Sailor Moon Crystal and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media
After all this time, it’s hard to believe that we’ve finally getting more Sailor Moon Crystal to voraciously consume and then talk smack about! ADMIT IT!! All the fans out there who say the original is better; you eat this up too whether you like it or not! I was always pretty kind to Crystal and still have some affection for the first two seasons even if the flaws become oh so very apparent after going back to watch the original show. Still, the hype behind this season has only grown after Toei started revealing the tweaks to the art style and also at the prospect of having HD versions of the other Scouts like Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto; all of whom are pretty much a mystery to me outside of Neptune and Uranus being a couple who were turned into cousins when the show was initially brought to western audiences. Just like before, my first introduction to these characters and this story line will be through Crystal so despite my valiant efforts to catch up on the original series, I’m still woefully behind on that and will be watching these episodes of Crystal as a newcomer rather than a fan who can provide insightful comparisons. Will this show manage to recapture the glory of this season the same way the original did, or will I have to sit through the bastardization of what is considered the best story arc to many fans? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with an ominous narration from someone who sounds a bit like Wiseman if you cut out the foppish affectation. The guy’s name is Master Pharaoh 90 (because of course it is) and I’m not quite sure what it is he’s talking about. Something about Omega places and sacred stuff, but his ramblings eventually get to the topic wiping out indigenous life forms to create a new world, so I’m gonna affectionately call him General Zod from now on. Anyway we don’t get to see General Zod just yet and only have a brief glimpse of one his lackeys (let’s go with Ursa), but the new character that we DO get to see up closes is one of the new Sailor Scouts who I believe is gonna be Sailor Pluto and she is having a bad dream about whatever it is General Zod is planning to do and is also foreshadowing the remaining Scouts
No wait, maybe it was Mamoru who was having the dream as we see him wake up and wonder what it was he saw. So he was dreaming about a girl dreaming about spoilers!? SPOILER-CEPTION!! Rei seems to be sensing the plot going off the rails already, but she’s having trouble interpreting what’s going on.
If fire premonitions weren’t enough for you, things only get stranger from here. We start off with the standard Usagi Morning which involves her scrambling to get to school on time while her parents look on in shame, though it looks like Chibi-Usa (the future daughter of Usagi and Mamoru who is basically Marty McFly if he never left 1955) has taken Shingo’s place entirely as the guy nowhere to be seen. That’s not the strange part though. The strangeness comes in when there’s a news report on the television where the anchor is (CALMLY) discussing a phenomena known as Reversion where people have started to literally devolve into gorillas. At least I THINK that’s what it is? Usagi’s dad explains that to Chibi-Usa, but the news story has a picture of someone who has Reverted, and that ain’t no gorilla I’ve ever seen.
Okay sure. There’s PROBABLY space magic involved or maybe this is the beginning of Zod’s plan, but how the hell did us regular old humans come to the conclusion that people turning into monsters is them devolving into gorillas!? WHAT!? Thankfully the show seems to have figured out that my brain was about to explode, so we move on from that to Usagi and Chibi-Usa meeting up with Mamoru so they can all walk to school together. Usagi apologizes for once again being late and goes in for the Good Morning kiss from her lovey-dovey, but is immediately lip blocked by the little brat who’s hogging all the beefcake for herself!
Oh look, Chibi-Usa went with her friends to school. Now for round two! Can they kiss!? Nope. Mamoru has a BDSD (Bad Dream Stress Disorder) flashback right when their lips were about to touch. This actually doesn’t manage to slip past Usagi who takes these bad premonitions a a sign of things to come, like… well every other time someone gets a bad feeling in this show. I’m actually impressed of how keenly aware she is that dark forces are on the horizon and doubly so that she doesn’t let it get her down. By now the world coming to an end is kind of old hat for her and while it’s always tough to get through, it seems like she’s happy with all the good things it has brought to her life like her new friends and a future husband. Usagi and Mamoru eventually go their separate ways and we cut to someone swimming in an indoor pool where we see at least two boob shots before getting a real good look at her entire face and WELL before we find out what the heck their name is.
From there, we go to a racetrack where we see another character whose name is given right away (Haruka) and who seems to be going out with the boob lady. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that these two are Sailor Neptune (Michiru Kaioh) and Sailor Uranus (Haruka Tenoh). Their relationship and the alterations made for US audiences is one of the only things I know about this show’s later seasons and while I’m honestly not sure how it plays out in the original show (haven’t gotten that far yet), they aren’t shying away from their relationship in this show in the least. Still, I was not aware that Haruka had been living her life as a man (everyone uses masculine pronouns) which, for all I know, may have been something added to Crystal. Hopefully this will be explained at some point as it could be a bit of an awkward spot if handled… inelegantly (*cough* Naoto from Persona 4 *cough*). After their introduction, we cut back to Usagi who I THOUGHT was on her way to school but is instead heading to the arcade! Not only that, but ALL the Scouts (even Ami) are waiting for her there!! USAGI WAS RUNNIGN LATE! SHE DOESN’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!! OH well. Education be damned! We’ve got a new racing game to play! Actually, there’s probably enough evidence here to let it be known that this is AFTER school, even if there wasn’t a transition to establish that time passed between Haruka and Michiru’s scene where they were going to school, and this scene of Usagi and friends at the arcade. The friends being there is a pretty solid tip off, but the REAL clincher is that someone else is playing the racing game with them. I WONDER WHO IT COULD POSSIBLY BE!
Naturally, Haruka wins the match because racecar driving and video game driving are the same thing (that, or Usagi is not very good at video games), but oddly enough Usagi isn’t all that down about her utter defeat considering just how hot Haruka is. Once again, Usagi falls in love with EVERY Scout she comes across which wasn’t really something that happened in the original series (at least as far as I can tell). It’s an interesting aspect of Usagi that gives this show something to differentiate itself from the other adaptations, even if it’s never really built upon. Oh, and she’s also not the only one falling for the new hottie in town.
Oh look! Someone other than Usagi has defining characteristics! Isn’t that nice! They ACTUALLY gave them lines! Let’s just see if it can last more than three or four episodes. While the shenanigans and cat calls are going on inside the arcade, Mamrou JUST SO HAPPENS to be outside of it while Michiru works her magic on him. Not sure what the goal is here for either Haruka or Michiru, but the latter is not really making any bones about who she is and what she knows. Apparently she has a magic mirror that can see past lives and so she knows Mamoru was once a prince. Hopefully there’s a good reason why the two of them are being so coy right now considering EVERYONE WATCHING THIS KNOWS THEY’RE SCOUTS (they’re in their uniforms in the show’s opening) and I am crossing my fingers that this show avoids the whole “are they bad guys” thing that won’t sell for even a fraction of a second. Once the dynamic duo go off to do… whatever it is they’re gonna do, The group meets back up and starts walking… somewhere. Not sure what their ultimate goal is, but it’s a PERFECT opportunity to spout some exposition about the new characters! Based on their uniforms, they determine they are from the prestigious Mugen academy where I’m pretty sure you can major in L33T Fighting Game SKILZ (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk). Not only does the school they go to take Haruka from a nine to a ten, they also find out from a magazine that Haruka are a famous race car driver which pushes them even further to over nine-thousand. Seriously, Minako and Makoto are so smitten with Haruka at this point that I bet they won’t even bat an eye when they find out he’s a she.
It’s too bad that a hole in space just opened up out of nowhere and shat out a ball of evil. No seriously. In a span of ten seconds (I counted), Usagi’s Silver Crystal thingy glows, a black hole appears, farts out some evil shit, and then it infects a nearby girl who just so happens to be a student of the Mugen Academy. Granted, it at least doesn’t waste any time to get to the action (leaving more time for the awesome antics of Minako and Makoto), but I’m pretty sure a gunshot would have been less jarring. Anyway, the evil ball thingy from space turns the student into one of those giant not-gorillas which starts wreaking havoc around town.
Wait a minute… there was a news report earlier about one of them that had already shown up. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT ONE!? Is it still wreaking havoc all over Tokyo!? Unless… OH! Maybe we’ll find out just what happened to it NEXT time, though I’m guessing it was those two new Scouts. They don’t seem to be around at the moment though, so I guess these five other Scouts will have to do. They begin their new transformation sequences, and we get to see all five of them in full. My verdict? I like the traditional animation style better than the CG models, but honestly I think those were better executed. Crystal does seem to have gotten a boost in the budget considering how much more expressive all the characters have been so far, but you can still see the rough edges here and there with the transformation sequences being the most blatant example.
Not only that, but the sequences themselves feel a BIT too fan service-y with the silhouettes around their breasts and ass cracks being PARTICULARLY prominent, especially on girls who are STILL IN HIGHSCHOOL!! Still, there’s a lot of personality and garish touches in these sequences to make them stand out while still retaining enough moments from the original transformations to make them familiar to fans. Hopefully they’ll iron out some of the details in later episodes, though changing anything about the transformation sequences seems almost taboo for a series that’s know for reusing animation. Once everyone in is battle mode, the fight begins and takes an interesting turn. For once, Usagi isn’t the one to finish off the enemy! The duty is instead left to Venus and Jupiter who each do one of their special attacks (Venus Wink Chain Sword for the former and something called Jupiter Coconut Cyclone for the latter) to utterly obliterate the monster while somehow NOT killing the girl inside of it. It’s actually kind of funny when the monster takes two super attacks to the face, screams in utter agony, and then goes poof with a teenager girl standing in the middle of the swiftly evaporating cloud.
The day may be saved, but there’s plenty to deal with in the aftermath. No one’s quite sure where these monsters are coming from that turn people into Cthulhu babies, but so far it has happened to Mugen students exclusively. It’s now time for the Scouts to take the initiative and investigate the school itself for mischief and misdeeds that may explain what’s been going on around here recently, and who might be behind it all!
This episode was a really solid start to what will hopefully be Sailor Moon Crystal 2.0: The Retooled Season! It’s a lot lighter, a lot more expressive in terms of animation and the script, and it makes room for characters that normally get pushed to the side. From what I hear this is supposed to be the best season of the show, so they’ll hopefully have some great material to work with that won’t drop three of the main characters off the face of the earth for like eight episodes. It’s still a bit rough though with some story aspects feeling criminally underdeveloped (the Reversions or whatever those things are) and it also seems like they’re going to go with “Haruka and Michiru might be bad guys” story considering we get a very blatant shot of them at the crime scene that seems to be there for no one’s benefit other than the audience’s since none of the Scouts seemed to have picked up on it. Hopefully they drop that right away so we can get more scenes of Minako and Makoto swooning of Haruka. I guess they could still do that even if they do think they’re a bad guy, but they already tried that angle with the Kings of Dark Kingdom and that didn’t turn out too well for anyone. Speaking of which Haruka and Michiru do make a strong first impression here, but we’ll need to see how their story plays out in subsequent episodes to get a better idea of them. In fact, there you go. That’s exactly how you should feel about this episode. Enjoy it for what it does to improve and expand what we’ve seen so far, but we shouldn’t get our hopes up too high just yet. Give it some time and it may be the show we’ve all been waiting for with this episode serving as a great way to start
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]