It’s ‘bout to get Sailor Moon SuperSurreal up in here.
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.
Episode 128 – The Greatest SuperShow on Earth
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…
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.
…Sorry. Deep breaths. I’ll reign it in.
(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!
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.
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
…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.
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…
Episode 129 – My Little Ponies
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.
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…
…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!
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.