Act.15 – INFILTRATION – SAILOR MARS
First Aired: 7th February 2015
The mysterious girl who fell from the sky causes trouble for Usagi. but doesn’t appear actively hostile other than demanding the Silver Crystal. She’s not the only one, however, as mysterious new enemies appear. Koan, wearing a black crescent moon on her forehead, targets Sailor Mars, as the Black Moon clan begins their invasion.
The first part of this review is spoiler-free.
This episode was all around satisfactory. It’s probably the best episode in a number of weeks, actually, with the strength of the series waning at the climax of the Dark Kingdom arc. We get new characters, new artwork and an exciting new plot, not to mention a certain darkness to proceedings that is already giving the Black Moon arc a real edge to it.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. The problems of the episode, as usual, are its adherence to the manga. As admirable as it is to perform a straight adaptation, the viewer’s relationship with Chibi-Usa is advanced maybe 3 or 4 times in this episode alone. It’s all a little heavy-handed in the plot points its foreshadowing.
There were several moments, typically in Usagi’s behaviour towards Chibi-Usa, that feel so tied to the type of humour of the original adaptation that it did feel nicely nostalgic. This is a little at odds with the style at times – the artwork for Sailor Moon Crystal does not lend itself well to the zany humour we’ve come to associate with Usagi. That being said, I still chuckled, even if the scenes were remarkably unchanged from the original adaptation.
Aside from the moments of humour, there is a new sense of nastiness from the Black Moon that we didn’t really get with the Dark Kingdom. Prince Dimande is introduced in this episode alongside Saphir, Esmeraude, Rubeus, The Spectre Sisters and, of course, Wiseman, in a scene that displays this horrendous arrogance and hubris. Koan takes the stage as the enemy of the week, and it’s fair to say that she’s the most vicious character we’ve actually met in Sailor Moon Crystal thus far.
And this all works, especially because the original adaptation did not go this route. There’s a real sense of danger here. They have done a good job upping the stakes after Metalia’s demise.
There is this sense that Naoko had some kind of sudden fascination with paranormal malarkey sometime in the early 90s. There’s a long discussion on spontaneous human combustion that really doesn’t go anywhere, talk on fortune-telling and UFOs that feel like an X-Files episode, and by that I mean strangely dated. This stuff feels incredibly kitsch from the cynical and bitter year of 2015.
Aside from the regular hand-holding, where the unfolding plot is painfully made obvious, this was a solid episode, and gives me hope for the 2nd arc. The Black Moon are interesting, horrible people that really feel more engaging than any of the Four Kings or Queen Beryl. They look the part too, I really like their Crystal designs.
Things are looking up. I just hope that this level of energy keeps up in the coming episodes.
The spoiler section begins here.
Don’t scroll down if you don’t want to get a blow-by-blow analysis!
Still here? Glad you could join me.
The episode opens with the follow-up of Chibi-Usa holding a gun to Usagi’s head. I’m not sure her voice actress is as threatening as she could have been here. This moment is still a bit weird after all this time, especially considering we find out later that Chibi-Usa knows this is her mother in the manga. Still, I grinned
I like that there’s no messing around, we move straight to Nemesis and see Prince Dimande chugging wine with his generals. Since the series will be much shorter, we have all the characters introduced at once. A bit overwhelming, maybe, no one really stands out here except for Dimande, but I think their designs are great.
Tremendously underwhelmed by Wiseman’s voice actor. He just sounds like a wobbly old man, there’s a definite lack of presence when I compare his voice to the original series. That aside, of course, he’s as creepy as ever. Looking forward to seeing more of his backstory in Crystal.
The people that really take prominence in this scene is Rubeus…
…and Koan. The Spectre Sisters (I still want to call them the Phantom Sisters) all look fantastic. We won’t see nearly as much of them, they’re essentially monsters-of-the-week in the manga, but their vibrant colour scheme and how fucking insanely evil they will be makes them really stand out, more so than their superiors.
We get the scene of Chibi-Usa sitting sadly in the park by herself. This pacing feels off. Such is the peril of sticking too close to the manga, the original adaptation realised that you had to maintain a certain level of suspicion over Chibi-Usa before introducing this pitiable sad streak of her character. This happens immediately after she threatens Usagi with a gun. Just feels like it’s an episode too early.
Mamoru gets a vision of the future when he holds Chibi-Usa’s hand. Crystal Tokyo! It’s… not as mysteriously cold and beautiful as I would have hoped, but the architecture remains alluringly interesting. This prophecy stuff for Mamoru ends up not meaning much at all in the manga. We’ll see what they do with this.
Chibi-Usa hypnotises the Tsukino household. I did like all this, but since they’ve introduced this sympathetic side to Chibi-Usa too early this comes off in a totally different tone. The humour was ok, but the style of the show doesn’t really allow for the zany moments, so still feels unusual.
Just to hammer home the plot twist, the show takes massive effort to show that Chibi-Usa has a Silver Crystal of her own. There’s not going to be much of a slow investigation here. It’s also in a scene where Chibi-Usa is made incredibly morose and unfortunate, with Usagi just yelling at her. If we follow the manga, I’m not going to like Usagi in a few weeks’ time.
Enjoyed this parfait scene. Can I please get more scenes of the Senshi just hanging out? Moments like these massively serve to reinforce connections and develop characters. The lines here flesh out these guys massively, but it’s never enough.
HEY. KIDS. NEW STUFF TO BUY.
I knew this was coming, but nothing can quite prepare you for Asanuma. I fucking hate this kid in the manga… and here too. He’s absolutely cack here, going on about how much he loves Mamoru, how smart he is, how great he is, how he wants to become him and wear his skin like a rain-jacket. It’s so creepy. I’m guessing that he won’t improve on me if the manga’s anything to go by.
And at Rei’s school we’re given a new character, who literally appears on screen by announcing her name: “I’M KOTONO.” I wonder if Takeuchi named her after Usagi’s voice actor Kotono Mitsuishi? Regardless, she’s awful. Obsessed with the paranormal and worships Rei. We get a lot of this, characters turn up to impress on us how amazing other characters are. Bit creepy. So many stalkers.
Really liked when Rei blurted out “Bleurgh!” when reading the UFO rags. Her shock at having spoken like Usagi was fantastic. We haven’t seen enough of her fire, so to speak, she’s just been so bland in Crystal thus far, so this was a welcome moment.
We then get a scene of Koan looking alien as heck (the theme of the series), burning some dude alive in the park. Definitely no redemptive arc for her in this version. I have to ask… why though? What did this achieve? It looked cool, the Droids are terrifying, but why would Koan do this…? To mess with Rei’s prophecy?
Also, in the manga she totally murdered a kid. Writers totally chickened out and killed a businessman instead, which I think we can all agree was probably a smart move.
Rei then meets Koan at the TA Girl’s School festival telling people they’re going to die. Once again, none of her motives make any sense… unless you remember that Takeuchi wrote the Black Moon arc at the last minute after getting pressured to continue the series. Koan is pretty damn cool so far though, really really aggressive.
Pretty impressed that the show followed through and actually BURNT A NUN TO DEATH. Wow. Why though? What purpose did this serve? What the fuck is Koan doing None of this makes any sense. Still, I’m enjoying how suddenly dark this series is getting.
Updated transformation sequences. Or so I’m told. I couldn’t really tell because my eyes vomit every time I see this weird cel-shaded CGI mess.
Enjoyed the battle. We get Shine Aqua Illusion, Supreme Thunder, Love-Me Chain, Mercury Aqua Mist, Burning Mandala, Moon Tiara Boomerang and Moon Princess Halation today, and I really appreciated it.
Here’s where it drops a bit… Mars is engulfed in Dark Fire, and no one can get her out. We then have a static battlefield here, with Mars just floating about while the others try attacking for a bit. Just felt… not dynamic.
This next part was the worst. Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen randomly form the Moon Rod. In the original anime adaptation, Usagi had to earn this rod in a tough battle that saw her on the verge of death. Here, boom, new stick. Which she can’t even use to save Mars. Just feels… barely adequate and uninteresting.
And then BAM Sailor Moon kills Koan. This is the first time she’s actually killed someone directly. Beryl died after having her stupid necklace broken, Metalia was a giant evil fart cloud. Here, Sailor Moon straight up eliminates Koan. It seems a bit ungracious of her if I’m honest. I like the Sailor Moon that refuses to take a life and always believes in redemption.
So Rubeus makes off with Sailor Mars in the belief that she knows where the Silver Crystal is… bit weird. This actually made the manga suffer a bit, since we actually have half the main characters abducted and absent for a while. Which means that we won’t be seeing Sailor Mars again for… gosh, 8 weeks I think? Maybe more? Blimey. Wonder what that is going to do for the show…
As I said before, definite problems that come directly from the manga, but I am impressed at how much I was drawn back into he show here. Genuinely exciting moments, decent action and real malice made for an entertaining watch.