We’re back with another episode of The Women from M.O.O.N! Uranus and Neptune are still keeping tight lipped about what they plan to do, but hopefully now that everything is out in the open things will FINALLY progress without this massive roadblock that’s slowing the plot down to a crawl. Can we actually move past the mystery of whether these two are bad guys, or are we gonna have to watch as all the other Scouts slowly realize this over the course of the season? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins right after Uranus and Neptune’s grandiose introduction to the Sailor Scouts; all of whom are slacked jawed as if they had just sat through a production of Springtime for Hitler. Despite introducing themselves as Sailor Guardians and letting them know exactly what planet and power they represent (on top of making it completely clear EXACTLY who they are outside of the costumes) they CONTINUE to tell them to get out of their lives and that none of this concerns them. I’m sure they’ll invite them to dinner at their apartment, and take them go karting before asking them to go away and never see them again right before THEN planning their summer vacation together.
I would complain about this more, but I think I’ve made my point already. That, and this is IMMEDIATELY followed by something AMAZING! The Scouts keep asking them questions about what the hell is going on but the two are stubbornly refusing to say anything. Michiru then pulls out her violin (from where, I don’t know) and starts to play it. When she plays it though, she’s not just making beautiful music to accentuate the scene. Those strings start pumping out a jamming power riff, complete with electric guitars and a smashing drum solo! SHE’S BUFFETING THEM WITH THE POWER OF ROCK!! YES!! I don’t know why this is happening, BUT YES!!
And with that plus a Solar Flare from Uranus, POOF! The new Scouts are gone. Usagi wakes up some time later in the Scout Command Center where everyone is discussing the new players in towns who have finally confirmed themselves to be some type of Scout. Apparently Luna knows who these two are supposed to be (she couldn’t hazard a guess three episodes ago?) as they are guardians who protect Silver Millennium from a distance; stopping any threats outside of their galaxy before they can get close. The problem is that they AREN’T very far away, so something must be very wrong and the Scouts need to find out what it is. Hopefully they’ll be smart enough to know that these Outer Senshi aren’t really their enemies no matter what they say and that there a bigger fish to fry like the Death Busters.
Are we REALLY gonna have to go through this song and dance? Here’s why that statement is stupid. They don’t know enough about these new Scouts to make that determination. They are ALL fighting the Death Busters. They revealed their secret identities and interact with them on a regular basis (in and out of their costumes). THEY SAVED THEIR ASSES NO LESS THAN A COUPLE OF HOURS AGO!! But yeah, go ahead and assume they’re bad guys. I’m SURE you won’t be proven wrong! I never thought I’d ask for this, but can Crystal’s ludicrously fast pacing get us through this as soon as possible? If we can skip over this in the next five minutes, that would be great. Anyway, the Scouts part ways for the evening and Usagi and Chibi-Usa head to Mamrou’s to sleep there for the night, something I’m sure Usagi’s parent’s don’t have a problem with that at all. Look, if they ask why these two underage girls are staying unsupervised in a grown man’s apartment, just explain that one’s his future wife and the other is his time traveling daughter! Just… try not to think about it too hard. During the night, they have another dream about the apocalypse which is only causing them more anxiety as they have no idea how to stop it other than the three talismans have a part to play of which they’ve only identified one (Sailor Neptune’s mirror). All these night terrors about death and destruction seem to have put Usagi on edge the next morning, but her spirits improve when a certain someone JUST SO HAPPENS to show up at the same place Usagi usually waits for Mamoru at.
Again, THESE ARE SOME VERY MIXED MESSAGES! If the two Outer Senshi want to be left alone, then they should stop trying to break up the Royal Couple if nothing else! At least we get some more scenes of Haruka being awesome and non-binary as Usagi flat out asks if she’s a man or a woman.
Usagi doesn’t get much out of Haruka about their plans or her intentions before Mamoru comes and ruins the mood; prompting Haruka to disappear because apparently she can do that. Before Usagi can try to explain what the hell was going on, we cut to the arcade where the other Scouts are hanging out and where Chibi-Usa is trying to find Mamoru. This scene mainly exists to give us foreshadowing of something that will surely come into play as Chibi-Usa has an art project and wants to recreate the Holy Grail. I get the feeling it’s not the one that Monty Python was looking for as it appears to be a moon relic of some kind that Chibi-Usa only knows about from a painting in her future palace. Supposedly Neo Queen Serenity used the Holy Grail to save the world at some point and that it was locked up ever since. Gee. I wonder if this hereto unknown artifact from Usagi’s future is going to be one of the talismans that everyone is talking about. Okay, so it’s a bit on the nose. They manage to make up for it though by giving Chibi-Usa a decent moment here where she experiences some melancholy after thinking about her past in the future kingdom, yet she doesn’t let it get her down as she was sent back to the past to become a true Sailor Guardian. I wouldn’t say Chibi-Usa has gotten the short shrift this season as her subplot with Hotaru is more than likely going to be a HUGE part of this arc, but she does seem to have been pushed to the background somewhat as several episodes this season don’t seem to have much for her to do. It’s nice to see her have a big scene here and it reminds me of why I liked her so much in season two.
Things aren’t as… shall we say emotionally cathartic, back at the Mamoru household where the tension between him and Usagi could be cut with a knife. The atmosphere between them is so frosty you could throw a steak between them and it will instantly get freezer burn. I can do this all day!
Things eventually smooth over as the two of them help Chibi-Usa with her art project (by which I mean they take it over and do it themselves like any good parents) and they eventually make up while also acknowledging that the two Outer Senshi are PROBABLY not their enemies, even if one of them is REALLY macking on Usagi like a mo-fo. It’s a good thing they fixed their issues, because now we can get into the REAL meat of the episode! Don’t forget, they have to take out those Death Busters before they can truly set their plan into motion! So who’s gonna try storming the enemy stronghold this time?
Ami seems to have found a way into the Mugen Academy by taking a mock exam at their prep school which is open to the public. She aces it (naturally) and so the smartest girl at the Academy offers Ami a chance to be temporarily enrolled in the academy… or something. That’s what they say, but it looks more like a tour of the place considering she doesn’t actually go to any classes, and the smart girl (Yui Bido) just leaves her in the science lab. Inside the lab is apparently an entire galaxy the school grew from scratch (either with science or dark magic) and this ALSO seems to be some sort of litmus test to prove that Ami is a Sailor Guardian. Okay…
So you’re telling me that someone who is NOT a Sailor Scout will take one look at a miniaturized universe, say PFTT! LAME!! and then completely ignore it? You’re telling me that if you put Neil DeGrasse Tyson in this room that he wouldn’t take more than a passing interest? Then again, maybe that just proves that he is a Sailor Scout. I KNEW IT! Anyway, we find out that the security system of this school feeds back directly to Ursa’s magic fountain (AGAIN with the fountain!) which means that she can see Ami looking at the universe and deducts that she has to be an enemy. Sure. Whatever.
Fortunately, Ami seems to be keenly aware that someone’s watching her, so she throws her pen (hopefully not the transforming one) right into the security camera; smashing it to pieces! AWESOME!! She follows that up by running throughout the halls to see what she can uncover about the Academy’s sinister plans! Honestly, it doesn’t take long to find something incriminating as this school has an ANIMAL TESTING FACILITY where I guess they’re growing those monster things the Scouts keep fighting this season… only the monster things are only created when one of those balls of evil enters a host. So did they just kidnap a bunch of their own students, feed them an egg of darkness, and then lock their asses up? I have no idea and before I can ponder it too long, Ami gets captured and dragged to the computer room. Boy is THIS nostalgic, and also probably intentional as Ami’s first episode has to do with a brainwashing computer program. For whatever reason, the smart girl (one of the Witches 5, though I guess it’s Witches 3 now) is… sucking out student’s souls I guess, and has Ami next on the chopping block. Wait… did I just say… chopping? KARATE CHOP!!
Oh it gets better from there! Haruka and Michiru go all Bruce Lee on those mother fuckers (okay, they only hit two of them; DON’T RUIN MY MOMENT!) which gives Ami a chance to make a break for it. She radios in her location to the other Scouts and then JUMPS OUT A WINDOW; transforming on her way down!
Aside from the obvious magnificence of this scene, it does come together extremely well and manages to get a lot across in a very brief amount of time. Haruka and Michiru confirm their hero status by saving one of the Scouts, Ami manages to get a message to the others which sets up the upcoming fight scene, and the jump itself is not only impressive, but it also means we don’t have sit through the transformation sequence again and it gets the action going right away. It’s a tight scene that moves the plot along quickly which is something Crystal is known to do, but this feels like one of the better uses of it and the whole subplot here is one of Ami’s most memorable in the series. She eventually lands in the pool, somehow not breaking her neck on impact (a moon wizard did it), and she resurfaces ready to kick some ass! Actually, the fight isn’t all that impressive. The animation looks fine here, but the attacks and ebb and flow of the match just doesn’t feel all that impressive. These are supposedly two characters that are the smartest of their groups, yet the fight doesn’t actually incorporate that in the least. A better example would be her fight against Berthier in season two which mostly consisted of a chess match and trash talking. Here, Yui just pulls some bullshit science attack out of her ass and encases Ami in some sort of bubble trap thingy that’s scientifically designed to be her weakness… or something like that. It’s too bad this SUPPOSED SUPER GENIUS VILLAIN couldn’t think to protect HERSELF while she was using this attack (or at least make the attack so that she doesn’t have to constantly concentrate on it) as the other Scouts show up and knock her upside the head; freeing Ami from the insidious trap. Yui, not one to give up easily, summons two of those monster thingies out of nowhere and is ready to attack the Scouts when Michiru and Haruka show up, transform in front of the Scouts, and then proceed to kick the bad guy to the curb. Here’s a question, and it’s a pretty simple one. Why are they doing this? Was there ANY indication that the Scouts were in trouble or that they couldn’t handle this fight? NO!! Again, for two people who CONTINUALLY insist on being left alone, they have a bad habit of sticking their noses in other people’s business!
Oh well, at least we learn that Haruka’s weapon is the Space Sword Blaster which is not all that dissimilar from a Gunblade, and it also turns out to be the second talisman, leaving only one left that has already been super telegraphed. IMMEDIATELY after blowing up Yui and the monsters, Neptune and Uranus run away; leaving just as quickly as they came with no reasonable explanation for any of their actions up to this point. The episode doesn’t end there though, as we have ONE last thing to see so that this can end on a cliffhanger. It seems that there’s a new student at the school and that they are working in the science department. They seem familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…
This was one of the better episodes this season and it does show some growth for the series. While the issues that have been around (and will probably continue to be around) haven’t been fixed here, they seemed to have done a lot to compensate for those with some genuinely great moments. I’m still annoyed by Michiru’s and Haruka’s coyness about their goals, but both of them have some great moments here. The whole Mugen Academy as the source of all evil thing is getting harder and harder to buy (you’d think most of the students would drop out if they had their souls sucked out on a regular basis) yet it’s easier to accept because of how well Ami is used here. Was the story about the Holy Grail just another excuse for overbearing exposition? Sure, but they tied it in with Chibi-Usa’s feelings of homesickness. I hope that they do smooth out the rough patches that are still in this show, but I’d rather them continue to push for more fantastic moments like these if the choice is between that and fixing the issues I’ve frankly gotten used to for the most part. Honestly, if they’ll just get Uranus’s and Neptune’s story straightened out BEFORE the bad guys are on their last legs, then this may end up being the best season of Crystal yet. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see what they do with everything they’re juggling right now, especially now that Sailor Pluto is back in the picture.
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]