The second episode of Sailor Moon Crystal is upon us after two long weeks. While it does a splendid job of introducing Sailor Mercury, it’s marred by an animation quality diminished from the pilot. I hope this isn’t going to be a trend, especially since the long wait between episodes makes each one seem like a special event.
Let’s talk about what “Ami – Sailor Mercury” gets right. First and foremost, it serves as an introduction to Sailor Mercury. The episode sticks to it’s corresponding manga chapter almost to the letter, with a few extra scenes scattered throughout in order to give Ami more characterization. It’s easy to see how lonely she is, especially when others talk about her behind her back. When Usagi befriends her, she learns that being incredibly intelligent doesn’t necessarily equal being alone. The girls strike up a sweet friendship, even if it is born from Usagi’s desire for a tutor. The added scene at the end does a good job of cementing their friendship, and it’ll be nice to see their interactions while they scout Rei.
I question the decision to cut Sailor Moon’s “Sailor Moon Kick” out of the final battle in favor of trapping her against a wall for the majority of the fight. On the one hand, it plays up her inexperience and eventual development into a competent superheroine, as well as gives Sailor Mercury added focus. On the other hand, it makes her rescue by Tuxedo Mask seem a little more damsel-ish than I’d like. Still, as far as the plot goes, it’s a minor quibble.
My main gripe is with the animation, which has lowered in quality since the pilot. While “Usagi – Sailor Moon” had some issues with expression, this episode has trouble with remaining on-model. There are several moments where Usagi and Ami’s faces look off, their eyes engulf their faces, or their hair looks funky. There is a very noticeable instance where the blue in Usagi’s school uniform bleeds into her hair, which is a completely forgivable mistake barring the other sloppy work. It feels like a lot of the effort went into the third act, with Ami’s battle phrase looking beautifully animated in comparison to the rest of the episode. While Ami’s transformation sequence is sweetly reminiscent of her anime transformation, the stilted CGI once again ruins the effect. I worry that the animation is going to be a reoccurring issue. For a much anticipated show that releases its episodes every two weeks, I expect a higher quality.
I will concede that they animated Usagi’s face a little more expressively this episode, and the still shot of her in her doctor disguise is very cute.
Rei is going to be introduced next week, in keeping with the manga pace. I hope Sailor Moon Crystal can fix it’s animation issues so I can enjoy it without concern. I’m really loving what they’re doing story wise, and I’d love to see an animation quality to match.
The next episode of Sailor Moon Crystal will air on August 2nd.
Images are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha.