Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon The Manga: The Black Moon Arc, Pt. 3
The story so far: Rei, Ami and Makoto have all been kidnapped by the Black Moon, Mamoru has developed new powers and Chibi-Usa has told the remaining Senshi about Crystal Tokyo.
…Oh yeah, and Usagi is continuously fighting the urge to be horrible to an innocent 7 year old kid. Lovely stuff.
Act 19 – Time Warp – Sailor Pluto
Hey hey, Sailor Pluto! Good to see ya! I loved the episode of the anime in which the Senshi traversed the Space-Time Corridor and met the mysterious and aloof Sailor Pluto. Let’s hope the manga is just as good…
The act opens with Chibi-Usa explaining a bit more about Crystal Tokyo and the 30th Century. Her evident trauma and obvious innocence make her an even more sympathetic character. I think that the show struck something of a better balance here, in that you could sympathise with Usagi a little more at the intrusion into her life.
I like the moment that Sailor Venus steps up once again (she always brings out the sub-leader game) and confidently tells Chibi-Usa to take them to the future.
It’s also really nice to see Sailor Moon trying to be nice to Chibi-Usa for once… before the sneaky kid asks if she can stay at Mamoru’s instead.
I really like the continuing bond forming between Chibi-Usa and Mamoru, but it’s constantly tinged with the desire to throw-up slightly. Knowing their relationship, and events to come, it really is slightly disturbingly Freudian.
This is enhanced further by Usagi’s jealousy. One might go so far as to say it was irrational. I mean, she’s flat out accusing her boy friend of being a paedophile. I’m fairly frequently mean to Mamoru (well not manga Mamoru, but anime Mamoru), but that’s just loco.
I always enjoy scenes of Usagi and Mamoru in relationship building. It’s something we don’t see nearly as often of in the anime. Even if the conversation swerves disturbingly to the whole “jealous of your own daughter and her father” territory, I always like seeing the drama. It’s far better than the action in this manga.
Things get incredibly sweet – and steamy – and Mamoru tries to allay her fears. If I were accused of fancying a 7 year old, I might not be in such a lascivious mood.
Either way, they totally did it, guys.
Of course there’s no way to tell, but my oh my Naoko Takeuchi doesn’t shy away from the more physical aspects of Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship. Even I, a consummate pervert, was a little shocked. I like it, makes their relationship seem much more real and much less adolescent.
I love how we cut away to Minako getting ready for bed with the two cats. Poor girl.
The next day, Chibi-Usa has decided to bring along the three to the future. She knows this is wrong – she’s been given explicit warnings not to use the key for time travel, and certainly not to take anyone else with her. This is much more black and white than in the anime.
The actual moment of time travel is a little dull – just white light – but I’m still excited to see what comes. Digging this chapter thus far!
We cut to the Black Moon, where Saphir has just detected someone using the Space-Time Corridor. Wiseman, not nearly as impressive as in the anime, pretty much orders Dimande to take the opportunity to kill the Rabbit and obtain the Silver Crystal.
Today, Esmeraude is taking charge. I’m interested to see how the manga utilises her – the anime made a complete hash of her in my opinion. Sadly, we don’t get to see her do more than summon her twin servants, the Bould Brothers Chiral and Archiral. You may remember them as Droids from the anime. These are literally the only non-reoccurring enemies to transition over to the anime.
Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Venus find themselves in darkness, without Chibi-Usa. The Door of Time looms out impressively as it did in the anime – I love this design.
Sailor Pluto gets an entire page to herself in her into. It’s meant to be an impressive moment, and it really is. This is the first Sailor Senshi outside of the core group, and she looks great.
As opposed to the anime Pluto, who attacked Sailor Moon without knowing who it was, this Pluto knows exactly who she’s attacking, and what’s more she uses Dead Scream on her. It doesn’t look nearly as awesome as it will in season 3 of the anime, but it’s still hardcore.
I love that Sailor Pluto is so dedicated to her mission that she’s willing to attempt murder on even Sailor Moon. It shows this blind adherence to her role that’s really fascinating. I think this may be as side of her unexplored in the anime.
Chibi-Usa hugging Pluto around the waist is the only that stops her killing Sailor Moon. As it happens, Chibi-Usa was never meant to have been allowed to travel in the past – she stole the key from Pluto. Again, a wrinkle I liked.
We also discover that Chibi-Usa is a Princess here, which should have your alarm bells ringing. I liked her haughty expression, and Sailor Moon giving zero fucks that she’s talking to royalty – I suppose she herself is a princess, so…
I’m not entirely sure why Pluto lets them enter the door, only that she was willing to humour Chibi-Usa just as much as she was willing to kill Sailor Moon only moments before.
30th Century Crystal Tokyo… is something of a let down. The bare sketches of the city are interesting, but they lack that starkness, that overwhelming sense of dread and death like the anime. It is a good moment though, one that inspired a hell of a lot of amazing moments in the anime series.
We see the inhabitants of Crystal Tokyo. Or what’s left of them. We certainly didn’t see THIS in the anime. Takeuchi loves drawing emaciated dead bodies. It’s really weird. On one hand, I like what these bodies bring to the ambiance. On the other, I felt that the complete emptiness of Anime Crystal Tokyo was so strikingly creepy, in a way that just dead bodies isn’t.
The Crystal Palace is also a little underwhelming. The shape is there, but it lacks the same impenetrable & cold vibe.
As the group enter the outside of the palace, they’re beset by Chiral and Archiral, who immediately put them in some kind of forcefield so that Sailor Moon can’t kill them with a Moon Princess Halation.
We’re getting into action territory, which as we all know isn’t this manga’s strong suit. Esmeraude appears to talk trash… Tuxedo Kamen breaks some glass…
All you need to know is that the barrier (somehow) goes down and Sailor Venus and Tuxedo Kamen attack at the same time, killing the twins. Awesome moment, but surrounded by pretty unclear drawing and iffy writing.
The group enter the Crystal Palace and enter the room in which Neo Queen Serenity lays. It’s a pretty brilliant moment, actually. The minimalist drawings and hard lines really create this wonderful fantasy atmosphere as Sailor Moon approaches her future self.
An even bigger surprise is the appearance of Diana, the little grey cat! She doesn’t appear until season 4 of the anime. I can’t understand why they didn’t include her, unless they thought that she threw off the oppressive lonely vibe of the anime.
Either way, I’m happy to see her.
We also get the first appearance of King Endymion as the cliffhanger. He looks fantastic, actually. I love that his appearance is accompanied by a brief description of colour too. She really wanted to make sure you knew he was wearing a lavender cloak.
This is a pretty cool moment, actually. Quite a few of them in this act.
Act 20 – King Endymion
We start of this act with King Endymion pointedly ignoring the daughter he hasn’t seen in weeks (Months? Years?). Chibi-Usa tries to hug him and falls straight through, and Endymion talks to her like they’re at a business meeting.
Endymion’s lavender cloak looks less cool when he’s gesturing with it in welcome. Looks kinda stupid, actually. We get an answer to something not explored in the show – his ethereal body is actually a projection of his spirit, a development of his aura powers just burgeoning at the moment in the past.
He’s totally flippant about the fact that he’s in a coma – that’s an extremely debilitating state, his brain should have eaten itself by now.
The moment it’s explicitly stated that Chibi-Usa is the future daughter of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen is neither as dramatic nor as humorous as the anime. For one thing, the only other Senshi still there is Venus, who’s reaction isn’t nearly as perfect as Sailor Mars’ in the show.
For another, Chibi-Usa is actually standing right there when the pronouncement is made. I didn’t realise what a stroke of genius it was to have Chibi-Usa removed from Sailor Moon until the end of the season. In the manga, she just stands there posing. There’s no emotional reaction whatsoever from her.
It’s really weird.
We also get the reveal that Diana is Luna and Artemis’ kitten. This was very strange placement. The cute antagonism between Luna and Artemis present in the show doesn’t exist in the manga, which takes a lot of humour and drama from the moment. This revelation also detracts from the impact of Chibi-Usa’s identity.
Endymion also explains the longevity that Neo Queen Serenity brought to the Earth after cleansing it with the Ginzuishou. It’s more explicit here than in the anime – they’re actually almost 1000 years old, and they give a physical age for Neo Queen Serenity of 22, which seems like a completely arbitrary number..
I thought I would have liked a little more explicit explanation of all this, but in fact I now see that it detracts from the mystery, the aloof fantasy of the future Silver Millennium.
We also find out that everyone died in Crystal Tokyo from being fucking gassed. That’s dark, man.
The exposition continues with Planet Nemesis, hanging over the Earth, emitting, you know, dark rays and junk.
Something rather odd happens as Sailor Moon suddenly feels faint and begins fading away, much as Chibi-Usa will do much later (in the anime anyway).
The reason is that the same person can’t exist simultaneously in the same time, an explanation which makes zero sense, as much as it did in Back to the Future: Part II.
For one, no one else is having this problem, not Tuxedo Kamen, not Sailor Venus. For another, it seems like a weird injection of Time Travel Theory that didn’t need to be in here – it doesn’t go anywhere, and only serves to give a vague time limit on them being in the future.
Despite the fears of her well-being, Sailor Moon continues to force me to slam my head repeatedly into the desk as she still gets jealous that Tuxedo Kamen wants to protect Chibi-Usa.
That’s his goddamn daughter, AND YOURS, of course he’s going to be protective.
We get a nice little bit of info from Endymion on Pluto too – she has the “blood of Chronos” (awesome) and “protector of the underworld” (AWSOME).
She’s also completely willing to do anything that King Endymion says – earlier she tried to kill Sailor Moon but now she’s all bows.
This might be because of a rather particular spin Takeuchi gave to Pluto’s character -she’s appears to be rather smitten with the King…?
The jealously continues back in the past as Tuxedo Kamen weirdly excludes Sailor Moon from looking after Chibi-Usa. Also, Chibi-Usa continues to make no comment or gesture that these people are her parents.
And then Sailor Moon has an irrational emotional outburst and runs away. I’m shaking my head. I like character flaws and development, but she’s just so darn unlikeable here that the redemption is going to be very difficult.
Seeing Chibi-Usa’s sad and lonely reaction to having caused her mother to run away crying is even worse.
Naturally she’s going to run away again, after what a dick Usagi has been. She runs straight back to the future. Pluto welcomes her, and actually shows her affection, something that appears to have been missing entirely from Chibi-Usa’s life.
Maybe the Black Moon will perk me up in the act a little?
Esmeraude is spying on Dimande, who in turn is perving over Neo Queen Serenity’s hologram again. I rather liked seeing Rubeus catch her by putting her in a headlock. We still haven’t seen really anything from Esmeraude, and only a little more of Rubeus.
Esmeraude asks to prove herself and whips out… creepy as hands like Wiseman? What the hell is this…?
Ahah. It’s Esmeraude grabs Chibi-Usa by the neck. It’s pretty horrible actually, seeing this little kid get strangled.
She’s saved by the arrival of the Senshi (Sailor Moon has to be feeling guilty by now, right?) but Esmeraude manages to grab Sailor Moon instead, who in turn is saved by a Tuxedo La Smoking Bomber aided by King Endymion.
Again, I think Esmeraude dies here, but once again it’s hard to tell. So that was Esmeraude’s entire tenure? She was treated better in the manga than the anime, but not really as much as I would have liked – I think she could have been a cool antagonist with a bit more time.
There’s a sort of hand-waving explanation for why Sailor Moon is unable to attack effective in the future – the parallel Ginzuishou’s are interfering with each other, etc etc. It really isn’t that interesting, and I completely understand why it’s not in the anime.
Next to arrive is Saphir and Wiseman. Saphir, being as creepy as he was in the anime, uses his forehead vagina to paralyse Sailor Moon before she gets zapped… and that’s where the act ends.
It’s a cliffhanger, but I’m fairly certain we know what happened to her.
At this point I’m really rather let down by the Black Moon arc: it’s not nearly as to the point and coherent as the Dark Kingdom arc, and suffers even more in the comparison to its respective anime series. Hopefully it can pick up again next arc.
Next Time, Acts 21 & 22, in which we finally see the return of the missing Senshi, and Saphir tries to murder a defenceless Usagi as it’s revealed that the Black Moon is a fucking mad house without any scrap of dignity or chance of redemption.