It’s dangerous to go alone! Here, take friends!
At first it was bothering me a bit that there were so many episodes this season where the scouts kinda got their butts kicked (last week’s Venus episode especially rankled me), but then I realized with this week’s pair that, insomuch as Sailor Moon R has an ongoing theme, it basically boils down to what Luna tells Artemis this week: “You can’t defeat the enemy alone.”
In other words, characters who try to play the lone wolf (like Chibiusa in the early going, or Artemis for much of this week’s first episode, or pretty much any of our villains) fail pretty spectacularly. It’s only when people trust, draw strength from, and rely on one another that they succeed. Look no further than the Rubeus Finale for a shining example of this, as the two Usas teamed up to win the day while Rubeus went all “party of one” and ended up as a firework. Because just in case we hadn’t already figured it out, Sailor Moon is all about the power of friendship and teamwork.
Well, friendship, teamwork, and Ami being awesome. There’s a lot of that going on, too.
Episode 79 – Artemis & Company
The team has gone back to their old tried-and-true method of searching for the villain’s hideout inside restaurants, and it’s going about as well this time as it did the first time. Artemis flees back to Usagi’s place after a violent run-in with an angry chef (marking exactly the second time a cat has not been allowed into a public place), and Luna mocks him for being a “careless cat.” Then Chibs hits him with a door, totally ruining his dramatic exit and setting the tone for the rest of the episode, which is a lot of cats getting hit with things. Adjust your feelings accordingly.
He leaves in a huff, angry because “he hasn’t done much recently” (says Luna, and whichever scriptwriter realized we were nearly three seasons into SM and had yet to have an Artemis Episode), then retreats to Mina’s room, where she reminds him that “fortune favors the old.” Eh, close enough. Point being, it’s time to get out there, take risks, and distinguish yourself!
Wandering the streets for clues, Artemis comes across a box of abandoned kittens, which is promptly scooped up by a hobo-looking fellow in a clunker. Instead of tracking down the HORRIBLE ASSHOLES who thought tossing kittens into a garbage pile was an okay idea, Artemis goes after the rescuer instead. Because adopting stray animals just screams “Black Moon Clan.”
Artemis follows the man (who turns out to be a down-on-his-luck thief with a heart of gold) back to his junkyard house full of adopted animals, where he meets a fast-talking dog in sunglasses who makes him a part of the gang and sings songs from atop taxi cabs, and oh wait, nope, no, that’s a Disney movie starring Billy Joel. My bad! (Although, let’s be honest, this episode would have been VASTLY improved by musical numbers atop taxi cabs.)
Actually, the man takes the strays back to the Great Animal Kingdom, which is kinda like a cross between an animal shelter and a petting zoo. This would be awesome if it wasn’t also sitting on top of a Dark Point. I think we all know where this is going. Well, except for the part where Droid Dokkuba hypnotizes the animals and it gets a little Pet Sematary up in here. Did NOT see that coming.
Meanwhile, Mako and Ami see Artemis heading into the Kingdom and report back to the rest of the Moonies. Convinced that he ran away because of Luna’s teasing, the scouts guilt her into going after him and apologizing. She arrives just in time to find him escaping a pack of demon animals, but she can’t stop making fun of him long enough to say she’s sorry for making fun of him, and he runs back into the fray again, ready to prove his worth. Not even an “I was worried about you” (which Luna has to practically drag out of her kitty chest) will stop him from fumbling his way towards glory!
And fumble he does, as he spends the next few minutes getting jumped by kittens, whipped by a droid, and menaced by a monkey who is just there chillin’ for some reason, until Luna fights her way through to his side. “Okay, dude, I get it, you’re a badass! Can we go home now?” she pleads, and busts out KITTY TEARS for MAXIMUM HEARTWARM.
But before they can escape, the droid smacks down Luna. Artemis valiantly steps in front, ready to die a few brief seconds before Luna does, when—surprise! Scouts to the rescue! Usagi and Minako had followed the cats to make sure they nuzzled and made up, and when they saw the fleeing mob of visitors they knew it was time to sailor suit up!
The other scouts soon follow, but things get… weird… when Dokubba tries to, er… adopt them. Yeah. We’ll go with that.
At last sensing his chance to do right by the team, Artemis springs into action, Fury Swiping the droid and giving Usagi enough time to break her collar and halate the monster but good. Then everyone gets to recover by furiously cuddling some animals. Yay animals! And Luna acknowledges Artemis’s courage. Yay Artemis! Fumbling towards glory, just like we knew he would!
Episode 80 – Gossip Girls
Saphir interrupts Esmeraude’s Me Time to remind her that she’s still on the clock, so she hops over to the newest Negative Point, the Cram School for Gifted Students, and floods it with Dark Power. She stations her droid Giwaaku outside to guard the Dark Henge, then pops back into her bubble bath. Delegating! This lady knows how to run a proper business.
The next day at school, Ami’s getting some major shade thrown her way about her top test scores, but she’s all:
At least, until those gifted cram school students (led by Umino) start telling everyone that Ami cheated on her test. “After all, she’s always hanging out with Usagi, who is dumb, so therefore Ami must be dumb, too,” they say, proving that their cram school has yet to teach them about logical fallacies.
Usagi and Naru defend Ami, and then Makoto shows up and friggin’ DEFENDS Ami, judo-flipping a trio of jealous haters (and while Ami/Ryo is still very much my OTP, if I had to pick a second ‘ship for my Best Girl to board, well… let’s just say I wouldn’t be too upset if Ami aced tests just like the guy who broke Mako’s heart).
Ami continues to tell everyone to:
But Usagi and Mako can tell that she’s upset. The rumors follow her out of school and down the street, until Ami’s composure finally breaks and she flees into an alley, drops her bag, pulls her knees to her chest and ohhhh, dear, there go my feelings.
Before I can figure out a way to jump through my monitor and hug a cartoon character, Ami remembers that Usa and Mako believe her, and it gives her strength to keep going. And not just keep going—to DEDUCE! After all, Umino might be a gossip, but he’s not a mean gossip, so there’s a good chance somethin’ eeeevil is afoot.
Ami heads over to the cram school in question, which sets her sailor senses a-tingling so hard that she immediately transforms and calls in for backup. Droid Giwaaku spots her and uses her infamous Shadow Clone Technique, but Mercury not only owns dem clones, she also quickly figures out that she’s fighting Project LEDA. (And yes, I just made a Naruto reference and an Orphan Blackreference in the same damn sentence. Y’all are welcome.)
So Giwaaku has to bust out her signature move: ULTIMATE SHADE. When the rest of the scouts (sans Moon) arrive to help, Giwaaku hits Ami with a “Hallucination Giwaaku,” so that instead of hearing the girls being nice and supportive, she hears them insulting her clothes and her study habits.
Around this time Usagi shows up (with Luna and Chibs in tow), spots the droid on the roof, and heads up to challenge her. Giwaaku’s hallucinations are useless on Usagi because she’s used to people badmouthing her (it’s funny and sad and helpful all at once!), but her Attack of the Clones works just fine, and Usa’s in a pinch until Tuxedo Mask shows up to…
…Also get his ass kicked. Well okay, then.
Giwaaku turns her attention back to Sailor Mercury, but when Ami replies to her friends’ badmouthing by apologizing (because GAH, THIS GIRL), Giwaaku ups the ante by having the Moonies accuse Ami of cheating on her tests. Unforgivable!
Then, er… well, either Viz mucked up the file or the anime staff was tripping some serious acid while editing the next scene, because it is all OVER the place chronologically. First they’re inside, then outside, then inside again, and then suddenly Usa and Chibs and Luna and Tux are standing next to the other scouts, and the audio keeps matching and then not matching again… Or, hey, maybe Giwaaku’s hallucination powers are just that terrifying. Yeah. That’s what happened, here.
At any rate, we eventually end up outside, where Ami poses like she’s gonna do Shine Aqua Illusion. “That’s right, kill your friends!” cackles Giwaaku. To which Ami replies:
And uses her spell on the droid, busting her antennae and breaking the illusion! Because OF COURSE Ami knew it was a trick, and OF COURSE she wasn’t gonna fall for it! She is Sailorfucking Mercury, and you do NOT! STAND! BETWEEN HER! AND HER FRIENDS!
I mean, okay, technically Usagi halates the droid to defeat it. But Ami! And Friendship! It’s anemotional this-is-Sparta-kick-into-a-pit scene, you guys. HOO-WAH!
“You have such great friends,” says The Tux. “Maybe I should get some of those, too.” Then he vanishes into the night just in time for the cram school students to appear, complimenting Ami on her mad skillz and asking for study tips. Everyone loves Ami again, and all is right with the Mooniverse.
This, That, and the Other
- Minako’s room is beyond adorable. She’s basically padded the walls with plushies, and I heartily approve.
- In a weird, goofy way, I kinda appreciate that there’s a running gag this season about villains getting peed on (Esmeraude gets the fire hydrant treatment twice this week, and An had a baby use her shirt like a diaper in one of the early eps). It’s a silly way to show that their malice makes them “feel wrong,” and the world responds appropriately.
- Most of my notes this week were just me squeeing about Ami in all-caps (100 English words A DAY, people!) and occasionally punctuating these super-deep comments with exclamation points and little hearts. Serious Objective Blogger over here, folks.
- Is there a clever term for “shipping two people as friends”? Because the way they teamed up to fight monsters these past couple weeks combined with how SUPER SAD The Tux sounded when he talked about friends has made me really, really want Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Mercury to become besties. They are my OTBFF.
- Hark! A plot character point! For some reason I’ve decided that Esmeraude is a great character and have taken to analyzing her. This week I realized she uses her villain’s laugh like a shield to hide her insecurities, as she tends to bust it out after she’s lost a battle or when Saphir is chiding her. (She’s also super chill about coworkers wandering into her bathroom, but they still need to GTFO, ‘cause only her boy Demande is allowed to see these jasmine-scented goodies.) She’s fun, is what I’m trying to say, and I’m gonna miss her when she inevitably gets the axe in a few episodes.