Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 196-197

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you the apocalypse.

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It may be April Fool’s Day, but the Mooniverse couldn’t be more serious. Season-long mysteries get devastating answers, our cast struggles to know who to trust, desperate times lead to desperate plans, and characters be droppin’ like flies. Geez. Did I accidentally switch over to Game of Thrones: The Animated Series at some point?

The Recaps

Episode 196 – Number the Sailor Stars

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Galaxia’s TV station takeover finally makes sense as she uses it to broadcast her message of doom to the rest of the world Juuban. Ami uses Awesome Science to trace the signal back to Ginga TV, and the Star Lights be all “Hey! We got nothin’ else to live for! Who’s up for a suicide mission?!”

The rest of the scouts regroup at Rei’s shrine (along with Doctor Puu and Hotaru, YAY) for a bit before… er, there’s a lot of unclear staging this episode, but apparently HaruMi marching dramatically off didn’t make it obvious that they were going to Ginga TV too, and then Sailors Saturn and Pluto must’ve been like “Look! a distraction!” and run off, because suddenly all the Outers are off to fight the Big Bad and the Moonies are trying to figure out where they went.

But really, the only truly meaningful thing to take out of this is RETURN OF THE FLOWER PETAL ENTOURAGE.

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Because it’s just not a proper Spring in Japan without a cherry blossom-strewn stroll through torii gates while malevolent forces threaten to destroy the city unless a group of magical teenagers can stop them.

Eventually everyone winds up at Ginga TV, with the Star Lights dragged into Battlestar Galaxia, the Outers searching the studio for a way in, and the Moonies trapped outside behind a very bird-unfriendly barrier. This seems to imply that Galaxia doesn’t want to face them all at once, which would bode well for our team’s chances if they could ever manage to work together instead of attacking in shifts. (Spoiler alert: They will not manage that this week.)

The Lights are in bad shape and the Moonies are front-row center for the show, helpless to stop it–but wait!

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Plot devices save the day again, teleporting the Moonies straight into the Battlestar Galaxia. Taiki is all “NOBODY ASKED FOR YOUR HELP, GAWD,” and the Moonies are all “We’re not here for you, buttmilk, we’re here to protect the planet,” and Usagi is all “Galaxia, you stop it this instant,” and they throw some mad shade at each other until Galaxia gets annoyed and decides to suck out some star seeds.

Again, the staging is really unclear about what happens next because it never shows the Moonies bravely jumping forward to defend their friends, which kinda kills the shock factor since it looks like the gals just immediately get owned, but… yeah, I guess what actually happens is Galaxia attacks Usagi and the Star Lights, and the Moonies dive forward to protect them.

So their star seeds get ripped out and they disappear in a cloud of sparkles.

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Sorry team, but I can’t find it in me to be concerned or moved or anything but annoyed. The Moonies are obviously not gone for good–we’ve seen their future selves, for heaven’s sake–and Usagi has brought them back to life when they were a damn sight deader than this. So basically all this has done has recycled another plot point and character beat where Usagi has to find the strength to go on without her teammates, AND it’s taken away the characters whose well-being I was most invested in.

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Okay, it does do one more thing: Gives the Star Lights a reason to go on, because the Moonies remind them that there are people who still care about them. They also ask the Lights to support Usagi and save the galaxy in their places. I will jump through my tablet and strangle the Lights if they aren’t willing to cooperate after this noble sacrifice, but we don’t get to see them choose one way or the other yet, because Usagi is roughly as pissed off as I am and demands Galaxia return her friends to her.

Galaxia responds by showing off her cool star seed collection, including…oh, this old thing? It just belongs to a certain dapper vigilante who also happens to be the Guardian of Earth.

No offense, Mamoru–and I know this isn’t the best time to say this, seeing as how you’re dead and all–but given that your girlfriend is the one constantly protecting the planet while you just lie around getting brainwashed and stabbed and starvested, you might wanna look into a different line of work. Just a thought.

Episode 197 – Sailor Staring Into the Abyss

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Galaxia takes a time-out from the murder party to explain that this is all quite necessary, you see, because she’s gotta catch all the star seeds in order to become Star Galaxia, Ruler of the Galaxy! Usagi wants to know why, which it turns out was the last thing Mamoru ever asked, too (of his entire existence since he awakened as Tuxedo Mask, most likely).

Which takes us to a brief flashback, as Mamoru’s plane gets time-stopped and he hops onto the wing in his evening best to face Galaxia. He wants to know why she’s making innocents suffer, and her response is the same one she’ll give all episode: She can do whatever she wants ’cause, like, her name is on the lease to this galaxy, fools. (There’s a running commentary this week about property and what someone can truly “own,” but it’s a pretty straightforward message, so there’s not much I can add to it, at least not yet.)

Then Galaxia and The Tux face off for all of five seconds before she rips out his star seed and goes about her merry way.

He died the way he lived: Sparkling and useless.

He died the way he lived: Sparkling and useless.

With his last breath he promises that the Moonies will stop her, and my dead heart revives long enough to find this very touching and sad, especially since 4/5 of said Moonies have already joined him in that big glitter bin in the sky. Usagi is thoroughly wrecked and the Star Lights can barely stand, so C.C. decides that now (instead of maybe OH I don’t know BEFORE the gals got starvested?!) would be a good time to zip them all away to regroup.

They meet up with the Outers in Ginga TV. Haruka is trying to be a soldier about it, focusing on the mission (“find the Light of Hope”), but it’s clear she’s shaken by the Inners’ sacrifices. HaruMi decide to try their luck on the battlefield while Usagi and the Lights recover their strength. Hotaru encourages the Lights to have faith in Sailor Moon, then she and Pluto are off to join the fracas. It goes about as well as you’d expect.

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“ZE GRAIL WEAPONS. ZEY DO NOTHING.”

But then–plot twist! Galaxia offers them some fancy mind-controlling bracelets so they can survive as her servants slaves even after they’ve been starvested. HaruMi… um… agree to this exchange? Worst April Fool’s Day joke ever, ladies. Now, this HAS to be a ploy to help them take out Galaxia, because while these two have frustrated the hell out of me this season, they’re nothing if not devoted soldiers ready to do whatever they deem necessary to defeat their enemy. This desperate plan is right up their alley, and the look they share with Saturn and Pluto suggests their fellow Outers realize it, too.

That said, if Nyanko is any indication, their scheme is STILL doomed to horrible, bloody failure because they just gave up their free will. Even if this isn’t an act (and it is) and they really did do it out of love (which they didn’t), they wouldn’t actually get to be together because Galaxia would always be pulling their strings. And HaruMi saw Nyanko, so they know how these bracelets work. I won’t fault your chutzpah, kids, but you, uh, might’ve wanted to think this one through a little further.

Meanwhile, C.C. reminds the Star Lights of the Moonies’ dying wish, and Taiki and Yaten finally do what everyone and their princess has been telling them to do for weeks now:

friends - quit being assholes -drunkhistory

TO BATTLE! Usagi, C.C., and the Star Lights return to the arena in time to see Sailors Saturn and Pluto get starvested (thanks for dropping by for all of two episodes, Hotaru, you beautiful underused cinnamon roll!). Hotaru reminds them not to “forget how to believe,” which should really have been followed by two exaggerated winks, and then vanishes, leaving Team Moon to face off against Team Galaxia.

Well, Haruka and Seiya have been wanting to slug each other for weeks now. Maybe this is as good a time as any to get that out of their systems.

This, That, and the Other

  • Actual episode note: “Galaxia’s in ur TV, killin ur populations.” I think it’s safe to say my brain is about 80% pop culture references and old memes at this point.
  • I might’ve roared when Rei told Usagi not to be sad about them dying because “You already have Mamoru.” COME ON, REI, have four seasons of this show taught you NOTHING about the value of friendship?
  • Haruka and Michiru never miss an opportunity to flirt, and I love them for it.
  • Hark! A plot point! Galaxia revived Nehelenia in order to speed up Hotaru’s growth so that, when she got to earth, all the star seeds would have matured. And that’s how you tie your anime-original mini-plot into your overarching story!
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15 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 196-197

  1. Galaxia pretty much said she get of and making Sailor Guardians fight each other.

    I really can’t share yo confidence that HauMi are trying a ploy, I just don’t see how they could possibly have thought of one.

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    • HAH, I literally wrote in my notes “Galaxia gets turned on by guardians killing each other,” so that was exactly how I read that, too! I’m choosing to trust HaruMi’s loyalty, like Hotaru asks me to. Hopefully they don’t prove me wrong, otherwise that’d make for some really shoddy character writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bergamotly says:

    I’m not sure if it makes it any better (or if I’m even right here) but I assumed Rei told Usagi that she still has Mamoru because Rei assumes that the Tux is alive. So she’s assuring Usagi that she won’t be completely alone. Of course I could’ve gotten this scene totally wrong heh

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    • No, I think that was basically her point, but the way it was worded makes it sound like “Don’t be sad, you have a boyfriend, so you don’t need us!” Which builds into my issues with last week’s “I can’t do this alone” breakdown. But then, I haven’t loved the way Stars has handled the Inners in general, so I might just be oversensitive to these things at this point.

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  3. Okay, Now that we gotten to the big shocking spoilers of the season. it’s time to tell you about what the manga did and why the anime held off for as long as it could. See in the manga, the Sailor Senshi minus Usagi get their star seeds ripped out and die one by one Galaxia’s hands in about 5 chapters of the arc. She just appears out of nowhere when they least expect it and kills Ami, Mako, Rei and Mina for about four chapters in front of Usagi’s eyes then ambushes and takes out all four of the Outers at once. Leave Sailor Moon as her only allies, The Starlights, Princess Kakyuu who has a much longer life span manga-wise and Chibi-Chibi.

    They then travel to Galaxia’s headquarters which is not a tv station but the birthplace of all life in the universe, The Galaxy Cauldron where they fight a bunch of Sailor Animates that didn’t make it into the anime and brainwashed zombie versions of her friends and Mamoru that Galaxia made to break Usagi’s will. (which is where the anime got its inspiration for the HauMi “betrayal” plot) and then alot of other staff happens that I can’t tell you about yet. (But you really should read the manga when you’re done with the anime.)

    So basically Naoko Takeuchi was determined to end her series with bang and warp up absolutely everything about it so she dump a truckload of plot points and revelations on the anime team and I think it may have overwhelmed them especially since they didn’t have Ikuhara and the majority of the seasons 1-4 old guard writers to help juggle adapting things anymore. So they hold off for as long as possible on killing the Inners off because if they didn’t then Stars would have been over in about 14 episodes as the manga’s pacing is super fast and dense for that arc. And in doing so they changed Galaxia’s backstroy and motivation, Who Chibi-Chibi really is. What Chaos is and its connection to Sailor Moon and bunch of other stuff.

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    • That’s insightful! Thanks for sharing! Yeah, this season very much has the feeling of a new showrunner who’s not sure how much of his own stamp he can put on the project and how much he should stick to the source material. I think R had similar issues for similar reasons, actually, except that there Sato was at least still around while Ikuhara kind of dropped the mic and walked out.

      It’s kind of a shame Igarashi got thrown into the director’s chair for just the last season. Based on his other adaptations, I think if he’d had a little more time to get his feet under him and figure out his vision for the show, he could have done something really charming with it.

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  4. I’m glad I’m not there only one who thought Usagi’s breakdown this week was super tedious. Even if Haruka was shaken by what was going on, I still shouted graduates at the TV when she told her to get her act together.

    I think I actually understand why the writing team chose to use the Outers in the way they did. I don’t like it, I but I think I get it.

    Since a lot of the writing staff seemed to have changed in Stars, I think they misunderstood something. While Ikuhara and his team saw the Outers, HaruMi specifically, as Guardians that have to make more morally flexible choices for the greater good of protecting the Earth and Usagi, they tried to portray their motivations with at least some nuance and sympathy. They didn’t always succeed, but rewatching Sailor Moon S and knowing how it turns out it’s definitely a lot clearer how much they actually struggle having to do what they have to do and how much they constantly question their own actions. Michiru actually expresses a few times how much she’d actually like to fight with the a Inners. Haruka might sound cold to the inners, but all she wants to do is spare the other girls the guilt of potentially murdering someone to save the planet.

    I think the Stars writers looked at this and interpreted it as “Oh they just do all the opposite things that the Inners do. So I guess if Usagi and co. want to makes friends with the Starlights then the Outers need to be against it. That’s natural conflict, right?”. I might be exaggerating but it’s certainly what it feels like. What makes it more frustrating is the small glimpses of the true version of the Outers shining through, like in the episode where everyone was in Usagi’s house and Michiru teased Haruka about not looking popular guys, or the aforementioned flirting in 197. It’s in these moments I can almost forgive Stars for their behavior but then they do something and I throw all the arm up in the air.

    As far as their betrayal, yeah, totes a ploy, there was a lot of editing of HaruMi looking at Galaxia’s bracelets and them being all “That’s where she gets her power?”. I don’t think it’s going to end well for them. I mean, Galaxia has conquered tens of hundreds of planets if not more buy now. Do they really think no one’s tried that on her in the past?

    Anyway, thanks for the post! I’m actually relieved I wasn’t the only annoyed with Usagi this week. ^^;

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    • I think I was more annoyed with the writers for going this route at all than I was with Usagi. Losing all my best friends and then finding out my boyfriend had been dead for months (thereby “killing” Chibiusa in the process) would be a shock to anyone’s system, no matter how many apocalypses they’ve stopped in the past. But as an audience member, I’ve seen this story before, so seeing it again has no real emotional impact, PLUS it rips away all my favorite characters 5 episodes from the finale. Makes it hard for me to get invested in what happens after that. :/

      I can get behind that theory about how the staff chose to write the Outers. Very much with you in that I still don’t much like it, though. S does a really good job of showing two groups with different ideologies and methods clashing, and the fact that HaruMi aren’t technically wrong (killing Hotaru would have prevented The Silence) makes it a compelling moral conflict. Stars never really gives us a good character-driven reason for the clash other than “we wanted to force drama,” which is disappointing.

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    • I haven’t heard any release information yet, but hopefully Viz will release them digitally so I can get my hands on them! I’d certainly like to watch and cover the three movies, at least.

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      • I think the german release a couple of years back had all special episodes put together on a single dvd, so I hope Viz does it similarly and releases all specials either at once, or one after another weekly just like the main series.
        I’d really like to comment on something HaruMichi related, but with the Supers special skipped it won’t make any sense :(

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  5. Hey, Dee, I’m curious if you’ll be checking out Sailor Moon Crystal 3, which starts tomorrow (April 4). I know, I know, SMC was a mess (although the Black Moon arc improved the show dramatically), so I don’t blame anyone who gave up on the series. But they’re back with better animation (or so it seems, at least), and seem to have listened to a lot of the criticism, so it may be worth at least checking out the first episode.

    Plus, it’s the Infinity/Death Busters arc, which is awesome.

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