The long awaited Sailor Jupiter introduction episode is finally here, and it doesn’t disappoint as much as the episodes before it. With decent animation and a story that delves farther into Makoto’s past than any of her other origin stories, “Makoto – Sailor Jupiter” is easily the best episode of Sailor Moon Crystal so far.
Makoto’s introduction plays out in the same way as her manga counterpart, which may displease fans of the original anime. Makoto memorably beat up a group of creepers harassing Usagi in the previous adaptation, and her manga/Crystal introduction doesn’t quite compare. Nevertheless, saving Usagi from being hit by a car displays Makoto’s cool and strong nature just fine, as well as gives Usagi a reason to comment on how nice she smells. Classic Usagi.
At school, Makoto is treated like a tall, scary delinquent, but her personality leans more toward cute and feminine. Usagi immediately takes to Mako on account of her interests in good food and cute things, as well as her independence and physical strength. Mako’s “superhuman strength” is commented on more than it’s actually shown, but her ability to catch a baseball with her bare hand gets the message across.
The episode’s B-Plot revolves around a Nephrite-controlled Youma who takes the form of a mannequin at a bridal shop and sucks the energy out of all the visiting grooms-to-be. The theme of love is weaved into Makoto’s storyline, as it’s revealed that she transferred to Usagi’s school because of the rejection she faced at the hands of her senpai at her previous school.
Admittedly, a lot of the Senshi’s daily problems, especially concerning love, resonate less with me now that I’m an adult. While I absolutely feel for Makoto, especially since I too was someone who crushed hard, it’s difficult to forget that she suffered this heartbreak when she was 13 years old, which makes her decision to transfer seem a little melodramatic (though she does mention that she also transferred because she felt compelled). Still, my 14 year old self would have been right there with her, and that’s what matters. I appreciate that Crystal gives her past more attention than it usually receives, and when she comes out of her love-induced trauma via Usagi’s encouraging words (and Rei’s comments that men are lame anyway), she transforms into Sailor Jupiter without even having to be prompted.
Sailor Jupiter’s true strength is revealed as she unleashes two different attacks on Nephrite and the bride Youma. Her attacks perfectly represent the dichotomy of her personality. As she unleashes a barrage of flowers and lightening, Nephrite seems to have some kind of recollection of her. While Jadeite’s moment with Mars is manga-canon, Nephrite’s moment with Jupiter is added in, meaning that Crystal may want to explore Naoko Takeuchi’s abandoned Senshi/Shittenou storyline a bit. It could be the reason Jadeite, and now Nephrite, are still alive.
“Makoto – Sailor Jupiter” has the most improved animation since the pilot, and I hope it stays that way. While it’ll never be the gorgeously animated show it deserves to be, I can’t really think of any specific instances in this episode that are grating. I do wish that they’d included Makoto’s potpourri belt from the manga re-release and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon in her design, as it would have granted her a little individuality (for the record, I also wish they’d included Mars’ belt jewel), but that’s only a minor gripe.
Makoto’s episode marks a high point for Crystal thus far, and I can only hope it manages to maintain this level of quality at least. Next episode will focus on Tuxedo Mask, and based on his apparent realization that Usagi and Sailor Moon are one in the same, it should be an interesting one.
The next episode will air on September 20th. See you then!
Images are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha