It’s time to Sailor Moon Ruin these baddies once and for all.
Since the season finale is basically a recap episode, I opted to knock this last trio out in one fell swoop. I’ll leave my nice, long retrospective for the end, so let’s get right to discussing the whirlwind that was the R climax. Moon Prism Power, Wrap-Up!
Episode 87 – Supply and Demande
The team’s been busy off-camera: Tux has infiltrated the Black Crystal Tower (I guess because his power level isn’t high enough to set off the security system) and the rest of the Moonies are meeting up at Rei’s shrine for a frontal assault. After the scouts wave around a bunch of death flags by promising to definitely not die this time, they suit up and head out.
Meanwhile, inside the castle, Demande wants to know WTF was up with killing Saphir, but Wiseman says it’s NBD, and Demande says it’s def BD but knows they have to focus on The Mission first, so the two decide to table this whole brother murder thing for a later date.
Outside the tower, the cats set off the security system (which REALLY says something about Tuxedo Mask’s power level), as does Sailor Moon, but the gals use their super-special teleportation spell to sneak past the barricade (the cats stay behind, which is how you know its Serious Business Time). Of course Usagi immediately wanders off and falls into an Evil Pitfall and straight into the prince’s lair, where UGH, DEMANDE proceeds to be a creepy bastard once again.
He Third-Eye Blinds Usagi again, demanding a “kiss of allegiance,” a move he attempts roughly 12 times before the episode decides to get the hell on with it and have Usagi shake him off with LOVE POWER. She hits him with one of her most powerful Sailor Speeches about how tyranny is lame and, um, did you ever consider just talking it out, ‘cause we’re actually pretty nice once you get to know us.
Remembering his brother’s last words, Demande wavers and finally tips when Wiseman stupidly pops up and starts issues his own demandes left and right. Hey, only the prince gets to do that! It’s, like, his name and everything! Clearly there’s only one way we can resolve this: BAD GUY FIGHT!
This goes pretty well until Wiseman opts to attack USAGI instead, and she has to bust out her special power: Pulling the nearest Y chromosome in front of her to act as a human shield. I call it “Moon Magnetism”! Demande just calls it “ow.”
Despite doing a really good porcupine impression, Demande still manages to blast Wiseman into dust before collapsing into Usagi’s arms. As Wiseman’s onyx ball floats all ominously (“TURN AROUND, USAGI!” I shouted more than once), Demande admits that all he ever wanted was for his clan to live in a nice neighborhood for once.
Usagi promises to look after his clan for him, and Demande dies. I am (somehow) a little bummed about this, but too busy screaming “TURN AROUND, USAGI!” to feel much more than that, because Wiseman has regenerated and, sure enough, he sneaks up behind Usagi and gets his gross hands all over her neck.
He hits her with his MINDTAKING, trying to convince her to give in to despair like he did Chibiusa by showing her images of everyone abandoning her and EW WUT MAMORU MAKING OUT WITH HIS DAUGHTER?! The obvious response to this is, of course:
But Usagi just goes “PSSSH whatevs I know that would never happen” and busts through the illusion like it ain’t no thang. 10 Points to Hufflepuff!
Once she’s won the moral victory, it’s time for Tux and the scouts to show up to help her win the physical one. But this might take some doing, as the Dark Gate is open and picking up all kinds of bad vibrations—and the one guarding this portal is none other than NegaChibs herself. On to the next ass kicking!
Episode 88 – Back to the Future
Wiseman has gone Full Mustache Twirl at this point, and NegaChibs is more than willing to help him destroy the universe by acting as the conduit for the Malefic Black Crystal’s power. This will kill her, but seeing as how it’s going to kill everything, Chibs doesn’t much mind.
Then the first half of the episode is basically Chibiusa’s Canon in D(ammit!) Minor, as the Moonies beg her to wake up, she almost does, Wiseman yammers at her, she goes Nega again, rinse and repeat with slight variations. Eventually Usagi (clad in her Neo Royal Robes) and Mamoru jump into the Crystal Twister (Cryster?) and remind Chibiusa that not every day is great, but hey, remember all those good ones, too? Usagi uses her magic words (“you’re not alone”) and Chibs finally returns to normal. Hooray! Now we can get back to wrecking this Wiseman yahoo!
Unfortunately the Dark Gate is still open and using the Silver Crystal burns a lotta calories, but nobody has a granola bar, so Usagi has to power through the fatigue to face down Wiseman. She cranks up the Princess Power to 11 again, triggering some rockin’ ’90s anime music. This gets the whole team pumped, especially Chibiusa, who at last acknowledges her own responsibility/guilt in this whole mess. She weeps for her failures—and, as we all learned last season, everyone keeps their Silver Crystals in their tears.
The mystery of the missing future crystal is at last solved, and the team gets a big boost of Moon energy in the process. The scouts combine their powers with the two Crystals and GLOW THIS SHIT DOWN, taking out Wiseman and destroying the Dark Gate in one fell boom. But power comes with a steep price, and as the smoke clears we discover that…
…everyone’s fine, actually. Well J/K, then! Power is free and awesome! Use it more, you crazy bunnies, you!
With the future saved, it’s time for Chibiusa to return to her time line. She says her goodbyes to the girls, including a genuinely “awww”-inducing farewell with Usagi.
Chibiusa contacts Doctor Puu and uses her key to zip back to the future, where the scouts and both her parents (yay!) are waiting to welcome her home. And so the sun shines on the Tokyo of present and future (past and present?) as we come to the end of our second major aRc.
Episode 89 – A Sailor Moon Retrospective
The animators rested their weary wrists with a clip show, so I figured I’d use this space to talk overall impressions and thoughts now that we’ve come to the end of R and what is functionally the halfway point of the series.
First, let the record show that I really enjoyed the Ailian Arc, as it felt like a logical extension of the themes and ideas from the first season (particularly those about love) and featured a lot of amusing episodes, some solid character development for “everyday living” Mamoru (I actually likedhim this arc!), and a great pair of complex, sympathetic antagonists. Looking back over R as a whole, it’s possible the first 13 episodes were even my favorite of the series, despite the sad lack of Tux and the shafting of Ami’s character (you just HAD to take up an entire episode by stealing a baby, didn’t you, Mamo-chan?). But enjoyable as it was, it wasn’t really the focus of R, and so I’ll be spending the bulk of this post on the Black Moon Arc.
And it was… uneven, I’d say. The actual story was far more detailed and developed than that of the first season, expanding the Mooniverse and its mythology, forcing the scouts to react to new environments, and bringing in a slew of antagonists who—while never as likeable as Zoisite—were more than just pure-evil villains standing in a row waiting for the scouts to knock ‘em down. They had sympathetic and understandable goals (sorry Metalia, but “destroy the world” is about as boring as it gets), and the clash of the Black Moon’s ideology with that of the scouts’ made for some of the best character and story beats. All good things.
The problem was that, when R took breaks from that plot (and it did, often), it was never quite as enjoyable or charming as the first season at its best. Barring a few exceptions, its character episodes often felt like rehashes of past stories, which made the scouts’ character growth stagnate (particularly poor Makoto and Minako, who really didn’t have much to do during the Black Moon eps). At the risk of repeating myself, I think the way this season dropped a lot of its Season One recurring cast hurt a lot of the “daily life” story lines as well (seriously, where the hell has Motoki been?), and the new season didn’t do much to introduce or develop new characters to take their places.
Granted, Doctor Puu—okay, FINE, I’ll call her Sailor Pluto, but just this once!—was cool, but she’s basically a plot device, and we didn’t see enough of her to get a feel for her personality or really care about her. (I confess that most of my personal investment in her is due to the intricate Doctor Who head-canon I’ve crafted along the way. Time lords make everything more fun.) Which is a shame, because one of the great strengths of Sailor Moon was how much I liked hanging out with its cast, and I didn’t enjoy that nearly as much this season.
As for our core couple… well, I’ve made my opinions on the way this season has handled its romantic elements (particularly That Damn Breakup Subplot) vividly clear throughout my posts, so no reason to go on a Sailor Moon Rant here again. Suffice to say it left much to be desired, especially when you compare it to some of the wonderful romance-focused episodes of the first season (I miss you so much, Ryo. You too, Rhett Butler).
But then again, Sailor Moon R wasn’t about the scouts, or even Mamoru, but about a pair of Usagis. First, there was Sailor Moon, who overcame a lot of early immaturity and grew into her role not only as a steadfast and genuinely courageous white mage, but also as a compassionate person able to empathize with and reach out to a scared, sad little girl in her darkest hours.
Which, of course, brings us to Chibiusa. She began as a spoiled, headstrong brat who never trusted nobody nor took blame for nothin’, and finished as… well, a Small Lady, who found the courage to trust others AND accept responsibility for her actions. I complained about her a lot, I know, and I can’t say I ever particularly liked her, but I often sympathized with her, and I do appreciate the work that went into developing her character over the course of the season.
So where do I stand at the end of R? Well, fortunately the season finished on a strong string of plot- and antagonist-focused episodes, so I’m mostly positive about it. There aren’t many episodes that stand out as all that memorable on their own—and there was nothing nearly as fun as that glorious Seven Great Pocket Monsters mini-arc from the first season—but the scouts have learned more about themselves, Usagi has grown as a person and a princess, and Mamoru has… uh… not been stabbed as often?… so I’d say it was time mostly well-spent. Plus now we get to start up S, and I have it on several good authorities that it’s the high point of the series. Onwards, Mooninites, to the next Sailor Moon Season!
(And yes, the “S” puns will be coming fast and furious. So Sailor Moon Strap yourselves in for that one, gang.)
This, That, and the Other
- Why do the scouts keep changing out of their uniforms between episodes? Is there a time limit? If you’re idle for 30 minutes, do they go into Sleep Mode?
- “Let’s protect peace and eat cake!” is officially my new rallying cry.
- Before Usagi headed to battle, Naru swung by to wish her luck in totally not saving the world from evil because she’s totally not Sailor Moon, WINK WINK. I like that the implication here is that everyone kinda knows (because, um, have you seen their costumes?) but they’re polite enough not to say anything about it. Usa has good friends.
- Usagi solemnly swore to look after Demande’s people, a plot point which was promptly forgotten and never mentioned again. I like to believe she said something to Chibiusa off-screen, like “Hey, tell Future Me to quit being a dick and pardon the Black Moon Clan already.” Yeah. We’ll go with that.
- GueSSing GameS: The “S” stands for Sequel! Saga! Stars! Smackdown! “Class S”! Yeahhh, that could be it. If memory of a couple dubbed episodes on Toonami serves, there ARE a pair of incestuous cousins about to join the cast, after all…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rock out to “La Soldier” for another couple hours. See you again in Season Three!