2014 has gone, but the moon sure hasn’t. Welcome back to a more productive and opinionated Simulcast Corner, where this time we’ll travel back to the Sailor Moon Crystal universe and explore what the heck is happening–’cause trust me, it’s a lot. If you’ve been watching the series since my last review, you’ll know that our Senshi are raging war with the Dark Moon peeps, big time! So grab your moon specters, and prepare for some battles, ’cause it’s time for more Moon-approved action.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
Episode 13 starts off with a cliffhanger, now finished: Usagi “kills herself,” continuing the cycle that started with her past life (Princess Serenity). With some slow motion shots, and awkward jump cuts, we see that our heroine and her love are now trapped inside Queen Metalia’s…energy/body/bubble thing. This then signals the rest of the Senshi to go into full on battle mode, transformation pens and all.
Unfortunately, the majority of this episode felt half-baked. From the animation (particularly the wide shots near the end), the rushed plot elements that came out of no where, and the ending, this was definitely one of the weakest season finales I’ve seen in a while…. of anything, anime or otherwise.
The best place to begin is with our title character and her love interest. Maybe it’s because I’m more invested in the original animated incarnation of Sailor Moon versus other versions, but every time this series focuses on Usagi and Mamoru as a couple, rather than feeling complete compassion for them, I end up feeling empty.
With the original 90’s series, we had upwards of 40 plus episodes to build upon the foundation for this relationship. We grew to love the bond between these two, because they were complete opposites who eventually grew to love one another through hardships of varying degrees. But with Crystal, we’ve had to accomplish that same degree of romance in a much shorter time span, which, though it replicates the chapters of the manga, feels rushed and forced compared to the original anime.
And as much as I love seeing the (
mostly) beautiful “money” shots of Endymion and Princess Serenity giving a smooch on the Moon Kingdom, along with the little moments of perfection between Mamoru and Usagi in the prior episodes of Crystal, these visuals can’t fill that gap of seeing their relationship grow like you do in the original.
The same can be said for the friendships of Usagi with the other senshi. There is a particular scene where each of the girls remember how their moon leader inspired them. Though the sequence was filled with “derpy” faces from beginning to end, I didn’t get how any of these girls can feel they have that strong a bond with Usagi. Sure, she did one thing that improved a part of their lives, but that specific moment can’t completely explain their admiration for Sailor Moon. Like sure, I’m so happy the barista at Starbucks made my Chai Latte with just the right amount of foam, but I’m not going to fly them to the moon and sacrifice myself for them anytime soon.
And yes, let’s talk about that ending. Sure, like Episode 12, we are left off with yet another bit of suspense…. but come on! If you’ve seen the preview for Season 2 and, even the preview for the next episode, you know Sailor Moon and her senshi are going to win, duh. So what, in actuality, was the point of cutting the episode off there? Did the team run out of time to animate the ending shot? Were they too busy discussing the proper proportions of Chibiusa’s hair for Season 2? At this point, anything is possible.
At the end of the day, Sailor Moon Crystal has been a bumpy ride, that seems to not be slowing down anytime soon. At the beginning, we had our missteps, our awkward animated fun times, that then slowly transitioned into a much more focused and productive piece of nostalgic entertainment. Now, we’re back to those rushed, sometimes pretty, but ultimately messy adventures of Usagi and company.
Am I hoping Episode 14 isn’t a clip show? Yes. Do I also think this show could become good again, a la the shining example that was Jupiter’s introduction episode? Of course. But as it stands, we have some time to see how the team over at Toei will handle the next arc in Crystal’s tale. Lets just hope they take a deep breath, a chill pill, and realize the important franchise in their hands. Oh, and maybe take the time to make sure Queen Serenity isn’t stealing pieces from her daughter’s wardrobe.
Sailor Moon Crystal airs every other Saturday on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Neon Alley and Nico-Nico