1:42 – Sailor Venus’ Past! Minako’s Tragic Love
Alternative Title: Remember the Time that Sailor Moon Almost Murdered a Police Officer?
First Aired: 30th January 1993
Minako gets a call from an old friend, Katarina, from England, with whom she has rather a complicated relationship. This friend, a police woman, knows that Minako is really Sailor V, sort-of-kind-of stole Minako’s boyfriend, and had thought that Minako was dead. See what I mean? Complicated. Minako goes to see her unaware that Kunzite has already made her a Dark Kingdom agent, tasked with discovering the whereabouts of Sailor Moon.
SO MANY EMOTIONS.
We’re nearing the end of the first season, so big storyline moments are beginning to crop in – although we have to contend with Sailor Venus’ backstory first.
It’s not a bad episode, some great art, some great character moments, some great writing, but it’s a little dull. Minako’s past isn’t wholly gratifying or relevant to her as a character, and Usagi has a moment where I completely disconnected with her, albeit briefly. More on that later, of course…
Night. Interior. The arcade.
Ami, Makoto and Rei are using the arcade cabinet that Luna used to use as a communication device, before she belatedly found out that it was Artemis she was talking to via a voice modulator. Pretty sure he should have been made into violin strings for that bit of subterfuge.
Ami is trying to determine where the Dark Kingdom’s… dimensional vortex is, or something… the door to the Dark Kingdom through which all the monsters are able to get through. It’s about time someone did something proactive.
Alas, nothing’s show up as positive. The three girls are interupted by the arrival of Luna and Usagi, who have been investigating an Odango store – Japanese mochi dessert balls. Usagi’s bitching about how tired and hungry she is, despite having eaten (stolen) several thousands of Yen in confectionery from the store, is epic.
Normally I’d be vexed by the levels of moaning we’re getting, but today I’m just impressed. Everyone else is not, though.
Minako and Artemis arrive too, having investigated “every one of the public baths in Tokyo”, which is a lot less filthy than it sounds. Or maybe not.
As they decide to call it a night, the arcade monitor (I still haven’t talked about how they’re using an arcade machine as a fucking supercomputer, but whatever) begins to FLASH.
OH MY GOD THE SUN. What about the Sun?
Sunspots. Lots of ’em. Just to get science-y for a second, sunspots are darkened blobs on the surface of the Sun, created by small localised cooling on its surface. Large sunspots, or a number of them together, are a good indicator of a Coronal Mass Ejection – essentially, the release of a huge amount of energy from beneath the sunspot.
CMEs, sometimes called Solar Storms, are like a highly-charged wind that gets fired out. When Earth is in the way, which happens more often then you might think, it can rip through electronics. Satellites are especially vulnerable (unless they’re put into a safemode with enough warning beforehand), but electronic infrastructure is also at risk.
An example of the severe ramifications that CMEs can bring is of Canada in 1989, which suffered a Solar Storm that wrecked a large number of power stations and left hundreds of thousands without electricity, or heat, in a terribly cold winter. I seem to recall hundreds of the weak and old dying because of lack of electricity.
Right, enough of that, SAILOR MOON.
So CMEs aren’t the end of the world by themselves, but Artemis remembers that the last time that many sunspots occurred was the downfall of the Silver Millennium – the stakes of the series is now raised, in a weird but interesting development.
We switch the Queen Metalia, the giant lava lamp, in the Dark Kingdom, revealing that when sunspots cover the Sun, it will herald her revival. I’m not sure how important this imposed time limit is on the series, but I’m not against it.
Despite her imminent revival, they all still sort of want the Silver Crystal (it looks nice I guess), and Kunzite assures them that his latest “plan already in motion” should deliver the crystal. He has, you see, discovered someone who knows the identity of Sailor V, and has already enslaved her as a monster…
Just a guess, Kunzite, but this plan will probably work as well as all your other ones. Queen Beryl seems impressed though, which is rare, ending with a “Sailor V is certain to be related to Sailor Moon in some way,” with a level of inductive reasoning never before seen by a member of the royalty.
The fun’s not over, however. Queen Metalia, the gloopy bowl of red pus, fires off energy at the prostrate form of Endymion, announcing that he has the same “energy wave length” as her. What this means, I have no idea. It doesn’t really matter to the plot… all that I can say about this is that is has relevance to the final series of Sailor Moon.
Which is some ways off, really.
With her love being infected (molested…?) by some freaky dark alien energy, Usagi starts from her sleep. Luna expresses concern, trying to ease Usagi’s fears, but she really doesn’t need to, as the teenage girl begins eating pork buns in bed as a means of an emotional crutch.
This is what I do too. Luna is not impressed. I like this joke a lot.
Usagi decides to eat her midnight snack at the window, but immediately regrets this decision as Artemis jumps through the window, causing Usagi to begin choking.
Artemis explains to Luna that Minako has run off to meet an old friend from England, and that they should follow just in case. All the while Usagi is choking in the background, juxtaposing the severity of the conversation.
When she finally manages to, you know, breathe again, no thanks to the cats, Luna rubs salt in the wound by calling her an idiot.
That’s straight up cruel, cat.
Minako is in a hotel room with what we are supposed to think is an English woman. You can tell she’s English from her huge fucking nose (seriously, all English people in anime are drawn with long bridges, it’s true!). Minako looks super depressed considering that she’s meeting an old friend.
We’re immediately suspicious of this woman because a) she’s foreign b) she knows that Minako is really Sailor V and c) she’s blatantly asking Minako to put her in touch with Sailor Moon and looks evil while she does it.
Minako isn’t listening whatsoever. All she asks is about a person named Allan (is that the most English name they could come up with?), and Katarina whips out a wallet photo of the guy.
Minako notes that Katarina is still wearing the pendant that she got her, in a moment clearly designed to foretell some plot element in about 4 minutes.
Minako gets all emotional (WOMEN AM I RIGHT) and runs out the door. Katarina motions to follow her, but Kunzite appears, tell’s Katarina to kill Minako and morphs the police woman into a giant butterfly thing called Papillon.
Just to underline what this monster is called, she yells out her name (“PAILLOOOOOOON”) as she flies out the window hunting for Minako.
Minako is by the water, looking morosely at her own photo of her and Allan.
She’s rather upset, but doesn’t have much time to cry before she’s attacked by the walking bug lady.
Minako transforms, seemingly relishing a bit of action. There’s nothing like a fight to help you get over someone, is there?
So Sailor Venus is facing off against this thing, and the most important thing to note is that Papillon is SHOCKED to discover that Sailor V and Sailor Venus are the same person.
I wasn’t even aware that this was an issue, frankly, but apparently the Dark Kingdom, and an international police agent are unable to work that out.
Venus is overwhelmed by the stupid light-butterflies (second time we’ve had killer butterflies in this series, you may recall), but within the trap, which looks ruddy painful (and a little sexy), she notices that the Monster Papillon has the same necklace as Katarina, and she realises who’s attacking her.
I thought the voice and the hairstyle were dead-giveaways myself.
Sailor Venus is finally saved by the arrival of Usagi, Luna and Artemis. You’d think that Usagi would transform, save Venus, and save the day, but, weirdly, no. Luna decides that it’s a better idea to have Usagi steal a boat.
Usagi argues sagely that she cannot drive a boat, but Luna tells her to use the Transformation Pen to turn into a sailor. Which is nice and weird.
This is the last time we’ll ever see the Transformation Pen in action. Usagi’s outfit looks rather lovely and cute, at least. Not too bad a way to say goodbye to the power. Fare thee well, ridiculously powerful-yet-under-utilised device.
The cats launch themselves at Papillon’s face. This is an attack so regular that the Dark Kingdom should really invest in hockey masks for all their members.
The screaming-cats-to-the-face is super-effective against Papillon, which releases Sailor Venus into Usagi’s arms. A bit weird seeing a transformed Senshi and an un-transformed Senshi interacting, if that makes sense.
So they all get away in the boat, with the monster hot on their tail. So what’s the plan now? Luna obviously has to chose wisely to save their lives, but instead she decides that a creepy empty cruise liner is the best place to hide. Another call-back to a previous episode! Weird huh?
Inside the cruise liner’s lounge (if you’re going to hide from a monster, do it where the booze is I always say), Luna begins to ask Venus about why she was calling the monster “Katarina”. Usagi, sensitively, warns Luna that there are some things people don’t want to talk about.
I like Usagi. She’s my kind of people. Nice but dim.
Sailor Venus decides that now is as good a time as any, and we get a lengthy flashback, naturally.
It’s all a little dull, really, but all the London references are hilarious, coming from someone who lives there, so I’ll run through it briefly.
London. Sailor Venus is here tracking down a monster. Just the one. Everyone else just keep attacking Tokyo.
Minako meets this English guy called Allan and falls in love, despite him also having a huge fucking bridge on his nose like Katarina.
Day time. London. Exterior. Katarina, a police officer, is chasing down a suspect in a street that is supposed to be London (it’s not).
The suspect grabs a little English girl (she’s the lease English-looking girl ever drawn, mainly because she hasn’t got a huge fucking nose like everyone else).
He TRANSFORMS! In London. In public. What the crack? This has so many ramifications upon the world. People would know monsters exist, the government would form an Anti-Dark-Kindgom taskforce, find out where they are and NUKE the bastards, obviously.
Of course, none of this happens.
Sailor V appears, kicks Greeny in the jugular with a flying kick (it’s awesome) and becomes best friends with Katarina.
They go to the park and shit. It’s magical.
Allan and Katarina are also good friends after Minako introduces them to one another. Platonic friends, naturally.
That one grenade is enough to cause a HUGE fire. Katarina thinks that Sailor V, and thus Minako, is toast, but she manages to crawl back to where Allan is.
…at which point she sees a distraught Katarina being comforted by Allan. I would have interpreted that as “Oh, he’s being kind to her because her friend just died,” instead of “Oh, they’re totally fucking,” but maybe that’s why I’m not Sailor V.
Poor Sailor V is crushed, continues pretending to be dead and heads back to Japan.
And that’s Sailor Venus’ past. I think it’s meant to be enormously, romantically tragic (it’s in the title for one thing), but I felt nothing, which is actually rare for me and Sailor Moon. Maybe because the character seem so far removed from the show, or maybe because Minako is only 14 and, hey, all teenagers are dumb and in love.
Maybe I’m just a miserable old bastard.
Just then, enter Monster-Katarina, of course.
Usagi is super-pissed off after that long boring story, and transforms. She throws a Moon Tiara Action at Papillon (haven’t see one of those in a while!), which knocks the butterfly on her ass and the pendant from her neck.
Despite it being the midst of battle, Sailor Venus decides to check the inside of the pendant. You’d expect the photo to be of Katarina and Allan, the salacious pair, but no – it’s also of Minako, altogether, one happy dysfunctional threesome.
And here’s where it gets NUTS.
Venus begins to beg Sailor Moon to save Katarina. At first, you’d think this was a given, that Sailor Venus’ pleas are just an emotional reaction to realising that Katarina was attacked because of her, that Sailor Moon would heal Katarina regardless.
NOPE. Sailor Moon argues against this, screaming bitterly that Katarina betrayed Venus, that “SHE STOLE YOUR BOYFRIEND!” and therefore doesn’t deserve to be saved.
So…? That leaves the only other thing that Sailor Moon does to monsters – murder. Sailor Moon is straight-up suggesting that they kill Katarina in retribution for the emotional turmoil of a teenager.
NUTS NUTS NUTS. Seriously, who wrote this?
Somehow, Sailor Moon’s bloodlust is abated, and she -grudgingly- uses Moon Healing Escalation to turn Katarina back into a human.
Crying embrace, apologies all around, resolution and all that. Right?
The episode ends set to the orchestral version of Heart Moving, a classically bittersweet romantic piece. This is all rather beautiful actually. The girls are all worried about how depressed Minako is looking out to sea, and wonder if they should go over and talk to her.
Usagi tells them no – Minako is much more mature then they, she’s suffered heartache you see (she’s FOURTEEN guys, she’ll get over it). I appreciate the sad respect that Usagi has for Minako, if not the situation as a whole.
The final shots are dramatic static shots of Minako trying to convince herself that letting Allan go is the right thing to do, that he and Katarina are both happy together, which is the most important thing.
It feels like an empty sentiment as she stares at the photo of Allan for one last time before letting it fly away as she closes the door on her feelings.
That’s actually amazingly well-done ending to an episode that I felt was otherwise slightly stale. It ends so dead-pan, so despondently, that you can’t help feel the pathos.
Episode Score: 3/5 (That ending was great, though)
Monster Score: 2/5 (Loud, boring)
Evil Plot Score: 4/5 (Going after Sailor V was clever, but they really didn’t follow through)
Photos sourced gratefully from The Oracle.