Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 2 (Punishment Awaits: The House of Fortune Is the Monster Mansion)

Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media

Episode directed by Takao Yoshizawa

We’re back with another episode of Sailor Moon Classic!  With the first episode out of the way, we are now plunging headfirst into the filler episodes which Sailor Moon Crystal did not choose to use, so we won’t have anything really to compare it against and we’ll have to see how it holds up on its own.  Will this episode give us what was so desperately missing in Sailor Moon Crystal, or will it just go to show that Crystal was right all along to stream line series the way it did, even if it did so poorly?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with… a recap of the episode we’re about to see?  What!?  Yeah, it’s that thing they usually put at the end of the PREVIOUS episode to get you excited for the next one, but they put it at the beginning of the episode its advertising!  Not only that, but it has some serious spoilers in it!!  Oh, and after THAT is a recap of the previous episode where Usagi, after just explaining what she’s GOING to do as Sailor Moon, tells the audience that she is in fact… SAILOR MOON!!  I’m assuming this is going to be the case every episode, but I’m only going to complain about it here.  Is this how the original dub or the original Japanese version was done!?  It’s just so out of place to put these two things back to back like this at the very beginning of the episode and just starts things off poorly.  Anyway, the episode begins with a group of women lining up around the block to see a fortune teller.  Apparently this guy is famous and has been on TV, but he still operates from a card table in an alley.  Does he have a permit for that!?

“I hear this John Edward guy is the real deal!”

“I hear this John Edward guy is the real deal!”

One person in line (dressed like an incognito Ninja Turtle) is Jadeite, the first King of Dark Kingdom.  He seems to be inspired by the amount of traffic this psychic is getting and decides to try yet another human energy sapping plot after his first one with the jewelry store failed.  Speaking of Dark Kingdom, we cut to Queen Beryl’s throne room which has probably the funniest scene in the entire episode.  She questions her legion of demons or whatever (standing outside a five meter radius of her throne) on whether they have found the Legendary Silver Crystal yet, and they all sheepishly reply “no” in unison.  Then when she commands them to keep looking, they sheepishly reply “okay…” before teleporting off.  Damn!  She’s either got them all SUPER whipped (which I can believe considering we’re talking about Queen Beryl here) or these are meekest monsters of all time.  No wonder a fourteen year old is gonna kick their asses.

“Did you guys find the crystal yet.”     “We don’t want to say.”     “Why not?”     “Because you’ll get mad at us at that will hurt our self-esteem.”     “I promise not to get mad, so just tell me.”     “Okay.  We haven’t found it yet.”     “YOU GUYS SUCK!!!”     “YOU ALWAYS DO THIS!!  WHY CAN’T YOU JUST APPRECIATE US FOR WHO WE ARE!?!?”

“Did you guys find the crystal yet.”     “We don’t want to say.”     “Why not?”     “Because you’ll get mad at us at that will hurt our self-esteem.”     “I promise not to get mad, so just tell me.”     “Okay.  We haven’t found it yet.”     “YOU GUYS SUCK!!!”     “YOU ALWAYS DO THIS!!  WHY CAN’T YOU JUST APPRECIATE US FOR WHO WE ARE!?!?”

While her legion may not have found the Legendary Silver Crystal yet (which will apparently bring unlimited power to their master or something), Jadeite has already got his plans underway.  We go from there to Usagi’s house where once again she’s overslept and is late for school.  By the time she DOES make it there, she gets caught yet again and has to stand in the hallway.  She seems to have a guest this time around (though for no explained reason) in the form of the super nerdy kid Umino who has a crush on her.  How do we know he’s nerdy?  He gets good grades and has etched spirals into his lens.

Dude.  How can you even SEE with those?

Dude.  How can you even SEE with those?

He has a subplot this episode where he tries to come up with a way to confess his love for Usagi which of course involves video games and stealth attacks because he is a NERD!!!!  Naru tries to tell him that he’s going about things ass backwards and instead tells him that he should… talk to a psychic.  Okay, I guess that’s MARGINALLY better but still a bit circuitous, don’t you think?  Well he decides to take her advice and heads to the shiny new Fortune Telling building that is obviously the location of Jadeite’s new scheme.  I’ve got to say that I’m impressed he was able to rent this store front and put up a giant customized sign within twenty four hours.  Did they have demon contractors to build and place that sign?  Do they have in house legal representation, or did they hire another firm to draft a Letter of Intent for the landlord?  How would Jadeite pass a background check!?  MAGIC!  THAT’S HOW!!

“Wow!  It even has the new building smell!  Smells just like sulfur and brimstone!”

“Wow!  It even has the new building smell!  Smells just like sulfur and brimstone!”

Usagi bypasses the shiny new cathedral for demonic activity and instead has her fortune read by the kind old man who tells her that someone out there likes her.  She assumes that it’s her friend who works at the arcade (Motoki) and heads straight there to greet her destiny!  As you’d expect, Motoki is super charming and sets Usagi’s heart all a flutter while being completely oblivious to her affections.  That MIGHT have something to do with her only being fourteen and he looks to be a college student.  Just as things are starting to heat up (as least for one person), Luna appears out of nowhere and provides the mother of all mood killers.

Oh no!  She’s… hanging off of her wrist?  Is that a thing with cats?

Oh no!  She’s… hanging off of her wrist?  Is that a thing with cats?

The stud hunt is officially put on hiatus due to Luna’s interruption and Usagi is not happy about it.  Luna tries to lecture her about her importance to the protection of humanity and the restoration of the Moon Empire, but this only gives Usagi a chance to escape and she runs back to the fortune teller to get even more advice.  Unfortunately, the old man and his table are no longer there (he was probably murdered by the competing demon fortune tellers) and Usagi has to decide whether or not to go to the new place.  Instead of making the decision herself, she instead tosses her shoe in the air and will go if it lands on heads.

WHAT!?

“I’m telling you right now because I’m your friend and I want to be honest with you.  If that shoe ends up smacking you in the face, I will NEVER stop giving you shit about it.”

“I’m telling you right now because I’m your friend and I want to be honest with you.  If that shoe ends up smacking you in the face, I will NEVER stop giving you shit about it.”

I’ve never heard of this, but even if this IS a thing, wouldn’t a shoe have 4 sides!?  WHICH ONE OF THOSE SIDES IS HEADS!?!?  She tosses the shoe and it does indeed land on heads.  Well, A head to be more precise.  I wonder if that counts.  The head in question is Mamoru’s (who still hasn’t been named yet in this series) and he starts to yell at Usagi for being a big dummy.  This effectively kills her interest in seeing a psychic and she decides to head home instead to piss and moan about this rude dude.  Well it’s a good thing she DIDN’T go in there because we finally see the psychic that’s running the place and she’s certainly something.

She looks like a Rokurokubi, but speaks like Bela Lugosi!!

She looks like a Rokurokubi, but speaks like Bela Lugosi!!

This odd dichotomy between her look and her voice (I guess she’s supposed to sound Romani) is most likely an outcome of the dub, where an English audiences expectations on what a fortune teller sounds like clashes with the Japanese interpretation of what a fortune teller looks like.  I’m surprised though that they did it this way considering this ISN’T the super localized version from the nineties.  Maybe it’s an intentional gag to give her a comically mismatched voice (like Dracula the Dirty Old Man) but I doubt it considering her voice isn’t THAT extreme.  It’s just an odd accent choice.  So the evil psychic’s plan seems to be to take all the dudes that come by and turn them into asshole mind slaves.  Umino is one such victim and basically goes all Peter Park in Spider Man 3 at school the next day.  I half expect James Brown to start playing as he walks around school out of uniform, laugh manically in class, and flip up his home room teacher’s skirt.  Wait, what!?

SOMEONE CALL SEXUAL HARASSMENT PANDA!!

SOMEONE CALL SEXUAL HARASSMENT PANDA!!

DUDE!  That’s a MAJOR dick move!  As stated earlier, he’s not the ONLY one the not-gypsy has brainwashed and other kids in the school are acting up as well.  After narrowly dodging a kiss from Umino, Usagi and Luna determine that the cause of this seems to be the new psychic and they go off to investigate!  By investigate, I mean they barge into the not-gypsy’s pep talk with her mind slaves and starts demanding her unconditional surrender.  Yeah… no.  She turns into a medusa (so now she’s Romani Rokurokubi who turns into a Greek monster?) and sics the douchebag brigade on her.

CAUSE THIS IS THRILLER!!!  THRILLER NIGHT!  AND NO ONE’S GONNA SAVE YOU FROM THE BEAST ABOUT TO STRIKE!!

CAUSE THIS IS THRILLER!!!  THRILLER NIGHT!  AND NO ONE’S GONNA SAVE YOU FROM THE BEAST ABOUT TO STRIKE!!

Who can POSSIBLY save Usagi now!?  That’s right!  BATMAN!!  No wait, it’s the OTHER Batman!  No, not Iron Man!  Look, it’s Tuxedo Mask, alright!?  Once again this valiant hero comes to save Usagi by throwing roses at things!  He seems to hit the not-gypsy right between the eyes which I guess breaks her control over the jerk zombies and they freeze in place.  Then the dude just leaves.  He gives a small speech about believing in yourself, waves to the crowd, and walks away to presumably collect his check for this walk on appearance.

“Well then.  I think my work is done.  Let me know if you live to see another day!”

“Well then.  I think my work is done.  Let me know if you live to see another day!”

After the geek squad had been disposed of, it’s only a matter of time before Usagi throws her tiara at the not-gypsy and disintegrates her in what must be an extremely painful fashion.  The fight scenes in this show might be the weak point of the series if these last two episodes are anything to go by.  It’s rather brief, there’s some repeat animation, and the actions the characters take seem independent of their environment or even spatial relation to each other.  A lot of anime at the time had this problem (*cough* Pokemon *cough*) but I think this one is at least making up for it with the great characterization and hilarious moments throughout the episode up until this point.  The fights so far feel perfunctory (so much so that they can afford to stop right in the middle of it for a Tuxedo Mask speech) and I certainly hope they improve as the series goes on.  At least they managed to make the death scene as horrifying as possible.

“THIS IS THE WORST POSSIBLE PAIN!!  WHY COULDN’T YOU KILL ME ANY FASTER!?!?”

“THIS IS THE WORST POSSIBLE PAIN!!  WHY COULDN’T YOU KILL ME ANY FASTER!?!?”

And so the day is saved with the bad guy now a pile of dust and the brainwashed masses returning to normal!  Oh but things aren’t all sunshine and roses just yet.  The next morning, Umino has to find out what horrible deeds he committed while being controlled (which I don’t think he’s aware he was) and spirals into never ending despair.  The only thing to drag him from the depths of depression is Usagi’s warming smile and the realization that SHE’S perfectly happy being a fuck up so why can’t he accept that he was one for just one day!  WOW dude.  That’s fucking harsh.  No wonder she doesn’t want to kiss you!  Of course, we can’t end the episode without one last bit of slapstick on Usagi’s part.  Bring it on home Usagi!

That darn Sailor Moon!  What kind of mess will she get into next time!?

That darn Sailor Moon!  What kind of mess will she get into next time!?

This episode was a lot of fun and shows just what was missing from Crystal.  Sure, ti’s not going to be an important episode later and it’s not filled with melodrama, but it let us spend some time with Usagi and Luna to get to know them better, and the story itself was enjoyable throughout.  The only real downside is that the fight scene at the end didn’t impress, but I probably shouldn’t expect too much from that aspect at least for the time being.  I do hope that they don’t spend too long on these episodes before getting the Scouts together considering how much you can get out of their team dynamic, but even if there’s a couple more like this one before we meet Sailor Mercury (who I assume is the first one because she was the first in Crystal), I won’t complain too much.

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2 thoughts on “Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 2 (Punishment Awaits: The House of Fortune Is the Monster Mansion)

  1. Bell Lectar

    The thing about the episode starting with a recap followed by a recap, is that the first recap is for the episode itself, while the second recap is for the series as a whole.
    Many anime have a current episode recap just before it starts, as an ad of sorts, and an extra half a minute to save on new animation.
    And the second recap serves to get the new audience familiar with the series if didn’t see the earlier eps. In this series it was needed because it’s the first in its kind, inventing the concept of a team of bishoujos fighting evil, so the new viewer may know what they’re watching.
    It was so awkward because these 2 recaps aren’t meant to be one after another, its supposed to go 1) recap this ep, 2) opening sequence, 3) recap this series, 4) episode start.
    I figure they change the order in later releases because of video quality improving, so they could work on the opening only once and copy+paste it in every ep, and pasting at the very start is easier than to between the 2 recaps, thus the video order changes to awkward. Or something like that, I don’t know the exact mechanics, hehe.
    I think they do that to the next ep preview too, so it runs immedietly after the episode rather than at the very end after the ED.

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  2. Bell Lectar

    And about the quiality of the action scenes, it has to do with both how anime was generally made at the time, and how this particular studio works.
    Thing with the anime in general, was about the seasonal budgen distribution, and how they generally prefered “1 average looking ep, 1 ugly ep, 1 GORGEOUS ep” over “3 average eps”.
    That approach leads to affecting the writing so as they know it beforehand what level of animation will a particular episode have, so the writers will try to distribute the scenes where animation matters to the good eps, and try to keep the ugly eps simplier because those couldn’t show things well anyway.
    And from that happens the stuff distribution, where the cheap episodes are made by the people with the skill to keep things cheap, and the expensive eps are made by concentration of a studio’s most talented stuff together.
    And Toei particular thing, is that they put a limit on exactly how much animation can an episode have. This leads to that all episodes have equal amount of animation in them, both the gorgeous and the ugly ones.
    So the difference between the ugly and the gorgeous isn’t the quantity of animation between them, but what the bigger budgeted man/hour in a ep leads to is improved ARTWORK. Which works to improve the animation indirectly too, as they can afford to portray moving things in a more intended fashion with the same amount of frames.
    So the gorgeous episodes stand out with their artwork, where every single frame is fit to be made into a poster.
    How this affects a series focused on pretty girls, is that in some eps you don’t believe how can they call it pretty when the artwork is on this level of bad.
    And the beautiful episodes set the bar for how this series is meant to look like.
    Another thing about it is that, since the animators are encouraged to keep the artwork the best they can, this leads to each animator team inventing their own visual traits and taking their own approach on character designs.
    So with many animation teams, the episodes where the animation matters, serve to portray a vast variety of different visual styles, from more ethereal appearances to more physical, to several looks typical to 90s, to a pronounced 80s look.
    The 1st episode was the generally average artwork, ep#2 was the first on the stretch of cheap episodes, and while another average ep is soon, yet the first of the best looking episodes isn’t that soon yet. :/

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