Sailor Moon Crystal – 11

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Many times during this run I wondered what the heck Queen Beryl and her minions ere trying to accomplish. While her earlier attacks-of-the-week had a certain poetic justice to them, they lacked punch and seriousness, and weren’t helped by the fact that Usagi & (later) Co. were able to defeat them despite just coming to grips with their power. They were potshots.

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No more. This week, Beryl goes right for Usagi’s heart, first by delivering the shock of Mamo-chan being alive and well in the arcade, then making him her latest instrument of evil. Usagi is experienced and wise enough to know something’s not right, but her heart is constantly in conflict with her head this week.

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The Guardians don’t have their best week, either, letting Usagi slip away right into the lion’s jaws. Then Makoto confronts the ‘quasi’-Mamo-chan alone and falls for his power of suggestion to lead everyone else into a trap at the Command Center.

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In this regard, Beryl finally hit that magic formula to emerge as a legitimately nefarious threat using insidious tactics that take advantage of Usagi’s love for Mamo-chan, something she couldn’t do as effectively before with other pawns. Usagi only really snaps out of things when Mamo smacks a lunging Luna across the room.

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Beryl gets the crystal, and then rubs salt in the wound by revealing the Tuxedo Mask with her is no impostor or double, it’s the real Chiba Mamoru, only obviously under some kind of evil spell. She thought it fitting for Usagi to be killed by the one she loves. Ice Cold.

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Sailor Moon Crystal – 09

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Things are definitely picking up in Sailor Moon World, as Usagi not only recovers the memories of her past life as Moon Princess Serenity of Silver Millennium, in which she fell in love with Prince Endymion of Earth, AKA Tuxedo Mask, AKA Mamo-chan; but the titular Crystal finally makes its appearance, the seal for it broken by her tears she sheds for the injured Mamo-chan.

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It’s unfortunate for Usagi/Serenity, then, that Queen Beryl decides now is the time to show herself and spring into action, grabbing Mamoru and disappearing off to her realm. Unfortunately for Beryl, in her haste she misunderstood exactly what was going on with Usagi and Mamoru as they were suspended above the second-most-impressive tower in Tokyo: the actual Silver Crystal didn’t go into Mamoru’s body, but remained in Usagi’s possession. OOPS!

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Is that…a weeping stool?

With her past and present beloved in enemy hands, Usagi could care less about the Crystal. She’s beside herself not only due to the present situation, but having just had the tragic memories of her past lost love and kingdom’s fall, because the people of Earth and the Moon couldn’t just get along.

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Mamoru, awakens in Beryl’s castle, but the only thing keeping him alive is Beryl’s belief he still has value to her in terms of recovering the Crystal. Once she realizes her blunder, he’s going to be in big trouble, as he’s only a human from earth, after all. That’s right: the pretty Sailor Guardians are going to have to rescue the dashing prince…not t’other way ’round. From Beryl and Metalia to the Guardians, the ladies are calling all the shots in this show.

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Ami, Rei, and Makoto also recover memories of their past lives. Along with Minako, who led them, they were Serenity’s guardians, and successfully sealed Metalia away, though the Moon Kingdom did not survive. Seeing Usagi so down in the dumps makes them down in the dumps too, so they decide to keep their chins up and visit her at her house to try to cheer her back up.

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In the last nine episodes, Usagi has gone from clueless, clumsy, silly, materialistic girl and has steadily transformed into a heroine of justice. That transformation became more literal this week, and though it’s more her hair and clothes that change than her body, this is obviously a stand-in for the changes all girls go through during the transition to womanhood. It’s painful and scary, but it’s also an unavoidable part of life, and her friends and family are there for her. On to the Moon!

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Sailor Moon Crystal – 08

"'SUP?"
“‘SUP?”

Lots of reveals this week, most importantly, that of the fifth Sailor Guardian, Aino Minako, AKA Sailor V, AKA Princess Serenity of the Silver Millennium Moon Kingdom. Yikes, that’s a lot of Aliases for someone who looks almost suspiciously-similar to Usagi!

"I'm gonna do everything MYSELF. That way, I know it will get done correctly."
“I’m gonna do everything MYSELF. That way, I know it will get done correctly.”

In a way, we’ve known about her all along; not just in the OP and knowing a Venus would show up eventually, but the Sailor V game the other girls were playing wasn’t just a game; V was using it to show and tell them how to defeat their enemies thus far. Itou Shizuka gives a seriousness and urgency to V’s character. I should also mention she has a white cat, Artemis, which is the name of a goddess, though the cat is male.

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The episode is also an exploration of protecting people, or falling short of doing so. Mamoru/Tux feels bad not just for not being able to save “Usako” from Zoisite, but possibly also in the past, which is coming back to everyone bits at a time through dreams and various stimuli triggers. Usagi also sees glimpses of an escape from a palace during a heated battle, from the POV of the princess, and leading her to safety is Mamoru, whom she calls “Endymion.”

"I should really get that squeaky door fixed."
“I should really get that squeaky door fixed.”

I’m still a little confused by who is really The Princess here: Minako or Usagi? Is it both of them? In any case, Metalia is getting impatient, which means Beryl is getting impatient, which means it’s time for a new mineral king to step up and try to retrieve the LSC.

"Don't make me wait up here all day...in my floating green bubble."
“Don’t make me wait up here all day…in my floating green bubble.”

Kunzite takes up the challenge, and launches the biggest attack on Tokyo yet; knocking out the power and draining the energy of every citizen, threatening to Kill ’em All if Sailor V doesn’t meet him at the Tokyo Tower with the Crystal. Why he doesn’t want to meet at the newer, taller, more impressive Tokyo Sky Tree, I’m not sure. Ask the animators, I guess!

"We still want the groceries, right? I'm taking the groceries."
“We still want the groceries, right? I’m taking the groceries.”

The bottom line is this: the bad guys have taken things up a notch. Fortunately for the people, the Sailor Guardians are now at full strength, thanks both to Luna and to Usagi bringing three girls who had been alone together as friends.

This show isn't known for particularly cool shots, but a blacked-out Tokyo is certainly one
This show isn’t known for particularly cool shots, but a blacked-out Tokyo is certainly one

V’s plan was to face Kunzite alone (and her ribbon-y transformation is nice), but that doesn’t go so well, and in any case is a silly idea when there are four other Sailor Guardians who can help out.

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They make a suitably big, bold entrance, with Sailor Moon promising to punish Kunzite in the name of the moon and all that good stuff. But all of their attacks seem to bounce off that damn green bubble. When Usagi is sent flying and falling to her death, Tuxedo Mask swoops in and saves her…again.

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Usagi thanks him and rewards him with a passionate kiss he didn’t see coming at all, but tells him to get away and let her and the other Guardians handle Kunzite. With that, Usagi bolts off back to the battle, showing a side Mamoru had not seen before, which is kind of a trend both for him and us.

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The dopey, clumsy Usagi is nowhere to be found; she’s Sailor Moon, and she’s got work do do. She’s also falling for Mamoru, but he’s falling right back for her, which is why when Kunzite launches a Bolt of Evil at her, he takes the full force of it to protect her once more. Sure, it’s a cliffhanger, but it closes an exciting, entertaining episode where everything is starting to take shape. I for one am fully invested.

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Sailor Moon Crystal – 07

"How the heck did you figure out how to get my shoes off?"
“How the heck did you figure out how to get my shoes off?”

Because disguises are classically much better than they appear to the audience in anime, Usagi didn’t know Chiba Mamoru and Tuxedo Mask were one and the same until she woke up in his house. But in this case, she kicks herself for not realizing it sooner, and despite Luna’s reservations, decides to believe in him.

I like how Beryl doesn't really WANT her leader to rule the world...because SHE wants to!
I like how Beryl doesn’t really WANT her leader to rule the world…because SHE wants to!

Mamoru tells her his backstory, which is, like everything on this show, pleasingly straightforward: he was on a pleasant weekend drive with his folks when his dad suddenly decided to drive off a cliff (or maybe it was an accident). Mammy lost both his parents and his memories on that day, and thinks the LSC is the best way to get them back.

Whoa...
Whoa…

Usagi can’t quite explain why she’s trusting the dashing fellow so implicitly, nor does said fellow know why he told her so much about himself that he’d probably never told anyone else. But we know why: it’s because they’re falling for each other. That much is clear when having lunch with her friends, all Usagi wants to do is tell them about Mamoru; only she promised not to. She also stole his watch, and he nicked her hanky! Ah, love.

MORE brainwashing? Hasn't that proven ineffective already?
MORE brainwashing? Hasn’t that proven ineffective already?

It gets clearer still when “Usako” (Mamo-chan’s nickname for her) decides the only way to heal the hordes of brainwashed citizens and classmates programmed to hunt Sailor Moon down is to become Sailor Moon. When she ends up in Zoisite’s clutches and the other guardians are knocked down, it’s Mamoru who springs to her rescue, right as she’s wishing for him to do just that.

Usagi doesn't just fall for any pretty guy...case in point:
Usagi doesn’t just fall for any pretty guy…case in point:

The bad guy is stronger than usual, so even Mamoru needs saving; enter the real-life version of Sailor V, who’s been in contact with Luna for some time, whom I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of a couple weeks from now. If she’s the subject of the video game, then she was a sailor guardian before even Usagi. I wonder what her story is.

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Catch her! Catch her!

Finally, we also see a smidgen of nuance from Queen Beryl, who seems to regret awakening plotting her nebulous leader Queen Metalia, and plans on claiming the crystal—and the world—for herself once its found. Somehow I doubt ruling the world will be much fun for anyone, but hey, everybody’s gotta have a goal!

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