A romance on hold for ten years?
In this episode we meet up with Reika, Motoki’s girlfriend, for the last time. She’s back from Africa, where she was off doing research previously, but has been accepted to a program of study in Europe that will take ten years (!!!!) to complete. She’s hesitating, though, as she loves Motoki and isn’t sure if leaving him in Japan is the right thing to do. Motoki is avoiding her, which just makes her feel worse. There are some attempts by the senshi here to discuss the new threat, but it doesn’t pan out since Minako and Usagi become obsessed with getting Motoki to speak with Reika. Tiger’s Eye targets Reika, pretending to be sympathetic to her worries, and this time all of the inner senshi get involved in the battle. Tiger’s Eye looks like he may prevail before Pegasus arrives on scene to grant the power-up, and the Lemure (the disposable monster of the week that the Dead Moon Circus “mini bosses” use) is defeated. In the final scene we learn that, unsurprisingly, Motoki’s been avoiding Reika because he doesn’t want her to give up her dream for him, and the two have a watery-eyed reunion as he tells her that he’ll wait for her.
Honestly, I’d called what Motoki’s sentiments were more or less from the outset; he’s never depicted as being a jerk (unlike anime!Mamoru!), so of course it’s a matter of not wanting to interfere with her dreams of studying abroad for a fancy advanced graduate degree. However, what seems weird here is that there’s no discussion of Motoki trying to figure out a way that he can go with her; if he loves her enough that he’s willing to wait ten years (!!!!!!) for her, why not get married and head off to Europe with her? Most universities allow students to bring along their spouses, so it’s certainly doable. Granted, I know the real focus here is on how dedicated their love must be if they’re willing to endure ten years apart, sooo, well, hey, decade apart it is. True love!
One of the things that this season is shaping up to be about is about Chibi-Usa learning about love, which is unsurprising given that she gets a love interest for the first time. At times like this, I really do wish she were a little bit older, especially as I don’t go in for the whole, “aww, young kids falling love, uguu, precious~” thing at all. I don’t exactly dislike the way the story pans out, but I also know that my brain keeps interpreting Chibiusa as thirteen or fourteen years old instead of the eight or nine she actually is. Anyway, last episode, she noted that a girl can’t just always wait around for a prince to show up on a white horse, but that sometimes she has to get on the horse and find the prince herself (and Usagi accused her of reading her grandmother’s ‘mature’ books), and this episode she notes at the end that distance shouldn’t be the deciding factor in a relationship if you truly love each other (which is, honestly, a bit questionable – Motoki’s about twenty years old here, so if he lives sixty more years, he’s agreeing to wait for Reika for ~17% of the rest of his life). SuperS is running about 50% on romantic advice currently; I hope going forward that that figure creeps up a fair bit or Chibiusa is going to have some expectations and beliefs that aren’t going to be entirely helpful later on.
The rape allusions get even clearer here than they were last episode. Tiger’s Eye chases after Reika after she gets nervous and tries to flee, and it’s extremely creepy – he even tells her to not resist because he’d hate to hurt something beautiful. Blech. I forgot to mention that in the last episode he stole Unazuki’s wallet so he could play the savior by giving her her wallet when she started to panic because she couldn’t find it when she had to pay her bus fare, which is a trick I’ve witnessed guys pulling before in real life. Its manipulative, skeezy, and suggests a person who lacks the confidence to strike up a conversation in a honest manner. Here he just pretends to be concerned about her concerns, and when Reika starts feeling uncomfortable he reveals his true colors and attacks her. The process of searching her Dream Mirror is lengthier here, with Reika screaming for him to stop more.
As I thought a bit about it, too, the choosing of targets here very much comes across as stalking. There’s a level of deliberateness to the approach that the Amazon Trio utilizes that isn’t seen in previous villains – while the Death Busters weren’t completely going for blind shots into the darkness, they weren’t printing out photos and assessing them for their beauty, either, while debating it amongst each other. (Also, apparently ugly people can’t have beautiful dreams… hard to say if we’re supposed to view this as the Trio being crappy about people’s physical appearance or if we’re supposed to take it at face value since the primary cast is made up of conventionally pretty and cute people.) It leaves a pretty strongly sour taste in my mouth, and where I sympathized with the Trio the first time I watched this as Zirconia began to threaten them about repeated failure, I’m not sure that’ll ever be the case again.
While I liked the primary storyline of this episode, I really hated Usagi’s depiction in support of this, as Usagi is demonstrated as clingy, obsessed, and insecure in regards to Mamoru and her relationship with him here. You’d think that having been in a relationship pretty steadily for about two seasons at this point would mean some sense of security there, but I guess everyone just thinks its hilarious to have the heroine act like a whiny kid about it still. Usagi whinges away about being separated from Mamoru, only for us to discover this simply means she hasn’t seen him or spoken with him in roughly twenty hour hours, and, not only that, but this is due to him being off doing some academic thing that she’d forgotten about. He admonishes her for getting worried about it and also admonishes her when it becomes clear that she hasn’t sat down and talked with the other inner senshi about the new enemy at all. Pretty dismaying to see this going on for our leader, and it feels a bit like it was done since Tuxedo Mask was fairly ineffectual last episode and has his role as making the difference in a pinch entirely replaced later in the episode by Pegasus. Usagi’s saved or helped save the world three times now in the TV series, with an additional two times in the movies – surely she can run a team at this point?
There’s a pure Ikuhara moment early in the episode where Fisheye suddenly whips out a gold saddle that he states he found in the corner of the tent, and the Trio chortles over how it’ll be so much fun to put it on Pegasus and ride him around once they’ve captured him. It honestly doesn’t really fit with the rest of the show, as its fairly absurd.
Actually, speaking of Fisheye – so, the dub changed Fisheye to a woman from a man, and, obnoxiously, the Pioneer/Geneon R1 release identifies Fisheye as female in the subtitles by using words such as “she”, “her”, and “girl” when other characters speak about him. While Takeuchi’s notes in one of the manga artbooks seem to indicate Fisheye might be trans, in the anime Fisheye is a cisgender man, and it boggles why this is obscured by the subtitles.