This week’s Sailor Moon Crystal takes what is generally a pretty tightly written chapter and messes around with it until it no longer makes much sense. While it doesn’t completely screw up the narrative, it does make for a pretty jarring episode full of what come off as strange occurrences.
“Tuxedo Mask” follows its corresponding chapter pretty well for the beginning act. Tuxedo Mask decides to take out an ad to find the Legendary Silver Crystal, and Zoicite takes advantage of it by using dark magic to stir everyone in town into a frenzy. Meanwhile, the Sailor Senshi learn from Luna that both she and their lost Princess are from the Moon. It’s all standard Sailor Moon action, and it all works relatively well.
The trouble comes when they start trying to do something about it. In the manga, Usagi isn’t with the girls when Luna shows them their secret base. Her inexplicable tiredness comes from falling under the same blanket curse every other citizen is under, and Tuxedo Mask finds her struggling to remain awake. Having her anime counterpart run out on the girls after an argument about Tuxedo Mask’s intentions makes it seem like she’s flaky and overly reliant on Tuxedo Mask. Furthermore, the lack of explanation about why she’s suddenly exhausted makes it seem like she just randomly collapses. It creates a vague and frustrating picture, especially after she spends a large chunk of the episode standing around with Tuxedo Mask while her friends get their asses kicked.
Another oddity is that senshi transform right in from of Zoicite instead of transforming ahead of time (like in the manga chapter). Though the three put up a decent fight at first, they more or less drop out of the fight the second they get knocked down, making them look uncharacteristically weak. And then Queen Beryl shows up for some reason. It’s true that Beryl is kind of underused and a bit one-dimensional as a villain (at least until she gets some backstory), but it feels like Crystal is tipping it’s hand too soon, especially since she does little but threaten them. She has three downed Senshi just laying there waiting for something to happen, I’m not sure why she doesn’t just destroy them right then.
By themselves, none of these transgressions are a huge deal, but together, they’re very bizarre. Why would the Senshi confront their enemy in their civilian identities? Why would Usagi take her sweet time getting back to them? By now, Sailor Moon should be starting to move past the whining and crying and fainting, but she still seems helpless.
Gripes aside, the scene between Usagi and Tuxedo Mask is sweet, especially the part where he tells her that her ability to bring out the best in her friends makes her a true leader. Tuxedo Mask may seem like a plot device now, but his strength as a character comes from his support of Sailor Moon and the Senshi. Despite how it initially seems, he’s not the person who comes and rescues Usagi at every opportunity. I’m sure that’ll become more apparent in later episodes, especially now that he and Usagi see through each other’s (paper thin) disguises.
The animation is back to being mediocre, which is disappointing following Jupiter’s relatively decent debut episode. I’m hoping that the revamped Blu-Ray episodes will be released outside of Japan at some point, because I like a lot of the changes I’ve seen so far. It is nice to see that they’ve made a few changes to the opening sequence, most notably changing Queen Serenity’s hair from blonde to silver as is canon. Now if they could only do the same for Princess Serenity.
I still find the continued existence of Nephrite and (presumably) Jadeite a very intriguing plot point. Nephrite especially seems bent on revenge against Sailor Jupiter, which is a confrontation I hope to see in the future. There’s nothing wrong with changing up the plot, especially if it’s something not seen before. I just hope they manage to keep everything logical from now on.
Images are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha.