Despite continuing to lose soldiers, Queen Metalia remains a viable threat. With their hope to seal her lying dead on the ground, what can the Sailor Guardians do to prevent the end of the world?
Sailor Moon Crystal Act 13 – Final Battle – Reincarnation
Director: Yukio Kaizawa
Writer: Mutsumi Itō
Storyboards: Yukio Kaizawa
Animation Directors: Yoshiyuki Ishikawa, Kozue Komatsu
Publisher: Toei Animation, Viz Media
Price: Free on Hulu, included in subscription to CrunchyRoll
Previously on Sailor Moon Crystal: Since the seal on the Silver Crystal was broken, Tuxedo Mask has died, been reborn as a soldier of the Dark Kingdom. The Four Kings are revealed to be the former guardians of Prince Endymion, but Queen Beryl brings them under her power again. Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Guardians regain their memories of their past lives, including that the other Sailor Guardians were romantically involved with the Four Kings, but fate suggests that no one will get a happily ever after this time around either. The ground has been set for the final battle… when Sailor Moon turns the holy sword on herself after striking the possessed Tuxedo Mask.
WE WEREN’T REBORN FOR THIS
History is set on repeating itself as the episode opens, with a short recap showing Sailor Moon striking the possessed Tuxedo Mask with the holy sword before turning the blade on herself. The other Sailor Guardians get there just in time to see it happen, but not in time to stop it from happening.
As they watch in grief, the Silver Crystal reforms itself, and grows to protect the bodies of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask. Queen Metalia quickly swallows the Silver Crystal and grows to cover the earth. And in one final attempt to save everyone, the Sailor Guardians use the power of their transformation pens to bring Sailor Moon back to life, at the cost of their own lives.
But that’s only the first half of the episode. I feel, yet again, that this episode does a good job in revising the original chapter of the manga. Not much is left out, but what is isn’t going to break the story. As of right now I’ve only had one episode that I really have issues with how they revised the story (episode 12, which I unfortunately didn’t review in time). This isn’t my favorite episode that’s been shown, but I don’t see that as a weakness.
While I do have strong opinions about how the Four Kings died in the previous episode, I feel that their appearance to Tuxedo Mask here was made stronger by them all dying at the same time. It still broke my heart, but I really enjoyed throughout the show how the kings were shown as four friends and compatriots who cared about each other instead of trying to stab each other in the back, like in the original anime. This is much more like the manga, and manages to convey the feeling of devotion to one another that they had as the others died one by one, while in this version keeping them alive until they all died together.
Also, there’s something magical to well-timed musical scores. When the music swelled as Mamoru woke up and remembered Usagi, I was reminded of why I love this series so much, even after all these years.
OBVIOUS BUDGET CONSTRAINTS ARE OBVIOUS
My critiques for this episode come exclusively from the animation/art. I will, I have to admit, watch the entire series again and watch to see if my critiques I mention here are present in previous episodes, and if perhaps my distance from not reviewing a few episodes has made me aware of problems I wasn’t seeing before. But in this episode, as well as episode 12, I couldn’t help but notice how little animation was actually happening.
There are so many shots of simply still images, and shots where very little is being animated (like a character lying on the ground and only moving their mouth), that I feel like I’m watching a manga panel by panel instead of an anime. And while I adore the manga to bits, this is anime and I wanted to see it translated to the animated medium.
The artwork does not help matters. I’ve mentioned before about how I think that this artwork does better when it’s actually moving. There are many shots meant to be closely examined, but there are others that are not that I feel like are coming under closer scrutiny because there just isn’t a lot of movement going on.
There are also several awkward shots that I just don’t know what to do with. As Sailor Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter are getting ready to use their group attack, there is a shot of just their hands in the air moving around and it just feels… off. Perhaps it is because in previous versions of the attack in the first anime series they didn’t move their hands around like that, but it feels awkward and like suddenly we broke to go to a rave. Cutting that and putting in the animation dollars somewhere else would have been much better served.
There’s also blatant non-animation bits, like where still images of their silhouettes go from one corner of the screen to another (to be fair this is only for like four seconds), that feel like it’s trying to evoke perhaps a different genre of anime. But it just doesn’t fit with everything else we’ve seen in the series so far.
Tuxedo Mask also kisses Sailor Moon at one point at the weirdest camera angle, and again I can’t help but think it was an excuse to animate less.
But what really bothered me was seeing the Silver Crystal animated in CGI. Using CGI can be done well or it can be done poorly. Here it errs more on the side of poorly, with how obvious it looks in comparison to everything else. Also, all previous shots of the Silver Crystal in the series has been animated, so to see it CGI here makes it stand out in a bad way.
BOTTOM LINE: STILL ENJOYABLE
I really do wonder how much of the animation flaws I would notice if I was watching the series all at once, as I tend to do in recent years. Watching episodes one at a time spacing between two weeks gives me more time to think on a single episode, and more chance to examine its flaws. But despite the issues with animation I continue to enjoy this adaptation, and hope they pull out all the stops for next week’s conclusion to this story arc.