Sailor Moon – Sailor Venus’s Past: Minako’s Tragic Love review

This classic (and kinda rare) Sailor Moon episode is hit and miss, but still well-worth the watch.

Katarina, an Interpol officer and friend from Minako’s past, shows up for a bittersweet reunion, but is transformed by Kunzite into the youma Papillon, who actually has a pretty cool design except for that insectoid abdomen jutting out from her ass. Seriously, it looks like she’s pinching off a purple turd. Fleeing the attack with the help of Sailor Moon, Minako tells the story of a trip to England she made during her solo career as Sailor V, how she met both Katarina and young man named Allan, and the love triangle (but not really) that existed between the three of them.

Of all the episodes cut from the DiC dub, this one was the most infuriating and controversial omission, and to this day, I do not know what could have possibly possessed the writing staff to chuck this one in favor of Jadeite’s Star Search or the wedding dress episode or any other number of far more expendable one-shot plots. We’re taking a real, honest-to-God Sailor V episode, and the only real episode of actual character development that Minako gets.

And okay, to be honest, it’s not a terribly interesting bit of backstory for her. We don’t see her origin or anything of substance that actually went down in the Code Name: Sailor V manga, much less anything that actually had to do with the plot of Sailor Moon, but it’s still more character development than we got on her in the DiC dub, which is to say any at all.

The whole story with Allan and Katarina… it’s fine, and I can allow for the fact that this show was marketed at tween girls and that from a 14-year-old’s perspective, Minako’s love was tragic, but if we could just have a slight reality check? Allan was an adult, and Minako never really had a shot with him. Even as a naïve schoolgirl, she had to know that. Unfortunate, sure, and all that heartbreak she felt was very real, but girl… really! You’re waxing poetic about the tragedy of all this like you and Katarina were on a level playing field.

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I’m sorry, honey, but no.

You crushed on the wrong guy and it was never going to work out, no matter who came along or even if no one had come along. It never mattered who Katarina was, it mattered who you weren’t (which, for the record, would be a legally and emotionally compatible adult). So, cry all the tears you want. I’ll bring the ice cream over myself and we can marathon Sex and the City until we pass into a diabetic coma, but don’t go on like you lost this contest. You were never even a player, and you know it.

There are loads of plot holes in Minako’s story, not on her part but on the writers’. Like, where the fuck were her parents while she was galavanting around England long enough to form close relationships with people? How did this affect her schooling? Was it over summer break or something? And why is Artemis acting like this is new information for him, like Sailor V was around before he showed up? He brought Minako into the fight the way Luna brought Usagi in. Did she just leave him at home while she went to England, then returned with a renewed commitment to the mission? What’s up with that?

This episode boasts some pretty great comedic moments. Sailor Usagi is probably one of the best meta jokes I’ve ever seen in anything, and the scene where Usagi has to basically give herself the Heimlich… I almost died. But it’s not just the comedy that gives this episode purchase beyond the backstory on Venus. It is here that the Sailor Guardians begin the search for “doorway” to the Dark Kingdom, which… don’t they just end up teleporting? Whatever.

Of course, we never learn how this computer that’s somehow hidden within a video game actually got there or how it’s smart enough to present them with pertinent information, but again… whatever. It is revealed how the sunspots heralded the destruction of the Silver Millennium. On the Dark Kingdom’s side of things, Metalia confirms this and shows a redoubled effort to corrupt Mamoru. Seriously, this was a really strong, really plotty episode.

Why in the name of all that is holy did DiC cut it?

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Minako does show considerable (if inconsistent) maturity here when she has mercy on Katarina, not just because she was violated by the presence of Papillon, but because she was innocent of Minako’s feelings. Usagi calls Katarina out for being a traitor that stole Minako’s “boyfriend,” a very understandably adolescent perspective on the situation. Minako, however, sees the big picture and comes to realize what a fool she was. A good-hearted, innocent fool who just fell in love with the wrong guy, but a fool nonetheless.

This really does earn Usagi’s comment to the others that Minako is much more grown up than the rest of them, a character detail I really would like to have seen more of. In fact, if this was the intention, if Venus goes into this episode thinking of the whole dynamic as a legitimate love triangle but comes out of it realizing what the situation really was, then maybe she’s earned Usagi’s appraisal of her character after all.

For all that I like this episode and wish it had been a part of DiC’s line-up, I am notably disappointed that the one opportunity the show seized to delve into Minako’s backstory was wasted on some random, filler-y, one-shot crush rather than actually telling the story of Phantom Ace, an actual romance from Code Name: Sailor V that ended badly and broke Minako’s heart. Depicting that whole incident would have accomplished the exact same goal, better in fact for having employed some Mooniverse canon. But hey…

C’est la vie.

Sorry. Couldn’t help it.

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3 out of 5