Ami has gotten rather used to being at the head of the class, but a sexy nerd named Ryo Urawa has edged her out of the top spot. Ami, brain that she is, is immediately attracted to someone who can challenge her intellectually, and it doesn’t hurt Urawa’s case that he’s easy on the eyes, but he’s got two secrets. One, he’s a fraud. His excellent scores are the result of psychic powers. And two, those psychic powers are a side-effect of him being the next Rainbow Crystal carrier.
It’s worth noting how rounded all these characters are (at least in the first season). You have someone like Mercury, who just spent her last few turns in the spotlight kicking ass and having her shit pretty much together, now subject to things like insecurity and impaired judgment. Similarly, Rei, who often tries to come off as the most adult and responsible, is not immune to making a fool out of herself because she’s not as mature and together as she thinks she is.
I have to say, it’s mildly eyeroll-inducing how long Mercury tries to bluff her way out of Urawa recognizing her. I get that she’s making an effort to protect her identity, but… Ami? Girl? He’s onto you. The jig is up. Cut the bullshit.
Urawa gets a pretty decent treatment here with such solid characterization in the short amount of screentime he gets that I’d have been interested to see more of him not just as a love interest for Ami, but a character in his own right. Even though he is revisited in a future episode, it’s not as much as he deserved. Urawa is portrayed as a good kid with a pretty strong moral compass, enough that he is actually able to exert control over his monster form to some degree.
But be honest, if you had the power at that age to predict what questions would be on your exams, especially in a country with as much academic pressure as Japan, wouldn’t you use it at least once? Urawa’s character is noble yet somewhat dishonest, brave when his life is on the line but too shy to talk to a girl he likes. He’s so marvelously complex that it’s really a shame that he only gets one full appearance after this episode. On the whole, actually, this episode does a really great job of portraying teenagers as they are, foibles and all, but Urawa really takes the cake here.
His youma alter-ego Bunbou, on the other hand… lame. A fucking school supplies monster? Fucking really? This shit is just too much.
And there’s another issue I have with Urawa’s precognition. He totally sucks at it. You know, if he hadn’t stopped Ami, she would have totally cleared the construction site by the time that support beam fell. And then later with Usagi and the water. Dude, you are causing these girls’ problems.
I really love how easily Mako-chan and Usagi bond, and it’s not really something she’s had on the team before. She gets along very well with Ami, but Ami is really too straight-laced to really get her, and her relationship with Rei is flat-out antagonistic, but in Mako-chan, she has someone to just kind of be a boy-crazy slacker with. Even Naru-chan, her best friend, doesn’t have the same potential as she’s outside the Sailor Senshi’s world and thus will always be kept, to some degree, at arm’s length.
Mamoru is kind of a dick in this episode. I mean, he’s a dick in a lot of episodes, but it’s pretty much exclusively to Usagi. Now, I understand that he had this bombshell dropped in his lap last episode, and he’s processing all this new information and his new mission and what have you, but… poor Rei. He’s gotta know Rei is into him and he’s totally leading her on. And it’s not even like he thinks he needs to use her to figure out who he really is. She’s just some girl he knows. Way to needlessly fuck with someone’s heart, Mamo-chan.
In case I haven’t made it painfully clear in the past two reviews, I really, really freaking LOVE the Rainbow Crystal arc. One of the main reasons is that while you pretty much know the Great Youma in each episode will be healed and revert to its human form, it’s really even money on who’s going to get the crystal: the Sailor Senshi, the Dark Kingdom, or Tuxedo Mask. It was a touch of chaos and unpredictability that added some tension to a heretofore rather formulaic series. Today’s win goes to the Sailor Senshi. The yellow crystal is theirs.
And lastly, for the superficial grace note…
Yay! New opening and closing sequences! This opening animation may be my favorite in the entire series. It’s definitely in the running, the Sailor Moon S opening its only competition from where I stand.