With an enormous burst of energy, Sailor Moon was able to save all of Tokyo from Zoisite. Does this mean she already has the Silver Crystal? If so, why does she genuinely act like she doesn’t have it?
Sailor Moon Crystal Act 7 – Chiba Mamoru – Tuxedo Mask
Director: Narumi Kuroda
Writer: Mutsumi Itō
Storyboards: Narumi Kuroda
Animation Director: Paul Ano-nuevo, Aries Nario, Kozue Komatsu
Publisher: Toei Animation, Viz Media
Price: Free on Hulu, included in subscription to CrunchyRoll
Previously on Sailor Moon Crystal: The Dark Kingdom hijacks a plan of Tuxedo Mask’s to find more information about the Silver Crystal, and is only narrowly beaten by Sailor Moon learning how to use the Moon Stick. But, drained from using so much power, she is brought back to Tuxedo Mask’s apartment, and discovers that he is Chiba Mamoru, who she has been bumping into quite often. And as a bonus, she finds out earlier in the episode that Tuxedo Mask also knows she is Usagi.
IN SEARCH OF MEMORIES
Occasionally, the most difficult mysteries to solve are the ones right in front of one’s face. As the episode opens, Usagi wonders to herself why she didn’t figure out the connection between Mamoru and Tuxedo Mask sooner. This scene is straight out of the manga, so much so that it makes me feel like the manga acted as a storyboard for this scene, and I enjoyed it immensely. Takeuchi’s reveal of identities throughout the series always felt organic to me, and it’s something I wish the original anime had.
As the Sailor Guardians regroup, so does the Dark Kingdom, and it is revealed that Queen Beryl has her reservations about letting Queen Metalia have the Silver Crystal. And as this episode continues, I’m reminded about how the use of Queens and Kings in this arc makes me scratch my head. And as many problems as the original dub of Sailor Moon had, calling the Four Kings the Four Generals made the hierarchy much more clear. I wonder if this is, in part, a translation issue.
This episode differs from the manga in that it really stresses the growing feelings between Usagi and Mamoru. Mamoru is taking a more active role in figuring out what is between Usagi and himself, and struggling to figure out how to help fight the Dark Kingdom. Him throwing a punch at Zoisite’s barrier, as well as his speech about changing his goals, were not in the manga. And, given later events in the manga, the ability to punch the barrier and not die (even if he didn’t penetrate it) could possibly be seen as nod to the second arc.
There are a lot of subtle revisions going on in regards to Usagi that give her more agency, which I am always for. There is less of Luna telling her what to do, and more of her thinking of it herself. Her maturing, especially when compared to the original anime series, is much more apparent.
A NEW GOAL
I’ve been getting a kick out of watching Sailor Moon Crystal update technology, and choosing when and where to do it. They’ve been doing this since the start, and the updates vary from ‘obvious to anyone unfamiliar with Sailor Moon but familiar that it’s from the early 90s’ to ‘I only know the exact difference because I recently reread the manga chapter to compare notes.’ But the most important aspect about these changes is that they do not dramatically impact a change in the original story. Ami using a tablet (obviously an iPad) to research Sailor V makes perfect sense as opposed to a laptop, especially since Ami has always had a tech element to her role as Sailor Mercury and being a genius. There is a distinct lack of cell phones, and the show tries to downplay ‘modern tech’ as much as possible. I thought it was a strong choice to have the girls keep their wrist communicators, and to keep them looking more like jewelry than, say, a smartwatch. It keeps it on the magical side of ‘magical girl,’ and I think that that is something that will stand up better as time goes on. (Magic doesn’t have to depend on towers for service, which is a boon.)
The only thing that really felt outdated in terms of technology and culture in this episode is the plethora of movie rental stores. In the days of Netflix and Redbox, movie rental stores are quickly vanishing. But if they wanted to follow the manga closely, they really didn’t have a choice in that respect.
This raises another question that I’ve been wondering about. In the press releases, it was mentioned that Sailor Moon Crystal was going to more closely follow the manga. If they are continuing on the plan they appear to be on right now, they’ll be able to cover the first two arcs of the manga. As of right now, we’ve passed the halfway point, in the manga at least, of the first arc. I can’t help but wonder where the variation is going to come in, if it comes in, and how it will play out. Because if this 26 episode season is meant to contain only the first arc, the audience is in for some massive expansion.
What the animation does a wonderful job with in this episode is mood. Even though I know this story very well, I wasn’t creeped out by everyone getting brainwashed quite like I was when I watched it here, and remained creepy when I rewatched it for my review. This is the advantage of animation over comics, where sound is a tool to work with. And even though the episode doesn’t give a ton of screen-time to the masses of Tokyo being brainwashed, a lot is done with the time that it has, and achieves a feeling of danger and urgency as well.
This episode picks up the slack from the previous one, and propels the series forward, leading up to an excellent cliffhanger. As the story becomes more intense, it grows more and more difficult to wait two weeks for the next installment, even with how many times I’ve read the manga before. But perhaps, what I’m waiting so anxiously on is to see what they change, and as a seasoned fan I’m having a blast analyzing each episode.