Usagi becomes friends with academic ace Ami Mizuno, but the bad guys look to turn her genius to evil ends.
This episode was a pretty strong reminder of just how much Sailor Moon follows the format of one of its acknowledged inspirations, Super Sentai Meaning that, while we get an episode packed full of stuff, it all feels a little rushed and unsatisfying. When we’re introduced to a new ally, have them awaken their powers and cram a fight scene in too it leaves precious little time for actual character development, and thus Sailor Moon chooses to prioritise getting the basic chunks of the story out of the way first.
What’s weird is we sort of get the dangling edges of a much more interesting tale. Ami is clearly sort of an outcast at school, with work being her entire life, and there’s a pretty classic plotline you can go for there what with her coming out of her shell and learning to make friends and interact with the people around her. Again, there’s sort of a very vague allusion to this, what with her meeting Usagi and their hangout at the arcade. But it’s really all just very surface level, with no attempt made to actually flesh out Ami and make her into someone we care about.
Of course, deep characterisation was never really a trademark of Sailor Moon and the tradeoff is we get a nice, briskly paced story without too much fat on it. It’s fascinating to watch the slightly uneasy clash between the storyline period and the attempted current day setting. The idea of computer based education brainwashing children is a pretty classic early 90s fear, and the show wisely plays down the electronic scare here. It’s still visibly awkward in a few ways though, such as the continued use of EVIL CDs and Usagi’s apparent computer illiteracy. Elsewhere Usagi’s marvelously cheesy nurse disguise is a loving throwback to Cutey Honey and the other classic magical girl shows Sailor Moon takes the other half of it’s DNA from. I enjoyed this episode and it’s a functional retelling, but it’s not too much more than that at the moment. Improvement will be needed if it’s going to hold my interest.
- There’s a noticeable all-round drop in animation quality this episode. Some shots are particularly rough, such as Luna in the last sequence, who looks like two gobstoppers glued together.
- I’m warming to the new transformation sequence, but there’s no excuse for that appalling CGI water in Ami’s footage.
- Though Tuxedo Mask does the classic ‘boy saves girl’ thing here I’m excusing it on the grounds that Usagi is clearly still green and needs his help.
- It’s worth pointing out there were five episodes between the opening episode and meeting Ami in the original. They were mostly filler of course, but we do lose a little bit of Usagi growing into her powers. Hopefully the regained time will be put to good use somewhere down the line.
I think it’s about time I give up. I just can’t really bring myself to care about Sailor Moon. I’ve never been a huge Magical Girl guy. Considering I never even saw the original, there’s not even any connection to the old series to keep me interested. Usagi continues to be pretty annoying, complaining almost any time she’s not being completely self-indulgent. Ami is cute, but we don’t really get to see a lot of her character even though this episode is ostensibly meant to introduce her. I guess despite my problems with Usagi’s character, at least it’s somewhat unique to have a more realistic take on a teenage girl. With Ami all we know is that she is somehow super smart but also super friendly, which just makes her characterization seem lazy. I’m going to chalk this down to the show not being for me, I’ve been watching too many shows as it is anyway.