Sailor Moon Crystal – Act 6 – Tuxedo Mask!


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Obviously, being back on a regular schedule of Sailor Moon has reinvigorated me. With a regular schedule returned to me, I find that each day is easier to suffer through, knowing that my long, Sailor Moon Crystal-less nightmare is closer to being over. Act 6, Tuxedo Mask! I think we can all guess on the subject matter here, though it seems frankly unlikely that this single act will resolve the standing mysteries about Tuxedo Mask. To find out, we’ll have to watch together.

Forget not, dear readers, that many peoples of the world still cannot enjoy this show – tremendous as it is! – legally within their own borders. You owe our friends in Canada and other countries at least one mild pang of guilt as you work your way through this fortnight’s offering from Sailor Moon Crystal. And if you are still well pleased at the end, your soul fulfilled and happy, chalk it up not to a lack of empathy, but rather to the fullness of the show.

In a very, very brief pre-credits scene, Luna introduces the Moon Stick. It’s sort of like a stick… with a big crescent moon on top of it. Obviously, all fans will recognize it right away.
Ballin’. Luna explains that it will help against enemies. Okay, that seems reasonable oh and we’re ready to go? Sailor Moon Crystal!

But first, let’s rock out.

A lot of Mamoru in this first segment. First, he wakes up in the middle of the night, full of doubts. Then he bumps into Usagi in the streets once again. Also, apparently he’s been giving press conferences… talking about how the various crimes he has committed were all in search of the Legendary Silver Crystal. Well, I suppose any number of B&E’s can be forgiven if it means keeping the Crystal away from Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom, and their mysterious Great Ruler.

Apparently Tuxedo Mask is the talk of the whole town. At school, on the radio, on TV, in the streets… he, and the Legendary Silver Crystal, are all anyone is talking about. Tuxedo Mask hopes that this will reveal a lead for him…

… But in the Dark Kingdom, the European Commander (whatever that means), Zoisite, petitions to replace Nephrite, who was both beaten and badly injured in the last act by Sailor Jupiter. Zoisite has a plan not only to seize the Legendary Silver Crystal, but also that whole general energy-grab thing that the Dark Kingdom is after. Great Ruler, etc., remember?

After closing time at the arcade, the Sailor Guardians discuss the situation. Luna has been doing a great deal of research, but apparently still doesn’t know who the enemy really are. She knows enough that they are trying to awaken some terrible evil from a deep sleep. Oh, and it will be bad if they succeed. In case that wasn’t clear. Their exact identities remain shrouded in mystery, though, and probably not for a hugely significant later reveal or anything like that. For the moment, the only important thing to know remains that the Legendary Silver Crystal is far too dangerous to be allowed to fall into enemy hands. In Luna’s opinion, it could destroy an entire planet if it fell into the hands of evil. I probably don’t need to spell out the ways in which that might be bad for you and me.

We learn a few key phrases here, too: The royal family of the Moon. The princess descended from the Moon. Awakened Sailor Guardians. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, much more importantly, ON TV…. a female anchor who looks suspiciously exactly like Zoisite except with hair pinned up differently… hypnotizes what appears to be every viewer in Tokyo into mindlessly searching everywhere they can think of, all in an effort to locate the Legendary Silver Crystal. Of course, all this pointlessly expendeded worry or whatever, is then absorbed by the Dark Kingdom.

Didn’t I see this commercial for Hanes tagless underwear like two years ago? Is this still some kind of big announcement? At least His Airness isn’t sporting that Hitler ‘stache in this one. Also, Wal-Mart seems to have stuffed a lot of commercials into Hulu’s repertoire. You shouldn’t shop there.

After the break, the Sailor Guardians head down into Luna’s secret base, which seems bizarrely large and also somewhat interdimensional, hanging out beneath a Sailor V machine. Using Luna’s computers, they’re easily able to track the energy being stolen from humans, and the mind control signal, to a TV station. The Sailor Guardians arrive right in time to observe Zoisite beginning to suck his victims dry of their energy. Weirdly, though Luna tells us she still isn’t sure at all about the enemy, she immediately identifies Zoisite by name. Was she there when the Four Kings (Kings!) introduced themselves at the Masquerade? I honestly can’t remember.

Sailor Moon’s own travels are interrupted when she runs into Tuxedo Mask again. He confirms in person that his goal is the Legendary Silver Crystal. But unlike the Sailor Guardians, he has no special powers (how does he keep finding Sailor Moon, then? Huh? HUH!?). Sailor Moon actually has similar concerns; she’s supposed to lead the Pretty Guardians, but she doesn’t have the firepower that her allies do (in perhaps the most stark reversal of the original anime yet, where the other Sailors frequently felt totally inessential), and she obviously feels inadequate to the task.

Speaking of which, on the rooftop of the TV station, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter are attempting to drop the hammer on Zoisite. A repeated assault from the Sailor Guardians seemingly has Zoisite on the ropes, before the shitennou (Kings!) manages to unleash a big counterattack. With the three Pretty Guardians trying to recover their strength on the helicopter pad, a peal of mad laughter besets them. Sailor Mars is awed by the evil energy she suddenly feels. Then, incredibly, Queen Beryl herself descends from the sky, introducing herself, and overwhelming the Sailor Guardians, who know instantly that they are outmatched. We need Sailor Moon!

Sailor Moon’s confidence is shot, but Tuxedo Mask talks her out of her funk. Maybe she doesn’t have the power to generate fire, ice, or lightning, but she is the leader, she has the power to make other people feel good about themselves. Sailor Moon transforms, and joins the fight! Awesome! In spite of her flaws, she is determined to help. She grips the Moon Stick (I wonder what it could fo…. whoa!) Moon Healing Escalation! Those words don’t really make sense in that order at any level! But she does release energy that gives even Queen Beryl a tiny bit of pause. When Sailor Moon attacks, Zoisite leaps in front of the blast and, to be generous, it seems to fuck him up bad. Beryl, to everyone’s amazement, takes her fallen shitennou (Kings!) and bounces.

With Sailor Moon’s energy exhausted, Tuxedo Mask carries her off to recuperate.

As predicted, we didn’t get many answers about Tuxedo Mask this week. But it looks like he rates his own 2-parter, because the next episode looks to be very much about him as well. So far we have only one episode that I would really describe as ‘filler’, because this one had a lot going for it, between Sailor Moon’s soul searching and a flesh-and-blood appearance by the mighty Queen Beryl. I’m still looking for confirmation on the fate of the luckless Jadeite, but maybe that will come in time.

Anyway, this was an action-packed week, and I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did. And yes, we’re all dying to see Sailor Venus introduced. I suspect we’ll be waiting a while though. I seem to remember her appearing only about two thirds of the way through the original anime. I don’t know when she first shows up in the manga, because frankly, I’m woefully unprepared for this week’s article. I’ll try to do better in a fortnight.

For now though, let us simply enjoy the warm embrace of Sailor Moon Crystal together, and glide off into the night.

Dance Scenes That I Love: The Perks of Being A Wallflower


I really probably shouldn’t share this scene until I actually post my review of The Perks of Being A Wallflower.  But I’ve still  got three other Back to School films to review before I get to Perks and I want to share this scene now!  In this dance scene that I love, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller take over the dance floor in spectacular fashion!

Back to School #70: Lymelife (dir by Derick Martini)


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Lymelife is an odd but occasionally effective indie film from 2008.  Taking place in 1979, the film tells the story of two brothers living on Long Island.  The older brother, Jimmy Bartlett (Kieran Culkin) has recently graduated from high school and is preparing to enter the army.  (We hear that he’s going to be shipped off to fight in a war against Argentina, which is odd because, to the best of my knowledge, the U.S. has never been at war with Argentina.)  The younger brother is 15 year-old Scott (Rory Culkin), a gentle boy who loves Star Wars and who is doted on by his overprotective mother, Brenda (Jill Hennessy).  Scott’s relationship with his father, Mickey (Alec Baldwin), is far less positive with Mickey feeling that his youngest son is weak and Scott resenting the fact that Mickey is always cheating on Brenda.

As the film opens, a recent outbreak of Lyme Disease has got everyone in a panic.  Brenda, in particular, is terrified that Scott is going to get bitten by a tick and refuses to let him go outside unless every inch of his skin is covered and protected.  Causing Brenda even more panic is the fact that their neighbor, Charlie Bragg (Timothy Hutton), has contracted the disease and has lost his job as a result.  Now, he spends all of his time either outside trying to hunt deer or hiding down in his basement.  His wife (Cynthia Nixon) is forced to take a job from Mickey in order to support the family and soon, she and Mickey are having an affair.

In fact, the only person who doesn’t completely shun Charlie is Scott, though this is largely because Scott has, for years, had a crush on Charlie’s daughter, Adrianna (Emma Roberts).  Adrianna finally starts to return Scott’s affection but then Charlie discovers the truth about his wife’s job with Mickey and things … well, things do not end happily.

Lymelife is a strange film, one that at times almost plays like a parody of a typical indie film.  This is one of those films where a lot of things happen but you’re not always quite sure why they happened and ultimately, it’s hard not to feel like the film is essentially a collection of loosely related scenes, all looking for a stronger narrative.   But, with all that in mind, I still like Lymelife.  Director Derik Martini brings such an intense and humanistic touch to the film’s dangerously quirky storyline and it’s such an obviously personal film that it becomes fascinating in its own way.  Not surprisingly, both Alec Baldwin and Jill Hennessy overact in their roles (and considering that they have the most melodramatic lines, that’s not always a good thing) but, fortunately, Timothy Hutton, Emma Roberts, and the Culkin Brothers all give excellent performances.

Plus, the film’s ending is absolutely haunting, largely because of the wise use of the song Running Out Of Empty, which can be heard below.

Back to School #69: Superbad (dir by Greg Mottola)


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One of the great things about the 2007 comedy Superbad is that it has a title that allows for snarky but overworked reviewers like me to come up with an easy review.

For instance, if I disliked Superbad, I could just say, “Superbad more than lives up to its name!”  However, since I happen to like Superbad, I can say that Superbad is supergood, supercool, and superfun!

See how easily that works?

Plotwise, Superbad tells a story that will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a teen comedy.  Three guys try to get laid.  Seth (Jonah Hill) is the rotund and boisterous one, the one who has a crush on Jules (Emma Stone), who is your basic good girl with a wild side.  Evan (Michael Cera) is the sweet and sensitive one.  And then there’s Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the nerdy one with the thick glasses.  Fogell is the one who gets a hilariously bad fake ID, one that tells the world that his name is McLovin.

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After Jules invites Seth to a party, he and Evan enlist Fogell to use his fake ID to buy them alcohol.  However, as often happens in the type of films, things get complicated.  While Fogell is buying the beer, the convenience store is held up.  The police arrive and Evan and Seth panic and run off.  Meanwhile, Fogell is befriended by the two cops (played by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader), both of whom are incredibly impressed that their new friend has as wonderful a name as McLovin.

(“You’re name’s McLovin?  That’s badass!”

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And so, while McLovin bonds with his new cop friends, Seth and Evan continue to try to find beer and make their way to Jules’s party….

Superbad was produced by Judd Apatow and it features his usual combination of raunchy humor and sentimental bromance.  In fact, it’s such a male-centered film that I’m always a little bit surprised at how much I enjoy it.  However, Superbad is a seriously funny movie.  The script (which Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg reportedly starting on when they were 13 years old) is full of great lines and Michael Cera and Jonah Hill make for an adorable comedy team.  And then there’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse who takes the character of Fogell to his most logical extreme and then just keeps going.  McLovin’s adventures may not be the most realistic or subtle part of the movie but they are still a lot of fun to watch.

Speaking of McLovin and his adventures with the cops, I love the performances of both Seth Rogen and Bill Hader.  If you don’t laugh at the way Seth Rogen says, “Oh no!  It’s the cops!,” then you need to be worried about your sense of humor.

Superbad is supergood, supercool, superfun, supersweet, and just plain super.

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