In Memoriam: Ali & En, Cock-Up Kings
Ali & En may not have been the most threatening of enemies (above image not withstanding), but while they were mostly bumbling, unpleasant characters, they at least facilitated a focus of sorts. They were, ironically, much more human than any of the enemies we’ve seen thus far.
Let’s take a look at a few of their highlights, and the plethora of their lowlights.
I’ve never really liked Ali & En. They had the odds stacked against them from day one. The entire 13 episode arc of their sexually-charged horticultural-mismanagement attempts of children-sucking & bigamy has been complete filler, originally conceived as a way of letting Sailor Moon manga artist Naoko Takeuchi time enough to finish of the Black Moon arc.
As such, their tenure in Sailor Moon is filled with aimless, arbitrary episodes that, while not bad in themselves, offer little impetus to follow the series.
But, of course, it’s not just the lack of an involving story arc that makes me dislike Ali & En. While I’m not a steadfast champion for the sanctity of a relationship, their constant bickering and infatuation with people that couldn’t care less about them, while at the same time trying to overtly cheat on each other, makes them rather pathetic.
This is, of course, the show’s intention. Nothing makes this more clear than in S2E10, in which En, alias Natsumi, creates a cunning plan to plant a kiss on Mamoru’s lips by staging a children’s production of Snow White. The Sailor Senshi in this episode get their bitch on – and for good reason, since Natsumi cheats, lies and berates everyone else throughout. This is definitely not a sympathetic character.
Even Usagi’s attempts to forge a friendship between Natsumi and her fellow Senshi seem pointless considering the natural animosity between them. It’s a mark of Usagi’s character that she’s willing to overlook Natsumi’s incessant attempts to insult her, steal her pseudo-boyfriend and kill her.
Or maybe Usagi’s just as pathetic. We’ll call it noble for now.
This is not to say the characters are irredeemable for the viewer. There are some very funny, and uncomfortable, moments between Ali & En as they catch each other swooning over their human infatuations. At the very least the characters are not boring – but they lack the drama of, say, a good Nephrite, or the interesting and developed threat of a Queen Beryl.
Their eventual understanding of “love” and all that irks me a little too. Their transition from murderous assholes to lovey-dovey aliens willing to sacrifice themselves happens a little to quickly and easily. For Ali, it happens a little slower, inspired by Sailor Moon and Mamoru defending each other in a melodramatic and drawn out scene.
For En, however, the change seems to happen instantaneously. As soon as Ali is threatened, she’s willing to lay down her life. This is at odds with her previous attitude. It’s a change I could have bought with just a little more development of her character.
The most interesting topic involving Ali & En, however, lies in the curious consideration the writers took to make the couple somewhat incestuous.
The topic of incest is, obviously, nothing new to anime. It is curious, however, to see such a physical relationship (they’re always making out) between aliens who claim to be brother and sister when in their human form. Other characters, like Makoto and Usagi in S2E12, straight-up point out they act more like lovers than brother and sister.
So what, you might think. It’s played up for comical effect, to make it that much more awkward when one gets jealous that the other one is hitting on a human in public.
But when you consider the body of evidence, it becomes fairly obvious that this is an intentionally taboo relationship.
Ali & En didn’t need to tell others that they were brother and sister but they did. They also look very much alike, even more so when in alien form, to the point where they could be twins. Add to this the fact that the Doom Tree reveals that it gave birth to the alien race that Ali & En come from. They are brother and sister, albeit in an alien-lifeform-grown-from-a-leaf sort of way.
Yes, they are an alien species, and yes, incest is concept limited to life on Earth. This isn’t a discussion on the science, but on the themes being introduced into Sailor Moon. Ali & En’s relationship shows that the writers are a) a little fucked up and b) willing to explore topics that would never be touched by other kids’ shows.
Dislike them as characters or antagonists if you wish (and I do wish), but they are interesting to talk about.
Also, I really do like the way they look as aliens. Very stylish.
Number of Episodes Survived: 13
Final Score: 2/5