We once again find ourselves with a new episode of Sailor Moon Crystal! I’ve been kind of down on the most recent episodes, but always still look forward to this show in the hopes that it’ll turn itself around. Do the Scouts finally have a chance to breath and develop beyond their initial episode, or are we gonna keep barreling right along through the Moon Kingdom mythology instead of giving me a reason to care about any of it? Let’s find out!
The episode begins where the last one left off, i.e. with Tuxedo Mask taking in a face full of dark magic at point blank range.
He falls unconcious and starts dreaming once again about the moon princess (who is definitely not Sailor Venus) and he finally realizes that he is the reincarnation of some dude from the moon.
He briefly regains consciousness and finds himself in the lap of Usagi. Wait, does this mean that someone has taken care of Kunzite (the bad guy who blasted Tuxedo Mask) while he was knocked out? Did we really just miss another chance to see the other scouts kick some ass? Anyway, he barely manages to wheeze out “Princess Serentiy” before the show cuts to the credits. I didn’t notice anything new this time, but they SOMEHOW put a mistake BACK INTO THE OPENING!!!
We return to the action after the credits and it turns out that Kuzite has yet to be defeated. So wait, why did he stop attacking? Is he enjoying the drama too much? Not only that, but Usagi now has one of those floating bubble thingies which holds her and Mamoru, which makes just as much sense as the bubble Sailor Jupiter made in the last episode. Now that Mamoru has once again fallen unconscious, Usagi starts to freak about it and starts to Hulk the fuck out!! She get’s a crescent on her head, as well as a new outfit that isn’t conducive to the imminent fight (give or take five minutes of exposition of course).
Usagi/Serenity starts to have flashbacks to when she was the Moon Princess, and we finally get some information about the Moon Kingdom that is long overdue. So at some point in the past, people were able to travel between the Earth and the Moon. Serenity was the Princess of the Moon, and Mamoru (his previous incarnation was called Endymion) was the Prince of Earth. What, all of Earth? Was this back when Pangaea was still holding it together, or did they have super advanced boat technology that made it feasible to maintain a hold on every single landmass on Earth? Either way, they started to see each other, but their love was forbidden because of reasons.
So this is where it starts to get weird. A bunch of Earthlings (common folk by the looks of it) march up to the Moon palace with swords and pikes, and declare war on the Moon Kingdom. Um… Okay. Naturally, Endymion is against this and let’s the people know it.
So how exactly did this ragtag band of Earth rebels make it to the moon in the first place? How is it that the Moon Kingdom didn’t have any soldiers around to take care of them when they approached the front door? They do appear to be controlled by that purple cloud thingy from Dark Kingdom (Queen Metaria) so maybe she tossed a bit of black magic into the mix. Anyway, the flashback ends with one of the Earth Rebels trying to attack Serenity, but killing Endymion instead when he jumps in to protect her. The weight of these realizations on Usagi cause her to start crying, and her tears end up turning into the Silver Crystal. Okay… so now the magic MacGuffin has revealed itself and I’m guessing that now we’re on track to destroying the Dark Kingdom, right? I mean, it’s not like they’re going to pull out ANOTHER magic MacGuffin to explain why THIS magic MacGuffin isn’t the most MacGuffiny MacGuffin of all, are they? The problem is that so much time and energy was put into making this MacGuffin the ultimate source of power, that it seems like kind of a waste to drop it on us now. Is this how the old show was paced? Is this how the manga was? I’m pretty sure there’s still a bunch more scouts we need to get introduced to, but now that we have the Silver Crystal, which I believe they said could DESTROY PLANETS, then where else is the show going to go from there? I guess they could fight crime or something after destroying Queen Metaria, but the show has shown zero interest in doing anything other than focus on this one storyline. Hell, if this was actually a twelve episode show, I wouldn’t be surprised considering how fast we’ve gotten to this point. Getting back to the crystal itself, it’s not even like the it’s appearance can be seen as some sort of symbol of Usagi’s growth as a person or warrior. She’s really really sad and I guess that’s all it took for the planet destroying Crystal to appear. Okay fine, she’s got her memories back, but it doesn’t seem to give her any insight or wisdom about the situation, and instead just reinforces the idea that these two are meant to be together. That’s fine! Go for the romance angle, but the show is doing too much right now by throwing the Crystal into the mix mere seconds after throwing “Usagi’s awakened memories” and “the team’s realization that she’s actually the princess” plot points at us.
So After the Crystal appears, both Metaria and Beryl get huge world domination boners, but only one of them is able to act on it.
During this time, Usagi somehow was able to put the power of the Crystal (not the Crystal itself) inside Tuxedo Mask. I’m guessing it will revive him at some point, but this also means that Kunzite’s target is him. Wait a minute. Is that what I think it is? Yes it is! THE OTHER SCOUTS ARE ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING!! Kunzite tries to rush at Usagi and Tuxedo Mask, but the four of them instead hold him back with their usual bag of tricks. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long because Beryl gets in on the action and distracts the scouts long enough to kidnap Tuxedo Mask. Usagi is a complete wreck now that she’s lost the man she loves to the enemy along with the Silver Crystal’s power which is the worst thing that could happen at this point. The team heads back to their home base (under the arcade), and Ami (Sailor Mercury) FINALLY asks Artemis to explain what the hell is going on.
So here’s the plot. Long long ago in a galaxy that is right here, There was a Moon Kingdom and an Earth kingdom, and the four Scouts (Sailor Venus was the leader) were the sworn protectors of Princess Serenity. They lived in harmony for a while, but eventually Earth (I’m guessing it had to be ALL of it) declared war on the moon, but it turns out they were being controlled and manipulated by Queen Metaria. During the conflict, Endymion (Tuxedo Mask) tried to stop the Earth Invaders but was killed instead. Now here’s where the explanation get a bit fuzzy. Artemis says “THEY” were able to stop the Earthlings and seal away Queen Metaria. By “THEY” does he mean the scouts, or the scouts and Serenity? Also, if Moon Kingdom was destroyed, what happened to the Scouts, the Princess, and (presumably) any survivors? We don’t get any more answers, but what happens next is still a great moment in the series. Sailor Moon starts to beg Sailor Venus for answers as to who the people were that stole Mamoru and where they are. Venus is trying to calm her down and keeps referring to her as Princess, but Usagi is sick of being called that and doesn’t want to hear it.
We’ve got a really great contrast here, with Usagi not wanting the full responsibility that’s being force upon her, and Sailor Venus (Minako) who out of all of them is the most in touch with the Moon Kingdom and feels reverence to the Princess. We really haven’t seen Minako outside of her role as Sailor Venus, and I wonder why this is. Is it because she was discovered first? Is it because she’s the real leader of the group? Or maybe she’s using it to avoid problems she has in her REAL life. As cool as this Moon Kingdom stuff is, you still have to go home at the end of the day. Maybe she’s not eager to get back there? However, this once again only highlights the lack of similar development given to the other Scouts, and they do something I find kind of egregious in this scene. Usagi collapse from the weight of everything that happens, and all the Scouts circle around her and start calling her Princess. Okay, BULLSHIT!!! She’s USAGI! You’ve known her for MONTHS now, and the first time all of you met her was as a regular teenage girl who made you smile. What’s this crap where your treating her like you don’t know her personally? Are you going to kneel before her every time she invites you to lunch at school!? Are you going to go shopping with her and tell her everything looks good on her because she’s the chosen one!? Look, I understand them calling Minako the Princess right off the bat; That’s the only way you knew her. I understand Minako calling Usagi the Princess as well; same basic idea. What I DON’T understand is why they’re doing it to someone that they should consider a friend. They ARE all friends, right? Oh wait, how many episodes did we get of you guys hanging out and doing stuff as friends? That’s right, the show wants to move along at a breakneck pace so things like character development and building camaraderie ends up falling to the wayside! WE’VE GOT A LONG DEAD MOON KINGDOM TO WORRY ABOUT!!!
Ugh… Alright! It was just a throwaway line! Let’s just move on to what’s next. Mamoru is in the dark kingdom on some crude as hell looking stone operating table where I can only assume exploratory surgery will soon take place to pull out the crystal. I’m not too confident about his doctor’s though.
Back on Earth, Usagi is having nightmares about what could be happening to Mamoru in Dark Kingdom. Luna herself is feeling guilt for what happened (not sure exactly what she did wrong, but I’ll go with it), and has a flashback to how she came to Earth. It’s… weird.
Anyway, an indeterminate amount of time later (let’s say a day or two), Luna, Artemis, and the girls go over to Usagi’s house to try and cheer her up. They find out that for some reason her hair has been growing at a surprisingly swift rate since she regained her memories, so they decide to trim her hair as a way of making her feel better.
Finally, FINALLY we get an amazing fucking scene of these five getting along, cheering each other up, and actually feeling like genuine friends. They also THANKFULLY call her Usagi the whole time and only refer to her as a Princess AS WELL as Usagi. I love the idea that they care as much for Usagi as the they Princess, and they also feel that she couldn’t have become the Princess if Usagi wasn’t such an awesome person to begin with.
YES!! YES!!!! YES!!!!!!! Why the hell couldn’t we have stuff like this earlier!? It would have helped a lot if we had more scenes of them together NOT fighting bad guys (and most of the scenes where they aren’t fighting bad guys were about discussing how to fight bad guys later). It gets even better. At some point during this scene, Usagi is reminded of what happened to Mamoru and starts to freak out again. The animation on her face is superb and genuinely gut wrenching.
The others Scouts are able to get her to calm down and remind her how much she can kick ass. YES! I was SO afraid that they were gonna force her to stay behind because she’s the super duper special Princess now, but FUCK THAT!! She’s their ringer, and they aren’t about to do something without her by their side! WOO!!! At this point, Luna chimes in that they should go to the moon. Wait, what?
She doesn’t say HOW they’ll get there (saving that for next episode, but I’m hoping for a giant canon) but she does tell them that Dark Kingdom is either ON the moon, or the location of Dark Kingdom can be FOUND on the moon. The subtitles are a bit ambiguous here. Either way, the group steels themselves for the journey ahead. Their greatest challenge yet, and they’re ready to face it head on. Usagi’s has dried her tears and is ready to do what needs to be done.
Wow. So the episode started out continuing the downward slope I feel the show has taken for the last few episodes, but by the end it pulls it all together in such a spectacular fashion that it redeems so much of what went wrong with this series up to this point. Okay fine, one amazing scene between these characters doesn’t quite fix this show’s insane pacing, but it was enough to reinvigorate my excitement to see what happens next. I wonder though where the show is going to go after this “rescue Tuxedo Mask” arc. If these five can just stroll into Dark Kingdom and mop the floor with everyone in there, how are the bad guy’s going to be threatening again? I can hardly think of a victory that would be more thoroughly decisive than a siege of their castle, so the only direction it really can go after that is to introduce new villains or new MacGuffins which can feel a bit contrived. That’s why other shows usually space these “game changing” moments out a bit more than Sailor Moon Crystal seems to be doing. All that said, what works here is EXACTLY what this show desperately needed to work for me to keep my interest, and I’m more excited to see what’s next than I have been in a long time. Can’t wait for the next episode! TO THE MOON!!!!
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]