It’s the big one. The apocalypse. The end times. It’s the introduction of my favourite anime character of all time … Sailor Mars! Yes! We are back. Back again. Sailor Moon Crystal, and the recapping and observations drawn from aren’t going anywhere! Yes, we all probably already know the story… but this is a wholly new treatment thereof. It deserves all the attention I’m giving it. It’s important, damnit!
This time, our cold open has us in the Dark Kingdom, the secret base of Queen Beryl and her generals. Jadeite is being berated for screwing up big time. Twice. Lord Vader would already have strangled him, but it appears that Queen Beryl is much more forgiving than he is. Nevertheless, we meet two of the other generals, Nephrite and Zoisite, who we all know are commanders two and three, respectively, to challenge the Pretty Guardians. As usual, they’re bickering and jockeying for favour. I really, really like the design and appearance of Queen Beryl in this new treatment of the material. She looks better than she did in the original, says I. Our villains are switching focus. Instead of just trying to gather energy, Jadeite’s new mission is to eliminate the Sailor Guardians. Unluckily for Jadeite, but luckily for everyone else in the entire universe, Sailor Mars is teased before we hit the opening theme.
And don’t worry, the insanely long intro with its crazy guitar riffs isn’t going anywhere. I find it as comforting as an old friend. Seriously, I love these opening credits. The song is funky, the animation that goes along with it is prosauce, and if the subtitles can be believed the lyrics really serve to hammer home the message that this show is about the girls. Girls who do not need the protection of men. And don’t need some mysterious prince. And are awesome. We also see Queen Beryl’s design more clearly in the opening credits than we have in the episodes so far… and I really like it. Her commanders look pretty much as they did before, albeit more like their original manga versions than their original anime versions. Something about Beryl’s design just tickles me though. I’ll pipe down about it now.
I really hate this esurance commercial. I think I’d actively avoid esurance because of it. So good work on that marketing campaign, esurance. As usual with Hulu, about 14 minutes of commercials interrupt this episode. It’s okay though, I’m so stoked about Sailor Mars’ arrival that I can sit through whatever. Even that esurance commercial.
As the show gets going properly, we’re introduced to the legend of the Sendaizakaue Demon Bus. Essentially, the 6:00 p.m. bus on this same route through Sendaizakaue every day… disappears. Along with everyone who is riding it. Seems ungood. At the arcade, Ami and Luna discuss the weightiness of being Sailor Guardians, and the continuing mission to protect their mysterious princess… and to obtain the Legendary Silver Crystal. That mystery will have to wait for another day, however, as Ami has to head to her cram school. Presumably one better run than the one from Act II. She lures Usagi along not because of the whole ‘studying for better grades’ but, oddly, with the promise of a beautiful girl who takes the same bus sometimes.
This girl, whom we see almost immediately, is of course Rei. She’s lovely in this treatment, with purplish-black hair and violet eyes, but she has severe eyebrows that make her look very serious compared to, say, Usagi. Speaking of Usagi, she can do nothing but stare at the beautiful stranger, who when meeting Usagi’s gaze has the same brief vision that Ami did in Act II. Despite Ami’s protestations that it’s rude to stare, Usagi is undeterred. In fact, she’s so obsessed, that she bails on Ami at Rei’s stop to follow the “beautiful girl” back to a shrine, where she is evidently a shrine maiden.
Rei apparently has psychic powers. She feels emanations of some kind. Mistaking Usagi for a source of evil, Rei slaps her with an evil-binding scroll, knocking her flat. Here we see another element not used in the original anime treatment, as Rei has befriended two ravens, whom she calls Phobos and Deimos (because of course she does). Some exiting soccer moms are talking about Rei’s strange gifts, as well as mysterious disappearances near the shrine. Of course, if we’ve been paying attention, we know that this is where the “Sendaizakaue Demon Bus” disappears people, or at least one such place it does so. I’m sure there’s a connection here somewhere.
Back at school the next day, everyone is talking about the “Demon Bus”. Usagi gives Ami a matching watch she won from an arcade game. Luna, oddly, is totally on board to pop in on Rei again. Apparently, Luna believes that Rei may be the princess that they are seeking because of her unusual gifts, and, apparently, because she looks like a princess. “She’s beautiful enough to be a princess,” says Usagi. On the bus, as Usagi rambles on to Luna, she finds herself seated next to Mamoru, in another random encounter. He’s nonplussed at the way that Usagi seems to be talking to herself, but we also learn that he’s a local high school student. Having his dialogue translated as “bun-head” isn’t nearly as funny as “meatball head” was in the English dub of the original treatment. This is, I think, a critical point.
Oh look. Esurance is back. Shouldn’t these advertisements be targeted? I’m not a homeowner. The Panera Bread looks good though.
As Usagi arrives for that second chat, the soccer moms are back. First, they want Rei to use her psychic powers to find a missing girl. Then they blame Rei for the girl’s disappearance. Usagi leaps to her new friend’s defense, then starts to wilt… before Rei kicks everybody out. Rei sees a vision of Jadeite grabbing Usagi, and misinterprets things a little. She goes sprinting off to warn her friend, only to run afoul of the Demon Bus. Its driver? Well, it’s Jadeite of course. He knocks Rei out, loads her on the bus, and begins to drive off into an alternate dimension or whatever. Usagi sees Rei, and races after, leaping onto the back bumper of the bus, barely missing a confused-looking Tuxedo Mask, presumably on his way to help.
In an alternate dimension, Jadeite’s hostages are all lying in comas on the ground. His plan is obvious: as people disappear, eventually the Sailor Guardians will have to seek out the Demon Bus, and be lured into his trap. Well, Usagi already has been. Luckily, the watches she and Ami share are actually communicators. Ami and Luna plan to track Usagi’s location by watching the energy from her transformation into Sailor Moon, then teleport to her location. That’s pretty handy stuff. Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury are set to rescue Jadeite’s hostages… when the man himself appears. He identifies himself as Jadeite, one of the Four Kings (Kings!) of Dark Kingdom, and then attacks the Sailors. Sailor Mercury seeks to cause some confusion with her otherwise-seemingly-useless bubble attack… but Jadeite laughs at them, and begins to literally freeze them solid.
It’s about this time that Rei wakes up. She immediately senses Usagi within Sailor Moon, and challenges Jadeite herself. He freezes part of her too, but Rei breaks free with a power that she did not even suspect she had. The symbol of Sailor Mars blazes to life on her forehead. Luna recognizes it instantly, and Sailor Mars is born! Woo! Jadeite attacks her, but she shrugs his attack off, much to his astonishment. Sailor Moon traps Jadeite within the band of her tiara boomerang, and Sailor Mars tries to kill him with fire. Jadeite is beaten, but seems to teleport away at the last second. In the original treatment, he lasts quite a bit longer than this, but in the manga, this would be his exit. I guess it’s a cliffhanger for next episode. Assuming we care about Jadeite’s fate. Do we?
Now united, the Sailor Guardians are off to… you know. Find the princess. And the silver crystal. And we see a quick teaser of a man arriving in Tokyo with a lockbox, amid thousands of camera snaps. Hmm. I wonder what that could be? If we’re following the manga’s pattern, next week is a break between the arrival of the Sailor Guardians, and the introduction of Nephrite as the new enemy commander of record. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. And no, I’m not forming any opinions based on the teaser. I’m content to simply bide my time.
Until next time, dear reader, when I continue to worship at the church of Sailor Moon Crystal. It’s a show so nice, I was willing to watch it twice.
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