Sailor Moon Crystal – Act 5 – Makoto – Sailor Jupiter!


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It has been a while, my friends. Yes, we were all forced to suffer through a lifeless, Sailor Moon-less week of tedium and sorrow. Yes, I suffered alongside you. The only thing that could settle my heart was peering through the veil and onto the future, where this episode and its boundless promise awaited. Fortunately, it would seem that most of us have survived and come out the other end. Thank God that, at long last, Act 5 of Sailor Moon Crystal has finally arrived (give ye no thanks to Hulu, for they continue to be absorbed by the foul Geico Pig commercials, and have broken faith with the people of Earth).

As is customary, let us begin this week’s celebration of Sailor Moon with a moment of silence for those of us in Canada and other territories who, as of yet, cannot legally drink from the ever-filled chalice of Sailor Moon Crystal. I wish that I were strong enough to stand in solidarity with you, my friends. 

But I am weak.

Back to business as usual in Sailor Moon Crystal, this week we look to meet Sailor Jupiter, the fourth Pretty Guardian. During the cold open, Luna, everyone’s favourite Moon Cat, is busy pointing out that Usagi-chan does not pay attention to what’s going on. Usagi is going to argue, but then is nearly run over by a car, only to be knocked aside by another girl, who then wanders off in the rain. However, some bit of that tall brunette remains with Usagi, who stares after her. One cool thing about Usagi is how empathic she seems to be. She can sense special things about people without even meaning to. She’s a very sympathetic character in this treatment, probably more so than how the original anime handled her – well, the Ocean dub anyway.

Now let’s rock out.

Jadeite appears to be out of the picture. I was expecting him to get dramatically slain, or at least banished into crystal or the infinite labyrinth of eternal ice or whatever. But no. Queen Beryl is mad because her team keeps losing. Nephrite has a plan. He’s going to exploit love. I feel like if it were really that easy, Nephrite, someone would have done it already. I mean, I get that you Dark Kingdom guys are like weird robots and you don’t really “get” people, but c’mon.

At school, Usagi and her friends swoon over wedding coverage. Good times all around. Master Expositor and Master Creepy Swirly Eye Dude Umino breaks into their conversation to mention that several men have gone missing while shopping for wedding wear. Let’s put a pin in that, shall we? I feel like we all know how these Sailor Moon stories go by now. More importantly, Usagi once again literally runs in to the mysterious brunette we all know is named Makoto. Umino, Exposition Master tells us that this girl is a new transfer student, that she is rumoured to have superhuman strength, and that she was kicked out of a previous school for fighting.

So she’s probably a good candidate for the X-Men.

Poor Makoto. Nobody wants to hang out with her. People are intimidated by her reputation, and she does seem to stand about six feet tall. We all know that Usagi can only see the best in other people though, right? Of course she sidles her way up to Makoto during lunch. It’s a running gag now when Makoto saves Usagi from her clumsiness right? Because dear ole Makoto barehands a baseball that was about to clock our Pretty Guardian of the Moon in her face, and then throws a pitch I’m fairly certain is illegal back toward the diamond. Time for some exposition! Makoto is a real do-it-yourselfer. She cooks, she made her own purse, and she’s living by herself. Seems rough, for a middle school student, that’s for sure.

Usagi is so nice, that she immediately wins Makoto over. I think we all saw that coming. Of course, Makoto then says the magic word, when she admits to looking for an arcade in town. Booyakasha!

At the arcade, Makoto is a real ace at the ubiquitous Sailor V video game. She also has googly eyes for Usagi’s friend Motoki, who works there. Ami continues to be astonished by Usagi’s ability to make friends. Frankly, I am too. Probably no one ever was so delightful as Usagi. I mean, she’s giving people nicknames now. That’s an entirely new stage of awesome. While wandering around town, of course, the friends end up at the cursed bridal shop. Let me just unstick that pin from earlier real quick. They say there’s a bride-ghost there, and that grooms have gone missing. Mannequins are creepy enough without them coming to life, thank you! 

Things go from bad to worse when that selfsame bride mannequin creeps up on poor Motoki and brainwashes him. He goes looking for Makoto! That Nephrite…

Political commercials are boring. I’m pretty unlikely to be swayed by a crazy-slanted 20 second sound byte. I can promise I don’t want to use Geico though, after my 29083048th dose of the Geico Pig. You know I used to think the Geico commercials with the gecko were pretty clever? Yeah. We’re about ten years past that now. Hulu has much to answer for.

Noted pervy weirdo Tuxedo Mask awakens Usagi in the middle of the night and steals away with her through her bedroom window. Luna notices, more or less panics, and calls in the big guns. As I think we’d otherwise hoped, the Sailor Guardians confront the evil mannequin – obviously, Nephrite’s pawn, not a ghost, but a servant of Evil! – but she’s got some tricks. Nephrite shows up to taunt our heroes. Usagi gives a speech about love. Against your expectations, it mostly results in the Sailor Guardians getting owned by green magic…. but also in Makoto judo flipping the mannequin, and standing up for herself.

You go girl. Obviously, it’s about this time that she’s revealed as Sailor Jupiter. Her transformation is notably cool. Lightning is always a fun visual effect, and they do it nicely here, as Makoto becomes the Guardian of Love and Courage, Sailor Jupiter! She immediately summons both a hurricane of apparently-sharp flowers and a bunch of freaking lightning, busting up that stupid mannequin, and leaving Nephrite looking like a fool.

As a coda, Luna gives Sailor Moon a cool new toy, and me an opportunity to see commercials from the other political party. Woooo, senate elections! And a Wal-Mart commercial that makes me feel bad for employees of Wal-Mart. Are they really doing people’s shopping for them now? Actually, come to think of it, that’s probably a lot more fun than the baseline retail experience. I redact my sympathies.

Only a fortnight from now though, our odyssey will continue, with Act VI. It sounds like we’ll finally learn a little bit more about our mysterious possibly-ally… Tuxedo Mask! Well, I’m stoked. Meet me there. We’ll talk about it. We’ll do lunch. It’ll be great. In the meantime, remember your friends who can’t watch, and try not to taunt them with your knowledge of how great this show is.

Back to School #41: Pretty In Pink (dir by Howard Deutch)


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“Blane!  That’s not a name, that’s a major appliance!” — Duckie (Jon Cryer) in Pretty In Pink (1986)

(SPOILERS!)

Blane or Duckie?  Duckie or Blane?  Which one should Andi have gone to the prom with?

That’s the question at the heart of the 1986 film Pretty In Pink.  In Susannah Gora’s excellent book You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried (which, incidentally, has been an important source of information for this entire Back to School series of reviews), a good deal of space and debate is devoted to whether or not Andi (played by Molly Ringwald) should have ended up going to the prom with either Duckie (Jon Cryer) or Blane (Andrew McCarthy).  What’s interesting is just how passionate the arguments on both side of the debate get.  Those in the pro-Duckie camp, like producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director Howard Deutch, frame the debate as almost being a moral one.  Those on the pro-Blane side — people like John Hughes (who wrote the film’s script) and Andrew McCarthy — make a convincing argument that the audience wanted to see Andie with Blane.

Perhaps most importantly, Molly Ringwald — who not only played Andie but upon whom the character was largely based — makes little secret of which suitor she preferred.  Molly Ringwald is pro-Blane all the way.

Myself — well, I’m going to hold off on saying which side I come down on.

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Both Blane and Duckie have their flaws and their strengths.  Blane, for instance, comes from a wealthy family and spends too much time worrying about what his loathsome friend Steff (James Spader, who gives a wonderfully evil performance that justifies why he is quoted in Gora’s book as saying, “I figure I got a lock on this whole teen asshole thing,”) thinks.  But, at the same time, Blane is obviously more sensitive than the rest of his rich friends.  There’s a soulful sincerity to McCarthy’s performance and, until he breaks Andi’s heart by giving into peer pressure, he truly is every girl’s dream boyfriend.

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And then there’s Duckie.  As played by Jon Cryer, Duckie is the type of best friend that we all hope we’re lucky enough to have.  You never have any doubt that he’ll always be there for Andie and it just takes one look at how he’s dressed to understand that Duckie doesn’t care about peer pressure.  Duckie may be an outcast but, unlike Steff and Blane, he’s confident in himself.  And whereas Blane is always wrestling with doubt, Duckie knows that he loves Andie.  And if your heart doesn’t hurt a little when he confesses that fact to Andi, then you probably don’t have one to begin with.  Add to that, as cute and charming as Blane is, you know he’d never break out into a random dance routine.  Blane is no Duckie but, at the same time, Duckie is also no Blane.

And who Andie should take with her to the prom (or if she should even go at all) is an important question because, if anyone deserves to have the perfect prom, it’s Andie.  Not only does she work hard to support her alcoholic and depressed father (the great Harry Dean Stanton) but she has great taste in music (or, at least, she does for someone living in the 80s) and she makes her own clothes.  One reason why we love Blane is because he discovers that, even if Andie isn’t rich, she’s still the most interesting girl in the entire school.  One reason why we love Duckie is because he didn’t have to discover this.  He already knew it.

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The film, of course, originally ended with Blane giving into peer pressure and canceling his date with Andie.  Andie is heart-broken but refuses to surrender.  Wearing the pink dress that she specifically made for the event, Andie still goes to the prom and, as the film ends, she shares a dance with Duckie, the one who, all along, loved her unconditionally.

As is recounted in Gora’s book, test audiences loved the movie but hated that ending.  And so, a new ending was shot.  Blane shows up at the prom without a date.  He apologizes to Andie.  He shakes Duckie’s hand.  He tells Andie that he always believed in her, he just didn’t believe in himself.  (Watching at home, Lisa says, “Oh my God!” and wipes away a tear.)  As he leaves, even Duckie realizes that Andie belongs with Blane.  Andie and Blane are reunited in the parking lot and Duckie goes off with Kristy Swanson.

And you know what?  That ending — that ending is perfect.  Because yes, Duckie did love Andie but Andie loved Blane and the prom is a time to be with someone who you think you’ll love forever.  (Little realizing, of course, that you’ll eventually only think of your former prom date as being that guy who keeps inviting you to play games on Facebook.)  Pretty in Pink is one of the most romantic high school movies ever made and one reason it works is because the ending is all about celebrating that romance.  It may not be realistic and yes, it might even be borderline immoral to allow Blane to be so easily redeemed after breaking Andie’s heart but who cares?

The wonderful thing about romance is that it doesn’t have to make sense.

It just has to be.

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