the chance to study abroad in Germany, and she’s seriously considering it. Usagi rejects the subtitle as utterly as I do, but the other scouts remind her that she shouldn’t be selfish—it’s Ami’s dream to become a doctor, and if going to Germany will help her do that, then they’ll just have to learn how to sailor on without her.

However, Ami herself is not nearly as resolved as the scouts. After she treats Chibiusa to ice cream and talks about her cram school, Chibs decides that since Ami is so responsible, she’s way more likely to have the Silver Crystal than Usagi. So she gloms on to the study-bug and asks to stay at her place that night because “she really loves studying,” too. Ami agrees and proceeds to go all super-nice drillmaster on the Chibi.

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“Oh, you wanna quit studying at 10 PM? You know who else quit studying at 10 PM? HITLER. So, so, I mean, I guess if you wanna be like HITLER, then…”

Along the way, Ami (who is in some ways even more of a straight-shooter than Rei) tells Chibiusa that she knows she isn’t really Usagi’s cousin. Ami doesn’t force her to tell the truth, though—instead, she offers to let Chibs live at her place while she’s away, so that her mom doesn’t get lonely. But then halfway through her offer she decides that she WON’T go to Germany after all, so NVM.

And meanwhile, between Mamoru and Ami, poor Usagi is having all kinds of abandonment issues. But as per usual her more serious anxieties only manifest as dreams—in the real world, she’s the picture of unselfishness, encouraging Ami to pursue her goals and even promising to throw her a going-away party. Ami agrees to go to Germany, but asks the Moonies not to throw a party—if they do, she’ll change her mind again and won’t be able to leave.

Usagi takes these conditions to the other Moonies, who say “But…but… Friendship!” So they decide to eschew the party but to surprise Ami by seeing her off at the airport. Say what you will, but the real love story of Sailor Moon will always be of the philia variety, which is a verbose way of saying that THESE GIRLS ARE JUST SO

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Of course we’ve still got those pesky villains to handle, and Berthier is targeting another Crystal Point in the city. This time it’s the new ice cream parlor (incomprehensibly named “Bob-Floy”). She puts her minion Niphas in charge and has her sell ice cream that makes people unable to stand the heat—which both generates dark energy AND gets them to come back for more ice cream. The perfect business model! Mwahahaha!

This works great until Artemis comes snooping around, and even his “I’m just an innocent kitty” act doesn’t work on Pure Freaking Evil, because they freeze him in the back room with all the former shop employees. When Venus (looking ready to tear some new ones) and Luna go searching for him, they stumble upon the eeeevil operation. Venus calls in for backup, and the scouts must abandon their airport plans for crime-fighting.

Fortunately Chibiusa and Mamoru just happened to be strolling/driving along at that EXACT moment, so the two agree to take Ami’s gift to the airport and DAMMIT, MAMORU, REALLY? REALLY?!

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♪ “I wear my suuunglasses at night
So I can, so I caaan…” ♪

They meet up with Ami at the airport and give her the girls’ gift. It’s the tricked-out Lovely Items (a new pen and wristwatch communicator) that Luna and Artemis got for everyone, along with a note promising Ami that they’ll be together no matter where they go. And oh yeah, you know I D’AWW’d.

The sweetness is nearly ruined by Chibiusa, who starts ranting about how the girls are all selfish and none of them are ACTUALLY friends otherwise they’d TOTALLY be there to see Ami off, I mean what could POSSIBLY be more important than saying goodbye to someone they—

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And Ami realizes what would be “more important” than that. Mamoru confirms and she has him drive her to the scene of the crime, where she busts down the door and uses her new Sailor Star Special Attack, “Shine Aqua Illusion,” to make short work of the enemy. Looks like Ami isn’t going to Germany after all, but she doesn’t mind—she can become a doctor in Japan, too.

It took me a little while to figure out exactly what this episode was trying to say, because it’s not quite the direction Sailor Moon episodes usually go. SM has done responsibility and self-sacrifice stories before (very deftly, I felt), but this is really the first time we’ve seen the series take a slightly melancholy stance about what it means to be a superhero (and an adult, in some ways). Ami is the most responsible and forward-thinking of the scouts, but this also means that she had a life plan in place before she became Sailor Mercury, so she’s the only scout who’s really had to struggle to reconcile her past plans with her current reality.

Despite Chibiusa’s ranting, I don’t think this episode is about friendship (I’m not even sure it’s about selfishness, really), but rather about Ami coming to terms with her Moonie responsibilities. She loses something here, to be sure, but the series is smart not to force her to abandon her goals entirely (that would have been just as harmful, I think). Instead, she finds a balance between Future Doctor Ami and Crimefighter Sailor Mercury. Just one more way Sailor Moon explores the many trials of adolescence.

This, That, and the Other

  • “If you want a man to like you, you need to go a bit heavy on the makeup.” One of the many things I love about Sailor Moon is that lines like these are given to the bad guys.
  • Mamoru can drive, which (in Japan) means he’s at least 20 years old. I eased off on the age difference thing due to the whole “reincarnation” angle, but I was also pegging him at, like, 18, so… yeah, it’s kinda creepy again.
  • Man, Berthier was a huge jerk to the summoned help this week. The minions in this show really need to think about unionizing.
  • If you want a good example of how to simply but effectively convey character in dialog: Ami tells Usagi that she “still has 10 days” before she leaves for Germany, and Usagi responds with “Only 10 days?” Ami’s “still” (focusing on the time she has left) and Usagi’s “only” (focusing on the approaching farewell) do a great job of showing that neither wants Ami to leave, without either character having to explicitly say it. Good stuff, that.
  • The Sensei Next Door (Mini Edition): Viz makes no attempt to translate the “chibi” in Chibiusa, so just in case you didn’t already know, chibi means “small/short person” and often refers to a small child. It’s kinda like calling her “Li’l Usa.”
  • Hark! A plot point! Our enemies utilize servants to do their dirty work, have a thing for “Dark Energy,” and their minions turn to dust/sand/glitter when Usagi defeats them. Gee, this doesn’t sound like ANYONE we’ve met before…
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