Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, the Manga: The Black Moon Arc, Pt. 5
Today we’re reading acts 23 & 24 of the Black Moon arc. You may want to check out the previous posts from the manga page.
At this point in the arc, I’m not as impressed as I was with the Dark Kingdom arc. There’s definitely some confusion over character development with Usagi, and little to none with any other character, but we’re reaching the fulcrum point of the arc, so I expect things to pick up in the final few acts.
Last time, we saw Usagi kidnapped and forcibly kissed (PUKE), which was swiftly followed up with horrid victim-blaming by Saphir (PRICK). Thankfully, Usagi managed to finally pull the lead out and became badass Sailor Moon once more, freeing Rei, Ami and Makoto.
…and then Chibi-Usa and Mamoru swiftly got kidnapped. Swings and roundabouts.
Act 23 – Secret Plans – Wiseman
Sailor Moon is obviously distraught at her future husband and child having wandered off into the Space-Times storm thingy that seems to be only a few feet away from Pluto. Despite being told how bloody crazy it is to go in without any idea where they are, Sailor Moon naturally insists on going in.
And Sailor Pluto totally lets her. She really is shitty at her job as Guardian of Time.
This is visually rather murky act. The “storm” is all blacks and greys, and the actual scenario is pretty dull too – it’s just the Senshi pushing forward talking There’s so much of it, and it’s not the best topic of conversation.
Sailor Jupiter actually has to explain to Sailor Moon why Tuxedo Kamen is so affectionate with Chibi-Usa. She looks really daft and not a little emotionally slow here. I sort of feel like it’s all become about Usagi here, and not in a good way. Everyone is always worrying about how she feels, with little to no concern over anyone else’s feelings.
The the anime, it’s rather the reverse, with Usagi showing keen interest in how everyone else around her is feeling.
A much more interesting (and horrifying) scene is going on back on Nemesis. When Sailor Moon blasted the palace on Nemesis apart before leaving, Dimande and Saphir were the only ones of the Black Moon clan left alive. They’ve ended up in that hell-pit filled with dead bodies, the “Room of Darkness”.
And not alone, it was Black Lady who carried them down there. You can already tell the balance of power has shifted away from them.
Black Lady takes the brothers even farther into the planet, to its core where Wiseman lives – his “Dark Palace”. I actually think this is an awesome image, really creepy.
Wiseman shows a level of manipulation we haven’t seen in either the manga or the anime, and takes over Dimande & Saphir completely – they’re now mindless puppets.
It’s an interesting development. While I liked the brothers having their cognitive faculties to the very end in the anime, I’m interested to see how they will be used to further Wiseman’s plot.
Now that Wiseman has both the Rabbit and the Ginzuishou (it’s eerie to see him holding it, it’s been so ethereal and untainted up until this point), the next step is to capture Neo Queen Serenity AND Sailor Moon so that he can use it.
Well, buddy, good luck with that.
Oh, and then we get the creepiest fucking scene of all time.
Black Lady introduces a mannequin that’s been standing in the background all this time. She introduces him as “my lover, Endymion“.
WHAT? That’s your DAD, lady.
And then they make out.
WHAT THE FLIPPING FUCK THAT’S YOUR DAD, LADY! Jesus…
I hate all this. The Elektra Complex is interestingly weird at least, even if it doesn’t fit with anything else in this manga, but the thing that bugs me is the fact that Mamoru is once again a brainwashed love-slave. The same goddamn thing happened with Beryl. So glad they axed this plot for the show.
Suddenly, Usagi is back in the 20th Century. It’s so abrupt, with everyone so happy and normal, that I thought it was a dream sequence at first, but no, they really did just end up back home.
This is really quite anti-climatic. At least Usagi is finally starting to realise that Chibi-Usa isn’t to be hated, feared or be jealous of. She’s actually starting to miss her. I think that this is a little late…
We see King Endymion (he’s getting TONS of play in the manga) begging Neo Queen Serenity to wake up. I liked this, it showed their connection, and more importantly, showed his reliance on her. She’s not a princess waiting to be saved, it’s Endymion who needs her. Much more interesting that the traditional guy-saves-girl stuff.
Back in the 20th Century, some very weird stuff happens… the girls are walking along when the Space-Time Key lands at their feet and starts ripping them apart, which is sort of weird.
The Senshi take it as a queue to transform and head back to the fucking 30th Century. Again. This will be the 5th journey they’ve taken in the arc thus far. Really is diluting the whole thing. Moreover, what was the point of bringing them back home if all they were going to do was return in the same act?
Such weird and uneven writing. I really think this entire arc was rushed.
So, in Crystal Tokyo, another Black Crystal Monolith has appeared, thanks to the growing powers of Nemesis.
We get a really rather threatening scene as Black Lady nonchalently marches into the Crystal Palace and up to her defenceless mother. She feels just as dangerous as her anime counterpart. I really think that she could kill her mother her.
Instead we have King Endymion realising what has happened to his daughter (and realising what a shitty father he’s been for 900 years to let this happen, I hope).
Sailor Moon et al. bust through the door, and a scuffle ensues with Black Lady trying to the Ginzuishou off Sailor Moon’s top. Maybe you should start hiding it in a pocket, Sailor Moon? As rough as this moment is, I really like it. Much more aggressive than using magic. Black Lady really looks psychotic.
A strange glimer and sparkle from Neo Queen Serenity’s crystal bed and Black Lady is pushed back. She gives the rhetoric of having a right to be there, that they can’t keep her out, and it’s all rather excellent. I liked this a whole bunch, reminded me of, say, a wayward daughter turned crack-addict returning home and demanding to be let in to her parents, who have locked the door and called the cops, all the while begging her to go to rehab.
…or maybe I’m just reading into things again.
We end the act with Black Lady and Wiseman declaring their intention to kick ass, and the sudden memory of the fact that she has brain-wiped her father into being her sex slave.
Puke. What a weird manga.
Act 24 – Attack – Black Lady
Okaaay, the good stuff is starting! The climax of the Black Moon arc really starts now. I’m hoping it will pick up, this improving my opinion of the arc as a whole. So far, not too fond if truth be told.
Just to underscore the fact that Black Lady is most definitely evil and irredeemably so, she smacks Luna-P to the ground. THE NERVE! She must REALLY be evil.
This is different, of course, to the anime, where Luna-P goes over to the dark side of the force, and Black Lady uses it as an oddly comical-yet-dark weapon. Which, of course, was a little more imaginative.
The freshly-brainwashed Dimande and Saphir are also here as back-up to Wiseman and Black Lady. They’re… upgraded somewhat. It’s sort of lame to be honest, Saphir has Wiseman’s gross “Death Grip” hands and Dimande has his “Evil Eye” capabilities.
Silly. Kind of corny too. Interested to see them present so close to the end, but they’re not that impressive.
Black Lady continues not to care too much that she’s going to destroy the planet she’s standing on. I’ll give this to the manga – Black Lady’s lines makes more sense than the crazy ramblings of the anime’s character.
All this good will goes to hell when Evil Tuxedo Kamen turns up and – just like last arc – beats Sailor Moon. This time he does it with the Moon Rod, the symbol of their love, which is… uh… a weird juxtaposition of the seriousness of the act.
We’ve seen this before. I know he’s not going to stay evil. I’m completely unimpressed by his attack, and I’m not shocked by his savagery having seen it before. It’s still cruel, and dramatic, but the power isn’t there anymore.
Sailor Moon finally gets through to Black Lady after she seems to remind her of Sailor Pluto. This connection wasn’t too present in the anime. We know that Chibi-Usa is especially affectionate towards Pluto, but in the manga she seems closer to a surrogate mother to a kid with an emotionally distant parentage.
All this ends up with Black Lady getting increasingly angry.
Sailor Moon’s response is fairly cool, actually. She seems to resonate with the entire Crystal Palace, as though it were a giant Ginzuishou. She seems to be aligning to Neo Queen Serenity again. Exciting!
Wiseman instructs brainwashed Dimande to attack using the full force of the Black Crystal, but the idea that this will end his own life seems to bring the self-obsessed Lothario back to his sense.
This next bit is actually hilarious, but I’m not sure it’s intentional. Dimande turns on Wiseman, quoting vengeance for Rubeus and Esmeraude, only to find Saphir still brainwashed.
Dimande pauses for a full 5 seconds to “hope that doesn’t mean you and I must be enemies“. Saphir reaches out a gnarled hand, and Dimande promptly destroys him. Wow, you’re such a great brother.
Seriously, there could have been an emotional impact in this moment, any at all – he did just kill his own brother – but nothing.
Dimande then attacks Wiseman, to reveal…
OK that’s just silly. The unseen skull beneath the cloak in the anime was genuinely awesomely creepy. This is dumb.
Wiseman’s voice rings out, however, this time emanating from Black Lady herself. I guess he’s full on possessing her?
This moment, of Wiseman-Black Lady beginning a final destruction power-up, is sensed by Pluto, and this is the most revealing scene we’ve ever seen of her.
She’s torn between her desire to help the Senshi and the world, and her duty to guard the Space-Time Door. A glimpse of the past shows a rather different Pluto, younger and in awe of Queen Serenity of the Silver Millennium. I liked this moment. I wish we could linger on moments like this.
I think that Takeuchi has been so pressed for time and space that we don’t get much time to process anything.
Meanwhile, it’s turned out that, surprise surprise, that planet Nemesis, now crashing into Earth, is Wiseman himself. The planet is concious.
Seeing the planet fall, with dark tempestuous scenes of it crashing, are actually rather impressive. All the more so because we didn’t see this in the anime.
Sailor Moon tries to utilise the power of the Crystal Palace once more to fight back against Nemesis, but the power of the planet appears to be… making the palace fade away? I’m not sure how this is happening, since this isn’t occurring in the past. Bit weird that.
The little cat Diana actually gets something to do! I like her, even if she’s a bit… one-dimensional. She runs to Sailor Pluto still standing guard by the Space-Time Door, and tries to convince her to come and help.
Sailor Pluto, so honourable, refuses, but her defiance lasts about 4 seconds after Diana offers to guard in her place.
That’s a bad idea, right?
I feel like we’re getting too much of Pluto. Her distant mysteriousness was the best part of the anime, as was her emotional guard. Here she’s shifting from worried to affectionate to aloof, to murderous, to loving, to sad. She’s a little too on display, which is something I thought I would have wanted.
Meanwhile, Sailor Moon is trying to convince Black Lady once more to stand down – she’s not doing so well with her powers after all.
Tuxedo Kamen, still brainwashed and dull as tripe, grabs the Ginzuishou off Sailor Moon, who promptly de-transforms back into Usagi.
Now begins a bizarre and a silly switcheroo, where Endymion gives the past Ginzuishou to Black Lady, who whips out both crystals, which are then both swiped by Dimande.
Hey, why didn’t you kill him about 20 minutes ago when he bagan fighting you?
This whole thing is rather stupid, especially since Dimande looks like an insane freak who seems to wish to destroy all time and space with both crystals for no reason in particular.
Where did this psychopathy come from? I thought he still might get his redemption, but certainly not.
We’ve been building up this plot turn where the two Ginzuishous of the past and present can’t be brought together or else BAD STUFF will happen, but it’s always been a nebulous and ill-defined sub-plot that’s suddenly been brought into focus.
Crazy-ass Dimande is millimetres away from causing the apocalypse himself (maybe he just wanted to steal the glory from Wiseman?), with Usagi unconcious on the floor, when Pluto finally arrives, and…
That’s it. That’s the end of the act. Interesting cliffhanger! I’m actually rather interested to see how this catastrophe will turn out, even if it’s really been shoved in from the sideways.
All in all a good, but flawed, couple of acts, that have set up this final climax fairly well.
Join us next time for reviews of Acts 25 & 26 of the Black Moon arc, in which we find out that the entire archas been about SAILOR PLUTO all along.