Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 24 (Naru’s Tears: Nephrite Dies for Love)

Sailor Moon and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Viz Media

Episode directed by Junichi Satou and Takuya Igarashi

If the title wasn’t a good enough indication, this is gonna be the last time we see Nephrite.  Not only that, but it also kind of spoils HOW he’s gonna meet his end if the whole “dying for love” thing isn’t some red herring.  Still, there is potential here for a solid conclusion to this subplot that, despite my misgivings, is certainly an interesting diversion before we get back to the actual story line.  Will this be a satisfying way to capstone the end of Nephrite’s career, or will his tenure as the big bad guy fizzle out the way pretty much all of his evil schemes did?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Naru and Usagi at nearby park; the former of which is still feeling distraught over the events of the last episode.  She now knows that Nephrite is a bad guy but has also bought into his (obviously phony) story about trying to quit the Evil Organization, so now she’s faced with the prospect of never seeing him again which… I guess would be a bad thing.  I won’t continue to drone on about how bad of a relationship they would end up have if they ACTUALLY got together and about how much of a manipulative prick Nephrite is, but it does make it hard for me to care whether or not they will be an OTP by the end of the episode.  Usagi, not feeling too different from what I’m feeling, has the problem of having to see her friend suffer over her current situation which means she’s feeling pretty bad about it herself but knows what the right move would be which is to keep them apart.

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“I’m sure he’s doing what’s best for you.”     “He didn’t even bother to send a good bye letter though!”     “A goodbye letter… that could work!”     “What was that Usagi?”     “Nothing!”

Usagi as a character has grown a lot since the start of this series, but it feels intentionally staggered out rather than at a continuous curve.  She hasn’t really regressed back to her original self, but character growth for her seems to be more of a punctuation rather than a part of the story arc which makes some sense considering that most of her character arc is mapped out in the primary episodes with the fillers being there to fill the gaps.  Still, it’s nice to see Usagi realizing the hardships that come with having a secret identity and about her quest to fight evil.  While these two are awkwardly trying to avoid each other’s gaze, Nephrite is somewhere else (presumably his church liar) contemplating his next move and TOTALLY not thinking about Naru!  For realsies!  She probably has cooties and stuff!  In fact, he’s SO not thinking about her in that way that he’s gonna break into her room at night to look for the Silver Crystal; just to prove how COMPLETELY over her he is!  Well he does just that and uses his Dark Crystal thingy to creepily examine her internal organs for a sign of the Crystal (apparently it could be INSIDE someone which is… probably a good guess) and decides to go with plan B.  He not so subtly wakes her up and hides behind a curtain to tell her his sad tale again and to put her even more so under his manipulative thumb.

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“You don’t want me.  I’m just a bad boy.  A rebel without a cause.  Always searching for myself and writing poetry in my diary about how much I want someone to fix me and tame my wild heart…”

He feeds her the sob story about him trying to escape an evil organization and how Sailor Moon (who seems to know Naru at the very least) could be the key to his salvation and he wants her to tell him who she is.  I also like the detail he throws in here about the world he comes from does not even know about this emotion known as “love” and how betrayal and murder is Dark Kingdom’s version of a hand shake and a how do you do!  The thing is that I can’t even tell if this is an exaggeration that Nephrite is putting on for Naru or if this is REALLY how he sees things, because standing on a nearby building (watching every move Nephrite makes) is Zoisite and his threesome of lady ninjas.  I don’t know how you can build an effect empire when you’re constantly at war with your own comrades, but then I guess that’s why they’re gonna fail in the end.

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“When do we get to murder him!?”     “It will be soon!  Just have some patience!  Jeez…”     “Maybe we should work for Cobra.  They get to do shit ALL the time!”

Naru wants to help Nephrite but doesn’t have the information he needs so he leaves her room, with the implication being that he is leaving for good.  In REALITY though, he’s gonna shadow her moves to see if she does indeed contact Sailor Moon (or someone who just so happens to be Sailor Moon).  The actress who plays Naru in this dub is Danielle Judovits; a veteran voice actor whose prior roles include Big Patty from Hey Arnold, Loopy from Life with Loopy (that sound you’re hearing is your brain exploding from nostalgia).  She really gets to shine here as well as in the last episode which makes me sympathize with her more than I would expect; and the solid animation on her sadness scenes are an added bonus.  You’ll never be able to convince me that her crush on Nephrite is anything more than an abusive relationship waiting to happen (or more importantly an excused for forced conflict), but the animators and the voice actors are doing what they can with the material they have.

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“How could this happen!?  We started out like Romeo and Juliet, but it ended up in tragedy…”

With no other options before her, Naru calls Usagi up to see if she can help with the situation; or rather to get some moral support so she can get through this night.  Probably not the BEST option considering… well it’s Usagi, but I’m sure there were WORSE people she could have called…

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“Did you TRY not falling in love with a psychopath?  I mean, MY crush is a bit off his rocker, but at least he’s not trying to take over the world… that I know of.”

Nephrite hears the entire phone conversation and now has a lead to the identity of Sailor Moon.  Naturally, Usagi and Luna sprint their way to Naru’s house but for some reason Usagi hasn’t transformed yet and you’d figure that if she would just do that, then at least one of her powers could get her to Naru’s house quickly.  Not only that, but when Nephrite springs his trap by staging a monster attack, he gets to see quite clearly that she IS Sailor Moon when she transforms to fight the monster that actually isn’t there.  See?  This wouldn’t have happened if she had just transformed right away!  Why don’t any of them listen to me!?  Now normally this would be the moment that all superheroes fear, but since Usagi doesn’t have any qualms about killing her foes, this has a very easy and clear solution.  You wouldn’t see SPIDER-MAN taking care of business this easily!  Well… Usagi TRIES to fight Nephrite (presumably with the intention of using her tiara to cut his head off), but the guy is a bit of a badass, so she sort of just scrambles around trying to avoid a laser blast to the face.  If only someone would save her!

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“What do you want!?”     “I want to know if this cape goes well with my outfit.  Do you think a white suit would work better?”     “That would be COMPLETELY ridiculous!”

Using his power of distraction (seriously, that’s all Tuxedo Mask does), he manages to give Sailor Moon a reprieve from the onslaught just long enough for the plot to kick back in and for Nephrite to realize (presumably through super hearing) that Naru is being kidnapped!  Apparently Zoisite is still jonesing for that Dark Crystal Nephrite has and seems to have found a weak point to exploit.  With this new information in hand, Nephrite promises to kill Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon at a more convenient time and speeds off to find a note from the kidnappers.

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“We want the Dark Crystal, and for you to deliver it to us… while wearing a chicken suit.  Damn it Zoisite…”

Luna by the way seems to have witnessed the kidnapping (she ran ahead of Usagi so missed that whole SECRET IDENTITY REVEALED thing) and is off to alert the other Scouts while Nephrite goes after Naru, because he’s still TOTALLY not into her you guys!  The lady ninjas seem to have taken Naru to a dilapidated Jazz bar which seems… oddly specific, and are wondering what they should do with the girl once they OBVIOUSLY succeed in killing Nephrite.  The problem with that plan though is that Nephrite is kind of a bad ass!  At this point, I’d actually like to see what they would have done with a bad guy turned good guy arc.

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“What exactly about Zoisite screams ‘competent leader’ to you!?”     “You okay Nephrite?”     “Yup!  It’s all good!  You might want to turn away though.”     “Okay…”

Nephrite manages to save Naru and carries her home like Kevin Costner carried Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, and the two begin to uncomfortably chit-chat.  The dude explains ONCE AGAIN that he is in fact a bad guy and even comes clean that he has lied to her every single time they met, including just a few hours ago where he swore he was turning to the good side.  Naru… is okay with this.  She’s okay with the lying as long as he stays with her. Okay… that’s… not cool.  That’s like, abusive relationship 101.  Thankfully the conversation is cut short as Naru realizes that the guy has a scrape on his arm and she offers to fix it.  Of course, she doesn’t take him back to her house, to a hospital, or even to a pharmacy.   She drags him into a nearby park.  Oh you can just FEEL the sexual tension mounting between these two as Nephrite takes off his jacket and Naru starts to rip pieces of her top off to make a bandage.  It’s enough to make your skin crawl…

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“Are you sure you don’t need any more bandages?  Why don’t we take your pants off to make sure there’s nothing going on down there?”

This is just uncomfortable on several different levels.  The age difference is a big one, but even if we ignore that, her feelings to the guy are completely one sided and he has proven over and over again that he will abuse those feelings to get what he wants.  Even if we put that ASIDE, this all of a sudden softening of the character is not a message you would want to impart on girls about fixing someone with their LOVE or whatever.  I get that the show is more fantasy wish fulfillment than a cohesive and grounded story, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to ignore how unhealthy this relationship would clearly be!  Anyway, the two of them start talking about chocolate parfaits, and then they start laughing together which is helping Nephrite loosen up a bit and SURPRISE!  DEATH STAB!!

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Hey, you never know!  Maybe he has two hearts!

The ninja ladies seem to have tracked them down (BRILLIANT idea to stop in the middle of a park to fix a scraped arm) and Nephrite gets hit due after pushing Naru out of the way.  Guy isn’t dead YET, but the spikes are supposed to drain his energy away (I figure simply bleeding out would have the same effect) and the ninja’s feel this to be a fitting end for a traitor.  I’m sorry.  Who’s the one who just stabbed their comrade in the heart?  Oh I’m sorry, he didn’t turn around so it TECHNICALLY doesn’t count as stabbing them in the back.  Okay.  You know what; it’s not even worth pointing out the hypocrisies of Dark Kingdom.  The demand the Dark Crystal, lest they kill Naru, and he agrees to give it to them.  Naru however is having NONE of this and tries to pull out the thorns that are still embedded in Nephrite’s chest.

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“By the power of Greyskull.  I HAVE THE POWER!!”

The thorns seem to be electrically charged on top of being able to drain energy, and you know… being pointy.  I guess that makes them a… TRIPLE THREAT (nyuk nyuk nyuk)!  Well the power of the thorns seems to be more than Naru can handle, but before she’s electrocuted to death, one of the ninjas throws a bunch of bombs at them and Nephrite once again takes the brunt of the blast to protect Naru; dropping the Dark Crystal in the process.  Zoisite drops in to grab the Dark Crystal, make a snide remark, and leaves so that the ninjas can finish the two of them off.  It’s at this point the Scouts FINALLY decide to show up (just two minutes earlier and a lot of this could have been avoided!) and proceed to kick the three ninja’s asses across this entire park.

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“If we don’t stand so close together, they won’t be able to take us all out at once!”     “Screw that!  If I die, I’m taking you two mofos with me!!”

And so the day is saved… kinda.  Nephrite’s probably gonna die, but then he’s only been a good guy for about fifteen minutes so I think this will still count as the good guys triumphing over evil (or at the very least, evil tearing itself apart).  Nephrite gets to give his tearful goodbye to Naru before fading away into a cloud of sparkles; leaving the young girl with nothing she can do other than break down crying at the loss of her first love.  The Scouts (either inexplicably no longer okay with their battles ending in death or feeling sympathy pains for Naru) cry their own tears as they look over the scene before them, and the episode ends with them realizing just what is at stake and what can be lost through their battle against evil.

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Tune in next time for another fun-tastic episode of Sailor Moon!!

This episode frustrates me because I can see what it COULD have been, but instead we got all that potential compressed into a mere handful of episodes instead of a it being a series wide game changer.  This would be one of those situations where they should have tried to integrate the filler into the main story line as there’s enough here for a decent redemption arc for Nephrite.  They can’t fit it into two episodes though!  This needs to last for some time so that the audience can actually get behind Nephrite and see him struggle to become a good guy.  Instead, the dude just croaks and people are sad about it.  Lame.  It’s easy to die for something.  It’s much harder to put in the work to make things right, and they should have done that here.  Hell, they could STILL probably kill him off at a later point if they REALLY wanted to go for that emotional gut punch.  We just needed more time for this story to convince us to side with Naru who looks pretty bad in this episode for being so enamored with a clearly abusive person.  I guess it’s a pretty solid episode (Nephrite is a bad ass throughout), but it ultimately feels like a waste.  Oh well, at least we can move right into the next story line about Makoto becoming Sailor Jupiter!  THAT at least is gonna be something that will truly impact the show going forward!

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2 thoughts on “Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 24 (Naru’s Tears: Nephrite Dies for Love)

  1. Bell Lectar

    Congradulations on finishing yet another milestone of a Sailor Moon era!
    I didn’t think you would last initially, I notice the first time watchers tend to have the Nephrite portion the easiest to drop, as after that difficult to watch Jadeite eps the series doesn’t show a lot of impromevent and is still struggling to find its footing.
    I remember my biggest problem with this subplot was how it was estabilished before. Nephrite’s first ep, there’s a random shot of heart-eyed Usagi shouting “What a hottie!” that also happens to have Naru on the side doing same. Then like 10 episodes of nothing relevant later, there’s suddently Naru proclaiming Nephrite as have always been the love of her life, and I’m like, did I skip an episode or smt?
    Another important thing this episode does is how it retroactively affects the Jadeite one, making it apparent how the pronounced absurdism of that one was on purpose to setup the viewer into expecting the next villain in line to end similarly, thus preparing the gut punch of something unimaginable in Jadeite’s era: suddently, the villains are people too. And the series suddently aren’t that simple as they used to be before, now that in 2 episodes our heroines go from being unable to understand Naru’s motivation despite being self-proclaimed defenders of love, and being prepared to decapitate Nephrite with a tiara or run him over with an airplane, from that they go to letting him go only to cry over his death.
    And it’s not apparent but it looks like this series attempted to do what I think I heard the Dragon Ball manga do first in how its very first arc feels very different from the entire rest of the series is like, in what would become the prototype for a typical genre deconstruction series, in how they would make the begining episodes extra light-hearted to goad the viewer into a fanse sense of safety before gut punching them.
    Sailor Moon also kinda did it with the first 2 villain arcs where it didn’t feel like this series are capable of being in any way serious, minus an occasional scary Dark kingdom shot which only seems unusual from a modern pov, while at the time occasional horror shots were typical in teen series.
    So this episode upgrades this series from the fun shenaginans of these unlikely warriors of justice, to the series where a beloved character can die too.

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  2. Pingback: Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 25 (Jupiter, The Powerful Girl in Love) | The Reviewers Unite!

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