Both the Sailor Guardians and The Four Kings hunt for the D
This is the first episode of Crystal that could reasonably be described as ‘filler’ – that is to say, nothing earth shattering happens in regard to the overall plot. That’s no bad thing though, as fillers can often be good chances to do character development, worldbuilding, or just to screw around and have fun. To its credit, Crystal makes a stab at the former, but sadly it doesn’t come off too well.
The actual story here is pretty much a backdrop to an attempt to develop the relationship between Usagi and Tuxedo Mask. That’s good in theory, but the problem is the entire thing comes off as, well, a little creepy. To a certain extent this is a failing of the original manga of course. For all of its strong feminine archetypes, a certain part of Sailor Moon is rooted in the very deepest clichés of shoujo romance and the Usagi/Mamoru relationship certainly reflects that to some extent. Still, there were ways you could write and construct this to be more interesting and realistic. As it is it’s mostly an airheaded fairy-tale relationship (which is the point of course) and one which works in only limited degrees. The dance is certainly somewhat charming but there’s pretty much no excuse for the unconscious kiss at the end, which is only romantic if you draw your sexual politics from the middle ages. They’re trying, which is nice, but I’ve got limited patience for ‘love at first sight’ romances. The relationship drama was always in my opinion one of the weakest aspects of the original, and that doesn’t look to have changed here.
What’s frustrating is that what with the Tuxedo Mask stuff and the actual bits and pieces of plot going on, there’s no time for the character development we need, namely showing how the bond between Usagi, Rei and Ami is developing. There’s some tentative bonding between Rei and Ami in the arcade but no meat to their friendship. When Luna comes in and tells them Usagi has been given detention for sleeping in class, Rei replies “That’s so her”. How does she know that? Why not use this as an opportunity to explain to her that Usagi is a ditz? Why not contrast her with the studious Ami? Missing out on basic bits of character writing is a bad sign and doesn’t do much to build attachment towards the girls. There’s also a weirdly large amount of recap in the episode, which is completely unnecessary considering we’re only four episodes in. If they’re looking to pad for time, that’s very worrying with so many other things they could be doing.
Overall this episode just kind of exists, and that’s bad since it means the new show shine has worn off of Crystal remarkably fast. It’s better than the near disaster which was the last episode, but they really need to start improving. Nobody is going to remember a remake for being competent at best.
- The animation is this episode is better than the previous one, but definitely still not ‘good’. Luna in particular tends to look constantly misshapen. This episode apparently didn’t have an Animation Director when episode 3 aired, which tells you all you need to know about Toei’s organizational skills.
- I have no idea why Takeuchi chose to name the princess ‘D’ but it’s a catastrophic decision if, like me, you are mentally five years old.
- One thing I was very pleased to see is the genesis of the ‘Umino is actually super handsome when he takes off his glasses’ joke, which ran all the way through the original show.
- Last episode’s showdown with Jadeite took place inside an evil alternate dimension, so who the hell took a picture of Sailor Moon?
- For all my complaints, this episode does feature Usagi defeating the bad guy by shooting a frickin’ laser beam out of her forehead. That’s difficult to hate on.