1:24 – Naru’s Cry! Nephrite Dies For Love
Alternative Title: We Totally Gave Away The Ending Again
First Aired: 29th August 1992
Even though she now knows how evil Nephrite is, Naru can’t stop loving him. Nephrite, suspecting Naru might know the identity of Sailor Moon, visits her again, in the hope that she’ll lead him right to her. This Naru does, “inadventently”, by calling Usagi. Zoisite, meanwhile, finally makes his move against Nephrite, sending three monsters to kidnap Naru and lure Nephrite into a trap, so that they can steal the Black Crystal he created. Nephrite begins to thaw, but it may not be the perfect time to lower his guard..
We’ve got a lot to talk about. This is a longer post than normal.
This is one of the most affecting episodes of Sailor Moon there is, and I would stack this episode up against the majority of television I have watch in my time. It seems ludicrous to lavish this episode with such praise, but they hit every note just right – writing, art, music and pathos are all on form, and culminates in one of those dramatic, beautiful and devastating moments that gave Sailor Moon it’s reputation as one of the finest anime’s ever produced.
Let’s hope I’m not overstating things.
Usagi and Naru are in a park. By it’s emptiness, the camera giving a far shot of the two of them, and by the fact that Naru looks like she wants to die, you get the impression that she’s not quite over Nephrite. Usagi looks uncomfortable as hell, and timidly suggests that Naru “just get over that guy”. This goes down as well as you’d expect.
Naru’s response is rather interesting – if she really does love someone, Usagi should know how it feels. Her point is that no matter how much the person you love lies to you, or hurts you, you can’t stop loving them.
This is of course a very childish, and entirely accurate representation of most people, and it’s actually the situation that Usagi will find herself later in the series. It’s a curious parallel, one that I don’t think is by accident.
Nephrite is atop his pimpin’ demon-chair, considering his Black Crystal’s response to Naru in the previous episode – it glowed when she expressed her love for him – and decides that even if Naru has nothing to do with the Silver Crystal he’s been looking for, Sailor Moon knew Naru’s name, and they must therefore have a connection.
This is a leap of logic never before seen in a Dark Kingdom bad guy. I’m surprised it took this long.
Despite seeming perturbed by thoughts of Naru, he’s still pretty gung-ho about killing Sailor Moon. Zoisite can be seen in the shadows, plotting to take the Black Crystal from Nephrite. This gon’ get ugly.
Things take a turn for the creepy (again) as Nephrite breaks into Naru’s room while she’s sleeping, which is creepy. He uses the Black Crystal to peer beneath her duvet, her pajamas and her very soul looking for the Silver Crystal. All he sees is a tiny naked 14 year old girl, which is super super super creepy.
To top it off, Nephrite pulls this face:
As he’s leaving, Naru wakes up, and Nephrite speaks to her through her curtains. This is a little “Lost Boys” as it’s clear he must be floating arounf outside. At first, it totally seems like he’s coming clean to Naru – he tells her that Masato Sanjoin isn’t his real name (as if it weren’t obvious), and the nature of the “evil organisation” he works for.
He even tells her what a wonderful person she is! What a sweety.
Oh, but also, he’s also totally looking for Sailor Moon so he can join her side, could Naru please possibly tell him who she is? He emotionally blackmails her in an attempt to discover the identity of Sailor Moon.
What an evil bastard. This further emotional abuse of Naru is horrible, but it’s framed in such a way that we’re aware of a strange change in Nephrite’s demeanor. Still, the way he mutters “Usagi…” as he hears Naru on the phone is distinctly threatening.
Naru, meanwhile, is the perfect vector for this episode’s pathos – big eyed, brilliantly voiced (fragile, frantic, devoted – she really does an amazing job, especially near the end.
Zoisite sees this exchange from across the street, the slimy douche, and assumes that the great and powerful Nephrite is in love with the girl. He sets three monster who look like plant-kunoichi (female ninjas) to the task of messing up Nephrite’s day.
Naru is trying hard to find out who Sailor Moon could be. Strangely, the person she calls in the middle of the night is Usagi. She mentions that Nephrite is looking for Sailor Moon, but nothing else. This is an interesting moment – Naru doesn’t seem to consciously know that Usagi is Sailor Moon, but at the very least suspects something about her (it would be hard not to). As we see later, Naru’s suspicions seem to grow, but this is the most overt suggestion that she knows Usagi’s secret.
Usagi is obviously freaked out that Nephrite is trying to molest Naru again, and she and Luna run to Osa-P, the jewelry store that Naru lives above. Luna decides that Usagi is too slow and (CONVENIENTLY) runs ahead, leaving Usagi in a trap.
Nephrite announces that he now knows that Tsukino Usagi is really Sailor Moon, then does nothing with this information whatsoever, deciding just to try and murder her then and there.
He gives it a pretty good go, doing better than Jadeite anyway. Sailor Moon asks kindly if Nephrite could possibly stay quiet, but his response is laser beams, which is precisely what I’d love to reply to all questions with.
Sadly, Tuxedo Kamen saves the day with a rose and a corny entrance. I love the guy, but honestly, fuck off yeah?
Nephrite seems ready to take on both Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen, but is interrupted when he hear’s Naru’s voice in his head asking for help! Tux just stands there looking like a chump.
Nephrite returns to Naru’s room to find a ransom note – the girl for the Black Crystal – to which Nephrite scoffs. How ludicrous to think that he would care for the girl! Something seems to get his goat however, as he sets the note alight.
I did not know he even had that power.
Look at where they’re holding Naru:
Is that beautifully creepy or what? There’s nothing better than derelict jazz bars. Inside, Naru is tied to a table, and the three Kunoichi monsters are discuss when to kill her. This whole scene is horrible, it’s made really menacing by the look on Naru’s face.
Everyone seems a little surprised when Nephrite actually turns up. And then it gets so, so awesome.
Is physical action really necessary in a magical girl anime? Probably not. Does this scene transform Nephrite from a heartless manipulator of a little girl into a heroic protagonist? Hell to the yes. It’s all animated wonderfully, and Nephrite comes off looking so fucking cool.
Move over Tux, I’ve got a new man in my life.
To top it all off, the look between Naru and Nephrite here is really intriguing and, dare I say, complex. To do something without understanding why, to have emotions that you can’t comprehend, to be hopelessly lost in a look, this is what I read from Nephrite’s expression. And they linger on it, for just the right length of time.
Yes, I’m totally reading into it, it’s just a cartoon after all, but this episode is so great that this is what it allows you to do.
Naru is being carried around like a baby. It’s really quite sweet. All the creepy molester vibes are gone by this point. However uncomfortable I felt before about Nephrite and Naru, from here on out it just feels romantic, as opposed to rapey, like it was before.
Nephrite says, honest in a paradoxical sort of way, that he may continue lying to Naru, but she expresses that naive belief in him. Before it felt stupid – now it seems sadly sweet. So many character developments in such a short amount of time!
Seeing that Nephrite had been cut in battle, Naru drags him into a dark clump of trees with the excuse of fixing him up, the minx.
She gives him the Hot Shots! Part Deux treatment (if you got that reference you’re amazing and I love you).
The music that plays throughout the next scene is the beautiful orchestral arrangement of Heart Moving which I referenced in a previous post. It gives a real emotional heft to their conversation.
Naru begins talking about a place which serves chocolate parfaits (I’m not sure Nephrite even knows what one is), and asks if Nephrite likes them. He looks taken aback and replies that he loves them. Naru calls him on his bullshit, but seems happy, saying that we lie with good intentions too.
This is some grown up shit.
Naru wants Nephrite to go with her to the chocolate parfait place, and he promises to take her. Imagine THAT scene.
Naru gives the best line:
…and Nephrite actually laughs, in a nice way. Well it’s intended to be nice, it’s actually more sinister and weird. Which is juuuust about the time this happens.
This is messed up, really messed. This is a kid’s show, guys. Those penis-shaped root spears being to suck Nephrite’s energy. Nephrite keeps telling Naru to run, but of course she stays.
It’s sort of gross watching Naru try to rip these things out of Nephrite. Poor little Naru. She’s amazing.
One of the Kunoichi seems afraid that Naru might actually pull the stupid sticks out and tries to kill them both with exploding Smarties. Nephrite does the honorable thing and protects Naru, which rips him up even further, till the point he resembles a mushed cucumber…
Zoisite appears to steal the Black Crystal at last. He’s so smug, so cowardly, so downright despicable in the moment that I hate him with all my being. He leaves, telling the monsters to “have fun with them”. What a complete bastard.
And then FINALLY Sailor Moon turns up. JESUS.
After how lethal they were against Nephrite, the Kunoichi don’t last long against the Sailor Senshi. Sailor Mercury’s Bubble Spray is actually useful for once, stopping the bombs that ripped Nephrite up.
A Moon Tiara Action + a Sailor Mars Fire Soul is enough to kill all three on one move. A little anti-climatic perhaps, but hey, this is a long episode.
Nephrite is dying. He’s covered in green blood (maybe he’s a Vulcan), and tells Sailor Moon ominously that her secret identity is safe. He turns to Naru and reveals his final lie:
As he dies in her arms, Naru’s cries of anguish feel so genuine, so traumatic, that I’ll come out and admit it –
I cried a little. Just a little mind, but considering I’ve seen this episode about a dozen times in the past, and that I’m now a man in my mid-twenties, I didn’t expect to be as moved by this scene as I once was.
But I was. Maybe it’s Naru’s complete breakdown at Nephrite’s death, maybe it’s that there’s not even a body to mourn, but this episode got me.
…And thus concludes the Nephrite arc. What a great storyline.
As an aside, this marks the middle of the first season of Sailor Moon. I just want to say how much fun it’s been reviewing these episodes, and how strangely fulfilling I’ve found it. It only gets better from here though – next week is the entrance of my favourite character – Sailor Jupiter!
Episode Score: 5/5 (Nigh-on perfect)
Naru Attack Count: 11 (She finally gets a break. For like one episode)
How Much I Hate Jadeite: With all my heart. You murderous arse!