Act 3 – Sailor Mars
Open to Jadeite getting chewed out because he’s failed twice in a row so far to obtain the Legendary Silver Crystal, and the other Dark Generals are seeing this as an opportunity to perform. Nephrite and Zoicite both offer their services. Here, we learn something interesting – Beryl has not told them what the crystal is or what it does. She replies that it’s an immensely powerful energy source…but the fact she says “not to worry about it” makes me think there’s something else to it.
Actually, given that they world for the “Dark Kingdom” and summon daemons as a normal thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up sacrificing all four of them to give the thing its initial charge.
Anyway, Jadeite gets another chance, and we cut to a girl on fire.
Something ominous is coming, she says.
Cut to school, where there’s a rumor about a devil bus, route 66, that if you take it at 6PM, you’re never seen again. Usagi sleeps through the gossip, and through Luna reminding her that she and Ami have a meeting…until Luna mentions it’s at the arcade at which point she’s all up on that like a marine on a stimpack. We see Ami standing next to a Sailor V poster, which makes me wonder about their Sailor Guardian powers – what exactly is it that makes them all end up in the sailor suits? Is it just that Sailor V is a popular game series, so their powers manifest as the sailor suit that V wears? And in the AU where it’s, like feudal Japan, they’d all be running around in differently colored samurai armor? Or would they always wear the sailor suits? Anyways, while Usagi’s busy gaming, Ami asks Luna what their next move is, to which the kitty replies, “protect our Princess and the Legendary Silver Crystal”. Ami’s perplexed expression indicates she doesn’t know what that is either, although she also doesn’t ask.
They leave the arcade, and Ami’s still going to cram school, which I’m going to assume is better now that the teacher from hell is gone. She mentions to Usagi that a really pretty girl is on the bus at that time, which catches her attention. As Ami gets on, Usagi notices that the route i the same one as the “devil bus”, so she hops on and-
Now there’s a girl worth fighting for
Usagi’s is hella smitten.
Meanwhile, the girl gets a vision, and Usagi is still smitten.
She could be a part…time…MODEL!
Anyway, Hot Chick gets off, and Usagi follows her. They end up in a Shinto shrine, trying to find her. Meanwhile, cut to Hot Chick, who turns out to be a shrine maiden. She feels a great disturbance in the Force, so she operates up, exorcism spell in hand…and smacks Usagi in the face with it.
Hot Chick explains that she felt a demonic energy earlier, and mistook Usagi for the source, which is why one of the Four Rules is “always be aware of your target and what’s behind it before you shoot.” We also learn that she has two ravens named Phobos and Deimos which are pretty badass names for a pair of pets/animal familiars. Cut to people praying at the shrine. Mii-chan, one of their daughters, has gone missing. They suspect it’s the Devil Bus before running off. Here we find that Hot Chick’s name is Rei Hino. Mii-chan is a little girl that always plays at the shrine while waiting for the bus. There’s a local folklore that says there’s five hills around the area, but there’s like a sixth secret hill, and the Devil Bus vanishes there at 6PM. Locals call it being “spirited away” (no, not that one).
The next day, Usagi and Ami get matching watches. Usagi wants to visit Rei again, and Luna agrees, noting that she’s beautiful, has spiritual powers, and is a shrine maiden, so she may be the Princess.
So, Luna doesn’t know who the princess is either? Her, Beryl, and Tuxedo Mask are all running around blind? This is actually pretty intriguing, and I kind of want to see where they go with this.
Anyway, Ami’s gotta go to cram school, so Usagi’s on a bus by herself. Luna informs her that the watch is also a communicator (seriously where does she get these fancy toys?) and is about to say more when suddenly a wild bishounen appears! We finally find out his name, Mamoru Chiba, a high school sophomore at a private school.
Awkward silence ensues.
Cut to the shrine, and Mii-chan’s mom wants Rei to find her with magic, but Rei’s all like, “uh, my powers don’t quite do that.” She suggests calling the police, but some other bitchy lady is like “her daughter’s missing! y u no help!”
So, this is interesting because it indicates that some humans have had magic powers ever since before Luna showed up and turned Usagi into Sailor Moon. Anyway, the adults then accuse her of having Mii-chan spirited away, but Usagi comes to the rescue. She offers to help Rei find the missing girl. Rei thanks her for the offer, but would rather go it alone. Later, she lights a fire and tries to locate Mii-chan with her powers. Instead, she sees someone else, and Usagi in trouble.
So she runs out, trying to find Usagi. A bus stops by, and she gets on, only to see Jadeite as the driver.
Right when recognition hits her, though, Jadeite casts sleep, which is super effective. Fortunately for Rei, he manages to drive right past Usagi, who recognizes Rei from the window. The bus speeds past her, and is about to crash into a wall, but suddenly a portal opens up. So Usagi chases after the bus, and uses the pen to transform…into a flight attendant? She jumps up and catches on the the back, but drops Luna in the process. Good thing Tuxedo Mask is there to catch her. He’s too late to follow Usagi, but is starting to confirm that yes, Usagi can do that transformation thing.
Cut to Ami at the cram school, getting a call on her watch. It’s Luna, telling her Usagi’s in trouble. Oh Luna, is there anything you can’t do? Also cut to the…Hell dimension, I guess? Jadeite’s got a whole bunch of unconscious people, all hostages to lure out the Sailor Guardians. Meanwhile, Usagi’s stumbling around, demoralized because no one’s there to help her, until she gets a call. Ami and Luna are actually smart and know how to do things, and they suggest Usagi transform so they can pinpoint the magical energy. This works, both girls are transformed, and now it’s time to go on the counterattack. Just in time, too, because Jadeite is being a total creeper right now.
Fortunately for Rei, Usagi is there to cockblock him (I guess…do demons have cocks in this setting?). Mercury opens with a mist, and calls out to Usagi to save the kids while under cover of fog, but Jadeite reveals he has freezing powers. The mist condenses, depriving both Sailor Guardians of cover. Ah well, what did you expect, Sailor Mercury? This is Mars’s highlight episode, so none of you are allowed to be useful. Anyway, Jadeite blasts both of them with ice. By this point, Rei wakes up though, and grapples with him, which given that Jadeite is some kind of super daemon lord thing, only amuses the guy.
Too bad for him, Rei’s powers chooses that point to manifest themselves into sweet burnination. Luna tosses her a pen sceptre thing, and she becomes Sailor Mars. There’s this heavy rock guitars motif going on during her transformation sequence that I like, in contrast to the strings and choir chanting for Moon and Mercury’s transformations.
Jadeite tries blasting her with ice, dating this show because everyone who grew up in the post-Pokemon era knows that fire is super effective against ice. Mars no-sells the attack, then goes all Sozin’s Comet on his ass, forcing him to run away.
Cut to the police, and all the children being recovered.
I rather liked this episode. Ami’s episode was a tad generic, and even if you didn’t know anything about this series, you would have been able to predict that it was gonna be “down-to-earth everygirl befriends nerdy girl, and nerdy girl is going to save the day, affirming both girls’ friendships”. This one actually is a little less stock; Rei has a bit more self-confidence going on, but there’s some subtle vulnerabilities there too. You can see that she is kind of lonely by herself, and you get hints that it’s because of her powers that 1. alienates other people to her and 2. makes her unsure of where she fits in society. Her status as a shrine maiden gives her a sort of authority, but with that comes responsibilities that, being a teenager, she isn’t really ready for. When people accuse her of shady things, you can see that she’s hurt by it, but she’s too proud and dignified to show it. Push comes to shove, though, she gets right down to it. Seriously, her vs. Jadeite could basically be paraphrased, like-
Jadeite: hahaha silly human your meat-hands cannot harm me
Mars: FUCK YOU I HAVE MAGIC
Anyway, that’s the long version of the characterization front. The short version is…maybe this reminds me just a little bit of another story about a girl with magic powers who feels repressed by them and needed the power of love and friendship to feel accepted and at peace with her powers, eventually saving the day.
As far as world-building goes, this episode is alright. We confirm that everyone is stumbling in the dark. Which could work, because that way we’re discovering things at the same pace as the characters, and avoids situations where characters suddenly randomly explain things that should be basic knowledge to them for the benefit of the audience. Also, it raises interesting questions about people who have had magic powers just on their own. Are they all Sailor Guardians? Are there more of them across the world? Are they just candidates but need Luna’s magic touch to make them full-blown Sailors? Is this just kind of going to get skipped over?
Usagi’s relative uselessness is getting annoying, though. Hoping that gets better once the team’s introductory episodes are up.
Until next ep.