Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media
Episode directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara
We’re back with another episode of Luna and Usagi’s Excellent Adventures! The last episode with the hypno-furbys was fine but it really didn’t do anything different from the other episodes except for kicking Luna across a room which is DIFFERENT but I wouldn’t call that an improvement to the formula. Will the mix things up for this episode or are we doomed to see Usagi repeat the same story every single episode until the other scouts come in? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins in Dark Kingdom and… what’s this? Do we finally have some new animation for Queen Beryl!? She’s not waving her hands in front of a crystal ball this time!? This MUST be a special episode!! The reason for this change in her behavior is due to her undivided attention for the demonstration of Jadeite’s newest soul-sucking scheme. Apparently, he’s developed a sound wave or whatever that drains the life out of those who listen to it.
The faceless hoard of demons and whatnot that populate the throne room continue to be hilarious as they give a very subdued sound of amazement for this new discovery. Jadeite hands the tape with the sound wave off to yet another sacrificial lamb so she can distribute it to the masses and now I begin wondering if these weekly villains are aware that a teenage girl continues to murder their predecessors one after another. Does Jadeite just give them their severance package before sending them out to die horribly? We cut from there to Naru’s house where she, Usagi, and Luna are all listening to a “jazz” album. I say “jazz” instead of jazz because the music is really sanitized and sounds like Muzak at best. Who the hell is writing this cleaned up trite?
Hey, at least the blandness of that album cover matches the blandness of the music. The episode then takes an odd turn here as we cut to the musician (Yusuke Amade who sounds WAY too much like the narrator from Bastion) while he tries to work up the nerve to reveal his feeling to… someone. We don’t find out because we immediately cut to the disposable villain (Kyurene) who has broken into a radio station and I guess by simply putting the tape in one of the machines will infect all the other songs around it? I guess it’s kind of like whenever Kanye does guest verses on every song on the radio. It just brings everything down. With her mission thoroughly accomplished (that was easy), Kyurene starts to leave but is forced to hide when one of the employees there barges into the room and mistakes her tape for someone else’s. Gee… I wonder if this is going to have any connection to Yusuke and his quest to reveal his feelings for someone…
Alright, so the sad-sack musician (a.k.a. TORTURED ARTIST!!!) is having trouble telling this woman who works at the radio station (Akiko) how he feels about her, but now she’s painted a big ol’ target on his back considering he now has Kyurene’s tape without even realizing it’s not his. Kyurene, by the way, is actually pretty awesome considering she’s a straight-up vampire and can transform into a swarm of bats! It’s a shame that she’s most likely gonna get killed by the end of this and we’ll probably get a gopher lady or something lame next. Then again, she may not be the scariest thing that Yusuke runs into considering he bumps into Usagi while running from the monster.
After begging for his life, Usagi gives him a chance to explain himself for nearly trampling a fourteen-year-old girl. She finds out about the monster chasing after him and her powers are similar to that of a vampire which only makes Kyurene even more awesome in my opinion. None of that sparkling nonsense either!!
The dude tries to convince himself he was simply hallucinating and apologizes to Usagi for knocking her over and getting her clothes wet. With no money on hand, he gives her a business card to contact him later about dry-cleaning her clothes (they look machine washable to me) before running off to his next gig. Luna wants to investigate the strange vampire lady, but Usagi now knows that this guy’s a famous musician and wants to bask in his glory some more. Before we can find out what they do next, we cut to Kyurene who’s getting chewed out by Jadeite in what has to be the coolest way possible!
I’m getting some serious Persona 4 flashbacks… despite this having come out like fifteen years earlier. Whatever! The point is that Kyurene is in some deep trouble and needs to get that tape back before Jadeite terminates her employment or whatever. This is easily the most fleshed-out of the one-shot bad guys that we’ve seen so far and I really hope she doesn’t bite the bullet in this episode! I want to see the continued adventures of the bumbling vampire! We go back to Usagi who’s trying to get past the bouncer at the venue that Yusuke is working at that night. How exactly does she expect to get into club when she’s only fourteen!? She’d need some sort of magic disguise device or something… Hey wait a minute!!
I’m not really sure how this works considering that they would still need to card her before going in (no matter what wig she’s wearing) but it does and she gets into the club. Of course, they have to somehow find a way to sneak Luna in considering that pets aren’t usually allowed in high-end bars, so they have to get creative here.
I’m sorry, who the hell wears those creepy as hell scarves made out of animals, let alone one that’s made out of a cat and can’t even wrap around the neck? You’re telling me that this teenage girl wearing what appears to be a bra and jacket combo with a cat on her shoulder was able to get in here with no problem!? She is the worst secret agent ever, especially considering she falls asleep during Yusuke’s set and doesn’t even see him leave the stage! The dude doesn’t just leave the stage though. Apparently this club is connected to a multistory parking garage, and he stands there waiting for a friend to come back and give him a ride. Okay… well considering he’s alone in a garage (WHY IS THIS CONNECTED TO A RELATIVELY SMALL BAR!?) something bad HAS to happen, and sure enough, he’s visited once again by Kyurene.
Luckily for Yusuke, Usagi was able to hear his screams of terror and though she didn’t reach him in time to stop Kyurene from taking the tape, she did make it in time to save him from a killing blow. Kyurene grows some wings (AWESOME!!) and flies out of there like a bat out of hell, presumably to put her plan into motion as soon as possible. Yusuke finally grows a pair and tries to chase the monster down with a car (that he stole presumably) and Usagi in the passenger seat. I know the dude worked his ass off on that demo tape considering it’s supposed to be a love song for Akiko, but I don’t think chasing down vampires with stakes, garlic, crosses, or even holy water is such a great idea. Just re-record it, you fool!
Their high-speed chase (on completely empty roads) eventually leads them to the radio station where this whole mess started. Because vampire powers are more awesome than cars, Kyurene has already made it to the control room and has knocked out all the employees (including Akiko) with her… bat powers? I don’t know. The bats just kinda hover in front of them and they fall to sleep. Why the heck didn’t she do this to Usagi when she was interrupted in the garage? Anyway, Usagi and Yosuke come bursting through the door and Luna takes it upon herself to snatch the vampire lady’s tap right out of her hand!! GO LUNA!!!
Seriously, how much did you really want that tape if you let a cat knock it out of your hand? Well enough for her to decide now’s the time to get serious which means she’s now transforming into full-on vampire mode. Honestly? I absolutely love the design here. The other villains we’ve seen so far had pretty uninspired designs for their final forms (remember the lizard lady?) but this one is unique and kind of striking.
Yusuke takes this opportunity to finally look at the tape and realizes that it’s not his demo. Well doesn’t he feel silly now that’s staring down the eyes of a pissed of vampiress. Alright, now here’s where things get confusing for a bit. Vampire Lady takes Akiko hostage and demands the tape back from Usagi. Usagi then throws the tape up in the air and Yusuke just charges her. Now instead of killing him or Akiko or even Usagi, Kyurene just kinda freezes up, let’s go of Akiko, and then Luna grabs the tape once again. Jadeite really needs some villain training program or something if his minions can’t even handle a basic hostage situation. That’s villainy 101!!
Cleary having been outwitted by a teenager, her cat, and a terrible jazz artist, Kyurene is ready to mark this day as a loss and just GTFO before anything else unfortunate and absurd happens to her. She won’t get away that easy though. That nonsense ain’t gonna fly though, because Usagi’s itching for blood now! After transforming into Sailor Moon, she seems to teleport (or is badly edited) to some sort of theater where she’s on stage and Kyurene is staring her down instead of running for her life. Usagi starts to give another one of her histrionic speeches about good and evil, but it’s undercut because… well, she’s kind of a fool.
Bat Girl starts firing ultra-sonic waves at Usagi (following the anime tradition that sound traves in circles and creates explosions upon impact) which causes her to curl up and cry until Luna tells her what to do. Her brilliant plan is to throw a microphone at the ultrasonic waves which will apparently create enough feedback for the speakers to start shooting lightning.
I’m sorry, what?
The blue energy beams aren’t enough to finish off Kyurene, but Usagi always has her trusty tiara with her which will SURLY get the job done. Sadly, it does and we lose one of the more interesting villains the show has thrown at us so far. I really wish she could have stuck around a bit longer considering they actually gave her an arc and stakes to her story, but I guess we can’t start getting too attached or else it will seem even MORE messed up whenever Usagi slaughters them.
Once again the world is saved from the forces of evil! Dark Kingdom has one less peon to throw at the city and they didn’t even get their schemes off the ground before Usagi destroyed them which means that they obtained ZERO life energy or Ki or whatever this time! Not only that, but Yusuke finally reveals his feelings for Akiko and they get married right away! Like… MAYBE a week later because the next scene is at Naru’s house where she’s crying on Usagi’s shoulder that her unrequited crush is no longer available. And so the episode ends with Naru pouting and Usagi being gleefully smug about the dude’s latest single which seems to have been inspired by someone we all know! Wait… did he even see her transform?
This is probably the BEST episode of the series so far, and I think it comes down to two factors. The first is that the villain feels developed and is an integral part of the story instead of just an obstacle to be dealt with once Usagi storms the castle as she inevitably does at the end of each episode. Instead of just being smug then getting pissed off like the other villains, Kyurene gets to go through an arc where she loses the McGuffin and has to get back through more and more desperate means. Hell, they even bother to throw in consequences for her with that scene where she’s getting chewed out by Jadeite! Not to mention that her design in monster form is pretty inspired and I like the vampire imagery they use throughout the episode. The other factor that made this episode so good is that it feels like the highest budgeted episode so far. From my understanding, the way this show was produced was to cut corners on a couple of episodes so that those resources can be put into the important ones. I don’t know if this is one of those, but it certainly feels like it with the creative designs, and some of the animation sequences, especially when we see Kyurene fly for the first time. Okay, the bats don’t look all that great, but they are a nice motif throughout the episode. If this really is one of the big-budget episodes, then I think the money was well spent, but if this is one of the cheap ones, then that makes it all the more impressive. I’m still loving the hell out of this show (and especially Usagi and Luna’s relationship) and hope that the next one can be just as fun as the others! In fact, I’m sure that ALL the episodes of this show are amazing and there isn’t a lousy one in the bunch… right?