We’re back with another episode of everyone’s favorite show about time traveling ! Now the show has been headed towards a train wreck situation for a couple of episodes now like the last story arc did once it hit the midway point. Still, the potential for this story has been evident since the beginning and there’s more than enough places they could go to make this a satisfying chapter in the anime. Will this episode begin to turn things around, or am I just an optimistic fool trying to ignore the fact that this show is about to crash and burn in spectacular fashion yet again? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins where the last episode left off with Prince Demande finally showing himself before our heroes.
He has Sailor Moon trapped in some sort of imprisonment bubble thingy and takes her back with him to the planet Nemesis for presumably nefarious purposes. Everyone is distraught over this turn of events and we cut from there to Sailor Moon’s dreams where once again this show goes into “don’t go there” territory.
STOP DOING THIS! I don’t get what the hell is going through her mind when she thinks these things. It’s pretty damn worrisome that a girl THAT young who is ALSO her daughter is seen as such a threat to her. What could she POSSIBLY think of Mamoru if she’s worried that he’ll have sex with their daughter!?!? THANKFULLY she wakes up before the dream can go on any longer and finds herself on a bed in a dress she wasn’t wearing before. OKAY!! EVEN MORE CREEPINESS!!
Surprisingly, her brooch is still nearby so she grabs it and finds the Neo Queen Serenity hologram thingy in the middle of the room. Prince Demande comes by and forces her into a chair so that they can have a lengthy exposition dump. So as we already know, the Black Moon Clan are a bunch of dudes who for whatever reason think that having incredibly long lives is a terrible thing and wants to do something about it. I MAY be able to understand their side (we’ll have a lot of assholes around who would never die) but their plan to fight is just to kill people! That doesn’t solve the problem of people having longer life spans! If you kill everyone, then there won’t be ANYONE around which may or may not be a good thing, but if you only kill some or most of the people there, then the people who survive are gonna have kids and they’ll still continue to have super long lives!! No matter. It’s not like idealistic punks with a chip on their shoulder are known for being the most rational people out there. Wise Man introduces himself to the group at some point and tells them how they can achieve their goals.
And so, they travel (somehow) to the planet Nemesis and launch the Malific Black Crystal right at the Earth, causing mass extinction and leaving only the Crystal Palace. Their plans don’t stop there though! Not only do they want to destroy the Crystal Palace, they want to send their robot army to the past in order to change the future. Unfortunately, they STILL don’t explain how it is they can travel through time.
Eventually, Prince Demande and Neo Queen Serenity met which is where his obsession with her (and Usagi) began. For some reason, Chibi-Usa was in the remains of the recently desolated hell scape of Neo Tokyo and was found by Prince Demande who was going to blow her to bits. At this point, Neo Queen Serenity (who apparently hasn’t left the castle in HUNDREDS of years) comes running out to try and save her. Prince Demande is captivated by her beauty but resents the contemptuous look that she gives him. His response of course is to beat her until she submits to him, but instead her Silver Crystal kind of just explodes and she ends up encased in the crystal. Really? The crystal which defeated Queen Metallia (who the Black Moon Clan haven’t proven their strong than) thought that instead of blowing a new face hole into this fucker to instead encase Sailor Moon in a protective (and inescapable) shield!? Either way, this scene does explain why Prince Demande was so obsessed with her. His masculinity was threatened by her and he never got the closure of forcing her on her knees, so now he’ll force her previous self to show him the respect that he clearly thinks he deserves.
Oh, he doesn’t stop there by the way. He forces her into a kiss which Usagi is SO not into and knocks his sorry ass backwards so she can use her brooch to transform into Sailor Moon and teach this slime ball a lesson!
Unfortunately, the planet Nemesis seems to absorb all the power from the Silver Crystal (which is already weakened due to it being from the past) and so she’s unable to transform. Prince Demande takes this opportunity to leave, cackling all the way at Usagi’s helplessness in this situation. WOW! Now THAT’S a scumbag villain right there! Kudos for making him so thoroughly unlikable which is something you want in a show with this kind of black and white morality. If you’re not gonna give the bad guys any shades of gray, then you’re better off making them REALLY unlikable so that you’ll enjoy it that much more once the hero inevitably kicks their sorry ass across the floor. Back at the Crystal Palace, the remaining members of Team Sailor Moon (Mamoru, Mamoru’s future ghost self, Sailor Venus, and a couple of cats) try to come up with a plan to save Usagi and the other scouts from planet Nemesis. Oh, so NOW you care enough to plan a raid on the enemy stronghold!? Not when say… the FIRST Sailor Scout was kidnapped and you still had a relatively strong team to launch an attack!? Now you’re down to one Scout, one dude in snappy attire, a hologram, and a couple talking cats! THE BLACK MOON CLAN MUST BE QUAKING IN THEIR BOOTS!!
Even they realize how hopelessly outmatched they are and start to come up with some creative solutions. Luna posits that Chiba-Usa should be able to use the Silver Crystal if she’s the daughter of Usagi which would at least give them a fighting chance against the Black Moon Clan and their Malefic Black Crystal. Holo-dad though informs them that she is too young to transform yet (which means she’ll definitely transform in the next episode or two) so she can’t wield the Silver Crystal just yet. They throw out the fact that Chibi-Usa is actually 900 years old, but this has zero impact. 900 years old versus nine years old. What exactly is the difference in this world? She doesn’t ACT any older. She doesn’t seem to have the kind of life experience or knowledge that would indicated her true age. This whole long life span thing is getting lamer and lamer as the series goes on and I’m about ready to join the Black Moon Clan. We also find out that the bad guy they sent to Nemesis was named Phantom and he was the only person Neo Queen Serenity has need to put the smack down on in nearly a thousand years. What the hell was she doing all that time if she’s not kicking bad guy ass!?
We cut back to Usagi who’s feeling really sorry for herself (and for some reason we get some gratuitous cleavage shots), but eventually decides that she’s not about to take this shit any longer and will… do something. Okay, she doesn’t have a PLAN per se, but her determination somehow rouses the other scouts (hey! Where the hell have they been!?) from whatever spell has kept them unconscious until now.
They decide that their only move at this point is to try and transform so they can use their powers to get out of whatever cave they find themselves in. As you could probably guess, they’re unable to do so and the attempt SEEMS to trigger a trap of some kind where the room gets flooded with knockout gas of some kind and they end up collapsing again. And thus ends our all too brief time with these beloved characters!
After some more villainous laughter from Prince Demande and some ominous foreshadowing from Wise Man, we return to Chibi-Usa who’s still staring at her hermetically seal Queen mother. We get some more flashback where we find out that Chibi-Usa had a less than ideal childhood because she was teased during her presumably hundreds of years long stint in grade school. I mean, sure she’s the princess of the savior goddess of the world who lives in a magnificent palace in the culture center of the planet, but anyone who has to deal with dumb shit bullies for THAT long of a time deserves a bit of sympathy.
I can’t tell yet if they’re going for slow aging (looks like every 100 years is one year) or if she’s stuck at this age permanently. REALLY hoping for the former because it seems she doesn’t even progress mentally over time. They’re living longer lives, but don’t actually get to have one because they are forever stuck at whatever arbitrary age they stop growing up at. What kind of idealized world is this exactly? Hell, at least In Time had they stop aging when they were actually adults! Anyway, the bullies tease her for some bullshit reason about not being enough like the queen, so she decides to prove them wrong by stealing the Legendary Silver Crystal to try and harness the power for herself. Now this is where the episode goes COMPLETELY off the rails in a way that you’d have to see to believe. Once Chibi-Usa takes the crystal, the Malefic Black Crystal lands outside and destroys all life on the planet. Chibi-Usa runs outside to see what’s happening, and finds her mother turning into a crystal. Now if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that we’ve already SEEN this scene earlier and it’s now playing out in a way that is completely different. Now when we first saw this scene play out from Prince Demande’s perspective, Chibi-Usa was about to be destroyed and that’s when Neo Queen Serenity ran out to protect her. The way THIS scene plays out implies that Chibi-Usa stealing the crystal meant that Neo Queen Serenity had to run out into battle unprepared. WELL WHICH IS IT!?!?
Now it’s possible that the version we just saw (which was from Chibi-Usa’s memory) is just a manifestation of her PTSD from the event, but they throw in that weird detail about stealing the Silver Crystal which I GUESS we’re supposed to take literally, but then what OTHER details from this flashback are we supposed to take literally!? Chibi-Usa then starts to flashback to the time that she met Sailor Pluto. Considering how violently Sailor Pluto greeted Sailor Moon and the others, you’d think that Chibi-Usa would have barely escaped by the skin of her teeth. NOPE!!
So is there ANY argument left as to why Sailor pluto attacking the others when they first met in episode 19 wasn’t the stupidest thing she could have done? She came pretty damn close to Marty McFlying Chibi-Usa by killing her parents and can’t even justify it as a rule she has to follow no matter what! Still, this flashback does give the two of them some much needed backstory ad we definitely buy their friendship. Thinking that she has nowhere else to go, Chibi-Usa decides to visit her only friend but finds something unexpected when she gets there. Holo-King is trying to conscript Sailor Pluto into their rag tag assault team so they can take down planet Nemesis, and she actually agrees to it.
This also pushes forward the idea that Pluto has a huge crush on the king which I hope will manifest into something interesting (as long as it doesn’t mean Sailor Pluto will have to sacrifice herself for the sin of liking a married man). Seeing Sailor Pluto happy seems to only further Chibi-Usa’s depression (she thought Pluto only smiled around her) so she ends up wandering the time dimension thingy with no discernable destination. I guess Chibi-Usa’s soured attitude towards Sailor Pluto being happy actually makes since considering that the last third of this episode has been about Chibi-Usa not feeling like she has a place in the world. She’s teased at school for not being powerful like her mother, she feels guilty for taking the Silver Crystal which might have led to her mother getting kidnapped, and she’s really got nothing to do right now that can help anyone else. The last thing she knew she was good at (cheering up Sailor Pluto) has just been revealed to not be a unique skill that she has, so of course she’s going to feel bad about it. While wandering through the endless void, she finds herself lost and runs into Wise Man (who is obviously Phantom) and he convinces her that he needs her help more than anyone else. And so the episode ends with Chibi-Usa falling right into Phantom’s hands so that he can further whatever nefarious schemes he has planned for her and the rest of the world.
I was actually expecting this show to continue getting worse by this point, but this episode was actually pretty damn decent. Both Usagi and Chibi-Usa get some genuine character moments and there’s a decent parallel to be drawn between their shared helplessness at the situations they find themselves in. We also get to have some backstory filled in for Prince Demande, and he finally comes across a credible and slimy villain who we can love to hate. Pretty much everything in this episode involving characters being fleshed out worked incredibly well and ended up carrying the rest of this episode which is pretty subpar. It’s about what you’d expect from an episode this late in the story arc. We’re getting close to the end so let’s try to explain everything as quickly as possible, even though it doesn’t make any sense. We get five seconds with the other Scouts, but they don’t get to do anything because of plot contrivances and there’s no explanation as to why Prince Demande is still allowing them to live. Seeing the world through Chibi-Usa’s eyes was great, but learning that she’s actually 900 years old carries absolutely no wait and just raises more questions about how the hell this stupid world works. We learn a bit more about Neo Queen Serenity but still don’t get a sense of what she does in this world. Does she sit in the castle all day? Does she have to meditate or do some spell all the time to keep everyone living so long? Why haven’t we seen a SINGLE flashback where she spends any time with her daughter? What the hell have the OTHER Scouts been up to in the last millennium? In the end, I guess these questions aren’t going to matter too much considering the fate of this future has pretty much no bearing on our characters outside of stopping the Black Moon Clan from spreading their influence beyond the 30th century, but it’d be nice to know a bit more about what the hell it is they’re fighting to save outside of themselves. The cliffhanger of this episode promises an interesting turn for the next episode, so hopefully they’ll be able to focus on what’s happening in the here and now rather than rely on flashbacks. They can still pull off the ending to this story arc with a bang, what with Sailor Pluto getting involved and Chibi-Usa’s inevitable awakening, so here’s hoping that next week’s episode builds off the great characterization provided in this one and give us some decent conflicts for our heroes to overcome!
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]