Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 136-137

Well, those sure were a pair of episodes.

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I puttered around for a while to avoid writing this, partly because I’m still coming off the high of Wednesday’s exquisite My Love Story, but mostly because I… er… see, for the first time in a while, Sailor Moon was just plain Not Good. One episode was all right, but the other was… well, my comments are ranty, and I don’t enjoy writing like that. I suspect most people don’t enjoy reading it. But here we are with Usagi behaving like a brat and Grandpa catcalling and Rei dropping some truly awful dialogue and I… I just…

But! I solemnly swore to Newbie Recap my way through each and every episode, and so Newbie Recap I shall.

I’m keeping multiple tables nearby for ease of flipping, though.

The Recaps

Episode 136 – There’ll Be A Hot Time in the Old Shrine Tonight

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This one starts with Ami and Mamoru’s deepening brOTP, and it is a delight, and then it all goes downhill from there because for SOME DAMN REASON Usagi’s got a case of the irrational jealousies. These are relationships that have survived death, reincarnation, memory wipes, brainwashings, multiple stabbings, three apocalypses… and yet somehow Usagi can’t trust one of her best friends and her extremely long-term boyfriend?

It’d be puzzling and annoying no matter the circumstances. But given that a couple short weeks ago Usagi demonstrated remarkable growth in how trusting she was with Mamoru and that high school “friend” Chibiusa was so worried about, at this point it’s downright bad character writing.

And it will continue. For. The entire episode.

disgust - souleater fairy

That’s because, thanks to some miscommunication, the girls fire extinguish Mamoru’s apartment and he has to crash elsewhere while it gets cleaned. He also has a paper to write that’s due in the morning (he’s a college kid, all right), so he needs peace and quiet. Despite Usagi’s protests, he agrees to stay at Rei’s shrine, with Adorable Li’l Diana cheering him on to his last citation.

Shenanigans ensue. And by shenanigans, I mean bad annoying cliches that take all of our characters right back to their Season One maturity levels. Ninja Usagi wanders around shrieking at Rei. Meanwhile, Rei thinks everyone’s gone nuts, and I’m very much on her side… at least until a bathroom mix-up has her opening the door on Mamoru in nothing but his birthday suit, OH GOOD THAT IS AN ORIGINAL PLOT POINT. When Usagi finds out, it leads to what might be the worst line ever uttered in Sailor Moon history:

hisfault

And I’m pretty much in (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ Mode from there to the end.

About the only semi-bright spot is sweet, stupid Teddy, who’s freaking out about this new potential romantic rival. In a fit of jealousy, he tries to boil Mamoru in the bath, then realizes he’s being petty (making him the only person who does) and spends the rest of the night meditating in the shrine, desperate to cut out his “worldly desires.” But then Grandpa ruins it when he tries to “cure” him by taking him out to hit on OTHER girls and the two end up catcalling people and it’s creepy and awful. But at least Teddy seems to regret this episode as much as I do.

“I’m made a HUGE mistake.”

“I’ve made a HUGE mistake.”

Along the way, Tiger decides to make Rei his next beautiful dream target, so he invades the shrine and gets all up in her heart-mirror. Usagi and Chibiusa suit up, and—ohhh, right! Chibiusa is the OTHER bright spot, the one person looking on from the sidelines and going: “Hey, Future Mom, maybe you should, like, TRUST the people you love?” But Usagi just ignores her so it’s not like there’s any actual development from that.

They fight the Lemures. The Tux does not help because he’s still working on his paper (and I like to think because he’s miffed at Usagi, too). The Moons win with some help from the other scouts, and Tiger flees back to Leers! to drink the memory of this episode away. I’m going to join him.

drink - pam

And that’s… pretty much it. No valuable lessons. No character development. Just Season One levels of immaturity and an unfunny, unoriginal jealousy plot. About the only good thing that can be said here is that Ikuhara did not personally direct this one, so I don’t have to lower my opinion of him. Yuji Endo on the other hand gets all my side-eyes. Every last one of ‘em.

Episode 137 – Fish Heads or Fairy Tails

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This one’s better than the last one as long as I approach it from a careful angle. Otherwise it’s a bit troubling. But we’ll get to that in a second. First, Chibiusa has to find a lovely book of fairies and flower illustrations, and then conveniently run into the artist, Kitakata. According to Pegward, the flowers Kitakata draws exist in Peg’s original world, which I’m going to call “Slumberland” since Kitakata saw them in a dream.

In other news, Kitakata has a thing for fairies, and Fish’s Eye has a thing for Kitakata. Tiger and Hawk are a little freaked by Fish’s romantic preferences, but considering this was made in 1995 they actually accept it and take it in stride pretty quickly, which is cool.

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“WHOA I AM SO—not surprised at all, actually…”

Fish sets out to play Beautiful Dreamcatcher for the first time, dressing up as a fairy-like woman to entice Kitakata. My first reaction to this was an uncomfortable: “Cross-dressing to seduce someone? Boy howdy that’s a harmful stereotype,” but the more I thought about it, the less sure I was. True, Hawk says they’re “all men,” but Fish never personally identifies as such and behaves with the same traditionally feminine mannerisms in and out disguise. So I think it may be that Fish just isn’t concerned with gender binaries. For the time being, I’m giving this story beat the benefit of the doubt, and switching to calling Fish “they” unless the series gives me a reason to do otherwise. If I’m mucking this up please let me know and I’ll adjust accordingly, but for now I’m gonna roll with it.

So! Fish goes out into the woods, Kitakata stumbles across them, and it’s love at first sight. The two frolic! They giggle! They flirt! It’s… kinda cute, actually. Like to the point where I can’t tell if Fish is just really good at this game or if they have genuine feelings for Kitakata. So, either they’re the worst Dreamcatcher, or the absolute best. Your call.

Definitely the prettiest, though. Sorry, Tiger.

Definitely the prettiest, though. Sorry, Tiger.

Chibiusa’s worried because Kitakata won’t leave the woods, Diana’s worried because Kitakata’s new bae smells like a sushi bar, and the scouts are… not worried at all, but Kitakata is SUPER hot so they figure they should check on him anyway. One thing leads to another and the supporting scouts get lost in the woods while the Bunnies wind up at Fish’s lake, where love is in the air…

At least, until Fish sits on a flower and gets more upset about their dress than the damaged plant. And no fairy could EVER care more about clothing than nature! We’re THROUGH, Mysterious Woodland Person Whom I Arbitrarily Decided Was a Fairy! THROUGH!

"And I FROLICKED with you, you cad!"

“And I FROLICKED with you, you cad!”

And y’all know what that means: Time for transformations, Dreamcatching, and Lemures. This one’s a tightrope walker who’s far more interested in performing than actually fighting, which makes it easy for Tuxedo Mask to knock it from its perch and give the Moons time to take it out. Fish escapes to find love the Pegasus elsewhere, and Kitakata decides that the Moons are the REAL fairies around here.

Elsewhere, the Inner Guardians are lost, and Ami is VERY annoyed by all these juvenile shenanigans. Saaaaame, Ami-chan. Same.

This, That, and the Other

  • Aww, Diana treats Mamoru like a king. Somehow I suspect she’s the ONLY one who does that, regardless of the timeline.
  • It’s weird to me that Kitakata doesn’t recognize Sailor Moon. Doesn’t she have her own UFO doll at this point?
  • Yo, any Welcome to Night Vale fans out there should check out this delightful little crossover fic where the Amazon Trio decide to go dream hunting in the most scientifically interesting community in the U.S. It features disembodied hands, Fish finding the (ah-hem) Perfect dream candidate, obsidian nightmare mirrors, and is 100% BETTER than the episodes this week. (And many thanks to Vrai for not only linking the fic, but getting me hooked on this whole crazy Night Vale thing in the first place.)
  • The Sensei Next Door (MotW Edition): Episode 36’s Lemures fought with a Rainbow Bridge that spat out what looked like little Kleenex Halloween ghosties. These are called teru teru bouzu, and they’re used as a charm to prevent rain. Clearly in this case they were not doing their job.
  • Hark! A plot point! Maybe “plot” is a little strong, but judging by Fish’s scent and general terror of cats, it seems our band of minions aren’t just dressed as various animals—they actually ARE them, at least to some extent. I look forward to Diana trying to take a bite out of Hawk at some point, too.
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17 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 136-137

  1. I’ve got very tender feels about Fish, for reasons I cannot tell you (if you were wondering, they got a female VA and pronoun swap in the dub, because 00s anime, so in the back of my head I always read them as a trans woman .But I kind of like nb Fish better. Other comments to be withheld until further notice).
    Also on the subject of VAs, I think Zirconia actually got dubbed as a male? She definitely had a really screechy Skesis voice, and I want to say I remember male pronouns. Weird choices all around (I….have to assume it was a physical appearance thing? That’s all I’ve got)

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    • *SPOILERS*

      It’s because of her praising Nehellenia’s beauty frequently, so the dubbers thought Zirconia would come across as lesbian even though it makes perfect sense for her to praise her boss’ beauty since she a shadow of what Nehellenia will look like when she’s old.

      *SPOILERS*

      Liked by 1 person

    • Another commenter mentioned this a week or two ago, I think. Yeah, apparently the original dub gender-swapped both Fish and Zirconia. In a frustrating homo/transphobic kind of way, I get the Fish decision in the same way I “got” the Zoisite decision, but the Zirconia choice makes zero sense to me. I guess we can’t have female villains who aren’t hot and wearing low-cut dresses? Oh, wait. Actually. That does make sense to me. Table flip-inducing sense, but still. Yay stereotypes. -_-

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I try not to pick on SuperS too much, mostly just avoiding the conversation altogether when the topic comes up (hey, I really enjoyed R so my opinion means very little). Mosty because I think that over all, SuperS does certain things very well. Dreams/Nightmares. Innocence/Growing up, it tends to do either both or neither, striking some gray area that I think is very fitting for those themes. ChibiUsa is young enough, for instance, to fall in love with a winged unicorn but she’s at an age were crushes when you begin to want something more romantic and (physically or emotionally) closeness. A lot of the images in the series are sort of magical, dream like, but then terrifying as well. So I appreciate that.

    What I don’t like – actually what I absolutely hate – is why they felt that by switching the protagonist to ChibiUsa they had to retroactively destroy all the other girls’ growth. I assume it is because they want to give the perspective that ChibiUsa is wise and mature far past her age, but that is less noticeable if you have the same kind, empathetic Usagi from Super, the more driven, responsible Minako, the less hot tempered and more self assured Rei, a Mako who knows who she is, and an Ami willing to call them out on their bullshit. Instead, by using a more immature version of the characters it highlights how amazing ChibiUsa is, making her seem worthy of being the host of Pegasus as she is both young (innocent) and grown (wise).

    The maddening part of this mess is how easily it could have been achieved without the character downgrades. It would have involved different episodes, but it isn’t like most of the season is more than filler, anyway. So have ChibiUsa dealing mostly with others or those her own age, have her away from the scouts so she can show her qualities without requiring them to act like pre-teens. Heck, you can even use some exposition and have the scouts talk about her maturity, just so long as it is also shown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this. It’s the most glaring issue with the season thus far, particularly because it seems so inconsistent. It’s not like everyone backslid to season one maturity from the beginning, or even all the time. For instance, Rei made some very smart points about the difference between love and pity in the Naru episode, and Usagi was super chill about Mamoru having a female friend in another.

      So when you get an episode like this one, it doesn’t even feel like “oh, the characters all regressed as a way of coping with the trauma they experienced in S” (which would be a valid character arc in and of itself!), but like the writing staff didn’t bother to establish character arcs at all. So everyone – especially Usagi – is all over the map depending on what the plot and Chibiusa call for, and it’s really jarring.

      Hopefully it’s not a problem too frequently. I’ve actually been enjoying this season a lot till this week, so I’d like for this to be an aberration rather than a trend.

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  3. bergamotly says:

    I’m surprised you think Teddy is still sweet after episode 136! His irrational jealously and women groping was unpleasant to say the least. :P Yay SuperS

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    • Teddy is a doofus with a flare for melodrama and a tendency to get pulled along by others (particularly his “master”), but he always seems vaguely aware of his idiocy and attempts to take steps to correct it. Unlike Usagi, who learns nothing this week, Teddy knows he’s being irrationally jealous, tries to correct it the best way he knows how, and by the end of the episode loudly regrets going along with Grandpa’s plan. So I still think of him as “sweet, stupid Teddy” because I think he’s genuinely trying to be a decent, mature person. He just has no earthly clue how to do it and no proper mentors to help him along the way.

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  4. According to an interview with Naoko Takeuchi, Fisheye is an okama. The whole trio are, but Tiger and Hawk had this trait removed in the anime (in the manga, Hawk even pulls a convincingly-enough woman to fool Mako).

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    • That’s good to know, but there’s enough divergence between the anime and manga that I’m always a little hesitant to map Takeuchi’s presentation of the characters onto their anime counterparts. For example, I’m pretty sure Zoisite and Kunzite were friends, not lovers, in the manga, while they’re obviously a romantic couple in the anime.

      I also have some… discomfort… with the word “okama.” Particularly in the ’90s, it was frequently used to describe someone whose gender presentation didn’t match their biological sex, regardless of whether they identified as that gender or not. For instance, a lot of characters referred to Nuriko in Fushigi Yuugi as an “okama” even though Nuriko made it pretty clear that they were, if not exactly a trans woman, definitely not cis, either.

      Over the years it’s developed some negative connotations similar to “tranny” in English (ick, I feel bad just typing that word), and exists in this awkward area where it technically means “someone who dresses in drag” but is often used by people to refer to a trans person (particularly a trans woman). In addition to that being – for lack of a better word – problematic, it also makes it hard to know exactly what a creator means when they use the term “okama” to describe a character. So I’m not sure if Takeuchi’s use of the term actually helps settle the question, tbh. ^^;

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  5. Deelight says:

    Ah, the first Fish episode. This is one of the episodes that stood out the most to me when I first watched it because I knew in the original version Fish is technically a male and also because Fish is my favorite. Rewatching it now it’s clear a lot of her mannerisms are more feminine then the other two and then this episode happened which lead me to always believe that Fish identified himself as a woman. Like Tiger, She likes dressing up when she goes off to capture people’s dreams and that means wearing a pretty dress. If memory serves right I don’t think she even wears anything that can be considered a “manly” outfit. Cross-dressing to seduce isn’t necessarily a harmful stereotype if the individual enjoys cross-dressing. More harmful would be if someone were to call her a “trap” because of her gender and outfits.

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    • Yeah, there is an episode in which Fisheye is topless in front of her target and others, and it’s pretty clear that they don’t have any breasts. So, I’m guessing it’s not that Fisheye is trying to trick people so much as Fisheye just really likes pretty dresses, makeup, and looking good.

      I also have a soft spot for Fisheye since there’s been so much Tiger’s Eye in these first episodes, who’s such a buffoon and a dumbass, it’s refreshing to see a villain that’s a little more competent.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think we agree but are using slightly different definitions for “cross-dressing.” I consider “cross-dressing” to be “intentionally presenting oneself as a gender one does not identify as.” So, for example, if I went out presenting myself as a man, because I don’t actually identify as a man, I’d be cross-dressing. Of course, in a perfect world I wouldn’t even need this definition because nobody would give a damn about gender presentation and guys could wear dresses and girls could have mustaches and it’d all be dandy, but in our current society this isn’t the case, hence: “cross-dressing.”

      I know a lot of people have an issue with cross-dressing being used as a “disguise” in any fashion, and I respect that opinion but don’t feel the same way. I don’t think dressing a male-identifying character up as a woman in order to, say, infiltrate a gang of smugglers (hello, Yona of the Dawn) necessarily promotes negative stereotypes. Heck, I don’t even mind having your antagonists cross-dress (see: James from Pokemon) as long as it’s just presented as a disguise rather than sexual entrapment. In fact I kind of like cross-dressing in these situations, especially when the character doesn’t have a problem with it or actively seems to enjoy it (again, James), because it helps blur strict binary gender lines, and that’s kinda neat.

      That said, when cross-dressing is done for the sole purpose of seducing someone (regardless of whether the individual actually enjoys cross-dressing or not), I do think it pretty much always promotes harmful real-world stereotypes about trans people “pretending” in order to “trap” someone (usually guys, since the stereotype is almost always about trans women “tricking” straight men). Which is a really bad thing as it’s one of the main reasons there’s so much violence against trans women. That’s where my initial struggle with Fish came from.

      But if Fish is either non-binary or trans, then they’re not cross-dressing at all because they identify (at least to some point) with traditional feminine dress and the concept of “woman.” And that’s sort of the reading I ended up settling on. Hope that makes sense! (Also hope I didn’t muck any terms up. I’m still getting the hang of the language used in conversations about gender and I’m always worried I’m going to flub something unintentionally. Fingers crossed I didn’t, though!)

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      • I like your definition of “cross-dressing” and I think it makes good sense in this context. I was surprised that you chose the pronoun “they” instead of “ze”, but then I know some transfolks are not comfortable with the “ze” pronoun either. Interesting that this dreadful episode has produced this discussion about gender identity!

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      • At this point I think more people are familiar with “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun than they are “ze,” so for ease-of-reading purposes I tend to go with that. Plus the nonbinary people I personally know use “they,” so I s’pose it’s my default for that reason, too. ^^

        And it’s always nice when rough episodes can yield good conversations!

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