SAILOR MOON R- PART TWO
Sailor Moon R is split into two separate bits, the first one a mini-arc I just reviewed, meant largely as “Filler” to move things along while they waited for Rumiko Takahashi to write more of the manga. The fact that the enemy used “Draining Energy” as their core concept was a big sign of that, as that’s the point of the first season… so it’s kind of funny that the ACTUAL second season doesn’t involve that at all.
While the original story of Sailor Moon is about the past and the dreaded ancient foe, the point of Sailor Moon R is the FUTURE- we learn of the future of “Crystal Tokyo” and what’s going on. Chibi-Usa, the most controversial character of Sailor Moon BY FAR, is the point by which the whole plot moves around- since the core audience of Sailor Moon was young girls, it was figured that giving them a young girl character to root for, who got to hang out and be friends with the core girls, would be a great idea. And since we got like three more seasons of this show, and she’s in ALL OF THEM, I guess they were proven right. But adults… KIND OF have an issue.
In any case, Chibi-Usa, who looks like a kid Usagi with pink hair, arrives from the future, and she’s being chased by our new villains- The Black Moon Family. We don’t actually meet the important ones until MUCH later, though- the first half of the season is dominated by Rubeus and his Four Spectre Sisters.
A Quick Cast Write-Up:
Sailor Moon (Usagi)- A bit of a crybaby. Lazy and stupid, but the most loyal, caring friend ever. Our heroine.
Sailor Mars (Rei)- Kind of bitchy and snarky. Always arguing with Usagi.
Sailor Mercury (Ami)- Dutiful, brilliant, studious type.
Sailor Jupiter (Makoto)- Brawny and tough, yet boy-crazy and girly.
Sailor Venus (Minako)- Silly and growing increasingly-weird as the writers figure her out.
Luna & Artemis- Talking cats that advise the girls. Often give exposition.
Tuxedo Mask (Mamoru)- Usagi’s love from way back in the Moon Kingdom- both are reborn in modern times. Destined to be together.
Our new villain designs are a bit, um… odd.
THE AYAKASHI SISTERS:
-The Four Spectre Sisters (known as “The Ayakashi Sisters” in Japan) are an interesting side-note: they work for Rubeus, but Rubeus himself is a mere General to Prince Dimande- hence, the Spectres are like an intermediary “Boss” type. Unlike most Generals, they aren’t far above the Sailors- on a one-to-one basis, it’s pretty even. The four of them were basically Disposable Minions in the manga, being wiped out very quickly, in order. The anime, having to fill time, naturally used them for their “Templates”- each week, they’d pop up with a new plan to “Corrupt” a Crystal Point in the future Crystal Tokyo, and send one of their Droids out to do it. More hands-on than many Generals, they’d stick around to brawl for a bit. They’re seen as pretty comedic figures- fussy, prissy and arrogant, they’re image-obsessed and argue with each other like… well, sisters. They’re altogether rather silly, though they provide some of the show’s best fight scenes, as it’s never a Curbstomp Battle the way most Sailor/General fights are.
-The Sisters’ powers counter those of the Sailors- Koan wields “Dark Fire”, Petz “Dark Thunder”, and Berthier “Dark Water”. Calaveras uses “Dark Beaut”, which is just a fancy name for “She whips people”, countering Sailor Venus’s Love-Me Chain. In the Original Dub, their names were changed from minerals to… whatever English words the writers could think of. Because I paid less attention to the Sailor Moon R “Original Story” stuff online, I often forget just what the hell their names were supposed to be. But Koan became “Catzi” (appropriate because of her kitty-ear haircut), Berthier became “Bertie” (which sounds similar, but dumb), Calaveras became “Avary” (… I dunno), and Petz “Prizma” (which is actually a BIT improvement, given how similar “Petz” is to “Putz”). Curiously, Petz & Calaveras are ALWAYS paired off in their scheming, even though Petz seems to be the most-senior & leaderly of the Sisters.
TV Tropes says thus:
Dark is Evil: Especially in the manga. Never mind their allegiance with the Black Moon, but most of the sisters in the manga specialized in the occult. Koan predicted the future and specialized in telling girls they would die young, Berthier was a dowser, and Calaveras was a channeler who spoke with her sister’s spirits after they died.
THIS SERIOUSLY FREAKING HAPPENED.
The new arc (actually based off of the manga) begins, featuring Rubeus and his four “Generals” (later, it’d turn out that Rubeus himself is merely a General, so I guess these are Lieutenants), hunting the “Rabbit”- who is actually a teeny pink-haired girl with a bun-head hairstyle named Usagi! Yes, the dreaded “Chibi-Usa” has become a thing, hilariously throwing a wrinkle into Usagi & Mamoru’s relationship before they even finish ONE SCENE TOGETHER as a couple. A lot of the alterations in the Original Dub are clear here, as Chibi-Usa’s name isn’t “Rini”. Oh, and Dub Rini never PULLED A FREAKIN’ GUN ON USAGI!! This is actually extremely bizarre, and the first time we ever see a “real world” firearm in this fantasy-ish show. It actually looks horribly out-of-place in this world (which I guess would be true in Japan, which has very high-end anti-gun legislation, as well as a cultural bias against it).
But yes, we’re given little indication of the girl’s true identity just yet- she just arrives, threatens Usagi (now called “Usako” by Mamoru, as a term of endearment), demands the Silver Crystal, and then brainwashes Usagi’s family into accepting her as a “cousin” staying over (complete with fake photo album to “prove” their relation)- this is, notably, years before Buffy the Vampire Slayer would do practically the exact same thing. Plenty of “Usagi Freaking Out” gags abound, especially when Chibi-Usa attacks her IN THE TUB (in the original version here, we see a LOT of shots that’d be edited out overseas, basically showing the complete outline of Usagi’s naked body, never mind one shot where a nipple DEFINITELY should be visible, but simply isn’t drawn in).
In a weird bit, Rei dismissively waves away her “Grandpa” (Chibi-Usa in disguise), and they keep repeating the same hand motion. It’s EXTREMELY well-animated, containing way more frames than normal for such a pose… but as it’s the only moving part of the image, and they KEEP DOING IT, it ends up looking “off” because it’s so out-of-place for a show with more limited animation.
Now the “Black Moon Family” introduces their evil adviser, “The Great Wizard Wiseman”, who divines that they need to destroy the Silver Crystal or else they can’t destroy “The Crystal City Tokyo”. Usagi, sick of Chibi-Usa’s B.S., finally gives her a sound thrashing, but this sets off a Crescent Moon Signal in her forehead, leading Koan (“youngest of the Four Spectre Sisters”) right to her! Koan’s goofy-ass design (a pink pinstriped outfit with a purple tutu) kind of robs her of any sort of menace- at least the Dark Kingdom and the aliens had some dignity. Koan & Sailor Moon get into a brawl (the other Sailors are K.O.’d by some spiked tea), showcasing Koan’s “Dark Fire” attacks- a single Blast where she oddly “flickers” her hand for a second, and a Multiattack one where she leaps into the air and shoots flames out in a big circle. Usagi (who is now all of a sudden using amazing battle tactics like terrain and PHYSICAL BODY ATTACKS now that the other Sailors aren’t there) & Tuxedo Mask see her off (she actually dodges the “Halation” attack!), and we get a glimmer in Mamoru’s eyes of what “Crystal Tokyo” looks like.
(First Appearance: Chibi-Usagi, The Luna-P Ball, “Luna P Transform!”, Rubeus, Koan, Berthier, Petz, Calaveras, Koan’s “Dark Fire!”, Crystal Tokyo)
LET IT GOOOOOOOO!!! LET IT GOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I RISE LIKE THE BREAK OF DAAAAAWWWWNNNN!!!
A new “Status Quo” as such is formed, as Usagi & “Chibi-Usa” (now named that by Usagi, much to her chagrin) now petulantly argue for Mamoru’s attention. Given the origins of Chibi-Usa (OH SHIT TWENTY YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT), it’s a little creepy that she’s fawning over Mamo and calling him “my boyfriend”, though it’s of course taken pretty innocently. “Chibi-Usa” also really doesn’t roll off the tongue in English, and is hard to type… so annoying when characters have to use her name constantly (in Japanese, it’s more like “CheebYOUsa!” and three syllables; in English it’s an awkward “Chee-Bee OO-sa!”). I should point out that Mamoru is wearing the most ’80s work-out gear EVER- turquoise sweats and rolled-up sleeves. With a yellow hood. Magnificent.
Better still is his first “real” meeting with Usagi’s often-forgotten family- Usagi’s dad freaking the F out over meeting some college-age boy as his daughter’s BF is worth the price of admission alone (as is Ikuko-Mama’s sly admission that Mamo’s a hottie and Usagi should bring him over later). Meanwhile, Berthier is now our “Spectre Sister” of focus, and HOO BOY, she’s more Fanservicey than I remember. Basically wearing a low-cut swimsuit with hip boots, and dancing around like a coquettish little minx, and all that. This is totally the only time a white-haired chick with ice powers wearing a powder-blue outfit has done this to me! Rubeus charges her with our new “Episode Template”- finding a “Crystal Point” (where the energy to power the Force Field of what is now called the “despicable future city of Crystal Tokyo” lies) and then infusing it with Dark Energy to ruin it for the future. Note that this plot point never becomes an actual major thing, save for “Threat of the Week” episodes- they pretty much just drop it later and focus entirely on hunting “The Rabbit”. So this probably wasn’t in the original manga at all- they just needed something to do for filler.
But that’s not the main thing that happens here, because Mamoru gets some nasty visions of Usagi dying, and is all “NO, I HAVE NO FEELINGS FOR YOU ANYMORE!” and BREAKS UP with poor Usagi then and there!! Usagi’s crushed, confused reaction is amazeballs, all smiling desperately, while you can see her heart breaking (a difficult reaction to get across in animation). And REI of all people is being super-positive about how it’ll “all work out”, because as always, when shit gets serious, so does Rei. Rei, you are so goddamn magnificent that I just can’t with you. And then Usagi collapses in a telephone booth and loses it AGH WHY MUST YOU FEEL EMOTIONS SO STRONGLY USAGI AGH THE FEEEEEEEELLLSS!!
Berthier’s villainous plan? EVIL MAKEUP. For some reason, I find her yellow Victorian dress more attractive than her pastel swimsuit. And that’s BEFORE the gratuitous panty-shot in the wind. She sends the first “Droid” seen in the series (just standard-issue Monsters, really), and soon Usagi’s lured in to the Beauty Parlor. She’s apparently a living “Perfume Bottle”, spraying acid while riding what looks like a four-wheeled self-driving board (oddly similar to those ones you see nowadays that are self-balancing), but soon Tuxedo Mask deflects the spray back IN HER FACE, which completely erases her features! Moon ends the fight right thereafter. The Droids disintegrate real nice, too- they turn to powdered glass, then fall into a pile from the bottom-up, and their Forehead Crystals land atop the pile before losing color. Very cool.
Oh, and then Moon & Tuxedo Mask share a moment, and then, while she pleads with him to explain why he doesn’t like her anymore, he just goes “I don’t like weak women”. OH MAMO YOU SON OF A F*CKING BITCH!! What the FRICK, episode? SO MANY FEELS.
(First Appearance: Droids)
Another “big change” episode, as the girls get new Transformation Sticks and even Communication Watches (instead of those “Communicard” things). And the Cats flat-out state that “you should become more powerful now”, leveling the team up basically through exposition! And it’s the one where Ami gets accepted to go to a fancy school in Germany (“to be a doctor like her mom”- some of the only bits of backstory we EVER see for these characters). Naturally, this involves leaving the group, who endeavor to put on a brave face and allow her to go (“it would be selfish of us to force her to stay” because it’s her dream, and all). Naturally, Rei immediately notes “I knew you’d come around” when Usagi eventually agrees with them, instead of just berating her like normal, because GOD THOSE TWO, UGH.
Meanwhile, Berthier (who comes through a portal BOOBS-FIRST for some reason) gets charged with the mission of making an ice cream store evil. And OH GOD I RECOGNIZE HER VOICE- she’s using the same voice as Madeline Hatter from Ever After High! That show I totally never watch about a doll line I am 100% unfamiliar with! And apparently Cindy Robinson was actually the voice of Queen Friggin’ Beryl last season! Now THAT’s some character range- the malicious, deep-voiced Queen of the Dark Kingdom and the girly-girl high-pitched squeak of Maddie? Cripes. Not that I’m familiar with the Daughter of the Mad Hatter from that show I’ve never seen.
Artemis & Luna are soon frozen by Berthier’s Droid, and the girls have to miss seeing off Ami at the airport. The Original Dub used Only a Memory Away as a background song here (the show was using a lot more of these in this season, I’m noticing…), which was super-peppy for a “Goodbye” song. But naturally, Ami gets her “Going-Away Gift” from Mamoru & Chibi-Usa, and it’s her new Transformation Stick- this lets her know that her friends are in danger, and she decides it was “selfish” to go to her dream school, and instead arrives to save the team from an Area-Effecting Droid. She gets a new transformation start-up (“Mercury Star Power Make Up!”)… then gets nail polish… underneath her gloves. And Shine Aqua Illusion blasts the Droid and saves the day.
(First Appearance: New Transformation Sticks, Communication Watches, Mercury’s “Shine Aqua Illusion” attack)
That’s all for now! These reviews get more wordy as time goes on, so I don’t want to break anyone’s spirit or anything!