Film Talk: Pretty Guardian Sailormoon, Act 14

Posted September 1, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Film & TV, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Pretty Guardian Sailormoon: Act 14 (PGSM 14)Plot Recap: Sailormoon is going to become a youma! Because some bad guy’s hair wrapped around her throat and got absorbed by her body! DRAMAZ! Also, sweet-natured Shin turned out to be evil Kunzite, the last and most powerful of the shitennou, and we shall never see Shin again. T_T But before that happened, he returned Kamekichi, Motoki’s turtle, to Motoki and its far too tiny aquarium. Which was yay for Motoki because he loves Kamekichi. And not so yay for the turtle because THAT IS A SERIOUSLY TINY BOX.

Also, Usagi and Mamoru hung out together to help Shin and Usagi was nice and sweet and Mamoru was not a complete jerk-face at her. HUZZAH! Also-also! Apparently Mamoru is potentially this guy named Endymion who has something to do with the princess and Sailor Venus turned out to be the princess of the Moon Kingdom and I think that’s us all caught up to speak.

So onwards! To spoilers for episode 14!

Picking up where the last episode left off, Sailormoon actively goes and attacks Tuxedo Kamen. Youma!Usagi isn’t quite aware of having magical powers and, presumably, her senshi identity is what’s able to overcome the youma. (Unless it’s her dormant princess personality that does it, but Luna posits the senshi theory.) But, of course, Sailormoon is not as all right as she claims to be. I’m not a big fan of dramatic irony unless I’m rewatching or rereading — at least I don’t think I’m a big fan — but I actually quite like that set-up here since it breaks right to the opening credits and gives us a good example of what the stakes are going to be like this episode.

And rivalry between the shitennou! You have to admite Kunzite’s confidence in this. Or, rather, his overconfidence and arrogance as well as Nephrite’s territorialness. But mostly his arrogance because he totally owns that platform Beryl keeps standing on. We also see, again, that Beryl is all talk and bluster because she doesn’t do anything to correct or address Kunzite’s insolence.

And songs! Awww. I really like how the show’s integrated music into the fabric of the girl’s friendship. (Yes, this will be more important later too.) It’s just a nice touch to see them all bond over karaoke and having fun together, even if Rei pretends that she’s totally not interested in the songs. And, of course, it opens up merchandising avenues, but that’s out of story. In-story, it’s just a way for the senshi to have fun together and bond. And here we also see Usagi dragging Ami into karaoke in a way that contrasts the earlier sleep-over where Ami was trying to be something she’s not and had to learn that it’s okay to be introverted and quiet the way that she is. It’s a very different dynamic and even if she’s uncomfortable with singing in front of a group she’s more comfortable than when it was Usagi, Ami and Naru together.

And lookit at all the good-natured ways in which they’re doing things the others don’t like. We know, from Makoto’s introduction that she can be quite girly and now we learn that this still does not involve make-up. And for all that the show has the other senshi try to force her into using it… I admit that I don’t get the sense that the show is saying you must wear make-up if you’re a girl. I think I’d have felt differently if that section had ended with Makoto having been made up, but no. It doesn’t.

And then things go wrong. Yes, I do actually think this would be even more dramatic and unexpected if we hadn’t known the youma was still trying to take over her body, but then we’d lose out on Kunzite’s introduction — or at least it’d lose much of its power because we’d think his plan had already failed — but it is unexpected. (And, really, if I were a kid or a young teen watching I would be going “ZOMG! What just happened?!”)

Question for Luna: If only Sailor Moon has the strength to fight of youma, why is Venus the Princess?! This is actually a serious question since, even if you don’t already know the story or find the planetary naming to be a bit suspect, the power distribution that’s going on here just does not make sense. And Luna is supposed to be pretty intelligent, so how is that not pinging for her? (Hell, how is none of this pinging for super-genius Ami?)

Anyway! Plot-gripe aside — and yes it bothers me less in other shows because we know Venus is pretending and/or gets unmasked as pretending the very next episode and also Luna’s memories are incomplete — dramaz occur as the senshi have to trust in Usagi’s strength to save the day. Which it is tempting to be sarcastic about, but a) we’re not talking physical strength or athletic ability, b) even if we were this show has already given us a pretty capable Usagi as it stands. I just wanted to note that since I recall Classic making Usagi’s clumsiness and lack of fighting skill a bit of a running joke in the first season and this is such a stark contrast to my memories of the show.

Poor Ami being left all alone to care for Usagi. It makes sense, mind. Not just because of the senshi’s strengths, but also their personalities. Makoto and Rei are both more aggressive whereas Ami is… Well, if Usagi isn’t being the voice of compassion it’s not that hard to see Ami stepping up to that role, isn’t it? At least this Ami, who we know dislikes conflict even more than Usagi does. (But remember what we’ve seen of how Ami’s peers treat her and then imagine her not being bullied for being really smart and a girl, for being different. That’s liable to be a factor too.)

Motoki, your turtle needs a bigger home. GET KAMEKICHI A PROPER HOME ALREADY.

Also, Mamoru is worrying about Usagi being all right and helps Ami out in getting Usagi home. Mamoru, why couldn’t you be like this the first few episodes you were introduced? I’d like you a lot more if you’d been nice from the get-go instead of throwing insults at Usagi every time you saw her. Also-also, notice how Ami, super-genius, does not stop to wonder why Mamoru isn’t suggesting they take Usagi to hospital or, y’know, calling an ambulance. Which is kind of what I’d expect people to do.

That notice doesn’t include that Ami is really worried about Usagi and about the fact that she knows this isn’t natural, though, so I’m forgiving her the lack of pondering because she’s a little busy thinking about other things. Think about how much worrying it takes to get someone like Ami to stop noticing this.

And then Mamoru just leaves. You’ll notice, again, that Ami doesn’t notice because she’s too busy worrying over the fact that Usagi is slowly dying of hypothermia. And I’d have commented on how they don’t tell Usagi’s parents that something is seriously wrong, but there we go. Ami eventually remembers that this is a thing that needs doing.

Have I mentioned recently how much I like that Usagi’s family is playing a much bigger part in the show than it does anywhere else? Because I like that a lot. It feels far more connected to… well, anything. Given the pace of Crystal it actually makes sense that Usagi’s family disappears so thoroughly, but even at their best they’re mostly just set-dressing. Especially Usagi’s brother, whom we haven’t seen this episode. Or for a while, actually.

And Naru showing up at Ami’s home. I like Ami’s protective nature, but especially the ways you can take it. Classic Ami I couldn’t imagine doing something like that at all, you see. I mean, look at her. She’s really driven to protect Usagi there. (And yes I know first friend in, uh, years and all that, but Makoto and Rei haven’t had friends in years either and they respond quite differently. You’d expect some of the fierceness Ami is showing from them at the very least. But, look, I told you there was femslash coming up this episode.

There is very little of the choreography fight sense to this scene. I like it. And it shows very neatly how and why Kunzite is as arrogant as he is about his abilities. Ami’s always been the weakest senshi physically (yes, even accounting for Usagi’s clumsiness), so for her to be holding her own at least somewhat is impressive on both sides. It’s impressive because of what it shows of her strength if she’s pushed, but it’s also impressive because it gives Kunzite a stronger enemy to face and deal with.

He also has a nice sense of drama and flair. Why else change Usagi’s outfit into a dress? (No, seriously. Kunzite, what was the purpose of that?)

And for the femslash, notice that all of the flashbacks in this scene, all of them as Ami’s. All of the tears in this scene? Ami’s. Yes, we get some token shots of Rei and Makoto going “Usagi!” but 90+% of the emotional load of “Usagi is becoming a youma” is bourne by Ami.

And I snrk at Kunzite’s face when Usagi just kind of wakes up as herself. XD Pro-tip for shitennou trying to turn senshi into youma: when changing their outfits, don’t forget to divest them of all jewellery and don’t return any of it until they’re turned into youma properly. That would have solved your “Four senshi against one shitennou” problem right there. Oh, and a Tuxedo Kamen. Hello, unnecessary rescue. I did not, in fact, miss you. It is, however, a nice bit of dialogue between the two and it’s an interesting note from Kunzite since he clearly remembers enough of his life as Shin to respond to Mamoru. I WONDER IF THIS IS FORESHADOWING. (I actually do wonder. I don’t remember his arc too clearly beyond his being a pretty arrogant and self-centred guy.)

And the emotional “Usagi, you’re okay! I’m so happy!” load belongs entirely to Ami. And Usagi focuses entirely on Ami’s face. Which, granted, is dirtier than that of the others and Usagi… is being Usagi. You know she’d have responded in exactly the same way if someone else was bearing the emotional load of the scene, but because it’s Ami… And there’s Usagi noting that Ami’s voice was especially loud… Well, enjoy the femslash is all I can say.

Preview time! Is that Mamoru actually being heroic and helpful in his civilian self? And not being all “Usagi, you’re stupid”? Well, he’s clearly disapproving, but he’s not outright telling her so. And Usagi why did you do that?

See you next time!