Just to remind everyone reading alone who doesn’t know the plot twists and hasn’t seen this yet: SPOILERS GALORE. In fact, spoiler warnings are off once you click the cut, so please make sure that you’re caught up to episode 10. You will encounter spoilers. Lots of spoilers. ALL OF THE SPOILERS AND SOME OF THEM ARE FAIRLY BIG. Turns out I was wrong. There are surprising twists of spoilerificness still to be had.
I AM EXCITE. And I’m looking forward to redoing this whole thing again some time in future when I have a) the episodes to marathon them and watch them entirely at my leisure, b) have watched the episodes enough times that I’m a little more capable of objectivity and coherence. Still, for now. Episodes 9 and 10.
And, just so you all know, this twice-a-month thing is slowly starting to drive me batty. Just make it bi-weekly, please. Or, you know, I’d settle for a time machine so I could travel into the future and watch the rest now. But, alas, we have to wait. *flop*
Episode 9: Serenity, Princess
Oh, look. It’s the return of the “Artwork that looks off even to the people who aren’t visually oriented”. I can’t say I missed that artwork. Also, I am kind of sad that the opening and ending animation hasn’t changed, so I hope that’ll happen next episode.
That said, THIS WAS SO SAD.
Have we finally started to deviate from the manga a little? (The answer is ‘yes, a little’ and possible a fair bit depending on what happens next.) It’s nice to feel like the pacing has returned to something more suitable too, which means that I have stronger hopes while rewatching that I’ll be happier with the overall pace. We’ll see.
But this episode. SO SAD. I loved the moments of friendship. I loved that tiny little shot of Artemis in the middleish. I actually liked the big reveal of Serenity’s identity more than I’d anticipated I would. It’s… not something I really know how to word, though. I think, somehow, I wanted it to be… not flashier but more streamlined and I wasn’t expecting the level that I got (never mind the level I’d ideally have wanted). And these little tiny hints of memories and who knows what and hey look the shitennou are all back now and I am curious what’ll happen with them (and whether we’ll get more romance pairing this time around because artbook art).
So, yes, I’m far more excited once again. We’re going places! And I’m starting to get excited again about what on earth we’re going to do with the rest of the episodes. And I loved that tiny little line of Usagi’s near the end about not being a tragic princess anymore. That’s always been such a strong part of the franchise and we’ve been seeing it every week in the opening, but I think this is the first time Usagi’s outright said it and made a conscious decision towards behaving that way. It was a powerful moment anyway and I now half-wish I was twenty years younger and encountering the story for the very first time to see exactly what the impact would’ve been.
It’s interesting too, to see the way the storyline manages to make infodumping work. At least for me. This episode actually has a fairly large load of it and the next episode (and possibly the one after that) will also be pretty heavy on that front, so I’ll be very curious to see how the show handles the quantities of backstory we’re about to get.
Maybe they’ll follow the example of Shamanic Princess and put the chronological beginning at the end (and that’s all the new episodes)? I have to admit that I would be more than okay with a few episodes set entirely in the Silver Millennium. (This probably means we’re not getting them, sorry. BUT I CAN DREAM.)
Episode 10: Moon, Tsuki
IT’S CANON! IT’S OFFICIALLY CANON! Okay, I’ll grant you that I was kind of holding out for it not to be canon because it means every senshi is paired up with someone and go telling girls that they need a partner, but even so. I am squee for this development because I was so hoping it’d end up canon. Venus and Kunzite at least. They were setting those two up as canon already after all. (Even in the manga if I remember rightly.)
And we’re finally deviating from the manga at this point. (I mean more than the whole three people being alive when they should’ve been dead that we had last episode.) I have to admit that I really, really enjoyed this episode. I was expecting it to be a lot heavier on the exposition than it was.
It was nice to see a scene with Usagi’s family again and to see that little glimpse of Usagi’s home life. It was also nice to see Usagi not neglect her old friends entirely because that’s something the classic anime ended up suggesting.
And LOOK WE HAVE SCENES FROM THE SILVER MILLENNIUM AND THINGS ARE CANON AND I AM EXCITE even though I feel like I probably shouldn’t be as much because, really, did we have to pair off all the senshi? (Yes, I know the first season of Classic did it too, but they weren’t exactly past-life true-love boyfriends.)
Also did you notice Usagi being strong and determined and, basically, everything it took her pretty much five seasons to become in Classic? Well. No. I’m being ungenerous. Make it three. And where did her tiara come from there? I am curious. But mostly this. This is the Usagi I was looking for when I complained about the pacing before. Well, not exactly, but this is the development I was looking and hoping to see a little more of.
I just. I. Feels. SO MANY FEELS. I’m sorry. I’ve rewatched this and this is about as coherent as I get. FEELS.
It’s just… I know that one of the things Crystal was meant to do was be a faithful adaptation of the manga storyline. This is… a rather large deviation for what the storyline is. (Does this mean we’ll have several episodes where all the shitennou get healed one at a time? Because if you split them up you could get an additional four episodes out of that and we’re still looking at a way to fill 10 episodes. That’d reduce that number to 6. *wild speculation*) I digress, sorry. But it’s just… We were so hoping for a faithful adaptation from Crystal and it doesn’t appear to be entirely what we’re getting.
In some ways it fits since I think, whatever they end up doing with these changes, it gives Crystal an opportunity to really showcase what the opening song has promised us: girls not needing to be rescued. We can see a little of that here with the senshi all deciding that they shouldn’t need Usagi to bail them out all the time. (We know, of course, with Usagi being the protagonist that’s what will happen even leaving the manga aside, but this is a good indication that it won’t be for lack of trying. Also girls saving girls — and girls saving guys — is still a very different dynamic from guys saving girls.) *ramble* There’s a power dynamic going on here that’s different from the one we got in Classic, since the senshi and Usagi are more evenly balanced. True, Usagi is still the most pacifistic of the group, but certainly in this episode it enhances the senshi’s roles rather than clashing with it. I’m not sure that made sense, sorry.
And, of course, it’s one way to spice up the storyline. For all that people wanted a faithful adaptation of the manga, Crystal is still its own thing and it’ll have to strike a balance between retelling the original manga story for old-time fans, telling something new to hook new viewers and then again between all of that, Takeuchi’s own thoughts on where she’d ideally like the story to have gone and the fact that a lot of people have this tendency to get bored if they already know the plot.
I’ve been waiting all season for the anime to deviate from the manga just to see how Crystal was going to tackle it. I still think there’s a golden opportunity missing in between the episodes I was complaining about, but… I’m excited about the potential here. Mostly. I’m a little apprehensive because I’m not sure these are necessarily changes I’m going to like either narratively or emotionally. We’ll see.
So far (and by “so far” I mean “this one single episode”) Crystal‘s deviation has been, well, fan service. Keeping the shitennou alive and giving them the romantic pairings scads of fanfiction has been written about after that one artwork pairing them up. (And probably interviews? I vaguely remember interviews.) So it’ll be interesting to see how that affects the rest of the episodes (and potentially the other seasons). Admittedly, I’m a little sad to see Kunzite/Zoisite not appear as a pairing because there’s been reams of fanfiction about that relationship as well. (And it was always so sweet and tragic and, as I recall, a lot of fans really liked that glimpse into Dark Kingdom dynamics.)
Oh! And look how very understated Endymion waking is. I liked that. It was nice and subtle in a show that’s actually pretty subtle about a number of things. It suits it and with all the flashier things going on with the battles and, in this episode, the teleport to the moon it’s nice to see that balanced a little by that. We’ve seen the show opt for non-flashy before in pivotal scenes, but this was the kind of scene where you might expect more, well, fireworks because of how important it is. The lack of it really helped underscore its importance and I wonder whether the show will revisit that in future in some way.