Do you wanna build a redemption arc?
Villains come and villains go. And sometimes villains come and friends go. And sometimes villains come and friends go and more villains come and maybe some new friends come, too, but we’re not really sure yet because it’s early in the arc?
What I’m trying to say is, it’s a week of endings and beginnings on Sailor Moon, some more surprising than others. Hit the jump to say goodbye, how-do-you-do, and the occasional “WHOA WAIT WUT.” Yep. That sounds like a new SM arc, all right.
Episode 172 – Sailor Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Good Guy
Chibiusa and Hotaru continue their stand-off with Nehelenia, but it ain’t going so hot, ’cause they can’t lift Mamoru’s curse no matter how unfortunately suggestive the animation gets.
Chibiusa is fading fast, so Hotaru’s all “Eff it. I’ll just end you,” and Nehelenia’s all “I double-dog dare you to end me ’cause you’ll die too!” and Hotaru’s all “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt,” and then while Nehelenia’s struggling to come up with another snappy ’90s comeback, Chibiusa throws herself around Hotaru and begs her not to kill herself. Oh, good! I wanted to keep her around for a while this time.
Nehelenia can’t deal with all this FRIENDSHIP, though, so she traps Hotaru in a mirror-prison, too. Boo. Usagi arrives just in time to hold Chibiusa in her arms as she fades from the world.
I joke, but Mitsuishi Kotono acts the crap out of this scene, and it’s surprisingly moving because of it, even though we all know Chibiusa is gonna be just fine.
As Usagi FINALLY notices the guardians frozen behind her like an army of sailor suit-wearing Han Solos (there’s a mental image for ya), Nehelenia figures she’s got this one in the bag, so now is a good time to exposit about her back story some more. They only got, like, halfway through it the last time, after all. (I’m starting to wonder if this wasn’t all just an elaborate scheme so Nehelenia could vent to someone. Queen of the Tsundere, right here.)
It comes out that Nehelenia’s jealous of Usagi because Usa has always been surrounded by friends while Li’l Princess Nehel had none. She saw the mirror (her reflection) as something that “freed her” from her loneliness, but in reality it was just a prison: She became obsessed with her own mortality because she had no one else to love, and eventually destroyed her kingdom to maintain the one thing she could believe in.
Usagi of course weeps for her, and it is a sad story, but I can’t help feel like it undercuts—maybe even contradicts—the story we heard at the end of SuperS about the woman who chose loneliness, intentionally isolating herself, rather than face age and death. That story contrasted so nicely with Usagi’s story, forming a mirror between the two princesses and tying a strong thematic bow on that season. So, despite my eternal fondness for redemption arcs, I think I preferred Nehelenia as a sympathetic but unrepentant villain.
Igarashi disagrees with me, though, and does so in fabulous Sailor Moon fashion, as Usagi sympathizes SO HARD that she not only frees the scouts from their mirror-prisons, but also awakens Mamoru’s own latent Moon Disco Power to shatter the shard and break the curse!
The scouts decide to use their power to save Nehelenia, so they combine their energy (they let Mamoru join the circle so he can feel like he’s done something this arc) and throw it at her. She tries to fight back, but they urge her to open her heart and remember her own childhood dreams, the ones she had before they became warped by self-obsession.
And it turns out all she really wanted… was friends.
So the Moonies, uh… send her back in time? or revive her entire kingdom? or trap her in a Dreamatorium for all eternity? Whatever voodoo they go do, they do it so well, because Nehelenia wakes up a child back in her kingdom, and this time she’s brave enough to ask someone to spend time with her.
It’s… fine. It’s cute. It’s more pat than I’ve come to expect from SM arc finales in recent seasons, and I would’ve liked it a lot more if they’d brought in a different antagonist entirely and given them this arc rather than try to rewrite a character who was interesting precisely because she didn’t want to be saved, not to mention I have no idea what the Moonies even did to her in the end, but all in all, I…
Huh. Yeah, I guess I didn’t care for it very much after all, did I? Ah, well. Sometimes that happens. There were fun parts along the way, at least. Anyhoo. On to the next arc!
Episode 173 – Sailor Starstruck
I blinked between episodes and suddenly Chibiusa had returned to the future, the outer guardians had ninja’d off again, a pop idol trio of pretty-boys(?) called “Three Lights” had topped the Juuban charts, and Mamoru finally got sick of getting stabbed and kidnapped all the time and decided to study abroad in America for a year. Aww, yeah! Suck it, Mooniverse! Try to kill him now, why doncha?! Aaaaahahaha—
…Sorry, that comes later. First Usagi and Luna get to have a sweet little conversation about how Usa really doesn’t want Mamoru to leave but knows it’s selfish to ask him to stay, and Luna reminds her that she’s more mature and stronger now and can handle being on her own. Sailor Moon hasn’t had a lot of cat time recently, and this just reminded me of how much I used to enjoy it. More cat time, Sailor Moon.
At the airport, Usagi briefly crosses paths with Seiya, the leader of that pop trio, and they have a whole MEETING OF DESTINY moment. But, nah, I’m sure it’s nothing. Byyyye, Mamoru! Have fun in America, where surely nothing terrible can possibly happen to y—
Mamoru’s life(?) continues to be suffering thanks to that creepy disembodied voice who woke up Nehelenia. She’s after “true” star seeds, so she sends her minions (also calling themselves “sailors,” interestingly enough) to Juuban to track the seeds down. Their mission takes them oh-so-conveniently to the set of a drama starring Three Lights and Alice Itsuki, which the Moonies just so happened to have crashed as well.
But before the inevitable clash of good and evil, Usagi and Seiya need to get their banter on. Seiya’s tickled that Usagi has no idea who he is (even Ami knows who he is! AMI, PEOPLE!) and she’s peeved that he calls her “bunhead.” Peeved, or…?
After they part ways, Usagi runs into “Sailor Iron Mouse” right as she snatches a star seed from actress Alice Itsuki. The seed (a.k.a. “crystal of life,” so, that can’t be good) promptly shrivels up, meaning it isn’t a TRUE seed. Iron Mouse peaces out and leaves Usagi to fight the seedless Alice, who’s turned into the Phage “Sailor Buri.”
Usagi wants to help Alice, not fight her, so she’s at a loss… But wait! Do I hear snapping?!
Folks, we’ve got ourselves some newcomers: The Sailor Star
Jets Lights! They are clearly the Three Lights team, except that now they have boobs. And I… am uncertain what pronoun to use. “They”? Are we all good with “they”? Hey, Star Lights, y’all good with “they”?
The trio want to put Alice “out of her misery” because they say there’s only one person who can turn a Phage back into a human (what with the whole “seed of life” getting removed ‘n’ all), and it ain’t them. Well, if it’s a Chosen One you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place! Usagi FEELINGS herself into a new attack, called…
…and I can’t even type this without laughing…
“Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss.”
With a shout of “Beautiful!” Alice’s star seed rejuvenates and returns to her via a nice bit of Hindu/Buddhist flower imagery, and she un-monsterfies. Evil vanquished, our new trio Batman outta there, leaving Usagi to sit on a park bench and try to puzzle out all these new sailors. It’s a work in progress.
…So I guess we’re just… not gonna address Mamoru’s plane blowing up AT ALL this week, are we, Sailor Moon…?
This, That, and the Other
- I tease Mamoru about getting stabbed all the time, but now that I think about it, Usagi gets strangled almost as often, huh? Add that to the drinking game, I s’pose.
- The music during the big Nehelenia Salvation scene was straight-up “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” for a few bars there. That had to be intentional, right?
- I haven’t said it yet, but the animation this arc has been super-fun so far. Igarashi doesn’t have Sato’s or Ikuhara’s eye for imagery or absurdity, but he makes up for it with great comedic timing and wonderfully expressive characters.
- Hark! A plot point! Our new trio call themselves Star Fighter (Seiya), Star Maker (Taiki), and Star Healer (Yaten), but I had Yurikuma on the brain, so I nicknamed them “Life Sexy,” “Life Cool,” and “Life Beauty,” and THEY SO TOTALLY ARE that now I can’t un-think it.