Sailor Moon R (Episodes 63-68)
Welcome back to more Sailor Moon reviews! Yay!
We last left off with Sailor Mercury developing a new power, and we’re in the midst of another “Sailors Gain New Powers” set of episodes. Oddly enough, we just DID THAT not ten episodes earlier, but because that was a “Filler” season, the showrunners decided… to just ignore those powers forever. I mean… WHY? Why NOT shake things up with those powers and these awesome new ones? It’s very weird to make that season not only Filler, but pointless to the future stories as well.
The Droid known as “Dumbull”, and famed women’s pro wrestler Bull Nakano.
YAY ANOTHER SAILOR MARS ONE!!! In this’n, Rei is upset after her pervy ol’ Grandpa decides to set up a “Protection Aesthetics” class to teach women to become strong and beautiful via the martial arts (this is years before Tae-Bo, by the way)… but of course it’s just a way to drool over young girls in skimpy leotards. The “Joshi Puroresu” tropes fly in this one, with German Suplexes, Lariats and assorted pro wrestling moves thrown around, and the Droid straight-up transforms into a Palette Swap of Bull Nakano!
Rei of course rages over this whole thing, especially when Koan manipulates her way into leading the class and flirting with Grandpa. But it’s the “Slow Burn Rei” behind the scenes, as she pretends to be fine with it while instead she glowers. Of course, being Rei, she’s still openly-hostile to her Grandpa in person. When the “Crystal Point” becomes infected, the girls all start fighting each other, and finally the Droid transforms and beats the hell out of Grandpa (who still gets a bad-ass moment, wiping out a room full of girls in a single flurry of blows). And then Rei gets one of those heroic moments that makes her so rad, as despite all the arguing she does with Grandpa, she literally DIVES IN THE WAY of the monster’s attacks, getting stomped on repeatedly after a vicious elbowdrop. Like, REPEATEDLY repeatedly. It’s brutal to watch.
Ultimately, Sailor Mars showcases her new power- “Burning Mandala”, which lets out a storm of fire-rings at her opponents, acting more like a Multiattacking Blast than her old power (which was like a line or cone of flame). I still liked the old “form her hands like a gun” move myself, but it’s okay.
(First Appearance: Mars’s “Burning Mandala!” attack)
It’s the “Thunder” one- notable for me because if features a teenage girl reacting to thunder like a small child, which gets rather grating after about five seconds (like, SCREAMING AND CRYING about it? Really?). What’s sad is that I actually know a 60-something year old WOMAN who goes all “OHHHHHHH NOOOOOOO!!!” when it thunders out- it’s bizarre to me that an adult could behave that way.
IN ANY CASE, Rubeus suddenly remembers that Chibi-Usa was afraid of thunder, and so to draw her out, Petz (eldest of the Spectre Sisters), in her debut as a threat, summons a Droid who fights using the weather. Meanwhile, Chibi-Usa reacts to the weather by trying to travel back home using her Magic Key, but this only cancels out gravity in the immediate area (leading to a great scene where Rei gets her head stuck up Venus’s dress). This leaves Sailor Moon alone against the Droid, but she finishes it quickly once Tuxedo Mask shows up. The whole Usagi/Chibi-Usagi/Tuxedo Mask thing takes precedence here, as the little girl meets Sailor Moon & Tuxedo Mask for the first time, and runs off happily with the guy, making Usagi jealous.
Sailor Venus and her iconic “Venus Love-Me Chain!” attack, which quickly supplanted her “Crescent Beam” as her emblematic attack, unlike the other girls, whose “First Season” powers were their most iconic.
This one had actually convinced me early-on that Jupiter & Venus were the “minor” Sailors out of the main group- as this Season was my first, my first set of “Solo Episodes” featured Mars alone, Mercury alone… and then these two being forced to SHARE one! So I was convinced that not only were they minor characters compared to the others, but that they were paired off as “best friends” separate from the group as well. As it turns out, the two really don’t interact that much in the show.
In this one, Minako & Makoto are led into a stupid fight when they have a small disagreement over the nature of love (arguing over whether or not a pair of boys were teasing Chibi-Usa because they liked her). They soon segue into a shouting match where Mako accuses Minako of sitting on the sidelines and never trying to get into a relationship, while Minako accuses Makoto of comparing every boy she meets to the guy who dumped her (I mean, CAN YOU IMAGINE??). And so now of course the two are no longer speaking. This is combined with a subplot about how Petz & Calaveras (now finally getting some action for the episode) are arguing as well- Petz has “being dumped” in her backstory as well.
So the “Crystal Point” is some Love Jewelry Store, but Venus & Jupiter make up within, kind of cheering each other up (“That guy who dumped you… didn’t have very good taste in women”). And soon it’s Jupiter & Venus versus the Spectre Sisters, debuting their new attacks. Jupiter’s is pretty lame (just throwing a baseball-sized ball of energy rather than creating a HUGE blast), but Venus’s “Love-Me Chain” is solid enough, and easily becomes her most iconic move (the only one of the girls whose most iconic attack comes from this season’s upgrades). The Sisters flee from the battle, but their Droid (an oddly-talkative one. It’s pretty standard for these to JUST speak their own names, but this one can actually chat!) is left behind to “finish them”, but Sailor Moon (who is JUST NOW arriving) wipes it out just as it does a Waxy Snare all over the Sailors, even complaining that she didn’t even have the time to do her catchphrases.
The whole “Venus/Jupiter Fight” thing seems like it could have been a great episode, but it kind of gets thrown in as an afterthought to Usagi’s continued moping over Mamoru.
(First Appearance: Jupiter’s “Sparkling Wide Pressure” attack, Venus’s “Venus Love-Me Chain!” attack)
The strange Monster-Of-The-Week designs continue. For some reason, this one was the most memorable part of the episode to Teenage Me.
Petz & Calaveras are paired up AGAIN, which has always struck me as weird- why make two of the Sisters into a duo that always works together? This is the “curry” episode… which I don’t remember at all, except that it was the first time I’d heard the term “curry” (this was before that type of food was EVERYWHERE), which they use constantly, because Chibi-Usa has to make a “rice & curry” dish for her school, and Usagi & Mamoru are trying to help her. Chibi-Usa also mourns over missing her parents, giving us a shot of them in silhouette, where it is BRUTALLY obvious that it’s just Mamoru & Usagi (20 YEAR SPOILER ALERT!). Like, who the frig tries to go all “OOOOOOOOOOOOOH IT’S A SECRET!” and then shows SAILOR MOON’S MOST FAMOUS ATTRIBUTE in the silhouette? I mean, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO COULD IT BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?
There’s a nice bit where Usagi gets left behind and Chibi-Usa recruits Rei in her place, but Rei (now that Usagi is out of earshot) is all sympathetic to her friend’s cause and insists that it isn’t right to do that. Then Rei MOPES about it! Naturally she’d never let USAGI see that side of her… And now the Sisters are drawing “Dark Energy” into a supermarket (naturally ruining curry ingredients… and yes, they really use the word “curry” like a million times here. You remember how in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Tony Stark would shout “My Tech!” about five times an episode? Well this is about fifty times worse than that). Then their monster Avocadora (really) transforms and attacks. Ah, NOW I remember some of this episode: the monster essentially looks like a Hawaiian Island Girl stereotype, complete with a bra that’s basically two cups over top of gigantic breasts. Dunno why I remember THAT of all things. Musta just stuck with me.
Tuxedo Mask & Avocadora actually get into a protracted FENCING MATCH with their respective weapons, but he just throws his cane at her head and then the Princess Halation finishes her. Petz & Calaveras them immediately flee. And it turns out that Usagi’s curry actually DOESN’T suck as much as everyone is fearing it will!
Another one that never appeared in the Original Dub, as it’s a standard “Beach Episode” (ie. the animators were allowed to draw teenage girls in swimsuits for 22 minutes, though only Mako rocks the two-piece). And there are PLESIOSAURS in it. Rei goes off on a deserted isle (which Japan has a LOT OF, given its archipelagoean nature), but the girls find out about it and follow her (it’s… that easy? For teen girls to run off on their own with zero adults around?). There, Rei & Chibi-Usa get along even further, and it becomes a “thing” that they connect and become close. Makoto makes the dangerous decision to grill things while wearing a bikini.
OH MY GOD THE BABY PLESIOSAUR IS SO CUTE LOOK AT HIS GIANT EYES AWWWWWWW…!!!! There’s a great bit where the characters question how Makoto is suddenly able to pilot a gigantic BOAT, and Mako just gives a casual “I can do anything” with a smirk. I love how one running gag is that the cats are having the most miserable time EVER in the heat and on the sea. None of their usual snarking- just agony. And then a volcano erupts (Rei must have the world’s shittiest travel agent- who the hell doesn’t check out for ACTIVE VOLCANOES?).
This provides a rare instance of the Sailors using their powers on non-Monster stuff, which is a better indication of their capabilities (if you’re Battleboarding with them or something. You know- “Can Sailor Moon beat Spider-Man with 4 hours of prep-time, and are we counting Tuxedo Mask as a specific power of hers or not?”… not that I’ve ever… Battleboarded… or anything). Jupiter cracks open a huge crevasse for the lava to flow into, while Venus can use the Love-Me Chain to pull a BOULDER into the way! Everyone is completely nonplussed to see Plesiosaurs there too, I might add- they’re just like “oh, look- Plesiosaurs” like it ain’t no thing. I guess once you take on the 90-Foot-Tall Bitch Queen of the Dark Kingdom, seeing FREAKING PLESIOSAURS just doesn’t compare. Chibi-Usa adopts the little one, but the mom shows up after a pretty short “bonding” moment, and I can TOTALLY see why the Dub skipped this initially.
… What? I show inappropriately-sexy Fanart of the GIRLS in this show all the time! Why NOT show the villain Crimson Rubeus as a delicious piece of manflesh? What are you- SEXIST?
And NOW we come to a big moment for my initial Sailor Moon fandom. This right here was the FINAL episode of the initial set of the American Dub, as they’d hit 65 episodes (by skipping a few in the middle), which was enough for syndication. This provoked a HUGE outcry from the fanbase, who were thus robbed out of the rest of the season. Of course technically they aired the “Doom Tree” season AFTER this set, because somebody screwed up the order (yes, that really happened to a PROFESSIONAL COMPANY), but this was where continuity ended for a matter of about two years. In fact, it was so much later (especially when you’re young) that my initial HUGE obsession with Sailor Moon (which, trust me, was all-consuming at times- thank God I didn’t have the internet at the time) had waned to the point where I only casually watched the remainder of Sailor Moon R when they finally dubbed it, and I think I missed parts of the next season as well.
This one’s an EPIC, though- effectively a “Mid-Season Finale”, it showcases Rubeus fighting for the very first time, AND has all four Ayakashi Sisters facing off against the Sailors- to a unique song, no less. They even stand off right across from each other to start! And we even see sights of the Black Moon Clan’s invasion of Crystal Tokyo in the future, complete with the Sailors being seen fending them off with a giant force field created from their own powers.
Dang, this one even gets the “Animation Upgrade”, with tons of great shots, well-animated fight scenes, and more. Calaveras suddenly pulls off whip-based techniques while Petz blasts away with energy. Rubeus shows up and starts pulling off these great little “energy ball” shots from a series of still-frames. Actually, most of the fights pull off that “artful still-frame” thing, so there’s not a lot of dramatic back and forth. But seeing Tuxedo Mask show up throws literally dozens of roses at once upgrades his status on the Bad-Ass Tiers quite nicely. Seriously, when the guy in the tuxedo who uses ROSES as weapons starts channeling motherf*cking Macross as a battle technique, you know shit’s on.
Ultimately, the girls rescue Chibi-Usa from the Black Moon Clan and escape, with nothing truly settled. And so, my age-old heartbreak at this being the end of everything continued…
That’s all for now! Next up, I think we deal with the fates of the Four Spectre Sisters!