Act.17 – SECRET – SAILOR JUPITER
First Aired: 8th March 2015
As parts of Chibi-Usa’s experiences become more clear to Mamoru, the Black Moon continue their campaign against the Sailor Senshi. Petz, the eldest of the Phantom Sisters, targets Makoto. With a nasty illness and someone who has discovered the truth about the Senshi, Makoto is a vulnerable target.
First of all, sorry this is a couple of days late. I’ve cleared my schedule up and should be posting a lot more in the coming weeks.
Second of all, I like this episode. Weird huh? Especially since I didn’t particular care for the last one.
This episode went some small way to address a few problems I’ve had with the Black Moon arc of Sailor Moon Crystal thus far. The first half principally addresses the issue of Usagi’s antagonism to Chibi-Usa, who, in this series, is harmless, blameless and designed to be a target who cannot fight back against Usagi’s ire.
These scenes of Chibi-Usa and Usagi acting identically and, unbeknownst to them, bonding over shared experiences, really do mitigate Usagi’s rather horrible reaction to Chibi-Usa in the previous episode. They haven’t forced Usagi into a state unfitting for her character, these two still fight and bicker, but by making their arguments childish, and by introducing this element of resolution between them, it dissipates the anxiety a little.
This might be attributed to the writing of Naoko Takeuchi’s manga, to which is this almost identical, but in fact the writers have begun to actually identify problems in the original narrative and have inserted small moments here and there that go some way to resolve these.
I hope that this is indicative of the writers having a little more chutzpah.
It’s extraordinary to think that the focus of this episode, Makoto, only begins taking focus in the final third of this episode. Every moment she’s on screen is a blessed relief. As a character, and as a performance by her seiyuu, Makoto is a great watch. Here we have a vulnerable Makoto displaying new sides of her character.
I won’t go as far as to say there’s development of her, but seeing a glimpse of her backstory helps shape her a little. Sadly, she shares her principal scenes with Asanuma, and the least said about this whiny earnest brown-nosing stalker the better.
While I may not like Asanuma, I do at least like the side he brings out of Makoto.
This episode isn’t perfect by any means, there’s pacing issues here (the climax feels incredibly rushed), Asanuma feels flimsy as a character having been cut out of the previous act, and there’s one painful graphical slip-up with a certain magical staff, but this is good stuff. It’s funny, it’s enjoyable and best of all, it feels like Sailor Moon.
More of this, please!
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.
This opening scene set up some really nice things between Chibi-Usa and Usagi. Reminded me of the original anime, which had these moments in spades of course, BUT WE CAN’T MENTION THAT CAN WE? I try and separate them, I do… I just fail a lot. Anyway, loved Luna-P crying in sympathy, and saying to Usagi “don’t cry, Small Lady!”
Hrrmmm I wonder why it confused these two!?
These totally Tsundere moments (there’s actually a Wikipedia page on the word Tsundere… don’t know why that surprised me) really warmed my cockles, so to speak.
The arcade scene was one of my favourite of Sailor Moon Crystal so far. It’s just a nice slice of life feeling that we aren’t often granted in this show because of the pace. Usagi’s resentment towards Chibi-Usa was played off as humorous again, rather than deeply disturbing, and yeah it’s an improvement for me.
I know a lot of people enjoyed the dark emotional implications of Usagi’s paranoia and fear over Chibi-Usa, but this works for me much better with the tone of the show.
I think the similarities between the girls are highlighted here more than any other scene. While I think it worked a shade better in the manga, the art paralleled nicely, you can’t imagine how much I appreciated this link being established. It felt good, it felt right, and I can see the potential for Usagi to grow as a character in a way that I can get behind.
Now, this next moment is what alluded to when I mentioned that the writers of Sailor Moon Crystal were finally altering the manga for the better. In the manga, Luna mentions that Chibi-Usa had helped brighten Usagi’s mood after the loss of Rei and Ami, but there’s no reaction from Usagi. She just apologises for Chibi-Usa being there.
In this episode, the writers were aware that there was a reaction missing here. Here, they dampened Usagi’s antagonism towards Chibi-Usa by showing her agree with Luna, smiling sheepishly, supporting the idea that a bond has begun to form between them. This was an important moment in ensuring that when their relationship develops later on, it’s foreshadowed, it’s introduced incrementally, early on.
This fixes a problem in the writing of the manga, and for that I can only say bravo for the Crystal writers for taking good source material and trying to make it fit better in the narrative.
Chibi-Usa sees Usagi’s parents canoodling in the kitchen and has depressed flashbacks to her own parents. So we clearly see Mamoru and Usagi are, in fact, her biological spawn centres, although it’s not explicitly stated so. The colour scheme, the music, the camera angles, they all give the impression of psychological scarring over her parents.
NOW. While this is, on the surface, related to the fact that she is far away from home, and lonely, it might also be interpreted later as a manifestation of the Jungian Electra Complex Chibi-Usa develops later in the Black Moon arc of the manga.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, uhhh… you’ll see.
Intentional or not, there’s actual foreshadowing again. Possibly.
On the street in the storm, we get a bit of Luna-P magic from Chibi-Usa. I liked this. Chibi-Usa’s loneliness is manifest, and while it’s not creating as powerful pathos as the original series (SHIT I did it again), it’s still moving. Moreover, her remembering words from an unknown source and making herself feel a little better with a magic trick did give me a sad smile.
Mamoru touches Chibi-Usa at the moment she recalls Crystal Tokyo being attacked. This was a cool little flash. Not much info was given away, just enough to whet the appetite. Loved the colour scheme too. Great also to see some more of Mamoru’s abilities manifesting themselves. Aura powers! Maybe?
The Dimande scene felt a little flat to me. Wiseman’s performance continues to be so very disappointing… trying hard not to compare him to the original series but Crystal’s Wiseman loses in every conceivable category thus far. Also, in the manga Dimande got super pissed at Saphir, which is important in setting up Saphir’s motivation down the line…
Also would have made a nice change from having to listen to this entitled prick drone on.
We get a hologram of Dimande’s obsession… Neo Queen Serenity. His “I GET EVERYTHING I WANT. EVERYTHING” is even more disturbing, a feat I thought impossible. This guy… I don’t know why Dimande has fans when he’s a sexual predator.
Speaking of sexual predators, Asanuma is stalking Mamoru and ends up hearing a bunch of stuff he really has no business knowing. I loved everything between Usagi, Mamoru, Luna and Luna-P (genuine belly laughs), but this whiny brown-nosing Mamoru-obsessed Kohai pains me.
And we’re about to get more of him. Ughhh…
Makoto! Jesus, finally. Past the half-way mark and the girl who’s episode this is meant to be gets a bit of attention. Every moment she’s on screen is a delight. It’s not just my bias towards her, although that helps, but her colour scheme, her look, her flushed cheeks, all contrast nicely with this dull grey weather.
Not to mention that her performance is just engrossing. We don’t get enough of her.
Makoto drags Asanuma home (she needs trash to take out the trash), and drops a line about her parents being killed in a plane crash. This is new information for those who only watched the original series. While it’s a super common trope (why are anime teenagers always fucking orhpans!?) it does increase my affection for the poor girl.
Doesn’t really… go anywhere though… just flavour text I guess.
They keep cutting back to Makoto’s rose tea she’s serving Asanuma… I understand that roses are her thing, but why do we keep lingering on this goddamn tea? WHAT DOES IT MEEEAN, SAILOR MOON?
Asanuma has zero subtlty, just starts going on about talking cats and Makoto being possibly an alien. While I normally applaud characters who manage to connect the dots together, I withhold any compliment to Asanuma because he’s a turd.
So… you may have realised by now, but I don’t really like Asanuma much. This whole moment of him grabbing her hand and saying that he’d protect her… nothing comes of this. It’s played off like romance, like there’s a passionate kiss at the end, but she just kisses him on the forehead.
I actually like this. Not completely, you understand. I like that Makoto seems charmed by him, but not enough to actually consider kissing him. It’s a sign of protection, friendship and, ultimately, condescension she gives him here.
Her motivation? That’s one of those things which is genuinely interesting to discuss. There’s not much to go on in the episode, or the manga in fact. For me, I’d like to presume that, while she finds him charming, her duties as a Sailor Senshi takes precedent over everything, and she knows this. She sees in Asanuma this naive sense of duty and pride that she herself has. albeit more self-aware.
Also in my dream interpretation she knows he’s a douche and just wants him to get whatever virus she’s carrying.
Makoto getting so weak that she falls down is another anime trope of the worst sickness ever kind of thing, but it leads to this beautiful shot of her in the dark with her watch going off. Get composition, why can’t everything in this show look this good!?
Makoto getting attacked by an identical Droid is pretty cool! It’s so easily defeated though… would have been really cool to see this play out a bit more, they really don’t make enough of the idea of Droids taking the place of humans in the style of They Live or Bodysnatchers.
I’ve always liked Petz. She gets zero air time here. I like her presence, but she looks a bit weird, her body hasn’t had much attention given to it by the animators, and she gets given nothing to do.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate hate hate hate hate floating. Before in Crystal we’ve had Jupiter float about with her electrical powers. I could just about get on board with this, but still thought it looked awful and really wrecked the positioning of the action.
Here they just said “fuck it” and have Jupiter, Venus and Sailor Moon fly about uninhibited. I guess we can add that to their list of sliding-scale powers. Sparking Wide Pressure looked good, albeit not that much different from any other attack.
AAAAAAAND CAR CRASH. Do I have to do this? Do I have to point out how lazy and inattentive the animators were here?
OK. Here we go.
This is Moon Princess Halation. They’ve just ripped off Moon Healing Escalation from a few episodes ago, forgetting that Sailor Moon has a completely different weapon now. So evidently they just couldn’t be bothered to draw her new attack and shoved in old footage which they didn’t check for continuity purposes.
*sighhh* I know it’s not that big a deal, but it says something about he production values, especially when I already have problems with this action climax.
Also I’m an anal retentive nerd, of course I’m going to be mad.
Petz is killed and Jupiter kidnapped so abruptly, like the previous two episodes, that it feels… off. This is based off the manga of course, but this hasn’t translated to the screen so well. The final image of Sailor Moon and Venus literally floating in mid-air is so stupid. There must have been a better way to do this, surely?
This episode was about 80% great. I really enjoyed it. In fact, I think it’s the best episode since the other Makoto-centric one. Definite theme there. The action was as bad as ever, but there’s something more than decent here, it’s hope for a better series to come.
I think I might be enjoying the show again, guys. This is WEIRD.