Sailor Moon Crystal
by Gabriella Ekens,
Man, it feels like eons pass between airings of Sailor Moon Crystal. I can barely remember what was happening two weeks ago, and by the time the next episode comes out we'll be decently settled into a new season. Yeesh, this schedule isn't working. The pace is glacial. Unfortunately, however, this isn't the biggest of the show's problems.
This episode begins right after Usagi learns that dumb jerk Mamoru Chiba is, in fact, the hunkalicious Tuxedo Mask. It turns out that he has a chip on his shoulder because his parents died in a car accident that rendered him an amnesiac, erasing his memories of his them. I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, but soon after that he started having recurring dreams about the moon princess, inspiring him to become black tie Batman in search of the Silver Millennium Crystal. The rest is shoujo history.
The main issue continues to be that Sailor Moon Crystal is really, really, really boring when it's not about the senshi and their interactions. As a whole, it's severely lacking in personality compared to the original anime, which sustains a good amount of entrainment value to this day through the senshi's distinctive personality quirks and the continuous stream of 90s narm. This episode, in contrast, only briefly develops a personality during a scene of the team eating lunch together at school, but it almost does more harm than good by pointing out how lifeless the show is the rest of the time. The Usagi/Mamoru romance, which it continues to emphasize, is a bland love-at-first-sight/destined lovers fantasy that seems more intent on getting them to the point when they're actually together than exploring their compatibility. As characters, they're least interesting when around each other. That's the death knell for love stories. The anime also lingers on their interactions far more than the manga, where their encounters are terser and more abstract. Naoko Takeuchi's almost stream-of-consciousness way of segueing from event to event also seems particularly difficult to adapt to animation, where you can't take the same shortcuts in terms of drawing backgrounds or compressing time that you can in manga. It seems like an issue of adaptation - I can see where the problem originates, but that doesn't mean that the solution they chose is acceptable for making an entertaining show.
Fortunately, that's only the first half of the episode - the rest is an average enemy-of-the-day plot built around an evil DVD rental store that the Dark Kingdom is using to brainwash the populace into finding Sailor Moon. They're really bad at it (Usagi has to transform and announce herself for any of the zombies to realize where she is), but it does lead to the brief moment when this episode displays actual personality, so I'll accept it. It ends with them fighting Zoisite again, and about a minute of a cool scene of all of the senshi fighting together. At least it would've been cool, if they hadn't all been immediately wiped out by Zoisite's magic blasts and the rest of the encounter made about Tuxedo Mask, who shows up to rescue his GF by punching Zoisite in the face. At least he doesn't get to take out Zoisite - that honor goes to the freshly-introduced Sailor Venus, who annihilates the dark magic sphere that Tuxedo Mask had been trying to punch his way through with a single strike of her crescent boomerang.
The best part of Sailor Moon Crystal so far has been the build up to Sailor Venus's appearance, which has a solid payoff. She's been present throughout the show so far in various forms as an inspiration to Usagi, and her entrance now as a character should signal Usagi's upcoming achievement of everything Sailor Venus represented so far. Overall, however, this week reinforced my fears that Sailor Moon Crystal is overemphasizing the Usagi/Mamoru romance and Mamoru's role as a savior at the expensive of other, more valued story threads concerning female friendship. The constant zombie plots, lifeless storytelling, and the puppet-like character designs make this show into a sort of Frankenstein's Sailor Moon, technically animated, but not recognizably human.
Sailor Moon Crystal is currently streaming on
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