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Act.17 – SECRET – SAILOR JUPITER

First Aired: 8th March 2015

Sailor Moon Crystal - Makoto attacked by Droid

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.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Usagi and Chibi-Usa shy

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.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Jupiter ill

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.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Asanuma spying

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!

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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!?

"I WASN'T DOING ANYTHING I SWEAR"

“I WASN’T DOING ANYTHING I SWEAR”

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.

Because in anime you can never genuinely try to be nice to anyone ever without pretending you're not

I love how haughty Chibi-Usa looks here. And return of the Tuxedo Puppet!

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 myself completed Alex the Kid in Miracle World when I was Chibi-Usa's age. Not to brag or anything

I myself completed Alex the Kid in Miracle World when I was Chibi-Usa’s age. Not to brag or anything

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.

I do think that the artists need to turn down the brightness juuuuust a tad

I do think that the artists need to turn down the brightness juuuuust a tad. Everything looks a little washed out. Great for fantasy moments, but they should try dampening it for the every-day stuff

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.

sfgd

2 seconds of footage, that’s all it took to develop Usagi’s character

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.

"I wish I was just like my mum. Oh gawd my psychiatrist is going to have a field day with that one, isn't he?"

“I wish I was just like my mum. Oh gawd my psychiatrist is going to have a field day with that one, isn’t he?”

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.

Hey... Chibi-Usa... could you do that with, you know, money?

Hey… Chibi-Usa… could you do that with, you know, money?

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?

It's like Akira, but with less biker gangs. More's the pity

It’s like Akira, but with less biker gangs. More’s the pity

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.

sfdgfd

“Can you turn the router off and on? I’ve got like 1 bar of signal on this stupid ball.”

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.

Also, what the hell is up with Serenity's face here? Her lips are, like, messed up...

Also, what the hell is up with Serenity’s face here? Her lips are, like, messed up… she looks like she’s just ate something she’s allergic too

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…

He said he wants to be like Mamoru a couple of episodes ago. I did know understand that this meant wearing his senpai's skin as a suit

He said he wants to be like Mamoru a couple of episodes ago. I did know understand that this meant wearing his senpai’s skin as a suit

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.

"Remove you hand from my head or the doctors will be removing my shoes from your colon."

“Remove you hand from my head or the doctors will be removing my shoes from your colon.”

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.

I don't know what I was expecting, but they sort of look... nothing how I imagined I guess.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but they sort of look… nothing how I imagined I guess.

LOVE HER.

Makoto Sick-Wink is the best

Makoto Sick-Wink is the best

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?

If I have to see Asanuma drinking rose tea one more time I swear to god I'll make him eat that cup

If I have to see Asanuma drinking rose tea one more time I swear to god I’ll make him eat that cup

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.

Loved this moment. Very funny, reminded me so much of the original series' humour

Loved this moment. Very funny, reminded me so much of the original series’ humour

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.

"Hold still, I'm just going to gob on you to make sure this crosses over."

“Hold still, I’m just going to gob on you to make sure this crosses over.”

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!?

*hits the snooze button for the 11th time in a row*

*hits the snooze button for the 11th time in a row*

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.

It's looks seriously knarly when it's got its hands around throat

It’s looks seriously knarly when it’s got its hands around throat

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.

There's something about the way she's drawn in Crystal, but her chest looks bizarre. Especially with those flagrant green nipples...

There’s something about the way she’s drawn in Crystal, but her chest looks bizarre. Especially with those flagrant green nipples…

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.

Kamehamehaaaa!

Kamehamehaaaa!

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.

TUT. TUT.

TUT. TUT.

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 looks comical to the point of self-aware parody. But it's not.

This looks comical to the point of self-aware parody.

 

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.

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8 Comments »

  1. A really good Makoto ep, I actually really wish they did more with the body snatcher thing, that was freaky.

    Senshi Floating? I guess it’s just one of those Naoko-isms I will have to deal with, which kills me as I need to know the why’s and wherefore’s of all Sailor Moon Canon!

    I’m glad they are resolving Usagi’s frustration with Chibi-Usa without her looking like an apathetic spiteful moon princess. Honestly, I was interested in seeing her go down the manga path (mainly because I have “Don’t care for Main Character” issues) but it certainly feels more in tune with the Usagi I would expect so it pleases me.

    NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH PETZ!

    Moon Princealing Hescalation….. well it was just going far too well that Toei felt the need to fuck it up.

    Touche Toei, trolling level : Expert.

    Otherwise a good ep, I’m glad you enjoyed it also. Great Review!

    Maybe I’ve just not been paying attention but did Artemis die?? Seriously where has he been??

    • Glad you agree! I miss the Petz who seriously hated men with a passion. She was so entertaining.

      As for Artemis, I think he’s not on screen because 1) he’s not in these acts in the manga and 2) he looks and sounds super weird so maybe they just locked his Seiyuu in a cupboard for a bit.

      Cheers!

  2. I love how much King Endymion looks like a total goober in these quick shots. I know that its probably a fault of the animation rather than anything intentional (especially given how goofy Neo-Queen Serenity looks), but he legit like the dorkiest version of his hot younger self. It’s got that John Stamos vibe.

    • Oh totally! They haven’t tried to make him look kingly at all. He just looks like the same waif as ever. Total Stamos

  3. I thought parts of the episode was a bit odd. I am mostly referring to the scene where Makoto and Asanuma are talking about her parents and she winks at him. Is she hitting on him while talking about her dead parents. Wierd. Any way I hope they are not getting paired up.

    • If that were the case I will burn this website to the ground!

      I think the implication is that she’s putting on a brave face and hiding her old hurt with cheeriness. But yeah it does sort of come off like she’s looking for morbid flirtation haha

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