Jab’s Reviews: Sailor Moon R (Episodes #85-89)
I think this is the bad guy.
Now we come to the final disc of the set, and the last five episodes of Sailor Moon R- Chibi-Usa, the annoying brat who’s FINALLY been revealed as the daughter of Sailor Moon & Tuxedo Mask from the future… has been kidnapped by the Black Moon Clan, and Wiseman’s final plan comes to fruition. Now, it’s very clear that he’s got a gameplan of his own, and it DEFINITELY doesn’t involve Prince Dimande or Saphir.
Black Lady- the Upgraded Evil Form of Chibi-Usa. Because in Japan, aging is SO HATEFUL that all children immediately become adults when they turn evil.
Chibi-Usa is in the thrall of Wiseman, who alters her memories and fills her head with moments of sheer cruelty, shifting her into the wicked Black Lady. The close-ups of her body turning into an adult’s form are HILARIOUS, as you get a BIG close-up of basically her naked butt (her body is black, highlighted purple- it leaves nothing to the imagination), followed by her breasts expanding directly towards the screen. She attacks the Sailors, who nearly break Wiseman’s control, but he arrives and pushes her further. The only issue I have here is that his manipulations revolve around having her forget a surprise birthday party, thus making her parents and the Sailors look “mean”. Like… THAT’s her big villainous reason for evil? That was the best they could do? We end on that note, as Black Lady teleports away.
Our poor, hapless, beautiful bad guys.
Gotta love the titles- Saphir Dies: Wiseman’s Trap! Subtle and Spoiler-free, anime ain’t. The Japanese must not care about that kind of thing. Good ol’ Wiseman engages in some pointless dialogue TO HIMSELF, which of course is overheard by a suspicious Saphir- some really clumsy storytelling has the guy going all “BWAH-HA-HAAAA I will kill all life in the universe so that the Death Phantom can reign over glorious silence! Also, Prince Dimande sucks and is my pawn!” This naturally makes Dimande’s brother turn on him, and soon he teleports off to Earth when Wiseman overpowers him.
An injured Saphir runs into the Four Spectre Sisters, and it turns out that Petz used to be in love with him- he’s all “what is this human value known as friendship?”, and runs off to confront his brother, so the Sisters call the Sailors in to run interference. This leaves Saphir stunned, “How foolish. This could have been a trap!” and the Sailors humorously rebuff him with “yeah, but we tend to trust people, even if they’re our enemies”- he’s dumbfounded again. Black Lady easily defeats the Sailors, but Saphir is able to talk to Dimande, arguing that Wiseman is a traitor. However, before he can tell the WHOLE story, a massive energy beam bursts forth from the Black Moon spaceship, frying Saphir! Then, as he tries to choke out a few more words, Wiseman goes “Die!” and finishes the job once and for all! “I have spared you the pain of having to execute your own brother!”
The Malefic Black Crystal is growing ever larger in the Juuban District now, and OMG IT’S NARU!! And she basically all but says that she knows Usagi is Sailor Moon now, admits that “you probably can’t talk about it, but I get the feeling you know what that thing is…” and they kind of mutually agree to blow it off and act like nothing’s weird. A neat send-off for that character’s fallen importance to the series.
The Sailors arrive, but Sailor Moon IMMEDIATELY falls into a trap, and Prince Dimande once more uses his “Rape Spell” on her, to make her his. This time, however, she is able to power through it, not being brainwashed. Dimande is furious and shocked, but she’s able to carefully explain to him how the Spectre Sisters live happily on Earth, how Saphir thought something was up with Wiseman, and how the Prince and his people could easily find happiness on Earth. Just as Dimande is realizing this truth, Wiseman appears, basically goes “actually I’m done with y’all” and attacks Dimande!
The two engage in a brief brawl, seemingly evenly-matched… until Wiseman fires on Sailor Moon- the lovelorn Dimande leaps in front of the attack, getting impaled by a Dark Trident! As Wiseman laughs uproariously (with a friggin’ SKULL now showing up underneath his hood!), Dimande suffers a fatal wound… but just smirks and says “Don’t underestimate me!” and BLOWS WISEMAN’S ARMS OFF. An empty cloak falls to the ground… but as Dimande is giving his “I’m gonna die” speech to Sailor Moon about the regrets he has and what a mess he caused, Wiseman gathers his powers together and regenerates. He attempts his old Mind Control thing on Usagi, but she is absolutely NOT having it, shocking the dude into attacking. But only NOW does Tuxedo Mask, Master of Timing, arrive, and his rose actually halts the entire Black Energy Blast. Black Lady arrives for a final battle as the episode ends.
A pretty good episode with a LOT of plot happening, leaving the last of the Black Moon Clan dead, while Wiseman and Black Lady remain. Kick-ass animation, too- they had some top-of-the-line guys on this one, especially in the final pan-up shot of Black Lady’s flowing dress.
Usagi’s “Princess Serenity” form, with Chibi-Usa getting a similar look. In shoujo anime & manga, THIS is the bad-ass equivalent of “Super-Saiyan”.
Wiseman reveals that he is, in fact, the Death Phantom, and his goal is to wipe out all life everywhere, using Saphir’s technology to fire an energy bolt from Planet Nemesis that will destroy the Earth. And Black Lady’s on the attack, all “NOBODY LOVES ME!” and they’re like “YUH-HUH, WE TOTALLY DO!” and then Tuxedo Mask jumps in front of an energy blast meant for Sailor Moon. And then the unleashing of the Silver Crystal and a little bit more convincing from everyone is all it takes to turn Black Lady back into Chibi-Usa and end that thread. So the day is saved… except we’re only halfway through the episode and now the Dark Gate is open!
The Death Phantom strikes… but then some J-pop guitars kick in and you KNOW it’s on, as Sailor Moon/Neo-Queen Serenity unleashes her full power again. The original Japanese is neat at this point, because you get three “Usagi-Chan!”s from the girls… but an “Usagi!” from Mars- in Japanese honorifics, not using a -chan or -san is seen as a sign of dramatic closeness. Mamoru’s “Usako” is a young lover’s nickname. In any case, it’s Silver Crystal (vs) Black Crystal, and Serenity falters… until Chibi-Usa reveals what happened to her mother’s Crystal all that time ago- when it disappeared on her, it actually merged with her body! And so the thing reveals itself, Chibi-Usa gets her OWN Flowing White Princess Dress, and now TWO Silver Crystals are active- they quickly overwhelm the Death Phantom and destroy both him and the Black Crystal. Both royal girls survive the battle, as their “two Silver Crystals produce a miracle” that prevents the “Using It = Death” flaw on them. The day is saved!
Honestly… the Final Battle here kinda fell flat for me. Part of the issue is the villains fell one by one at Death Phantom’s hands, right up until the end, and then the girls “Care Bear Stare!” Black Lady away, and then the Death Phantom battle takes about two seconds before both Silver Crystals annihilate him. We ultimately never really LEARN ANYTHING about this villain, who just sits there and talks about destroying everything (I guess he’s just… Death?). He ends up a flat character, killed more or less the same way Beryl/Metalia were in the last Series, except this one doesn’t leave us with any culminating dread (granted, nothing’s gonna top all the Senshi dying horrible deaths, one after the other) or bittersweet feelings… unless you particularly care for Prince Rapist and his Black Moon Clan.
At least Chibi-Usa’s return home is well-done, with Usagi sort of mourning the daughter she hasn’t had yet. Also… the Future Adult Senshi, all full adult height and with lipstick? HELL YES.
Granted, parts of this season were well done- the Usagi/Mamoru break-up is legitimately heartbreaking to watch, especially for Usagi’s reaction. Some of the “filler” is fantastic, and the Sailors’ “Focus Episodes” were totally on-point. Esmeraude was pretty funny as a bad guy, and the Spectre Sisters/Senshi fights were nearly always great. But a lot of this arc was dependent upon the big “Mystery” stuff- like Chibi-Usa’s nature, her origins, why she’s here and after the Silver Crystal, why Mamoru is splitting up with Usagi, etc… and once you KNOW all that, watching it played out endlessly is excruciating. This is basically a 28-episode season… and about 26 of that is spent with SOME kind of “Big Mystery” going on. Dumping the Spectre Sisters and giving us the OTHER Black Moon Clanners partway through felt clumsy as well. Never mind how the whole “Enfuse Crystal Points With Dark Energy” thing got ignored after a point (ie. it probably wasn’t a big part of the manga, but we needed “filler” somehow).
Honestly… while this season feels suitably “Big” over the Doom Tree Arc (after all, the entire future is at stake here), it falls a bit short in terms of fun and characterization. Also, it’s weird that we hear all this stuff about Planet Nemesis and how the descendants of past rebels live there… and we only ever see a tiny handful of them! ENTIRE SPACESHIPS are flying around, and they’re staffed and piloted by nobody- we only see eight members of the Black Moon Clan and that’s all- not even a peanut gallery like Queen Beryl had. This aspect of it- the pain of being defeated and banished… it’s just not emphasized enough — only Dimande seems to be really angered by it, and everyone but Saphir are just “Standard Evil Villains”.
Oh yeah, there’s one more. But in this case, it’s more of an “extreme Clip Show”/Sneak Preview thing, except the characters give a running commentary over the clips. They show teasers for the next Series (including shadowy forms of the villains and two new Sailors), bicker over who should take over as the “New lead character”, and tease each other mercilessly (Mars even accuses Venus & Moon of “basically being the same person”!).
And that does it for my reviews of Sailor Moon R! Next up will be Sailor Moon S- aka the first or second-most popular and beloved season! Kinda mind-blowing that we get almost 100 episodes in before they come up with additional Sailors for the remaining planets in our solar system. And mix them into a storyline that deals with Christian iconography and the apocalypse.