2:34 – Dark Gate Completed? A Grade School in Danger
Alternative Title: “My Secret Weapon is This 7 Year Old Girl Wielding a Mop”
First Aired: 15th Jan 1994
After another brief illness, Chibi-Usa is keen to get back to school, seeing as she has finally made friends in class. Her first day back doesn’t go quite as planned, however, as everyone has gone fucking insane. With all of her classmates and teachers now trying to kill each other, and her, Chibi-Usa must wait it out for the Sailor Senshi. What none of them know is that Esmeraude is planning another simultaneous attack elsewhere in the city…
This episode acts as a catalyst for the main story. From hence forth, there are no real filler episodes in Sailor Moon R, and I think that the character development in Chibi-Usa is important. She shifts from a passive character, always being hunted and having to be saved, to something far more interesting.
That being said, this episode is one of those produced by the less-talented team, so the art and action suffers, but not nearly as much as the last episode this team handled.
Esmeraude’s schemes actually make some sense, today, too. Like the previous episode, manipulating innocent bystanders until they are unrecognisably nasty is a good way to ramp up tension and pathos.
The episode opens with a flashback to Chibi-Usa’s first day in school. It’s a nice framing device, it tells us that Chibi-Usa’s character development from her first appearance is going to be highlighted. The art style has shifted to static watercolour images too. Arty… and also cheap to draw, haha.
Everyone in her class seem suitably impressed by “Tsukino Usagi”, maybe because of her shockingly pink hair, but one boy in particular focuses entirely on the wrong thing, deciding to mock her for her height.
That’s fast work, kid. You’re going to be a big hit with the ladies.
He apparently comes up with the name Chibi-Usa, which is a little vexing, since it was Usagi who was meant to have dubbed her thusly to end the confusion over there being two Usagis, which I think is neater.
Whatever, it’s an excuse for a little cute girl to whack the idiot boy with a magazine until he’s a bit politer, and thus friendships are born or whatever.
We fade out of the dream to realise that Chibi-Usa is sick again!? This is the 2nd time this series, and the 3rd time illness has been used as a plot device. You can tell the writers for this episode are the less inventive ones.
It’s pretty handy to have hyper-intelligent cats around, by the way, since they seem to be doing all the caring for the sick girl.
Chibi-Usa instantly asks if she can go back to school. I do not get this girl on any level. Milk it, Chibs. Usagi and the other Senshi all come in to wish Chibi-Usa well, as well as one last visitor.
This is Momo-chan. I realise this might get a little confusing as we already have Mamo-chan, Mako-chan, Minako-chan and Stupid Douche Motoki-san too. Naoko Takeuchi had a thing for the letter “M” apparently.
Momo-chan is rather cute, as is Chibi-Usa when she’s so happy to see her friend. It’s rare to see Chibi-Usa conversing like a kid to her contemporaries, she’s usually yelling obscenities at Usagi. Nice to see another side of her.
The Senshi are all enjoying watching the stupid kids chatter about nonsensical stuff, until Ami bums everyone out by asking why the enemy would bother trying to kill Chibi-Usa anyway.
We’ll get to this in a few episodes…
MEANWHILE. Evil is afoot. Esmeraude is busy planting a new Dark Henge in Juban Park. Where else? Where else, I ask you? Everything of note in this goddamn anime happens in this fucking park.
The Droid she summons to protect the Henge is.. well… rather lame. It’s a buff dude with no fashion sense that looks curiously like Kunzite. This is a shit comparison, because Kunzite was far cooler then this surfer asshole. I suppose at a push you could also say that Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII was taking hair fashion tips from this jerk.
This is the only male Droid to date, I think. He’s wearing earrings that have previously only been worn by generals such as Rubeus or Esmeraude. Not sure what that is supposed to mean, exactly…
There’s a rather clever reveal that there is in fact not one surfer Kunzite Droid, but two Droids, in two seperate places. This is finally looking like a clever plan, Ezzy.
I think I’m correct in saying that the pale one is called Chiral and the tanned one is called Archiral, but I do get them mixed up quite a lot.
The next morning we find Chibi-Usa late for school and running, asking Luna why she didn’t wake her up. This is all looking very very familiar.
Something is very wrong when Chibi-Usa gets to school, however, mainly because it looks like goddamn Battle Royale. Seriously, this little kids are just trying to murder each other. I LIKE IT.
Chibi-Usa spots Momo-chan being cornered by a brutish looking kid. She’s got a rather nasty look on her face, actually… Chibi-Usa is worried for her, but really she has no need to be.
Momo-chan takes this guy out with a drop kick to the jugular. Clearly he’s dead.
Momo-chan then sets herself on Chibi-Usa, who is intially impressed, but then rather pissed off after Momo performs a water kick on her and then runs off giggling like she’s possessed. Chibi-Usa, idiot that she is, chases after her instead of getting the fuck out of this hell hole.
Seriously, though, good job on the ambiance today, it feels real nasty around here.
Luna sees a spark of light on the roof of the building, and then is doubly shocked to find Artemis right behind her like a stalker. I loved her reaction.
Chibi-Usa, having seen no horror movies in her short life, starts poking around dark deserted school corridors. There’s nothing quite so unnerving as normally busy-and-bustling places when it’s dark and empty. Hospitals, train stations, schools.
As it turns out, the school kids, and teachers apparently, get along fine when they’re trying to murder Chibi-Usa. They’ve formed a pyschotic-looking gang, complete with school-based instruments of death.
It’s really nasty, actually. As I said before, take familiar people and places, warp them until they’re threatening, and see the fear grow.
On the roof, we see Chiral and the Dark Henge bubbling away nicely. I still fucking hate this guy. He looks… smelly. He looks like he works out and smells.
Chibi-Usa runs into a classroom to escape, and is given another fright as Luna and Artemis jump out. We’re given another scare as Momo checks the room (she looks CRAZY)… only to think that the room is empty.
Luna urges Chibi-Usa to stay with her while they get away, but Chibi-Usa quietly refuses, insisting she stay behind, despite her fear, to make sure that Momo-chan doesn’t, I dunno, hurt herself while she’s kicking dude’s faces in.
It’s silly, I know… it’s not like she can actually help at all… but she’s willing to realise her fear and limitations, and I admire Chibi-Usa’s courage. I’d be out of there so fast… Good development today.
Luna agrees to wait with her while Artemis collects the other Senshi, but as the girls at Usagi’s school are being briefed, they call get a frantic call from Minako – she’s stumbled upon the Dark Henge in Juban Park.
The smart thing to do would be to send two people to the school and the other over to the park to join Minako and Rei… but NOPE. Ami (the smart one) thinks Usagi will manage the school just fine by herself.
The school. With all the insane children. Wielding rulers and set-squares. You’re sending the Senshi with only offensive skills…?
OK, you’re the genius…
Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars appear completely unable to do anything about the Dark Henge today anyway – it’s apparently especially strong, having grown so large, or so the creepy Archiral tells them. I like this set-up: the usual tactics apparently won’t cut it today.
Venus Love-Me Chain, Burning Mandala and Shine Aqua Illusion, none work against Archiral thanks to his ability to control the Earth to block the attacks. So they’re all dead, right?
WRONG. The idiot tells them to go to the elementary school for “the final showdown“. You stupid moron, you should have just killed them here. Now they’re going to regroup and kill yo ass.
Besides, the life of the Dark Henge seems inextricably linked to the survival of the Droid, meaning that if the Droid just hides somewhere quietly for a couple of days, the Dark Henge will get all-powerful and open anyway.
Whatever. Sailor Moon arrives at Chibi-Usa’s school to find it smashed-up, with a giant great Dark Henge on top too. They’re cutting it fine… Wait, I thought Shingo, her little brother, went here too…? She doesn’t seem to care in the slightest, and neither do I.
Sailor Moon sneaks round the school to the room Chibi-Usa was hiding in, but it looks deserted. Just when the room seems empty… a voice seems to come from a skeleton propped up against the wall.
It’s a silly moment where Sailor Moon looks like she’s going to die from fright from a plastic skeleton, until Chibi-Usa shows herself to be crying and hugging her saviour.
The pay-off is even better. Just as Sailor Moon relaxes, she looks up again to find fucking Chiral about to murder her ass. Great moment, great fake-out.
While Sailor Moon tries to give her opening spiel while splayed out on the floor, Chiral cuts her off to reveal that both he and his twin Archiral are together.
I imagine this threat from both sides while trying to defend Chibi-Usa might have been tense and dramatic… if the art were any good. But, alas, it’s just clunky.
It gets a little silly when Momo-chan turns up, still wielding that mop like a goddamn ninja. Why are the Droids using this small child and none of the others…? It seems to random, so weird.
Chibi-Usa is pissed off, but before she can do anything stupid (and she really tries hard), Sailor Mercury busts in with a Bubble Spray to make it all misty. God I’m so over this move, find a different way to escape, writers.
Now this bit really is silly. Chiral runs away for some unknown reason, and Archical decides to use his secret weapon: Momo-chan. Yeah, great job, ass wipe.
Admittedly, Momo is pretty darn good with that mop…
Chiral reappears to zap Sailor Jupiter (YOU BASTARD, NOT MY JUPE-JUPE) and Archiral traps them all in a dark box. You know, this really is very similar to what Kunzite did back in season 1… Is this on purpose?
So now they’re all shocked and trapped, even Momo-chan. Chibi-Usa still manages to get over to her, such is her concern for her psycho friend, but something unexpected happens when she embraces her:
Chibi-Usa’s outpouring of power came with no tears or shock today, just heightened emotions. It seems to have awoken Momo-chan from her hypnosis too. That’s a pretty handy forehead blast, Chibi-Usa.
Now aware that they’ve had the blood Rabbit in front of them all this time, Archiral attempts to kill her witha blast, but Momo-chan pushes her out of the way and gets it instead.
So she’s dead, right? A Droid fired a blast that it intended to kill, and a weakened 7 year old took the blast? No?
Nah, she’s just severely severely injured. The look on Chibi-Usa’s face brought all the feels, man. She’s in deep shock. A really great way to bump up the pathos, too, reminds of faces Sailor Moon pulled in dire emotion, although nowhere near as moving of course.
We then finally see the moment in Chibi-Usa’s memory of when the Black Moon clan first attacked Crystal Tokyo, and in particular Neo Queen Serenity… who is shown in all her glory to be, yes indeed, Usagi.
I know it was obvious before, but never has it been so clear, never have we seen a real, concious Neo Queen Serenity. Usagi does, in fact, look remarkable and grown-up.
We also realise that it was to defend her daughter’s life that Neo Queen Serenity took the blast that rendered her in a crystalline coma. No wonder Chibi-Usa has been so determined to save her mother – she feels directly responsible.
It goes even deeper then this, of course, but this is great thematic set up for developments later in the series.
Chibi-Usa is so wroth that she seems to wilfully unleash another energy blast that shocks near enough everyone. She looks pretty darn scary herself!.
As Chiral and Archiral are blown away, we suddenly see an enormous crystal light up in response… this is the Jakokusuishou, the Evil Dark Crystal in the future on the Black Moon.
Wiseman sees this reaction, as does Prince Dimande. It’s a very brief shot, but it clearly establishes the fact that something rather important, and potentially dangerous, has occurred.
Chibi-Usa’s power blast lasts quite a while. When it finally dies down, and when Momo-chan stirs slightly, the Sailor Senshi are finally ready to kill them some Droids in tanktops.
Meanwhile, in the future, Wiseman suggests to Dimande that it would be unwise merely to do away with the Rabbit. It looks as though he already has a plan. This is the most threatening we’ve seen the enigmatic fortune-teller all series…
A glimpse of Saphir listening in, hiding from the shadows, also foreshadows the growing unease he has with Wiseman. All it takes is 1 second of footage and we get that. Good work.
For all their prior arrogance and seeming-invincibility, Chiral and Archiral go down like a sack of shit. Well, sort of, they look pretty badass for a second.
Tuxedo Kamen can’t help but interrupt… and his appearance is especially weird today, as he’s slowly rotating atop a giant bar-dome-spinning thing… I do like it when he’s a bit weird.
And then Sailor Moon begins to fire off a Moon Princess Halation. Both the Droids, scared, try to retreat into the ground. We think they might get away, but then Sailor Jupiter (God I love her) sorts them out by firing a Sparkling Wide Pressure through the earth.
Paralysed, both are dusted easily. Job done, both Dark Henges broken, nice going Esmeraude you piece of shit.
We think that we’re finally going to see Esmeraude actually bothering to do something in retaliation, but before she can, Prince Dimande calls her back.
Don’t stop her, dude, you can capture the Rabbit some other time! Oh well, I bet she’s rubbish in a right anyway.
The situation from the beginning of the episode is now reversed, with Momo-chan in the hospital. How the heck did they explain this one to the police?
Chibi-Usa puts on a brave face, but she really looks rather worried. Outside, Chibi-Usa seems to have come to a decision to return to the future to try and save her mother. You might ask her what stopped her before, since she now knows who Sailor Moon is and could bring her with the Ginzuishou to the future, but there’s no real answer for that.
All I can say is that Chibi-Usa’s character has changed. She’s stronger, determined.
She intends to use the Space-Time Key once more, with the Sailor Senshi, to help her save her mother. There’s one of those strong will moments where everyone agrees to go kick some ass with that “a plan is coming together” music.
Corny, yes, but I enjoyed it. More importantly, it sets the scene beautifully for the next episode, and the rest of the series. I can’t wait to review them! I really do love the climax of this series.
And with any luck the series should be polished off just as Sailor Moon Crystal begins on 5th July. Very excited for that. It’s a busy time to be a Moonie.
Episode Score: 3/5 (Some great moments, it juuust falls shy of a 4 I’m afraid)
Monster Score: 3/5 (The twins had a couple of cool shots, but mostly they were weird, boring and bizarrely reminiscent of Kunzite without any of his flair.)
Momo-chan Power Level With a Mop: Over 9000