1:17 – Is Usagi a Model? The Focus of the Monster Camera
Alternative Title: The Eagerly-Awaited Moth-Eaten Swimsuit Episode
First Aired: 4th July 1992
Usagi wants to be a model! Inspired by the local teenage superstar (this is like the 4th time this has happened) Kijin Shinokawa, Usagi longs to have her photograph taken by him. Alas, Kijin has been targeted by Nephrite, and now only wants to take pictures of women. Hot women. Lots of them. Can Usagi overcome her vanity long enough to defeat the Dark Kingdom?
GREAT EPISODE. This is up there as one of the best in the series. Asides from the great animation and writing, the climax is genuinely tense, with the monster expressing a level of threat not seen since the first episode!
Usagi is eating lunch, and she’s super psyched about it. Damn straight, too, it’s a great looking bento box. Her concentration on eating is broken when she overhears Naru-chan, Fatty and Skinny (remember those two?) discussing some “amazing” photographs taken by junior high student Kijin Shinokawa.
Usagi’s plan to get Shinokawa’s signature is stymied by Rei, who refuses to let Usagi anywhere near him. Knowing Rei’s personality at this point, I suspect she just wants to keep Shinokawa to herself.
Shinokawa comes off as a cringing wet towel at this point, but that’s OK because he almost dies in the next scene.
Heeeey it’s Masato Sanjoin, remember that jerk? Nephrite’s alter-ego plants his evil corporate logo inside of the camera, and we all know what’s coming next, right? EVIL, yeah?
Later, alone with his camera, Shinokawa has lost his nuts. Here’s some of the choice lines he spews out for the rest of the episode;
“I’M A GENIUS”
“ART IS EXPLOSIVE”
“I don’t care who they are. I just want to take explosive pictures of GIRLS!”
I love how crazy he comes across. There’s a real menace to this episode.
Usagi is reading a magazine advert taken out by Shinokawa, asking for hot girls who want to be models. Naturally Usagi decides that this is the life for her, immediately and irrevocably being obsessed with the idea.
Luna picks this point to give Usagi a new toy (she knows how to pick her moments) and Usagi, without missing a beat, calls up Ami to announce that she’s “decided to become a model”. Ami essentially (and correctly) calls Usagi an idiot and hangs up.
I can’t help feel that Luna imagined this bequeathment to go a little differently.
Usagi, with her big mouth, ventures the idea of becoming a model, and is laughed at by her little shit of a brother Shingo and her own mother. Shingo also points out that models have to be smart, which is an assertion I’m not sure he can back up with actual evidence.
We find Usagi in the arcade being consoled with the creepy Motoki, who gives fortune cookie advice about “challenging yourself”. He’s thankfully interrupted by Mamoru. He’s wearing those stupid sunglasses again. Inside. While playing on an arcade machine. LORD.
Mamoru launches into a condescending speech about how “men and women have got he wrong idea lately” and how “a girl’s beauty isn’t limited to her looks”. Usagi asks peevishly what true beauty is, and we get a TEEERIBLE line:
“A kind heart, and GUTS”
Oh well, thank god he’s pretty. After getting a few more insults, Usagi walks out in a huff. Motoki chastises Mamoru for being such a dick, and we get a smoldering close-up of Mamoru as he says “I guess we just don’t get along”
It’s a really pivotal moment in the series. The music cuts out, with a serious, intense look on Mamoru’s face. It’s the first suggestion that there’s something more than hate between Usagi and Mamoru.
Then again, Usagi is “in love” with Tuxedo Kamen, who looks an AWFUL LOT like Mamoru, so you’d have to be a drooling 6 year old not to realise where their relationship is headed. Come to think of it, that’s probably the audience at the time.
Usagi gets accepted for the photoshoot, much to turd-face Shingo’s astonishment, and get a scene of Usagi practicing her modelling skills, screaming “A E I O U” in a horrific accent and balancing books on her head. Luna is horrified, naturally. Seeing that there’s a swimsuit portion of the following day’s photoshoot, Usagi gets out her swimsuit. It’s moth-eaten, full of holes.
So she’s going to go and get a new one, right?
I love this. She’s cheap, but resourceful, and her unusual shyness is really cute.
Naru and the teacher Haruna have also been accepted for the shoot. They can been heard in the background freaking out over whether or not they’ve put on weight. It’s at this point that the episode is strongly reminding me of the weight-loss one from earlier in the series, only this episode is SO MUCH BETTER.
Luna thinks something’s up, because she’s not an idiot after all, and witnesses Shinokawa’s photoshoots: his camera fires energy which makes his models disappear! Freaky.
Luna tries to convince Usagi to transform, but alas, she’s zoned out on the idea of being a model, so Luna takes to drastic measures: she steals the bow covering up Usagi’s bumhole. It’s H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.
Finally Usagi realises that Shinokawa is a freak (Naru and Haruna are “photographed” and dissolve). Usagi launches into a speech about how true beauty is in a kind heart (every word is stolen from Mamoru), and finally transforms into good old Sailor Frickin’ Moon.
Now it’s ACTION ACTION ACTION! Shinokawa fires a barrage of energy balls (lol) at Sailor Moon, who rushes at him, dodging all the while, and smashing into him with an awesome Sailor Moon Kick. She knocks the camera into the water and Shinokawa passes out. Exciting!
That’s the end, right?
The monster that emerges is unimaginatively named Cameran, but boy oh boy is she freaky! The eye in her hand can trap people inside photos. Freaky, I say!
Luna jumps in front of one of the blasts and is immortalised in a glossy photo. This is rather upsetting! The stakes are getting higher and higher. Sailor Moon is saved from the same fate by Sailors Mercury and Mars, but they too are quickly snapped!
Now it’s just Sailor Moon alone. This is really quite a tense scene, as Cameran advances on Sailor Moon. If I were a kid watching this I’d be horrified at this point.
Sailor Moon is made of stronger stuff than we give her credit for. Showing a level of awareness never seen before, she notices that the wall she’s cowering against is a giant mirror (WHAT ARE THE ODDS?) and jumps 17 feet into the air in a graceful move just as Cameran fires a shot!
The monster’s eye-hand falls out and she looks like a melted candle, which is just what Sailor Moon needs to fire off a Moon Tiara Action. Everyone is released from the photos and all is well! Yaaay!
That night, Usagi’s family is watching an interview on TV with Kijin Shinokawa, who says he has been inspired by a girl with a beautiful heart to stop taking photos until blah blah blah something about a love of justice. Mother, Father and Little Shitface all bemoan the fact that Usagi isn’t more like the mystery girl, and we all chuckled softly, and knowingly.
What a great episode!
Episode Score: 5/5
Evil Plot Score: 5/5 (Laughable but creepy Shinokawa, Creepy Creepy Creepy monster)
Naru Attack Count: 7