Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 128-129

It’s ‘bout to get Sailor Moon SuperSurreal up in here.

Screenshot_2015-08-04-14-44-53

The comments after last week’s S finale were almost entirely about how divisive this new season is among fans, which oddly enough made me even MORE stoked to watch it. Where will I fall on the SuperScale? Will I enjoy this arc warts and all? Or despise it with the fires of a thousand suns?

Well, I’m only two episodes in, but I can already see why it’s polarizing, given the sudden jump into surreal, dreamlike fantasy worlds and characters (as opposed to past seasons’ sciency-magic), the focus on Chibiusa, and the… shall we say not untroubling nature of the way villains attack their targets. (Which, BT-dubs: Content Warning for some sexual assault implications and imagery. It’s not literal, but the “dream invasion” stuff with Tiger is Sailor Moon Super unSettling, and some of my screenshots and commentary will touch on that.)

That said, I LOVE me some surreal, dreamlike fantasy worlds, Chibiusa’s pretty likable at this point, and the villains’ attacks won’t bother me unless it turns out to be gratuitous rather than serving some seasonal thematic purpose. Not to mention I’ve been grumbling for Season One’s recurring characters to make a, well, recurrence for the past like 75 episodes, and lo and behold! they’ve come roaring back. Bonus points for that one!

Plus. You know. CIRCUS MOTIFS. Excuse me while I drool all over my keyboard.

The Recaps

Episode 128 – The Greatest SuperShow on Earth

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The first ten or so minutes of this one are a mad visual feast, starting with Chibiusa’s beautiful dream sequence starring a mysterious talking Pegasus. No wait, a unicorn. No wait, both. Alicorn! He’s got his own set of Moon Disco Powers, hence why I called him “DiscoHorse” in my notes, but, pfft, surely I can come up with a better nickname than that. We’ll work on it.

DiscoHorse asks Chibs to keep their meeting a secret, right before Usagi shakes her awake her so they can go on an eclipse-viewing date with the gals, Mamoru, and HEYYY, Motoki and Unazuki, welcome back! Always a relief to know our recurring normies didn’t die in the last wave of apocalyptic destruction!

Unazuki’s been staying out late and getting into teenage shenanigans, but there’ll be time to discuss that later—for now, it’s time to meet the baddies who just rode in on the last eclipse, and they’re…

OH.

Screenshot_2015-08-04-14-37-10

FUCK.

Screenshot_2015-08-04-14-38-07

YES.

Screenshot_2015-08-04-14-38-35

THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN, WHY DID NONE OF YOU NERDS TELL ME THE CIRCUS WAS GOING TO BE IN TOWN, MY HEART WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THIS MUCH JOY.

giddy - liz lemon

…Sorry. Deep breaths. I’ll reign it in.

giddy

(I really like circus settings, you guys.)

The Circus gets a Fabulous freaking MAX introductory scene, full of eye-catching character designs and imagery over a pitch-black background and off-kilter BGM, and filled with cynical philosophizing about how humanity doesn’t “care about anything beyond their own rooms.” Along the way, we meet the show, their Ringmaster Madame Zirconia, and her Top Minions, the Ringling Brothers Amazon Trio: Tiger’s Eye, Fish’s Eye, and Hawk’s Eye. And look, they’re color-coded for our convenience!

Silverfish, Bengold tiger, and sHAWKing pink.

Silverfish, Bengold tiger, and sHAWKing pink.

The plot: Destroy the wHOA WAIT NOPE, new villains, new priorities. These guys’ll be taking OVER the world, and to do so they need to take advantage of the “once-in-centuries chance” to capture “him.” Only problem is that “he” has taken refuge in beautiful dreams, so the team has to track down people with beautiful dreams and then get all up in them dreams to see if “he” is hiding there. “He,” of course, is Chibiusa’s new alicorn friend… Peggy Corner? Ehhh, but it’s a boy alicorn, so maybe not. We’ll keep trying.

Tiger’s up to bat first, and the guy is a major Akio-level creeper, spouting strategies straight out of one of those gross pick-up artist playbooks. He hones in on Unazuki because she’s “his type,” and also perhaps because he can sense insecurity. She confides in Usagi and Chibiusa that there’s a boy in her pendant, but he’s “not her boyfriend” and she’s not really sure what they are. Chibs encourages her to stop waiting around and “get on her own white horse and find prince charming,” and ma-haaan is this ever an Ikuhara-directed episode.

"Trust me on this one, Unazuki. I have seen some shit."

“Trust me on this one, Unazuki. I have seen some shit.”

Cut to that night, when Tiger stalks Unazuki off the bus and goes after her dreams. Luckily Chibs and Usagi were out trying to find a magical dream-pond, so they hear her anguished screams and can suit up to take out their latest enemy.

Tiger calls on a Lemures to fight for him because ARE YOU KIDDING ME, THEY’RE NOT JUST A CIRCUS, THEY’RE A MUTHAFUGGIN GHOST CIRCUS, HOW COULD THIS GET ANY MORE

fangirl - foam at mouth pass out

…So yeah, there’s great music and some more Fabulous Max art design as the scouts fight a creepy dead automaton with detachable body parts (HNNGH, just leave me here to drown in coolness). Meanwhile, Tiger decides to kill Unazuki because, even though Twilight Sparkle (nah, too easy) isn’t in her dreams, he can’t leave any beautiful dreams in the world lest the alicorn camp out in them at a later date.

Then Tuxedo Mask shows up so he and Tiger can throw shade at each other, which ends in Tux frantically trying to come up with a catchphrase to prove he’s cooler than he looks.

*voice cracks*

*voice cracks*

But despite The Tux’s best DUELING!cane action, Tiger gets them right where he wants them… until the alicorn appears to dump a bucket of glitter on Usagi and Chibiusa and turn them into Super Moons! They use a new long-distance attack to “stage out” the Lemure, and Tiger opts to retreat.

The alicorn vanishes again, as do the gals’ Super forms. Usagi and Mamoru are like “I’ve seen some weird stuff but this might just take the cake,” and as much as Chibs wants to tell them about her dream, she remembers the alicorn’s request for secrecy and keeps mum. So, for now, it looks like Chibiusa and her new friend will be confined to private nighttime outings only.

Sparkly, immortal, AND he watches you while you sleep? I’VE GOT IT. Ladies and gents, our magical new friend shall henceforth be known as…

PEGWARD CULLEN.

i regret nothing - regularshow

Episode 129 – My Little Ponies

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While the rest of Cirque du Ombre gossips about Tiger’s failure, our Minion Trio talks it out in their favorite seedy bar. The dynamic between these three is already pretty entertaining, as Fish might have a crush on Tiger while Hawk is just like “Ugh, y’all are SO unprofessional,” but for the moment we’re stuck focusing on Creepy McTigerpants, who’s got his eyes on a local equestrian named REIKA!?

That’s right, team—after disappearing to Africa for a solid 100 episodes, Motoki’s girlfriend Reika is back and more awesome than ever, because she ALSO rides horses! The Moonies sort of stumble across her training (and sucking at it), so they pop in so she can reveal her complex troubles to a bunch of girls she met once. Those troubles? She’s just too damn awesome, as her research in Africa was such a hit that folks are begging her to study at a university in Europe. Only problem: It’s a ten-year(!?) commitment, and ever since she told Motoki about it, he’s refused to see her.

Ever the earnest Cupids, Usagi and Minako vow to find out why Motoki’s being such a poop, but he takes none-too-kindly to their butting into his business and leaves in a huff.

“GAWD, now I remember why I wrote myself out of this show in the first place.”

“GAWD, now I remember why I wrote myself out of this show in the first place.”

Ami points out that maybe they should be focusing on this new enemy of theirs instead, but c’mon, who’s got time for that?

Chibiusa, turns out, albeit in a roundabout way. She’s been spending a lot of time with Reika and her horse and listening to her concerns, which mainly amount to worrying that Motoki thinks she’s being selfish and hates her for it. Chibs wonders if physical distance and emotional distance are connected, or worse, inevitable—and given how far she is from her parents and her BFF, it’s no wonder this weighs heavy on her.

But enough philosophizing. There are monsters to fight! Tiger canters his way into Reika’s life and gets her to open up to him (because if there’s one thing Reika loves, it’s baring her soul to near-strangers), which is when things get a little…

SAILOR MOON SUPERSUBTLE IMAGERY!

SAILOR MOON SUPERSUBTLETY!

…Well, things get a little that. Chibiusa transforms and calls Tiger out for being a raging asshole and the rest of the Moonies arrive to back her up, but Tiger just shrieks his amazingly high-pitched laugh and summons a new Lemures to handle things. The Lemures wipes the floor with ‘em until Pegward appears to SuperSailor the Moons again, and we already know how that formula goes.

Okay, awful predatory villain defeated (and thank heavens Reika has no memory of Tiger mind-molesting her)—time to get back to the relationship stuff! The gals approach Motoki again, only this time Mamoru’s there as well (back from his college seminar) to be like “Dude, just tell them why you won’t see Reika and they’ll leave you alone.” Look at you, Mamo-chan, learning from your past mistakes!

Motoki explains that he doesn’t want Reika to give up her dreams because of him, which is why he won’t see her until she’s decided what she wants to do. And lo and behold, they had Reika lurking behind the cafe counter, listening in on the whole thing!

“Motoki, you are clearly shit at communicating so this long-distance thing is doomed, but at least I know you care!”

“Motoki, you are clearly shit at communicating so this long-distance thing is doomed… but at least I know you care!”

Chibiusa’s certain things will work out between them as long as they reeeeeally love each other. While it’s an overly idealized sentiment to end on, it’s also a very Sailor Moon sentiment to end on, and it’s hard for me to fault the series for staying true to itself.

This, That, and the Other

  • And suddenly my continued insistence that the “vampires” in Twilight are actually blood-drinking unicorns seems a lot more reasonable.
  • Tux got a catchphrase AND Chibiusa got her own transformation sequence? Look at our Moonie Groupies, leveling up like actual team members!
  • This episode aired in early 1995, meaning that Reika has had time to spend a decade in Europe, return to Japan, and spend another decade in Japan. In other news, I AM SO OLD.
  • Hark! A plot point! Pegward speaks of a “Crystal Forest” that’s weeping and asks for Chibiusa to help him. Not sure what this forest has to do with the traveling Carnalval, but put a pin in it, as I’m sure we’ll be coming back to it later.
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10 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 128-129

  1. [Mild spoilers for SuperS general story outline below]

    So, I have a few theories as to why this season is so divisive:

    1) No outer senshi; This one is pretty baffling, and was probably even more frustrating back when it first aired. How can you introduce 3 interesting and powerful characters and just yank them away from us the next season? Also, what the hell is going to happen to Hotaru? You mean you’re not going to tell us? Boo! I should mention that the Outer Senshi ARE in the Dream Arc of the manga.
    2) Speaking of that, this anime adaptation is wildly different from the manga; Now, obviously, the anime adaptations have always been pretty different from the manga, but in this season especially
    3) Focus on Chibiusa; Although I like her enough at this point, for some people, they still have R Chibiusa burned into their brains; that makes this season a hard sell. Also, that makes a lot of the lessons and messages seem very childish (as you mentioned about episode 129, the message was a little too sentimental and cheesy; you can expect a lot of that this season)
    4) Filler. This season is the most guilty out of all five in having way too much filler vs. plot heavy episodes. In fact, don’t expect the plot to move very much at all until near the end of the season.
    5) Following S; If you ask Sailor Moon fans which season is the best, I’m willing to bet that it will be split about 60/40 between S and Stars. Well, SuperS has the unfortunate fate of being sandwiched in between, and it just doesn’t compare

    That said, I like this season, at least more than I like R (my least favorite season). It’s probably the funniest season, it has my favorite villains, better designed monsters of the day, my favorite Sailor Moon transformation and attack, and it’s overall the best looking season as far as animation and art design go. I’ll be interested to see what your final opinion is once this is all over.

    Like

    • Hey, just a quick reminder that I’d prefer we not get too spoiler-y on these comments. Avoid specific details (which you did, so thanks!) and tag vague ones with a spoiler notice (I added one to your original post, btw). It doesn’t really bother me, but I want to be respectful to other newbie SM readers who might not want to know anything about the upcoming season, even which recurring characters make an appearance or where the general focus of the season lies.

      I’ve been super(S) lax about this with everyone up to this point because, like I said, it doesn’t really bother me as long as there are no specific plot details revealed, but site traffic on these posts has gone up in recent weeks and I figure I should probably, y’know, actually enforce some of my comment policies for once. ^^;

      Anyway, please don’t think I’m yelling at you or anything. It’s no worries, just something to keep in mind for the future. ^_^ Thanks!

      Like

  2. Chibiusa x Pegasus isn’t that creepy in the manga since manga-Chibi is actually 900+ years old (no, I’m not making this up… she is as old as she appears to be in the anime though).

    And oh yes, the Amazon Trio, one of the most interesting minion groups of SM as a whole. It should be noted that all of them are homosexual in the manga (Naoko calls them “the Okama Trio” in an artbook) but Tiger’s Eye and Hawk’s Eye were turned straight in the anime.

    Like

  3. *sip* So is….this the part where I bring up that there is toooooooootally a great crossover fic where the Amazon Trio goes Dream Hunting in Night Vale? Because it exists. And it made my whole year.
    (Also hey, Fish! I missed you, you almost filled the Zoisite-shaped hole in my heart).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Man, I love the Internet. I’d ask you to send me the link but I haven’t heard a word of Night Vale so it wouldn’t make any sense to me. I’ve heard great things about it but I’m incapable of focusing on podcasts. If my eyes aren’t engaged, my brain gets bored, and since I don’t have time to draw comics (and don’t have to commute to work) anymore I don’t really have an “eyes only” activity I could do while listening to the shows. Maybe some day they’ll make a TV or comic series or something and I’ll actually be able to get into it with everyone.

      Like

      • *requisite gasping noises* I get that – personally I play Angry Birds/some simple mobile game while I listen (I really cannot recommend it enough of course, and I will, in depth, should you so desire). I’m going to make sad podcast eyes at you while reluctantly acknowledging that it is Your Life, and your Choices and Likes are Valid (and hoooooooomygod is it one of my favorite things ever)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Deelight says:

    So now you know. Now you know why this season is a cherished one for me because- well, Pegasus! As an adult I don’t squee much, but I will now!

    Also to piggy-back off what Carlos said above, this season also has my fav. villains, climatic battle, and filler episodes. Granted, one of the weaker points is that it feels like the Chibi-Usa Show. I mean, the girl has already had two seasons dedicated to her- why does she need another?

    This season was also where the English dubers didn’t really know what to do. Like Zoisite they changed both Fish Eye and Madam Zirconia’s gender. Fish Eye became a girl and Zirconia became a old man. And that’s a Moon ROCK FACT! (Get it? I hope you’ve watched Over the Garden Wall otherwise that joke just failed.)

    Like

    • “As an adult you don’t squee much,” PFFFT OKAY, SURE. Lines like that might work on your online-only friends, but I’ve seen the fanning hands, you ain’t foolin’ nobody here.

      And that’s… so weird of the English dubbers. Why would you need to change Zirconia’s gender? I get the other switches in a “wow US TV was/is homophobic” kind of way, but that one doesn’t even seem necessary. Stuff like this just makes me happier that I avoided the original dub altogether.

      In other news, I really need to get back to OtGW and actually finish it. I really like what I’ve seen, I just never seem to remember I have it downloaded and keep forgetting to watch it.

      Like

  5. [Mild spoilers for SuperS general story outline below]

    (I hope the bolding worked orz. I apologize in advance if it didn’t.)

    I actually really like the early “Attack-of-the-week” episodes because they tend to focus on returning recurring characters, but after a certain point they focus heavily on characters of the week that aren’t as interesting or developed as ones in past seasons (hell, some are downright unlikeable and I found myself rooting for the villains to kill them – particularly the ones Fisheye interacts with).

    Episodes like these also remind me how much I miss the early season recurring characters which added so much to the everyday lives of the characters, and makes it seem less like they’re all living in some kind of bubble.

    Also, a couple of minor technical notes to file away:

    1) Do you remember Chibiusa’s friend Momoko Momohara? She appeared in R and S briefly and she returns here but with her hair color changed to more closely resemble her manga design. And she appears more frequently as a recurring character alongside Kyuusuke Sarashina and they serve a similar function for Chibusa that Naru and Umino served for Usagi in season 1.

    2) In between episodes episodes 131 and 132, there is a three-part OVA special (that probably won’t be streamed on hulu unfortunately) that are some of my favorite segments of the season. One of them serves to help reintroduce Momoko and Kyuusuke to the audience and adapts a manga short story, and another features the only appearance* this season of Haruka and Michiru and explains what they’re up to. (*Unless you count the SuperS film which is a continuity nightmare). If you get the opportunity to later I highly recommend you watch this.

    Like

    • The bolding worked just fine, and thanks for using it! ^_^

      I remember Momoko but I didn’t notice her in the episodes. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the new design. The OVAs sound interesting, so hopefully Viz will re-release those as well. If nothing else maybe they’ll throw them on the DVD box set and I’ll be able to snag a rental copy someplace.

      Agreed about the recurring characters – it was so great to see Motoki, Unazuki, and Reika this week, and I’m looking forward to more little stories like that, for sure.

      Like

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