Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 28 (The Painting of Love: Usagi and Mamoru Get Closer)

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

Episode directed by Yuji Endo

We’re back with another episode of Reading Rainbow Crystals!  When we last left our heroes, it was on a particularly weak note as the show had REALLY botched an Ami episode which is a shame because she doesn’t get as much of the spotlight as she should.  Now it looks like we’re already going back to focusing on the destined romance of Usagi and Mamoru which isn’t completely devoid of intrigue, but doesn’t feel as necessary as making sure the other Scouts remain a prominent part of the series rather than becoming background objects.  Still, does the show manage to give us another really strong episode in the Rainbow Crystal arc, or was the last episode a warning of mediocrity to come?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins in the bowels of Hell Corp where Queen Beryl is giving her usual speech about the incompetence of her underlings, and frankly it’s becoming clear that she’s starting to phone these in.  She’s gotten so used to failure that she can barely muster the energy to destroy Zoisite’s self-confidence with her expert tongue lashing, yet doesn’t seem all that interested in taking direct action or to come up with a plan that’s at least SOMEWHAT different from the last twenty or so that have failed.  At least with Jadeite, there was a bit of variety in the schemes!  Here, they’re just throwing goons at the Scouts and getting surprised when yet another one gets its ass handed to them!

“Oh do whatever you like.  I’m sure you’ll fail once again and we’ll be right back in the same place next week.”     “I hate to see you so dejected, but then I also like how you’re not threatening to rip my large Intestine out and then choke me with it.”     “Oh it’s all about YOU isn’t it?”

From there we cut to Usagi who’s just as despondent and glum as the Queen of Dark Kingdom, but her reasoning is quite different as her problems stem from boy troubles.  Apparently  she’s still lamenting the fact that she doesn’t have a boyfriend as she continues to carry a torch for Tuxedo Mask which is something Luna is not very happy about considering he’s got at least one of the Rainbow Crystals and could be using it for nefarious ends.  Usagi clearly doesn’t see it that way.

“Blah blah blah blah blah blah!”     “Uh huh…”     “ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME!?”     “Of course I am!”

Oh well.  That stuff can be put on the back burner for now as we’ve got the REAL plot to get to!  There’s a new Art Exhibit in town that both Usagi and Naru go to visit (the latter of whom seems to have gotten past her grief after the events of episode 26) and the artist in question is Yumemi Ymeno whose work has become known as THE PAITINGS OF LOVE!  Boy does THAT not sound completely tacky!

“I hear she also goes under the pseudonym N Tak.”     “Really?  That’s a silly name!”

Now the big conceit here is that we find out that Yumemi Ymeno has hidden away from the public eye which means no one knows what she really looks like as if she’s Banksy or something, and is doing all this because she’s actually a NERD!!!  That’s right, she’s refused the spotlight because she feels that she’s too plain looking, and we all know that REAL artists look like super models and chiseled sex Gods!  Vincent Van Gogh?  That Louis CK looking mother fucker is a STUD!!  Despite her supposed fugly status, Yumemi does go to these events to get inspiration for her next work and in the process ends up running into Mamoru who she recognizes immediately from one of her paintings.   Now since this is the big new character for this episode (and because Zoisite flashed her picture up during the Hell Corp scene), we know that she’s actually one of the Rainbow Monsters which means that her past self was around during the heyday of the Silver Millennium, so given that it kind of makes sense that she’d draw Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity due to some long dormant memories of that life.  Hell, even Mamoru notices that one of the paintings she drew is almost an exact copy of that one dream he’s been having every night.  Now despite Yumemi not knowing why this guy is familiar to her, he does seem to be the inspiration she’s been looking for and promptly begs the guy to model for her.

“Help me studly one.  You’re my only hope!”     “The hell did you say?  Was that a reference to something?”

This interaction between Mamoru and a woman who ISN’T his girlfriend sets off Usagi’s gossip senses who immediately zeroes in on the two of them with promises of telling Rei all about this scandalous rendezvous!  Of course, she completely forgets about this one Yumemi sort of recognizes her as well and asks them both to be her models which they agree to for… reasons.  Okay, I can buy Usagi willingly going to a stranger’s house on the promises of being immortalized in art, but even Mamoru can’t give a reason why he’s sticking around for this.  He gripes and groans the whole time, yet stays because… the coffee is good?  I mean it’s clear that the painting of hers he saw at the gallery was enough to trigger flashbacks to his recurring dreams so they COULD have justified him being here for that reason, but even that doesn’t get brought up again!  I guess he just ain’t happy unless he ain’t happy.

“SAY CHEESE!!”     “Humph!  I’m too cool to smile.”     “Amateur!”

Speaking of being unhappy, Yumemi gets very talkative while painting and goes on and on about how her fans would only like her if she was a beefcake and plenty of other self-deprecating things that gets Usagi all sad but puts Mamoru into tough love mode; informing Yumemi that those who can’t make themselves happy can’t make others happy, and while I’m pretty sure Pagliacci would disagree, it is a fair point.  She’s supposed to be THE ARTIST OF LOVE or whatever, yet is always super bummed out which may be contributing to her problem coming up with ideas (and why she needs models for inspiration).  While all this character building and supposed sexual tension is taking place, Usagi eventually comes across one painting in particular which stirs something in Mamoru as it appears to be yet another picture of him and the mysterious princess in his dreams.  To further compound the intrigue here, the princess is holding a very distinctive necklace thingy that you may recall was discovered by Usagi in that one episode with the boxing chicken priest.  I still don’t know where the hell it came from, but if the picture is any indication she’ll give it to Mamoru at some point.  FORESHADOWING!!

“This painting contains spoilers!”     “ACKK!!  GET IT AWAY FROM ME!!”

The rest of the modeling session stays rather uneventful and the two eventual leave once Yumemi has finish up her work.  Usagi runs into Luna on the way home who’s pissed about her going AWOL for an entire day on top of the whole “still in love with Tuxedo Mask” thing, but gives her another chance as leader of the Scouts because… reasons.  I know that I’M still working off the theory that Luna knows everything already and clearly wants the Princess to shape up, but assuming that’s not the case then it’s not quite clear why she’s put so much faith into Usagi other than possible favoritism.  Speaking of people being manipulated by extra-planetary forces, I wonder what Zoisite is up to right now?

He turned Yumemi into an Overwatch character!?  THE BASTARD!!

I guess Zoisite must have been waiting for an opportunity to strike as he CLEARLY couldn’t have taken on two teenagers at the same time he transformed Yumemi, and now that Usagi and Mamoru are gone he finally gets to make his move!  Fortunately, Usagi isn’t TOO far away and the Moon Stick she got back from Luna starts beeping away which leads her right back to Yumemi’s house.  Once she finds out what has happened, she calls the other Scouts (smart move), transforms into Sailor Moon, and follows Zoisite and the new monster known as Veena to the construction yard that is conveniently located right across the street.  Veena basically has the power of that giant pencil in that one episode of Spongebob Squarepants in that she can draw stuff and it will materialize in the real world.  That’s a really cool power right?  Well, it COULD be, but the only things she can think to draw are rocks, so this SUPER AMAZING POWER boils down to her trying to stone Sailor Moon to death.

“OH MY GOD, A GIANT ROCK!!”     “It’s actually a pretty small one.”     “Well why don’t you switch places with me just to make sure!?”

Sailor Moon tries to dodge the onslaught, but at some point she trips and falls over which gives Veena an opening to crush her with an even BIGGER rock!  Her ingenious plot turns out to have one fatal flaw however as Tuxedo Mask comes in at the last second and whisks Sailor Moon away from danger!  Clearly Veena’s attack pattern indicates… two dimensional thinking.  Zoisite, being an expert on realizing when shit is about to hit the fan, decides to run off with the Rainbow Crystal and leaves Veena to take care of these interlopers which I’m SURE is going to go well.  Actually, it goes even WORSE than usual for Zoisite because Tuxedo Mask doesn’t even bother with the Rainbow Monster and is hot on the pretty boy’s heels.  Usagi tries to follow suit, but is stopped by Veena who uses her powers to summon ropes who then turn into snakes, because I guess the religious imagery with her being an angel was just too darn subtle.  Fortunately the other Scouts have just arrived to kick her ass, which leaves Usagi to chase after Tuxedo Mask and Zoisite.  Now on the one hand, I am disappointed that Veena is basically a throw away character here since she barely poses a threat and at this point is more or less neutralized.  On the other hand, what we get INSTEAD of the usual monster fight is a clash between Tuxedo mask and Zoisite which at least brings a bit of variety to an arc that has followed a pretty set formula up until now, and it also gives the show a chance to focus on the plot rather the episode to episode incremental progress of gathering the crystals.  Not only that, but we get THIS amazing shot!

“Tell me… do you bleed?”     “I’m pretty sure I do, though I think it’s green.”     “YOU WILL!!”     “Whoa!  Hostile much?”

Tuxedo Mask and Zoisite duke it out and the latter eventually gets the upper hand.  He throws a crystal at Tuxedo Mask that I guess he materialized out of thin air (hey, if Nephrite can summon space lions, I won’t question the point object appearing between edits) but lucky for him Sailor Moon manages to shatter it with her death tiara; saving Tuxedo Mask for once instead of the other way around!  Zoisite to his credit has a GREAT survival instinct and knows better than to fight two on one, so he fucks off to Hell Corp with the Rainbow Crystal in hand while Sailor Moon checks to see if Tuxedo Mask is alright.  In the process, she drops the giant fucking pendant she found in the last Naru episode and we actually get an answer for its origin.  Apparently Tuxedo Mask dropped it during that episode which I guess is a good enough explanation of where it came from, though if they did confirm this was his in that episode, I clearly missed it.  Sailor Moon offers to return it to him once it’s clear who the real owner is, but since Tuxedo Mask decides to let Usagi keep it as she’s looking for the Princess and he feels that it’s tied to her in some way.  Sailor Moon is pretty pleased about this, but pushes her luck when she asks for his Rainbow Crystal as well.  He refuses and explains that he needs to collect them all for… some reason, and leaves her somewhat heartbroken as he makes it clear that he’ll go so far as to steal her Rainbow Crystals as well should the opportunity present itself.

“I hate to see him go, but I love to watch him leave!”

Aren’t we forgetting something among all this angst?  Oh right!  The other Scouts took down Veena without an trouble (going so far as to break one of her wings which seems pretty harsh) and Sailor Moon comes by just in time to use her healing spell before Jupiter puts her in a body cast.  With Yumemi no longer summoning deadly rocks or rope snakes, it seems that everything can go back to normal for her, except she decides to change one thing.  Whether it was from Usagi’s kind words, Mamoru’s stern words, or even from the experience of turning into a monster (I’m assuming she remembers that?), she decides that she’ll come out to the public as the artist of all these lovey-dovey paintings and no longer let her completely fine looks get her down again!  Not only that, but she’s also finished her latest piece based on the modeling work done by Usagi and Mamoru as well as a couple of self-portraits that she’ll hang up to show the world the REAL her!  And so the episode ends with the another person saved, the tensions between The Scouts and Tuxedo Mask intensified, and a final shot of that really odd painting.

“So you had me with the couple against the backdrop of out space, and you even had me with the planet…”     “I lost you with the UFO, didn’t I?”     “I mean… is there a reason behind it?  Are they about to get abducted?”

This was a pretty solid episode in the arc as it lays a lot of groundwork for the future conflict between the Usagi, Mamoru, and the other Scouts, though outside of that one REALLY positive element, everything else was just kind of average.  Yumemi wasn’t all that interesting of a character before she became a monster and she seemed pretty underutilized after, not to mention that the other Scouts are once again relegated to the background; something I wouldn’t be too bothered by if they hadn’t just botched the Sailor Mercury episode before this.  Despite all that, and even though I know where this is going (spoiler alert: Tuxedo Mask is NOT a bad guy), I did enjoy the scenes with Mamoru and Usagi as well as the scenes with Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon which manages to subtly inch them closer and closer together while simultaneously creating this rift between them.  After this episode, we’re down to the last three Rainbow Monsters which PROBABLY won’t spell the end for Zoisite (he’s only been in charge for a couple of episodes now) and will hopefully not mean the end of this really good stretch of episodes which blow the Nephrite ones out of the water.  We’ll have to see how it plays out, but let’s hope the show has hit its stride in a big way!

One thought on “Super Recaps: Sailor Moon Episode 28 (The Painting of Love: Usagi and Mamoru Get Closer)

  1. You know of all the Sailor Moon episodes (which, when it comes down to it, have the same plot for 90% of the time), this one kind of stuck with me. I guess I am a sucker for beautiful paintings, but I also like the subtext here, that we shouldn’t need to paint a different picture of us for the world to see.


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