Hoo boy. Sailor Moon Crystal has been on on the mend these past few weeks, but it kind of fell apart here. Awful pacing issues, nigh on incomprehensibility, and weird, weird romance were the hallmarks of the day — but at least Sailor Pluto showed up.
Act 19 is kind of a mess. Not only do we begin to delve into the Black Moon Arc's crazy time travel, but after a few solid weeks, the show falls back on its old habit of cramming everything in at the last moment, and poorly explaining both itself and its characters. It was disheartening to see after Sailor Moon Crystal had felt like it had finally started to get itself on track.
Following on from last time's revelations, Sailor Moon and Artemis try to question Chibi-Usa as much as they can about the Black Moon and the 30th Century, but she shuts down again. Mamoru decides that it would be best to let her rest back at his apartment, which in turn leads to one of the weirdest scenes in the show so far.
Mamoru tucks Chibi-Usa into bed, and then Usagi, in a moment of plot stupidity that is stretching even for her, accuses him of falling in love with Chibi-Usa, loving her more than he does Usagi? And this somehow leads to a moment of romance between Mamoru and Usagi that it's heavily implied culminates in them getting it on? Like, WHAT. You don't go from "Hey do you fancy that little girl" — I mean come on Mamoru's well established as a creepy weirdo but EWW NO — to "Oh how handsome I want to protect you and/or have sexy times" in like, the space of a minute? This isn't romantic, SMC. It's kinda gross, and stupid, and it's the worst way to push Usagi and Mamoru's relationship to the fore. It definitely does not need what is essentially accusing him of falling in love with a minor at any point.
That awfulness aside, the next Chibi-Usa declares she wants to return to her own time (slight aside, does Mamoru just give everyone who shows up at his apartment a white button up to wear? Does he just have racks of them to dish out? God dammit Mamoru.), and the team reunite at the Park to get their wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey on. However, not all goes to plan, and the Senshi are separated from Chibi-Usa, lost in between timelines before they encounter a strange figure...
Yes, Sailor Pluto is here, and she has had enough of everyone's bullshit! AS HAVE WE, SAILOR PLUTO! Thank god.
Well, only momentarily, unfortunately. Chibi-Usa interrupts before Pluto can enact some Time-Justice, revealing that she stole the Time Key from Sailor Pluto to travel back and get the Senshi to help her out. Pluto concedes, and lets them pass on to the 30th century while she stays behind. Perhaps the smartest decision anyone has made in the episode so far. Who would willingly want to get involved with this nonsense? There's no flow to these events, or a logic to them — things just happen because they do, and everyone goes with that. Sailor Moon Crystal is at its very worst when it slaves itself to the source material, and instead of attempting to do something better, it simply throws is poorly animated arms up and goes "well, I guess that's how it was in the Manga" and damns itself.
Upon arrival to the apocalyptic wasteland of Crystal Tokyo, the Senshi and Tuxedo Mask are incapacitated by Esmeraude and her minions... for like, all of three minutes or something? This "fight scene" — you can barely call it that — is so pointless and so lazily rushed that it feels like it fell straight out of an episode from the show's first half. In fact, that's the one thing that ties together this otherwise disparate mess as a whole. The odorous pacing, the limp story, the rushed feeling of everything in the second half, even the earlier ridiculousness between Usagi and Mamoru. After a relatively solid run of episodes that focus on character rather than being held hostage to the flow of the manga, Act 19 feels like a throwback to the messy episodes that plagued the Dark Kingdom arc. It's not something the show needs especially as it starts to get a little crazier with all the 30th century stuff, and it's such a shame. I'm not mad, Sailor Moon Crystal. I'm just disappointed.
With Esmeraude gone and her minions dead, the gang enter the Crystal palace and find themselves looking upon the crystal-encased (god, they love their crystals, don't they? I'm waiting for the episode where every other word is "Crystal!") body of Neo Queen Serenity. There's also an oddly Artemis-looking cat named Diana, and...
An older Tuxedo Mask! Still not in a Tuxedo! Dun-dun dun. I can't wait for the episode of infodumping that'll be needed to explain this madness.
Next time, Usagi is incredulous about basically everything that is happening. Don't worry Usagi, we are too.
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