Sailor Moon – Grandpa Loses Control: Rei In Danger, Review

Grandpa is the next Rainbow Crystal carrier in this fun episode of Sailor Moon. Here's our review...

Not wasting any time on this one, because in the very first scene not only do we learn that Grandpa is the next Rainbow Crystal carrier, but Zoisite attacks. And Grandpa manages to fight him off, but starts to exhibit some strange behavior, not the least of which is hiring wandering slacker Yuuichirou as his own personal pawadan. Yuuichirou is instantly smitten with Rei, but she’s still got eyes for Mamoru. Usagi attempts to “help,” which only makes things worse, but before that drama can fully escalate, Zoisite’s second attempt to transform Granpda into his Great Youma form works, and the Sailor Senshi are forced to fight their lecherous grandfather figure.

One of the reasons I love the Rainbow Crystal arc is how much is plays with formula. For the first half of the series, there were occasional variations on the theme when it came to structure and pacing, but for the most part, they stuck with the formula. At this point, the rules are out the fucking window. This is as good a time as any to praise the writers for mixing up the sequence of events for the acquisition of each crystal. In the red crystal episode, we saw Joe right up front before any of the civilian story started. Over the last few episodes, the reveal of who the crystal bearer was, regardless of how obvious, was placed at a different point in each episode.

At this point in the plot, we’re not even bothering with Zoisite’s discovery. We’re jumping straight into the attack, and it’s the lasting effect of the attack that drives the episode.

It’s interesting to note that each victim is increasingly closer to the cast. Joe and the Priest were complete strangers. Urawa was a classmate they barely knew. There’s a little backtracking with Yumemi, but then Reika is the loved one of a friend. And now it’s Rei’s grandfather. The attacks have been hitting closer and closer to home, and I appreciate that slow build. It makes sense to tap Grandpa as anyone in Usagi’s family would have been too close (I like that she’s the one extraordinary person in that household), and none of the other characters have family that we’ve met. Grandpa was the perfect choice. That said…

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Grandpa has always been a tricky character. In the dub he’s merely juvenile and inappropriate, but in the orginal, he’s a straight up perv that sexually harasses people indiscriminate of age or gender. In fact, it’s so bad that people have taken out ad space to warn the community about him and Usagi is none too sure about leaving him alone with Chibiusa. And that’s fine in and of itself.

I actually think having Grandpa be a straight up perv is much more effective than any PSA could be. It shows kids that potential threats aren’t always some creepy dude in a pedo van. Sometimes it’s someone you know, a friend, a family member. The trouble for me is that you have a character who has such an obvious character defect and he’s still… kind of lovable and endearing, which rings a bit true, I guess.

When we discover awful things about the people we love, we may know it’s wrong, we may reject this aspect of them on an intellectual and even emotional level… but you don’t just stop loving someone. Even when you should. I in no way approve of Grandpa’s completely inappropriate behavior, which could not be classified as anything but sexual harassment and borderline sexual assault in some places… but he’s really fucking funny. I mean, if anything, this gives him a leg up on Tuxedo Mask, who got all rapey with Usagi without at least having the decency to be a more entertaining character.

The use of Grandpa in this episode was incredibly smart. He’s generally a goofball and fairly erratic, so seeing him turn it up a notch just seems like him having an off week, rather than being the symptom of a larger problem. Zoisite fails to extract the crystal from him in the opening scene, but he succeeds in destabilizing it somewhat, which unleashes the influence of the Great Youma within Grandpa, causing him to regress in his behavior to a more instinctual, emotional, and even childlike state. Placing Zoisite’s attempt on Grandpa at the beginning of the episode isn’t just a refreshing shake up of the formula, it allows for the entire plot. That is fuckin’ smooth.

In fact, the theme of this episode seems to be about maturity, about people regressing and finding themselves in situations where it’s difficult if not impossible to act their age. Grandpa is always a boundary-ignoring pain in the ass, but he really starts acting like a child. At the same time, Usagi and Rei always manage to bring out the worst in each other. I always liked in this episode how Ami and Makoto call both Usagi and Rei out on their childish feuding. They definitely put Usagi in her place for being immature, but they don’t let Rei off the hook for picking on her and just all around being a bitch. And it’s always nice to see the passive one get pushed too far, so when Ami more or less says “I’m tired of your bullshit,” it’s just awesome. At the same time, Rei who is a fairly normal teenage girl on her own time and something of a child when it comes to Usagi is forced to step up and be the sensible, responsible, mature one when it comes to dealing with her grandfather, a dynamic that’s turned up to eleven here.

While it makes sense that Rei wouldn’t use fire on her own grandfather, even in youma form, there is also a certain thematic symmetry in her using her miko “I’ma Banish Evil” strips, as her miko identity and the temple are such an intrinsic aspect of her family life.

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This episode gets major points for playing with the formula, adding depth to a major character’s home life, giving a beloved supporting character a day in the limelight, and introducing a new recurring love interest. It’s also one of the better Great Youma designs, drawing on Japanese mythology, which felt very fitting, considering Grandpa was at the center of the episode. A very refreshing entry into the series, but next time we’ll find our expectations played with even further as the last of the Rainbow Crystal carriers is revealed… sort of.

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3.5 out of 5