Sailor Venus makes her grand début on Sailor Moon Crystal! Unfortunately, everyone is so amazed by Minako's amazing amazingness that they kinda forgot to bring a plot with them this week. But at least we have all of the Sailor Senshi together, at last.
Seriously, I'm pretty sure this entire episode could be recapped by this image:
A good chunk of this episode was just people pulling this face, reacting to a bunch of things - mainly to our latest Senshi, Minako, who is probably the best part of the episode. As such, it felt like a pregnant pause in SMC's story, but despite some weird pacing issues, it was still a decent episode.
We pick up where we left off last week, with Minako introducing herself to the team - and that she's not just Sailor V, but also Princess Serenity herself! Everyone is so amazed by this that they give Zoisite enough time to teleport away without anyone really noticing him. I mean come on guys, we were all excited for Minako but pay some attention! Tuxedo Mask also decides to peg it, but for a different reason - he feels like he's let Usagi down by being unable to protect her from Zoisite's attack. Poor guy.
Minako transforms into her human persona and reintroduces herself, and then basically info dumps while everyone is dumbstruck at how amazing she is. This is pretty much a good third of the episode, and while it serves as a reminder of the Senshi's focus now they're all together - stop the Dark Kingdom, protect Earth, rebuild Silver Millenium - it's kind of a slamming a massive brake on the pacing the series had built up to in the last few episodes, which is a shame. But most importantly, it gives us time to have some good insight on Minako's character, her confidence but also her unrelenting devotion to her mission, which had been a largely solitary affair before now - something that she wants to continue, considering she decides against telling the rest of the team where the Legendary Silver Crystal is, or the real impetus of her mission, despite their willingness to help her.
Usagi awakens the following day from another dream, this one a little clearer, and she finally starts to question if she's Princess Serenity, not Minako, even sussing out that Minako's hiding something from the rest of the group. It's nice to see Usagi putting things together by herself instead of other characters just infodumping it on her, but alas, nothing comes of it for now - but she does get to bump into Mamoru again on the way to School, while he's doing some not-subtle-at-all research on crystals. The guy is crystal-crazy! At least he decides to apologise in person for not saving her from Zoisite this time, instead of running off. Usagi tries to give back his broken watch, but Mamoru declines, saying that he can trade it with her the next time they meet for an item of hers that he has, much to her delight (not really to ours though, as he's talking about that handkerchief of hers that he was creepily huffing on last week. Eeew.).
Meanwhile in the Dark Kingdom, Queen Beryl decides that maybe this episode should pick up the pace a bit with an actual plot! Stinging from their latest defeat, this time Kunzite steps in to offer his villainous service - and for once, he just gets down to business immediately. There's something to be said for a bad guy with a sense of immediacy. No silly disguises, no hidden plan, nothing! Kunzite just decides to freeze Tokyo for a moment and call out Minako personally to face him, an offer she readily accepts, even shirking the rest of the Senshi to go face him on her own (something I'm sure won't come back to bite her in the ass in a few minutes).
Unwilling to wait even a moment for Minako whilst he hangs out in his floaty-space-magic-ball-thing, Kunzite impatiently decides to engulf Tokyo in a blackout and conveniently drain the energy of most nearby humans. Like I said, he gets shit done! Minako arrives and transforms into Sailor Venus. Whilst Crystal hasn't really had the greatest animation quality, one thing that has gotten better has been the transformation sequences - and although it's still CGI-enhanced and thus a little weird looking, her transformation might be the best of the Senshi. Hooray!
The plot finally decides to ramp up (of course it does when there's only 6 minutes of the episode left, what better time to start!) as Venus does battle with Kunzite, before realising that she can't beat him on her own - told you that would come back to bite her in the ass. Interestingly she makes a plea to Kunzite to remember his 'true self', which almost sways him before Queen Beryl psychically interrupts to remind him he's a bad guy. It looks like Crystal is going to finally start hinting at and exploring the Shittenou's backstory after spending the series so far deliberately not killing them off like they were in the Manga. But for now, fight time!
Luckily Makoto has a floaty-space-magic-ball-thing of her own, and the rest of the Senshi arrive to save the day, and remind Minako that she no longer has to be alone. It's not a scene from the manga, but it's a lovely one that shows the strength of the Senshi's teamwork - and more importantly, reminds us that it's the one thing that Usagi is consistently good at, making friends with people and bringing out the best in those around her. It's nice to see the anime reminding us about that instead of just showing her a bit of a goofball - and then we get to see that friendship in action as the team distracts Kunzite long enough for Usagi to pull of a Moon Healing Escalation. SHOCKING TWIST: Kunzite dodges it and blasts Usagi with an attack, leaving her to tumble to her death! Who could possibly save her?
Oh wait, it's Tuxedo Mask. Of course it is!
Mamoru has gotten his 'show up to save the day only when absolutely necessary' schtick down to a fine art, leaping through the air to save Usagi, who rewards him with a kiss for his troubles (at last!). SMC has been a bit clumsy when it's come to depicting Mamoru and Usagi's relationship at times, but this was actually a really nice moment - and it felt earned, a moment of emotion not really out of passion or desire but almost exhilaration for him saving her. It was nice to see their first 'proper' kiss handled so well (especially in the light of that oddly creepy kiss they had in Act 4 which is best forgotten about).
Happiness doesn't last long however, as Kunzite prepares another attack for Sailor Moon, and this time Tuxedo Mask decides he's not going to fail to protect her this time - and protect her he does, taking the hit intended for Usagi. Dun dun dun, cliffhanger! Is this the end of Tuxedo Mask!? Err, no, considering the Next Time preview shows him being saved by Usagi. A bit of dampener on your cliffhanger there, Toei.
A bit of a rushed episode in all, but hopefully now that all the Senshi are introduced and part of the team, Sailor Moon Crystal can pick up the pace a little. We'll just have to wait another 2 weeks and see if that's the case...
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