3:2 – The Rod of Love is Born! Usagi’s New Transformation
Alternative Title: It Would be Too Easy to Make a Crude Joke
First Aired: 26th March 1994
Usagi is deeply worried about the Ginzuishou losing its shine since her encounter with the new enemy, the Death Busters, but Mamoru takes her mind off things with stray cats. When a little girl is targeted, and Usagi finds herself unable to transform, things become dire quickly, especially as the mysterious duo attacking from the shadows appears not to be their allies after all…
This is another solid episode. Sure it’s formulaic, giving Sailor Moon an upgrade every season, but I like the characters, I like the development, I like the new transformation and attack and music, and I like that they’re introducing the key elements to this series slowly, revealing only enough to whet your appetite.
Plus, cats. Cats make everything better.
…well, except for a stew I suppose.
We open in the Death Busters’ lab with the Professor fiddling about with his test tubes. I think this is literally what the animators think scientists do all day. I’m not upset, though, it still looks fantastically moody.
The main studio has taken over the animation here, and my oh my it’s a beautiful episode.
We get a perfunctory recap of the Death Busters’ modus operendi, which is handy for small stupid children, and the Daimohn Egg gets launched out of the lab.
I like this exit. It shoots out right in front of a corner shop, and there’s a brief moment, less than a second, of a startled-looking cat.
That’s pretty much it for the Death Busters for this episode (bar the fight of course). They made the right decision, spending this episode reconnecting us with the rest of the Senshi again.
Usagi is having something of a nightmare. After the Daimohn broke the power of the Ginzuishou and her transformation last episode, evidently she’s been rather worried about the situation.
To be honest, I’m more concerned with all the red ribbons in her hair, which are ADORABLE of course.
The dream ends with Usagi attempting to throttle dream-bitchy-Rei (which is pretty close to the actually bitchy-Rei), and she ends up trying to murder Luna instead. The Jigglypuff Double Slap she gives Usagi is amazing (it’s Pokemon reference, do I have to explain everything to you?)
Usagi really does look like Minako with her hair down, something which Takeuchi did on purpose when she designed the character, of course, but also a fact which is capitalised upon in a BIG way later in the series.
Apparently the light from the Ginzuishou has actually vanished since the fight. So much for the omnipotent stone. I love that Luna tries to cheer her up, concerned that Usagi is actually taking something seriously, and suggests talking to Mamoru to cheer her up (she knows her so well.).
Gotta love Luna’s frantic “cheer up! Come on come on come on!” when this doesn’t work.
So Mamoru. What the fuck are you wearing? I gather that the subtle “earth” on his stupid shirt is a reference to the fact that he is the guardian of the Earth.
I like seeing Mamoru and Usagi together, even if she’s worried and depressed. We have gotten so little of them just being boyfriend and girlfriend. It’s something that this series fixes to a degree, you really feel like they’re actually a couple for once.
Instead of trying to allay her fears, Mamoru insists that he “show her something” in a “hidden place“. MY OH MY.
If you think I’m injecting some kink into a kids show, I’m not the only one. After Mamoru leads Usagi through a broken wall and into an abandoned mansion’s garden, Usagi obviously thinks that he’s there for amorous reasons.
She gets a face full of cat tongue for her trouble, but her freak-out swiftly turns into joy at the cute little kitten. I wouldn’t be so happy – while I love cats, stray cats in Tokyo usually have ticks and fleas.
Better Purell those lips, Usagi.
So this was Mamoru’s plan all along. Smooth/manipulative bastard.
Inside the mansion, there’s like 50 kittens being fed by a little girl.
I love Usagi’s entrance. It’s just her shadow at first, in a typical Sailor Moon pose, until it’s revealed to be Usagi. A really cute moment by the animators.
This gets even cuter as Mamoru pokes his head in, and the couple share a cute giggly moment together. See? A real couple! And Mamoru’s not a fucking dick anymore! I’m very happy at this.
So this nice little girl feeding cats is obviously going to get her heart ripped out, right? SHE SO PURE.
Apparently the mansion is being torn down soon (bit of a shame, it does look lovely, but at the same time there appears to be airborne tetanus about the place. The point is, all the stray cats will have nowhere to go.
Usagi offers to help look after them, but Mamoru gives her a worried and exasperated look. I chuckled.
Usagi, gung-ho as ever, immediately tries to throw cats at her friends… figuratively speaking, of course. None of them seem too eager to take on a cat. Cruel ladies, you’re being offered cute free kittens.
…with diseases, probably. OK I see their hesitation. I like that they all have a quickly made-up excuse.
Minako claims that Artemis is enough trouble as it is (yeah ok that’s a valid point).
Rei claims that her shrine is full of birds, so a cat would be… bad? OK I don’t really get her excuse. Neither does anyone else it seems.
Makoto seems to have trouble thinking up an excuse, but lands on the fact that she lives alone. They’re fairly independent creatures, you know? You can get a cat flap, and I’m sure a cat would take off the crushing loneliness of being an orphan off your mind.
Oh too soon?
Ami just mumbles some bullshit about entrance exams, naturally.
Usagi is apoplectic, until Rei asks why she can’t take any of the cats, to which Usagi eventually answers that Luna eats too much anyway.
I love Ami’s response of shoving a sandwich in Luna’s mouth so that she can’t object. I have no idea why it’s in here, but I love it.
Cute Little Pure Girl Or Whatever (her actual name) gets home and, weirdly, the first thing she thinks of doing (not taking a shower after crawling around in an abandoned house with stray cats, which can cause schizophrenia) is to continue with a jigsaw puzzle of a cat.
An ugly cat too.
Anyway, this is where the Daimohn has been conveniently hiding all this time, and we get another strongly-themed monster called “NEKONELL”. I like this weird cat lady puzzle thing.
She does sound like a complete idiot though.
We see a glimpse of her power – she’s not just cat-like, she’s taken on the properties of a puzzle, too. Her limbs can break off and reform like tiny pieces. A really cool touch, actually!
Little Pure Lass manages to escape back to the abandoned mansion. Yeah, run to where no one can hear you scream. Smart move.
LUCKILY (I mean, WHAT ARE THE ODDS), all the Senshi are at the mansion already, playing with cats. The coincidence levels are off the charts!
I’m just going to say firs that Rei’s outfit is awesome. More ties for Rei, please.
Meanwhile, that poor little girl is getting her ass kicked. She looks so afraid, it’s really rather effective, especially since the location is so scummy too.
The Daimohn Nekonell reveals her Black Star tattoo to nab the Pure Heart from the little girl… and just like with Mukuji it’s in a rather sexy spot. She has to lift her skirt to reveal it. I’m cool with that. Another nice touch.
After Nekonell beats up some interfering kittens (SO MEAN. SO FUCKING MEAN), Usagi and the Senshi arrive. Usagi is worried that she won’t be able to transform… and she can’t!
This hasn’t happened before either. It’s a problem that only lasts an episode, but I like it. Give drama to the upcoming events, makes her new transformation sequence more effective.
The other Senshi begin attacking the Daimohn (she still hasn’t found time to actually grab the Pure Heart yet), but alas, they suck.
The other Inner Senshi are going to find that they’re really quite powerless this season.
With the Pure Heart finally out, it’s time for our anonymous friends to return once more with a couple of attacks from the shadows. Unlike last time, the attacks do not actually kill Nekonell, but one of the figures calls it a weakling anyway.
Rather presumptuous of her, really. You’re making the other Senshi look bad.
The figures examine the Pure Heart, determine that it’s not a Talisman after all, and return it to the kid.
Meanwhile, Nekonell is reforming… but the unknown figures (can I just call them by name yet? We all know who they are!) just walk off unconcerned, telling the Senshi to get out of it themselves.
Wow. Complete fuckers.
I like that they’re choosing to make them unfriendly not-quite-allies here, but keeping them in shadows is a little silly, even if their eventually reveal is sweeter for it. Rather stingy today!
So now the Senshi are getting the shit kicked out of them again by a reformed Nekonell. Tuxedo Kamen finally turns up to whoop some kitty-puzzle butt, and once again the Daimohn gets the better of him.
Talk about getting pussy-whipped.
I normally rather enjoy seeing him taken down a peg or two, but since he’s actually nice today, and since he’s telling Usagi to run while he holds her off, I’m actually feeling rather bad for him.
Usagi, of course, won’t run. As ever, her character is that of someone who is willing to die, as long as its with those she loves. It’s both a flaw and a strength obvious, and I think it’s one of the strongest aspects of Usagi. Sure it’s not exactly original, but I love it nevertheless, and she’s that much more relatable because of it.
This scene is touching, seeing Usagi refuse to leave. This mirrors a scene from the manga from the Black Moon arc – their bond of love creates a new level of power. The Ginzuishou is the power of love, after all.
Usagi also gets a shiny new rod – the “Spiral Heart Moon Rod“, which is waaaaay too wasy to make a dirty joke about.
It’s a bit corny admittedly, but I love seeing the Silver Millennium again, even in a brief vision.
And we get Sailor Moon’s new transformation! It’s actually fantastic, even the weird leg-up-in-the-air moment. Definitely high quality animation then we’ve seen this far. If you look closely, you’ll also notice that she’s undergone a subtle redesign of her tiara – it’s thinner than before, and I think it looks a little less toy-like.
Next up is Sailor Moon’s new attack. We’re being spoiled today. I don’t like like the Moon Spiral Heart Attack as much as the efficiently enjoyable Moon Princess Halation, but it’s my 2nd favourite attack in the entire run of the show.
I love the pointless rod-spinning, I love the building music, I love love love the weird ballet spinning, and best of all is her final pose, which looks distinctly uncomfortable yet cool at the same time.
The death animation for this season’s monsters are shown for the first time. Sailor Moon R was missing this – the Droids just burst into dust – but in Sailor Moon S, the Daimohns get smashed with a giant heart in the same fashion every time, with a final call of “…LOVELY…!” as they vanish.
I love that. It’s obviously inspired by the Refreeeesh! of the first season, but you can tell that the writers aren’t taking themselves too seriously, injecting some camp fun where it needs it. It works extraordinarily well.
And there you have it. Sailor Moon got a big upgrade, while her friends got their asses kicked.
…I just can’t get over how… phallic… that Spiral Moon Rod looks… and that Usagi and Mamoru created it “out of their love.” It’s a good thing I’m not a Jungian Psychoanalyst or I would have more to say.
The episode ends with Little Random Unnamed Cat Girl all happy and shit, and the Senshi discussing what to do with all the stray cats. Oh yeah, we never resolved that, did we?
Usagi has the answer: “Five cats to Rei-chan, two to Ami-chan, two to Minako-chan and one to Mako-chan!” No one is particularly happy about this.
Then the entire problem is solved in a single line – Usagi remembers the Animal Kingdom sanctuary from last season, and they decide to dump them all there instead.
Holy shit, they actually brought back something from a previous episode? Mental.
THE END. Everything worked out. Except for the fact that the little girl probably has hepatitis from rolling around a filthy decrepit building. Also, where the shit are her parents…?
NEXT TIME: we learn that everyone is at least a little gay as Haruka and Michiru finally make an entrance.
Episode Score: 4/5
Monster Score: 4/5
Final thought of the Day: How did Mamoru find a decaying mansion full of cats in the first place anyway? Also, I hope he burned that lime green and yellow shirt.