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Act.10 – MOON

First Aired: 15th November 2014

Sailor Moon Crystal - Kunzite brainwashed

Luna leads the Sailor Senshi to the Moon, and the ruins of the Silver Millennium, where they encounter all that remains of the long-dead Queen Serenity: a projection of her memories. Now knowing that Tuxedo Kamen is still alive, albeit in the hands of Queen Beryl, they return to Earth, only to find the Four Generals of the Dark Kingdom waiting for them, newly brainwashed, as even more memories from the Sailor Senshi’s past lives return…

The first part of this review is spoiler-free.

We’re really getting into the meat and bones of the Dark Kingdom arc of Sailor Moon Crystal. With most of the revelations from the Silver Millennium coming out this episode, it kicks off a chain of events that becomes the climax of the season. So there is, once again, a bonanza of new information, augmented by interesting settings, character background reveals and worthwhile action.

This is a solid episode of Sailor Moon Crystal, but this is in spite of a couple moments of truly clumsy writing. Characters just seemingly scream things out in the midst of battle just to reveal some pertinent information, for instance. This is indicative of the fact that this is a direct adaptation of the manga, and thus the creators hinder themselves by sticking too rigidly to a format that is not as fluid as animation.

That being said, it was a fantastic moment seeing the Senshi on the Moon.  Queen Serenity (I really can’t think that this is a spoiler seeing as she’s in the opening credits) remains an enchanting and utterly unknowable entity, and this is rather nicely juxtaposed with a good family life scene for Usagi earlier in the episode.

The largest change in the anime compared to the manga thus far has been revolving around the Great Four – here called the Four Kings – of the Dark Kingdom, but as it happens the difference hasn’t cause a single change in the story line thus far. The Four Kings have arguably an even more interesting story yet to unfold, seeing as it was entirely absent from the original anime adaptation. I enjoyed all the scenes with them in, even if Kunzite seems to be stealing most of the attention.

Queen Beryl felt for the first time a real threat. Seeing her become truly obsessive and manipulative, her character is really coming into play. Her motivations are fascinating and repulsive, and seeing her increasingly turn the objectives of her ruler Queen Metallia into her own warped plans is extremely interesting.

I’m glad the other four Senshi got a chance to shine today. I’ve felt like they have been brushed under the carpet as Usagi increasingly took centre stage, but it was fascinating to see their own memories of the Silver Millennium. While there may have been a -few- too many flashbacks in the last 2 or 3 episodes, I found them all intriguing nevertheless.

With some decent action and a couple questionable moments by the end of this episode, it really makes you long for a little more attention and time paid to the more visual elements of the series. I really enjoyed the action of this episode, however brief it was, and I’m hoping to see fewer scenes of just exposition, but I suppose that might be optimistic in the extreme.


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.

The opening felt rather rushed. The writers obviously wanted to recapture a sense of slice-of-life that they have completely lost in this series so far thanks to time-restraints, but we don’t really see more than Usagi playing an arcade game and Ami deciding to read a Big Book of Children’s Facts about the Moon. I had to laugh.

"Knowing the chemical composition of lunar regolith and other Moon facts will help us navigate the cold vacuum of space. Probably.

“Knowing the chemical composition of lunar regolith and other Moon facts will help us navigate the cold vacuum of space. Probably.”

I also had to laugh at the fourth or fifth time someone said “we’re going to the Moon!” within the first 2 minutes of the show. Especially when Makoto said it so plainly and boldly. It’s not like going to the beach, you know.

"When I'm fighting monsters and planning a day-trip to the Lunar surface, I like to drink Pocari Sweat: Japan's only drink that tastes like what it's called."

“When I’m fighting monsters and planning a day-trip to the Lunar surface, I like to drink Pocari Sweat: Japan’s only drink that tastes like what it’s called.”

I enjoyed the brief time we spent with Usagi and her family. Considering the enormous psychological changes she’s been going through, it would be fascinating to see people who have no connection with her mystical side come to terms with her awakening as an entirely different person altogether.

So, Usagi's Dad actually went to the store to get the chain affixed on. She gave her dad, a normal human, her family member, the most sought-after and dangerous omnipotent tool on Earth. To a bloody jewellers. Huh.

So, Usagi’s Dad actually went to the store to get the chain affixed on. She gave her dad, a normal human, her family member, the most sought-after and dangerous omnipotent tool on Earth. To a bloody jewellers. Huh.

Heeey it’s Shingo. I really liked that Usagi insisted that he was playing her handheld game system. And damn straight, she seems like 10 times the gamer he is: she lives in Crown Arcade after all.

"Ewww you're using Cait Sith in your party? NO ONE LIKES CAIT SITH, SHINGO."

“Ewww you’re using Cait Sith in your party? NO ONE LIKES CAIT SITH, SHINGO.”

Sailor Teleport was… a little disappointing, actually. The build-up, the music, the art, the effects, all were so moving in the original series. Here, their powers develop so arbitrarily, and the act felt so flat, that it just felt like they were taking yet another stroll through the park.

"Um excuse me? The park is meant to be closed, ladies. You know what, I'm going to just pretend I didn't see any of this sparkling magic going on."

“Um excuse me? The park is meant to be closed, ladies. You know what, I’m going to just pretend I didn’t see any of this sparkling magic going on.”

Space shots are, naturally, always cool

“If I knew we were going to traverse the cold infinite void of space in just a bubble, I probably would have worn leggings or something.”

The Moon was really cool, but again, a little disappointing. Even in the manga there were a couple of beautifully dead vistas. Here they’re really eager to get them into the ruins of the Silver Millennium that there’s no time to savour the idea that Sailor Moon is actually walking on the fucking moon.

The Moon people sucked at naming stuff. The castle, for instance, is called "Moon Castle." Inspired, guys.

The Moon people sucked at naming stuff. The castle, for instance, is called “Moon Castle.” Inspired, guys.

Queen Serenity was rather brill. Loved her voice actress, loved the effects they use to digitise her, loved the flashbacks she instigated, even if we have seen a bit of it before. I also love that she’s still tiny for no apparent reason.

"Hey, if you could install Netflix onto my hologram's server, that would be great, seeing as there's literally nothing else to do on this goddamn rock."

“Hey, if you could install Netflix onto my hologram’s server, that would be great, seeing as there’s literally nothing else to do on this goddamn rock.”

We never really have seen the other Senshi in the Silver Millennium before, even in the manga. Everything is usually so focussed on Usagi’s needs and emotions. Not that it’s much different here, ever girl only gets her flashback in relation to Princess Serenity.

We can get this set up on the Moon right? I bet this would boost investment in space tourism at the very least.

We can get this set up on the Moon right? I bet this would boost investment in space tourism at the very least.

Seeing Sailor Mars peer out through the crack in the palace door really made me laugh, not least because it reminded me of Kaorinite doing the exact same thing in Sailor Moon S. She hasn’t had any chance to really display her fiery personality at all in this series. Just blending in a bit at the moment.

"No we don't want a copy of the GODDAMN WATCH TOWER."

“No we don’t want a copy of the GODDAMN WATCH TOWER.”

Queen Serenity’s flashbacks get suuuuuper dark as it’s shown that Princess Serenity stabbed herself in the stomach with a sword after Endymion died. That’s messed up. And it will continue to be messed up. I never liked this in the manga, was sort of hoping it would be dropped for this… the Japanese and their “noble suicides”, eh? It’s pretty messed up.

There's this big Romeo & Juliet vibe here, disregarding the fact that I'm pretty sure Shakespeare wanted you to think that Romeo & Juliet were just dumb genital-driven teenagers.

There’s this big Romeo & Juliet vibe here, disregarding the fact that I’m pretty sure Shakespeare wanted you to think that Romeo & Juliet were just dumb genital-driven teenagers.

Seeing Sailor Moon react to her second mother is fascinating… yet once again it’s over so quickly. It must be a complete head trip to know that you have two mothers, both equally related to you. Poor Ikuko is sort of overshadowed by the deity of the goddamn Moon though.

"Don't go Queen! I have so much to ask you! Like why we all transform into Sailor suits in the first place? Is that a design choice or...?"

“Don’t go Queen! I have so much to ask you! Like why we all transform into Sailor suits in the first place? Is that a design choice or…?”

The scene where the Four Kings followed Queen Beryl down to the basement was suuuuper interesting. For one, everyone but Kunzite should be a corpse by now, according to the manga. For another, the reveal that the Four Kings were Endymion’s sworn guard is so interesting, especially since they then lose their freewill once again. It’s an interesting tragedy, even if the reveal is so ham-handed in set-up. Just seemed a tad clumsy in execution.

"Do you think she has our payslips in there?"

“Do you think she has our payslips in there? I think Nephrite earns more than me…”

Queen Beryl, for the first time, felt like a genuine threat as she rounded upon the Great Four. Just her look, her casual disregard for their minds, her evident reliance upon yet utter contempt for these guys is great to watch.

"I was just using you guys to carry in my furniture for me mwahahaha. Oh, there's still the fridge left if you could give me a hand with that...?"

“I was just using you guys to carry in my furniture for me mwahahaha. Oh, there’s still the fridge left if you could give me a hand with that…?”

It’s obvious that Zoisite, Nephrite and Jadeite are meant to be absent here – every frame focusses on Kunzite alone, and he has the only lines that have any impact on the story whatsoever.

DIRECTOR: "How do we make sure the audience knows that Kunzite is definitely evil again?" DESIGNER: "Red glowy eyes?" DIRECTOR: "...Red glowy eyes, brilliant! No one's ever done that before!"

DIRECTOR: “How do we make sure the audience knows that Kunzite is definitely evil again?”
DESIGNER: “Red glowy eyes?”
DIRECTOR: “…Whatever. Shall we get lunch?”

The action back on Earth was pretty damn good, actually. Love quite a bit of it, even if the actual plan was stupid and dull – freezing a bunch of people? Sailor Moon Crystal has a Tokyo that feels completely bereft of people. Civilians only exist to get attacked in large numbers. There’s no connection to any of them. May as well be an empty city.

Still, moments like these just look amazing. On that arbitrary sliding scale of powers again.

Still, moments like these just look amazing. On that arbitrary sliding scale of powers again.

Loved the action shots, even if they were super brief.

Any excuse to post pics of Jupiter in action. This one was great.

Any excuse to post pics of Jupiter in action. This one was great.

We get the reveal that the Four Kings are not only brainwashed former generals of Endymion, but that they’re former lovers of the Sailor Senshi. I like this twist – wasn’t used in the original series. Gives the Senshi an interesting motivation, even if they use the knowledge to immediately just refuse to fight. Probably better if Venus just hadn’t started yelling it in the middle of battle?

There's also the problem of convenience. There's 4 of these guys... and 4 of the Inner Senshi... so they just decided to hook up because of math?

There’s also the problem of convenience. There’s 4 of these guys… and 4 of the Inner Senshi… so they just decided to hook up because of math?

Sailor Moon’s Moon Healing Escalation was… distinctly weird… Why fly up into orbit? Why? Just why? So weird, so arbitrary. They made it look pretty, and the spinning was fun (reminded me of Rainbow Moon Heartache in that sense), but all I could think was “WHY?

"...OK how the fuck did I get up into space, and how do I get down? I DON'T KNOW HOW TO SENSHI."

“…OK how the fuck did I get up into space, and how do I get down? I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SENSHI.”

This was a cool shot though. Almost worth the insane space Escalation

This was a cool shot though. Almost worth the insane space Escalation

Queen Berylis beginning to get very dark indeed. After being super scary attacking the Four Kings, she looks even more insane clasping Mamoru’s face like a lover. I’m always found her motivations fascinating – her ambition and her unrequited love are wrapped up together in a crazy tentacled mass. Really interested to see if they can expand upon her a bit more. I believe the manga had a nice flashback for her.

"Your hands smell of Graham Crackers, my illustrious queen."

“Your hands smell of Graham Crackers, my illustrious queen.”

Soooo evil Mamoru! Very excited for this. While Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga managed to brilliantly alter Mamoru’s look at this point by making him have psychopath eyes (it really was brilliant), here he just sort of looks… a little grumpy.

EVIL MAMORU. EVIL CARDIGAN. RUN.

EVIL MAMORU. EVIL CARDIGAN. RUN.

Oh, bite my tongue, they gave him evil glowing eyes.

DIRECTOR: "Oh shit, now we have to make sure everyone knows that Mamoru is evil too." DESIGNER: "...want me to...? "DIRECTOR: "Yeah, do the eye thing. We'll just smash cut to credits on it too."

DIRECTOR: “Oh shit, now we have to make sure everyone knows that Mamoru is evil too.”
DESIGNER: “…want me to…?
“DIRECTOR: “Yeah, do the eye thing. We’ll just smash cut to credits on it too.”

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10 Comments »

  1. Did you think that the line, “And don’t forget, you are a female human being this time…there’s a true meaning of your rebirth” foreshadows Chibiusa? And if yes, does that give credence to the fan theory of Serenity cloning herself?

    • It’s certainly possible, although I think we’ll only be able to check if it’s intentional in a few episodes time. I’ve never really liked the cloning theory, but there is something mysterious about her genesis. I’m just not sure the writers are being that subtle yet. We’ll be able to tell in January I hope!

  2. So you liked the ending with the senshi X four kings? I thought it was really terrible due to its cheesiness and the weird pairing… I really dont understand how people can enjoy this creative decision.

  3. So you liked the senshi X 4 kings direction? Can I ask why? It seems forced, unimaginative and lack of critical thinking on the writers part. What exactly does Zoisite and Jadeite have in common with rei and ami to justify this pairing? Didnt Rei commit to being devoted to the queen and is not interested in men in general? This makes all of them the exact same. I seriously can not distinguish between the 5 of them, its shit. And I thought they were staying close to the story here? I know they were drawn together but come on, this implies they are meant to be together and these pairings make no sense. To be honest I am a bit biased based on the interpretations of the previous anime but I dont have much to go on since there IS NO DAMN CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Man, I hate that this piss me off so badly, thanks SMC.

    • The pairing is based purely off manga. I only like the ending for the look of it, it’s true. As far as the writing and character development goes, you’re spot on, but I don’t let it get to me. I never expected too much from this series anyway. I think it’s safe to assume this is all backstory and will result in… Nothing much.

  4. Ah ok. Didnt mean to go off the rails, its just that I was waiting for this reboot for quite a while and its been disappointing. But I do like your blog alot and look forward to more content. Thanks :)

  5. OK, not gonna lie, I laughed for approximately 952648410210 minutes at “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SENSHI.” Because Usagi forgets how to Senshi like…every 5 minutes, whether in the old or new series.

    Seriously though, this episode was the last time I was really excited about Crystal until Act 14. I love Queen Serenity, and back at this point it still looked like they might make something out of the Shitennou/Senshi ship. And the action scenes were awesome.

    I find myself liking that Moon Healing Escalation is such a game breaker. It makes for super-nifty visuals in a show that pretty much thrives off them, and makes Usagi look like she’s got real power when she (wo)mans up and uses it.

    It’s just a shame it’ll be three episodes before we see her do anything remotely that cool again.

    I am loving all your Final Fantasy 7 references.

    SIDE NOTE! After the tragic event at the end of Disc 1 (SPOILERTASTIC!!!..for a game that’s 17 years old, I know), Cait Sith is actually, stat-wise, the best magic user in the game. Doesn’t mean he’s somehow likable or not a complete fail as a joke character, but there you have it :p

    • I prefer to equip high-level materia and morph the monsters in the sunken plane to boost my stats rather than use Cait Sith.

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