This episode is this season’s obligatory ‘What if Mamoru leaves you?’ episode, and as such is just as irritating as every previous incarnation of the episode. In this episode, Usagi and Chibiusa meet two of Mamoru’s college classmates, Saori and Kobayashi. Kobayashi has a crush on Saori, but Saori is interested in Mamoru. Usagi and Chibiusa, for their parts, behave like little brats, something which seems to encourage Saori to try her luck with Mamoru. She arranges to go shopping with Mamoru, and Tiger’s Eye, having decided to target her, attempts to lead her astray with terrible English, failing miserably. Meanwhile, Chibiusa tries to convince Usagi to be worried that Mamoru’ll leave her for Saori. When Chibiusa finally gets her riled up and ready to find the pair, they find them being attacked by Tiger’s Eye. In the course of the battle, Sailor Moon blocks the Lemures when it attempts to suffocate Mamoru, and Saori sees this and realizes who Sailor Moon must be, and decides to give up. The episode ends with her giving the tie to Kobayashi instead (but not romantically).
If I were going to point someone to an episode of SuperS and describe it as “boilerplate”, this is it. Everything that happens here is stuff that has already happened before, from the promo’s gasping declaration that someone is having an affair (and the promo for the next episode says it, too!) to the attempt to game the victim (and the entire way it plays out is nearly identical to the Naru episode) to Usagi’s immaturity being a catalyst. This makes it hard to hash over much, honestly, as a lot of it is repeat, so I’ll avoid getting too into the weeds this time around.
The first thing that bears mention is that Tiger’s Eye explicitly states that if he cannot manage to woo Saori using his pick-up routine, then he’ll have her by force, so, hey, if you were unconvinced by my previous analysis of the Amazon Trio’s routine as rapetastic, here’s Tiger’s Eye being pretty clear about it! Initially, though, he brushes off his failure by stating to his brethren, “It’s different if she has a guy!”. He might flip-flop on this one after being prodded for his failure, but this is a point on which this particular episode varies from the one with Naru (in her last appearance, poor girl), as Tiger’s Eye didn’t consider Umino as a legitimate romantic partner for Naru, so therefore she was free game. Women as property, folks! And when Tiger’s Eye makes a second go at Saori, he does so in front of Mamoru, the first time that either he or Hawk’s Eye has made a point of attacking their victims with others around, and there’s definitely an edge of getting one over on the other man (Mamoru) at work here, as Tiger’s Eye merrily pins him down with knives before he penetrates Saori’s dream mirror. In exorcising his own humiliation over being ‘outmaneuvered’ earlier in the episode and reclaiming his masculinity, Tiger’s Eye deliberately emasculates Mamoru by rendering him completely unable to protect his (perceived) female property.
Of course, Mamoru pretty much fails to play into this by not having mangst over the fact that Sailor Moon saves him from being suffocated by this week’s Lemures (the absolutely hilarious Puko, who is a giant balloon who declares while suffocating Sailor Moon after she throws herself in front of Mamoru to protect him that its heartbreakingly romantic and that she’ll be careful to kill Mamoru right away afterward so they’ll die together) (I labeled the moment Sailor Moon dives in front of Mamoru was “worst NTR ever” as Puko decides to attack Mamoru since she thinks he’s handsome – really!). Interestingly, Mamoru spends a lot more time in the manga than in the anime angsting about his lack of power, although it is distinctly a matter of his feeling like he’s a burden on Usagi and needs to pull his own weight to help support her in her world-saving ways rather than his feeling, uguu, need to prove manliness.
During Tiger’s Eye’s attack, Saori, by the way, declares the obvious that hasn’t been stated yet in the show – what he’s doing is assault, and it is a crime. Not that he’s terribly fussed by this, but if the earlier bit about having her by force was still leaving some clueless, well, Saori’s on the job for the dopes of the world.
While there is some decent stuff to dig into scattered throughout, this is probably the worst episode of the season so far. Chibiusa’s hyper-suspicious of Saori merely on the grounds that she seems to know “too much” about Mamoru for someone who is a classmate, even though its mentioned that they’ve known each other for at least five or six years based on the fact that they were high school classmates. It seems Chibiusa doesn’t believe men and women can be friends, and there isn’t much done to counter this notion – and when I consider the show as a whole, its impossible to point to a female-male friendship that doesn’t have some touch of romance on at least one side of it (later seasons for Motoki cool off any romantic angle between himself and the girls, but the first phase involves everyone having crushes, so doesn’t pass this test).
The larger point of annoyance, though, is how awful Usagi is here. Anime!Usagi is maddeningly inconsistent, quite frankly, as every season she gets stuck having to regress to immaturity and whininess since apparently her growth as a young woman must constantly be reset. Sure, SuperS Usagi isn’t quite as bad as Usagi as we see her in the first half of season one, but episodes like these do a lot to undo any impression we built up of her as a worthy heroine from the latter parts of previous seasons. Even if I know its going to happen, it still irritates me every single time. The original anime made me hate Usagi, and re-reading the manga I realize how stupid it is that that ever had to happen.