Film Talk: Sailor Moon Crystal Act 27 Part 2

Posted April 14, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Film & TV, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Missed the previous reaction post? You can find it here!

Sailor Moon Crystal: Act 27, Premonition, Part 2. A stylised silhouette of Princess Serenity.

Episode 2 of Sailor Moon Crystal: Infinity (or Season 3, if you insist, title.) Whoo! Today you get a two-for-one, partially so I can get caught up with the series and not be behind on the episodes. And largely because, since this is part 2 of a longer arc, I think tackling both at once makes a nice opening to the series as a whole.

Like the first part, I’ve actually already seen this episode, so you’re not getting the very-very first reactions. You probably still don’t want those because they’d still be fairly incoherent and not very insightful or entertaining.

Anyway! No long intros. Let’s get to the episode!

As a reminder: I’m screencapping bits this time around, so these posts are image-heavy and not necessarily bandwidth-safe. Tread with caution if bandwidth is a concern. And let me know if the alt text works for you or needs changing!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 27: Premonition Part 2

Ooooooh, we’re starting with a night time setting today? That makes a pretty nice contrast from Usagi waking up from a dream last episode. And hey, I am dim, but I’ve just consciously noticed that the opening with Usagi waking from is how we started the first season of Crystal as well. (Also the first season of the original anime.) Anyway, Crystal S1 also started us off with a romantic dream that Usagi was having, so it’s a nice bit of continuity, but it’s also nice to see this episode pretty much invert it immediately. It makes sense, of course, given that this is the second part of an act and it’s not an unreasonable assumption that this is the evening of that very same day, but it just makes a nice mirror to me. Ignore me, I’m rambling.

Usagi and Chibi-Usa fight.

And the rivalry between Chibi-Usa and Usagi is back. Joy.

No, actually, I’m finding this scene pretty endearing rather than annoying. The rivalry was back last episode, of course, when they both met up with Mamoru to walk to school, but it was even lower key than it is here. Here, they’re actually getting into a fight, but it reads as as more layered thing. Maybe that’s just that I’m older? But I’m getting less of the squick that the original anime had in terms of Chibi-Usa’s feelings towards Mamoru and consequently am less bothered by Usagi’s reactions when Chibi-Usa spends time with Mamoru without her. It reads far more like “I want to be included too!” than it does “I am jealous and insecure!” which we did see Usagi explicitly discuss in season 2.

Also! More Ikuko! That is two episodes in a row of showing us Usagi’s family that I did not think we were going to get.

Usagi looking shocked. Text: "You mean you're going to that brand-new amusement park?"

Here, look. This is what I mean. Now that Ikuko has separated them and told Usagi why Chibi-Usa called Mamoru we see two things. 1) Usagi stops trying to fight with Chibi-Usa to get answers. 2) She’s more concerned about the fact that she doesn’t get to go to the amusement park than that Chibi-Usa gets to spend time with Mamoru. That’s undoubtedly part of why Usagi is upset at not getting to go, but the dominant tone is “But I want to go to the amusement park too!” not “But I want to spend that time with Mamoru. GO AWAY.”

The opening sequence is still so pretty.

See? The very next scene after the opening is Usagi calling Mamoru to say she wants to go to the park specifically to spend time with him. That’s still a dominant factor in her decision making. But she’s on her own and makes no mention of Chibi-Usa going to the park or being jealous of her. She’s behaving like an utterly spoiled brat a third her age, mind you, but that’s always been part of who Usagi is.

Mamoru on the phone. He looks annoyed. Text: "Listen. The park is in that Sankakusu."

Mamoru looks so annoyed. I’d be annoyed with Usagi too, to be fair. She’s lucky he loves her and he’s so level-headed.

Wait, Mamoru has a communicator now? He’s, like, part of the team? Okay, so he’s not part of the team in a fighting capacity going by the first episode where his contribution was “I will lead our totally normal friends to safety while you deal with the monster!” He’s more of a supportive role, but he’s actively and consciously involved in team decisions now? None of this silly floating in and out that the anime did? For real? We’re actually getting rid of the Mysterious Stranger dynamic to make him an active, deliberate, contributing member at all time and not the sake of Plot Convient Solution To Drama? (I am looking at you, Classic R season.)

Image of a town schematic. A triangular area is highlighted. Text: "The three reclaimed sites are called Tenohzu, Kaiohzo, and Meiohzu".

Those names are in no way foreshadowing anything at all. Nope. Definitely not. Just like those helicopters in the previous episode. They’re not neon signs at all. Nope. Not one bit. Definitely not. Whatever makes you think that.

Artemis, are you trying to tell me that these buildings and everything did pretty much appear fully-formed out of nowhere? ’cause I’d really like to know how that happened other than “Oh, plot convenience”. It wasn’t in season 1 (or 2). It’s a real shame that we didn’t see any hinting at Mugen Academy’s existence in the first season. It wouldn’t have needed to be much either. Just some subtle acknowledgement of its existence.

See. Most all storylines make a big deal out of two things: Ami’s intelligence and Minako’s skills at singing and performing. Ami’s intelligence is made much of to the point where you’d expect Mugen, which excels in fostering geniuses, to actively try to recruit her. She’s that smart and would absolutely thrive at Mugen with its state of the art equipment and what’s always sounded like a bit of a Montessori-like curriculum.

With Minako it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities that she’s applied there. We know from the first episode of Crystal that she’d really want to. You can make a case there that Mugen only allows kids who are already celebrities to attend and that’s why Minako can’t make it in, but the show so far hasn’t made that case.

PGSM gave us a reason for Ami to attend the same school Usagi does: she wants to stay with her friends. It’s not a big stretch to assume that Ami’s parents (well, her mother) wanted to send her to a regular public school because she thought that would be good for Ami’s development. The first episode shows us that Usagi has no clue what Mugen Academy is and a reason for that cluelessness. Much as I love Usagi, Rei has a point. It’s not the kind of school Usagi is likely to have paid a lot of attention to, so the fact that she’s not heard of it is entirely plausible. Less plausible is the fact that the Academy’s existence hasn’t come up before in relation to Ami.

It’s just this weird mixture of the assumption that the Academy is entirely new and shiny and the assumption that the Academy has been around long enough to gain an elite reputation and attract a lot of high calibre students like Haruka and Michiru. It always makes me go “Why is this a thing now?” when it’s actually a fairly easy thing to address in adaptations because it’s just a matter of subtly hinting that it exists. Voila. Weird mixture is taken away with bonus points for setting up future plot developments.

I’d just like an answer to how, exactly, this Academy’s existence works, Crystal. Can I have one, please?

Silhouettes of five girls. Text: "I shall assign you a new mission."

WITCHES 5! Okay, so this shot is a little later in the scene than the original faraway shot, but it shows their design better, so. I like the ominous nature of this scene too. It’s introducing us to the villains of the season and it’s creepy as, sets up the stakes for the Witches 5 and shows us more of the hierarchy and world-building behind their creation. We may not know exactly what all these words Kaolinite is using mean in this setting, but we know they’re important because of how shocked the Witches 5 are that this is being dangled in front of them as the prize for defeating the senshi.  (That said, I’m not entirely sure I believe that promise.)

Makoto looking concerned as the wind is blowing through her hair. Text: "A storm is brewing."

Yes. Let’s have everyone discuss how very ominous this place is! Well, everyone but Usagi because Usagi. Sarcasm attempt aside, I do actually like this scene because it shows us something about the senshi. Rei senses auras, Ami relies on technology and intellect, Makoto listens to the planet (well, the wind) and Minako has her own intuition relating to people. Everyone is noting something foreboding in different ways and in ways that show us a little glimpse of their personalities. I like that.

Chibi-Usa and her friend Momo having fun riding a collorcoaster. Chibi-Usa is wearing a hat.

I know that hat is about to fly off because Plot, but really. My question is going to be “How has it managed to stay put this long to begin with? Especially given Chibi-Usa’s hairstyle.

Mamoru looks bored and a bit embarrassed. Text: "Well... Basically, I don't do things like that."

*snrk* Mamoru Does Not Do Fun. I like how he looks completely and utterly bored by everything around him. Mamoru, if you hate fun and theme parks so much your idea of watching small children is “Let them wander on their own while I sit at a table and sip a drink”, why did you agree to come in the first place? Did Chibi-Usa talk you into it?

And, okay, I am being unfair on him. He doesn’t want to ride the rollercoaster, so he’s elected to spend the length of the ride at a table very near the rollercoaster’s exit. That’s pretty sensible. If it’s a new and popular park, the lines are probably pretty long. Let’s assume the wait was 90 minutes. That is a long time to stand in a line for an attraction you don’t want to attend. (And that’s assuming the attraction offers you a chance to change your mind after entering the line.) Trust me, you don’t want to spend 90 minutes in a line for an attraction you’re not interested in, no matter how enjoyable the company. So. Sitting at a table to wait for the ride to be over and the kids to come back? Makes sense. It’s just coupled with the part where he clearly isn’t enjoying himself that it stands out as something remarkable.

Also, look, it’s a young Umino! That’s… I wish he’d looked at least a little different from Umino. And what’s with glasses only being drawn like proper glasses when protagonists are wearing them? (I was going to say “When girls are wearing them”, but there’s the princess from season 1 who has similar glasses to Umino and it’s all to do with making a point about glasses and beauty standards and it’s… Yeah.)

I do like Mamoru offering to buy Chibi-Usa’s classmates a drink. That’s sweet of him. (I do wonder where the person chaperoning them is, though.)

Chibi-Usa's hat flying past a tall building.

And there it goes. Bye, bye, hat! It was nice knowing you!

Mamoru looking shocked and a bit afraid. Text: "She left the park to get her hat?"

She’s, um, very independent, Mamoru. You know, from the whole thing where your future self and your future wife kind of, um, neglect her and leave her to fend for herself and don’t even notice she’s being bullied? “I should tell my chaperone where I’m going” is probably not the first thing on her mind when faced with the loss of her hat. This really shouldn’t surprise you as much as it does.

Poor Asanuma. I don’t think he expected to be left to look after four kids for the afternoon. Three of which, I should note, do not appear to have been part of the group they were originally chaperoning. Unless they were and Mamoru just didn’t realise that Chibi-Usa’s friends were also her classmates. No one except Chibi-Usa is wearing a school uniform after all.

Well, and the Inner Senshi, but they’re not here. (Speaking of. Why are all the senshi in their uniform? It’s obviously not a school day. I never wore mine on weekends on account of being in the washing because I’d worn it all week. Does everyone have unifoms to spare?)

Young people walking towards a building, presumably a school. Text: "It's a new school with a unified educational program"

New school! But how new is new? It clearly has more than enough students attending. If nothing else they would’ve been recruiting around season 1 because they’re new and need students, but there was no mention of it existing. But it can’t be as new as all that since it’s produced enough internationally known figures to be known for it. That doesn’t happen in a year. It’s like it popped up out of nowhere to give the plot a location it could be central to!

Usagi in a Mugen Academy outfit. She's wearing glasses and pink bows in her hair.

! Firstly! Usagi is using her disguise power! I’m glad to see that return! Secondly, those bows are adorable. Thirdly, see what I mean about the glasses? We actually get to see Usagi’s eyes.

And I love that everyone’s response is basically “What are you doing?!” and then it’s Minako who is annoyed enough to vocalise it. It must be hard to protect a princess who runs off into potentially dangerous situations on her own and with no way for her bodyguards to follow.

I like the tiny glimpses of the school as Usagi wanders through it. I like the way that combines with the voice-over to create the effect that yes it really does look normal when you’re inside. And then POOF. Violin. That’s not ominous at all.

Haruka glaring at the camera.

Go ahead and drop out of the sky, Haruka! That’s not creepy at all. I love that this show embraces the ambiguity. Haruka and Michiru are, as I think I’ve said, some of the most iconic and talked-about characters in the show, especially in queer circles, and their status as allies (well, technically) is well-known. The show could have gone for something more… tongue-in-cheek, assume that there’s no point in the ambiguity and mystery because everyone knows. And… they don’t. They keep that and use it well.

Michiru glaring at the camera. Text: "One day, that will be your ruin".

No, no, I don’t think it will, Michiru. I mean, yes, okay, I know you’re probably thinking that the past life is going to repeat itself in some form. You know with Serenity secretly sneaking off to Earth, falling in love with its prince and thereby pretty much (however accidentally) ruining a solar-system wide civilisation and getting herself killed in the process and all that. But I assume from the previous episode where you and Haruka made contact with the senshi that you’ve been studying them for a while prior to that and since, so surely you’ve noticed that Usagi is, um, not exactly a carbon copy of Serenity’s personality? Serenity, yes, she might get ruined. Usagi? You can try to ruin her or the world she loves, but she will not let you.

Also, I love how bad-ass Haruka and Michiru are in these scenes. And they’re not even doing anything except glare at people and giving dire warnings of “Do this or else”. And they’re doing this in their civilian forms. They’re so unconcerned about the Inners discovering their secret identities that they’re blatantly making threats in their civilian forms. Um. I’m not wording this right. Let me try again.

We, the audience, know that Haruka and Michiru are Sailor Senshi. Even if this season is our first introduction to Sailor Moon, their presence in the opening and ending sequence kind of give their secret identity away to the viewers. The ambiguity and mystery from their presence relies in part on that dramatic irony that we know (or at the very least suspect) they’re going to be allies because the visual similarities in their uniforms say so, but the conceit of the show is that people’s senshi and civilian forms look so different than unless someone transforms in front of you you won’t make the link.

That is, allowing for things like sensing people are different and extrapolating the way Luna did in season 1 to find and awaken the senshi.

Anyway. My point is that Haruka and Michiru in civilian form have, as far as the senshi know, no reason to behave so hostilely towards them. They only ran into them once by presumed accident at the arcade. This is all the Inners know about Haruka and Michiru as people at this point.

And we, as the viewers, haven’t been introduced to Sailor Neptune and Uranus at all yet. They’ve been in the opening and ending, but that doesn’t count as a narrative introduction. We know from the way the previous episode is set up that something is going on with Haruka and Michiru and they are more than they appear. We suspect, from their exclusion from the scenes featuring Kaolinite and company, that they’re a third party.

The show could have them deliver these warnings as Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus at a later point in the episode. If I recall, that’s how Sailor Moon Classic introduced them? Neptune and Uranus with dire warnings not to interfere and then Haruka and Michiru as civilians? They were mysterious and awesome.

But Crystal flips it around and it makes them even more awesome because they clearly don’t care about whether Usagi and friends know their civilian forms and names and learn to connect the two. How confident (and generally bad-ass) do you need to be to say that your secret civilian identity doesn’t need to be kept secret? To threaten what you perceive as a danger to your own efforts in your secret identity which they had no reason to suspect belonged to someone who is more than they seemed?

I also like the way the show follows it up with Usagi being chased out of Mugen Academy. It’s a bit of levity after a pretty tense section.

Hotaru and Chibi-Usa meet for the first time.

The first shot of Chibi-Usa and Hotaru in the same scene! WHOOHOO!

Mamoru, maybe you should consider calling Ikuko. She’s probably expected you back by now what with you all being gone so long it is suddenly full night-time. Wait, was it night time before? *checks* Oh, okay. No, the sun was setting. We can tell from the blue-purple sky in the shots with Haruka and once the sun starts to set… Darkness follows soon after, so that’s okay then. Mamoru should still have called Ikuko, though.

Chibi-Usa looks startled. Text: "Chibi-Usa!" (called by off-screen, unexpected Usagi.)

Well, that’s certainly convenient. Oh! Does that mean this episode will show us Chibi-Usa’s transformation sequence? Oh, pleasepleaseplease!

Hotaru looking hurt. Text: "Do you think she's alright?" (said by off-screen Chibi-Usa.)

I’m sure she’s just sitting on the ground, panting, because she’s perfectly fine, Chibi-Usa. Though, really, this just serves to remind us that Chibi-Usa is still a child. She may be a particularly independent and often pretty mature and responsible, but she’s still a child and seeking assurance like this reminds us of this.

Black-and-white cat stretching. In front of it two feet and legs are floating.

KITTY! I don’t trust those feet, though. They’re floating above the ground. That can’t be good.

No. Nope. Definitely not good. Eep! Say, Chibi-Usa, do you really want the injured girl to stay what looked like directly in the monster’s path? I know it all works out, but just in general.

Makoto, you just watched them fall down a flight of stone stairs and land on their chins on a stone (or concrete, I suppose) ground. By rights, they should not be fine. They should be in a lot of pain.

Sailor Nepture and Sailor Uranus looking on disapprovingly.

Look! It’s Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus’ in-show introduction! WHOOT! They’re looking particularly pissed off.

Chibi-Moon's pose at the end of her transforation. Stylied with a crescent moon, pink roses and pink hearts.

YAY! Chibi-Moon transformation! You’re getting a shot of the end of it, but it is so adorable. I like how it inverts Usagi’s transformation sequence as well. It’s not a complete inversion, mind you, but Usagi transforms from arms to feet and Chibi-Usa from feet to arms. It’s a really neat little touch.

Wait, we’re getting all the transformation sequences again? Why? Why not make them a collage with Moon and Chibi-Moon’s getting full-screenage? That would save you time you could use to build up character and civilian notes. Though, that said, admittedly not that much and I think there’s a good chance it would have messed with the pacing of this episode. It feels a little off to get all the sequences in a row here, but I prefer it over narrative pacing issues.

We’re also getting all the sqeeches? Okay, show, that’s… maybe a little much. Make the combat last a little longer instead.

OMG! Chibi-Moon’s introduction is ADORABLE. It’s SO CUTE. <3<3<3<3<3

Daimon of the day surrounded by mist.

Look! It’s actual mist! OMG! And fireballs! As in plural! Um… Okay, so I have also seem some reactions from people already and some are upset that this version of Crystal more mirrors the original anime except with vastly prettier aesthetics and it’s catering to fans of the nostalgia and… I think some of the comments I’ve seen miss part of the point.

See, they’re complaining partially about scenes like these attack sequences which do hearken to the original anime’s animation. But a lot of the complaints about the attacks (that I saw) weren’t “OMG! They’re not like in Classic!”, they were “Every attack looks the same!” and in the first two seasons, pretty much every senshi attack did look almost identical. It was an energy beam colour-coded to let you know who was in control of it. And that was it. That was pretty much the extent of variation in the first couple of seasons of Crystal.

When we complained we didn’t necessarily want to see old sequences given new animation. We just wanted to see attacks look unique and accomplish different goals, which Classic did do and which early Crystal did not. The same with the transformation sequences. New sequence? Go for it. Maybe keep the iconic bits as a homage to the original adaptation, but beyond that the overwhelming complaint wasn’t “We want the old sequences with updated graphics”, but “We want 2D sequences because 3D doesn’t work for us”.

And that’s what these two episodes of Crystal have given us. They just also, rightly or wrongly, gave us a lot more homage than we might have wanted because we love those sequences so much. I’ve seen people suggest that we’ll be getting the same transfomation music for the Outers that Classic used and… I actually really hope they won’t. Uranus soshite Nepture is a fantastic piece. (I mean, listen to it. It is fantastic. There’s so much drama and vivacity in the music and it really captures their personalities and that of the show.) But I actually didn’t want the exact same sequences with prettier animation. I just wanted animation that actually felt like it belonged and gave me the same sense of excitement. (That said, I will take it because OMG! IT’S SO PRETTY.)

Awwwww, Moon and Chibi-Moon are running around not knowing what to do. XD Ah, I’ve missed them being silly like this. <3

Chibi-Moon uses her momentum to pull Hotaru out of harm's way and twisted around so that Hotaru won't hit the ground.

And I love Chibi-Usa being the one to save Hotaru. Again. I love this Chibi-Usa. <3 And I love that the senshi seem utterly unaware of the presence of the Witches 5. No bad guy speeches, no facing off against them open first meeting. Just the monster of the day. I like that.

EEEEEEEEEEEEE! Moon Spiral Heart Attack! IT LOOKS SO PRETTY. I failed to screencap it, so here. Have it in all its animated glory.

The five Inner Senshi look on at a cat stretching after a nap.

*snrk* I love the cat just stretching out like it’s been taking a nap. XD

Oh, NOW you show up, Mamoru.

Usagi looking scared. Text: "Oh no! She saw our true identities."

Usagi, last episode you transformed in a busy shopping street. And sure everyone was a bit panicky and flailing around, but Hotaru has no reason not be equally flaily and panicky. Why are you concerned about the revelation of your identity now? I mean, we’re supposed to believe this happens in present-day times where things like Twitter and smartphones exist. People will have been filming the monster and your battle with it and uploading to the internet. That seems far more dangerous than a single girl, who was a bit busy catching her breath and finding the energy to get up.

Chib-Moon is annoyed by Moon interrupting her explanations. She's cartoonishly blowing a caption of Usagi away. Text: "Well, that's kind of true, but she doesn't mean..."

*snrk* Usagi, you’re really not helping matters. And the magical powers of Hotaru!

What, Usagi? They look like what? That’s just evil, Crystal. What kind of an evil cliffhanger is that? And that preview. OMG! Crystal looks like it’s ramping up the storyline already and I am SO excited! *squeals* I can’t wait for next week! I’ll have to, but. OMG!