Sailor V’s introductory episode is one of Sailor Moon Crystal‘s better episodes. Minako is a fan favorite, and her episode perfectly captures her personality while also serving as a transition to what is soon to be a huge plot advancement.
“Minako – Sailor V” picks up where the last episode left off, with Sailor V revealing herself to her fellow senshi. As Sailor Moon and the others fawn over her, V drops a huge bombshell – she’s the long lost Princess Serenity. Her supposed identity clashes with all of the dreams Usagi has been having, but ever in awe of other women, Usagi takes it at face value. V’s presence scares off Zoicite, who makes a tactical retreat, leaving the Senshi to get to know their new teammate/princess. Tuxedo Mask also makes his exit, feeling like a jerk for not being able to protect Usagi.
Minako in her civilian form is a lot more cheery than her secret identity would suggest, but she still puts on an air of seriousness when Moon business is at hand. It’s clear that Minako is happy that she no longer has to be alone in her crime fighting crusade, but the secrets that she keeps are a burden to her. Even as the other Senshi attempt to acclimate her into their friend group, Minako keeps her distance. It’s a slight change from the source material, especially when she attempts to fight Kunzite by herself, but it gives her some extra characterization. It’s just been Minako and her advisor Artemis for so long, adjusting to having teammates is tough for her, especially since its implied that she is the only one with her memories of her past life fully intact.
With Jadeite, Nephrite, and Zoicite out of action, Kunzite is left to deal with the Sailor Senshi. He lures them out by killing all the lights in Tokyo, and spends the rest of the episode floating smugly within a barrier, soundly trouncing the Senshi with energy attacks. Interestingly, Kunzite has a moment of recognition when V attempts to jog his memory of his former self. It’s more or less confirmed there that the Shittenou, like the Senshi, are unaware of their past lives.
I’ve really enjoyed the little moments they’ve added in with the Senshi and their corresponding Shittenou. The original anime did a far superior job in giving them distinct personalities (I wish they had added in the Kunzite/Zoicite element here), but it never really explained their significance. Crystal doesn’t have the time to develop them to the level of the original anime, but it does do its part to give them moments of intrigue here and there.
My issue once again involves the effectiveness of the Senshi. Something about the way their battle is executed makes the Senshi seem incredibly weak. Sailor V has been fighting the forces of the Dark Kingdom on her own for some time before she joins the team, yet she’s almost knocked off the side of the Tokyo Tower with one hit from Kunzite. The other Senshi each get in an attack only for them to fall flat. Even Sailor Moon – whose confidence and determination greatly level up – doesn’t even think to jump out of the way of Kunzite’s blast before Tuxedo Mask takes the hit for her.
I will give Sailor Moon this. Her moment with Tuxedo Mask is one of Crystal‘s best so far. Rather than crying, or whining, Usagi gives Mamoru a big (fully awake!) smooch and then tells him to get out of the way. The powerful tone of the scene is negated a minute later when she has to be saved by him again, but the scene itself holds up. Usagi and Mamoru’s dynamic is always best when he’s there for moral support while she kicks butt, and I hope we’ll see more of that as she grows into a stronger heroine.
“Minako – Sailor V” is one of Crystal‘s strongest episodes so far both in story and animation. The narrative has always been tight (perhaps even too tight), but Minako’s arrival means the completion of the team and the beginning of their confrontation with the Dark Kingdom in earnest. The animation is improved, for whatever it’s worth. Queen Beryl seems to be the most consistently on-model, but the animators do their part to make Minako look good in her true debut episode.
Overall, I’m pretty optimistic about where Crystal is going. With Sailor V there to act as a mentor of sorts for Usagi, her development into a full fledged hero should become more evident. Some exciting revelations are on the horizon (for those of you who are new to Sailor Moon, anyway), and I look forward to seeing how they’re handled.
The next episode of Sailor Moon Crystal will air on November 1st.
Images are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha.