Now entering Plot City, Population: Us!
The story is back in more-or-less full force, as we (finally!) learn more about Pegward and his mysterious Dream World and forward the odd little relationship developing between Chibiusa and her magical boy. Fittingly, Sato and Ikuhara are back in the director’s chairs this week, which might explain why both these episodes are not only quite pretty, but also hilarious. Plot, shiny cinematography, and giggles? Sounds like a good week of Sailor Moon to me.
Episode 158 – Little Big Satellite
Chibiusa and Usagi get into a tiff (whaaaat? that doesn’t sound like them!) about age: Usagi’s nostalgic for the days of easy math homework, while Chibs wants to grow up so Pegward will think of her the way she thinks of him. Usagi’s been astoundingly immature throughout much of SuperS, which has been frustrating but is likely a reaction to the events at the end of S (or it’s inconsistent character writing, but I try to give creators the benefit of the doubt). Like Minako, she’s not quite ready to let go of her childhood, so she clings to idealized “simpler” days and the goofy, carefree kid she really isn’t anymore.
As for Chibiusa, while she’s certainly matured emotionally in the last few seasons, she still has a very limited understanding of what “adulthood” means. She’s beginning to develop romantic feelings for the first time, but since she only knows how to approach those feelings the way she sees other (older) people approaching them, she thinks that she, too, needs to be older. It also strikes me that Chibs is confusing physical age with emotional maturity. She doesn’t realize that you can’t immediately “become an adult,” because true adulthood is about experiences, and those require time.
Unsurprisingly, Palla-Palla has exactly as much understanding of “adulthood” as Chibiusa does, so when she hears the girls bickering, she opts to make their wishes come true.
Both girls are pretty chill about this transformation (poor Mamoru much less so), but Chibiusa’s excitement quickly fades when she discovers she can neither summon nor talk to Pegward in her new form. (Personally, I wish this episode had spent more time exploring Usagi’s transformation as well, but alas, there was plot to be had.)
Chibs falls asleep troubled, and “awakens” in Slumberland, where Pegward can speak to her and show off his home world, Elysion! It’s… a fixer-upper, to say the least. The situation has gotten SO dire, in fact, that he has no choice but to actually EXPLAIN stuff! Story time, y’all!
(Okay, so it was probably, like, last April.)
LAST APRIL… Elysion was attacked by the Dead Moon Circus. They destroyed “Helios’s” world in their quest for the “Golden Crystal,” but while Nehellenia managed to capture his human(?!) body, his spirit escaped in Alicorn form and hid in Chibiusa’s dreams. So let me get this straight: Not only is he not really an Alicorn, and not only does he not really have the Golden Crystal on him, but his name isn’t even Pegward?! YOUR BOYFRIEND SLEEPS ON A BED OF LIES, CHIBIUSA.
(And my nickname was totally better. So there.)
It’s a good thing Helios is a boy not much older than Chibiusa, otherwise this story line would have zoomed into Creepsville super(S) fast. As it is, it’s still pretty weird, but SM plays both Helios and Chibs as such shy, sweet kids testing the waters of an unexpected first love that it’s hard not to get at least little caught up in the fairy tale-like nature of it all. I dunno if I ‘ship ’em, but I don’t not ‘ship ’em, at least.
Oh, I guess that screenshot came a little early, but
Pegward sigh, Helios explains to Chibiusa that, because her “dream of adulthood” was granted by the Dead Moon, it “casts a shadow over her dream.” This is RULL vague, but if I had to guess, I’d say he’s talking a bit about what I was discussing earlier: That the Dead Moon gave her a shallow imitation of her dream, surface-level “adulthood” instead of the maturity that (should) come with gradual, natural growth. (Or Dead Moon Magic has cooties. Either/or, really.)
Point is, they can’t hang out if Chibs doesn’t reverse the spell, so she walks through an Epic Shoujo Bubble Shower and turns herself and Usagi back to normal. Then she wakes from her dream and helps the Moonies take out Palla’s latest Lemures, who is YAY, another Ball Minion!
Er, sort of. Technically she’s Pero-Pero the Candy Doll. Still, it’s my favorite minion design, and this one is extra adorable, so it goes without saying that I’m going to be sad when she eventually dieWHOA GEEZ.
The fight is nice ‘n’ silly, involving a lot of ineffective spells, a Sailor Mercury Round of Applause, Tux tripping the Lemures with a rose, and the show actually acknowledging that, when you run away from your opponent, you eventually have to run back to them. But in the end, of course, the Moonies rise victorious, and both Bunnies settle comfortably back into their regular bodies and ages.
Episode 159 – Playing Koi
Dream sequences and silliness! Who wants to bet this is an Ikuhara-directed episode?
In fact, that “dream sequence” takes up an absurd amount of time and is almost as absurd in content as it is in length. It’s very pretty, and quite nicely animated, but I think you have to be fully invested in Helios’s and Chibiusa’s relationship to properly appreciate it. Seeing as how their relationship till now has basically been “Hey, tell me stuff about you!” “Can’t, sorry! ¯\_ツ)_/¯” and reused cowbell animation, I can’t say I had much reaction to this other than “Oo, pretty!”
There’s also some ongoing talk of this being a dream where “time has stopped,” and they both speak of “destined meetings,” but for now we’ll just table that and see where their story goes in the coming weeks.
But if the opening is weird music video bronze, then the rest of the episode is weird comedy gold. Usagi keeps hearing Chibs talking to someone “on the phone” in her room, and the rest of the scouts immediately decide she’s got a boyfriend she doesn’t want Mommy and Daddy to know about. Between multiple spit-takes, they all vow to give Chibs their (ah-hem) “experienced” advice about love.
Essentially, all of the girls map their own past experiences on to Chibiusa’s (imagined) boyfriend: Mako’s convinced he’s an older “senpai,” Minako decides there are actually two guys, Rei encourages Chibiusa to “feel proud” about her feelings (easily the best advice given), and Ami considers it a “study of love” and sorta hopes Chibiusa isn’t going to get too serious at so young an age.
Silliness abounds, including a misunderstanding when Chibs describes her crush as having a “long face” and a “white coat” and Ami and Minako try to imagine a person who fits this description. It culminates in perhaps Sailor Moon‘s best comedic pay-off to date when this guy shows up:
And I lose it for a little bit.
There’s also a painfully bad pun here that doesn’t make sense in English, because the Moonies all decide that the man feeding the carp is Chibiusa’s love, and the words for both “carp” and “love” are koi. So when that fish jumps out of the water and they all shout “Koi?!” it’s the kind of thing that would make 90% of the Japanese-speaking audience groan so hard they’d pull a muscle. The other 10% would be slow-clapping. I’m sure you can guess which percentage I was in.
This also explains the Lemures, because of course Koi Boi is this week’s Dream Target, and of course Jun-Jun lets loose Paku-Paku the Giant Carp. Woohoo, we’re two-for-two on entertaining fight scenes this week! Plus there’s a nice bit of imagery here where Chibiusa nearly gets devoured by the out-of-control “koi” in the same way the Moonies overwhelmed her with their “koi” advice all episode.
An assist from Tuxedo Mask gives the Moons time for a proper Stage Out, but in the end they’re right back to where they were: Chibiusa insists that “the guy” is a secret, but quietly hopes she’ll be able to tell the others about him some day. Something tells me that day might not be too off.
This, That, and the Other
- I got Ginuwine’s oh-so-subtle “Ride my Pony” stuck in my head during that dream sequence, and I will never forgive my subconscious for that one.
- My Japanese slang isn’t strong enough to know what “vulgarity” Ami was thinking about that involved horses, but my English brain went straight to a certain simile involving certain hanging body parts, so I still got a nice chuckle out of it.
- Elysion, Lemures, Dead Moons… this season’s awful heavy on the death/afterlife mythology, innit? It’s a quiet, clever way to point out the darker side of Chibiusa’s wish for “adulthood,” as well as to hint at the fine line between sleep (dreams) and death. More on this if/when it develops.
- Hark! A plot point! The Dead Moon Circus are from “the chaotic darkness of the New Moon,” and my Darkest Timeline Silver Millennium fan-theory survives another day. Huzzah!
- SuperSchedule Notice: Next week I’m taking my first-ever blogging vacation, so the Episode 160-161 post won’t go up until Sunday or Monday. Thanks for your patience, and I’ll see you here again in just a little over a week!