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
Welcome back to another episode of Sailor Moon: Reincarnation is Magic! The last episode had our born again Moon Princess fighting off a really interesting villain who inadvertently was getting in the way of two people finding true love in one another! It was actually pretty nice change of pace from the formula the show was falling into where Usagi remained pretty much oblivious to the evil machinations of the villains until she finally confronts them at the scene of the crime. So what’s the story for THIS episode? Usagi will remain pretty much oblivious to the evil machinations of the villain until she finally confronts them at the scene of the crime. Well I guess they can’t ALL be original stories, so maybe they’ll find an interesting angle with what it is the villains will try to exploit this time. Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Usagi frantically trying to get to school before the bell rings yet again. I mean sure, she’s fighting for humanity’s survival every night, but she should really invest in a louder alarm clock or something. Along her route, she runs past an advertisement and, as any good consumer would do, stops to stare at it and contemplate purchasing the product.
Gee, I wonder if this gaudy advertisement for a miracle energy drink is in some way connected to the blonde douche bag that turns everyday products into soul sucking tools of evil. Well that’s actually NOT the case surprising enough! The dude’s plan in this case is to first look as much like a stalker as possible, and then use the idol selling the crappy energy drinks (Mikan) to… do evil shit.
While he’s planning his next scheme, we cut to Usagi’s house where things get… weird. By the way, get used to me saying that because it’s gonna be a running theme this episode! So Naru and Usagi decide that they want to be idols like Mikan who just so happened to have gone to their schools a couple years prior. This plan seems a bit odd considering that most agencies are looking for girls between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, which means they should have been practicing LONG before they actually turned fourteen. Remember this for later. Usagi ONLY JUST decided to be an idol. Now that they have their dream, Usagi decides to get a tennis racket. I don’t know why, and frankly neither does Naru which makes me think this was one of those instances where it was completely impossible to translate the scene and they just had to role with it.
Now that’s strange enough, but then they start to sing and the song which JUST SO HAPPENS to be the Sailor Moon theme (Moonlight Legend) but with English lyrics that are so disjointed and terrible that I can only imagine they got it by putting the original lyrics into Google Translate, then translating that translation BACK into Japanese, and THEN translating it again. It doesn’t take long for Usagi to get on Naru’s nerves, so the two of them break up and swear to be enemy idols from now on. Okay…
So now that Usagi has jettisoned half her act, what will she do now? Like anyone else without any creativity, she goes to television to think of something for her and the solution appears to be funny animal tricks. Good thing she has an animal she can berate into doing what she wants!
I’m sorry, is any of this supposed to be endearing? Usagi’s dream to be a star (in the vaguest sense of the word) doesn’t mean anything to us as an audience and so these pretty extreme shenanigans (Luna clearly doesn’t want a part of any of this) just make Usagi look mean. Can we PLEASE get away from this? Let’s cut to something else! How about what Naru is up to? That shouldn’t be as crazy as what’s going in the Tsukino household, right?
God damn it. Clearly the bullshit train on this episode isn’t stopping anytime soon. So Naru calls in Umino to Tootsie it up and be her singing partner… because there’s no such thing as a mixed gender idol group and she doesn’t know any other girl at school. Okay… Well she convinces him to do this because… dressing up like a woman will help him get with Usagi. Seriously! Naru’s lie to convince him is that he can learn to socialize while in drag (why can’t he do that out of drag?) which will make him more attractive to Usagi. Again, I think something got lost in translation here and the localization team just had to wing it as best as possible. Umino readily agrees at the prospect of getting it on with Usagi, and decides to put on a middle aged Jewish woman affectation for most of the episode a la Linda Richman from that Michael Myers’s SNL bit. You know what? I can go with that! The Some Like it Hot premise can garner a few chuckles from me! Bring on the funny!! So what do we see next? An underaged girl getting assaulted in a shower.
I’m sorry, what?
I am having the hardest god damn time trying to get a bead on this episode. So far, Usagi’s been a completely unlikable jerk, Naru is somehow roping Umino into being Nathan Lane from The Birdcage, and now the idol from earlier is in a scene straight out of a shitty horror film with gratuitous cheesecake!? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!?!? The monster captures Mikan in its weird bubblegum spray and takes the form of the idol. The next day, she and Jadeite get to work on their plan which seems to be a talent contest (hosted by Mikan) where people can compete to become an idol. Seems like a sold plan and should entice plenty of people, except that the plan is undercut by the fact that Jadeite has a mind control beam and is just hypnotizing people into joining the contest (and becoming overly ambitious about their prospects of winning).
This method isn’t all that different from the Chanelas of episode five, but this also brings up the question of why they would even need to kidnap and impersonate a celebrity just to get their endorsement? Hell with how well this stupid beam is working, why even go through the trouble of the contest? Just order them to march into a warehouse or something and then slowly suck the life out of them there! Usagi eventually finds out about the contest and tries to enter Luna into it to do her tricks (wouldn’t it then be Luna who became a star instead of Usagi?) but Luna refuses to go any further with this. So why did she even bother going along with it in the first place? Well according to her, she did it because she though Usagi needed a change of pace. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!? Usagi needed a change of pace… by having her do cat tricks? WHAT!? Ugh… I’ll just chalk that one up to translation. Now that Luna’s refusing to enter the contest, Usagi has a hissy fit and I REALLY hope the creates don’t expect us to sympathize with her at this point because this really is spur of the moment and half baked. I don’t know much about the Idol system in Japan, but I’m pretty sure anyone hoping to be one had already spent years training before they even entered their teens. Usagi’s putting so much emotional weight onto this is, yet hasn’t put in nearly enough work for us to want to go along with her! While running away from Luna (and reality), she runs into the big asshole (also known as Mamoru) who proceeds to neg her a bit before she storms off. He doesn’t seem to be QUITE as cruel as he usually is, so I guess that means he’s falling for her or something…
I’ll give his attitude a pass if he legitimately acts better in future episodes, but this still probably the biggest example of Crystal doing something better than the original series, though that may be due to the fact that Crystal’s breakneck pace meant they could skip over a lot of these interactions. After Usagi storms off, we cut to the talent show or whatever and find that everyone there completely sucks but all of them have moved on to the next leg of the competition which will be in some sort of theater (presumably booked by the promoters of the damned). Each act has a couple of days to get ready, and by get ready I mean act like they’re under some weird mind control because… well they are. We get to see this in action when Usagi goes to school the next day to find that the classroom has been converted into some sort of rehearsal area with no sign of Miss Haruna whom I can only assume is bound and gagged in a nearby closet.
Now I’ll give this episode credit for having the germ of a REALLY strong idea here, in the idea of seeking fame (or really any goal) too tenaciously without any of the hard work needed to actually achieve that dream being a detriment to everything else in the person’s life. These people have no idea what the hell their doing or what’s actually required to be a star, and they’re just wasting time they should be using to better themselves with this shallow pursuit of some vague and poorly defined dream of stardom. This gets across really well in this scene where they’re ignoring their studies and already getting themselves ready for the adoring fans they will surely have once they make it big. I still feel this is somewhat undercut by the brainwashing aspect (why even bother going through the motions when you already have them this deeply in your power?) but it’s at least a strong foundation for the kind of messages this show tries to impart on its audience. Usagi and Luna are catching on to this strange behavior so they decide to head to the final act of the concert and find it to be worse than anything they could have imagined.
Admittedly the clown is showing some genuine talent over there, but the whole performance is just a sad display of people embarrassing themselves while an audience conjured up by the powers of Dark Kingdom (that or some sort of hypnotic suggestion) clap endlessly for the unorganized catastrophe on display. Usagi is watching from the back of theater as the performers are getting their energies sucked away, but she can’t really focus on that when she see’s something that’s SOMEHOW more terrifying the death of entertainment happening on stage.
KILL IT WITH FIRE PLEASE!! Usagi does the most sensible thing she’s done this entire episode and that is run for the god damn hills (that, or the bathroom) and hope that the exorcist lady will just go away or something. Surprisingly, the monster doesn’t chase after Usagi and I guess just assumes she won’t be coming back with a swat team or anything. Luna though isn’t having any of this and orders her solider to go back out there and face the hell spawn with the twisting head. Usagi eventually agrees, transformers, and proceeds to kick the monster’s ass. The fight isn’t all that special with only notable moment being the return of Tuxedo Mask (who we haven’t seen since episode three) to save her once again.
The day is saved, everyone wakes up from their living nightmares, and Mikan regains consciousness on the bottom of her shower, presumably coming back to a world where her career has been irreparably harmed. Oh and Usagi learned a lesson… I guess. I don’t know; the episode ends on a joke where Luna is forcing Usagi to do tricks now which I guess means she’s learned something. Whatever.
This was probably the worst episode so far, and I’m including the very tone deaf weight loss episode! It has good ideas and there are moments when the message this episode is trying to impart gets across (the classroom scene being the best example) and yet it never comes together. It feels like a cacophony on unpleasant ideas and unfunny humor that there is no escape from! Maybe if some of the scenes were a bit more polished in the writing, they’d at least be tolerable enough for the absurdity to carry this, but the terrible songs and awful jokes that some of the people spout during their performances is just painful to sit through. There are some very dark moments in here that might have worked in another episode (the head twisting, the fake audience) but in here it feels like just another element that doesn’t fit with anything else going on. Hopefully the next episode will have a stronger focus as it appears to the episode to introduce Ami (Sailor Mercury), but I’m also disappointed that the Usagi/Luna solo episodes are ending on such a bad note. Maybe that premise has run its course already and some new characters will help expand what they can do with the series. We can only hope, am I right?