Man, I’m really gonna miss that breakup subplot—said no one ever.
Juuban’s most famous power couple is back together, everyone’s health is falling apart, and Esmeraude continues to follow the Villain’s Handbook to the very letter. Admittedly not my favorite pair of episodes—while the central story of R is much stronger than that of the first season, I haven’t found a ton of R’s character episodes all that memorable, and that’s pretty much what we’re getting this week. Also, since when has Minako been Usagi 2.0? I kinda feel like they rewrote her character this week, and I’m not a fan of the changes.
But we’ll get to that in due time. First, Usagi and Mamoru need to throw some feelings at each other.
Episode 77 – One Promise Ring to Rule Them All
Usagi’s dashing to school (oh yeah, I guess she does still go there) and, in her hurry to get to class, runs right into WHOA, UMINO?! AND NARU’S HERE, TOO?! It’s been so long, I figured they’d been killed in a Black Moon plot WEEKS ago! But nope, they’ve just been busy holding hands and getting their arts and crafts on. See, there are these new handmade bracelets called “promise rings” that you wish upon, and when the bracelet breaks, the wish comes true. (So basically they’re friendship bracelets, ‘cause it sure don’t get more ’90s than that. Thanks for the nostalgia trip, SM!)
Oh, and one extra rule: If you make one and give it to your BF, then you’ll be together forever. Narumino are taking a promise ring class together, because at some point they became the cutest, most stable couple on the show. Was it all those fried shrimp lunchboxes? I bet it was all those fried shrimp lunchboxes.
Determined to weave a bracelet for Mamoru and make their love 5eva, Usagi (along with her sailor support group, Ami and Mako) goes to the new bracelet shop, where she can buy supplies and take weaving lessons. On the way they run into Mamoru, and he wobbles his eyes at us for a while before fleeing, STILL refusing to tell Usagi why he broke up with her. Usa’s friends look on, considering the many, many ways they are going to kill him.
Of course Usagi’s response to this is to go straight to the bracelet shop and weave her idiot ex a promise ring. Her gal pals leave her in the class with Narumino, but since Usagi didn’t put any points in her Craft skill, she fails pretty fantastically at the whole venture.
Which isn’t such a bad thing, because the only promise those rings are gonna keep is the one they made to the Black Moon Clan. Yep, turns out the bracelet shop’s smack dab on a Negative Point, and Esmeraude has taken it over (or opened it herself, I guess, since that level of money and planning is pretty par for the course in the Mooniverse) so she can increase the area’s Dark Power. The crafts teacher is actually droid Uderingu, who’s thrown all kinds of nastiness into the bracelets. And tonight the rings will fulfill their promise—OF DOOM!
But before that can happen, there’s Relationship Stuff. Yaaaay. The dozing Usagi accidentally crosses mind-streams with Mamoru and shares his Spooky Prophecy Dream, which saves the animators the trouble of having to draw a whole new Spooky Prophecy Dream. She puts two and two together and figures this must be what’s bothering him. Well, there’s only one way to respond to this revelation: Race over to Mamoru’s house and discuss the dream with him!
…Actually, yeah, that’s a completely appropriate response to a Spooky Prophecy Dream. I mean, I guess she could’ve just called him instead of banging on his door in the middle of the night, but still. Communicating! Sharing information! Acting like equal partners-in-crime-fighting instead of keeping unnecessary secrets from each other! So basically ALL THE STUFF MAMORU SHOULD HAVE DONE FROM THE BEGINNING SO HE COULD HAVE SAVED US ALL FROM THIS STUPID—
Mamoru comes clean, to which Usagi responds: “Dude, it’s a DREAM. Don’t be such a baby.” (I mean, she says it nicely, but that’s the gist of it.) And even if it really is a prophecy, she says she’s willing to take that risk, because that’s how important he is to her, “so stop worrying and let’s make out already!” Which seems pretty reasonable, all things considered.
So, naturally, Mamoru responds by shutting her out. Literally.
Fortunately Chibiusa’s hobby of getting into trouble saves us all from further drama, as she’s waiting outside Mamoru’s apartment (she and Luna tagged along for some reason) when the half-made promise ring in her hand starts attacking her. The same thing is happening to people all over the city, including Narumino (this is what you get for being in an episode!) and half the people at Ami’s cram school, so the girls contact each other and dash to the bracelet shop. See, Usa? You don’t have time to be sad! There’s monsters to bludgeon! Transformation time!
Sailor Moon arrives first and does her best to not get killed until first The Tux and then the scouts appear one by one, deflecting Uderingu’s attacks and finally damaging it enough for Usagi to get her halation on.
Esmeraude, magnificent creature that she is, shows up just long enough to reveal her ENTIRE scheme to the Moonies in excruciating detail, tell them that they have no chance of stopping her (even though they already have—twice), and disappear in a flurry of cackles.
The Tux tells the girls he hopes they can keep fighting together before he, too, runs off. The scouts interpret this as Awkward Mamoru Code for “I’m sorry I’ve been such a dipstick but I hope you’ll take me back,” and encourage Usagi to go after him. She does and finds Mamoru angsting at the moon, so she’s all like “Baby, the only Moon you need is right here” and throws herself into his arms and they make out for a while.
So I guess… Mamoru just… changed his mind? Or something? Eh, whatevs. Point is, the Breakup Subplot has ended (as incomprehensibly as it began), and we can all move on to bigger and better drama! Banzai!
Episode 78 – Sailor Venurse vs. the Flurious Fiend
A nasty flu has hit Juuban just in time for the holidays, and all of our scouts are sick except Minako, who’s decided to be everyone’s Florence Nightingale, going from house to house with rice gruel and soothing music. Only one snag: Mina (as we know) sucks at cooking, and (as we did notknow) also sucks at pretty much everything else. She puts so much salt on Rei’s rice that she spits fire (yeah, logic THAT one out), breaks Rei’s boombox (almost as ’90s as friendship bracelets!), and nearly kills her with blankets. BLANKETS, PEOPLE.
Then it’s on to the next victim patient! Mina’s already visited everyone but Usagi, so she heads to the castle of the Moon Princess, where it turns out there’s one other healthy person. You guessed it: It’s our favorite little “helper,” Chibiusa, who’s trying to do the housework even though Mama Tsukino is BEGGING her not to because she keeps dropping futons off balconies.
Usagi laments that they don’t have a babysitter, which is exactly when Minako shows up. But no, she isn’t here to keep an eye on Chibs—she’s here to help Chibs take care of Usagi! (And I know you’re dizzy from fever, Usa, but RUN!) Our two well-meaning but hopelessly inept nurses make a royal mess of things at Usagi’s house, although at least they do it in snazzy cosplay.
There is one bit of cuteness that comes out of all these shenanigans: After Usagi passes out from fever, she awakens to find Minako (and Chibiusa) giving her a little bedside TLC. “Are you taking care of me because I’m the Moon Princess?” Usagi asks. “No, it’s because you’re my friend and you’re awesome,” Mina (basically) replies, and it looks like I get to d’awww a little this week after all. Check that box off the Sailor Moon action list!
Oh, and the other box we need to check off: Monster-killin’! Minako and Chibiusa head to the hospital to pick up medicine, but the front desk is deserted. The two split up to find help, and Chibs (of course) stumbles upon Esmeraude and Droid Parumakon creating some eeeevil medicine to spread through the city. That’s right, gang: This hospital is a Negative Point, and this flu is a Dark Flu!
The two are shocked to see that someone in the city isn’t sick, so Esmeraude (also cosplaying as a nurse) tries to give Chibs her “flu” shot. But fortunately for Juuban, Chibs responds to needles the same way I do: By bursting into tears and using her glowing forehead crescent to send a distress signal to the local superheroes. (Yes. Exactly the way I do.)
Minako transforms and dashes to the back room (the other scouts are making their feverish way as well). “You found my latest Negative Point already?!” Esmeraude gasps. “Damn straight!” Venus lies. “And you know that we started this fever and that if you break the Dark Henge you’ll cure everyone?!” Esmeraude gasps louder. “Daaaaamn straight!” Venus lies, also louder. “Oh, you sailor scouts are good!” Essie admits, while Chibi sweatdrops from the sidelines. You gotta give it to Venus: She knows how to play the part of the crime-fighter.
And speaking of fighting crime, Essie sicks (accidental typo pun!) Parumakon on Venus. The droid transforms back to her original form and starts throwing HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE SYRINGES at Sailor Venus.
To Venus’s credit, she doesn’t get killed or just pass out in terror at the sight of all those HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE SYRINGES (I really don’t like needles, you guys!), but she’s also thoroughly useless here, pinned to the wall and unable to do anything but watch as first Tuxedo Mask saves Chibiusa, and then the scouts show up (“cured” thanks to Venus’s care, they say, probably to make her feel better for being kind of a massive screw-up all episode). They take down the droid, fevers and all, and vanquish the flu from the city.
Well, they vanquish the demon flu, anyway. The real flu is alive and well, and both Mina and Artemis come down with it, meaning it’s Minako’s turn to have people “take care” of her. And while I was sorta hoping this would end in an adorable group effort, with everyone coming over to keep her company (and Mako cooking her actually tasty food), it just ends in Usagi and Chibiusa doing the same thing to Mina that she and Chibs did to Usagi. Thus further making Mina look like Usagi 2.0, rather than like her own person.
I found this episode irritating more than anything, mostly because it doesn’t make sense. I mean, I actually like the idea of Minako kinda sucking at “domestic living” because she was Sailor V-ing around the world and probably didn’t have time to learn how to cook or do laundry—but you guys, she was Sailor V-ing around the world, so why is she suddenly an inept fighter, too? It doesn’t match up with what we’ve seen of her before, making it the closest thing to truly bad characterwriting we’ve seen on SM up to this point (we’ve seen some shaky plot writing before, but I think the characters have always been more-or-less consistent—even Mamoru, the uncommunicative dolt).
Hopefully this isn’t going to become a trend, because I’ve grown to quite like both Usagi and Mina, and I’d really like them to remain distinct individuals rather than become interchangeable blonde klutzes. We’ve got enough of those in fiction as it is.
This, That, and the Other
- Every time they talk about the Dark Power “intensifying,” I just think of that goofy cat meme, and I can’t take them seriously anymore.
- I feel like The Tux usually shows up just long enough to help someone else and then vanishes, which can make him seem a little too flawless at times, so it was nice to see Ami save him when they fought the Bracelet Monster. Between Eps 76 and 77, these two are developing surprisingly solid teamwork skills.
- After nine months of watching this show, I have come to a realization: I freaking love
Tuxedo Mask. Mamoru, though? Not so much. So if he could just stay suited up all the time, I really feel like I could get on board the Moon/Tux ‘ship. Until then, though, I am all of the “meh.”
- One thing that was consistent about Minako’s characterization this week: Her inability to remember idioms. It’s one of those running gags that’s never hilarious but is always solidly amusing, and I have no problem with it sticking around for as long as it wants.
- The Sensei Next Door (Moon Prism Edition): When Luna teases Artemis for not being sick, she’s referencing the Japanese superstition that “idiots can’t catch colds.” It’s about as common a joke in anime/manga as the idea that, when you sneeze, it means someone is talking about you, so chances are you’ve seen or heard it mentioned before, but I figured I’d clear that up just in case anyone was confused.
- Hark! A plot point! I…I got nothing this week, team. But hey! Did I tell you that the breakup subplot is over!? BECAUSE THE BREAKUP SUBPLOT IS OVER. We’re free! Freeeeeee!