True to its circus motifs, SuperS is performing a delicate balancing act.
There is something decidedly odd about the tone of this season. It’s not bad, it’s just sort of… dissonant, I guess? There’s a lightheartedness to it that’s tremendously entertaining, an immaturity to the characters that doesn’t quite gel with the big strides they made last season, a beauty that shades its best moments in wistfulness, and a darkness to the overtones and imagery that’s at times downright uncomfortable. Put simply, the mood is all over the map, fluctuating as much as its main character’s mental state.
And when I say “main character,” I’m not talking about Usagi. No, SuperS has shifted its focus to Chibiusa, a notion that would’ve sent me running for the hills 60 episodes ago but doesn’t much bother me right now. (Although I sure hope we get some decent Moonie episodes along the way, too.) So what we’re seeing, I think, is a world reflecting its character’s psychology.
Chibs has been through a lot by now and is starting to leave the innocence of childhood behind. She’s becoming more aware of consequences and repercussions caused by her and others’ actions, and she’s developing a gradual understanding of more “adult” concepts both benign and dangerous (hence the focus on long-term relationships as well as all the strong assault metaphors). That said, she’s still young and maturing, and so her selfishness or possessiveness gets the best of her at times, and she still has a somewhat naïve or idealistic understanding of personal relationships, particularly those involving romance or physical affection.
All of which means that the series is, like its circus antagonists, bright colors atop a stark black backdrop, whimsical dancers with menacing stares, and a calliope played with a tempo too erratic for comfort. I still haven’t decided how much I like it, but I do think it’s well done in terms of intent and tonal control.
Also, the minion fights are amazing. My screenshot gallery runneth over. So there’s definitely that, too.
Episode 132 – Having a Ball(oon)
Two people are coming over to Mamoru’s house. They are his… fri…ends…? No, that can’t be right. Must be something wrong with Viz’s translation. One of them, Saori, has known him since high school. She wants to be Japan’s first female police commissioner, which makes her awesome. She also has a massive crush on Mamoru, which makes her… well, a character on this show, I guess. Their mutual pal Kobayashi is doing that Nice Guy(TM) thing where he pretends to support her but really just wants her to get rejected so he can, ah-hem, comfort her in her heartbreak.
The two go to Mamoru’s to meet his girlfriend, only to find an obnoxious junior high school kid and her pint-sized cousin who fight all the time and both claim to be his “girlfriend.” Saori and Kobayashi assume this is some kind of Big Brothers-Little Sisters program and the whole girlfriend thing is a cute joke, meaning that Saori is free to pursue her Chiba Dreams!
I felt like throwing tables at Chibs for being annoying and weird about HER FUTURE DAD, GROSS, but as the episode progresses you get the sense she’s only doing it to mess with Usagi (who’s by far the more immature of the two at this point). Chibs actually has a pretty good grasp on the situation, noting both Saori’s attraction and Mamoru’s frustration. She demonstrates understandable concern at the idea of what might happen to her if UsaMoru don’t live happily ever after and start a totalitarian regime and reign for 1000 years and make lots of sweet Moon Disco Love along the way.
She urges Usagi to get her shit together, but if nothing else Usa is much more confident in herself and her boyfriend now, so she goes right back to life’s tougher decisions: Which plushie to buy with your allowance. Chibs takes matters into her own hands.
Meanwhile, Tiger is imitating an American in an attempt to woo Saori. His attempts are a thing of beauty (“ohh my GOD!”), but Saori is unimpressed, and ditches him for Mamoru.
When Chibiusa (and the snooping Kobayashi) spot Saori and Mamoru out on what looks like a date, she rushes back to Usagi to force her to take action. Mamoru just thinks Saori wants advice about some other guy she likes, but before she can work up the courage to tell him the truth—you guessed it—Tiger strikes.
Mamoru gets dagger-pinned to the ground, rendering him (more) useless, but Chibs dragged Usagi to the park to Fight For Her Love, so the two transform to save the day. Hooray for paranoia!
Tiger busts out his next Lemures to handle the cleanup: Pooko the Balloon Lady. She is the best thing that has ever happened to this show.
She literally fights by glomping you to death.
When she decides to glomp Mamoru, Usagi dives between the two, taking the glomp that was meant for him.
And when it looks like Usagi’s going to suffocate, the distraught Mamoru mans Moons up, tears free of his knife prison, and finally does to the baddies what they’ve been doing to him all series.
Then the Moons bust out their glitter attacks and…
…and they kill her.
They kill the best thing that’s ever happened to this show.
…I’ll be okay.
Oh, and Saori figures out that Sailor Moon = Usagi because Mamoru keeps screaming “USAKO!!!!1” and she’s training to be a police officer so she’s preeeetty good at picking up on subtle clues. She gives up on him, and the space-time continuum remains intact for at least another day. Small comfort compared to The Deflatening, but I guess I’ll take it.
Episode 133 – The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee
Mamoru’s life continues to be suffering, as he tries to help the Bunnies with their homework but they’re more interested in fighting over him. Luna saves them with an embarrassing story about Artemis staring longingly after the pretty nun at the nearby church, which gets Artemis all frazzled because no one will let him explain what was really going on.
He and Mamoru flee the day’s headaches, but things only get more complicated when an adorbs little kitten hops over a wall and starts calling Artemis “Father.” Once again Luna gets completely the wrong idea, calls Artemis a no-good dirty playcat, and dashes off. She claims she’s upset because he’s irresponsible, not because she’s secretly crushing on him, and I believe her. Of course, that may just be because I’m still bailing out this ‘ship:
On the other side of Juuban, Zirconia’s yelling at the Trio and they’re retreating to Leers! to complain about their boss. Tiger’s ‘bout to give himself an ulcer, but he pulls it together long enough to pick out his next target: The Nun, whom he’s convinced he can seduce even though he’s epically failed every time before and those women HADN’T taken a vow of celibacy. But whatevs. To the church!
…Eh, in a minute. First, Minako has to remind us that the other scouts do in fact still exist on this show, as Artemis slinks home and she takes him to task for not telling her about his love child. So the two set off to find the kitten and get this figured out. Their timing is purrfect, too, because Artemis passes by the church just as Tiger pounces on his latest target.
The imagery makes this one way more disconcerting than usual, so I’m glad we can swiftly move on to our next Lemures, Kigurumiko the ki—ILL IT! KILL IT, KILL IT, KILL IT!
It busts out a boxing kangaroo costume to take on Sailor Venus (whose “Say hello to my cat!” is my favorite motto alteration yet), and even drags Artemis into the show, Joey-ing him right proper. I think it’s safe to say Artemis is having his worst day ever, and he once got attacked by a possessed petting zoo.
He feels all the pain the Lemures feels, but if there’s one thing Arty knows how to do, it’s take a beating, so he encourages Venus and the latecomer Moonies to attack it anyway. Luna adorably obliges, and when she gets hurt Artemis decides to fight back as well. The enraged Lemures ditches him, leaving the Moons free to Stage it Outta there.
And hey, lookie there! Tuxedo Mask learned a new trick!
Chibiusa recognizes the pretty kitty right away: She’s Diana, Artemis and Luna’s child from the future. Which, you know, I guess is fair. I mean Luna’s going to live for 1000 years and Rhett’s only gonna be around for like 15 or so, and I’m sure he wouldn’t want her to spend all the rest of that time by herself.
And a new member joins our cast. Maybe this means the cats will be relevant to the story again! Wouldn’t that be swell?
This, That, and the Other
- Mamoru feels Artemis’s pain and offers to take him out drinking sometime. Holy crap, you guys. I think Mamoru might be the best character on the show right now.
- For magical other-dimensional evil circus troupe members, the Amazon Trio know a bizarre amount about high school stereotypes.
- Yes, it was super annoying when the scouts claimed that it was the dream of “every young woman” to get married “in a church like this,” for approximately every reason. It was also absurd, given that they were SAVING A NUN, so kind of obviously #NotAllWomen, team.
- The Sensei Next Door: Night terrors aside, our second Lemures this week is called a kigurumi. It’s a catch-all term for performers who wear full-body costumes, usually dressing up as mascots or animals (or recently, mobs of dancing and awkwardly dressed Pikachus). If I were gonna translate it, I’d take a page out of Disney World’s book and call them “costumed characters,” but it’s specific enough that I get why Viz left it as-is.
- Hark! A plot point! The Amazon Trio are also performers in the circus: Tiger’s a tamer (obvs), Fish is an acrobat, and Hawk is a fire-breather. So Zirconia grabbed three random entertainers and told them to become her generals? Yeesh. No wonder they suck at this minion business.