This week: clocks, buses, and the most ridiculous Tuxedo Mask rescue yet. Get out of here, Tuxedo Mask.
Usagi’s Disaster: Beware of the Clock of Confusion
This week, the Dark Kingdom has set its sights on humanity’s desire to be aware of what time it is, in order to steal the energy of human anxiety. So, naturally:
Okay, they’re not drunk, fine. But they do find the brand new store of the week, which is having a big sale on clocks. But not a big sale on big clocks. The big clock is not for sale. It’s for
STEALING ENERGY display. Ami is nonplussed: she’s already got a nice watch, a gift from her mother, but Usagi really wants a clock that looks a lot like Luna. Maybe a new alarm clock will be the push she needs to regularly get to school on time. Unfortunately, she’s still too broke to afford it, and Ami takes one look at her tearstained face and promises that she’ll come by the Tsukino home on her way to school from now on to make sure Usagi’s on schedule. Ami, you are already the best friend Usagi has.
But just when you thought that our hero’s perpetual broke-ness would prevent her from being brainwashed by Dark Kingdom schemes again, Ms. Tsukino has a surprise waiting for Usagi when she gets home. It’s the cheeky looking cat clock. Luna doesn’t think it looks like her at all, I mean do you think all 100% black cats with no other markings look alike, Usagi? Yes. The answer is yes. Usagi sets her new alarm and goes to bed, leaving all the family’s new clocks to shine with baleful midnight light over the sleeping Tsukinos.
The next morning, Ami arrives to walk to school with Usagi, to find everybody to be in what psychological experts would call “a tizzy.” Usagi’s already left for class, and immediately after seeing her children and husband out in to the world, Ms. Tsukino goes right back into the house, mumbling about how she’ll have to start dinner soon. At school, things are only magnified: half the class has shown up early and is livid that the other half is “late.” Ms. Haruna cancels class, since there’s no way she can teach with so many absent, so the restless students leave five minutes after arriving. On the city streets, things are even worse, with tempers and anxiety over rush hour traffic.
Luckily, Luna and Ami are on the job, apparently the only people anywhere who were not affected by the Dark Kingdom’s clocks. (Well, and Tuxedo Mask, but I’m starting to think that his existence is like reverse object permanence: he only exists when being noticed by Sailor Moon.) Luna gives Ami a special item: a super computer the size of a graphing calculator, so that she can run tests on Usagi’s cat clock. Luna thought it was “too much for Usagi,” which is sort of a slam but also I guess in the last episode Usagi specifically mentioned that she doesn’t know a thing about computers. Also, it’s 1992. It was perfectly reasonable for a fourteen-year-old to not know anything about computers in 1992.
In fact, each kid getting a computer to study at last week’s evil cram school on was probably a much bigger tell that the place was expensive and advanced than I initially realized.
ANYWAY, Ami and Luna open the clock, and there’s nothing inside
but a gelatinous gray lump that seems to be growing hair… and teeth.
Now they know that the Dark Kingdom are behind this, but unfortunately they have no idea where the newly proactive and impatient Usagi is. At least they don’t until five seconds later when the bus she’s on crashes into a telephone pole nearby.
Brainwashed Usagi leads them off to the clock store immediately, because she has a lot of things to do today like play video games and eat snacks and the Dark Kingdom is totally messing with her schedule! Despite all Ami and Luna’s attempts to convince her that a full frontal assault might not be the best way to approach this problem, she convinces Ami to transform and bust in with her. And I mean, like, yeah, they laser blast the door down, leaving Luna stuck outside as it rematerializes behind them.
Inside, youma-of-the-week Ramua is waiting to trick them into entering her TIME MAAAAAZE.
The time labyrinth is hecka confusing, they can’t find Ramua anywhere, and wandering around aimlessly could either turn them into adorable toddler versions of themselves, or into wizened old ladies. Luckily, Ami puts on some rad shades, the precise function of which I am unclear on. Maybe she just heard about Carol. With them, and her new computer, she tracks Ramua’s location.
[Editor Note (Victoria): Susana did not notice the Robocop Prime Directive reference on Sailor Mercury's computer. Obviously this is a terribly travesty and I am not allowing you, our readers, to go without seeing the Robocop Prime Directive reference on Sailor Mercury's computer, so here it is. Did I mention IT'S A ROBOCOP PRIME DIRECTIVE REFERENCE?? AMI MIZUNO WHAT THE EFF]
We interrupt this program for some Breaking Tuxedo Mask News:
We now return to our regularly scheduled program, more updates on this story as they become available.
Turns out Ramua is one of the most formidable youmas yet, as she paralyzes both our heroines and begins to complete the process of draining Sailor Moon’s energy.
We interrupt this program for even more breaking news: Tuxedo Mask did a thing.
I don’t know what was going through his head, so I’ll project what was going through mine over the episode on to him. “Was that clock drawn really big on purpose? Or maybe it’s really big and the other characters haven’t commented on it because it’s just one of the hallmarks of the surreality of Sailor Moon. Maybe it’s hugeness has plot relevance? That seems unlikely,” but MAYBE WE SHOULD THROW A ROSE AT IT ANYWAY BOOM. Fuck that clock, being all huge and present while I walk around this empty warehouse looking for my not-girlfriend-yet who I never actually talk to.
With the destruction of Ramua’s clock, Sailor Moon’s energy comes back, and a couple of special moves later, the entire clock shop disappears, leaving Ami and Usagi standing in an empty lot. Status quo restored, plus ending gag about Usagi having returned to her lovable gluttonous self.
The Cursed Bus: Enter Mars, the Guardian of Fire
Yay, Sailor Mars! My uninformed favorite of the senshi. Also, this episode mentions both the Legendary Silver Crystal and the missing princess. I mean, it doesn’t have anything to do with them, but at least they’re being kept fresh in our minds. We open with Usagi running into Ami at the bus stop. Ami’s going to a new cram school, presumably since her old one turned out to be run by a monster who was brainwashing students. Just another day in Juban. It’s worth it: she’s doing her best to be the smartest she can be, in order to help Luna find the Moon Princess, Usagi.
Rumors abound about the scary disappearances that have been plaguing Ami’s bus line: yesterday’s 6pm bus disappeared without a trace, and all its passengers with it. Usagi, Naru, and one of the show’s innumerable unnamed other school girls decide to visit a shrine near where the bus was last seen, which is famed for its charms that ward off evil and the supernatural. It’s also got a shrine girl who’s famed for her ability to predict the future. Ami stays behind, because studying is important.
Guess who’s at the shrine! TOO LATE it’s Jadite. The shrine also specializes in good luck charms for love, so he’s there preying on the energy of lovesick young girls, which is apparently the best kind of energy. But FORGET ABOUT HIM this is how Sailor Moon introduces its third senshi:
I love you, witchy woman Rei. Rei runs into our heroine and friends while berating her grandfather for hitting on minors. Or any visitors, really. I like to think that he also hit on Jadite (who wouldn’t, really). Just then, Jadite steals some energy from girls who just departed the shrine with love charms, and Rei senses it immediately because she’s a boss. She can’t tell where it’s coming from, though, so she winds up knocking Usagi unconcious with what I think is called an o-fuda.
Rei and Usagi’s friends carry her inside the shrine, where Luna almost recognizes Jadite, but then Usagi wakes up and distracts her. Rei confesses that he was hired recently by her friendly-to-a-fault grandfather, and she doesn’t like him very much. Also, ever since he showed up, her prophecies have been failing. Luna senses Rei’s potential as a Sailor Senshi, but more investigation into this missing bus needs to happen, so they leave after awkwardly watching Rei chew out an old lady for implying that the Hikawa Shrine might have something to do with the missing bus.
Luna and Usagi meet up with Ami at the Sendai-Zakuae (or Sendai-Zaka, my subtitles might be in disagreement) bus stop, a crossroads of five streets and supposedly the final stop of the missing bus. It’s just outside the Hikawa Shrine, which hosts an evening prayer at 5:30, and there’s a whole busload of brainwashed-looking girls with love charms waiting. Mmm, tasty teen girl love energy. Ami confesses that she’s never had any particular crushes on anybody. Usagi is scandalized by this. “Usagi,” Ami confesses, “we’re too young to understand what love is.”
I love Ami. I love Sailor Moon.
The infamous bus pulls up and the trio attempt to board, but flummoxed by Usagi’s complete terror of the spooky cursed bus and its creepy lady bus driver. It pulls away before they can convince her to get on, and it’s a good thing, too. The bus proceeds to leave the pavement Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang style, and drive up into the air into a black void from which there is no return, straight into the clutches of the Dark Kingdom.
The next evening, Usagi tries to gently ask Rei if she knows anything about the missing busses, only to receive quite the cold shoulder from a fiercely protective Rei. MAI HART. Usagi scurries off to try and catch the cursed bus again, but not before Luna drops Rei her own transformation pen, which Rei curiously recovers. Unfortunately, Ami is late, which does not exactly inspire within Usagi the bravery she lacked yesterday, but you know what does? Taking on the role of a respectably employed and independent adult woman!
“Gorgeous flight attendant” Usagi boards the bus by storm and declares that it is her duty to see that passengers have a safe and pleasant trip in the name of the Moon! The youma bus driver maintains her disguise by reacting in exactly the same way a normal bus driver would react to such an event: completely ignoring Usagi. Ami runs up just in time to see Usagi and Luna’s bus drive into a black portal.
Meanwhile, back at the shrine, Rei’s supernatural instincts have led her to finally confront Jadite about being all evil and stuff, so he chucks her through a portal as well. Inside the portal, things are pretty trippy.
Usagi’s bus and Rei arrive at approximately the same time, and youma Kigaan takes Rei hostage immediately. Usagi tricks Kigaan into a trap with her tiara, giving Rei a chance to transform into Sailor Mars! One Fire Soul later and Kigaan is seriously disintegrated, breaking Jadite’s conduit to the energy of all the bus riders. Unfortunately, they’re still trapped in some kind of other dimension, with the portal home getting smaller by the second. Even with Ami’s magic giving them a path out of there, they’ll never get everybody out in time.
Cue the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen in Sailor Moon yet.
THIS IS ANOTHER DIMENSION. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM. HOW DID YOU LASH THREE BUSES TOGETHER AND PUT TWO OF THEM IN NEUTRAL WITHOUT ANYONE NOTICING. TUXEDO MASK I’M SO TIRED OF YOUR BULLSHIT.
Everybody climbs aboard the Tuxedo Mask express and he drives all three buses up into the air, through the portal, and back into Juban. Then he leaves. Immediately. But at least now we know that Tuxedo Mask can totally drive the U-Haul when you move.
Moon Prism Power Wrap Up!
It’s surprising to me how quickly the show has started to feel less formulaic and “samey” episode to episode with the introduction of only a second Sailor Senshi, so I’m looking forward to seeing what a third personality will do to the Senshi dynamic. Personally, I like Rei as a feisty female character, but from a more metatextual standpoint, I also really like her ties to the supernatural. It’s rare for a genre series to establish as functional a known system of magic (in this case, a folkloric system) that isn’t one that the core supernatural events of the series are based around. What I mean is, even though Rei’s status as a miko (shrine maiden) and a clairvoyant is a part of the series, the Dark Kingdom’s denizens aren’t cribbed directly from shinto tradition, any more than the rest of the Sailor Senshi’s powers are. There are allusions to Japanese folklore, certainly, but the show isn’t about folkloric tales in it in the way of Mononoke, for example.
A connection to the supernatural has often been a way for female characters to hold power and respect not usually accorded to other women, and Rei is no different. She’s more disrespectful of adults than the other young girls of the series, which is to say, she is disrespectful to adults at all, she’s judgmental and proud and angry, and I love her contrast with the other characters.
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