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Act.20 – CRYSTAL TOKYO – KING ENDYMION

First aired: 19th April 2015

Sailor Moon Crystal - King Endymion

King Endymion reveals many truths to Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen. Armed with the knowledge of their true relationship to Chibi-Usa, the group returns home with the promise that they’ll protect the young Princess of Crystal Tokyo, but Chibi-Usa may not be the true object of Prince Dimande’s ambitions…

An episode gravid with exposition and revelation, Act 20 is rather enjoyable. For anyone familiar with the manga or the original series, this episode really doesn’t have much to offer, and fails to sell the big emotional turns it relies upon, but the discovery over Usagi and Chibi-Usa’s true relationship and the nature of the future helped the episode chug along nicely.

That being said, Usagi’s continued failure to connect with me as a viewer over her recent personality developments are a problem with emotional investment. The decision to exorcise a couple of scenes and plot points from the manga also feel a little unfortunate. Esmeraude, in particular, feels almost entirely empty as a character, and remains as ill-served as her original anime iteration, perhaps even more so.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Sailor Moon can't see a reflection

Roughly half the episode is King Endymion, looking resplendent in his white gear, explaining vaguely about a thousand years of history. His descriptions of Crystal Tokyo, the longevity of those from the Silver Millennium and the truth behind Neo Queen Serenity, are all captivating as they were back in 1993.

King Endymion is an interesting character. I stick by my first impression of him, that he’s neither as mysterious or wise in appearance that the disembodied spirit of a 1,000 year old man should really be, but the content is still fantastic. We’ve yet to see any of the characters really process any of the information given here whatsoever, but the information is captivating, inventive and fantastical.

Sailor Moon Crystal - King Endymion

The city of Crystal Tokyo itself remains one of the strongest features of the Black Moon arc, at least in concept. In design, I admit myself disappointed. In these flashback we get a couple of still scenes of streets and a long shot of the area surrounding Crystal Tokyo, and it really is unimaginative. While the Crystal Palace itself looks great, having been taken from the manga, the rest of the city really was a chance for the Sailor Moon Crystal animators to shine, giving us an extraordinary and mystical future to look ahead to.

The result looks like just a rather dull park. There’s nothing that feels distant from today, nothing that suggests 1,000 years of development. This, for me, is emblematic of the producer’s continuing lack of imagination and vision.

This continues to the exterior shots of the ruined Crystal Tokyo, which while initially offering a suppressive atmosphere, has by this point devolved into a homogeneous green funk that makes every shot look curiously boring.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Dimande floating

I had expected the episodes by now to feel the absence of Mars, Mercury and Jupiter, but as it happens this hasn’t really been the case. Whether they were given enough focus in their abduction episodes or whether the plot developments on screen are enough to keep the story chugging along I am not sure. What I am sure of is that Sailor Venus, the last remaining protector of Sailor Moon, really hasn’t been given much to do despite her increased screen presence. It’s mostly reaction shots and one poorly animated joke in this episode. This is a real shame, as we know her the least out of all the Senshi given her late introduction.

By this point in the Black Moon arc, in both the manga and the Crystal adaptation, I am quietly tolerating the story until something spectacular happens. A problem arises when you adapt source material that felt rushed and confused in the first place. Thankfully, if the manga is anything to go by, many of my problems with the pacing and Usagi’s characterisation are finally about to progress, almost 3 months after the start of the story arc.

Sailor Moon Crystal - Neo Queen Serenity


 

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.

Well SHIT King Endymion is a ghost. How about that? This is an extension of Mamoru’s “aura powers”, he’s able to astral project. This fits well with his developing powers, kinda like it. I wish I could have seen more pathos from Chibi-Usa here. She’s just rather stoic. There are a couple insert shots of her looking sad or worried, but she’s essentially a cardboard cut out for the whole of this first scene – which was precisely my problem with the manga.

Your father is distant and incorporeal too Chibi-Usa? I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL

Your father is distant and incorporeal too Chibi-Usa? I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL

King Endymion first explains that he is, in fact, future Tuxedo Kamen, forever trapped in the body of a 25-year-old that inexplicably looks like a 14-year-old. It’s a bit stilted, in that as Endymion talks all we get are blank amazed faces of Venus, Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Moon. There’s no processing of the truth bombs he’s about to drop at all.

"Imagine you looking exactly perfect and the same for 1000 years. Yes, it's depressing as heck."

“Imagine you looking exactly perfect and the same for 1000 years. Yes, it’s depressing as heck.”

The big truth bomb is, of course, that Chibi-Usa is Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen’s daughter. I’ve always loved this twist for being to bat-shit crazy. It plays out rather flat here. There’s the rather funny moment where the two look at each other at the implications of having a child in the future, but the humour doesn’t work as nearly as well as, say from a random example, the original anime adaptation. I felt they were rather coy here considering they had a lascivious moment between the two of them only last episode.

Yes, that's Chibi-Usa looking at her parents realising they have sex and the start of her neuroses

Yes, that’s Chibi-Usa looking at her parents realising they have sex and the inevitable start of her neuroses

Also, there is zero *zero* exploration of what Chibi-Usa thinks of all this. She appears to have known that Usagi was her mother all along. There’s no discussion of this. Even in the manga they have a throwaway line of how she thought it was funny. As a matter of fact they’ve also removed the discussion of Chibi-Usa being 1,000 years old, which is probably for the best because that opens up a whole barrel of worms.

The original anime writers realised (I do harp on about that) that this was a problem in the manga, and they solved it in two ways: one, making Chibi-Usa unaware of who Usagi was, that she was Sailor Moon and her mother. Two: by knocking Chibi-Usa out and keeping her away from Usagi until the end of the series. This way you have the one beautiful moment of the two coming to terms with their relationship and overcoming all their friction in a single heart-breaking moment.

In the manga, in in Crystal, Sailor Moon is now aware that Chibi-Usa is her daughter and the two of them have *no emotional connection* even though they’re in the same room. Wow that’s awkward writing.

My point is this: I don’t blame Sailor Moon Crystal. It’s adapting the source material directly, which Naoko Takeuchi admits was written in a hurry, after she thought the series would end after the Dark Kingdom arc. But, the original anime realised these writing flaws and adapted.

ANYWAY.

Diana’s cute. You may have noticed that her eye colour has completely changed since, oh, two weeks ago. They are literally making these episodes as they go along, huh? The art director must spend most of the working day playing Angry Birds.

Her voice actress is pretty perfect though. I really like Diana, and it's even better since we didn't get this in the original anime

Her voice actress is pretty perfect though. I really like Diana, and it’s even better since we didn’t get this in the original anime. The pink eyes are weirdly fitting…

Luna and Artemis’ reaction to Diana being their daughter is pretty hilarious, actually. Some humour that worked for me! On the other hand, they don’t go into this either, and I think the inclusion downplays the revelation over the Usagi/Chibi-Usa relationship a bit. It makes it feel a shade less momentous.

Yep that would be precisely my face if I realised I was going to have a kid

Yep that would be precisely my face if I realised I was going to have a kid

The small bits on info on Neo Queen Serenity are infuriatingly enticing. We’ll never see the hundreds of years of her lifespan as reigning monarch, her struggles to purify the Earth, the fight against the criminal she sentenced to Planet Nemesis, but gosh wouldn’t that be cool? I like the choice to go with the silver hair, to make her look more like the old Queen Serenity. It makes her look as mysterious, wise and ancient as King Endymion does not. I hope that when she awakens she has a more complex expression, one fitting for Queen of the World.

Her rod is out of date. Don't think I didn't notice. You've got to think 4th dimensionally, Marty!

Her rod is out of date by the 30th Century. Don’t think I didn’t notice. You’ve got to think 4th dimensionally, Marty!

When Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen start fading away for no fucking reason I face-palmed. This was an awful device in the manga, and it’s an awful device here. It adds no tension, it doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t make sense, it’s hand-waving and vague. It seems only here to ensure that the Senshi go back to the 20th Century. It feels ripped off a Doctor Who episode from the 70s.

"OH NO this plot twist is as about solid as my HANDS ARE"

“OH NO this plot twist is as about solid as my HANDS ARE”

I don’t have too many compliments left for the episode at this point, so if you dislike my negative out-look on poor old Sailor Moon Crystal, now might be a good time to jump ship.

OK. So. Tuxedo Kamen promises to King Endymion to look after his daughter. Their daughter. He gets on board with this whole father thing. I get it. Sailor Moon, meanwhile, continues to look appalled as Tuxedo Kamen tries to actually connect with their future daughter. I understand that this is a continuation of the creepy negative feelings she’s had over Chibi-Usa lately, but it takes on an even more disreputable tone after she realises she’s actively resenting her own daughter.

I just... I just wanted to Sailor Moon... was that asking so much *whimper*

I just… I just wanted to Sailor Moon… was that asking so much *whimper*

Endymion gets the group through the gate back to the past, and we get a pretty heavy-handed intimation that Pluto has the hots for him. I remembered this as a bit more subtle in the manga, but I don’t mind this. It does humanise her more than I’d like, in the sense that Pluto is best mysterious, aloof and violent.

Saying that, this isn’t unwelcome. Knowing the manga, this will actually lead to one of the most affecting moments in the story arc if I recall… and this throws fuel on the pathos fire that his her isolation and loneliness.

To be fair to Pluto, being in love with King Endymion isn't too hard. Those EYES, those BUNS

To be fair to Pluto, being in love with King Endymion isn’t too hard. Those EYES, those BUNS.

Worst animated legs of all time.

From a distance it looks like her legs are arms and she's a preying mantis

From a distance it looks like her legs are arms and she’s a preying mantis

Sailor Moon gets super pissed off when Tuxedo Kamen offers to take Chibi-Usa himself, telling Sailor Moon to go home. I actually understand her resentment at this. Saying that, she’s not been… the most motherly to Chibi-Usa. But with this version of Sailor Moon I buy her huffiness.

Now, we get a series of lines from a moody Usagi here that I punctuated with an esasperated “YEEESSSS” after every one. It was real vindication. I liked how she realised how fucking crazy she’s been, even if I disagree with the show’s decision to explore them.

And now for a dramatic recreation:

"Yes."

“Yes.”

"YES!"

“YES!”

"YEEESS!"

“YEEESS!”

"YES FUCKING YES, USAGI, JESUS."

“YES FUCKING YES, USAGI, JESUS.”

"EVEN THIS I AGREE WITH WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"

“EVEN THIS I AGREE WITH WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”

The cruellest part of all this hooplah is, of course, that Chibi-Usa is not the cardboard figure she’s pretended to be all episode. She realised that her past-mother resents and hates her, and even realises that Usagi is in some way jealous of her relationship with her father. Gosh that’s icky. So of course this poor kid is going to be utterly wrecked by this. I can at least appreciate that the show went into strange territory that I’ve never seen much of in fiction. It’s a great concept, and they wanted to make a complex enough character for the viewer to disagree as she develops.

But I can’t get rid of that feeling that Usagi is a complete and utter dick, even if she’s aware of it.

"OK so maybe I was adopted?"

“OK so maybe I was adopted?”

The Esmeraude scene was disappointing. We spend no time with her, and I think she could have been a really interesting character. In the end her love for Dimande amounts to nothing. She gets those creepy-ass hands from Wiseman for no particular reason, and she dies for no particular reason. Moreover, by not having Wiseman play a manipulative part in her demise, it makes him seem less of an integral character, relegating him to the final surprise bad guy.

In the end, Esmeraude is just as throwaway as the Phantom Sisters were to the series.

Still, the bit where Rubeus had her in a headlock was as funny as it was in the manga. Almost like subtle revenge for, you know, that time she had him die in a fire.

Ohhh Rubeus is such a charmer. He looks real sweaty too with his pits out. Poor Esmeraude

Ohhh Rubeus is such a charmer. He looks real sweaty too with his pits out. Poor Esmeraude

Why she thought whipping out these bag-lady hands would impress Dimande is beyond me. These things are gross.

The episode has such a sharp cut between Esmeruade promising to capture the Rabbit to -actually catching the rabbit-. The editing and pacing is bad here. There’s no build up to this, no establishment of a creepy atmosphere, it’s literally BAM action scene. I know they have a limited amount of screen time, but I have to think they could have set this up better.

Plus, as I said before, the green funk is so unimaginative. Nothing like fighting in a fart cloud to make you think “future.”

"Prince Dimance will DEFINITELY love me when he sees my noodly appendages!"

“Prince Dimande will DEFINITELY love me when he sees my noodly appendages!”

And then purely accidentally, I paused on probably the worst moment in Sailor Moon Crystal history…

"DUDE WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?"

“DUDE WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?”

To make things worse… and this was completely unnecessary… after Tuxedo Kamen saves her 8 year old future daughter from death by a miraculous catch, Sailor Moon looks… paranoid again. Sailor Venus has a completely normal reaction, Sailor Moon is just like…

…a little pissed off about it.

"GODDAMN IT SHE LIVED."

“GODDAMN IT SHE LIVED.”

Esmeraude dies from a double Kamehameha blast from Tuxedo Kamen, which still looks like the animators just turned up the brightness and contrast instead of an actual attack. Still, I like that he’s not just throwing roses around and giving stupid speeches.

By the time Dimande has turned up, I’ve switched off a little. Maybe it’s because I know what’s coming… and goddamn I hate this guy. Every moment he’s talking I watch to scratch my ears off. It’s also a real shame that Wiseman is just silently floating behind him. Knowing how he’s going to play a bigger part in all this, I have to question his lack of agency here.

"I feel FABULOUS, dahhling"

“I feel FABULOUS, dahhling”

His hypnotic eye looks… even more vaginal than it did in Sailor Moon R.

"Wiseman, I don't really feel comfortable having this on my head. Do we have any hats laying around here...?"

“Wiseman, I don’t really feel comfortable having this on my head. Do we have any hats laying around here…?”

It’s actually a rather cool effect seeing Sailor Moon being zapped like this. I actually think this is a pretty decent cliff-hanger for once, we haven’t really had one in a while. I’m also excited to see Sailor Moon getting over her hang-ups over Chibi-Usa relatively soon, and also getting back that ass-kicking side to her I’ve been missing, because frankly she’s been an absolute drip for about 6 months now.

Saying that… we’ve got to get through some creepy-ass stuff next episode first.

I have to say that I didn’t, uh, feel particularly sympathetic towards Sailor Moon here. What she goes through in the manga following this is terrible, but following the story arc thus far I’ve lost a lot of my warm feelings towards her right now.

"I could probably just take the Rabbit right now as well, and kill the other two, but it's better for the plot if I momentarily forget everything I'm planning to do over my disturbing lust over a 14 year old girl."

“I could probably just take the Rabbit right now as well, and kill the other two, but it’s better for the plot if I momentarily forget everything I’m planning to do over my disturbing lust over a 14 year old girl. I’m the best monarch EVER.”


 

 

Hey, it wasn’t the worst episode of Sailor Moon Crystal by far, but I did fight between annoyance and enjoyment a few times. I’ve stopped really expecting anything brilliant out of this anime anymore, I just turn up hoping to not be actively offended. Which is a much better stance, frankly, because the show is now always exceeding expectations.

Usually.

And I’m actually excited for next episode!

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10 Comments »

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but I actually like they’re giving a sense of time being disrupted here.
    In the old anime, it seemed like the future was an alternate dimension or something.

    I remember when Neo Queen Serenity had sent Chibi-Usa a letter to return home, because she was missing her. If Chibi-Usa could go back in whatever time she wanted, why didn’t she stay for a long time and come back to the time her mother wanted her to come? This makes no sense. Or maybe I’m just nitpicking out of an animated cartoon… but…

    At least Crystal makes more sense.

    • The same thing happens in the manga, so I presume that will be the case in Crystal’s Infinity Arc ;)

      I liked that the future felt like an alternate dimension. They implied crossing time was rather dangerous, so limited Chibi-Usa’s crossing… But I think the truth is convenience.

      I don’t think either series makes much sense, but that’s not really my bump in the road with Crystal :)

  2. I kinda thought it made a bit of sense for Chibi-usa to already know that Usagi and Mamoru were her parents because she knew that Usagi had the silver crystal in the past and she knew that her mother used to have the silver crystal too.

    Also I love how Venus just looked back and forth between Tux and Moon with a face that said “Omg, i can’t believe this, I must tell the others after we rescue them, they’ll never believe me, this is great gossip.” Though their reactions weren’t as big as the original anime, they were still bigger than the manga’s.

    • Chibi-Usa in the original series was always a bit devise. I buy that over a complete lack of reaction from her after Usagi realises she’s her mum.

      The Venus face was great, but Mars’ WHAT YEAR MONTH DAY DID THIS HAPPEN will always have a special place in my heart ;)

  3. Stop being right! I watch the episode through my rose tinted glasses and then you shit all over it… literary fecal matter nonetheless, but even worse to my ego.. IT’S JUSTIFIED! I cannot disagree with your review.. but I always feel so good when I watch it. You’re like the walk of shame in review format! Dowse yourself in water and repent!

    Well now the niceties are out of the way.

    * Sagz pissed me off beyond belief, she makes Rose West look like Mother Teresa at this point. I feel no amount of remorse will undo what a shitty person (let alone mother) she’s being.

    * (Yes i’m doing bullet points) How come Venus is completely unaffected by the fade thing despite being in the exact same predicament. Lets make her feel even more like wallpaper, let’s not even give her a paradox! Same with Luna and Artemis if we’re splitting hairs.

    * Rubeus has had more development than Esmeraude AND survives her – this offends me deeply.

    * No weird “goofy frames” yey, although Episode 19 will remain very weird if it’s the only case.

    * I sympathise with Chibi-Usa – this also offends me deeply.

    * Crystal Tokyo is essentially Singapore in 20 yrs, and really.. how many lakes do you need? YOU’RE AN ISLAND ANYWAY!

    Despite it all I did enjoy the ep though you wouldn’t think it. Also I’m an asshole to you because I really enjoy your reviews and it gives me a complex about my self worth because I wish I wrote them.. so effective immediately you’re my nemesis.

    Catch ya at the next one ^_^V

    • My work here is done then ;)

      All great points, and in the end I DO enjoy this series… My reviews always come out more negative than I intend, but I owe it to the show to be a relentless asshole

  4. The Ayakashi Sisters get brief battles and little screentime (and I suppose the Boule Brothers) because they are monsters of the day. Sad but true. Esmeraude is a top ranking commander of the Black Moon Clan, to the point of appearing in the credits, yet she gets minimal screentime, before she is unceremoniously disposed of and flicked away like a gnat. At least the first three sisters (Calaveras, not so much sadly, she is another character whose last stand against the Senshi was toned down considerably from the manga in the adaption) absolutely demolished their counterpart Senshi in battle like me at a cheesecake buffet: Esmeraude ended up being more of a joke then she was in the classic series where she was the comic relief of Sailor Moon R. She deserved so much better as a character and a villain.

    Honestly, I think it’s strange that Esmeraude appears in the opening credits, when the Ayakashi Sisters, collectively had a much much much bigger impact on the plot then poor Esmeraude did. For someone who is supposed to vastly outrank them in combat and the Black Moon Clan’s hierarchy, she looked like a joke compared to them, especially Koan, Berthier and Petz. (Sorry Cally, you know I love you, but Crystal made you considerably less interesting and badass then you were compared to the manga.)

    Esmeraude suffered a similar fate to the sisters: she had interesting powers, but nothing was done with them, just like they could have done so much more with Koan’s stylish blue pyrokinesis, Petz’s black electricity, Berthier’s tsunami and water ghosts and dowsing (seriously, the meaning of the word Ayakashi is a type of yokai, the ghosts of people who died in a shipwreck or by drowing, and Berthier summons ghostly illusions out of water) , and of course Calavera’s sadly unexplored powers as a spiritual medium and having similar powers to Ellone from Final Fantasy 8.

    Esemeraude’s arm tentacles looked extremely creepy in the manga, and could have been prime body horror: just her slowly and menacingly removing her gloves revealing that this elegant, beautiful woman has horrificly mutated hands and forearms ,that then stretch and divide to capture her foes with gruesome creaking and snapping sounds. Here they look like Stretch Armstrong, and its rather NARMy whens he gushes about her Demade-senpai whilst they pulse and twitch like she’s a bodybuilder flexing. Honey, you put those things AWAY. You do not want to wave those pulsating bag lady steroid mutant monster things at someone whose pants you want to get inside, especially when they PULSATE.
    Oh Esmy, you deserved so much better. The whole Black Moon Clan, deserved better. The original anime did something far more interesting and memorable with all of you.

    Ps: I love how both Petz and Esmeraude took off their earrings to focus their attacks better. They were both all “Ohhhhh gurrrl, hold my earrings, I gotta deal with these hoes”

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