Act.2 – AMI – SAILOR MERCURY
First Aired: 19th July 2014
Luna reveals to Usagi that there are other Sailor Senshi waiting to be awoken. She is currently monitoring her first potential Senshi-in-waiting, the lonely genius Mizuno Ami. Ami, meanwhile, is being targeting by the Dark Kingdom for her smarts through a fraudulent cram school, and she’s already been brainwashed by a new monster sent by Jadeite to locate the Ginzuishou – the legendary Silver Crystal.
The first part of this review is spoiler free.
The follow up to the strong opening of Sailor Moon Crystal is also a fine creation. Following the manga much closer means that there’s no filler episodes – it’s straight onto the introduction of Ami and Sailor Mercury.
This really is Ami’s episode, too – while Usagi is the protagonist, much of the episode is framed from her point of view, such that we understand the events of her awakening as a Sailor Senshi from the position of a socially awkward teenage girl without any friends.
While this was explored on a number of occasions in the original Sailor Moon series, I felt this episode particularly hit upon Ami’s vulnerability, how much this new identity brought to her life, and in particular the effect that Usagi’s friendship had on her.
Shying away from the titular character on the 2nd episode might seem a dangerous tactic – this is, after all, Sailor Moon’s show, but Usagi was shown in an excellent light here. She’s caring, funny, a little alarmingly crazy at times, and the viewer shares Ami’s wonder at this girl who commands so much attention.
The artwork was a bit more spotty than last episode. There were some definite “derp” faces to be found, but on the whole it continues to look great. Perhaps not as clean as other contemporary anime, but certainly it’s rocking its unique style. A couple of water-colour-esque backgrounds, whether they are throwbacks to the original series’ use of them or not, look wonderfully fantastical.
I can’t say the same for Sailor Mercury’s transformation sequence, however. Like Sailor Moon, they’ve employed cel-shaded CGI with water effects that wouldn’t look out of place in The Lawnmower Man. I continue to be disappointed in this regards.
The episode was solid all the way through, from the slow introduction to Ami (I loved the vingette of her lonely life at school before the opening credits), to Usagi’s investigation of the Crystal Seminar cram school and its brainwashing effects on her new friend.
A particularly interesting scene was the first appearance of Queen Beryl. They’re going quite a different way when compared to the original series, which haad Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom front and centre. In Sailor Moon Crystal, she’s being introduced slowly, with dark shadows and an abundance of malevolence. Gone is the quiet threatening amusement of old – she really is creepy here.
While the episode was solid, there were few stand out moments for me. The Transformation Pen makes its first appearance, but it lacks a little kitsch fun. Attempts at humour, whether copied from the manga or created in the show, fall curiously flat: this series is an incredibly serious interpretation of the source material, and so it lacks the same heart-warming punch of the original series’ comedy.
I did, however, very much enjoy this one. It’s still feeling like a strange deja vu of the old adaptation, but Sailor Moon Crystal is slowly beginning to build up an ethos all of its own. I very much look forward to continuing to see this series.
I’m about to discuss a couple of points from the episode, so look away if you don’t want to know!
I’ve covered most of what I wanted to say about the episode in the review above, but here are some interesting thoughts.
I said it before, but the opening sequence following an isolated and lonely Ami really was brilliant. Set the tone not only for this episode, but for her character as a whole – wanting badly to socialise with others but being held back by her label as a “genius”.
We got the first view of the Senshi’s command centre from the manga in this episode, with Luna using a computer in the headquarters we won’t see fully for a number of episodes I imagine. I liked the look of it, very sci-fi next to all the fantasy magic.
The Dark Kingdom itself continues to look very cool. I love the colour scheme, even if Jadeite continues to look a little weird. He doesn’t feel threatening in the slightest.
I loved the scene of Ami meeting Luna, and subsequently Usagi. I think I probably preferred the original version, but considering how close they are, it’s splitting hairs at this point.
Everything to do with Usagi and Ami bonding I adored. I really felt Usagi’s vacant niceness, without any real intention, and Ami responding to it like a wilted plant to the sun. It really is a heart-warming relationship they’re building, and I hope they keep working on it.
Ami’s eyes throughout the episode were particularly gorgeous. Even when they turned blank from brainwashing they were cool, but the water-hue of her irises were something else.
The battle was a bit bland, really. Had none of the campy hilarity of the original, just a generic sort of attack. I hope the Dark Kingdom’s Youma get a little more interesting in design as the series go on – at the moment they’re failing to carve out a creative niche of their own.
I mentioned that Sailor Mercury’s transformation sequence was an affront to the eyes, but her first attack, Mercury Aqua Mist, is far better than poor old Bubble Spray. Mist-drawing technology has come one quite a way in 22 years.
Finally, we got a glimpse of the next episode in a couple weeks. I’m very much looking forward to Hino Rei 2.0…
Also, here’s my favourite moment of the episode, just because it reminded me of all the wonderful silliness of the old days…