Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media
Episode directed by Junichi Satou
We’re back with another episode of Sailor Moon: The Full Screen Years! Now the last episode was pretty much a disaster in my opinion, but then one before it was one of the better ones in no small part due to the interesting villain. Things are about to change though as this episode will introduce us to Ami Mizuno, also known as Sailor Mercury. Will this be a great introduction to the character, and how does it compare to what they did with this story in Sailor Moon Crystal? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins, in the main office of Hell Corp (also known as Dark Kingdom) where the two senior managers of the organization determine what their strategy for evil will be in the coming work week. They actually do come up with something quite dastardly (and a little too real) which is to exploit the public school system for profit! THOSE BASTARDS!!
Fortunately for Usagi, higher education doesn’t seem to be an option considering her penchant for goofing off and sleeping in. Plus, she’s already destined to be the eternal princess of Earth at some point, so screw learning all the state capitals, am I right?
Mama Tsukino don’t play that nonsense and boots her ass up to her room to study which SEEMS like a good idea until it turns out she spends the whole night reading manga and arguing with her cat. Oh well, I’m sure she’ll learn her lesson by the end of the episode! After the failed study session, Luna sneaks out in the dead of night and surreptitiously breaks into the local arcade. She starts up the Sailor V game but instead of putting a quarter in, she instead gives it the passcode 009-1. I’m sorry, I think my brain just exploded. DID THEY JUST REFERENCE THE CYBORG 009 SPINOFF ABOUT A TEAM OF FEMALE ROBOT SPIES!? That’s… unexpected. I mean, now there’s an anime series and a live-action movie, but when this show originally aired in 1992 (it looks like the original Japanese dub used that line as well), Cyborg 009-1 hadn’t been a thing since the manga ended its run in 1974!
NO! Must not get distracted! After getting access to her supercomputer, she begins to talk to it (though I’m guessing she’s talking to Artemis and not the computer itself) where they exposit what they already know, i.e. that they’re no closer to finding the princess and that Usagi is an unreliable slacker. They also reveal that they have located a girl (Ami Mizuno) who’s giving off strange readings that means she’s either a Sailor Scout or a monster. I’m sorry; they can’t tell the difference between Jadeite’s hellspawn and the reincarnated protectors of the princess!? Wait, does that mean Vampire Lady from episode six could have been a Scout!? NO!!!!!! I would have loved to see her in a sailor uniform!! Also, this is an angle they didn’t go for in Sailor Moon Crystal. Now I don’t know which one is closer to the source material, but it seems like a better call in Crystal to not manufacture drama about Ami’s identity which only goes to show that Luna isn’t all that great at her job. Doesn’t the fact that she has a birth certificate proving that she’s NOT a monster, or does Jadeite have the bartered souls of government officials who can generate false records for all the monsters? Makes sense I guess considering how much real estate this guy has been gathering just for his dopey schemes. Still, I have trouble believing that Luna can’t differentiate between good guy energy and bad guy energy, especially when she knows there are at least four other Scouts out there just ready to be awakened. ALSO, I’m pretty sure they all look exactly the same as they did in the past which Luna was around for, so how does she not recognize Ami right away!?
Usagi though has reason to believe she’s NOT a monster, and that reason is that she’s the smartest kid in school (and the ENTIRE country) which means she wants to use her to help her study. Admittedly, she does have the sword of Damocles over her head as she has to bring terrible scores back to her mother (the sword of Mom-ocles if you will), but I still have trouble sympathizing with her when she’s clearly trying to get into Ami’s good graces for selfish reasons.
Again, we can compare this to Crystal which had a similar motivation for Usagi in that episode, but I think they did it better because they pushed the sweetness up to eleven for their initial interaction. Honestly, if Crystal did one thing REALLY well over the original (at least from what I’ve seen so far), it’s the way Usagi’s character acts around other people. Whether it’s the other Scouts, Mamoru, or even Luna, she seems much kinder in Crystal and tends to be received more warmly by them as well. Mamoru is not nearly the massive prick in Crystal that he is here in the original series, and Crystal pushes the theme that Usagi may not be the strongest or most competent of the Scouts, but she’s the one who can bring them all together. In this series though, she seems to come off much more as a brat which can be funny, but also irksome in certain situations. Now to be fair to this series, Crystal is already a cliff-notes version and therefore has almost every rough edge shaved off which means it comes off more like a vanity piece than the original, so the better natured Usagi in that feels manufactured while Usagi in this series feels a bit more realistic. Also, since they’re working at such a breakneck pace, there really isn’t much time for them to forge relationships more naturally meaning that we have to get to the comradery right away instead of what this show will presumably do which is forge that over the filler episodes. Here though, she’s acting pretty selfish and Ami seems to be picking up on that.
Usagi’s buttering up tactic here is to take her to the arcade so they can hang out, and it turns out that Ami is kicking major ass at the Sailor V game which indicates her… I don’t know, high Midi-chlorian count? The game machine is the same one Luna uses as a supercomputer and the high score basically confirms her suspicions that Ami has powers of some sort, yet she still isn’t sure if she’s a good guy or not. The game session is cut short however as Ami has to run to the new Crystal Cram School (a subsidiary of Hell Corp International), but loses her Crystal study aid floppy disc (DANG this is old!) along the way which Usagi manages to pick up. And what is ON this floppy disc? EVIL of course!! Apparently soul-sucking technology can fit on 1.44 MB of magnetic storage!
With this incriminating evidence in hand, Luna determines that Ami is a monster because ALL the other villains they’ve battled were the people with the evil items instead of the one distributing them to the unsuspecting masses! The two head to the Cram School and Usagi transforms into a nurse for no reason at all because she encounters no security or resistance when infiltrating the building and then immediately transforms into Sailor Moon once she finds Ami (just go with it). The bad guy this time around wastes no time in revealing herself to Sailor Moon which seems like a poor strategy when she’s already focused on someone else (Ami), and the monster’s true form is… wait, Tim Curry!?!?
Sailor Moon fighting Satan? I’m game! What devilish attacks does the Princess of Darkness have in story for her!? A pop quiz!! Yeah… she throws papers at her until she can answer her quiz questions, and then the papers disappear once she gets the answer right. Well THAT’s pretty sad for Satan Lady! What’s next!? She’ll get wrapped up in TPS reports until she finishes the cover letter!? Well despite her quiz powers getting bested (Usagi cheated of course, using Luna to feed her answers), Satan Lady just decides to sic her army of brain-dead smarty pants on Sailor Moon while she deals with Ami.
Because Ami is so smart, she has the most… brain energy I guess, which Dark Kingdom wants to drain from her. Satan Lady’s plan is to decapitate her to scoop the brains out (because apparently she’s never heard about the goose who laid the golden egg) so Luna intervenes and throws a transformation stick thingy at her. Ami holds aloft the mighty stick, speaks the words of power (MERCURY POWER MAKEUP!!!) and transforms into the second Sailor Scout; SAILOR MERCURY!!
With this newfound power, she fires off her Bubble Spray Attack which should really be called The Silent Hill Treatment because it ends up covering the entire room in an ominous mist. Now that Satan Lady is distracted, Sailor Moon finally has a chance to throw her deadly tiara and once again murders her enemy in cold blood! Yay!!
And so the day is saved once again, only this time Usagi and Luna now have a new ally in their fight against vaguely defined evil! Now that there’s two of them though, will they be able to work together to create an unstoppable force, or will they get in each other’s way when fighting against whatever schemes Jadeite has up their sleeves? I mean it’ll probably work out considering there are at least three more members and like a hundred episodes, but we’re not supposed to know that just yet. Honestly, considering the kind of example Usagi will be setting for Ami, we’ll be lucky if they don’t end up destroying each other by accident.
This was a very solid episode, but I also feel that it highlights what were some of the improvements that Sailor Moon Crystal made over the original. I thought the story made more sense, what with Luna NOT automatically assuming Ami is a bad guy, and the interactions between Usagi and Ami were genuinely heartwarming. Not only that, but Mamoru (who only makes a very brief cameo here) has a nice little appearance as Tuxedo Mask which was a definite boon to the final fight scene. Speaking of which, the fight here is pretty weak overall what with the quiz attack and half-baked villain. Still, this version of the episode did do some things better than Crystal. While I like the polished look of the new series, it’s also made VERY clear in this episode how restrictive the animation was in Crystal when compared to this series. In here, characters are allowed to have big expressions and wild movements to convey humor, while Crystal keeps the animations more realistic which goes with the art style but also sucks a lot of the power from some of the funnier moments. I still think Crystal has a lot of value as a series, but in the sheer variety of content, there’s no denying that that original has it beat in terms of what we get within the episodes themselves and what we get from the filler episodes that flesh out the characters. Hopefully, the relationship between Usagi and Ami (and later between the other Scouts) will grow naturally in these scenes and it will make up for the less than endearing way Usagi bothered approaching Ami in the first place. I guess we’ll find out for sure next time!