Sailor Moon Crystal: "Act 3 -- Rei -- Sailor Mars" Review
This week’s Sailor Moon Crystal is pretty hot, and I mean that literally since we’re introduced to Sailor Mars, the champion of fire and passion.
Fans of the original anime may remember Mars as the snarky, short-tempered frenemy of Usagi, but in Sailor Moon Crystal, she’s much more reserved. This is a closer representation of her manga counterpart, and although this probably means no more epic boss fights with Sailor Moon (R.I.P. hair-pulling hilarity), I’m glad Toei has toned down Mars’ bad attitude, which always seemed jarring alongside the more upbeat demeanor of her fellow Sailor Guardians.
This change in personality also sets up a nice story arc for Rei (Mars\' real name). She’s not mean on purpose, she just feels like an outcast because people regard her ability to read fire and sense evil spirits as an oddity. It’s not until she discovers she’s one of the legendary Sailor Guardians that she learns to embrace her unique abilities. Yes, this “learn to love yourself” theme is pretty cliche, but it’s also heartwarming, and serves as a nice contrast with the episode’s more action-orientated moments.
Speaking of action, this week marks a showdown between the Sailor Guardians and Queen Beryl’s henchman, Jadeite. To tell the truth, I feel like it\'s a little too soon for this confrontation to happen, but I also like how it demonstrates just how desperate Jadeite is to win. He’s already failed Queen Beryl twice during his search for the Legendary Silver Crystal (which we learn has the ability to control the universe), and the only way to ensure his survival is to confront the Sailor Guardians head on.
This epic showdown is definitely Act 3\'s highlight, with lots of action and a few nail-biting moments for the Sailor Guardians. Unfortunately, it also doesn\'t last very long, as once the Sailors learn to coordinate their attacks (which I actually like because it makes them look strong), Jadeite goes down pretty fast. It\'s an anticlimactic end to what is supposed to be a formidable opponent, and I wish more of the episode had been dedicated to fighting Jadeite and less on Usagi and her friends trying to track him down.
Jadeite\'s not the only man to look weak in this episode, either. Tuxedo Mask also doesn\'t do very much. In fact, other than seeing Usagi transform into a bus stewardess using her magic pen, he doesn\'t help Sailor Moon at all. It makes me wonder what purpose he serves, because so far he\'s pretty useless.
Luckily, the Sailor Guardians continue to evolve both emotionally and strenth-wise, with Usagi needing only a little prompting to fight this time around. It\'s nice to see her grow as a leader, and I like how she and Ami have grown closer, as is evident by the fact that the two are always hanging out, and when Usagi is in trouble, Ami uses their new communicators to track her down and help her.
Speaking of which, some fans might find Jadeite\'s plan to lure the Sailor Guardians out by driving a (literal) busload of victims into another world rather quirky, but from a Japanese point of view it actually makes sense, since the theme of this episode revolves around ancient Japanese spiritual beliefs. (In this case, Jadeite is "spiriting away" his victims, a Japanese expression used to explain a person\'s sudden disappearance).
This theme also ties in nicely with Rei\'s powers, since as a Shinto priestess she has the power to banish evil spirits; A.K.A Jadeite. In fact, it\'s by using her Akuryou Taisen ability (as opposed to her Mars Fire Ignite spell like in the original anime) that Rei is able to defeat him.
This is some impressively heavy stuff, but of course not everything in Act 3 is serious. There\'s definitely some humor sprinkled in, including Usagi following Rei around like a love sick puppy, and her clumsy attempt to explain to Tuxedo Mask why she\'s always talking to her cat. It\'s a pleasant way of breaking up the episode\'s more intense moments, and reminds us that Usagi and her friends-- though blessed with extraordinary powers-- are in fact normal middle school students.
Yup. They\'re just ordinary middle school students.
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"Rei -- Sailor Mars" is the strongest Sailor Moon: Crystal episode yet, with a nice character arc, humorous moments and good action. It will be interesting to see if the next episode (which hints at the whereabouts of the much sought after Silver Crystal) can keep up the pace.
This week’s Sailor Moon Crystal featured a showdown between Jadeite and the Sailor Guardians. RT