Jab’s Reviews: Sailor Moon (Episodes 37-43)
Prince Endymion- our new General, and the brainwashed love interest of our heroine! How’s THAT for angst?
And so we come to another review! We last left off with Episode #36, and we now learned that Usagi/Sailor Moon was the resurrected Moon Princess from an ancient Moon Kingdom that they’d been searching for all along (rendering a HUGE chunk of the show redundant), she now has the Legendary Silver Crystal in her possession, and the Dark Kingdom, led by Queen Beryl, wants it. Beryl’s sole remaining general was the stoic loyalist Kunzite… but the last episode had the startling revelation that the kidnapped Tuxedo Mask (who is now revealed to be Mamoru- Usagi’s long lost love from their time in the Moon Kingdom) has now been brainwashed, taking his ancient name- Prince Endymion!
This is basically when the show starts to get EPIC- the shenanigans continue, but the main character’s love interest WORKING FOR THE BAD GUYS for the next several episodes kind of puts a damper on things, and gives us some of the show’s best stuff. So let’s get to it!
Usagi is upset over her lack of refinement, and so she gets everyone signed up for “Princess Academy” lessons from some Countess from England. Meanwhile, Beryl tasks Endymion & Kunzite to team up, but they refuse to co-operate, and Luna discovers that ARTEMIS has been “Mission Control” the entire time! This bit seems added largely as a joke (it’s not in the manga at all), which makes it odd- Luna’s been conversing with the computer a DOZEN TIMES on various things, and it’s all spent on the gag of a sheepish Artemis being seen operating it from behind the screen (complete with cans of cat food beside him!)- we of course never see it again.
The Countess allows Usagi into the Academy thanks to the neat twist of “I want an interesting person to be around”, but of course it’s a trap- Kunzite wants to see a girl who’s good at frisbee (one of the courses), but sucks hard at everything else, because he knows Sailor Moon is a clumsy dolt with Moon Tiara Action as a power. That’s actually pretty ingenious.
Usagi naturally screws up everything, and then the OTHER Sailors show up during the “elegant dancing” lesson! Hilariously, though Mercury & Jupiter are just fine, Venus & Mars are JUST AS BAD AS USAGI- the sight of Rei aggressively taking the lead and throwing her dance partner around with this serious, angry look on her face is worth the price of admission alone, while Venus dances like a kindergartener (just holding her and her partner’s hands up and bouncing from right to left while laughing).
Usagi’s identity revealed, The Countess turns into a blue chick with clamshells all over her body- the clams shoot out sticky green Snare stuff, and she’s been freezing all the girls who pass the course into statues. Mars & Venus actually congratulating the Monster for her “brilliant plan” of sussing out Sailor Moon due to her uncouth nature, and Sailor Moon being annoyed at the compliments, is awesome.
Kunzite & Endymion contradict each other’s orders to the Monster, confusing her and leaving her vulnerable to Moon Healing Escalation, which turns her back to normal. The only weird thing is… they’re after Sailor Moon and want the Crystal. At this point, Kunzite & Endymion should EASILY be able to take out three Sailors. But they flee as soon as the monster drops, which is rather inexplicable. One of those genre convention things (“Villain summons monster, then runs off”) that comes off really stupid when you think about it. Of course, in the MANGA, these “Monster of the Day” things never happen, so the villains never have to arbitrarily bail.
Sailor Mars art. Because Rei is the best.
This is one of the first episodes I remember seeing when I was a teenager- it was before I knew the general plot, the characters’ names or anything. I just fell in love with the bitchy brunette chick :). The blatantly-obvious “Moon Princess Contest” is taking place on a ski hill, and the girls plan on winning it, because they don’t see THE OBVIOUS TRAP. And it turns out that Yuuichiro, despite dressing as a hobo and working as a trainee in a shrine, is actually from an EXTREMELY wealthy family, giving another wrinkle to his character. The Ski Instructor/Monster throws out some Elsa-level “Snow Control” feats, nearly killing everyone. Yuichiro’s dramatic “stand in front of the rolling snowball” stance is translated into “YOU SHALL NOT PAAAAAAAA–UGH!!”, which is a pretty good Dub-Joke.
Usagi & Rei end up stuck in a pit, and eventually work out some issues with Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask. Rei has finally acknowledged that it’s not going to happen between her & Mamoru. “If you don’t live a life of happiness with Mamoru- I’LL PUNISH YOU!” with a smile. These two are just THE BEST. The nice moment is then ruined when they argue over why neither of them realized that Rei’s FIRE POWERS can get them out of the snow pit easily.
Nice small touch: They remember that Usagi is wearing WINTER GLOVES, and so she has to remove it to do the proper Transformation Sequence. Endymion arrives to take control and finish the girls… but Mars’ tearful plea actually GETS TO HIM, and his Black Roses turn RED, causing him to attack the Monster! It wears off, causing the Rose to return to black (that’s a nice visual motif for showing his evil brainwashing, too). Mars chides an unconscious Yuuichiro for being so self-sacrificing and stupid, but kisses him on the cheek (“You idiot…”) while smiling and OH MY GOD THE SHIPPPIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!
Another one I remember very well- Makoto reveals a sudden skill in ICE SKATING, as these two famous European skaters show up, and naturally the male reminds Mako of “the guy who broke my heart…” Mako in her green skating mini-skirt = HOT DIGGITY DAMN!! And then she LIFTS HER MALE PARTNER!!
This one brings to mind something that bothers me- the cats go on about how ice skating was super-popular in the Moon Kingdom, which is something we almost NEVER SEE. You’d think the girls would ask more questions about their past, or what went on there- like, THEY ORIGINALLY LIVED ON THE MOON A THOUSAND YEARS AGO. That’s INTERESTING! But they really just kind of gloss over the whole backstory, all “oh, isn’t that interesting” and never once do we see the daily life of the Princess of frickin’ Mars.
In any case, the skaters are holding a “free practise day” (again, the girls never clue in to these obvious traps), but Mako is SO GOOD that she catches the eye of Misha, making his partner jealous. They make up, however, forming a Monster Skating Pair (with some INCREDIBLE designs, too- the show’s really amped these up over the past several episodes, enough so to make these equal most shows’ REGULAR villains!) and actual recognizable OPERA MUSIC playing behind them, rather than the typical nonsense the show’s been peddling as “background music”. Sailor Moon arrives with the ability to make ICE SKATES on her boots (because why not?), but still lands on her ass, while Mako gets cuts that damn near make her costume NC-17.
TUXEDO MASK interferes again, saying he doesn’t like them “attacking the innocent” (meaning Mako), but that he’s still Sailor Moon’s enemy. Moon starts ACTUALLY SKATING to win, but the villains nearly kill both until “Supreme Thunder!” takes them down. Kunzite nearly kills everyone with an ice machine, but Endymion/Tuxedo Mask takes it out, and Sailor Moon transforms the skaters, who make up. Very good for Jupiter’s stuff, and brings to mind more questions about Endymion’s loyalty.
(First Appearance: Sailor Moon’s Magical Ice Skates)
A distinctive “Non-Template” one, because the Tsukino family heads to a Hot Spring/Onsen for vacation, but is attacked by an evil “scorned lover” Yokai that lives there, having been trapped underwater for generations by some couple’s love. Mamoru/Endymion ends up saving the Tsukinos, showing some of the good man that he once was. The Yokai has a GREAT design, matching some of the “standard ugly chick” dynamic of early Monsters, but packing pink hair, a mermaid’s tail, and claws. Very Monster High (again, not that I have any familiarity with that. Shut up). The other Sailors show up, and they finally purify the Yokai with Moon Healing Escalation once Mars is able to trap it with her “Magic Paper Attack”.
(First Appearance: Crescent Beam & Supreme Thunder combined into an Electrified Laser Beam)
One of my first sights of this series was actually the opening few minutes of this episode, before I had to run to a friend’s house. I wasn’t hooked then, but a couple days later I would be. The Dark Kingdom schemes to bring forth The Seven Great Monsters once more, by collecting their old Crystal Carriers! This gives us Motoki’s girlfriend, some backgrounders, and even Ryo Urawa- Ami’s love interest! Ami is accused of running from her feelings and being afraid to fall in love (naturally, Makoto, the born romantic, is the accuser), and Ryo admits he likes Ami, but is super-prepared to die fighting the Dark Kingdom (which he totally did last time, too- guy has a death wish).
Endymion challenges them, takes Ryo into the Dark Crystal, and even embarrasses Sailor Jupiter in a solo fight (easily dodging all of her attacks, and then taunting her by holding back at the last second). However, Sailor Mercury gets one of her best showings EVER, bluffing Endymion/Tuxedo Mask with Bubble Spray, then grabbing the Crystal and SMASHING IT, freeing its victims! Screw all the people who mock those bubbles- she just made ENDYMION look foolish!
Jupiter & Mercury then ZAP HIM with their attacks, allowing Sailor Moon to excorcize him! But Queen Beryl steals him away immediately, totally giving the heroes a downer ending.
OH MY GOD THIS ONE!! I forgot about it! The infamous “Sailor Venus meets her old boyfriend from England” episode, which was deleted from the list of North American dubs initially. It’s a huge bit of backstory for the mostly-ignored Venus character. And wow, it turns out it’s important to the overall plot, too- the “Dark Spots” on the Sun appear as the final warning sign of encroachment from the Dark Kingdom.
Anyways, Minako’s old friend Katarina (who’s hooked up with Minako’s old crush, Allan, from back when they all lived in England…) arrives under the sway of Kunzite, and becomes the monster Papillon (Butterfly) in order to kill Minako. Usagi helps out (magically able to pilot boats when her Disguise Pen transforms her into an ACTUAL Sailor), and soon we get the backstory- Minako & Katarina were partners, fighting crime and Monsters in England back when Minako was just Sailor V. Minako was in love with Allan, but when she found out that Allan & Katarina were in love, she allowed them to believe that she was killed in a blast.
Sailor Moon thinks Venus should be SUPER-bitter and hate them, but the more-mature Venus insists Katarina’s not EVIL or anything, and convinces Sailor Moon to use the Healing Activation to cure Katarina of the Dark Kingdom’s brainwashing. The final summation: Venus is the most-mature of the Sailors. Well, THAT’d go away once she became the “Idol singer-obsessed” one of the bunch.
This one was a nice showcasing of the old Sailor V manga. But it’s REALLY weird that this “Allan” guy was the key to much of the backstory, but didn’t even actually APPEAR- he was just in the flashbacks!
(First Appearance: Katarina, Allan)
Kunzite- the most clever of the bad guys.
A bit of a different one, involving a staged fight between the Sailors, intended to make the bad guys think the team is splitting up. It’s kind of dull at first (you can see the resolution coming a mile away, and Kunzite isn’t even fooled), but things come to a head when it’s revealed that Usagi left the Silver Crystal with SAILOR MARS of all people! It’s moments like these that let you know the depth of the connection between the girls, and that Mars is the only one Moon would trust with the thing (controversially, the original dub implies that Mars just TOOK IT because she didn’t trust Sailor Moon to not just give it up).
The greatest bit is just WHY Mars was entrusted with the Crystal. Usagi, in a rare moment of self-awareness, realized that she would give it to the Dark Kingdom if they threatened Mamoru; therefore, she didn’t trust herself with the thing. Mars, as the least-emotional, strongest-willed, and most pragmatic of the Sailors, and the one most likely to resist if Usagi herself is beaten (since she’s a giant bitch and usually hates on Usagi anyways), is the only one she could trust not to give in, no matter what happened. And it’s paid off beautifully, because of course Sailor Moon is being tortured by the monster… and Sailor Mars CAN’T HANDLE IT. Tears streaming down her face, Mars is fighting her desire to go rescue her friend in her moment of bravery, and finally BREAKS DOWN, running to Sailor Moon’s aid. Because THEY LOVE EACH OTHER DAMMIT. Goddamn this show is so good.
Thankfully, the day is saved, and the girls come to an understanding. Usagi recognizes Mars’s strength and the depths of her caring- before, she assumed that Mars would simply let her get tortured. And Mars recognizes these feelings, too, and redoubles her sincerity in their mission.
And that’s it for now! Because the next set of reviews will be the most epic Season Finale in TV history! No, not an exaggeration.