By Former Contributor / May 14th, 2015
WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for Sailor Moon Crystal Acts 15, 16, 17, and 18. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please stop reading. You have been warned.
Well it looks like after Sailor Moon Crystal went through a rough stretch in acts 12 to 14, it is back on track again. With the exception of Act 17, this series has done well at recapturing my attention. They technically did kind of return to a more formulaic structure, but sometimes a more simplistic approach works well. Also, it is still possible to have an overarching plot unfold while still having mini conflicts only in the span of individual episodes.
The main formula for these four episodes is as follows: character development occurs, a monster of the week shows up, our heroes defeat the monster, and one of the sailor scouts gets kidnapped because they were weakened from the fight. Episode fifteen, in particular, has Sailor Mars get kidnapped. The episode starts out when Mamoru decides to try and find out about the little pink haired girl, who the series decides to name Chibi-Usa. Despite the fact that she just pointed a gun at Usagi, she ends up being forgiven and is taken to Usagi’s house.
That right there is a prime example of Saturday morning cartoon logic. In real life, no one would be trusted after something like that occurred. Granted, Chibi-Usa’s gun ended up being a fake toy gun, but even then that would still be considered a crime. Yes Chibi-Usa is a little girl, but chances are it still wouldn’t be taken well. However, since this series needs to move on without letting realism get in its way, they just decide to make that scene a big-lipped alligator moment.
Of course they decide to have Chibi-Usa stay with Usagi by… hypnotizing her parents. Okay, this sounds more like the plot to a horror movie than a magical girl series, but I suppose I can still suspend my disbelief a bit. Afterwards, there is some stuff about fortune telling and nuns that I don’t remember much of, and then it leads to a fight scene with Koan; the first member of our new quirky mini boss brigade. This leads to Koan being vanquished, yet Sailor Mars still gets captured as previously stated.
There isn’t really all that much to say about episode fifteen. There were some minor flaws with it, but it did have solid pacing, a good action sequence, and it advanced the plot further. In general, that is all you really need from a Sailor Moon Crystal episode, and it was a refreshing change of pace after the three lackluster episodes prior.
Episode 16, however, is where things really start to get kicked into high gear. The episode starts with Usagi trying to question Chibi-Usa about Rei being kidnapped and the people who did so. Unfortunately, Chibi-Usa just gets scared and runs away. Afterwards, Luna and Mamoru find her and take her back to their place where she tells them that she wants Sailor Moon to save her mother. While I will admit that this is interesting plot development, I just cannot drop that goddamn gun segment from the previous episode. This whole thing just makes a lot less sense the more is revealed. Why would she threaten the person that you want to save your mother? Why do you also try and set up a rivalry with them? Yes I know it just one small scene, but dammit it just bugs me; I just suppose you can chalk that up to Saturday morning cartoon logic as well.
Anyway, the action portion involves this episode’s villain of the week challenging Sailor Mercury to a chess match on live television, with the stakes that she gives up Chibi-Usa if she wins, but gives back Sailor Mars if he loses. Sailor Mercury accepts, and they have a match. Berthier, however, can use his pendulum to read minds and uses this to take advantage of Ami’s fear of being alone, which is relevant to her chess performance somehow. However, Ami regains her confidence from her friend due to the power of love and friendship, and defeats Berthier in the match.
This chess match portion of the episode was actually pretty engaging. It wasn’t as engaging as a Yu-Gi-Oh duel or anything (despite the set up being suspiciously similar to the first arc of the original series), but it was a unique change of pace. Unfortunately though, Berthier responds similarly to a 12 year old on Xbox live who talks a lot of trash but cannot back it up. Instead of going through with his agreement, he fights against the sailor scouts in an action sequence that ends up with Berthier being destroyed but with Sailor Mercury being captured by Rubeus.
Episode 16 was a very solid and engaging episode, as well as one of the better ones of the series. Episode 16 is up there in terms of my favorite episodes though, as it handles elements of both action and character development very well. It is a shame that the series did not keep this streak up with the next episode. Honestly, I feel it would be difficult to summarize episode 17 properly simply due to the amount of ass pulls in its plot. There are so many plot points and events that just happen without any mention of them before and no explanation. Chances are likely that these were explained in the manga but left out of the anime. Regardless, I will focus specifically on how they are in the anime simply seeing as how that’s what I’m focusing on.
Instead, I will summarize it, and go into detail on the inconsistencies as they come up. It starts out with a scene of Mamoru somehow getting a vision of the town exploding by touching Chibi-Usa; a scene that comes out of nowhere with no explanation. Afterward there is a scene where someone overhears Luna speaking in English at a restaurant. Yes Luna, one of the most competent members of the group, ends up with a case of plot mandated stupidity that causes her to forget about the whole “not speaking out loud in public areas” thing. All of this is put there just for the sake of having one person overhear them.
Afterward, the episode transitions to an action sequence against Petz (who you can tell is evil when she is named after an infamous pet simulator series), who sends droids to attack the city as well as spreads a virus. Makoto gets infected with this virus off screen without any mention of it beforehand. She is almost defeated by her but manages to overcome her due to her crush (from someone who she had no hint at a romantic relationship with prior to this episode) gives her his support. Petz gets vanquished yet Makoto still gets kidnapped in a display of patheticity (I don’t even care if that’s not a real word, it just sounds cool) that rivals princess Peach.
That right there touches upon another issue with this episode: Sailor Jupiter’s capture was beyond predictable. You already had the same thing happen in the previous two episodes, so that is already enough to hint at a pattern. However, the ways that the characters have gotten kidnapped have gotten increasingly more farcical. The first time it was interesting, and the second time I was able to suspend my disbelief a little despite being kind of ridiculous. The third time, however, it just got ridiculous. It made a slight amount of sense the first two times due to being caught in their attacks before Usagi finished them off. Here though, Makoto was weakened by a virus but was not captured until after Petz was vanquished. Rubeus just ups and snatches her and carries her away like it’s nothing. This is the same level of plot induced stupidity as Cecil letting Golbez’s floating hand take the crystal while he’s right in front of him.
In general, Episode 17 just had way too many plot holes and inconsistencies to be good. I found myself just saying “wait, why did this just happen?” or “where did this come from?” way too many times. When did Makoto get infected with the virus? Why did Mamoru get a vision from touching Chibi-Usa? Since when could Chibi-Usa spawn pigeons from her umbrella? Since when was there a romantic sub-plot between Makoto and this side character we barely saw before? Why is Usagi so much more childish than before? Why is the moon rod shown during Usagi’s attack instead of the cutie rod?
Episode 17, so far, is easily the worst episode of the series. Thankfully, things start to get back on track with episode 18. This episode starts with Luna and Mamoru discovering one of Petz’s black earrings and having it analyzed. Meanwhile, Usagi finally decides she was done screwing around and confronts Chibi-Usa about what the hell is going on; only to have her freak out upon seeing the earring and does not tell Usagi anything until after they defeat the last member of the quirky miniboss squad, which there isn’t much to say about other than that it was pretty solid. Chibi-Usa finally reveals that she is from the 30th century and seeks the help of Sailor Moon to save her time period.
With the exception of episode 17, Sailor Moon Crystal has definitely made up for the disappointing battle against Metallia. While it was formulaic to have a character kidnapped at the end of three episodes in the same ways, it does still make one wonder what is coming next (assuming you are like me and are one of the few people who know nothing about how this story goes). I also like Chibi-Usa’s character from what was shown, and feel she is a solid edition to the cast. It still goes without saying that the action sequences are still solid, even in episode 17, and were enjoyable to watch.
Well, that should do it for now. Let me just check how the series is going since I started this write up…
Well, shit, more episodes were added. *Sigh* I really have fallen out of things haven’t I?
Sailor Moon Crystal is simulcast on Crunchyroll every first and third Saturday of the month at 3:00 AM PDT for both premium and free users.
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