Sailor Moon R (Part One; Episodes 52-59)
An & Ail going a bit nuts.
Sailor Moon R continues with the second half of “Part One”, continuing the “Filler Arc”
High School students An & Ail are actually SPACE ALIENS, and they’re out to gather human energy for the “Makai Tree” that is their home. However, despite being lovers, they are drawn to humans Usagi & Mamoru, who are also Sailor Moon and… NOT Tuxedo Mask. Because Mamoru still doesn’t have his memories back, and the mysterious new “Moonlight Knight” who was CLEARLY HIM is apparently not.
Finally, another “Sailor Venus” episode. This one presents a big shift in her character, as she shifts from a semi-stoic, friendly, Generic Buddy character into an Usagi-like flake. Here, she is woken up too late (Usagi-style), freaks out at her cat (Usagi-style), and rushes off to school in the same way Usagi always does. Except because of the different gender of the cat, she calls him a pervert for being near her while she’s getting undressed for school (in his defense, he’s covering his eyes. And is only attracted to cats).
She ends up getting conned into hanging around a bunch of kindergarteners after saving one of them from some bullies- unfortunately, the kids are too precocious for their own good, and go all “there’s no such thing as Sailor Moon, and we’ve never heard of Sailor Venus- are you feeling alright, old lady?” on her, much to her annoyance. Just when it looks to be 100% about Minako, Usagi shows up with the Transformation Pen to become a “Substitute Teacher”, because entire school buses full of children are the current Victims of the Week, and this one looks to be next. Now it’s VENUS’S attack that doesn’t work right (the monster just shrugs it off), and so she learns that “believing in yourself” is the key to victory after watching the children cheer them on, and pulls out a “Venus Meteor Shower” (the same attack sequence as the Crescent Beam, but it splits into dozens of energy beams that converge on a target instead), which is (almost) never seen again in the show, even though Artemis is all “oh that’s just one of your latent powers”.
(First Appearance: Crescent Beam Shower)
This is Dark Sailor Mercury from the silly live-action “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” TV series. She doesn’t appear in this show, but I felt like including this image for some reason.
An & Ail, having just gone after tiny kindergarteners, have now begun attacking FREAKING BABIES as part of their plan! BABIES!! This leads to our main plot, as Usagi & Ami meet up with a mother and her baby approximately three seconds before a Cardian attack, and thus now feel responsible for the infant (the mother is left in the hospital thanks to an Energy Drain). The authorities are somehow convinced to leave baby Manami with Mamoru (a childless college-age boy working a menial job), which serves the purpose of having him and Usagi interact in a meaningful way.
The biggest thing I remember about this in the original dub is having a bit where the baby pees in An’s face (twice) being edited out, but in the Sailor Says Moral-Of-The-Day portion at the end of the episode, sure enough- there’s a shot of the baby pissing directly in An’s face! Full stream and everything! They did this in an earlier episode when Sailor Mars slaps Sailor Moon to knock her out of a stupor. Naturally, the dub left out scenes like Usagi discovering Manami’s penis (surprise!), and the girls catching sight of child-rearing Usagi & Mamoru and snarkily asking when Usagi had Mamoru’s baby :). EVEN AMI GETS IN ON IT!! AMI!!!
The two argue back and forth for a bit, but soon make up when Manami starts taking his first steps! Ami interrupts the festivities, and sends Moon after the Cardian, who wipes out the other Sailors because she used a bunch of babies as a HUMAN SHIELD- the BITCH!! And sadly, THIS is the episode that gives Sailor Mercury her “Upgraded Power”- an episode that barely features her at all. She freezes the Cardian solid, allowing Moon Princess Halation to finish her off. Usagi & Mamoru, hand in hand, cheering Manami’s first words (their own names, followed by “bye-bye!”), is adorbz.
(First Appearance: Bubble Spray Freezing)
OMG IT’S THE REI HINO/SINGING IDOL EPISO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-DDE!!! This one produced TWO cheesy pop songs for the Sailor Moon soundtrack back in the day. It centers around Rei performing a couple of songs in front of her entire school (Japanese society is hyper-obsessed with “Idol Singers”). Sadly, this episode uses the “Triangle Eyes” director, and so all of his girls look a bit deformed, and super-young. So Young Jab’s Rei Lust is not applicable in this particular case. Even when she’s lording her position over everyone at the festival thing and bossing everyone around.
Rei in a perfect microcosm: gladly telling her friends about how easy writing all of her songs was, and how easily the melodies flowed from her fingertips, and how little effort she puts into everything… while he see the images of her tearing up sheets, angrily pounding on keyboard keys, and slumping over, defeated, with tears welling up in her eyes. THAT IS REI HINO.
In any case, a Cardian attacks her while she’s singing the opening stanza (these opening clips became Call My Name (And I’ll Be There) in the original dub- making a whole song off a short bit). The Cardian (a giant nudist Mermaid named Siren), shrugs off the Sailors’ powers and pretty much drains all of them, and a weakened Mars’s Fire Soul does little, too. However, the Moonlight Knight gives his trademark inspirational speech, leading to Mars casing “Fire Soul Bird!” at the creature, stunning her (the bad-ass firebird actually deftly avoids Siren’s water spout and tears right through her body). One Halation later, and it’s over- Rei finishes her recital. And OH MY GOD, HER SONG IS ACTUALLY USING THE SAME MELODY AS O STARRY NIGHT YOU GUYS!! That is totally the song from the Original Dub, with different words!! I am totally marking out here you guys!! Checking the original version, and yup- both sets of dubbers just copied the same melody. The original dub versions are better (and use a better singer, too- this poor girl barely sounds like she can hit a proper note).
And then it ends in the only way it could- with Usagi genuinely complimenting Rei’s skills and hard work… and an embarrassed Rei blowing it off with a playful jab (suggesting she teach USAGI the same traits), which starts a fight when Usagi takes offense to it. Because Rei cannot handle compliments from Usagi, and cannot make comments to her come off as anything but teasing. God this is magnificent.
(First Appearance: Fire Soul Bird)
Seriously, who animates a character pulling out an attack like THIS (notice the tiny lil’ monster), and then never uses it again? WHERE DID THESE POWERS GO?!?!
An unusually low-key one, featuring Jupiter going after “Seijuro”, in an episode themed around what lovebirds ones do for each other. Turns out that primarily, they make lunches for each other. Seijuro’s inability to understand this aspect of human nature, combined with Mako mooning over him all… Makoto-like… pretty much carries the whole episode (along with some speculation that Seijuro, who arrived at the same time the Moonlight Knight did, is their mysterious savior). It actually doesn’t fit the “Episode Template” at all for this run, which is nice, too. An/Natsumi is naturally hella-jealous, and straight-up ATTACKS, launching Mako around with those invisible energy waves of hers. Sailors Moon & Mercury have to arrive to help out (having carried a minor subplot about Usagi forgetting her lunch), but a Cardian is summoned that whips out the Senshi’s natural enemy: Snares.
Everyone’s pretty much toast, but the Moonlight Knight springs Jupiter, who naturally gets HER Power-Up- Supreme Thunder DRAGON! This monstrous electronic being looked so bad-ass that it’s a shame it doesn’t recur. But hey- there’s “Crescent Beam Shower!” again! I didn’t know we ever saw those twice! The Cardian is soon beaten, and everyone’s all “oh well, Seijuro must not be the Moonlight Knight”. All of the random switching in and out of secret identities here should have REALLY clued in SOMEONE, however- An arriving to attack, then Seijuro suddenly becoming Ail? Then Mako doing the same and becoming Jupiter? These guys are all Lois Laneing this Secret ID stuff…
Sailor Jupiter- most talented of the Sailors.
The wonderful Snow White episode, which features perhaps the most famous example of hilarious dubbing in anime history.
In this one, the girls take part in a Snow White play. Since Mamoru’s stuck being the director of a play, the girls come up with the subject matter and cast themselves in it. And right out of the gate we get an incident that became infamous- the girls are debating just who gets to play the lead (Rei because she came up with the idea; Usagi because she’s “cute and adorable”‘), at which point Makoto simply says that “My breasts are the biggest, so I should be Snow White” Despite this FLAWLESS LOGIC, the people in charge of the Original Dub changed it to “I have the most acting talent”, but kept both the gesture where she sticks out her prodigious bosom, AND a little boing sound- therefore, Sailor Moon fans would forever-after refer to Mako’s “Big Talent” as a clever euphemism.
Here, it’s dubbed as “after all, I have the biggest boobs out of all of you.” with the smuggest tone possible. Then she tauntingly says “want to take measurements?” Later, she shoves them RIGHT INTO CAMERA, practically in Rei’s face (Rei exasperatedly looks right at ’em, too). How did this girl not immediately become the most popular character again? All the girls end up arguing over the role (even Ami, who figures that her extreme studying means she’ll need the role that involves her being asleep for a chunk of the thing, so she has fewer lines to memorize), but Natsumi pops in, announces her candidacy, then rigs the straw-drawing so she gets to play the lead. Naturally, as Mamoru’s the Prince, she wants to do LOTS of practice on the kissing scene.
Alas, the second the play opens (like, before they even get on the stage), a Lady Clown Cardian shows up (all because Ail was pissed he didn’t get to play the Prince) and starts attacking. The Sailors immediately transform, throw out some epic smack-talk (Mercury demands the time back that she lost to studying; Mars talks about her red high heels), and basically kick its ass in three seconds (I notice that ALL FIVE Sailors basically overwhelm almost any foe).
By the end, An wails about doing all that hard work for nothing (and having her chance to kiss Mamoru stolen), while Ail just silently pouts “I REALLY wanted to be the Prince.” Amazeballs episode.
One I barely remember- Usagi & Natsumi both get in trouble at school (thanks to a funny subplot where Ms. Haruna gives them detention after school because she’s furious over her date being cancelled, then forgetting them at school because he un-cancelled), and engage in more rivalry over Mamoru’s affections. Meanwhile, Ail attempts to use a Cardian to kill Mamoru, but it simply goes psychotic and starts attacking random people! In another infamous bit, it attacks some ducks at the park and steals THEIR energy (the Original Dub had a bit of a meme out of this, with Ail crying “NO- NOT THE DUCKS!” told with a ton of dramatic anger)- all of this disobedience is considered a major issue, as it should be impossible. Clips of the Makai Tree growing restless only continue this thread. The Cardian completely wipes the floor with the Senshi (despite Venus & Mercury using their new attacks), but Sailor Moon & the Moonlight Knight pull off a last minute save. Kind of a weird one, but at least it wasn’t the Standard Template.
EPISODES #58 & #59:
This whole arc begins its end-game, as the Makai Tree’s acting weirder and weirder, and Ail & An send a four-faced Cardian to steal mass amounts of energy to counteract this. However, after Usagi is attacked by the Tree in their apartment (they were missing school, and she went to check up on them), the excess energy it gains leads An to plot a sacrifice- she allows Usagi back in (after brusquely telling her off earlier), then SHOVES her towards the Tree. However, the Tree FREAKS THE HELL OUT, murdering their Cardian and actually SPEAKS for the first time.
Next episode sees An & Ail deal out a HELLACIOUS beating to the Sailors (their Force Field easily blocks Fire Soul Bird, and they throw out these VICIOUS energy bursts as the girls are lying down- causing them to bolt upwards from the impact). Usagi transforms into Sailor Moon right in front of everyone, but she too gets a shellacking. Then, when things are at their lowest, Usagi jumps IN FRONT OF the energy wave, to protect Mamoru (who went along the second time, to make sure Natsumi was okay). Then Mamoru does the same. They basically start saving EACH OTHER and the aliens are all like “WTF? What is this WUV shit?”, but it turns out this actually MEANS SOMETHING to An, who sacrifices her life to save Ail when the Makai Tree starts thrashing around.
Then, with Ail freaking out and An going all “I understand what love is and stuff”, the Makai Tree finally begins to speak for real, and gives its origin story: A tree in a vast, empty ocean, that created a race of people to keep it company. However, they grew covetous of its energy, and warred against each other, to the point where their world died. The Tree floated through space to find another world, but its energy dimmed, taking away its voice and killing all but An & Ail, who grew up without anyone to speak to, and so grew up selfish and uncaring. But only now does the Tree have enough energy to teach them properly. It accepts “Moon Princess Halation” to cleanse itself, at which point it resurrects An and the three float away from Earth, the Tree now a tiny sapling. Oh and it turns out that the Moonlight Knight is the manifestation of Mamoru’s love for Usagi, as even with his memories wiped, he felt the need to protect his beloved. But now that Mamoru fell in love with Usagi all over again, he’s unneeded, and merges back with his host. And thus we end this odd little chapter in Sailor Moon history.
A good pair of episodes (especially the Sailors’ invasion of the apartment building, deftly avoiding tentacles in a way that would be the envy of most Japanese animated heroines), with a solid ending that isn’t just “hey, unfurl the Silver Crystal already”- it’s all about TALKING and SACRIFICE.
REVIEW OF PART ONE:
This arc as a whole is a peculiar aside, but I actually really liked it. It has good characterization, and a lot of “classic” moments for this wacky group. The “Sailor Focus” episodes were good, and it’s nice to have things on a more “Small Scale” than “The imminent destruction of the universe”. An & Ail were a bit trickier, though- they were so inherently GOOFY at times, and their behavior so unrealistic, that it took me out of things. Did the two REALLY need to fall in love with Mamoru & Usagi at first sight? Like, two seconds in? It made their whole “True Love” thing seem very odd, as the second they find some competition, they turn into jealous, manipulative horn-dogs.
All in all, though, Sailor Moon “Filler” is often just as good as the stuff that’s actually important.