Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media
Episode directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Welcome back to another episode of Nostalgia Moon! With Nephrite’s reign of terror in full swing (and no sign of Queen Beryl to mock his failures) the Scouts have to more vigilant than ever for signs of Dark Kingdom’s unholy skulduggery. That doesn’t mean we don’t have time for Girly StuffTM such as weddings and dresses though, right? Well, we’re about to find out as this episode seems to go back to what this show was originally about during Jadeite’s tenure which was to take relatable staples of modern-day culture (primarily from the point of view of young girls) and have them twisted to suit the needs of the bad guys, only to be foiled by the Guardians of Justice. Wait a minute… the bad guys are dudes and they’re exploiting things girls like for profit. Is this show all about the Patriarchy!? Hidden (or not so hidden) feminist messages aside, does this episode prove to be an entertaining ride or a supbar piece of filler fluff? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins in Usagi’s home economics class where spirits are at an all-time low due to the unenthused teaching style Miss Akiyama. Normally it’s just Usagi’s who’s asleep, but everyone else is having trouble keeping their eyes open through this riveting discussion of measuring darts which leads to the teacher’s absentmindedness becoming the hot topic at the post-class ice cream break which for some reason reminds me of the beginning to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Things only get more Gilliam-esque as a strange man with spiral glasses and a penchant for sneaking up on young girls (i.e. Umino) inserts himself into the conversation; revealing that the teacher is getting hitched which would explain her distraction in class. We also somehow see the proposal take place which I’m GUESSING is just the three of them imagining how it would have happened, but if so then they must not think highly of their teacher considering how sad and pathetic the proposal was. It’s not because the guy is a bit schlubby by the way; it’s because the guy literally lists off all his faults AND THEN asks her for his hand in marriage. How romantic!
Usagi seems to be on my page after hearing (or imagining?) the scenario as she reaffirms her desire to marry for looks… I guess. Well after hearing that proposal, I can hardly blame her for hoping to NOT settle for whatever schmo manages to ask first. Then again, I can’t imagine Usagi’s statement implying anything deeper about finding a truly compatible match over setting due to a mix of societal pressures and fear for the future and is instead about I LIKE HOT DUDES. While Usagi continues to profess her shallowness to the world (and strikes fear into Umino who’s seeing his opportunities with her dwindle right before him), Miss Akyama is at a cloth store looking for the perfect material to make her wedding dress out of. She’s not having much luck as she exits the door and runs into Miss Haruna (yay!) and the two of them have some girl talk.
All is not well though as Nephrite seems to be stalking Miss Akiyama for… reasons, that presumably involve her being the next one he’ll steal energy from. Don’t the stars and planets already tell him everything he needs to know? Why does he have to follow her around town in his SUPER CONSPICUOUS SPORTS CAR? Also, what exactly about getting married makes her the one with the most power potential? I’m sure there are lots of people getting married all over the city. Hell, just start a Bridezilla knock off and you’d have PLENTY of women with emotional baggage you can siphon off coming to you! Oh wait, that sounds like a Jadeite plan so I guess it won’t work for some reason. Then again, it’s not like Nephrite’s plan is going to work out either as the Scouts have thwarted all his other plans up until now! At least when Jadeite was around, we got scenes of Queen Beryl cursing him out over it! Anyway, Nephrite’s plan this time is actually pretty much a Jadeite plan where he holds a silly contest (in this case making a bridal dress) to get people’s attention. The only difference here is that only one person is going to give him any energy which makes this seem like a lot of effort to go through, especially when he ALSO curses some dress material the same way he cursed that one dude’s hat or that one girl’s tennis racket. Still, it does manage to get the plot moving and even gives Usagi and Rei something to do. The winner of the contest will have an all-expenses paid wedding reception to be claimed at any date they wish, and Usagi’s mind starts racing with the… interesting, possibilities.
While Usagi is dreaming about three ways, Rei JUST SO HAPPENS to pass by the contest display as well and has her own fantasies that unfortunately we are not privy to. Instead, Rei drags Usagi to her own house so that Rei can try and smooth talk her way into getting Usagi’s mother’s help with the dress. Interesting idea (use your enemy’s own mother against her) but it falls flat when it turns out Ikuko Tsukino has no talent for it. I’m not sure what Rei was expecting considering she didn’t know anything about her other than “she’s a house mom” but this minor setback seems to do little to damper her determination and frankly Luna is already sick of these shenanigans.
Things go on like this for a bit as we move to Usagi’s ill-conceived schemes to make her own wedding dress which she finds out will require hard work and dedication; two things that Usagi is wholly unfamiliar with. Honestly, that’s all padding considering we KNOW the contest is a scam and that we’ve seen Usagi try stuff like this in the past (*cough* Episode Seven *cough*). The REAL interesting aspect of this is when we find out what’s happened to Miss Akiyama since getting cursed by Nephrite.
That’s right! Miss Akiyama has gone full-on reclusive hard ass as she works on her dress day and night with the few interrupts she receives from her fiancée being met with scorn and ridicule. Considering how many future big shots in anime got the stripes on this show, it wouldn’t surprise me if Satoshi Kon had a part in this. I know he’s not listed in the credits, but this is right up his alley considering we’ve now got a woman with split personalities (one the saint, the other the sinner). Perfect Blue, Paranoia Agent, Paprika, and now Sailor Moon! Still, I wouldn’t be complaining if I was her fiancée. Bold and aggressive will always beat out demure and soft-spoken in my book. Plus, that new outfit. DAMN!
Maybe I should get back to the recap now. ANYWAY, Usagi and Luna catch wind of Miss Akiyama breaking bad (the latter was planning to get in touch with her to get advice on the dress), and so they inform the rest of the Moon Crew. However, Rei and Usagi are still having trouble grasping the idea that this contest is a sham which means we’ve got plenty of shtick to go through between now and whatever solution they come up with to stop the monster.
Eventually, the day does come and neither Rei nor Usagi has anything to show for all their efforts. Of course, their efforts involved doing everything EXCEPT make a dress, but I guess that’s beside the point; especially when you consider that Usagi has a transformation pen that can generate any clothing at any time which she is only JUST NOW realizing with the help of Rei. Speaking of which, why don’t Ami and Rei have one of those yet? I mean I guess Ami has a super computer that she barely uses, but Rei’s got nothing! Okay, she DOES have psychic powers that are completely unrelated to her moon powers (I think) but should that exclude her from getting cool weapons!? Still, the pen does give Usagi an entryway to the competition which (expectedly) goes off the rails very quickly. Rei and Ami are in the audience looking for Miss Akiyama which seems like a pretty silly idea considering she’s supposed to be a contestant, but the point becomes rather moot as she makes her presence very much known.
Honestly, the knock off Rita Repulsa look should win the contest as far as I’m concerned, but of course it never really was about the contest and instead… she puts everyone to sleep? Okay. Well now that everyone else besides the Scouts is conveniently incapacitated, the monster can reveal themselves and the final fight can get underway. Speaking of which, the final monster turns out to be Arachne from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark!
Didn’t see that coming, though then again spiders DO produce silk and that’s what the cursed fabric was made out of. That said; chances are that was made from SILKWORM silk and not spider silk so they SHOULD be fighting against a giant worm which would have been amazing! The fight ends up going exactly as you would expect. Rei and Ami are competent, Usagi is a screw up, and then she lands the killing blow with her tiara of death.
And so with the defeat of… whoever the hell that was, the day has been saved once again by the Sailor Scouts! Miss Akiyama wakes up and is no longer sporting that confident and bossy demeanor which I would consider to be a negative but the fiancée seems happy enough to have her back, so all’s well that ends well I guess. Except of course for Usagi of course who end up attending the wedding, but also have to fight over the bouquet with Rei and Miss Haruna just as the episode ends.
The episode this reminded me most of was episode seven, but this was a much better version of the incomprehensible mess that that episode turned out to be. While that one was just an oddly off-putting farce with a VERY unlikable Usagi right in the middle of it, this one spreads it out a bit with an interesting patsy for Nephrite’s scheme in the form of Miss Akiyama who takes the cake so far for most… interesting turn to the dark side. Sure, Groundskeeper Willy from episode fifteen is still the best realized considering he had a legitimate stake in getting powers, but it was at the very least an interesting transformation here unlike say the tennis player from episode fourteen who just got mean for a couple of days. Here, she’s turned into a completely different person with a whole new outlook and change in behavior that you wouldn’t even expect from someone whose curse was just to keep working on their dress until it’s perfect. These extra changes that in no way relate to her task at hand at least hints at something deeper than just being forced into obsessive-compulsive behaviors; as if something inside her had been unleashed by Nephrite. While I’m not the biggest fan of Rei and Usagi’s never-ending rivalry, there were a few decent moments in here with the two, though it’s starting to feel like a crutch for the writers to fill time rather than a genuinely stressful relationship. Hopefully, future episodes will improve upon their interactions (and we’ll hopefully get some interesting monsters in the future), but for now, I’d say this episode is decent; Nothing all that memorable, but enough there to keep from being one of the lesser episodes. Nephrite needs a few solid hits under his belt to escape the shadow of Jadeite’s rule as Head Antagonist, but there’s still plenty of time for these episodes to hit their stride.