Act.11 – REUNION – ENDYMION
First Aired: 6th December 2014
Usagi is shocked when a man who resembles Mamoru begins working at the arcade. The problem is that his name, eyes and attitude are all markedly different.The brainwashed Endymion begins trying to seduce Usagi, looking for entrance into the Sailor Senshi’s headquarters, as the other Senshi, and Luna, become aware of the danger Usagi has placed herself in.
The first part of this review is spoiler-free.
Hey hey, I’m back! I had a lovely holiday, thanks for asking.
…what do you mean you didn’t realise I was away?
Anyway, after a 3 week hiatus, Sailor Moon Crystal has returned, and it’s certainly an impressive episode to return to. With the storyline of the Dark Kingdom arc approaching its climax, rather dramatic events are beginning to unfurl, and I found this episode quite squeamishly enjoyable.
I say “squeamishly” because that’s how I felt during much of the episode. The story revolves around Mamoru’s return to Tokyo… or what looks like Mamoru. After his recent kidnapping and subsequent brainwashing, he has now become the primary antagonist, and not only is he threatening in the usual “anime bad guy” sort of way, he’s evil on an entire new level.
Suffice it to say that Evil Endymion’s approach is different to anything we’ve seen thus far, even different to the original anime’s interpretation of the character. It’s difficult to watch at times, his strange, oppressive and far-too-human seduction techniques, and it’s directly out of the manga. It’s so very uncomfortable that it makes for compelling viewing, even if you making twisted faces at the screen begging Usagi to run the hell away.
Aside from the creeptastic Mamoru (who knew he could reach new depths after the notorious non-consensual kiss?), the other compelling force in this episode is the relationship between Usagi and Luna, which has been somewhat neglected. They’ve done a fantastic job pulling their dynamic back into the frame, with Luna wrecked with guilt over Usagi’s pain and a feeling of inadequacy, along with good old-fashioned love.
One scene between them is arguably one of the most emotionally charged moments in the season thus far.
The comedy was oddly on-point today too. In an episode with so much screamy-fighty drama (all decent, of course) I chuckled at a couple of jokes, as well as appreciated the bond that they’re trying to build between the girls – even if it still doesn’t match up in the slightest to the original anime, there is the rare moment that makes you believe in these stalwart friendships.
While there is nothing overtly problematic with Sailor Moon Crystal thus far (I’ve nitpicked quite a bit here and there, but come away satisfied), I am feeling that the story has been restricted by its adherence to the manga. This isn’t objectionable of course – the manga is fantastic and this is pretty much the adaptation of that material, but at present I don’t find myself as jump-up-and-down excited about new episodes as earlier on in the series.
I am glad that it’s found such a strong following, however, and am really hoping the studio decides to push on ahead after the Black Moon arc into the Infinity arc. Sailor Moon Crystal is bringing in a whole new wave of recognition and appreciation for these fantastic characters and their stories.
I’m about to discuss a couple of points from the episode, so look away if you don’t want to know!
I loved this wake-up scene. They false-step you at first, thinking you’re going to get another mopy dream sequence followed by another mopy wake-up, but instead it’s mostly about the fact that Luna feels a little insulted that Usagi isn’t bothered about seeing her when she awakens.
The follow-up to this, Usagi comforting Luna, was so sweet, so reminiscent of how I hug my own stupid cat, that it really touched me. We really haven’t seen enough of Usagi and Luna being close, in any of the previous mediums of Sailor Moon. It’s there, definitely, but come on, this is just adorable.
Evil Mamoru is… pretty hilarious yet terrifying at the same time. He just gives zero shits about anything, such as his seemingly infinite power to warp peoples’ minds, as when he took the place of “Endo“. He develops this… really weird relationship with Motoki this episode… like, long lingering looks and shy smiles… Someone has already written slash fic about this I bet.
Oh, I totally just checked. Here’s a quick one. “Finally.” Not as sexy as one would’ve liked.
Heeeey Reika! Forgot she was in the manga and the original anime. Doesn’t happen nearly as often with side characters as you might think. She is, of course, completely superfluous as she was in the manga, merely there to point out that Mamoru is not Endo (SURELY NOT) and to look rather cool. Always liked her design, liked how confused she was. When she turns up later spying on Motoki through the window I did chuckle quite a bit.
Just to underline the strange nature of Mamoru and Motoki’s suspicious new “friendship”, having him fondly stare at a book of gemstones sealed the weirdness. This goes nowhere, by the way. The whole gemstones thing. Yeah, the Four Kings are also rocks. What a revelation!
Minako worrying about how suspicious she looked carrying a bloody stone sword around Tokyo was such a great comedic moment. Loved this moment, felt so much like the old series.
All I could think about as Minako smashed Ami’s diamond ring with the stone sword was “well Ami has no concept of monetary value.”
I just really liked how this moment looked. Also how Usagi just did not give a shit about her friends and left to play video games. Her fragility this episode really annoyed me again… but I understand this was to enhance her standing up to Mamoru later in the episode.
Usagi’s confusion over Mamoru is a little perplexing… he’s not just “similar” to her kidnapped boyfriend, it’s clearly him. Her response is just a little weird. It’s explained a little better in the manga I think, just her overall internal machinations, but also absent from Crystal is her guilt that she’s concealing Evil Mamoru’s existence from the other Senshi and Luna.
Honestly, his seduction is SO HORRENDOUSLY GROSS. He’s forward, touchy, invades her personal space, grabs her hair, keeps talking suspiciously about Sailor Moon in pointedly obvious tones… this is pretty nasty harassment to watch. I think the Evil Mamoru in the original anime was more entertaining, and his subsequent fall into physical abuse that much more horrifying, but this is still awkward fascinating.
Luna seeing Usagi getting seduced by Evil Gross Dude made me laugh a bit, but I don’t think that was intentional. Her face was pretty much exactly the face I was pulling.
When Evil Mamoru finally pulls out his big moves and tries to hypnotise Usagi, it’s really rather horrible. It reminded me of an abusive relationship, actually. Glad he failed, it would have been even more awkward if it worked.
Makoto confronting Motoki and Mamoru is as unfortunate here as it was in the manga, in that it really is a foolish move. That being said, she looked pretty cool… right up to the point she god hypnotised. Get away from my Makoto you bastard!
Rei not only pushed Makoto away when she tried to grab the Silver Crystal, she nailed her to the wall. That is your friend, you know. Rei is actually pretty forceful in a couple of places here, I wonder if they heard the criticism that she’s been a bit too fuzzy?
Venus Love-Me Chain! Looks like the worst BDSM ever. Feel free to shock Motoki as much as you want, Venus, I’m loving every minute of this.
And a great shot of Tuxedo Kamen reaching out for the Silver Crystal. I did like this confrontation quite a bit, although Usagi just shuddering in the background kind of annoyed me. Again, I understand it was for effect, but she’s been a bit pathetic lately…
Not like Sailor Mars! There’s something a little off about this pose, but I can’t think quite what it is… Ah, maybe it’s the downside of fighting in a mini-skirt?
Poor Luna. This really was the emotional crutch of the episode. I felt for sure it would have been something between Mamoru and Usagi, but nope, it’s Luna being overly self-critical (she says she’s let her down in the past… when?) and charging at Tuxedo Kamen… quite why we’d have to eke out a bit. To show that Tuxedo Kamen was truly evil?
WELL IT FUCKING WORKED. I hate it when Luna gets hit, but they had, like, blood.
And finally Usagi transformed. I liked this, but it seemed daft to have her friends being hurt so badly while she just didn’t do anything for 10 minutes. This moment really got me in the feels, though.
Moon Healing Escalation is a proper Deus Ex Machina, it just resets whatever bad stuff they’ve just done on screen, but this one was really cool as Sailor Moon was so furiously using it as an attack against Tuxedo Kamen. Shame it didn’t work, but by gosh it looked good.
And Beryl turns up just to be a dick right at the end. “I OWN YO BAE NOW” or whatever the youths say. I wish we didn’t have so many long bloody transformation sequences today, this cliffhanger was a little painful, especially since its resolution is 2 weeks away.
And there you have it. I am very much looking forward to the last 2 episodes of this arc (or so I reckon), but I suspect the, uh, final battle for the Senshi won’t be as nearly as moving as it was last time.