Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media
Episode directed by Harume Kosaka
We’re back with another episode of Sailor Moon Not Crystal, which is DOUBLY true because we’ve switched back to filler episodes after the last one was from the actual manga and therefore was worthy of being remade in the new show. The good thing about filler episodes though is how much character building you can get out of it which is especially important now that the show is no longer the Luna and Usagi Adventures. Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury) joined the cast last time and while I thought that the relationship between her and Usagi just wasn’t built up all that much in that episode, I knew that episodes like this would be on the way to fill in the gaps and get them to really bond as friends and Sailor Scouts. Does this episode live up to those expectations, or will it take a bit more time for them to really get along? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with Jadeite getting a stern talking to by his beloved mistress for failing so hard at his last scheme that there are now twice as many threats to their continued efforts to take over the world.
Fortunately, Jadeite is able to deflect this latest tongue lashing by revealing his latest plan. So apparently human energy is more potent when people feel anxiety, and therefore he plans to do something with schedules or time so that they’re constantly rushing from one place to another. Okay… is he gonna sell faulty clocks or something? Well for now things are a bit vague, but we’ll have plenty of time to get into the details later. After all, it’s their day off and they’re gonna paint the town red!! This trip is also Ami’s first time in a big shopping center which I can’t imagine ending well considering she’s hanging out with Usagi who I will remind was trying to manipulate her in the LAST episode. Why am I thinking of Stevie Wonder all of a sudden?
Actually, that’s probably not the right New York reference to make. It’s more reminiscent of New York New York from On the Town, though not quite as there are these… interesting transitions between scenes where they seem to be passing through the neon dimension.
All MST3K references aside, this is actually a really great scene for these characters as it shows the two sincerely bonding which I thought was somewhat missing in the previous episode (and was something that Crystal improved upon with its version of it). The date is cut short however when the two of them find themselves in front of a store that sells clocks. Oh hey! I was right! Evil Corp has apparently acquired this small location in the trendy part of the city and has filled it with clocks that are no doubt infused with PURE EVIL. Of course, neither of the two defenders of justice can pick up on the bad vibes this place is emitting and so decide to peruse their wares. Thankfully Ami already has a watch and Usagi is too broke to buy one, so neither of them get a coo-coo clock of the damned.
Oh no wait. Apparently Usagi’s mom bought her one at the same shop earlier that day. DARN YOU EVERYDAY LOW PRICES!!! Luna isn’t too thrilled with it though; not only because she senses some dark magic emanating from within, but also because everyone insists the clock looks just like her since it’s in the shape of a cat. These complaints fall on deaf ears however as Usagi immediately goes to sleep, leaving the plastic chronometer of ill-intent to its dastardly machinations. This clock and apparently all the other clocks purchased from the store emit some sort of hypnotic ray or whatnot that makes the victim… super punctual? Well okay, it does a BIT more than that. Not only are people desperate to be on time for everything, they also start making up random stuff to be on time for! Usagi’s rushing to class several hours before the bell rings (why wouldn’t she use the time before class to do other things?), Umino is about five seconds from running laps around the school just to have something to do, and the world’s greatest teacher has four dates lined up that she needs to prepare for.
It’s not just them though. EVERY citizen in this city apparently bought a clock from that store with the only exception seeming to be being Ami, so the world is falling to pieces all around her as she questions why everyone is rushing around for no reason. Thankfully the beam doesn’t affect cats so Luna ends up finding Ami and they try to get to the bottom of all this craziness. Oh, and Ami gets her first unlocked sailor accessory in the form of a supercomputer the size of a pocket calculator. I’m not sure what you can super-computer with less than twenty-six letter buttons and a liquid crystal display, but then I’m not the one handing out moon technology, am I?
Ami begins to inspect the clock (conspicuously NOT using the supercomputer to do so) when she finds a… thingy. I don’t know, it’ some sort of energy ball that shoots out into the atmosphere the moment Ami tries to look at the clock’s mechanisms. Whatever it is, it’s clearly enough evidence for the two of them to determine that these clocks are the source of all the bitter anxiety that’s going throughout the city. Despite the less than credible idea that EVERYONE in the city bought a clock from this store and hung it within brainwashing distance, this is actually a well-executed plotline that feels like what episode 7 SHOULD have been. While that one was a cacophony of nonsense and unpleasantness, this feels a bit more grounded and serves a very important purpose. I don’t know about trying to be a ‘star’, but getting pissed off at the driver in front of you? Frantically scrambling to make it to work on time? Having to stand in line for more than fifteen seconds? Dang, Jadeite didn’t even NEED to make these people crazy to siphon off THOSE negative vibes. Maybe being an idol is something that just doesn’t translate as well here in the US, but the irritation at everyday minutia is very relatable and seems to be more in line with what this series does best; take aspects of everyday life (partially in regards to teenage girls) and have our bad guys twist them into something destructive.
The other aspect of this that works is that it puts Usagi out of commission for a bit which allows Luna and Ami to share a couple of moments and show that they bring a lot to the table; proving that this whole enterprise is a team effort and not just the Usagi show with her back-up dancers. That said, I think they could have run with this a bit more considering that they do end up getting the frazzled Usagi in on their plans despite her somehow being more reckless than before. Still, I won’t take away that many points for that considering we have three other scouts to find and plenty of chances for them to show their individual value. As I said, the two of them find Usagi at the scene of a horrific bus crash (no questions asked) and drag her to the clock shop to take down the monster inside. Now they could examine the area first and find an appropriate entry point, but Usagi is impatient and we only have eight minutes left in the episode, so Usagi bashes the door open with her tiara, and the two scouts go on ahead. Luna unfortunately gets left behind as the hole Usagi has made instantly closes itself up, so the two of them are clearly running right into a trap.
Apparently the store’s giant clock is the source of all horrors (kind of like the clock in Super Mario 64) and going inside leads to some sort of fractured dimension where backgrounds are psychedelic and time moves in all directions. Fortunately, the effects seem to be limited to certain areas, so as long as they can map out what areas to avoid, they can get through this without much incident. Unfortunately, that means taking their time which is causing Usagi to throw a hissy fit while Ami is working as quickly as possible to analyze their current location with the supercomputer. Wait a minute… WHAT DID THAT THING JUST SAY!?
A RoboCop reference? Sure, why not? Keep going with this and throw in even more Paul Verhoeven jokes! SAILOR SCHWARZENEGGER!! Wait… don’t do any Basic Instinct references though. That won’t end very well for anyone. Anyway, the duo is able to reach the boss of this episode who seems to be a Rule 63 mix between two David Bowie characters (namely Jareth the Goblin King and Ziggy Stardust) brandishing a naginata and sporting a wicked scowl.
And so we head into our climactic fight scene where… she freezes the two of them in place and ineptly stabs at them. CAN YOU FEEL THE SUSPENSE AS TWO OF THE COMBATANTS DON’T MOVE AND THE OTHER ONE HAS TERRIBLE AIM!? I don’t even know how she freezes Ami! Usagi has been getting drained by the bad guys due to her having been affected by the clock which is why she can’t move, but Ami just gets hit with a… stop moving beam, and that’s it. So how exactly can they overcome this new foe who threatens to (eventually) cut them to ribbons? Well as luck will have it, Tuxedo Mask has begun to investigate the store and starts to hear screams emanating from the clock. These cries for help are enough for him to immediately understand that the clock is a portal to a sub-dimension with inconsistent properties of time, and for him to also discover that piercing the face of the clock (with a rose because rose stems are stronger than glass) will start to drain the monsters powers. Makes about as much sense as a tiara being a lethal weapon, which by the way Usagi throws at the monster once she’s got her energy back.
And so the day is saved once again! Usagi and Ami escape from the Clock Store of Everlasting Torment which just disappears into thin air. I guess that explains how they get storefronts up so fast (THEY WERE NEVER THERE TO BEGIN WITH!!) but how do they not get found out immediately from neighboring stores that see a building pop up out of nowhere or landowners whose property is being invaded by random product stores with suspiciously low prices? Eh, they’ll answer that in one of the other filler episodes (maybe). Besides, we should be focusing on what’s REALLY important which is how they decide to end this episode. It ends on… wait for it… Usagi being clumsy and crying into the camera. YAY!!!!
This was a really great way to follow up Ami’s introduction, as it gave her a chance to show what will make her an important aspect of the team once everything gets up and running for them. It also has a better premise than a lot of the other filler episodes, what with the idea of exploiting people’s anxiety and stress being a great opportunity for kid-friendly social commentary and hilarious hijinks. Things kind of fall apart at the end though, which is disappointing considering how well the rest of the episode is set up. The clock dimension has a cool look with some interesting mechanics, but the monster waiting for them at the end of the dungeon is pretty non-descript and not that much of a threat. Tuxedo Mask is thrown in near the very end with no prior appearance from Mamoru to set him up, and then he just resolves things by throwing a rose at a clock. Granted, his previous appearances usually included a rose throw, but they ALSO included some snappy dialogue and a graceful exit! Then once everyone is taken care of, the episode just wraps up IMMEDIATELY on a non-sequitur that serves no other purpose than to watch Usagi fall down. I don’t know why everything just got so rushed at the end there, but it’s really the only complaint I have about the episode which was well written, creatively executed, and had some strong character moments. Sadly, this will be the only adventure that Ami and Usagi have solo before getting to the next scout, as the next episode will bring Rei into the picture. Still, I doubt this is the only time Ami will play a prominent role in an episode and hopefully, any future adventures will be at least as good as this one was.