Heroes don’t get sick days when the world is in danger, especially when it’s the enemy spreading the virus.
Sailor Moon Crystal Act 17: Secret – Sailor Jupiter
Director: Kumiko Habara
Writer: Mutsumi Itō
Storyboards: Kazuhisa Takenōchi
Animation Directors: Momoko Maki’uchi and Kozue Komatsu
Publishers: Toei Animation, Viz Media
Price: Free on Hulu, included in subscription to CrunchyRoll
Previously on Sailor Moon Crystal: Defeating the enemy and saving the day is supposed to mean victory, but as Sailor Mars and now Sailor Mercury have been kidnapped by Black Moon, the battles have become very personal to Sailor Moon.
OPERATION — RENEW
Depressed over the kidnapping of her friends and the lack of leads they have on Black Moon, Usagi falls into a depression. Surprising everyone, it is Chibi-Usa, who Usagi still doesn’t trust, that does the best job at cheering her up. Soon after that, Usagi gets to work with her remaining allies – Minako, Makoto, Mamoru, Luna, and Artemis – to try to figure out their next move.
Meanwhile, a nasty cold is making its way around Tokyo, and Makoto is not immune. It’s big news on the TV stations, as well as the crop circles that have been growing in number, and have people talking about UFOs.
An entire scene from the previous manga chapter had been cut out of last week’s episode, which I think would give the exchange between Makoto and Asanuma more context. I feel like, if that scene had to be taken out, something else should have been added in to help give Asanuma more importance in the narrative.
Something that has bothered me in both the original manga and this adaptation, is the lack of remorse from Black Moon for the Specter Sisters as they’re dying. Later in the manga, they do express their anger at seeing their comrades fall. And it could be understandable for Rubeus to not want to show his enemies weakness as his own allies fall in combat. But I would have loved to have something, maybe a twitch of the lip, the brief narrowing of eyes in anger, before going back to the mocking “I’ve totally just kidnapped your friend and you can’t do anything about it” look.
And this is perhaps my largest criticism of the story so far in Sailor Moon Crystal – while there are some revisions being made, I don’t feel like there are enough. Large flaws in the original story are still evident. I realize that revising the Black Moon arc to flesh it out a bit would be more difficult than it was with the Four Kings of Heaven in the previous arc, but I keep feeling like there could have been something more.
I’m also interested to see if there is ever collateral damage that Sailor Moon misses in fixing. There was the potential for a lot of murders in this episode off-screen, and it was never shown in the manga if she restored the city. She probably did, but with the darker turns of the manga story arc, it makes me wonder.
THEY’RE TRYING TO REPLACE US
I am a big fan of how they redesigned the command center for Sailor Moon Crystal, and how the audience has a chance to see it so often. In the manga there are panels where they are in the control room, but it doesn’t evoke the same sort of mood that it does here in the show. This also feels significant in the headquarters of Black Moon, which both deviates from the original anime and blends the technology well with the fantasy.
Still shots and animations of characters in the background did not feel as uneven or messy as they have in some of the previous episodes. I would put this episode as better than the running average, but still having some issues. Details are quickly dropped when a character isn’t front-and-center, and with the competition of today’s market, that can’t be something to be ignored. And even with the argument that this is being made for the original fans of Sailor Moon… that still doesn’t hold water. I know a lot of fans who have already given up on the series because of prior terrible animations in the series. I maintain that this series is still worth watching, but the complaints about the uneven animation are completely valid.
I adored how the flashbacks for Chibi-Usa were done – not exactly still shots, but the color palette fit well with the ethereal feel of Crystal Tokyo, and really helped her stand out in her own flashback. I also feel like this draws inspiration from the absolutely stunning commercial bumper art. This was the most successful sequence for me, art-wise, in the episode.
Lastly, and this is a bit of a nitpick, but I feel like Sailor Moon’s Halation attack could use a few extra spins of her sceptre. Sailor Moon Crystal obviously draws on inspiration from the original anime while at the same time being a little more reserved, but I think a few more spins could have achieved the same effect, especially since there were times earlier in the series where the moon stick spun quite a bit. The moments with the Halation feel like a chance to cut back at the animation, and this is not the way to do it.
BOTTOM LINE: GETTING EXCITED
There is a lot of nostalgia rolled up in the Black Moon Arc for me, especially when it comes to the original anime. I am doing my best to remain objective, but it’s difficult for me to not be excited about the episodes to come. But as for this episode, it is one of the better ones in the series so far, both in story and animation, and I am happy with it.
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