I spy with my little eye… two new recurring characters!
Four episodes in and it’s already Sailor Moon Shaping up to be a more fun season than the last one. With the plot little more than a vague outline at this point, it’s important that SM be able to let its characters wander around and goof off and just be entertaining together. And boy, did they manage to do that this week.
The series seems to have gotten a better grasp on its sense of humor (and goofy facial expressions) again, and the introduction of Haruka and Michiru (the coolest cats in town) has already injected the “slice of life” scenes with extra energy, allowing for new character interactions and (hopefully) dynamic development for both them and our old cast members further down the road. Another huge recent bonus: Mamoru’s actually become a likable member of the cast, playing the role of hapless straight man and supportive boyfriend to boot.
I lamented at the end of R that I didn’t enjoy the “everyone just hanging out” episodes as much, and so far that is very much not the case with S. Fingers crossed we can keep this trend going well into the coming weeks, because this is the Sailor Moon that charmed me during season one, and it’s a joy to see it back.
Episode 92 – Juuban Drift
Who needs entrance exams when you have arcade games to play and hotties to chase? That’s the logic Minako and Usagi follow this week, as Usa passes by the GameCen (so it DIDN’T burn down last season!) and spies Mina chatting with Motoki (so he DIDN’T burn down last season!).
The two decide to take a break from studying so they can play the “Good Driving” racing game, but their down time gets interrupted by flower petals and the coolest short-haired character in the series (sorry, Tux). The gals are positive this is a hawt dude, but I’m not so sure, and Professor Oak isn’t around to awkwardly ask.
So it remains unclear.
Although the real answer is: Who cares? ‘Cause either way, this person (Tenoh Haruka) is the Capital-C Coolest, owning Minako at the racing game, chillin’ at coffee shops with a lovely lady (Kaioh Michiru) who may-or-may-not be their girlfriend, and peekin’ under car hoods like they’re checkin’ to see if it’s systematic, hydromatic, automatic, or even GREASED LIGHTNIN’! (And yes, everything I know about cars I learned from Grease. Don’t you judge me!)
Incidentally, we know all this about Haruka because Minako and Usagi have decided to stalk them, seeing as how Haruka is definitely Mina’s “ideal guy” and Usa is “interested in him,” too. Mamoru who, now?
Haruka spots them, Michiru joins them, and the four have a pleasantly amusing chat about how Michiru may-or-may-not-be Haru’s girlfriend, and how Haru’s apparently a massive flirt. (Just in case the rose petal introduction didn’t give it away.) We also learn about Haru’s old dream to join the race circuit, which has since been replaced by the ambiguous but incredibly cool “Something Only I Can Do” Dream. But, for now, Haru still likes to come down to Mr. Kameda’s shop and check out the race cars he works on.
And speaking of race cars, this one is SUPER possessed. Our Evil Reused Animation Scientists planted a Daimon Egg in it, and it hatches into… er, I think the new monster’s name is “Speeding”? Or possibly “Vroom vroom”? Either way, she makes mean sound effects.
Haruka and Michiru run off, Usagi and Minako slip on some oil and end up in a pile of boxes, and Vroomy takes off with Mr. Kameda’s heart in hand.
Which is when Haru ramps up the coolness SO MUCH that even the animation has to improve to keep up, as our two newcomers give chase on Haru’s bike, riding up the embankment and jumping right on top of Vroomy. ‘Cause Haru don’t care ‘bout no irreparable brain and spine damage!
This gives Sailors Moon and Venus time to catch up and bust out some catchphrases. They also get a helping hand from our Mysterious Duo, who show their faces for the first time and SURE SEEM FAMILIAR, HMMM.
They introduce themselves as Sailors Uranus (gold) and Neptune (green), scouts “from a new era,” and bust out their signature “World Shaking” and “Deep Submerge” combo attack (I prefer the name “Tsunami Bomb,” personally). Once Vroomy’s down to its last few HP, Usa force-feeds it a bunch of pork rinds and gives it a Heart Attack, freeing up Uranus and Neptune to inspect the latest stolen heart.
Un(?)fortunately, there’s no talisman here, either. So the two toss it back to Sailor Moon, asking her to give it back to its owner before they vanish into the distance. BUT WHOEVER COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE.
Later, Usa and Mina get a tongue-lashing from the study-buddies they ditched, and everyone officially gets to meet the lovely Michiru and the too-cool-for-school Haruka, who shows up with her school jacket thrown too-coolly-for-school…ly over one shoulder. And yes, without her jacket on, she is pretty definitely a biological “she.”
“I never said I was a guy, you know,” she reminds them (which I s’pose means she could be considered non-binary, but she seems pretty cool about the whole “girl” thing, so we’ll go ahead and tick that second box on Professor Oak’s survey for now). Mina mourns the significant other she was never going to be cool enough for anyway, Usagi reminds us that she ALWAYS liked Mamoru more (surrrre ya did, Usa-chan), and Ami does not have time for this shit. There are EXAMS to study for, you guys! So immature.
Episode 93 – Playing on the Heartstrings
Usagi is having a bad case of the insecurities this week, a condition brought on by an impromptu visit to Mamoru’s. She brought him some adorably bunny-shaped (and only slightly burnt) cookies, but when she waltzes in to his empty apartment (lock your door, you fool, there are Death Busters on the loose!), she gets assaulted by classical music and textbooks with names like Future Analysis of Genetic Engineering, which leads her to believe he “deserves better” than her burnt cookies.
Mamoru, still trying to get back in my good graces after that moronic break-up subplot, earns himself some brownie points by walking in on his sobbing girlfriend and being all:
Then he eats ALL of the burnt cookies and assures her that she’s fine just the way she is. Mamoru, you are an okay dude.
But Usa’s not so sure she IS fine the way she is, and so the next day she tries to conscript the rest of the girls into her “Bridal Training,” where she’ll learn genetics from Ami, kimono-wearing from Rei, cooking from Makoto, and English from Mina. While my eyebrow twitches at the phrase “bridal training,” I do kind of appreciate that Usagi’s idea of leveling up involves a wide variety of studies instead of only traditional domestic duties. I just wish she’d admit that she’s doing these things for herself rather than out of fear that Mamoru will one day break up with her. (And since he straight-up told her that it’s not a problem for him, I kind of think she IS doing this for herself, even if she hasn’t realized it yet.)
At any rate, Ami’s all ready to start offering study advice, but the others remind Usa that they’ve tried this before and it never sticks, and all take their leave. Usa’s left to wander the park sadly, until she stumbles upon Michiru playing the violin and Haruka expositioning all over the orchestra pit. They stop discussing Pertinent Information They Both Already Know (more on that later) just as Usagi walks up, gushes over those mad violin skillz, and officially shifts her crush from Haruka to Michiru.
Then there’s a violemon dance, and it’s even cooler than the motorcycle race.
Haruka leaves to go “clear her head,” so Michiru takes Usagi to a local art gallery where they bond over how neither knows what they want to do with their lives. We also discover Michiru is a brilliant painter whose work turns up in galleries. Show-off.
Later, while scarfing down on endless parfaits (does that mean they’re all dating now?), Usagi admits to both Haru and Michi that she’s trying to become more “ladylike” and just can’t seem to do it. Michiru’s impressed by her efforts and gives her a pair of tickets to a violin concert that night. Time to put on your fancy pants, Moonies!
Usa, Mamoru, and the gals go to the recital (Michiru and Haruka check out Usa’s main squeeze from their own private box, and wow, somehow that entire sentence just sounds filthy), but the show is ruined when the performer’s violin turns into Octave, who may just be my favorite monster yet.
Using her Wicked Opera Voice, she knocks out the normies in the audience, chases the (now transformed) scouts outside, paralyzes them with sound waves, and even creates a MUSIC LASER BEAM from nothing but her vibrating vocal cords. And all while giving her itchy belly a good scratch, too!
When the going gets tough, the tough… get help from the local antiheroes? Yes, our two newcomers (Twocomers?) are here to help with the battle, although they’re not going to tell you anything about their goals, ‘cause that would be too easy, and not antiheroic at ALL, they’ll have you know.
While the rest of the scouts are busy trying to figure out whether to put Uranus and Neptune in the good or bad guy camp, Sailor Moon is doing her damn job and realizes Octave is revving up to attack Neptune. So Usa uses her Super Dodge Powers to do a gal a solid.
And oh snap, Daimon, you messed with the WRONG uneasy alliance! Uranus knocks Octave for a spin and Usagi stuffs a Baconator down her throat—a fast-track to a Heart Attack if ever there was one. But once again there’s no talisman here, so the Twocomers take their leave and return the heart to its owner personally this time. This gets them stamped solidly in Usagi’s Good Guy Book, and ain’t nothin’ the others can say to change her mind.
And so the night continues, with the concert cut short but Mamoru treating everyone to a delicious meal, and Haruka and Michiru looking on, just charmed to death by their new friends. I feel the same way about OUR new friends, too.
This, That, and the Other
- Okay, fan theory on why Minako’s become progressively less responsible since she joined the team: She was the only scout for a long time, and she had to do all the monster-fighting on her own, so she was completely wrapped up in her job and didn’t have time to be a normal girl. Then she met the gals and slowly started to loosen up. And finally, now that Usagi’s proven herself as a responsible and dedicated leader, Mina’s at last letting herself get out all that childhood goofiness she couldn’t experience while she was Sailor Vigilante-ing across the word. Hm. Yeah. I think this reading of her character really works for me, actually.
- Despite all her crushing this week, even in the middle of Haruka’s Unreasonably Cool Future Dreams Speech, Usagi still thought Mamoru was cooler. She is wrong, but that’s how we know it’s love.
- I’m having a hard time coming up with a snappy couple name for Haruka and Michiru, although I do appreciate that you can fit Michiru’s name inside Haruka’s (”Hamichiruka”). What’s the proper ‘shippin’ term for these two, gang? ‘Cause they’re sure as shootin’ not cousins, I can tell you that much.
- Idioms, By Minako: “Slow dancing wins the race.” This could very well become a regular feature this season.
- Hark! A plot point! Our new scouts only have “a few memories” from their past lives, but what they DO know is that they need to find the Holy Grail and give it to its “rightful owner.” Of course, this does mean snatching talismans out of three hearts, which also means three people are going to die—but hey! Small price for saving the world, right? Right? They’re still TOTALLY good guys, right? …Right?