Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 19 (Usagi’s Joy: A Love Letter from Tuxedo Mask)

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

We’re back with another episode of Everybody Loves Nephrite!  He certainly seems to have a way with people, though I’m guessing at least forty percent of his charm comes from being a monster spawned from the depths of hell.  Everyone loves a bad boy!  That is except Queen Beryl who’s getting just a tad tired of his failures and is itching to dish out some punishments!  Will he be able to finally take out the Scouts before Beryl has him sleeping with the fishes?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Nephrite in his personal command center where he’s desperately searching for a way to defeat those pesky Scouts before Queen Beryl ends up Jadeite-ing his ass.  The stars come to his aid once again (I imagine that he’s accruing quite a debt with them by now like Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog) and show him that the one weakness is the same weakness that all heroes have; their heart!  The key to defeating the Scouts (and Sailor Moon in particular) is to go after Tuxedo Mask!  Sadly, he can’t jump on his new project just yet because he’s being requested to return to the head offices of Hell Corp for a performance review.  Needless to say that Queen Beryl has had it up to here with the lack of dead Sailor Scouts, but doesn’t seem to have any ideas other than to blame the underlings.  To be fair though, they can be QUITE sassy with her.

“YOU FOOL!  How hard is it to kill a couple of teenagers!?”     “Harder than waving your hands in front of a crystal ball.”     “What was that?”     “Nothing.”     “WHAT WAS THAT!?”     “…I’m sor-“     *ZAP*

It’s no wonder these people keep getting their asses kicked by fourteen-year-olds; they spend more time bickering and dick-measuring than actually getting anything done!  So what exactly is his plan this time around?  Well we don’t get the full scope of it right away, but it involves sending a love letter to Usagi that’s supposedly from Tuxedo Mask informing her to meet him at a nearby mall the following night.  Now I know that Usagi looks JUST like Sailor Moon (at least Sailor V bothers to wear a mask), but in the rules set up for this universe, it’s not supposed to be that obvious.  HOW THE HECK DOES NEPHRITE KNOW WHO SAILOR MOON IS!?  Luna, while not realizing its Nephrite and thinks that it’s actually Tuxedo Mask, has similar concerns that Usagi completely ignores as she does her little happy dance of love.

“Doctor Doctor!  Give me the news!  I’ve got a bad case of lovin’ YOU!!”     “And he has a bad case of stalking you apparently.”     “DON’T RUIN THIS FOR ME LUNA!!”

In fact, this is the first time we go into the idea that Tuxedo Mask may not be on the up and up which was a running theme for a few episodes of Crystal (four through seven with evil Mamoru coming later).  I liked the idea in Crystal and it’s one of the few subplots I thought was well executed and not overly rushed.  I didn’t know much about Sailor Moon when I first started Crystal so for all I knew, Tuxedo Mask was working an angle or was gonna reveal themselves to be a bad guy before reforming.  Here, I think it’s going to be a harder sell, mainly because of just how many episodes we’ve had of Tuxedo Mask coming in to save the day and protect Usagi.  From there we cut to the next day at school where it turns out that she wasn’t the only one to receive a love letter from Tuxedo Mask, as every young girl in town did as well!  At least we now know that Nephrite hasn’t figured out Sailor Moon’s secret (which was a solid bit of misdirection), but then how exactly is he going to pick her out of a crowd of… well, EVERYONE?  Maybe he was planning to send to different students over the course of a couple of months and just so happened to hit pay dirt on the first try, but even if only twenty or so girls show up at the mall, he’ll have no way to pick them out of a lineup.  Still, there’s ONE person in the school who didn’t get a letter who TOTALLY should have!

I want to see her in a Sailor Scout costume… for reasons.

The letter is definitely the talk of the town as we see Ami and Luna discuss what to do next about this very obvious trap, and Mamoru himself discussing it with Motoki at the arcade.  He doesn’t seem all that concerned about it at the moment though and would rather spend his time taunting Usagi who’s in a rather bad mood considering that her lovey-dovey is a world-class man-whore going after all the under-aged girls in the city.  Oh, you know who else got a letter?  Rei did, even though she doesn’t even go to Usagi’s school, but she’s sick in bed for this episode.  Is this like in Dragon Ball Z where they just put Goku to sleep during the Android Saga so as not to let the OP warrior fix everything in five minutes?  We find this out by the way when Ami and Luna go to visit her to strategize their next move (it’s not clear if Ami got a letter) but with her stuck in bed the only ally they have to work with is Usagi who is in a bit of state right now.  She’ll probably do her own thing (likely involving a sledgehammer and a deadly tiara) so Ami and Luna are on their own in solving this mystery.

“When Rei was in Egypt’s Land; let my Sailor Mars go…”

Speaking of the mystery, we cut back to Nephrite who’s at the scene of the soon to be crime when he gets caught by Naru, presumably there to scout out the place before the fangirl rush.  Nephrite tries to play it off cool but Naru sees RIGHT through the dude’s bullspit and asks him if he’s Tuxedo Mask.  Apparently she has a thing for the guy (or at least his alter ego Masato Sanjoin), and is hoping he’s the one who sent her the love letter.  If that’s the case though, then he sent the same letter to every other girl in town, but that fact seems to be escaping her at the moment.  Probably has something to do with his beautiful hair and gorgeous blue eyes.  Nephrite is surprised at Naru’s level of intuitiveness and starts to suspect she is really Sailor Moon.  This is where things start to get… creepy.

“Hey girl.  You wanna go commit a felony in a hotel room?  It’ll only take a minute.”

Nephrite has decided to zero in on this girl and is turning the charm up to eleven just to make sure that she shows up later that night on the off chance that she really is Sailor Moon.  As much as I would love her to get moon powers (Miss Haruna too!), chances are Nephrite is going to be disappointed and it’ll only end badly for Naru unless the REAL Sailor Moon shows up to save her!  What Usagi up to anyway?

“I’m gonna go there, he’s gonna admit that he loves me, I’m gonna destroy anyone else who shows up, and then I’m gonna put him on a leash so that this misunderstanding never happens again!!”

She seems to have gotten a bit more optimistic since we last saw her as she’s getting ready to go to the mall; not as Sailor Moon mind you but as Usagi.  You know, for someone who was SO perceptive last time, she sure is willing to walk straight into a trap.  Ami and Luna though haven’t been seen in a while so I guess they’re leaving Usagi to her own devices, which seems like a REALLY bad move in any situation.  Things are starting to look grim for Naru who will hopefully have the foresight to at least bring some pepper spray or Taser.  Then again, it’s not like she’ll be the ONLY one to show up as the letters went out to everyone in town.  Oh wait, she gets there and it’s completely empty.  I guess that doesn’t say much for Nephrite’s skills at writing love notes, but then why isn’t there at least a police officer or a news crew to find out who sent the mysterious notes!?  Anyway, Naru does find Masato Sanjoin there but I get the feeling her love for him is fading fast after seeing what a complete dork he is.

“AH HA!!  I have you now vile creature!   Transform into your true self so that I may strike you down!”     “Da heck?”

Damn dude.  He looks like Axl Rose trying to play The Phantom of the Opera (also, he’s REALLY short here for some reason).  I guess you really can’t appreciate just how well Mamoru pulls off the look until you see some other jabroni try to copy it.  While Naru is getting the business ends of Nephrite’s accusatory ramblings, Usagi is heading towards the mall and is almost there.  Lucky for her, Ami decides to check in using their communicator thingies, so hopefully there will be back up at some point once the situation goes pear-shaped.  When she DOES eventually get there, she sees that a Tuxedo Mask imposter is slowly sucking the life out of Naru like a posh vampire.  While Usagi is transforming into Sailor Moon (out of view of Nephrite), we cut to Mamoru who is decidedly NOT heading towards the mall to face off against the imposter, but then all of a sudden collapses to the ground in a fit of agony as lights start shining all around him.  When he gets back up, he has been transformed into Tuxedo Mask!

I’m sorry, what?

“What a horrible night to have a curse!”

So he’s actually a werewolf?  I mean we’ve never seen him actually change clothes before (in this series or in Crystal), but he doesn’t have any powers!!  …Okay, he GETS powers later, but that’s something completely different!  This makes absolutely no sense as the transformation here is involuntary, yet we see the guy showing up and investigating places where Dark Kingdom is engaging in their evil schemes!  DOES HE EVEN KNOW HE’S TUXEDO MASK!?  DOES NOT COMPUTE!!  Can we please go to something that makes sense, like a teenage superhero facing off against a glam rocker with a snazzy gray suit and the ability to fly?  I feel like I’m more comfortable dealing with that.  Hell, that’s CLEARLY going into dream logic territory, but at least that’s something that has SOME sort of logic!  Nephrite finally reveals himself to Sailor Moon as another one of the kings of Dark Kingdom, and then transports her to the Star Dimension (the Shadow Realm?) in order to do combat.  His power set is… interesting to say the least.

“I summon a lion because screw you, I can do that.”

Sailor Moon has many skills.  Throwing Tiara’s, giving speeches, slapstick.  Lion taming?  That ain’t one of them.  She does what any sensible person would do which is to run as quickly as your giant red boots will allow, but she is then saved by a lion’s only weakness; a rose!  The real Tuxedo Mask has come to save the day and looks like a total badass doing it!

“You thought you could imitate THIS!?  The fact that you even attempted it makes my skin crawl…”

With the combined effort of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, they manage to… slightly annoy the lion.  Not even Sailor Moon’s death tiara could put a scratch on it!  BLASPHEMY!!  I guess it’s back to plan A as they run straight for the elevator to escape the beast; LEAVING NARU BEHIND AND UNCONSCIOUS!!  BOO!!   Some heroes THEY turn out to be!  Well, I guess it’s not as bad as it seems considering that once the two are in the elevator, the lion disappears and the door slams shut.  AH HA!  Nephrite had this all planned out… somehow, and was just using an illusion!  Well at least Naru isn’t going to become a Simba Snack, but she’s still left in the same room as the guy who was gleefully draining all her energy away.  I guess concerns for her are secondary at the moment considering that Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask are about to die, but it still seems like a dick move on their part!  Once the doors slam shut, Nephrite comes in over the speaker to tell them his plan (therefore giving them a chance to thwart it) which is to take them up to the top floor and then cut the cable; plummeting the car to their doom and leaving a gooey Sailor Smear on the ground.  Fortunately, Nephrite has severely underestimated the ingenuity of Tuxedo Batman who can find his way out of the most devious of traps.

“We need to find a way out.  Oh look, there’s a way out.”

Seriously?  The guy couldn’t bother to weld that shut before using it as a death trap?  No wonder this loser is on thin ice.  Not only that but when Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask escape, he doesn’t even bother to check his work after the car crashes down!  He just hears a crash, assumes they’re dead, and goes off to reward himself for a job well done.  While Nephrite is off getting an ice cream cone or whatever, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask are still in the elevator shaft, hanging on for dear life.  While they may have gotten out of the car, there really wasn’t any place to go to so they’re just hanging around until they either fall to their deaths or are rescued.  Seems like a PERFECT time for exposition, right?  Through a series of questions that Usagi asks, we find out that Tuxedo Mask has no idea why he comes to rescue Sailor Moon all the time, but that he’s compelled to do so from some half-remembered memory.  It’s definitely setting us up for the Silver Millennium arc where we find out the backstory of all the Scouts as well as Tuxedo Mask (Spoiler Alert: Reincarnation), but his explanations still leave us with questions as to whether this is ACTUALLY Mamoru under the mask or if this alter ego is the amnesia suffering consciousness of Prince Endymion (Mamoru’s past self).  I guess those questions will be answered later (they BETTER be) because the two are saved by some of Sailor Moon’s pissed off comrades.

“I get to be Sailor Moon, or else you drop.  YOU DON’T DESERVE THE TITLE!”     “You KNOW you can’t handle the things that I do!  Now get me out of here and try not to give me your cold in the process!”     “I just want to be clear that she doesn’t speak for me.”

Oh look!  They managed to rescue Naru as well!  That’s… convenient.  Oh well, at least the day is saved… sort of.  No one’s dead which is a plus, and Tuxedo Mask get to disappear mysteriously from the rooftops to the awe of Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars; neither of which can be bothered to look down to notice that he’s still there on the ledge and is merely ducking out of sight.  More importantly than Tuxedo Mask’s sleight of hand is the fate of Nephrite who ONCE AGAIN failed to bring back a dead body with him.  Queen Beryl is most displeased with the continued surplus of Sailor Scouts, but grants him a reprieve (to the chagrin of Zoisite) due to the high quality energy he brought back with him which if you recall is the stuff he sucked out of Naru who is in love with his alter-ego.  And so the episode ends; not on a happy note with a touch of slapstick, but on a sinister and foreboding sense of what will come in the next episode as Nephrite sets his sights on Usagi’s best friend.

“I drink your energy!  SLLLUUURRRRPPP!!  I DRINK IT UP!!”

This episode took a few steps forward, but I feel that it also regressed in certain areas that are surprising and somewhat disappointing.   I like that for once I wasn’t fully aware exactly what the bad guys had planned as there was some misdirection early on which indicated that Nephrite actually found out Sailor Moon’s secret identity.  I like that we finally have a bit more time with Tuxedo Mask so that he comes across as a person and less like a cameo which is what he’s been since the beginning of this series.  Despite Nephrite’s terribly planned trap, I actually liked the part where Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon were stuck in a situation and needed to find a way out.  Probably the best part though is that Naru has a moment to shine and it’s heavily implied that she’s going to be a key figure, at least until Nephrite’s story comes to an end.  I’m always annoyed with shows like this that will have non-magical characters slowly fade into the background until they are non-existent which only goes to distance our main hero from the rest of humanity (Bleach, in particular, was an egregious offender of this).  Unfortunately, a lot of what was set up ended up faltering in the second half.  Nephrite’s plot isn’t clear right away, but once we do know what the plan is it ends up being pretty darn silly.   He would have been much better off sending them a survey asking if they were Sailor Moon and if they have a penchant for chopping monsters heads off.  Also, it’s disappointing to see Ami, Rei, and Luna getting pushed so far into the background here.  They don’t have to be prominent every single episode, but Luna and Ami were brought into this episode with something to do, and yet the episode never followed up on it.  It also felt like an odd choice to have Rei receive a letter (the only indication that anyone outside of Usagi’s school was getting love notes) but then have her removed from the plot by making her conveniently sick.  Why even bother to have her in the episode at all?  It’d be nice if the show could show improvement without it being a detriment to other aspects of the show, but we’re still fairly early into the series so there will be plenty of time for them to get better across the board instead of just in bits and pieces.  At the very least, I’m interested to see where they will be going with the Nephrite/Naru subplot which can give Usagi some actual stakes in the outcome of a battle and get her to take her job seriously.  As for this episode, it’s alright.  It’s not one of the best, but then not every episode can be.

5 thoughts on “Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 19 (Usagi’s Joy: A Love Letter from Tuxedo Mask)

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