Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, the Manga: The Infinity Arc, Pt. 3
The review series of the Infinity Arc of the Sailor Moon manga continues. Today we read acts 31 & 32. You might want to catch up on part 1 and part 2 of the Infinity Series, featuring forceful gay kisses and Ami being a total bad ass and jumping out of a window.
You may recall that we ended the previous arc with a TOTAL BOMBSHELL (unless you’ve seen the anime, of course…) of Sailor Pluto being alive, and human going by the name of Meiou Setsuna.
Act 31 – Sailor Pluto – Meiou Setsuna
We start pretty much where we left off, with Setsuna as a research student investigating the freaky energy around the Mugen Delta. She seems to actually discover that space itself is distorting around the area but oddly isn’t overly concerned.
Nah it’s fine, just a goddamn wormhole opening up in Tokyo, completely normal.
Reika and Motoki, meanwhile, are obviously sick of each other, inviting Setsuna out to dinner in the hopes she’ll distract them from how much they hate each other… or so I imagine.
I like how dense Motoki asks Reika if she wants to eat in the Mugen District, but Reika has to point out that it looks like the end of the goddamn world over there.
We then get a lot –a lot- of talk between Kaorinite, Professor Tomoe and Pharaoh 90. Takeuchi seems to come back to this experimentation angle again and again, though it’s not really clear why Tomoe needs to be experimenting at all. It seems that if Tomoe manages to create a Daimohn that looks human, instead of a de-evolution hairy turd like normal, it’ll have the strength to defeat the Sailor Senshi.
it’s also very, very strange to see Pharaoh 90 engaging in conversation, not least because his dialogue is awful. It’s just a generic energy entity that we’ve seen before in Metalia or Death Phantom (maybe this is a hint for the big reveal in Sailor Stars…?) – it was so much more… god-like, so much more infinity powerful when it was silent in the anime.
Nothing like seeing your antagonist chuck out a “bwahaha!” to deflate your excitement.
With Kaorinite all pissed off that Pharaoh 90 is casually ordering her to finish off the Senshi (classic office delegation dick-move, that), our next Witch approachs. It’s Tellu (Telulu in the anime), who is proudly “Level 404” [PAGE NOT FOUND], and goes off to find the “Taioron Crystal” (which I’m still not sure what the heck it is).
Chibi-Usa scene… decides to give her clay Grail to Hotaru… we can skip like 5 pages…
…until we get to Hotaru totally being bullied outside of school (like the Fresh Prince). So… first of all, why would you pick on a girl who is obviously ill, and also the daughter of your headmaster. Also the one that everyone says is creepy with strange frightening powers?
Totally worth it. What a fucking badass. This is so, so, so cool.
-Plants hour with Makoto-
Makoto – life – plants – tall – trees – you get the idea. This is the most obvious thematic tie-in we’ve had in the manga thus far, considering Tellu’s impending attack, and it feels a little clunky. The dialogue to introduce “Tellurians”, decorative house plants, stuck out like a sore thumb.
Despite knowing that Mugen Academy is evil to the brim, Makoto eventually decides that she’ll buy this Tellurian plant, even though it seems to originate from that very school. This is obviously the inspiration for that less-than-stellar episode of Sailor Moon S with the same mechanic.
Next we have Chibi-Usa visiting Hotaru’s house with Usagi in tow, another scene definitely recreated in the anime… with some liberties. Here, Usagi gets chills from Kaorinite, who gives her and Chibi-Usa a dirty look, but nothing more than that.
Next Hotaru acts super creepy for a bit thanking Chibi-Usa for a gift… It’s here where I realise that Hotaru hasn’t really been given a personality yet. She’s just been in pain a bunch, then super creepy. Plenty to pity, but at this point not a lot of meat to her. We’ll have to see.
When Hotaru has another fit, she reaches towards Chibi-Usa’s Silver Crystal, and once again it seems to alleviate her symptoms. Chibi-Usa, perhaps unwisely freely names the thing. Hey, maybe the ultimate power on Earth should be, I dunno, kept a bit more secret? Why would Neo Queen Serenity let her have this thing anyway?
Regardless, Hotaru gets all creepy as -whatever dark passenger is within her- (hint, Mistress Nine) seems to recognise the name.
Oh and then to top it off, Kaorinite eavesdropping at the door also totally hears the name. This is like the worst thing Chibi-Usa has ever done, and I’m including that time she brainwashed her Dad, made him her love-slave and made out with him. Yeah, that totally happened.
Walking home after the rain, Chibi-Usa thinks she sees someone who looks rather familiar… Not sure why this is in here to be honest. They reunite really soon anyway, so there’s no mystery for the reader over who this is. Chibi-Usa’s suspicious doesn’t lead to anything. If this had happened a couple of acts ago, I think this would have been really cool foreshadowing.
MEANWHILE Makoto and Minako are just so exhausted after buying that ridiculously repulsive Tullurian plant that they just straight up nap out. Eventually, Minako begins yelling that the Tellurian has bloomed, in the process killing all the other plants.
Finding it really hard to care about this. This is, like, ridiculously dull for an evil plot.
I did love it when Makoto suddenly gets super pissed that this new plant has killed all her old ones and pulls out a goddamn kitchen knife.
The team all head out to Mugen Academy botanical gardens (just nuke the whole goddamn delta, guys), and find Usagi staring at the subway map of the area.
I don’t get this. They brought it up in the first act of the Infinity arc, but… like… ok…? It’s the names of Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna. I don’t know how this is relevant. If it is, I will be shocked. Naoko sometimes throws stuff in like this just to keep you on your toes.
Oh, speak of the devil, Usagi sees Haruka and Michiru in the subway, who run away looking a little pissed off. Haruka appears to be wearing a skirt. Second time ever. Still unusual to see it!
Eventually, Usagi chases them all the goddamn way to the Kaioh condos and stands outside Haruka’s goddamn door like a stalker. This might be laying Usagi’s determination to connect with these Senshi a little too thick.
As far as the stuff we should be interested in goes, the botanical gardens are now overgrown and funky, and Tellu is. you know, attacking and stuff. The actions scenes I tend to turn off in I’m afraid. There’s no real connection between any Witch or Senshi, but Takeuchi pushes the point. Tellu’s colour is green, she’s into plants, and she’s a PE teacher, all things that are associated with Makoto, so she needs to be the one that has a tête-à-tête with her.
So many of these. Four Kings, Spectre Sisters,Witches 5, Amazon Quartet, those funky Space Senshi… the parallels make little sense artistically or narratively.
MEANWHILE! Setsuna has totally been knocked out by one of those funky plants. Apparently she’s on the verge of death. Michiru and Haruka sense something, of course.
Setsuna has a pretty cool moment pleading for someone to help, until eventually she awakens! It looks very cool…
Haruka and Michiru warp to her… which I’m not so fond it. It yells of poor planning. How are we to get these characters over here? Warp ’em. For no real reason. Think Pluto awakening could have been much cooler than a stinky plant attack.
Surprisingly Mamoru also experiences… something. I actually have no idea what. They always bring in Mamoru’s powers as Earth’s guardian without really going in to it too much, but I’m really looking forward to how it’s being handled in the manga.
The fight with Tellu, meanwhile, continues to disappoint. People yell attacks, and eventually Sailor Chibi-Moon realises how pointless she’s been and begs for an actual attack from, uh, Shiva or something, and actually gets given a Moon Rod… from Luna-P? Bit weird, frankly. None of this makes any sense, really, but it’s so childishly done that I’m not going to bother laying into it.
The end result is our first Pink Sugar Heart Attack… which actually works as a full on attack as powerful as anything else! Well, I think, it results in Tellu turning into a freaky monster for the entirety of 1 entire panel anyway.
She’s immediately bulldozed by… Dead Scream! Yaaay it’s Pluto! Cool way to end!
Clumsy with Chibi-Moon’s new rod, clumsy with Setsuna’s revelation, clumsy with Makoto, the plant and Tellu, but all in all it’s got some exciting moments. I’m always down for Pluto and Dead Scream’s return.
Act 31 – Three Senshi
The act opens with DAMN THEY COOL. How could you possibly think otherwise? There’s an assurance, a confidence, a world-weariness, an understanding in the artwork for these three Senshi together that surpass our poor out-matched Inner Senshi.
Sadly, Pluto’s exposition of how and why she’s here in the 20th Century is a little disappointing for me.
“Oh, Neo Queen Serenity brought be back to life.”
At this point this is so abrupt that I have to imagine there’s more to this later on, but, again, knowing Naoko Takeuchi’s story structure, that may not be the case.
Just to make sure these uppity Outer Senshi know their goddamn place Sailor Moon turns into Princess Serenity. Time for some Royal Smackdown!
Well that was easy. Much easier than in the anime. This is a cool scene, but this, again, seems a bit too easy considering all the shit the Outer Senshi were giving Usagi right before this.
We get rather stiff official reintroductions from the Outer Senshi that I don’t really feel are necessary. This is cool, though, and helps bolster the lore of Sailor Senshi, even if it’s done in a rather flat manner.
Essentially, the Outer Senshi defended the Silver Millennium from external foes, as we knew. When they awoke in the 20th Century, the found that the Death Busters had already invaded. It’s kinda silly seeing them described as aliens, actually. Previous they just seemed like an evil force. Very 90s.
There is a lot of text here, which kinda goes against the whole show-don’t-tell principle.
Sailor Uranus is apparently still refusing to collude with the Inner Senshi, and Neptune agrees, even if she chides Uranus for her tone.
I’m -still- not getting this separation. It continues to feel set-up. This may be because I’ve been spoilt by the rich ethical divide between the Senshi in the anime, but all I’m getting from the Outer Senshi at this point is that they’re kinda jerks, nothing deeper than that.
The way in which people are describing Uranus is increasingly worrying to me. When Usagi commented that she was like a man and woman in one, I chuckled at her naivety. When Haruka said that it didn’t matter what her gender was to Usagi, I cheered. When Neptune describes the woman standing next to her as being “like a man and woman in one“, it’s concerning.
1) That’s your girlfriend
2) Uranus seems totally ok with it
3) Why is being self-assured, forthright and physical necessarily male qualities? Haruka, Uranus, is a stylish, cool woman, no matter what she wears. This phrasing is just a little weird.
It’s definitely not Naoko Takeuchi trying to introduce transgender issues at the very least. That would be cool. This just seems clunky.
Either way, the Tuxedo Kamen asks if the weapons the Outer Senshi wield are the Talismans, which are said to bring about the world’s end if collected together. So maybe don’t stand so close together, guys.
And here’s where we get the definitive mission of these Senshi. They are meant to “kill our great enemy, the Goddess of Destruction“.
The Inner Senshi can’t take a hint apparently, and begin investigating Professor Tomoe. His work was genetic alteration to create super-humans. Detecting that whole “science is evil!” vibe.
This is where we discover that Tomoe’s research went horribly wrong, critically injuring Hotaru and killing his wife Keiko. We never got anything of her in the anime. You know, the only Tomoe kept bringing up over and over again?
So… the Senshi actually give Chibi-Usa a mission… to investigate Hotaru. They’re giving this job to a 9 year old. Who has been a Senshi for like a month. Who only just got her first attack.
I cannot see how this plan could go wrong.
We then get a scene of Kaorinite freaking out about the Outer Senshi’s power’s blocking her vision pool, until there returns the old familiar balance between her and Professor Tomoe, who is suddenly senior again, it seems. He passively criticises her handling of the Sailor Senshi, and she’s abashed enough to drop stuff and blush guiltily.
We’ve not seen anything like this from her before, and I’m interested in seeing where it goes, although I’m sorry to see the more superior Kaorinite take a break.
Kaorinite decides to send out the final Witch, Cyprine, to kill the Senshi. Whereas the other Witches appeared to correspond with Inner Senshi (Eugeal -> Mars, Tellu -> Jupiter etc), I can’t see how Cyprine fits into things… yet.
There’s this whole thing about the Taioron Crystal which I still don’t understand fully. It’s a power source for the Death Busters, Tomoe appears to be using it to continue his subjugation of Hotaru, and Cyprine promises to power it with the light of the Senshi.
Kinda done with magical rocks at this point, I must say… I understand why they cut this from the anime.
Kaorinite shows the problem solving capabilities of a caterpiller swimming in vodka by suggesting that maybe, *just maybe*, the two students who disappeared recently might be Uranus and Neptune, although she can’t quite believe it herself.
And then Naoko’s original sketches are thrown in, just for laughs. Interesting to note that little in their design changed from original conception.
So this next part I find genuinely freaky and cool. Chibi-Usa invites Hotaru out to the cinema (planning to pump her on info about her father), but she doesn’t show, so Chibi-Usa does what any sensible person does, she totally stalks her like a goddamn murderer, sneaking a peek into her window and…
AGHHH HOLY HELL WHAT. Tomoe in the previous page mentions that he’s creating “parts” for her, but I did not expect this at all. Wow. That’s cool. So these are, like biological/mechanical body parts? Seems to be some hybrid between the two. She’s like a goddamn cyborg!
Chibi-Usa does not think this is so cool (it is though) and runs away, leaving Hotaru appalled and having a fit. Poor girl. This is really cool stuff, very sci-fi, very anime. So these fibres are permanently exposed?
According to her memories, both she and her mother pretty much burned to death, before Tomoe… built her a new body? She even says that no blood flows through it. She’s a goddamn corpse. This is really cool. I may not see much to her personality in the manga, but she’s got some really interesting aspects to her that keep Hotaru intriguing.
Hotaru is feeling so shit about Chibi-Usa seeing her… muscles and stuff… that she questions whether she should even be alive. That’s precisely the rational and appropriate response we’ve come to expect from people in manga.
Still I am now feeling very sorry for her. And it only gets worse.
Next the Outer Senshi come to have a good gawk at this poor girl. This may not be the best time for a visit… Poor Hotaru is having one hell of a day.
Cyprine’s attack comes in the form of evil hail, which knocks out Chibi-Usa and, I dunno, mild-annoys everyone else. They’re broken out into mass riots anyway. These plans in Sailor Moon always affect the entire city in bizarre ways that don’t really serve to do anything. This rioting never goes anywhere, nor is it needed for motivation.
So what does level 999 Cyrpine have in her arsenal? Something really cool right? Well… she has “Ribbon Buster”… which sounds less like an attack and more like something you’ve give to a kitten to keep it entertained.
When the Inner Senshi turn up, I get kind of annoyed. Cyprine brainwashes the Outer Senshi, enhancing the “Darkness in their hearts”, and sets them on the Inner Senshi. All this coolness only for them to instantly fall prey to a line about mind-washing.
Finally Crypine splits into two, with her twin/clone/something “Ptilol”, which I’m fairly certain isn’t a word. Going to stick with “Petriol” like the anime.
Now everyone is brainwashed and just trying to murder each other… I’m not enjoying this really. The Senshi just look kinda lame for being so easy to manipulate, but I understand that Naoko wanted Senshi Vs Seshi to highlight the rift between them. I think they would have been better served with an actual fight, between differences.
And the solution to all this? “Make our hearts as one“. With magic. Not with reasoning, or discussion, or interesting philosophical resolution, just Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen and Chibi-Moon combining powers to create the Holy Grail.
Well where the hell did this come from? It wasn’t summoned by the Talismans. Did these three always have the power to create the Grail? What the hell guys? This is so Deus Ex Machina.
And that’s where we end.
I’m really hoping there’s a good pay off to all this, because it’s beginning to feel a lot like Naoko Takeuchi is making this up on the fly again, as I felt during the Black Moon arc. While I’m sure that’s not the case, there’s a bit of cohesion missing at the moment, which I’m looking for in the next couple of acts.
That being said, there’s some great stuff here, and this is definitely the best story we’ve had in the Sailor Moon manga so far. Surprised to find how invested I am in this story.