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Act.4 – MASQUERADE

First Aired: 16th August 2014

Sailor Moon Crystal - The Great Four on a roof

When a princess of a faraway kingdom visits Tokyo with a priceless legendary diamond, Luna suspects that this might be the Princess that she and the Senshi are meant to protect. Usagi, Ami and Rei sneak into an ornate masquerade ball to investigate, but after Usagi is approached by Tuxedo Kamen for a dance, all other concerns are set aside… until the Dark Kingdom’s Nephrite makes his move.

The first part of this review is spoiler free.

This is a very enjoyable episode that is hampered slightly by uneven storytelling and occasional dips in animation quality. As this episode does not have the introduction of a new major character like the three previous episodes, it does feel marginally less dramatic, but it is nice to see the characters explored a little more.

For anyone who has watched the original series or read the manga, this episode won’t be surprising to you for the most part. They hit all the key notes, make a couple of changes here and there, but for the most part they’re not pushing the envelope.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Usagi as a Princess

This may be a more faithful adaptation of the manga, but that is not necessarily always a good thing. Having covered the Dark Kingdom arc of the manga previously, there are multiple circumstances of the original anime doing a much better job with storytelling and the overarching plot. As such, I’m hoping that episodes succeeding this one are a little more dynamic.

I enjoyed seeing Rei and Ami hanging out, although I feel that Rei’s character hasn’t quite been done justice yet. She’s a little too accommodating, lacking the sassy bite she demonstrated in either the original anime or the manga, where she was markedly less warm towards Usagi. As such, this means there’s less room for Rei and Usagi’s relationship to grow further in.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Rei and Ami hanging out

Usagi has some great moments here. Her inattentiveness to Luna’s expository speech, her wide-eyed wonder at the masquerade ball, her nervous babbling during the dance – this was definitely her show again.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Sailor Moon asleep

Tuxedo Kamen on the other hand… I’ve stated previously that I prefer the manga iteration of Mamoru’s character, and as such the Sailor Moon Crystal version of him is better too. Today, he came off as condescending and, it’s impossible to get around this, creepy.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Tuxedo Kamen

As in the original anime, there is the scene where Tuxedo Kamen kisses a girl who is unable to give consent. It doesn’t matter whether she would, you understand, it’s enough that the show portrays this as romantic, when in fact it’s a fairly serious crossing of the line.

The current writers have shown themselves comfortable changing events from the manga to suit this new anime. It’s such a shame that they chose not, you know, make Usagi concious. It would have solved so many problems.

On the other hand, I’m very happy with what they’re doing with the Great Four of the Dark Kingdom. It seems we won’t be getting any Naru & Nephrite love story this time around, but we are getting a dynamic between Beryl’s generals that we’ve never seen before, and that’s awesome.

Sailor Moon Crystal - The Great Four

I’m very much looking forward to the next episode, as it introduces one of my favourite characters. Hope they do her justice!


 

Spoiler Section

I’m about to discuss a couple of points from the episode, so look away if you don’t want to know!

 

 

 

 

 

…Still here?

 

 

 

 

 

Good.

I always like seeing Usagi late for school. Very nostalgic. I loved that she stayed up late reading manga, and actually fell asleep on the pages. Nice touch.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Usagi wakes up lateThe writers have felt the need to recap the previous episodes, something we haven’t seen before. A bit superfluous to be honest, we live in the age of streaming after all. The art in the flashbacks were rather good though.

Very cool shot. They're trying hard to make Mercury kick ass, and they're succeeding

Very cool shot. They’re trying hard to make Mercury kick ass, and they’re succeeding

Rei being so happy to spend time with Ami was nice… but a little out of character I think. Where’s the uppity haughtiness we came to love?

Taken out of context, this looks really weird

Taken out of context, this looks really weird

Crystal Umino definitely loses to Original Umino. This guy is distinctly less adorable, and occasionally the animators just sort of… give up while drawing him.

"I just realised that I've left my nose at home."

“I just realised that I’ve left my nose at home.”

I liked the outfits the girls donned to sneak into the party. Nice to see Ami and Rei get some tiara love too.

Good thing they had colour-coordinated tiaras just lying around at home for emergencies

Good thing they had colour-coordinated tiaras just lying around at home for emergencies

The dance scene was nice…

Sailor Moon Crystal - Usagi and Mamoru dancing

…but marred by this moment. I liked that Usagi’s motor mouth was running off like crazy, but Tuxedo Kamen’s shushing motion was just rather condescending. Sort of like an archaic “women should be seen but not heard” attitude.

The appropriate response should be "take you finger away or you'll lose it, buddy."

The appropriate response should be “take you finger away or you’ll lose it, buddy.”

And this dip was rather… uhhh… sexy. Not complaining, just pointing it out.

Well, that's one way to showcase Usagi's... er... dancing abilities.

Well, that’s one way to showcase Usagi’s… er… dancing abilities.

Always nice to see Nephrite back in action, although his plans around Princess D (laughed my head off) are as weird here as they ever were. He seems to just love taking the form of women. At least he isn’t horribly taking advantage of poor Naru this time around.

I always welcome cross-dressing in Sailor Moon, but Nephrite is cheating somewhat

I always welcome cross-dressing in Sailor Moon, but Nephrite is cheating somewhat

I never really liked the balcony-umbrella scene. Doesn’t really make too much sense to me, seemed a bit superfluous. I suppose the idea is to have Usagi save Mamoru instead of the other way around, and to have another excuse for them to get close. At the very least they made it look fantastic.

"So now we'll fall to our deaths but at least we'll be dry? Is that the plan?"

“So now we’ll fall to our deaths but at least we’ll be dry? Is that the plan?”

They’ve kept the whole tiara-switcheroo from the manga for Sailor Moon Crystal. This always seemed odd to me too, something that never really went anywhere. Saying that, the subsequent attack upgrade is very cool, and is definitely distinct from the original anime.

"KAMEHAME-HA!"

“KAMEHAME-HA!”

This is hands down my favourite moment from the episode. Seeing the Great Four altogether, facing off against the Senshi, all alive and whole and working together, is a brilliant moment. It’s also a big enough change for me to be genuinely excited as to where they’re taking these characters.

I love these guys. Let's hope they survive as long as possible before Sailor Moon inevitably murders them

I love these guys. Let’s hope they survive as long as possible before Sailor Moon inevitably murders them

I’ve said enough about the non-consensual kiss already. At least Luna displayed appropriate bystander behaviour by telling him to back the fuck off. Interesting that they just made Sailor Moon fall asleep, instead of getting drunk this time. Probably a change for the best, if you have to have this scene at all.

HRMMM, he wrote, disapprovingly

HRMMM, he wrote, disapprovingly

Aaaaaaand the final shot of Makoto running in the rain. Can’t wait to see Crystal Jupiter kicking some ass.

Sailor Moon Crystal - First shot of Makoto

 

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