Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 176-177

For the Moonies, “Don’t stop believing” is more than just a song you belt drunkenly at parties.

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I’m sensing some definite parallels between this season and Sailor Moon S, where some aggressive-minded realists (or perhaps cynicists) take up residence in Juuban and have their methods challenged by the local idealistic sailor team. The Star Lights aren’t quite as hostile toward the Moonies as Haruka and Michiru were (yet, anyway), but they’re having similar arguments and changing in similar ways.

Sailor Moon (and a lot of magical girl shows) has always been something of a response to the idea that defeating the bad guys only means punching them in the face really hard. Sometimes it means that, and Mako is happy to oblige when it is, but more often than not it’s about protection and empathy. This is a series that believes our heroes should be people who cure evil instead of simply killing it or locking it away, and at no time is that more apparent than when they butt heads with their fellow vigilantes.

Is it a romantic notion? Maybe a little. But as Ami points out this week, romanticism and dreams help drive us towards discoveries and change, whether that’s finding a comet or a new way to solve problems. So maybe a little romanticism isn’t such a bad thing.

The Recaps

Episode 176 – Sailor Starlight Express

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The original episode title for this one was “Fighter’s Secret Identity Revealed,” so get excited, gang, ’cause someone in our cast is gonna find out that Seiya and Star Fighter are the same person! Who’s stoked? I’M STOKED!

But before that, the conflict! Three Lights is a triple threat (ba-dum tish) set to prove they can shine just as brightly on stage in an ’80s-tastic musical as they can in a pop song, but their exacting director Gushiken Akane thinks Seiya needs to do it once more, with feeling! Her not-so-constructive criticism (“you suck and your hair is stupid!” more or less) has Seiya so frustrated that he bombs his math test. But hey, at least he’s in good company!

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Heavy line art for heavy moods.

Despite Rei’s best efforts (seriously, girl, just transfer already), the trio opt out of a group study session, so the gals say “psssh” to their own homework (getting held back a grade is NBD when you’ve got a Time Lord on your team!) and sneak in to the musical rehearsal. Akane rightfully scolds them for bringing their fans to a private practice, but the dunk-on-Seiya-a-thon gets derailed when—plot twist!—Rei recognizes Akane as “Sister Angela,” a nun who works at her school.

Seiya thinks he has the high ground now, but not so fast, kiddo, Sister Angela lives atop Mount freaking Fuji. Yes, she has a secret alter-ego, but she gives her all in everything she does, and HE can’t say the same. She wants him to be as passionate in leggings as he is in power suits, and she can tell he isn’t right now. In a wonderful little exchange, Seiya admits that he doesn’t like her one bit, and she says that’s fine as long as he respects her and gives her his best.

Then they’re both all:

bring it on

And get to dancin’! Their rehearsal is cut short by a zoot suit riot (RIOT!) when Sailor Iron Mouse appears on the scene to snag a star seed. Akane turns into the phage “Sailor Director” and attacks Seiya. OH NO, HOW EVER WILL AN ORDINARY HUMAN FEND OFF HER ATTACKS.

gasp. oh my. but how could this be.

gasp. oh my. but how could this be.

As the episode title promised, Star Fighter’s true identity is at last revealed! …to the audience! …gee, thanks, Sailor Moon

(In less predictable news, thanks to some color-coded silhouettes, we learn that the Star Lights do indeed physically change when they transform. And they don’t even need to be dunked in cold water or use their Celestial powers to do it!)

Fighter busts out his Star SRS BSNS Laser and knocks Akane for a spin, but Sailors Moon and Mars arrive before he can (reluctantly) deliver the killing the blow. Rei has to hold him at arrow-point to give Usagi time to cure Akane, but cure her she does. A grateful Fighter hopes they’re not enemies, and maybe even thinks Sailor Moon is the droid he’s been looking for. Either way, that crush of his ain’t going away anytime soon.

Episode 177 – Sailor Starry Night

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At the bottom of my notes for Episode 176, I scribbled “I wanna spend time with the other Lights too, dang it…” And lo, my grumbles echoed back in time 20 years and were heard by the SM staff! So let’s leave Seiya gloating over his perfect math make-up test and hang out with Taiki for a while, shall we?

He’s the brains of our new operation, so smart he’s matching Ami score-for-score, and stealing her study buddies to boot. He confuses “studying” with “copying,” which leads to some UsaMina shenanigans, but our shenanigans are soon eclipsed by Mr. Amanogawa Wataru (henceforth known as “Mr. A”), a teacher at Juuban High who also happened to discover a comet in his youth.

Given that our last scientist discovered a SENTIENT UNIVERSE, this is downright dull in comparison.

Given that our last scientist discovered a SENTIENT UNIVERSE, this is downright dull in comparison.

He waxes romantical about his “Francoise” (known in scientific circles as “Wataru’s Comet”) sweeping past earth again for the first time in 15 years, and asks top students and local astronomy buffs Ami and Taiki if they’d like to come over to his house and watch it. Mr. A is not a creeper, but this request is still kinda creepy.

Taiki and Ami don’t notice because they’re too busy butting heads over whether there’s a place for “romanticism and dreams” in science. Geez, Taiki, where did you transfer in from, Mugen Academy? (Continuity burn. Boom.) The head-butting continues, until finally Taiki points out that it’s supposed to rain anyway, so they won’t be able to see this “dreamy” comet anyway. But Ami BELIEVES that the skies will clear, so

stick out tongue - bw

As forecasted, the rain rain rain comes down down down in rushing rising rivulets. Optimistic Ami goes to Mr. A’s house anyway (still not a creeper, but still kinda creepy), and Taiki eventually decides to do the same because Ami’s passion has…well, maybe not melted, but certainly poked at his cynical li’l heart. And hey, perfect timing, ’cause Iron Mouse has come for a stargazer’s seed!

Mouse is bummed that Mr. A isn’t the hottie from his 15-year-old photo (hey, if you’re interested in a cute professor, there’s this Tomoe guy I could introduce you to), but snatches his seed anyway, leaving Ami to plead with the new phage…

You, uh... ya really phoned it in on the monster names this week, didn't'cha, writing staff?

You, uh… really phoned it in on the monster names this week, didn’t’cha, writing staff?

Taiki sees Ami under attack and transforms into Star Maker (wut, him too, who’d have guessed it?), but Ami knocks Mr. A out of the way before he can get hit with a Gentle Uterus at full power. She believes they can turn him human again and won’t let Taiki kill him! And by “believe,” she means “two years of fighting crime have taught me that Usagi will be coming around that corner right…about…nnnnnow.”

Inductive reasoning, biyatch!

AWW, SNAP! You just been inductive reasoned, son!

Usagi can’t deal with all this TEACHING, so Taiki helps her out by hitting Mr. A with a Gentler Uterus, weakening him enough that she can restore his star seed just in time for the skies to clear. Heyyy, now all the girls and Taiki can see the beautiful Francoise stream across the sky together!

And the moral of the story is: “Ami is always right.” I mean, “Treasure you dreams!”

(But really, the first one. It’s the first one.)

This, That, and the Other

  • I have to keep reminding myself that Usagi can’t exactly pop onto Skype for some face time with her bae, so it’s not that weird that she hasn’t realized Mamoru has exploded yet. It’s still a little weird, but it’s not that weird.
  • Does anybody else snap along to the Star Lights’ entrance theme? Just me?
  • Taiki’s whole “the power of living people creates stars” thing is probably relevant world-building, but from Mr. A’s perspective he looks like the kid in high school bio who insists that Jesus hung out with dinosaurs.
  • Yes, I went back to referring to each of the Star Lights as “he” instead of “they.” The trio all present and seem to identify as men both in public and private, so it felt more respectful this way.
  • Hark! A plot point! The Star Lights are ALIENS! They left their “home world” behind, possibly after a catastrophe, and possibly as the only survivors. They are now on the lookout for “that person,” whose silhouette sure does look a lot more like Galaxia than Usagi. Well, I’m sure that won’t lead to any future conflict, no no, not at all.
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6 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 176-177

  1. Fun fact, In the manga, they Starlights were women who only disguised themselves as men. Them being able to genderbend is entirely an invention of the anime, one that Naoko Takuechi has very mixed feelings on. And as you mentioned a clash of ideas is going to be a forefront of this arc but this time it’s tied into an even bigger question, one that is underlined by enemies and not yet allies who bear the same motif and suggest that it’s not just a thing limited to our solar system, What does it truly mean to be a Sailor Soldier/Guardian who fights for Love and Justice?

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  2. So far Stars seems to be all about repeating old beats, Usagi/Seiya is just like Usagi/Mamo, the way the MOWs are formed is like the rainbow crystal mini arch, and the Starlight and new Outer Senshi. And I don’t want to spoil for you what’s ahead.

    I don’t think the Anime writers put much thought into the ramifications of their gender bending story-line. As far as I can tell they’re masculine when they’re male and feminine when they’re female.

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  3. mantelli says:

    Doesn’t it seem the least bit weird that a shrine maiden attends a Catholic school? I know Japan is a multicultural society but mixing Buddhism and Catholicism?

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    • Just to clarify, Rei’s family runs a Shinto shrine, not a Buddhist temple. And while I wouldn’t call Japan a multicultural society by any stretch, they do have a very relaxed stance toward organized religion and a willingness to mix-and-match ceremonies and beliefs. So it’s not uncommon for a family to visit a Shinto shrine on New Year’s, hold a Christian wedding, and a Buddhist funeral.

      That said, I thought that was a little odd, too. It’s possible the school isn’t Catholic; it may just have a large campus and multiple places of worship throughout. Or Rei’s family wanted her to go to a good girls’ school and figured the religious affiliation didn’t much matter (I’ve known non-Catholics who went to Catholic school in the states for education/location/etc. reasons, too). Unfortunately I don’t know enough about private/Catholic schools in Japan to have a proper answer, but it’s an interesting thing to consider, for sure!

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