Sailor V’s famous in her own right, and Usagi has idolized her for quite a while. But Usagi never thought that she’d have to protect her hero.
SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL ACT 8 – Sailor V
Director: Hiroyuki Satō
Writer: Yūji Kobayashi
Storyboards: Akira Shigino
Animation Director: Hiroshi Shimizu, Kozue Komatsu
Publisher: Toei Animation, Viz Media
Price: Free on Hulu, included in subscription to CrunchyRoll
Previously on Sailor Moon Crystal: Knowing that the Sailor Guardians need to be defeated if they truly hope to succeed in their goal, Zoisite hatches a plan to lure Sailor Moon out into the open and kill her. And he almost succeeds before a mysterious figure in the shape of another Sailor Guardian saves the day.
SAME FACE, DIFFERENT OUTFIT
For more than one episode now, Usagi has had the hunch that Sailor V was somehow connected to the Sailor Guardians. She was persistent when the others doubted, and we see at the beginning of the episode that she was right. But Sailor V is wearing a different outfit, and has a crescent moon on her forehead.
She reveals that while she is/was Sailor V, she is also Sailor Venus. And, Artemis the cat is quick to point out, also the princess they have been looking for.
Minako’s arrival is met with mixed responses – excitement from having their entire team, but also the sense that something isn’t right.
This episode has some changes from the manga that I am hoping will become fairly significant as the series goes on. The first hint of this is in the beginning when Zoisite escapes… instead of dying like he did in the manga at this point in the story. In fact, Jadeite and Nephrite haven’t died either. They haven’t been having screen time, but they’re alive.
The idea that the series might possibly explore the Four Kings further is reinforced when Kunzite called Sailor Venus out to face him, and I’ll admit I gasped when Venus tried to talk him down.
This is the new stuff that has the 20 year Sailor Moon fan in me so excited, and if this weren’t a review, I could easily wax poetic about the significance in the story revisions being made here.
With the lack of death, there’s also been a lack of corpses. In the manga, Takeuchi didn’t pull punches – civilians died too. In this corresponding manga chapter, right after the blackout happens, the girls find mummified corpses near where a power line has snapped. In Crystal, these same people are only passed out. In the manga, sucking the energy out of them literally left them dry.
I’m not sure what to make of the lack of death yet, if it’s part of the design aesthetic (because the mummies certainly weren’t attractive), or if it’s part of something bigger. It might be influence of the original anime coming into play, where there was a lot less death and a lot more redemption.
I think the weakest part of the episode animation-wise was the dream Usagi has after meeting Sailor Venus. It is a battle, and someone who looks a lot like Mamoru but in armor is trying to protect her from soldiers. There’s more than one still shot where the camera moves over the picture, and very little animation. I understand that this is supposed to be a dream sequence, but instead it stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to the rest of the episode.
And while there are many other series I would look to for better animation than Sailor Moon Crystal, one thing I’m loving is the details. Venus has her original whip from the manga, unlike the object made of energy in the original anime. And while anyone who’s watched or read Sailor Moon in the last 20 years knows that the princess is (SPOILER!!) actually Usagi, I like the subtle details done in this episode to play down the hearts that are so often associated with Venus. There are ribbons and stars, which also go well with her, and the attack she uses with her crescent is one she had in the manga.
My favorite changes from the manga include Ami being in her school uniform sweater while Usagi is in her standard school uniform. Up until now, each of the girls’ school uniforms were different except for Usagi and Ami’s. This subtle difference makes them all look unique on screen. The devil is in the details, and Toei Animation is nailing it.
BOTTOM LINE: LOVINGLY DETAILED
It’s difficult to look at any anime series’ animation after the detail that went into Attack on Titan and not see others lacking, but Sailor Moon Crystal is reminding us that the heart of the story can be found in other ways, too. (Also, not every series has the budget AoT did, and Crystal certainly doesn’t.) But having Minako in the group is going to change the dynamic drastically, and it’s always been a sign in both the manga and the original anime that the plot is really starting to ramp up. It’s getting more and more difficult to wait two weeks for a new episode – especially next week’s.