Everyone’s favorite season!
I suddenly decided to re-watch Sailor Moon SuperS last night; I’ll admit I’ve had a couple of moments recently where the thought to re-watch has vaguely crossed my mind, but for whatever reason last night I decided to seize the moment and actually do so. I’m curious as to whether SuperS is really as bad as it is often maligned – I’ve only seen it all the way through once, and that was about eleven or twelve years ago when it aired on Toonami… so I’ve never seen it subbed or uncut before. First time for everything, right? Luckily, I do have the DVDs lying around, having acquired them off of a friend a few years back when they decided they had become a Real Adult and so could no longer enjoy cartoons about girls in short skirts and tiaras kicking bad guy butt. I mourned their lapse into properly mature dullness.
So I dug out the DVDs and decided to fire them up. And then, of course, since I’m an anime blogger, I decided to blog it episodically.
Again, I’m primarily curious as to whether this season actually sucks or if people exaggerate. I don’t myself recall it being all that bad; yeah, I think S is better, and I also think the first season is better, but I enjoyed watching this when it aired. Since re-watching Gundam Wing I’ve come to be fairly skeptical of claims that things I watched when I was younger are actually horrid (Gundam Wing was better than I remembered), so here’s my skepticism right here. I realize, though, that a lot of the flack this season catches has to do with the focus on Chibi-Usa instead of Usagi. I’m in the minority in that I’ve generally always liked Chibi-Usa; sure, she’s bratty a fair bit, but she’s also six years old (R) and eight years old (S, SuperS, Sailor Stars), so I find this behavior a lot less grating than I do Usagi’s incessant whining of the first two seasons. I think her original entrance into the story, too, is funny.
On the other hand, I find the larger ramifications of the existence of her as a character increasingly disturbing as I get older – she’s basically a destiny trap for Usagi, and I find that troubling given that Usagi is fourteen years old when Chibi-Usa first surfaces in her life. Isn’t it a little creepy to introduce a fourteen year old to her future child? It’s basically emotional blackmail, since if Usagi does begin to question whether Mamoru’s actually the guy for her, well, hey, what about Chibi-Usa?! Yeah, yeah, true love and all that, but, again Usagi’s fourteen. She should be able to live her life without having to worry about whether her romantic decisions end up rendering her future daughter nonexistent. (And, by the way, this isn’t all that different from how in Twilight the protagonist’s fetus starts talking to her and the father as the pregnancy itself threatens the health and life of the lead.)
Buuuut that’s not exactly what we’re here to examine. We’re here because I watched the first episode of Sailor Moon SuperS and want to tell you about it.
As far as the story of the episode, it’s pretty straightforward, as are most episodes of Sailor Moon. Chibi-Usa awakens from a mysterious dream involving a winged horse, and has apparently overslept, making herself and Usagi late to meeting up with the rest of the gang at a park. It’s the day of a full solar eclipse, and everyone’s excited to watch it, even if Usagi apparently doesn’t understand what its name really means. During the eclipse, and unnoticed by all, the Dead Moon Circus zips in from another dimension and sets up shop. We meet Zirconia, who summons the Amazon Trio and orders them to find Pegasus, whom is hiding somewhere in someone’s beautiful dream. The Trio pore over dozens of photos of women, trying to pick a target before settling on Unazuki, a friend to the senshi who works at the Crown Fruit Parlor, as their first target. Tiger’s Eye goes after Unazuki, forcing her Dream Mirror out, but he is dismayed to discover that Pegasus isn’t there. During this, Usagi and Chibi-Usa arrive on scene as Sailors Moon and Chibi Moon, but find themselves overmatched. Luckily, Pegasus shows up suddenly to give them both a power-up, and Super Sailor Moon saves Unazuki.
One of the things that is really striking about this episode is how much of a parallel of the first episode of the first season it is, but with Chibi-Usa at the center instead of Usagi. Chibi-Usa wakes up from a dream in which she is wearing her princess dress and is reaching out for the one she’ll love, and when she wakes up we find that she’s overslept and is late for getting somewhere. It’s the same sequence of events as the first episode of Sailor Moon. When the battle takes place, Tuxedo Mask initially does his usual shtick with the rose, only to find himself pinned down, and it takes Sailor Chibi Moon’s would-be prince to come in and give the edge that is desperately needed (which, by the way, is itself indicative of the fact that Usagi better make way for her future daughter). I doubt that any of this was unintentional; its a pretty clear way to set Chibi-Usa up as our primary protagonist – although, intriguingly, she doesn’t get to be the savior of the day despite taking the lead role.
I capped this one because it looks like Sailor Chibi Moon is helping to brace Sailor Moon, which struck me as something worth noting since the only other times we see assistance given like this to Sailor Moon is late in the respective seasons (although the first season’s final battle in particular comes to mind).
While this isn’t a bad opening episode, I can certainly see one of the major issues with this season – it doesn’t really have much connection to what’s come before. Pegasus doesn’t really fit into the mythos as its been presented to us previously; previous allies introduced clearly fit into the general scheme, and villains, well, they’re villains, so we can expect them to roll into town when a new season comes along. The magical ‘macguffin’ here, too, doesn’t really work with prior patterns – the Rainbow Crystals are necessary to reform the Silver Crystal, in R the Star Points can open up a dimensional portal, in S the Talismans hidden in three of the Pure Heart Crystals form the Grail and also are weapons for some of the senshi… Pegasus has a crystal, but he isn’t really a macguffin himself so much as a person who needs protection – although this could be seen as a parallel to Chibi-Usa’s position in R (but I’m not convinced; Chibi-Usa, after all, doesn’t confer any true benefits to the senshi until the very end of the season while Pegasus gives a much needed power boost).
(And, by the way, while the manga does connect the Dead Moon Circus with previous storylines – albeit in a way that makes the whole thing pretty convoluted – this is never the case with the anime.)
Personally, the Dead Moon Circus is one of my favorite sets of villains in the series. I think the design of their lair is much more inventive than any of the others we ever see – quite frankly, the Black Moon Clan and the Dark Kingdom have pretty generic digs, while the Death Busters is just kind of boring. I love the sequences leading up to when Zirconia summons the Amazon Trio (and, later, the Amazoness Quartet) each episode, what with the lower ranked underlings all sneering at humanity and larking around in the circus tent. The circus theme is fitting for a season that was targeted toward a slightly younger audience, too, given that it taps into the common childhood fear of clowns (where’s Chibodee Crockett when we need him?). (Probably the best single villain in the show is Eudial, though, honestly.)
The last thing I want to touch on – the whole process of looking into the Dream Mirrors. I now Kunihiko Ikuhara did catch some criticism for the rape imagery of this throughout the season; when the Trio sticking their heads into the mirrors is an act of penetration, and the victims shout for them to stop, scream in panic and terror, and become flushed. In this episode Tiger’s Eye comments that it’s too bad but he has to kill Unazuki after he establishes that Pegasus isn’t in her Dream Mirror. This can be read into in a couple of ways – either as a criticism of the idea of victims of sexual violence as being damaged and worthless, or as a more general criticism of men using women for their own desires before discarding them as useless when they’re done (and not necessarily just in the case of rape). (And, yes, I know that Fish Eye gets in on the action later on and his targets are exclusively male; doesn’t rule out either of those interpretations.)
Anyway, I think that pretty much wraps up what I had to say about this episode. I don’t have a set schedule on blogging this, so it’ll most likely be as the moon spirit moves me… although, damn doesn’t that sound like a period reference? Shit, bros, my bad.