Luna gives the Star Lights a (Ya)ten out of ten! As for me, well…
I was planning to leave an annoyed bullet point at the bottom of this week’s post demanding to know whur mah Outer Guardians at, but so far Stars has been pretty good about anticipating my impatient grumbles, because Haruka and Michiru made their triumphant (albeit brief) return this week. Huzzah!
And not a moment too soon. While I’m not disliking Stars by any stretch, I haven’t found myself looking forward to new episodes, either. Part of the issue is that sense of “retreading covered ground” I mentioned last week, especially with the Star Lights, who don’t feel like distinct individuals so much as mix-and-match combos of Mamoru and Haruka personality traits. Another part is that the villains are kinda dull. Despite Iron Mouse’s great fashion sense, she’s basically a less-fun Witches 5 member right now. And another part? Honestly? I really miss Tuxedo Doofus. Go figure.
For various reasons, the new faces haven’t really hooked me yet, so maybe adding some familiar ones will do the trick. I sure hope so. I’d much rather race gleefully through my final Sailor Moon season than lope impartially along.
Episode 178 – The Lone Sailor Star Ranger
Luna has been missing for a week, but don’t worry, she’s just been hanging out with Yaten, the least sociable of the Star Lights! (Which, given Taiki’s habit of picking fights with scientists, is really saying something.) Yaten needed an animal for the pet TV show he’s appearing on, and Seiya went and lost his chameleon, so he was all “Hey, I’m famous! I can do whatever I want! Let’s steal that random cat!” and charmed Luna into his arms.
Eventually Luna explains all this to the team, as well as all the baths and naps she’s been taking with the local pop star. Minako and Artemis about lose their minds with jealousy, albeit for very different reasons.
Backstage at the pet show, Okamachi Noriko approaches Yaten and flirts mercilessly (the details of which were lost on me because I couldn’t stop giggling at her derpy cat), but Yaten sees through her overbearing cutesy act and tells her to buzz off. Seiya and Taiki gently scold him for his hostility toward both fans and colleagues, but Yaten doesn’t believe in love at first sight and could care less what strangers think of him.
Then, while Luna SITS ON HIS LAP, he talks about only being interested in “that person” who “bears the true Star Light” and how they’ll “save the universe.” But Luna is a cat with a crush, so instead of connecting some dots to form a constellation, she’s just like MM YES SCRATCH MY EARS, GOOD HUMAN, and nothing comes of it.
Later, Yaten takes Luna to get a makeover and runs into Noriko again, who “accuses” him of being gay (oo, sick burn?) and gets a face-full of Luna claws for being a jerk. She also gets Iron Mouse’d, so karma works fast this week. Yaten hears a scream and arrives early enough that he could theoretically stop Mouse from yanking the star seed, but then he sees it’s Noriko and is all:
ICE COLD, SON. Antiheroes gonna antihero.
Luna’s a Proper Hero, though, so she tries to defend Noriko and gets smacked around for her troubles. Yaten is inspired(!) by her altruism and takes her outside before activating his MAX ’80s DANCE PARTY. He transforms into Sailor Star Healer and helps the Moonies take out our phage, Sailor Ojyou, who is significantly less terrible than Noriko. Or maybe I just like her laugh.
Along the way, Yaten hears Sailor Moon refer to his stolen cat as “Luna” and approves of the name. The next day at school he finds out the cat belongs to Usagi, who also calls her Luna. “Gee, now there’s an odd coincidence that’s worth mulling over!” says NO ONE, and there are not enough palms in the world upon which to smack my face.
Episode 179 – Five-Sailor-Star Chef
Usagi’s finally starting to worry about Mamoru’s dead (gulp) silence, but she won’t tell anyone, not even YAY, Haruka and Michiru! I was wondering where you kids had gotten to!
But we’ll get back to them later. For now, the Star Lights are considering how they feel about Sailor Moon. Yaten sees her as an ally, Seiya thinks she might actually be the princess, and Taiki is SO OFFENDED by this suggestion that he has to go brood at a rose bush for a while.
While there, he runs into Makoto and Usagi, who tend to his thorn injury, listen to him recite angsty poetry (he’s in high school, all right), and startle a laugh out of him thanks to an accidental pun. He also asks Mako of Cooking Club fame if she’d like to come on a cooking show with him… and, like, maybe teach him how to cook something, too. Do the Star Lights even look at these TV gigs before they take them, or do they just throw darts at a board and then go “Welp, guess I’m stealing a cat this week!”
Usagi agrees to let Taiki use the Moonie Strawberry Patch to make shortcake on the condition that she gets to hang out at the studio with them. Why he couldn’t buy his own damn strawberries with that sweet pop star money, I do not know, but it ends in Usagi coming to the studio and taking over the show after Mako’s nervousness gets the better of her.
She single-handedly destroys Master Chef Yoshinogawa Tetsuro’s entire studio, which is an adorable and funny thing to do according to everyone around her, chef Tetsuro and somber Taiki included. Well, at least Usa makes up for it when Iron Mouse steals Tetsuro’s star seed and turns him into a literal Iron Chef.
The fight is thoroughly amusing in a way I’ve missed: Sailor Chef is too worried about his utensils to fight, then he bribes Usagi with a cake, then Star Maker shows up for all of five seconds to pop off a Gentler Uterus before calmly strolling off-screen again (YES, more of this, Star Lights, endear me to you with silliness!) and leaving the rest to Sailor Moon. Star Maker’s starting to warm up to the Moon, but more to the point, Taiki is starting to warm up to Usagi. He better not be falling in love with her, though. I do not need me a Harem Situation up in here.
Elsewhere, Haruka and Michiru stand around looking unreasonably cool (like they do) and figure it’s ’bout time to put on their boots again.
This, That, and the Other
- The casual homophobia in Episode 178 from both Usagi and Noriko was weirdly out-of-character for Sailor Moon, which had previously allowed its characters to be ignorant but never outright negative about queer relationships. Having HaruMi around turns it more into “character prejudice” rather than “show prejudice,” but it still struck me as an uncharacteristic and off-putting story choice.
- I really dig the spooky vocal music used on the Star Lights’s princess. It’s a little too similar to Saturns’ theme (everything this season is “a little too similar” to something that’s happened prior, it seems), but it’s still real pretty.
- Ami “also” has a hard time dealing with love letters? Between this and her Star Lights fangirling, we are learning all kinds of fun things about our li’l water bender this season.
- Hark! A plot point! Iron Mouse isn’t the first minion to act like beleaguered middle-management (Amazon Trio, anyone?), but she talks explicitly about “working overtime” and “being a cog in the corporate wheel,” which suggests that Galaxia might actually be employing her minions. Maybe that doesn’t count as “plot,” exactly, but I find it interesting, at least.