We’re back with another episode of The Hotaru Whisperer! After the Scouts had finally escaped the labyrinth of Mugen Academy (some by way of explosion), the final battle between good and evil is set to begin! The bad guys may have some tricks up their sleeves for the Scouts, but then there’s also the wild card of Ghost Hotaru seemingly remaining within Evil Hotaru’s subconscious who in the end may be the key to undoing the Death Busters’ evil scheme. Will the Scouts triumph over the ultimate evil once again (for at least the third time), or will they triumph over evil NEXT week? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with the entire planet PRESUMABLY about to be boned as Evil Hotaru is ready to go on the offensive, but then again I’m not sure how much danger the planet is in as we have no idea what kind of power she actually has. She had enough to sucker punch a child, and after eating The Silver Crystal she got a power boost, but then I think that power boost went away or something. At the very least, she has enough power to blow up a building which she demonstrates to the audience. Not what I would call enough to cripple all the standing armies of planet Earth, but at least it’s a start.
The Outer Senshi aren’t too happy about this development, but Sailor Moon in particular is stressing the hell out over this villain’s reappearance, and it only gets worse once she finds out that Evil Hotaru has the Inner Senshi captured. Sailor Moon tries to free them but her blunt force approach (i.e. crashing into the bubble shields) doesn’t work out as she’s easily rebuffed. Does Evil Hotaru’s malice know no bounds!?
Not only that, but it seems that space and time are starting to collapse in on itself which translate into the planet having some bad weather, and Evil Hotaru explains that General Zod’s master plan is to vesselize himself into the Earth itself. That’s right! The same way Mistress 9 had taken over Hotaru, Master Pharoah 90 is going to BECOME Earth as if he’s Ego the Living Planet or Unicron. Here’s a question. WHY!? What can a planet even DO!? Will he have the power to alter his own ecosystems? Can he fly out of his orbit? Either he’s gonna kill everyone out of evilness and spite (therefore making his life meaningless) or he’s going to spend all his time making sure the people of Earth don’t die! Is he really gonna be able to micromanage seven billion people caught in his presumably totalitarian regime while those people are LIVING on him!? At least when Bender became a planet he still had arms!!
General Zod starts spreading his evil miasma throughout the Mugen district, but the Outer Senshi are on top of it and basically puts them all in a giant magic force field so that this would be tyrant can’t spread his influence any further. Seriously, if this dude is having trouble taking over an area no bigger than a couple of blocks, he’s gonna have a hell of a time taking over the ENTIRE planet. Do you know how many blocks there are out there? Like, at LEAST a bajillion!
The Outer Senshi MAY have the situation contained, but that just leaves Sailor Moon to deal with Evil Hotaru who’s no longer playing around and is gonna transform herself into a monster by ripping apart OG Hotaru’s body in the process, and this is where the episode gets awesome! Imagine if David Cronenberg had directed an episode of an anime, and you wouldn’t be that far off from what we get here as Evil Hotaru is trying desperately to rip her body apart while OG Hotaru is trying to hold her together. It gets… interesting.
GOD DAMN! She’s basically that bug from Men in Black, only if a ghost was desperately trying to keep Edgar inside the crappy man skin he was using. This scene, as over the top horrific as it may be, is exactly what Sailor Moon Crystal needs to work. What we have here is clear and defined stakes (Hotaru fighting to keep Mistress 9 in check) creative imagery to show this conflict, and then strong facial animation to get the emotional resonance across. So much of this show feels safe and sterile to the point that there’s no tension or stakes as we’re following a standard formula that was subverted and improved upon in the intervening twenty years since the original series came out. Hell, until now it felt so non-threatening that the bad guy is posed to cover the planet in its fog of evil, yet that didn’t get the slightest response out of me. This though? Hotaru fighting desperately to not let herself (or her body) become a monster that will hurt her friends? I can get behind this!
Unfortunately, Mistress 9 wins the battle… I think, by tearing the Ghost Hotaru limb from limb; freeing herself up to transform. Sailor Moon, apparently able to SEE the ghost girl being obliterated, tries to spring a surprise attack on Mistress 9, but the attack fails and once again she starts transforming into a monster. Maybe NOW she’ll succeed? Nope, because while the EXTERNAL manifestation of Ghost Hotaru was destroyed, INTERNAL Ghost Hotaru still seems to be hanging in there and is putting up a meager defense against Mistress 9. Not only that, but I guess Chibi-Usa’s soul was not in fact returned to her body last episode and is still inside Mistress 9 along with the Silver Crystal; both of which Ghost Hotaru is trying to protect as Mistress 9 tries to transform. This evil space tyrant just can’t catch a break can she? No matter. Her next plan is to eat the souls of the Inner Senshi and use THAT power boost to overpower the part of her still resisting the transformation, so not only does Hotaru have to protect Chibi-Usa’s soul and the Silver Crystal, she’s NOW got four more souls to watch over as Mistress 9 tries to overwhelm her with all these new sources of power.
Mistress 9 takes this opportunity to attack Ghost Hotaru by sticking her hands through her own body (or at least sticking energy hands through her body, I don’t even know anymore) and is trying to grab Ghost Hotaru so she can crush her once and for all! Ghost Hotaru is about to give up hope, but the memory of Chibi-Usa gives he strength and seems to be enough to finally awaken her to her true power! She doesn’t transform into Sailor Saturn just yet (I’m sure it’s coming!) but it is enough to… I guess excise her spirit out of her body so that she can return the souls of the Inner Senshi to their rightful homes!
No, they weren’t put in the wrong bodies. Everything’s fine and they know that the Ghost of Hotaru was the one to save them! She flies away to Mamoru’s house so she can return her soul to its proper home and then professes her love for Chibi-Usa in no uncertain terms. Not just as friends; TRUE LOVE and Chibi-Usa is right there with her! I don’t know how explicit this was stated in the manga which Crystal follows to a fault, but Kudos either way for not underplaying this aspect of these two characters. Unfortunately, Mistress 9 has finally transformed into her monster self and therefore Hotaru begins to disappear forever, though probably not because we haven’t seen Sailor Saturn yet. Whether or not Mistress 9 still has the Silver Crystal in her is something I’m not certain of, but I guess that’s a secondary concern as Chibi-Usa is super sad about all this.
Oh well! This is war mother fuckers and there isn’t any time to mourn the dead, as Mamoru and Chibi-Usa suit up for battle (I guess that means Chibi-Usa’s crystal WAS returned) and they head out to do what they can help the other Scouts. Speaking of which, Sailor Moon and the Inner Senshi try to fight off the new enemy, but their attacks do little damage (thanks a lot guys! You’re contributing so much right now!) and are therefore helpless before the monster’s oncoming attack. That is until Chibi-Usa comes from behind and caps her in the back with an exploding sugar heart attack!
Well THAT was easy! I guess they just needed to hit the weak point for their attacks to be super effective. Now that the immediate threat is down for the count (isn’t there a cloud they should be worried about though?), they have a moment to mourn the loss of Hotaru and praise her for her selfless deed. Of course, about half the Scouts hearing and agreeing with the sentiment wanted her dead just a couple of hours ago, but whatever. The grieving is cut short however as Monster Mistress 9 wasn’t ACTUALLY dead and has returned to the battlefield; ready to destroy the Scouts once and for all! What can they do to stop her now!? Maybe Mamoru knows what to do as he’s just arrived and is CLEARLY FLYING! None of that falling with style bullshit; he now has the ability to levitate in the air which I’m pretty sure wasn’t something he could do before. Maybe he got a power boost when Hotaru brought Chibi-Usa back to life. I don’t know.
His advice is pretty simple which is to turn into Super Sailor Moon (apparently no one else had thought of that yet) and so she proceeds to collect the energy of the other Scouts in her Moon Grail so she can complete the transformation. While she’s doing this, Chibi-Usa looks on in awe and… I guess she wishes hard enough that she gets her OWN Moon Grail to materialize so that she can turn into Super Chibi Moon! Like mother like daughter I suppose. And so the episode ends with both of them now much stronger than they were before and ready to knock some sense into the monsters below!!
This was exactly the episode they needed to have at this point in the story and is one of the best episodes of season three. While I have liked the Infinity Arc so far, it has felt very tedious at points as we always seemed to have been dancing around issues that could have been resolved very easily but needed to be drawn out to fill the running time (and because filler isn’t allowed apparently). Here was the payoff to basically everything we’ve been building up to, and while I’m not sure how many more episodes we have left of the arc (or the season), we’re definitely approaching the endgame. I wish the season had had a few more strong moments throughout before getting to this point (the Hotaru scenes in here are absolutely fantastic) but better late than never I suppose. It seems that the immediate threat is over as there’s no way that Mistress 9 is gonna survive this, especially considering how easily Chibi-Usa took them down just moments ago, which leaves only General Zod who still hasn’t really shown what kind of power she has or what kind of threat he can be. Hopefully they’ll manage to make him at least half as interesting as Mistress 9 was, but that seems unlikely as it’s missing the crucial element of Hotaru fighting for herself and everyone else against the bad guy on a very personal level. See, with THAT there’s a connection there between the characters that fuels the conflict and makes it meaningful. With General Zod? He’ll probably just be a force of nature rather than anyone who can connect to the Scouts on any meaningful level which will feel like a step down from what made this episode so great. Oh well. I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]