Act.13 – FINAL BATTLE – REINCARNATION
First Aired: 3rd January 2015
Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen’s bodies are absorbed by the Silver Crystal. as Metalia begins her conquest of Earth. The planet is soon engulfed by darkness, and the only one with any chance of fighting back is Sailor Moon. As her friends offers her their powers, Sailor Moon must take full control of the Silver Crystal and ascend to role she was destined for.
The first part of this review is spoiler-free.
Just a heads up, I get kind of negative in this review. Try not to take it personally if you enjoyed the episode, just know that I have awful taste. I apologise profusely and retract every single word of it.
I feel similarly about this episode as the previous one, that is to say that I didn’t wholly enjoy it as much as I would have liked. Believe me, I wanted to, but there are some issues here that hamper a smooth viewing. This is a real shame, because this arguably has some of the most dramatic moments in the series. Uneven art, repetitive and simplistic writing and an unimaginative use of screen time made this episode hover dangerously close to “uninteresting”.
It seem cruel to harp on about this, but several times the art got so bad that it can take you completely out of the episode. One scene in particular had the faces of Sailor Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Venus all looking as though they had been printed on the side of a Pringles tub, I understand budget restrictions, I also understand that the original adaptation was plagued by poor art, the problem is that this is 20 years later, and Sailor Moon really does deserve a higher budget and more careful artists than this studio can provide.
The last third is where the episode picks up, with Sailor Moon returning to some of that old assertiveness she carried earlier in the series. Before then, however, we’re given some scenes which, while not terrible, are merely boring. The Senshi have now been given such generic, interchangeable lines that it’s impossible to tell the difference between them. Every line appears to be either exposition of things that seem impossible for them to know in the first place, or loud declarations of their internal emotions.
The lack of character development is really beginning to show here. While Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen are as fleshed out as ever, all four of the other Senshi feel completely wooden, as are the Four Kings. The worst offender is, unexpectedly, Queen Metalia. I found her utterly dull in the manga, and it’s no different here. She’s an amorphous blob with an angry doodle face, something you might scratch into you desk at school during an exam. As the episode goes on she actually exhibits less character traits, defaulting back to “I’M EVIL” and “I REALLY WANT THAT THING YOU HAVE.”
I long for the days of Queen Beryl, who had character flaws, and motivations, and an actual face.
That’s not to say that it’s all bad. There are some moments which feel energetic and dramatic. Sailor Moon finally gets a chance to fight back against Metalia here, unlike the last few episodes where she’s played a nervous, passive role. The best moment is, unfortunately, right at the very end of the episode, and gets cut short as a cliff-hanger.
This is a little baffling, actually. The episode ends just as things were finally getting interesting. I can’t help but feel that if they cut a few scenes throughout the episode, they could have easily given us both a dramatic climax and a decent cliff-hanger,
One rather suspects that this cliff-hanger was chosen because that is how the acts of the Sailor Moon manga are structured. This is further evidence of this adaptation’s over-reliance on verisimilitude when it comes to its source material. Manga does not translate to anime in a 1:1 form. It needs developing, tweaking, accentuating to become a compelling piece of media. While the writers’ ambitions were admirable, they should have been willing to improve upon what is, with the best will in the world, their flawed source material.
This actually marks the end of the Dark Kingdom arc. It’s rather a strange, abrupt ending that flows seamlessly into the Black Moon arc, one presumes from next episode. I hope that the produces have more confidence, more time and more money to put into Sailor Moon Crystal for this arc, because it’s punching a little above its weight at present.
The Spoiler Section is below!
Keep scrolling for the rest of the review!
…Still here? Good.
I talked previously about how negative my reaction was to Sailor Moon trying to stab herself. The reveal here, that she was prevented from doing so by Tuxedo Kamen’s watch, is pretty darn corny, and makes no sense in how it looks. The physicals just look off. I suppose the answer to that is “magic“, as it probably is also to the question of why both of them simply fell unconcious. It all just feels a mite clumsy as it opens.
The crystal that forms around them here is as out of nowhere here as it was in the manga. I never really understood it then, nor now. These things keep happening in Sailor Moon Crystal. People develop new powers out of the blue and don’t seem concerned with them. Strange magic keeps popping up to change Sailor Moon’s tiaras or form giant crystals without any foreshadowing or even meaning behind them. It serves no real purpose.
Speaking of random, Artemis and Luna appear from bloody nowhere, out of a portal which is inexplicably opened and closed just to get the characters in the room. And for what? For Luna to try and attack Queen Metalia. This would have been a lot more affecting if they hadn’t already done it in the previous episode, then had Sailor Moon just reverse all the damage.
What the hell happened to Artemis’ face?
Bless the writers, they try really hard to make the other Senshi seem relevant, but my god their lines are all so cookie cutter. Any one of them could say any other’s line, and it’s all this weird worship and pandering to Usagi and how ruddy lovely she is.
Metalia getting strong enough to envelope the entire world seemed like a good chance to get some genuine darkness and pathos into the episode, but the art work, again, was just uninspired. No sense of dread or threat at all. My my I am being a negative Nancy today aren’t I?
The Senshi then think about how much they love Usagi, how awesome she is, how positive, how powerful, how they’d do anything for her, and then we get a prolonged freeze-frame with Usagi laughing like a broken doll in a horror film. Such an eye-rolling moment.
I’m probably overreacting, though. It’s not like they’re hero-worshipping the central character like a god in a fruitless attempt to convince the audience how brilliant they are.
The Senshi sacrifice themselves to throw some power over to Sailor Moon. It’s handled so poorly, without a shred of pathos. There’s a couple of cool looking shots (you’ll notice the only thing moving is their mouths, saves money on animation. When you start noticing things like that it’s really hard to stop), but they don’t really die. There’s no emotion attached to this. I once saw this done in a way that made me cry buckets and cracked my very soul, but it’s not here.
We then get a rather long, pointless scene of Sailor Moon realising Tuxedo Kamen isn’t dead, realising that the watch saved her life (HOW THOUGH), and then seeing Metalia taunt her by threatening to “take you inside my body“. Well, quite. I think that 95% of this scene could be cut down, and we could have gotten the climax we deserved before the credits.
Sailor Moon finally begins using the Silver Crystal. This is where things pick up a little. I was quite excited for this, even though the effects of the Crystal itself (more 3D animation) were a little poor, and the actual shots of her attacking with the Crystal were rather unimaginative. At the very least we got our strong motivated Sailor Moon back.
So the only reason for Sailor Moon’s motivation coming back is Tuxedo Kamen reviving. That’s… not very good character development. Actually, that’s awful. She’s utterly immobilised unless her love is up and about? When the world is at stake? Sorry to compare this to the original anime again, but…
OK, in the original show, Sailor Moon must undergo a change where she realises that she has to put aside her love for Mamoru to honour her dead friends and to save the Earth. Her character isn’t defined by Mamoru, she has to overcome her personal feelings, move on, and finish the job without him. In Sailor Moon Crystal, everything she thinks or does is defined by him. Which is not a good character trait at all.
The battle against Queen Metalia might have looked better if the animators had decided that the manga’s design for her was not quite enough for this anime adaptation. At this point, she’s literally screaming “I WANT IT I WANT IT GIVE IT TO ME.” She’s a gassy needy baby that flies about being kind of a dick to people.
We then get the reveal that it was four stones, Kunzite, Zoisite, Nephrite and jadeite which popped out of his suit and took the blow from the Holy Sword, thus releasing their spirits. I feel like Sailor Moon Crystal was really relying on these guys to set them apart from the original anime adaptation, but yet again all four of them have no personality. I don’t care that they’re dead, I don’t care that they’re now Force Ghosts.
This was kind of a weird condescending shot… I think they were going for “loving” and “supportive” as opposed to “slightly creepy”.
Finally things get much cooler when Sailor Moon whips out the Moon Stick and extends it out, using the Silver Crystal on the end. Does it make sense? No, no really. Who knows how or why this happened, but at least it’s new and interesting, and well animated.
Oh it’s over.
Weeeeell hopefully things will be all nice and dramatic next episode. Which is, incidentally, also when we’re meant to be meeting Chibi-Usa… maybe things really will pick up!
…See, I can be optimistic.