Act.9 – SERENITY – PRINCESS
First Aired: 1st November 2014
As Tuxedo Kamen lays mortally wounded, Sailor Moon’s overwhelming emotions break the seal upon the Silver Crystal, revealing the true Princess Serenity as herself. In the midst of battle, Queen Beryl and Kunzite escape with Tuxedo Kamen’s unconscious body. Usagi is unable to come to terms with this sudden loss as the other Senshi, her own guardians, rally to help her.
The first part of this review is spoiler-free.
First of all, I must apologise for the last posting of this review. The delay was a combination of me being out of the country when the episode landed, and then sudden illness, but on the other hand, I got to hang out with several awesome and rabid Moonies in New York, so I can’t feel too sorry for myself.
Anyway, this episode is a strange one, not following any structure you might expect based on previous episodes. While there is a small amount of action, the majority of the episode is taken up in revelatory flashback and emotional distress, which can get a little circular at times.
While I applaud the acting ability of Usagi’s voice actress Kotono Mitsuishi (she remains at the forefront of talent in the industry after 25 years of working in anime) the emotional distress went became a little erratic. I would have preferred Usagi’s character being written stronger than this, but then again this series is following the manga arc closely, and this is precisely how manga Usagi took this crisis.
The flashbacks to the Silver Millennium are interesting, although again they linger on them slightly longer than strictly necessary. We didn’t see quite enough for the memory excursion to feel little more than a distraction, but I suspect these memories will be explored further in the coming episodes.
Sailor Moon Crystal is limited by their restricted number of episodes. While the original anime had time aplenty to build up the characters and relationships of the Inner Senshi, here Ami, Rei, Makoto and Minako have really had such little screen time. Moments that require real connection between the girls only feel robust when one is familiar with the original anime, which is a strange set of affairs to find yourself in.
Saying that, I did find this episode enjoyable, just obviously not as much as the last. I really am looking forward to Usagi getting her spark back, as I much preferred last episode’s forward and confident Sailor Moon to this one.
I’m about to discuss a couple of points from the episode, so look away if you don’t want to know!
Mamoru’s memories rushing back to him was entertaining… but all of these moments have had their bite taken from them by knowing the original anime and manga. Also, while I realise this is a kid’s anime, it was a little eye-rolling for him to have to spell everything out in amazed voice-over.
Sailor Moon transforming into Princess Serenity was dramatic… but not nearly dramatic enough. Perhaps it’s because this plot point has been made so obvious by previous iterations, but I think it also has something to do with the lack of any real musical fanfare, or especially momentous animation. Thanks to following the manga closely, this also happened at the beginning of the episode rather than where it should have been – on a cliffhanger.
In comparison, the original anime felt itself freed enough from the manga to create one of the most impactful moments in anime history.
I really liked when Usagi’s memories came rushing back to her, especially seeing her spying upon, and falling in love with Prince Endymion, despite her better judgement. Hope we see more of this next time!
Also rather liked the design of the Silver Millenium, which looks exactly the same as the original anime’s design, but a little more HD.
More and more kissy scenes. If they had these 20 years ago it wouldn’t make it to air. The original anime was raunchy enough for the TV censors back then!
Enjoyed seeing Kunzite carrying Tuxedo Kamen. Sure this is going to fuel a thousand and one erotic slash fiction.
Usagi/Sailor Moon/Serenity’s reaction to Tuxedo Kamen being taken is a little terrifying. It’s a wee bit too… uncontrolled. She really seems on the edge of a psychotic break at some moments. You get the strength of her love for Mamoru, but this seems more intimidating than inviting sympathy.
We then get another flashback, essentially explaining everything that happened in Usagi’s flashback. The only real gem here is the following image, which made me jump.
I liked Luna’s self-reproach. She’s had very little to do in the entire season, so it’s interesting to see her considering her own actions. Once again, however, everything takes a backseat to Usagi’s emotions, and everyone is constantly fixated on her.
Also, what the hell happened to Artemis’ face today? The animation got really spotty in places. While moments looked nice, faces went a bit odd and many static images were used. Another rushed episode?
While Usagi’s hair growing was interesting to look at, it seems like just another odd characteristic to stick on Usagi. As though it weren’t enough to be Princess of the Moon. Naoko Takeuchi had a habit of just sticking weird things into her manga and never picking up on them again.
Usagi goes absolutely nuts here. This all got rather too much. We spend aaages just watching Usagi fall apart. They got across her helpless before, this feels like overkill in making the audience pity her. This continues to the end of the arc in the manga…
Having the other Senshi try to console Usagi was sweet… but I think I only connected with the moment because I know the characters so well from the original anime. It occurs to me that I haven’t seen Rei even talk very much outside of battle in weeks.
Luna’s suggestion that the team go to the Moon seems as out of the blue as it did in the manga, but I rather liked the team’s reaction. Usagi’s sudden change in demeanour, however, is completely strange. She goes from a crying wreck to adamant old Usagi by the mere suggestion that they do something. Seemed a little too sudden.
This next image made me laugh. Fun on the Moon looks so damn twee and innocent. They need TV.
And one last shot for the road: Here are the lovers just making out like there’s no tomorrow. As indeed I suppose there wasn’t…