Act.5 – MAKOTO – SAILOR JUPITER
First Aired: 6th September 2014
A new transfer student, Kino Makoto, becomes the object of Usagi’s curiosity after she saves her life, and then proceeds to feed her some rather nice food at lunchtime. Feeling outcast and love-sick, she is soon targeted by Nephrite’s latest ploy to gather energy for the Dark Kingdom’s shadowy ruler, and must find a new level of power within herself.
The first part of this review is spoiler-free.
A damn fine episode, if I do say so! I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Makoto, even amongst such fine and charismatic characters as the other Senshi, so I’m rather glad that her reintroduction was pretty much spot on.
This deviates quite away from the original anime’s episode of Makoto’s introduction, in a way that Ami’s and Rei’s did not. This is simply down to the manga story being quite largely different by this point. There’s no Rainbow Monsters and no Crane Game Joe.
What we do have is haunted mannequins.
While I will always prefer the original anime’s spin on Makoto’s introduction, I really like what they do in this episode. They move away from her physical prowess (bit of a shame, but she doesn’t kick some street thugs’ asses) and explore more of her backstory, her psychology, the social isolation that was implied but never truly explored before.
While not as powerful an isolation as, say, Ami’s, they really get the pathos down well early in the episode, with students gossiping and being generally little shites.
There is some great humour in the first half that, previous to now, felt oddly disjointed, but Usagi’s infectious and disarming friendship towards Makoto is done really well, albeit not too far off the original anime.
The second half of the episode isn’t so enthralling as the first half. It’s still excellent, more so than, say, ACT.3, but the pace dropped a little, and I’ve never been too fond of the succubus/incubus stuff. I also found Makoto’s backstory with her Senpai to be slightly superfluous – I think that her pariah status might have been enough in terms of character setting here.
If I have been unfair in my comparisons between this episode and the original series thus far, it’s certainly not when Makoto transforms into Sailor Jupiter – her transformation sequence isn’t just similar to the original series’ as with Sailor Moon, Mercury and Mars – it’s almost identical in pose and progression, except that it’s in the questionable computer graphics.
Not a commentary, but it’s interesting to note that as much one might want to separate the two series, it’s impossible at this point: Sailor Moon Crystal is a strange and alluring echo from the past.
By the end of the episode, I became about as enamoured with this version of Makoto as the previous iteration. She’s tough, brittle and romantic, and the performance is excellent too. No quibbles here. It’ll be interesting to see where the series will take this group dynamic: we haven’t seen too much of that yet.
I’m about to discuss a couple of points from the episode, so look away if you don’t want to know!
I liked Makoto saving Usagi from the car, even if it wasn’t nearly as kick-ass and dramatic as beating up some punks. Usagi came off as particularly spacey, however, since all she seemed able to think about after the near-death was Makoto’s scent.
Also, I’m fairly sure the scene in Sailor Moon S where Makoto saves Usagi from Haruka’s motorbike is an homage to this scene from the manga that they replaced for the anime.
As much as I like Nephrite, and am appreciative that they didn’t kill him off as the manga would have demanded, I feel like none of the Four Generals are getting fleshed out too much so far. As yet, they have felt like identical, malevolent, pretty douche bags.
I looooved the bento scene, but probably because of how similar it was to the original anime. It even starts the same, with Usagi singing a song about lunch. Strange to see Kotono Mitsuishi perform essentially the same scene but in wildly different ways.
The moments of Usagi hiding behind the bench, and giving that wail of horror as Makoto was about to eat her own lunch without offering it to Usagi, made me laugh out loud, something this series has actually not managed until this point. More please!
Seeing Makoto respond so warmly to any positive attention from her peers was touching. She had some great shots today, the animation has picked up again from the previous, where it dropped a little. Those green eyes are luminous.
Wedding mannequins = creepy. Well, at first. Everything after this point was kinda disappointing. I had hoped for some David Lynch horror.
As in the manga, I didn’t like this whole Motoki-seducing-Makoto scene, mainly because I had this bland guy. Whereas the character development was written very well, the actual plot stuff felt rather paint-by-numbers.
Usagi’s brief dream was rather nice. I liked seeing her hair like this. The art was also rather good.
Nice to see Tuxedo Kamen leading Usagi to the crime scene, as in the manga. First, they’ve never said explicitly that he’s realised the identity of Sailor Moon so far, so this is a nice surprise. Second, Tuxedo Kamen knows that he has no powers. He needs Sailor Moon to intervene. It’s she who kicks ass, and his dramatic saves aren’t needed. Better dynamic.
This Sailor Mars moment was very cool. I would like to see more flexible fights. So far, they’ve just stood around, fired magic and the show’s over. Get in there! Run around! Fire off stuff!
Sailor Jupiter’s Flower Hurricane was really cool. To anyone who hasn’t read the manga, this might be a total “what the frack” moment. To follow that up with a Jupiter Thunder Bolt was also very cool.
And finally – the Moon Stick. Not sure what it’ll be called this time (something slightly more slick I’d imagine). I like it, with it’s crystalline crescent moon part. Looks much more mysterious than the original, which looked rather like a toy.
Although I’m sure they’ve sold their fair share of Sailor Moon Crystal Moon Sticks.