Film Talk: Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38

Posted June 28, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Film & TV, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

Tags:

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

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38: Infinity 12, Infinite - Journey

Welcome back to another react post for Sailor Moon Crystal. We’re up to the final episode of the season and oh my did the last episode pack a hefty punch. This episode is going to have to work hard to be as epic. (Though can it even ever be as epic, considering that so much of the epicness was the awakening and introduction of Sailor Saturn, a moment which anyone watching has been waiting for. Especially those of us who know the 90s anime and had high expectations of the reveal that, so the reaction show, seem largely to have been met.)

So. As it is the last episode of the season, let’s get to it! OMG! Fair warning: because it’s the last episode of the season, I may have gone overboard with the screencaps. So if you’re on mobile or limited bandwidth, I apologise! There are a good 20 images in this post.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 38: Infinity 12, Infinite – Journey

I like how the swinging of the Silence Glaive is almost silent. The music is still there, very softly, but the sound effects aren’t. It’s a really eery effect. I also like the recap moments. Last week’s episode was so amazing that it was hard to forget the details, but it’s a very nice touch to build up the tension again. And hey, is that the first opening I hear? I do love the way this opening changes its animation. It feels like there should be more changes, so I admit that I’m kind of… torn between loving it and wanting more, but… I actually really like the subtle little touches. Pluto’s attack is back in this one and we get to see Rainbow Double Moon Heart Ache and Saturn has been added to the line up at the end. They’re nice touches.

13-01

Look at his expression. It is so, so fitting to the situation. We’ve just seen all the senshi in various states of… negativity. I really like how this scene was drawn. The only things that move in these scenes appear to be Sailor Saturn, Master Pharaoh 90 and what their power causes to move, like the senshi’s hair. Other than that? Nothing moves until this close-up of Tuxedo Mask and we see his face muscles twitch and waver and it is gorgeous.

It’s also entirely possible that I missed bits and this is not, exactly, accurate a description of what does and does not move, but I liked the stillness and the the way the music and the sound effects interact in this scene. It’s wonderfully done.

13-02

What just happened? Did Chibi-Usa wake her up? Chibi-Usa woke her up, didn’t she? That’s beautiful! And yay we’re getting the opening song during the final-final battle? Nice! I mean, I’m not sure I think the opening song is actually epic enough, but I love that we’re getting a song to start with. One of the best musical features of the 90s anime was, after all, the epic songs in the final battle. I do think that New Moon ni Koishite is a little too sweet for the scenes, but it does suit Usagi pretty well and I actually watched this scene twice, once in tiny version with a translation of the lyrics to match things up a bit and that helped too.

I do really regret that the song isn’t subtitled because knowing the meaning of the lyrics as you’re watching the scene does add a lot to the overall effect and people who don’t speak Japanese or don’t speak it well lose out on that. Plus, as far as I know, it used to be standard practice to add translations for the song lyrics. That seems to be an oversight on the part of whoever did the subbing. I hope that’s something that any subbed Blu-ray/DVD releases will address.

13-03

Look! It’s Sailor Moon’s light! WHOO! GO, SAILOR MOON. Save the day!!!! And is Pharaoh 90 getting greyer as time goes on? That is a neat touch.

13-04

Oh my God. Look at that tiny little smile. I love this. I love the tears and the wavering mouth and this tiny little smile that says “Everything is going to be all right now. I love my mama and I’m so proud of my mama” and… Just… I love that they gave this moment to Chibi-Usa and Mamoru got to be all “What’s happening?” I love the way it shows how much Chibi-Usa’s is Usagi’s daughter, with the same kind of hope and faith in people and the way it reminds is all of how hard Chibi-Usa has fought against Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90 alongside Sailor Moon and the others.

And yes I do remember that Tuxedo Mask fought too and I’m happy because WOW I was not expecting him to get to do anything but be an honorary support character, but… Well… Chibi-Usa is the youngest and the weakest senshi at the moment and I adore this little moment for what it suggests she’s going to become, the strength she’s going to have if this is her strength now and this is the strength of the woman who is her greatest example in life.

Adore. So much adoration for this scene and how much it manages to capture. <3<3<3<3<3

13-05

Wait, what? Why are all the costumes changing? I mean, I understood why the brooches changed to reflect the part where the senshi were actually of one, uh, heart in what they actually want to accomplish, but why are they getting a full upgrade now? Is this explained better in the manga? WHAT IS GOING ON? I DO NOT COMPREHEND. I can extrapolate that Usagi releasing the power of the ginzuishou and the Moon Chalice is what caused it, but why? HOW DOES THIS WORK WHAT IS THE NARRATIVE LOGIC BEHIND THIS CHANGE/UPGRADE?

Also, is Jupiter still missing her chain?

13-06

How about ‘no’? See, Pharaoh 90, this is why you ask the senshi nicely if you can live in their dimension instead of trying to invade and take it over. Now you have no goodwill with anyone. Least of all Saturn who, if you’ve paid any kind of attention, very specifically said that now that she’s been awakened, she must destroy everything. This is not optional, Pharaoh 90. (And yes okay, I guess pleading to at least go home means you’re aware it’s not optional and personally I’m all in favour of sending you home, but, um, ideally without Saturn in tow and she’d need to come just to make sure you don’t go cause trouble elsewhere.

13-07

I… guess Usagi still has the magical hearing that she had way back in episode 1 of season 1 that we never explicitly saw her use again?

13-08

Oh, this is so sad and so beautiful. It’s such a soft and gentle side of Saturn and we haven’t really seen that yet. As Hotaru, yes, but Saturn made it pretty clear that Hotaru is dead and she’s only Saturn and… Yeah. Seeing her soften here and try to fill the senshi with hope because this isn’t the end they feared, especially following on Chibi-Usa calling out Hotaru’s name, like the very act of Chibi-Usa calling it out reawakened the Hotaru part of Saturn’s soul just as Chibi-Usa’s cries woke up Sailor Moon earlier… Beautiful.

And, I admit, when I watched the musical I wasn’t sure how Usagi releasing the power of the ginzuishou into Pharaoh 90 enabled Saturn to not destroy the Earth after all, but I think it makes more sense to me in Crystal now. To me, what allows Saturn to not-destroy Earth is the fact that Sailor Moon is actually still alive to use the restorative powers of the ginzuishou? Also perhaps there’s a part where Sailor Moon’s powers help Saturn in prying Pharaoh 90 loose from the Earth.

13-09

Oh, so now you’re crying, Pluto? WHERE WERE THESE TEARS WHEN YOU THOUGHT CHIBI-USA WAS DEAD?! Nope. Still not over that. She didn’t shed a single on-screen tear over Chibi-Usa’s apparent demise. No reaction whatsoever, but Saturn sacrificing herself when Pluto’s just spent most of her on-screen time this season trying to keep Saturn from awakening and/or plotting the death of an innocent girl because Saturn might awaken? Tears. THIS IS THE SENSHI YOU WANTED DEAD, PLUTO. And meanwhile the senshi you claim to be friends with dying you have no reaction to!

Okay, and now that that’s out of my system: Pluto, like all the other senshi, has just been through the wringer. She’s probably not got a whole lot of strength to hold tears back with. Not to mention that, on top of everything, she’s probably just heard the whole speech about how Saturn may bring death and destruction, but does so to bring about rebirth, so they’re not about to die the way they did back in the Silver Millennium and, hey, maybe Saturn is not the evil that the Outers must have thought she was when she was summoned in the Silver Millennium.

No one was around to tell them “Hey, we’re going to wreck this now because it’s too broken, but we’ll get to start over and you’ll get new lives in the new world” in the Silver Millennium because everyone was a bit busy being dead. And, sure, they sounded pretty content with their lives as was, but when you’re at the point where your options are “Reincarnation” or “Utter annihilation” that promise of a new life goes a pretty long way and they probably didn’t get the advance warning.

So as much as I may be upset that she didn’t really show any emotion over what happened to Chibi-Usa, I actually do like the details of her tears here because it shows you how exhausted and upset the senshi all actually are. They’re an emotional mess at the moment.

13-10

No. No. No. We’ve seen someone smile like that last episode. She died. Or almost died. It was HEAVILY IMPLIED she died (and only came back alive because her daughter just had that much faith in her or need of her or whatever) and no. No, I am not okay with this.

*sobs into tissues* Especially not since this smile is followed by flashbacks. And, oh, how much this smile says “It’s okay” and no, Saturn. No, it is not okay. There is no version of this story where you dying because you sacrificed yourself to save everyone and don’t get rescued by Sailor Moon (or Chibi-Moon) is okay. I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS, SHOW.

NOT OKAY WITH THAT DOOR SHUTTING. Also, I can’t believe I’m almost half-way through the episode. It’s this weird mix of “But what are you going to do for the last half?” and “OMG! I can’t believe this is only half the episode! Surely this took longer than 12 minutes…” It just feels like this odd combination of feels like it should both take longer and shorter at the same time.

13-11

OMG! It’s Neo-Queen Serenity! That was such a pretty transformation! Mamoru, are you going to recognise your vision as your future wife now, at least? Maybe you should train with Rei for a while or otherwise do something to develop your ability to recognise what’s going on in the visions you’ve got? I mean, she’s only been training in that since she was a child… I’m sure she could help you hone your skills so you don’t spend the whole season building up unnecessary drama about whether you’re watching the deity of destruction or the messiah of hope.

13-12

Oh! Ohohoh! I know who that is! YAY! Thank you, show!

Also look at the colours. I love the palette.

13-13

This is the most adorablest. I love how much of a unit these three are. Despite, you know, having spend a fair chunk of this season explaining how they never meet and should never meet because DESTRUCTION and now they mesh together so well and. Just. So cute. Also, as a random note, I think the relationship these three have with Hotaru in the 90s version of Stars was the first time I saw a non-nuclear family on tv and it was utterly beautiful to see how comfortable they were together and how lovely everything in their lives fit together.

Oh, god, Uranus. What kind of answers are that? Have you learned nothing from the whole situation? Didn’t you all want to go off and be fighting with the others and/or not be alone any more? I know you have Michiru and Setsuna and now a Hotaru to care for and you all (Outers and Innters both) deserve a break from the fighting, but a) if something happens, you’ll just end up fighting because no one else can do it, b) look you all have lots of friends and you wanted to protect Usagi and now you’re just going off and say “Well, bye now. We’ll meet again!”

Just… Gah. Stay in the area and hang out every now and again, Uranus!

13-14

First of all, awwwwww. They’re so cute together. This is the Pluto/Chibi-Moon relationship I was hoping to see a little more of this season. So glad we’re getting to see it now because they’re so cute and it was such an important plot point in the last season.

Secondly, I still have not forgiven Pluto or the show that we didn’t get to see Pluto react to Chibi-Moon’s death.

And look at the inners. Look at the detail. They’re all crying and they’re all posing in ways that reflect their personality and they’re all standing very still and looking very sad AND THEN! Minako wipes away tears because feels. It’s gorgeous.

Also, I love that Neptune gives Chibi-Usa her mirror as surety against their return. I love that she knows how much that means to Chibi-Usa. I mean, we’ve seen Michiru explain the talismans to Chibi-Usa way in the beginning of the season and in more recent memory we’ve seen that it is literally death for Chibi-Usa (and Usagi) to be parted from the ginzuishou and Hotaru chiding Chibi-Usa for showing it and giving it away so casually. The talismans, of course, aren’t as important to the Outers’ survival, but the parallels are there and Chibi-Usa is definitely smart enough to pick up on them. And she just accepts it so gracefully. And I think this is the first time Neptune’s called her Small Lady?

Oh, Uranus. I’m pretty sure Usagi should be protecting Chibi-Usa because mother/daughter relationships, but aside from being a nitpicky git, this is actually so beautiful. I love the Outers encouraging Chibi-Moon this way. It’s just so sweet and adorable. And heart-breaking because they’re leaving.

I love the eyecatch. I love that they’re all on there. I am less of a fan of the fact that it’s so late. I know why. A break sooner doesn’t make sense because this makes a really nice cut between the sections, but it’s still at a much later time point in the episode and it really throws off my sense of timing. Given that I have none to begin with that’s not such a great thing to have happen.

13-15

This is SUCH a pretty shot. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent all the budget on the most important episodes and all the little animation issues throughout are just down to that decision. If that’s the case then I am a-okay with it because LOOK AT THIS. Look at the detail of the shadows in Usagi’s hair. YOU CAN SEE THE GAPS IN THE TREE WHERE THE SUNSHINE IS COMING THROUGH. LIKE OMG! And this is her high school outfit. EEEEEE! New outfits!

And I also love that this is Chibi-Usa narrating about her progress and writing to her parents to set up her return home. It’s just so adorable.

13-16

OMG! We’re going to end on funny and adorable cheerfulness? I am so very down with that. This is adorable. What a way to bring the emotions from the last couple of episodes to a positive conclusion. And look they’re all going to the same school now! Except Rei. XD

13-17

Awwww, Minako to the rescue. Or not. XD

And, a thought I had watching this scene, especially following closely on reading this Tuxedo Unmasked post on whether Usagi is much smarter than the 90s anime (and to a lesser extent the manga, Crystal and the musicals) suggest… In all versions, it’s pretty well-established that Usagi is a terrible student role model. She gets to school late; she doesn’t (want to) do her homework; she dislikes studying… But I think the only time we really reference Usagi’s grades is in the first season and we know that the other senshi (and Ami especially) have a positive influence on her attitude. And in all versions it’s pretty well-established that Usagi can’t write kanji. Even when she’s become Neo Queen Serenity, writing kanji eludes her. We know because we’ve seen it in the letter that accompanies Chibi-Usa’s return and because everyone remarks on it.

But that’s about it, isn’t it? Short of Usagi failing English in the first season and the repeated notes about her inability to write (and read) kanji, we learn nothing beyond that she’s still scoring enough grades to pass.

So I was thinking: what if it isn’t that Usagi is a bad student or a dumb student, but that she’s a student with (undiagnosed) dyslexia? Dyslexia is different in different language systems, but it still exists and going by this article’s description of research (which I sadly can’t read) dyslexia native speakers of Japanese who have dyslexia often also struggle with dyslexia in other languages and dyslexia is… Well, it’s still difficult to get good school support today. How well-known would it have been in the 90s in Japan? How well-known is it now since the show’s use of technology has been updated to today’s standards? It’s entirely possible that Usagi hasn’t been diagnosed at all (or is and has received no support).

It would explain why she struggles in school and so vastly prefers to slack off. In my experience the only kids who respond to the very topic of books with as much vehemence as Usagi are the kids who struggle to read them. It would also explain why the biggest indication of Usagi being dumb is the fact that she has trouble reading kanji and failed an English test. (And then I haven’t even touched on the school situation described in the post I linked, but that would also be a contributing factor since, in my experience, dyslectic kids who don’t get the support they need usually don’t get the education at the level they can handle because it’s too much reading information too fast.)

Anyway, so there are some random thoughts on Usagi’s academic abilities and intelligence. We know she’s not dumb because outside of school we repeatedly see her do very smart things. Such as piecing together Haruka’s identity in Crystal or her social intelligence when she befriends the senshi.

And we finally get some more insight into the Inners’ interests. The season’s have sort-of hinted at them, but this is pretty blatantly stating what their ambitions are now that they’re high school students and there are no imminent world-destroying threats anymore.

13-18

Awwww, look at Chibi-Usa holding hands with Usagi and Mamoru both. Remember how she didn’t want anyone but Mamoru to hold her in season 2? And I love the little inclusion of Diana and the reaction of Luna and Artemis.

13-19

Mamoru, I know it’s the end of the episode and the whole season, but… Don’t say things like that. They will invariably turn out badly. Okay, yes, it helps that I know the manga and the anime both start off in roughly the same manner and the eclipse is tied to that. THIS IS NOT A SPOILER, I SWEAR. If nothing else, it’s simple narrative set-up. Everything about the way the eclipse is introduced suggests it’s going to cause trouble.

13-20

See? Your girlfriend and future daughter are already hearing weird things. And with this we return to the very first ending song of Haruka/Michiru. I am probably one of the few people disappointed that we didn’t get a third section for Pluto now that the three of them have formed a family unit to raise Hotaru.

The End of Season 3 and the Infinity arc. The end of the show?

So… Are we going to get the Dream arc? As of yet there’s been no official confirmation that I’m aware of, though apparently the season has a 2017 release date mention on IMDB already. But given the way this ends… I suspect that we will. If there were no plans to make Dream, we’d probably have seen changes from the manga that would at the very least imply that Chibi-Usa had gone home. As opposed to both Chibi-Usa and Usagi getting distracted from going home by a mysterious bell.

I do wish there’d been more information available, though. I’d really hate to have to wait for next year to watch it. It’d be worth the wait if this season is anything to go by, but OMG. I don’t want to wait that long. The Dream arc and the Stars arc are the two arcs that changed the most between the anime and the manga, so while I’ve read the manga a few times I actually have little to no clue of how the season(s) would turn out beyond a few key players that are very definitely spoilers to discuss.

Overall Thoughts

This’ll be a very brief section. I’ve literally just finished watching the final episode, so everything is new and shiny. But… I loved this season so much. It has its faults and issues, sure, but it also had everything I’d hoped for from Crystal from the moment it started to air. I loved it and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. It’s so beautiful to watch.

Admittedly, one of the reasons that I fell out of watching anime in general was because I often wasn’t a fan of the animation styles I kept seeing, so the Infinity arc surpassed my expectations by so incredibly much in that department. And we got 2D animations! I know the 3D ones grew on me, but I have to admit that I think these looked miles better and far more in keeping with the style and aesthetic of the rest of the anime. I loved how vibrant the whole season was. Right up until it wasn’t and it was dark. I loved the way the ending songs changed, though I had most of my quibbles about them.

I’m sorry, but Otome no Susume playing after a major character apparent death is just wrong. It was a complete and utter moodkill.

I… am mostly just in awe of how much I adored this season. It had a fantastic balance between darker themes and humour. I would have liked a little more room for character building, I think, and a bit more of a struggle with the enemies. I think some of that is down to growing up with the 90s anime? Because all of the villains in all three season so far have been major villains (bosses in gaming terms) and lasted quite a few episodes.

In Crystal? Most of them have been relegated to Monster of the Day status because of the pacing. They don’t have a chance to start to form a credible threat. But we have seen progress through the series. None of the Inners got kidnapped this time! (Er. Well. Not by the minor villains or before the finale anyway.) Mistress 9 took quite a few episodes to defeat and even then… was she really defeated? Pharaoh 90 absorbed her and then Saturn (presumably) burst forth from her, so does that still count as her being defeated by the senshi who were actively fighting her?

Chibi-Usa was fantastic. I adore her and I loved seeing her friendship with Hotaru develop and her relationship with Usagi deepen. It was just so delightful and watching her grow as a person and a senshi was beautiful. I really didn’t like Chibi-Usa in the 90s and I struggle enough with reading visuals that I struggle with the personalities in the manga and couldn’t really tell anything other than “I think I like her better here” and in Crystal… Oh, she just shines so brightly. She might be my favourite Crystal character. I think she’s that delightful to watch.

And the Outers! Wow. They were so wonderful. I loved the mixture of tough, bad-ass ruthlessness and the gentleness. The desire to be strong and independent and the deep desire to be part of the whole senshi team and the struggle between them. I loved the way Pluto meshed with Uranus and Neptune when she’d been awakened. I loved their ambiguous feelings towards Hotaru and the way Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon were such polar opposites. I loved the scene where Usagi learns that sometimes you can’t save everyone and has to deal with the fact that she got Uranus hurt on top of that.

Just… This season, everyone. THIS SEASON. Why is it over? T_T I don’t want it to be over. Noooooooooooooooo. T_T

Divider