Sailor Moon – Let’s Become A Princess: Usagi’s Bizarre Training review
It could be considered filler, but there's some solid character development going on in this classic Sailor Moon episode.
Knowing that she was a princess in a past life only seems to highlight Usagi’s flaws and gracelessness more, so she nudges her way into The Princess Seminar, an after school program that trains girls in the ways of western etiquette. Luna and Artemis certainly approve, since only a royal can unlock the full power of the Silver Crystal, something Usagi has yet to do. Of course, the seminar has been hijacked by Kunzite, but really… who’s surprised?
Okay, this one was pretty cute. It makes sense that Usagi would be feeling the pressure to be more princess-like, but anyone who’s been paying attention can see, from the word go, all the ways in which this is going to go wrong. What I did not anticipate (at least the first time I watched this episode) and loved was the bit with the Frisbee. It was just perfect and inspired, and it shows that the girl does have some skills, impractical in high society though they may be. It’s also nice to see the villains learning from their mistakes by using their experience with Sailor Moon against her. The odds are slim that the whole Frisbee test was a coincidence and not a way for Kunzite to screen girls. After all, evil magic is powerful, sure, but there are only so many hours in the day. Can’t go through every girl in Tokyo.
Aside from that, however, Usagi sucks at being a princess, at least in this sense, and the writers go to great lengths to illustrate her hardcore failure in western etiquette, though a few question marks were raised. At first I was like “What’s wrong with slurping?” In Japanese culture, slurping is considered actively polite in several contexts, but then again we are dealing with western etiquette, so I guess it tracks.
The fact that the other senshi were princesses as well (meh, I still think they should have been nobility rather than royalty but whatevs) leads them to check out the seminar themselves, and I was rather pleased with which of them rocked it and which ones sucked at it. I would have expected Ami and Minako to be the most princess-like, and Rei and Makoto to flub it, but the actuality was pleasantly mixed. It’s interesting that during the ballroom dancing portion, Rei and Minako totally screw it up and for different reasons; Rei can’t help but take the lead, which is fine in theory, but probably threw her dance partner completely off his game. As for Minako, girl just don’t care about the steps. She’s following her groove. And, of course, Usagi is just a clumsy disaster. Of course Ami’s movements would be delicate and precise, and as it will be noted in a few episodes, Makoto is rather light on her feet and graceful.
This episode also boasts a great youma, distinct not just in her design but her personality, a rarity for weekly youma. Even her speech patterns are fun. She’s just so polite, even when she’s kicking your ass. I was not, however, loving the pearl inside the clamshell that squirted a viscous fluid. As a card-carrying gay man… gross. I don’t need to see some monster’s projectile lady lube, okay? But, come to think of it, I guess it makes her all the more terrifying. To me, anyway.
The tension between Endymion and Kunzite is palpable and growing, and Kunzite really does have a point. Endymion/Evil Tuxedo Mask really is getting in his way. Repeatedly. I’ve always seen this as a sign that underneath all his brainwashing, he’s still Mamoru, and that part of him simply cannot harm Sailor Moon or allow, through inaction, harm to come to her.
This last stretch of episodes is fairly tight, and while this one could certainly be classified as filler, it’s the best kind of filler. It’s the next logical beat in Usagi’s character development. The previous episode was spent dealing with her depression, the fallout of the big fight with Zoisite and Kunzite. We needed that episode, both to deal with that funk and getting Usagi back on her feet, not yet emotionally sound — far from it — but at least functional, and to bond her with Minako as a friend. What’s the next step? Dealing with the princess angle, how it is tied into the powers of the Silver Crystal (and thus the plot), and where Usagi stands in that equation. Does an episode about Usagi going to finishing school really impact the overall plot of Sailor Moon? Not much, no, and the series would have been fine without it, but it is entertaining and has a certain charm, and it certainly isn’t pure filler like the Chanela episode or what I’ve come to call “The Sailor Moon Halloween Special.” It works, it enhances the characters, is at least somewhat tied to the main plot, if only marginally, and it’s time well spent. In fact, I can only really think of one major flaw with the episode.
Here, we see more of Artemis being a dick, and you know what? That in and of itself is not really a problem with me. If that’s the dude’s character, that’s his character, but it just blows a logical hole in several area of the plot.
At this point, was there any reason Artemis wouldn’t just tell Luna that he’s the one who’s been giving her orders through the arcade game? I’m sure if he were just up front about it and told her that it had been a security measure, she’d be fine with it. Also, Artemis is clearly not at the top the chain. Who is he getting his instructions from? If it’s the simulation of Queen Serenity in the Silver Millennium’s mainframe, it’s never mentioned in the show.
And why would he have gotten a full game plan to work with and not Luna? They’re supposedly equals. One could argue that it had to do with him being assigned to Minako, who would need to awaken first in order to be a proper decoy, but I still don’t see any reason why Luna wouldn’t be informed of this. After all, she and the Sailor Senshi under her charge have been expending a lot of time and energy looking for the Moon Princess.
What was the sense in having them chase their tails like that for roughly thirty-five episodes? Especially since Usagi being attuned to her princess self will help release the full power of the Silver Crystal. Oh, Artemis… dude… your priorities are just so fucked.