Monster-of-the-week? More like monster-of-the-minute.
This is one of those times where I wish Sailor Moon didn’t feel like it had to fit a battle into every episode. There are a lot of interesting (or at least potentially interesting) out-of-costume conflicts and interactions swirling around right now, but we don’t get nearly enough time to explore them because they have to share 20-odd minutes with Seed Targets the series is clearly phoning in at this point. I love my goofy monsters and clever fights, but I’d much rather the show skip them entirely than half-heartedly cram them into a few obligatory minutes.
On that note, I’m beginning to realize why Stars feels just a little off compared to past seasons: Where Sato and especially Ikuhara embraced the absurd, magical weirdness of the premise, Igarashi is trying for a more grounded narrative, silly and supernatural without going full-on surreal. But he’s building atop a whole lot of episodes and established patterns, and it’s led to a season that feels very much like a YA sitcom trapped inside a magical girl sitcom’s body.
I liked that magical girl show an awful lot, but I think I could really like this YA one, too. Right now, though, it’s still struggling to balance what Igarashi wants it to do with what past seasons (and, admittedly, fans like yours truly) expect it to do. Until it does, even if I’m still basically enjoying it, something about it is always going to feel out of sorts.
Episode 184 – The Sailor Star ‘Ship Enterprise
Continuing with last week’s theme, we’re in for even MOAR shenanigans! Albeit with some unpleasantness to temper the silly mood. Our troubles begin when Usagi hears tell of a burglar prowling the neighborhood on a night she’s home alone, so Seiya offers to come over and be her “bodyguard.” Usagi is once again warned (this time by Luna) that even the seemingly nicest “guard dogs” could actually be “wolves,” which is… and I just… I have so many great guy friends and I hate stereotyping and generalizations, but I also hate that we live in a world where these warnings are necessary and relevant to help girls protect themselves. So I’m layers of conflictedly unhappy right from the get-go today.
Not that it ever comes up because Seiya is a pretty good dude. He does get up-close-and-personal at one point, but only because he’s (I think) trying to tell Usagi about his princess. It ends with cake in the face, courtesy of C.C. Cue bath towel silliness as the rest of the Moonies come over and have a lot of wild ideas about the mostly-naked person in Usagi’s house.
In an unexpectedly tense moment, Ami grinds a carrot down to nothing as she struggles with the mounting evidence that her best gal pal might be cheating on her best bro. She tries to be loyal and offers to give Usa the benefit of the doubt, but it ends in a muttered “fuketsu” (dirty/filthy, what the subs translate as “sleazy”) that’s easily the most vitriolic thing our faithful Ami has ever said about one of her friends.
I want Sailor Moon to dig into this SO MUCH, but instead the show switches to a lame joke about all the girls freaking out over a cockroach (Seiya is of course unaffected because WOMEN, AMIRITE). Then Taiki and Yaten show up and it turns into a fun night of card games instead! And then Haruka and Michiru show up and things get a little tense again, especially when Haruka refers to “people like you” and Seiya is all:
Sailor Moon would be able to make a much stronger case for the “you shouldn’t stereotype people based on their (perceived) gender” message it seems to be circling around if it hadn’t just made a lame gendered cockroach joke, but again, we don’t really have time to explore that, because some rando with a TV show just arrived to film the household eating dinner. This is somehow less plausible to me than time travel, SENTIENT UNIVERSES, and unicorn boys.
Worried about a scandal, the Three Lights frantically try to hide, and for some reason all the girls except Minako and HaruMi decide to hide, too? Yeah, check your logic at the door for this farce. Of course TV Rando is there because he’s an awkwardly inserted monster-of-the-week, so he gets his star seed harvested (Starvested?) by the local Starvesters (aaaand nicknamed!). Everyone has to swiftly run away from each other, transform, and crowd into the kitchen.
Once TV Rando is cured, HaruMi peace out (they’re kind of giant assholes this week, sigh), leaving the Moonies and the Lights (or at least Seiya) to deal with the post-battle mess. As the cats point out, it’s a night “so wholesome it’s scary,” which speaks to me on a deep, personal level because it’s exactly how high school parties with my mixed-gender friend group went, too (sans DDR and energy drinks, anyway).
So, lame jokes aside, if the point of the episode was that guys and girls can in fact hang out unchaperoned as friends, then I guess that’s a pretty decent message for a shenanigans episode to have.
Episode 185 – The Fault in Our Sailor Stars
Strap yourselves in so you don’t get tonal whiplash, ’cause we’re about to move from a silly house party to a story about doubt and a dying child. Never let it be said that Sailor Moon doesn’t run the emotional gamut, that’s for sure.
Said dying child is Misa, a girl at Ami’s mom’s hospital who’s got an American doctor flying out to perform a (presumably) life-saving surgery in the next few days, and is feeling both frightened and pessimistic about it. She’s also a huge Three Lights fan, so when Ami tells the Moonies she wants to give Misa a present to “give her courage,” it takes Usagi all of zero seconds to go:
She manages to wrangle Taiki (whose exasperation at squealing fans who DON’T GET OUR MUSIC, MAAAAN, looks particularly petty compared to, you know, DYING CHILDREN) for a hospital visit, hilariously gift-wrapping him for the occasion. Even so, he insists he’s coming as “an ordinary guy” and not as a pop star and takes TERRIBLE OFFENSE that Usagi would think otherwise. (I actually think Taiki might be the most layered of the Three Lights, but man is he a big ol’ angst ball.)
While your blogger mutters “Taiki, you cynical bastard, don’t you DARE screw this up” from her couch, he’s actually very nice to Misa, encouraging her to get better and offering to see the picture she’s been drawing while listening to his music. Except it isn’t finished yet, and… ohhh, no:
Taiki’s frustrations continue to the point where he’s starting to think their princess either isn’t listening or just doesn’t care. The passion leaves his music, much to Seiya’s chagrin and Misa’s, er, rapidly approaching mortality. When Taiki rushes back to the hospital at Usagi’s behest, Misa shows him her half-finished picture, the one that “always comes to mind” when she hears them sing, and it’s a spitting image of his princess. Their music was reaching people after all!
Taiki swears she’ll be able to finish her picture, because dude doesn’t understand how death flags work AT ALL, and rushes off to perform the concert he’d threatened to skip out on. This means he and the Lights are destined to be absent for Siren’s attack on the incoming Doctor America, but no worries, ’cause Sailors Moon and Mercury are on the case, and they ain’t about to let some AGGGGH NO SYRINGES AGAIN WHY.
Fortunately Ami is far braver than I in the face of true evil, and she knocks this phage down to size. The Moonies take care of their business, Taiki takes care of his, and everyone rendezvous outside the operating room in time for patient and surgeon to take care of theirs, too. Misa’s gonna be okay! And it was all thanks to
modern medicine her strong will to live!
Taiki and Misa have a little Circle O’ Encouragement moment where both admit the other inspired them not to lose hope. And, despite Taiki’s best efforts to flag this girl to an early demise, she’s on the path to recovery and was even able to finish her picture. Snarking aside, it really is a sweet, uplifting little episode about the importance of faith and the two-way relationship between artists and their fans. Consider my heart properly warmed.
This, That, and the Other
- “You know, Mamoru used to kind of suck, but he’s been a loyal boyfriend and stalwart fellow crime-fighter for a long while now. Don’t you think it’s odd he hasn’t contacted Usagi at all? Maybe we should pool our money and try calling the university where he’s staying to make sure he’s okay and, like, that his plane didn’t explode in a ball of magic light or something,” suggests absolutely nobody. Poor Tux.
- Moon Flatbread Action is officially my favorite Sailor Moon attack, even if it is a tragic waste of a good pizza.
- Recently the fights have been causing collateral damage (an exploded police car last week, Usagi’s kitchen this week), which is amusing, but also (maybe?) part of Igarashi’s attempts to ground the series more in reality by taking into account the impact supernatural battles (or pointless costume wings) would have on their surroundings.
- So did Mako travel back in time to give birth to a sickly child, or did SM‘s character designer just finally run out of ideas?
- Hark! A plot point! Despite Seiya’s tentative hopes, other than the sparkly eyes full of wonder and joy, their princess bears little resemblance to Usagi. The tide of new characters truly cannot be stemmed.