Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 69-70

All Ikuhara all the time always!

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I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but I’m doing Yurikuma Arashi recaps this season, which means that I need to spend the early part of the week working on those instead of these. So, in the interest of finding time to sleep between posts, Sailor Moon reviews are moving to Fridays, at least for now. I’ll let you know if that changes again.

To make up for being a day late without advance notice, I have granted you the longest post I’ve written in a while. Because I have… opinions about these two.

The Recaps

Episode 69 – Little Moonies in Slumberland

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You guyyyys! Mamoru is having weird dreams again! This time it’s about his wedding with Usagi, followed shortly by her subsequent DOOM. See, Mamo-chan, this is what you get for eating an entire cheese wheel before bed. A voice in his head follows him out of his dreams and into the moonlight (he should probably see a doctor about that), warning him that “the world will come to an end” as soon as he marries Usagi and that “misfortune will befall” her if they stay together. Then the voice jumps from his head into his hands and cracks the glass on the photo of him and Usagi. Spoo~ooky!

Naturally Mamoru runs into Usagi the next morning, and responds with his usual knack for words and social situations: By fleeing the scene, and seeking advice from HOLY CRAP IT’S MOTOKI.

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“Sorry I haven’t seen you in a while, pal. Me and my badass scientist girlfriend have been having a TON of awesome sex recently. But enough about me – how’s your love life going? Still dating middle school girls? HAHA, no, I’m kidding, of course you’re not… Oh.”

The creators remember him because Mamoru needs someone to talk to and Motoki is LITERALLY the only friend he has. Mamoru wants to know how you get a girl to hate you, and then a cute waitress serves them food, and… oh, no. No, no, no. MAMORU. NO.

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FNVIJROEJGIENVLD…!!

Mamoru drives by Usagi and lets her draw her own conclusions (he gives her a tearbeard, the jackass!), then flees into the sunset, promising that “this is goodbye” until he figures out what (or WHO) is causing his nightmares. Because. You know. TELLING your superhero ex-girlfriend and her superhero friends would be pure MADNESS.

Back at the Tsukino Residence, Usagi is eating her feelings well into the night, and when Chibiusa comes downstairs to see what all the wailing is about, she overhears Usagi telling Luna about Mamoru’s “new girlfriend.” Le GASP! Chibiusa reels at this news and flees into the night (seriously, you guys need to put a bell on this freaking kid). Presumably she’s heading to Mamoru’s place to verify this shocking development, but because there’s no grown-up there to hold her hand while she’s crossing the street, she almost gets hit by a truck.

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So let that be a lesson to you kids at home.

This is far too many emotions for one night, and Chibi’s forehead crescent sounds the alarm, alerting the two eldest Spectre Sisters to her presence. Fortunately, Sailor Moon was right on her tail. Somewhat less fortunately, the Spectres have brought along their droid Akumuda, whose hypnosis is super effective, and sends the unconsciousness Usagi to a nightmarish hellscape from which there is no return. And no, I’m not talking about Cleveland.

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I’m gonna go ahead and say that the scouts have developed actual Sailor senses (either that or the writers expect us to fill in the blanks and assume Usagi used her communicator to contact them), because they once again show up in the nick of time, outnumbering the Spectres and forcing them to beat another retreat. Stupid villains and their battle tactics.

Rei’s badass exorcism powers keep Akumuda from knocking out anyone else, but the droid flees straight into Usagi’s mouth, promising the girls that it will keep Sailor Moon trapped in its Slumberdome, draining her energy until she dies.

The girls respond by coming up with a sequence of clever plans to rouse her.

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But nothing works.

And meanwhile Baby Usa (not to be confused with Chibiusa) flees through darkness, chasing Mamoru but never able to catch him. I’m going to pretend that SM is trying to show us the dangers of codependency with this, because it’s pretty frustrating if I think of it in any other fashion. IRL, Usa mutters his name, and Luna knows what she has to do: Drag the dumb bastard here and have him Sleeping Beauty this shit! Kissing unconscious people is basically his superpower anyway.

Mamoru can’t resist a kitty with tears in her eyes (who could?), so he hops out of bed and… Oh, thank you, Sailor Moon.

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Actually, Usagi, you know what? I get it. I can’t stay mad at him, either.

The Tux arrives on the scene and finally gives Usagi the kiss she’s been wanting for weeks. Multicolored pastel bubbles BURST FORTH from her crotch as he awakens a little more than just her consciousness if-you-know-what-I-mean. Clearly Ikuhara is honing the subtle imagery he will one day bring to Yurikuma Arashi.

The Moon Princess has been saved! And oh, right, that droid is back too. Akumuda tries to continue the proud tradition of shanking The Tux, but her angle’s off and she only manages to nick his arm. Sailor Moon halates her into oblivion, and it’s all over but the crying, as Tuxedo Mask insists that just because he doesn’t want her to die doesn’t mean he loves her and leaves in a storm of flower petals. He weeps from afar.

Such tragedy. Very tears. If only there were some other option, like banding together with your superhero girlfriend and her superhero friends to get to the bottom of this together. If only

Oh, and BT-dubs, that girl in the cafe was just Motoki’s sister and Mamoru was giving her a ride to her boyfriend’s place. Usagi’s relieved and vows to keep loving him SUPER HARD until she figures out what’s bothering him and fixes it. And you know, I know that he still loves her, and you know that he still loves her, but in the world of the story itself, Usagi is swiftly approaching Overly Attached (Ex)Girlfriend Meme Status. Le sigh.

Episode 70 – Horrible Bosses

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I have a ton of notes about this episode because there’s some interesting/frustrating nuance between characters (and some major plot points, too), but I’m hoping I can still find a way to boil it down to its basics. Time to bust out the brevity powers again! And, so—

Rubeus is under pressure from the higher-ups to take care of the Rabbit problem, but lucky for him, Wiseman is predicting another bunny sighting at Hikawa Shrine tomorrow. Rubeus puts Koan on the case, Wiseman warns that “tragedy will befall her,” to which Rubeus tenderly replies: “Meh.” Man, and I thought Beryl was a nasty boss.

Meanwhile, Rei is out shopping and has Teddy on pack mule duty, and he runs slap-bang into Koan. The poor doofus gets it from both directions as Koan snaps at him for hitting her (she actually recognizes him from her last gig at the shrine, because yay continuity!), and Rei snaps at him for dropping her stuff. Man, between the monster attacks and the pervy grandpas and the shopping trips and the verbal abuse, I really hope Teddy is actually getting paid for this.

Koan returns to the PCPavilion to find Rubeus waiting with a mission:

And don’t come back ‘till ya do! Koan’s crushing on him super hard and he takes full advantage of it, acting all snuggly until she agrees to the mission, then promptly turning into a mega-asshole as soon as he’s got what we wants from her. He even crushes the cologne she bought for him! “Oops, my hand slipped,” he says. Rubeus, you dick. I really hope this is the episode where the “hired” help rises up against their horrible bosses. Both Rubeus and Rei are just begging to have the minions go on strike.

Anyway, Koan forces some excuses for Rubeus’s behavior (basically echoing Usagi’s “I’m sure he has his reasons” from last episode) and goes about her mission, with Rubeus periodically checking in via Compact Mirror TV to be a dick to her. Eventually she masquerades as a cosmetic saleslady and gets into a conversation with Rei and Usagi about what it means to love.

Rei says it’s all about trust, which is great, but then she says that if Usagi doubts Mamoru’s love for her just because he did a silly little thing like say he doesn’t love her OVER AND OVER AGAIN, then that means Usagi’s love isn’t real. “Keep believing in him no matter how coldly he treats you,” she says, encouraging young ‘uns everywhere to both stalk people AND put up with mountains of abuse.

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(Remember when Sailor Moon wrote GOOD romance? I miss those days. Seriously, where’s an Ami/Ryo episode when you need it?)

Koan disagrees—instead of putting up with that crap, you should wear makeup and look awesome so EVERYONE will treat you warmly. I’d tell Koan to give that advice to the person in the mirror, but recently that person has been Rubeus, so… yeah. She takes her leave, no closer to finding Rabbit than she was before.

Good news about Chibiusa is that she’s basically this season’s Naru—wait around long enough and she’s bound to be attracted to the danger. She comes to the shrine just as Usagi is leaving, meaning there’s no one to protect her. Well, almost no one.

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“I’M IN OVER MY HEAAAAAAD!” -Teddy’s battle cry

If Tuxedo Mask’s hobby is getting stabbed, then Teddy’s is recklessly trying to help people, which is probably why he’s my favorite of the recurring male cast. I know he’s a bit of a doormat, but he’s a super nice guy, and almost suicidally brave in the face of danger. And he doesn’t even have superpowers!

Oh, right. He doesn’t have superpowers. Guess that means he’s going to die now, huh?

Koan does hit him with some Dark Fire, and then Rei shows up and Teddy gets hit AGAIN when he tries to shield her. Koan cannot comprehend why you’d ever protect someone who treats you like shit, but Teddy “loves her in his own way,” he says, which isn’t really an answer, but he passes out before he can expand upon that thesis. To which Rei responds:

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All of Rei’s damns are now being given to Teddy, which is why she gives ZERO damns about transforming into Sailor Mars right in front of Koan. Wellp, guess that means Koan’s going down this episode. Rei doesn’t try to pretend that she loves Teddy back, but she intends to “honor his sincerity” even so, and the two get into a battle of flaming attacks and fiery words. Rei insists that love is selfless, love is kind, love is… well, you know the rest.

“Now that I think about it, Rubeus IS kind of a dick to me,” Koan thinks—but NO! She is LOYAL! She shoots a blast in the general direction of Teddy and, while Rei manages to save him, she busts up her leg in the process. With Mars out of the picture, Koan goes after Rabbit again, but a certain someone isn’t going to give up his future-daughter without a fight.

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And Now, The Josei Next Door Is Proud to Present…

An Inner Monologue, by Koan
“Wait, WHAT? Is that a ROSE? And who the hell is this guy? How the hell did he even get UP there? Wait, is he talking to me? Is he MONOLOGUING at me? ‘The image of love shimmering in the heat’? ‘The sound of a loving heart’? What does that even MEAN? And who the hell throws a rose, anyway? Like what does that even ACCOMPLISH? Is this a prank? Am I on Candid Camera? Is someone going to come out and OH HELL HE JUST TOOK RABBIT aaaaand they’re gone. Shit.”

Her terrible day continues as Mars gets back up to fight again, the rest of the scouts appear, and—aw, crap. It’s the boss man.

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“Ko-aaaan, you got some ‘splainin’ to doooo!”

He scorns her pathetic efforts, spits on her “love,” and fires her. Like, literally. He gives her a time-space bomb and orders her to blow up herself along with the Moonies. Then he vanishes. Rubeus, you dick.

The scouts manage to knock the bomb into the sky (scaring the ever-loving hell out of the locals) and Mars comes to Koan’s defense, reminding her that as long as you’re alive there’s still a chance to find happiness. She begs Usagi to turn Koan into an ordinary woman, a nice callback to the Seven Great Monsters Arc (ZOISIIIITE!) from Season 1. Turns out the Silver Crystal’s still got a little oomph in it, and Rei’s wish is Usagi’s command: She “refreshes” Koan, turning her into an actual cosmetics saleslady.

Aw, the Spectre Sister got a happy ending after all! Good for you, Koan! And good for you too, Rei! You might be stubborn, short-tempered, and demanding, but you’ve got a good heart on you. I can see why Teddy’s so smitten. Just, maybe cut the guy a little slack from now on, okay? I mean, he DID take a Dark Fire bomb for you. That’s gotta count for, like, a few vacation days, right?

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…Wrong?

You know, I’m starting to think Teddy actually likes being bossed around. So maybe this is a happy ending for him and Rei, too? Sure. We’ll go with that.

This, That, and the Other

  • Good God, Mamoru, how many vehicles do you OWN?
  • I like how the floor in the PCPavilion is lined with electric keyboards. Everyone makes such awesome ‘80s music when they walk around.
  • So you know how I said I had a ton of notes on Episode 70? Yeah, turns out about half of that was just me writing “Rubeus, you dick!” over and over again.
  • Hark! A plot point! Speaking of horrible bosses, even Rubeus and Wiseman have one, and his name is Prince Demande. Probably because he’s always demande-ing they destroy Crystal Tokyo already, har-dee-har-har.

The Retrospective Next Door

I’ve been trying to work my overall reactions into the posts as I go, but I need a few paragraphs here at the end, because these episodes beg to be discussed as a unit. Basically, they’re both about relationships with an unequal power balance: The “ex” status and the secrets between Usagi/Mamoru in Episode 69, followed by the literal boss/employee relationship and one-sided romance between both Rei/Teddy and Rubeus/Koan. Thing is, I can’t figure out what the show’s trying to say about those relationships. If, in fact, it’s trying to say anything.

And okay, I know that from an audience POV, Usagi/Mamoru isn’t really a power imbalance—they both care deeply for the other, and there’s no question that they are each other’s greatest weakness. But from an in-story perspective, because Mamoru is keeping things from Usagi, it makes him the only one who knows where they both stand in terms of their feelings for each other, which gives him power over her. It also makes her look like a clingy ex who isn’t respecting his wishes.

But what’s even more frustrating is that everyone in the story is telling her to just keep having faith in him, no matter how cold he is or how many times he tells her to buzz off, because that’s how you’ll win his love. And while this is painfully true to adolescent romance, it’s also maybe not the best message to be sending to your adolescent target audience, y’know?

I think SM is trying to promote loyalty, here—the only character who’s actually condemned this week is Rubeus, who has no regard for the feelings or life of the woman who loves him—and that’s all well and good, but just because we know how the characters feel on the inside doesn’t automatically excuse how they act on the outside. And Usagi’s obsession, Mamoru’s secrecy, and Rei’s general lack of respect are not healthy behavior patterns, regardless of inner feelings.

I dunno, I guess I just wish the episodes had ended with some forward character progression—with Usagi backing off, or Mamoru opening up, or at least Rei treating Teddy with a modicum of courtesy. But the status remains quo’d, and that makes me wonder exactly what point SM was really trying to make this week, and if the problem was in the intent, or just the execution. Here’s hoping it was the latter.

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