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
We’re back with another episode of The Moon Princess Bride! When we last left our heroes, they had just managed to foil Nephrite’s plot for like the seventh or eighth time, and that was after having defeated Jadeite at least ten times! Clearly they’re owed a vacation at this point, and that’s exactly what they do here! A change in scenery can be a nice change of pace for a show that finds itself in a routine, but it can also end up a mess when trying to write characters outside of what the creators are usually comfortable having them do. Will this be a trip to remember or a nightmare worse than what the Griswold’s endured? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins by making good on their promise of new scenery and the potential for beach-related shenanigans as the three Sailor Scouts (plus Luna) have traveled to the coast in order to enjoy their summer vacation. That is if they can get Luna to shut up about this being a “training camp” which shouldn’t be too hard. Have you seen how small she is? Besides, why would she take them to a beach for a training montage!? I know that worked for Rocky but it’s not 1982 anymore! Besides, Usagi is already checked out as her mind is racing with the possibilities this weekend holds.
Team Moon starts walking to the hotel they’ll be staying at (supposedly it is quite swanky) but get lost along the way as it turns out that Rei was following Usagi’s directions. Now you could argue that its Usagi’s fault they’re in the middle of the woods, but I’m putting this one on Rei. Who’s the bigger fool? The fool or the one following the fool? Star Wars references aside, they do manage to find a young girl in the woods who JUST SO HAPPENS to live at the hotel they’re staying at, and they found her right in the nick of time considering it’s starting to rain. That said, they’re luck appears to be short-lived as we see what the hotel looks like.
I sense some Scooby-Doo style hijinks on the horizon! Seriously, how many European style mansions are conveniently located right next to prime beachfront property in Japan!? The strange thing is that Usagi seems to be the ONLY one to pick up on the bad vibes here! Are you telling me that Ami and Rei have no problem turning a corner and finding themselves in a Hammer horror film!? This place is so Gothic that the restless spirit of Vincent Price has a timeshare here that he splits with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and presumably Tim Burton once he’s dead. Okay, maybe I’m overreacting. Sure it’s an old house, but I bet that it’s perfectly normal on the inside with an inviting wait staff, modern décor, and plenty of fluorescent lighting!
I’m telling you all right now; this is getting REALLY close to the best episode ever! Not only am I foaming at the mouth to spout out as many old school horror references as possible, but Usagi’s reactions to everything are amazing! She and Luna (the latter to a lesser extend) are the only sane one here as NO ONE ELSE is bringing up the fact that they’re staying in Hotel Transylvania! I’m not saying they should think that these people are evil just because they’re monsters, but they’re CLEARLY aren’t human and are putting on spooky cadences!! The best of which is the owner of the hotel who is also the father of the young girl (Sakiko) and looks like a mix between one of the Underworld cleaned up werewolves and Bella Lugosi from White Zombie.
Clearly he’s going to be the bad guy here because he’s being a prick instead of over the top spooky, and he’s also very protective of his daughter who is forbidden to interact with other people… for reasons. So why did they open a B&B here if they wanted to be isolated!? Then again, you’d have to ask why the staff is pulling stunts like this, and that would just spoil the fun.
Dinner that night proves to be quite entertaining as well, plus we get the added bonus of exposition that answers a couple of questions. First we learn that Rei is a cheap bastard (the only reason she booked this place was for the great price) and we ALSO find out that both her and Ami are WELL AWARE of the obvious spookiness, but they think the employees are just wearing costumes!! The staff is a bit… unspecific on this point, so we’ll have to see how that plays out. As disappointed as I would be if they turned out NOT to have jumped off the pages of a Halloween themed coloring book, them being humans would turn this into a remake of High Spirits, so good options across the board! Maybe Sakiko’s dad is ACTUALLY Peter O’Toole! This eighties reference is actually pretty close to being right on the money because dinner ends up being very rudely interrupted when an actual ghost that starts roaming the halls; scaring the hell out of Usagi and the trio of monsters.
The ghost isn’t around for very long, but there’s no denying that a spirit is wandering the halls and that it’s very unlikely anyone plans scalping with it (I swear, these High Spirits references are gonna fly over everyone). Instead Rei and Ami decide to start investigating themselves (I assume the Ghostbusters have a three-month waiting list at all times) which shouldn’t be too hard because there are only two people who didn’t make it to dinner. J’accuse creepy Bella Lugosi guy! What madness have you unleashed!? I’m not sure EXACTLY what he’s up to but clearly something isn’t kosher in this hotel as we see that he is currently with his daughter and that he’s hypnotizing her with a coin. Not only is this genuinely creepy to watch (the girl is on the verge of tears), but this ALSO means that I was RIGHT! He IS Bella Lugosi from White Zombie!
Right after the hypnotizing scene (which thankfully is followed by a commercial break to ease the tonal dissonance we’re about to experience), we wind up with the Moon Crew at the beach the next morning! Hey, I may have said Rei and Ami were going to investigate, but I didn’t say WHEN! Can anyone say shenanigans!?
The frolicking seems to continue into the evening as we fade from the seashore to a shot of the moon with the wolfman howling into the night. I’m PRETTY sure there’s no concierge committed enough to his job and his gimmick to clamber onto a rooftop to howl, so I’ll take this as evidence that he really is a monster. Even if my suspicions about him and the rest of the staff are true though, he’s not the one everyone’s afraid of as we see that pretty much everyone at the hotel has their own plans for dealing with it. Usagi’s using Luna as an unwilling lookout, Rei’s paper charming the hell out the dining room, and the monster trio (wolfman managed to get down from the roof without breaking his neck) seem to be up to something suspicious, though I’m guessing it’s not something sinister and will include massive amounts of shtick.
Ami however has probably the most sensible plan which is to talk to Sakiko and see if she can get some answers from her. The conversation does not last long however as Not Bella Lugosi’s spider-sense starting tingling right away and is on top of them almost immediately; chastising his daughter for… talking to people I guess, and vaguely threatening Ami if she and her friends don’t leave soon. While Ami may not be getting the answers she’s looking for, we as the audience are privy to all that as the father starts lecturing Sakiko in a REALLY clumsy exposition dump. He reminds her that she has psychic powers (I doubt that’s something one would forget about very easily) and that his hypnosis has been a very effective tool for strengthening that power. Gee. I wonder if the ghost is a possible side effect of her powers being constantly exacerbated through what has to be the psychic equivalent of steroids. So why exactly is this guy forcing her to not only grow her psychic powers but to also avoid all human contact? Well apparently the world had always made fun of him for claiming to be a psychic, so he’s going to use his daughter to get revenge on everyone or something like that. Fair enough I guess. A not too fleshed out character gets a generic villain plot, but that STILL doesn’t explain why a bunch of cowardly monsters are running this establishment or why he’s using it as a hotel! After hearing Not Bella Lugosi’s oddly specific conversation with his daughter (we also learned that Ami was eavesdropping on them), we cut to Usagi who for some reason has left the safety of her room to look for the others and manages to stumble upon something… disturbing. No, wait. That’s not right. Hilarious! That’s the word I’m looking for!
Usagi starts to scream, the monsters start to scream, and then Rei comes in which causes everyone to scream even more. She tries her best to calm the situation down, but it proves to be a moot point as the ghost has gone full-on Poltergeist on their asses and is now levitating chairs in a menacing fashion.
The psychic projection by Sakiko that I guess isn’t really a ghost is stronger than ever but for SOME REASON doesn’t feel like listening to dear old dad’s orders anymore. Gee… I CAN’T POSSIBLY IMAGINE WHY! Realizing that his life is now in danger, he all of a sudden becomes repentant for his numerous outbursts of child abuse and emotional blackmail! The Scouts decide to do their thing and transform into superheroes, but I guess their one weakness turns out to be a telekinetic force because they can’t do crap to the ghost projection thingy that’s just phasing through their attacks. Usagi, not having her tiara to fall back on, begins to panic as she’s out of ideas when killing the bad guy is no longer an option. Ami comes up with a brilliant idea which is to try and wake Sakiko up from her hypnotically induced nap while Rei and Usagi work as distractions against the ghost.
Ami manages to wake her up (not before Rei and Usagi get knocked back into next week of course) but even after waking up the ghost won’t disappear. Still, Sakiko starts to focus all her telekinetic energy on blasting the psychic projection away and manages to make it disappear before it can cause any more damage. Needless to say that once his poor parenting skills have been brought out into the open, bad guy dad decides to apologize to Sakiko and promises to never do it again, so please don’t call the cops.
And so the day has been saved once again! The residents of this hotel now know that these girls are magical super heroes, but then the Scouts know the girl is gonna be the next Jean Gray, so presumably both parties are keeping each other’s business on the down-low. Besides, they’re super great friends now which we can clearly see by Sakiko joining the moon crew on a day at the beach with Not Bella Lugosi watching over them!
I loved this episode, and while I think Usagi vs. Rei: Nightmare in Dream Land is SLIGHTLY better executed, this one has many elements that work for me and easily compensate for whatever minor flaws may be present. The fact that we essentially got an episode of Scooby-Doo out of Sailor Moon is already fantastic, but the three caretakers of the hotel are absolutely hilarious throughout and are so good that I want more episodes that are just about them and their wacky adventures trying to keep the hotel up and running. It reminded me of so many classic horror movies and classic monster movie tropes that it ended up making the episode that much more enjoyable for me. The villain was a bit weak here and his redemption arc felt very rushed and convenient, but it did manage to have some emotional resonance as they didn’t shy away from Sakiko’s really poor treatment by her father; kind of a bold move for a show that tends to use Dark Kingdom and evil magic as an excuse for people acting rotten instead of just letting some people be bad. We’ll probably have to get back to the main plot after this episode which shouldn’t be too bad considering what they set up last time, but I do wish we get plenty of more episodes like this in future, especially when the other Scouts finally join the team! At least one more haunted house, then a hospital episode, and then they join the army… in fact, just do ALL the Three Stooges clichés! If they’ll end up even half as good as this episode was, then it would TOTALLY be worth it!