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Does Sailor-Moon Crystal feel rushed, or is it just me?
We've been in Season 3 of Sailor-Moon Crystal for a few months now, and it feels apparent to me that Toei rushed this reboot of the Sailor-Moon series. There's a lack of focus on Usagi interactions with her friends, and the villains lack any depth. Even as far back as Season 1, when Toei gave fans the fan service of Queen Beryl's four kings being former lovers to the Sailor-Soldiers/Scouts in their past lives, that wasn't developed to the degree it could have been. It was treated like something that just happened and there wasn't anymore to it. I mean c'mon, we're talking about Usagi's friends finding love at the same time she did, at least treat it with the dignity and depth, it deserves! And speaking of the Sailor-Soldiers, they hardly get any screen time. The focus seems to solely be on Usagi, Mamoru, and as of Season 2: "Little Usagi". The other scouts hardly get any time on the screen to show off their characters, and seeing the lack of Uranus and Neptune's interactions with each other this season has me feeling a tad sour.
In order for y'all to understand where I'm coming from, lemme go into detail with all of my concerns. I'll start with the Dark Kingdom arc where it all begins. Now when the first episode premiered, I know I wasn't the only Sailor-Moon fan watching feeling like a kid hyped as Hell! To see Usagi/Serena meet Luna all over again and become Sailor-Moon was exciting, and it was with the introduction of Sailor Mercury, Mars, and Jupitor that I noticed something that bugged me. Each Sailor Scout was introduced once per episode. That and they weren't fleshed out beyond their intial introductions. Every episode that followed leading up to Sailor-V's introduction focused mostly on the mystery of Usagi and Momaru's past relationship. And with Sailor V's introduction, or rather after her introduction, came a whole host of new problems. Especially after she addressed Kunzite as her lover.
This leads to one of my biggest gripes with Crystal's execution. The SenshixShitennou fan service. For those who don't know the "Shitennou"(Meaning "Four Heavenly kings" in Japanese) are the identities of Jadeite, Naphrite, Kunzite, and Zoisite, before they served Queen Beryl, as they were the royal knights of Mamoru back when he was known as "Prince Endymion." When Usagi fell in love with Mamoru in their past lives, apparently the Sailor Soldiers fell in love with his four knights. This gave this arc for me at least a "Ronin Warriors" vibe. I'm referring to how in the first arc of Ronin Warriors, the villan Talpa had four generals who's armors represented elements of virtue before they were turned evil. And Ronin Warriors By the way, predates Sailor-Moon by a good four years, so I wouldn't be surprised if Sailor-Moon creator, Naoko Takeuchi took inspiration from Ronin Warriors. But before I cover more similarities between Ronin Warriors and Sailor-Moon, I'mma get back to why this trait bothered me. The SenshixShitennou wasn't given the attention I believe it deserved.
For starters, as I continued to watch Sailor-Moon Crystal, there were a few subplots I missed that were in the 1992 anime. Those being Naphrite's relationship with Naru a.k.a. Molly in the DiC dub, and Kunzite and Zoisite's romantic relationship. And the SenshixShittenou fan service relationships between the Dark Kings and Sailor Scouts felt like a good replacement. Especially given how surprising it was for me to find out while watching Crystal that Sailor Venus and Kunzite were lovers. Not being aware of the fan pairings, or the fact that the whole SenshixShitennou shipping was started by Naoko Takeuchi herself, this came as a surprise to me. Though on a side note, I've heard it said that Takeuchi wanted to make these pairings canon when she was writing the manga, but her editor was against the idea. Though I have yet to verify this. Assuming this was the case, I'm grateful to Takeuchi's editor, because in the manga, Sailor Mars kills Jadeite, and the idea that she killed her lover in a past life, would've been pretty dark. Reason being, Sailor Mars killed Jadeite with no knowledge of her past life. Which is why I'm glad Mars didn't kill Jadeite in Sailor Moon Crystal, because Sailor Mars learning she killed her lover of a past life without realizing it, again would've been pretty darn dark.
But I digress, as what I wanted to see going forward was more scenes showcasing the Sailor scouts past lives with the Shitennou, as their pasts together would be fleshed out, adding weight to the inevitable tragedy of the Shitennou dying for the women they loved. Which didn't happen.
Going back to the similarities to Ronin Warriors, much like Talpa's men, there comes a point where Queen Beryl's hold on the Shittenou weakens, as they recall their past with Mamoru. This occurs after Kunzite kidnaps Mamoru along with Beryl, and the Shitennou gaze at his unconscious body feeling an air of familiarity from him. After they recall being his knights of virtue in their past, they confront Beryl and Metalia only to be taken over again. This is akin to how in Ronin Warriors when Talpa's men were reached by the sage guiding Ryo and the Ronin Warriors, and turned on Talpa to end up with a similar result.
And the moment the Sailor Scouts manage to free them from Beryl and Metalia's control, Queen Metalia destroys the Shitennou. Which to me felt like a punch in the gut, because I got hyped expecting The Shitennou and the Sailor Scouts to join Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask in their fight against Queen Beryl and Metalia. But alas that didn't happen. And Speaking of Queen Beryl...
Tragic unrequited love
The Mishandling of Beryl's character and motivation....
In the original 1992 anime, Queen Beryl was just an evil queen who for all we knew was born evil. But in the manga, Beryl's story is a tad more tragic. In the manga, Beryl coveted Mamoru which allowed her to be corrupted by Metalia. Do we see any of that in the anime? NO! All we see is Beryl slaying Endymion, and we don't learn why unil Beryl's defeated, as her final thoughts are recalling how all she wanted was to fall in love with him. Beryl was just a young sorceress who much like Uagi fell in love with Mamoru, and became jealous when she saw him with Usagi.
Do I even need to explain what went wrong with this? Beryl got the same half-hearted treatment as the Shitennou. Here we have the tragic fall of a young sorceress who wanted to be loved and the perfect foundation for making Beryl into a sympathetic villain. This could've been a way to have fans of the 1992 anime like myself to see Queen Beryl in a whole new light, and did Toei give it the tender love and care it needed? Hell No! They just tossed out the sippnets and expected fans to accept it. Which I'll get back to Toei's treatment of the franchise in a bit, because right now I need to address Season 2 and how Season 3's been handled so far.
The Black Moon Clan
I dunno, same crap, different day, new character?
So season 2 starts with introducing Little Usagi, whom is Usagi's daughter from the year 3000. Yes Usagi lives that long... See the Silver Crystal which grants Sailor-Moon her powers grants her a great life span. But I digress, as the reason this is titled "Same crap, different day, new character," is because season 2 had problems similar to season one. Once again Usagi and Mamoru got the narrative's full attention with very little given to the other scouts, but also too the narrative focused on Little Usagi, which is understandable since she was trying to save her timeline from the Black Moon Clan.
Oh, and The Black Moon Clan, dear God was the ball dropped with them... In the original anime they were all given character depth to their personalities, whereas in Crystal? Cannon fodder... Every. Single. One. Okay, let me back up a bit, and explain. In the 1992 anime each of the Ayakashi sisters were reformed and freed from Wiseman's influence, whereas in Crystal, they're killed off one by one as a "minion of the week." Which that's how it is in the manga, so fine I'll take what I can get. But then when Saphir and Rubeus get suspicious of Wiseman's motives, they're killed off just as quickly. Rubeus is killed by Little Usagi after she joined the Black Moon Clan, and Saphir died by Wiseman's hands, if I remember correctly. The only one who seemed to have any character was Diamond, but only because he was focused on getting into Sailor-Moon's panties.
But to sum up Season two had similar problems to season one as there was very little focus on Usagi's relationship with her friends, they got to do very little in terms of battling the Black Moon, and the Black Moon themselves felt one note compared to their 1992 counterparts. Oh, and before I forget, there's also Sailor Pluto. An outer Sailor Scout, who tasked with guarding the gateway between the past and the future. And she can freeze time at the cost of her own life. My issues with her is the same as the rest:"lack of characterization and a lack of focus on her relationship with Little Usagi." Heck, she comes off as Little Usagi's aunt with how they interacted, and I felt there needed to be more. Especially since Pluto dies by freezing time to prevent Prince Diamond from smashing the Silver Crystal of the past and the Silver Crystal of the future together, which would've destroyed the universe in the past and future. And the only emotion I felt towards Pluto's demise was anger. Anger at the fact that I barely knew her as a character.
And lastly... There's season 3...so far....
To Infinity, and Beyond...I hope...
The Infinity arc so far has made up for some of my gripes towards the first two seasons, as the Sailor Scouts get more to do, and get more characterization. However, Michiru, Haruka, and the resurrected Pluto,(Oh yeah spoilers, Pluto's back...) are robbed of any screen time that would develop their characters. Or rather Michiru and Harauka's relationship hasn't been displayed yet, which bugs me. Admittedly that might just be my own impatience, as I'm not that far into the Infinity arc manga. So I don't know how Michiru and Haruka are handled at that point in the series...
That in my opinion will not excuse my gripes towards the Witches Five, as much like the Ayakashi sisters, the Witches five are minions of the week, as they get killed off one by one. Big difference here is that the only witches who get any screen time are the concert singer and that Yui chick who outranked Ami intellectually. After them the remaining three witches don't have any screen presence while their schemes are executed until they fight the Sailor Scouts and are killed by Sailor Moon, or Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
And then you've got Hotaru Tomoe, and I'm closing my gripes on Season 3 so far, with her subplot.
The Handling of Hotaru Tomoe
Okay so Hotaru Tomoe's sick, with what I'm not sure. Might have something to do with that dark crystal she carries with her. She's also a cyborg, which the anime implies is the result of an accident that killed her mother, but I just chalked it up to her dad augmenting her body for spits and giggles, since he's a sick mofo... And then after the final witch is defeated, she turns evil out of nowhere? Why?
Now again, this might be me jumping to conclusions and missing key elements since it's implied that she has some inner darkness that Little Usagi's crystal kept in check, but after Sailor Moon slew the final two witches, "Pop," and instant villainess from Hotaru. WHAT?!
Finally The Conclusion
In conclusion I feel that Sailor-Moon Crystal is rushed because it lacks what made the franchise such a cult classic to begin with. Without Usagi's intereactions with her friends, every episode feels more like a Battle Shonen anime than a shojo. And while I do enjoy Battle Shonen anime, I'd like to be able to tell my anime genres apart from each other. Another thing, and this is the biggest bone I have to pck with Toei, is that the quality of Crystal so far makes it feel like a cash-in on Sailor-Moon's popularity. And the elements they did add into Crystal like the SenshixShitennou fan service they hardly did anything with.
So going forward, I'll try extremely hard to keep my expectations in check. But given that Sailor Moon is my second most favorite anime of all time, that's gonna be hard to do.
So what do y'all think? Doess Sailor-Moon Crystal feel rushed? Or am I a fanboy griping about minor issues at the end of the day?
Information on Queen Beryl, Black Moon, and Hotaru
- Sailor Moon Character Profiles-- Queen Beryl
Celestial Luminary is a comprehensive Sailor Moon combination website. This website covers all incarnations of Sailor Moon.
- Sea of Serenity.Net – Black Moon Clan
- Profiles- Sailor Saturn
Celestial Luminary is a comprehensive Sailor Moon combination website. This website covers all incarnations of Sailor Moon.