Trapped in enemy territory and unable to use her powers, Sailor Moon must face Prince Demande alone.
Previously on Sailor Moon Crystal: Black Moon already had the upper hand, with Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter captured, but things look even more grim when Sailor Moon becomes the most recent captive.
WITH COLD, HARD EYES
I wonder how many people are watching Sailor Moon Crystal who don’t have any sort of background previous to the Sailor Moon anime or manga. I would hazard a guess that it would be a minority, But for those out there to whom all this is new, they should know that this part of the manga, and also Sailor Moon Crystal, is actually fairly close to what happened in the original anime.
Prince Demande has been harboring [a crush] on Neo-Queen Serenity since he first saw her outside the Crystal Palace, and is determined to have her. We know this because we’ve been seeing him gazing at the hologram of her, and Esmeralde even acknowledged this. But the next part of his plan is incredibly creepy, and only manages to get creepier as I get older. Demande wants to possess Neo-Queen Serenity in any form he can, and have power over her. That is already terrible right there, but then there’s the added creep factor that Usagi is under age in the present form we’ve been watching.
To make matters worse, being on the planet Nemesis has made it impossible for Usagi to transform, and it is probably because of the power of the Silver Crystal that she’s able to move as she does. She fights back as best she can, tries to do what she can to locate Mercury, Mars and Jupiter, while also grappling to figure out what to do.
At no point does Usagi feel whiny or unreasonable, and this is a moment that I love to point to in order to show her growth as a character. She’s in a terrible situation with the threat of rape and death looming over her head, and while she is upset by this, she doesn’t let it paralyze her. It takes an enormous amount of inner strength to fight one’s abuser, and there are many strong people in our own world who weren’t successful. It is important to show her be human in her reactions while she also stands up to it.
There is a fair bit of foreshadowing in regards to ChibiUsa, which is exciting. But it also brings up something that I’ve always had issue with in both the original anime and the manga – ChibiUsa’s romantic attraction to Mamoru, who we now know is her future father. The suggestions continue to disturb as Usagi clearly sees ChibiUsa as a romantic competitor for Mamoru’s time. She does acknowledge that her feelings are unfair towards ChibiUsa, but they are not unfounded.
On a somewhat less incestuous note, and a lot more progressive, this episode all but says out loud that the Usagi and Mamoru of the present has had sex at least once. With Sailor Moon being a series that focuses on so many types of women and personal expression, it is important to see a strong young woman like Usagi not shrinking back from her sexuality. And while the original reference to them having sex a few episodes ago was a bit over the top, here it was perfect.
I think what is most maddening about the animation in Sailor Moon Crystal is that I see seeds of incredible detail and ways to add to the narrative, and so often we as the audience only see them in brief glimmers. As the series has gotten into the later episodes, the animation has shifted even more to panning over still images, which makes me feel like I’m reading the manga with a voice over.
While watching this episode with a fellow Sailor Moon fan, I commented that I’d like my anime to be, well, animated. I’ve seen plenty of anime and cartoons where not a lot of “action” was happening in a scene, and there was still a lot more movement going on than in some of these scenes.
And then there are moments where Sailor Moon Crystal is forced to do something new and exciting, because there is nothing to go off of in the manga. Moments like King Endymion walking with ChibiUsa, when he tells her about what her mother was like when she was younger. In the manga it was just text, but in Crystal we see them walking with Crystal Tokyo in the background. These moments add so much more to Crystal and make it its own thing. There are moments like this throughout the series, and I wish so badly that half of the stills that pan over the image were replaced with these moments.
The animation of this episode is on the better side that the series has been experiencing. But, while pretty, it is still sub-par to what else is on the market. I find it shocking that a series like Sailor Moon couldn’t get more money for a remake, with so many other series getting shiny new reboots as of recent.
BOTTOM LINE: WANT TO LOVE IT
As frustrated as I get with the animation budget of Sailor Moon Crystal, I can’t help but feel that thrill in my heart when I go to watch a new episode. And there’s the problem where I am finally getting what I’ve wanted – an adaptation of the manga – and it is lacking. But I’ll be darned if I still don’t love it.