Usagi checks out a virtual reality arcade (remember when virtual reality was a thing?), but is bummed when it appears to be couples only. Mamoru happening by and digging into her only makes it sting even more that he still hasn’t regained his memories. They run into Natsumi and Seijuurou outside, then into Kenji and Shingo inside, and everyone splits off into pairs to play the game, but a Cardian turns it all into one deadly afternoon. It gets even worse when Sailor Moon’s tiara doesn’t work. A white rose means the Moonlight Knight has shown up to help, but Usagi is thrown into total confusion when she sees him and Mamoru in the same place at once.
The failure of Sailor Moon’s tiara came as a surprise to no one who read the episode’s title, but it did contribute in a couple of ways. For one, it allowed Jupiter and Venus to dispatch the cardian on their own, something characters who aren’t Sailor Moon don’t often get to do. The tiara’s failure also sets up that Sailor Moon’s powers are failing her, a plot point that will play heavily into the next episode. Too bad about the tiara. I wonder if Usagi can bring it into one of those “We Buy Gold!” places now that it’s busted.
Unlike the tiara problem, the twist that no one saw coming was Mamoru and the Moonlight Knight being in the same place at the same time, establishing that they are two separate entities. As obvious as it was (to everyone but me) that Mamoru and Tuxedo Mask were one and the same, there were nearly twenty episodes aired before there was any onscreen confirmation of that fact. Thus, given that history and what we could see of the Moonlight Knight’s face, assuming he was Mamoru (very believably in some kind of split personality situation yet again) was pretty much a no-brainer… until this happened. I have to admit — and laugh all you want — 15-year-old me was completely thrown by this shit.
It did bring up a concern though. Having seen Mamoru and the Moonlight Knight in the same place, Usagi now believes they must be separate and yet she totally pervs on the Moonlight Knight. Now, she did some emotional two-timing back when it was Tuxedo Mask and Motoki, but she was different then, younger, less experienced, and that profound bond of love that survived death and rebirth… that’s a factor now. So, to see her get all moist in the panties over the Moonlight Knight really, in my eyes, cheapens the love she claims to have for Mamoru.
I mean, will she just go nuts for any masked guy who helps her out? Call me naïve, but I thought Mamoru was special. I mean, she practically gave Luna Shaken Baby Syndrome on the mere suspicion that Luna might know how to restore his memory, which come to think of it is a nice little bit of continuity. Nice to see that Luna’s ass-pulled telepathic powers didn’t go without comment. In sober truth, though, I concede that this was probably a thoughtless attempt by the writing team to just reboot the status quo of the early Classic dynamics. Whatever.
It was nice to see Usagi’s family again, now that they’ve been relegated to the background. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the superhero genre, but the more super characters you add to the mix, the less the civilian cast is going to be utilized. The Makai Tree arc is really the most we’re going to see of Usagi’s family and classmates before they’re scaled back to one or two appearances per season. And that’s for those who don’t drop off the map completely. The fact that we get a little time with Shingo and Kenji, even two quick scenes with Ikuko, is rather nice. You know what isn’t? Kenji’s pre-emptive slut-shaming of his own daughter. “Dad trusts you” is pretty much code for “Dad wants to use passive-aggressive shaming to keep you from being a filthy whore.” Because if he really trusted her, he wouldn’t feel the need to tell her right then at that moment. That wasn’t an affirmation of his high esteem of his daughter. It was a thinly veiled guilt trip.
I know it’s played for comedy here, but every time Usagi so much as mentions boys or dating, even in the most hypothetical context, her father acts like seeing her on even the chastest fantasy of a date would be tantamount to watching her stand in for Jodie Foster in the first ten minutes of The Accused, which he’d probably think she’d deserve. You know, because rape would be her fault, and the true crime of the whole thing would be the shame and damage to his reputation. And if you think I’m overreacting, do even the tiniest bit of research on rape culture in Japan. It’s pretty awful.
So, yeah. I’m bothered by this running gag of Kenji’s paternal need to lock his daughter’s vagina away in a maximum security vault, more for his peace of mind than her protection. And I realize that it is true to life that many fathers behave this way, but the fact that it’s realistic doesn’t make it any less appalling. To the show’s credit, Kenji is portrayed as an overprotective freak, and Usagi is shown to be visibly frustrated with her father, but his behavior is still more or less condoned. Neither his wife nor daughter ever tells him that he’s overreacting. It underscores a missed opportunity here to highlight what a nuisance or even detriment an overprotective father is in many girls’ lives. It’s an issue teen girls can relate to. It shouldn’t take up an entire episode. That’s not what this show is about, but it’s shame it’s never so much as even addressed.
Listen, I’m not expecting some kind of revolutionary, sex positive monologue in Sailor Moon, but it couldn’t hurt to have Ikuko say something to the effect of “Honey, Usagi is going to date. It’s normal, it’s healthy, and most importantly it’s inevitable, so do us all a favor and stop acting like a freak.” Because really… that’s something most dads need to hear, especially the ones chomping at the bit to share the finer points of poontang conquest with their sons. Just sayin’.
This episode was pretty meh. There were two plot points of note, but they were couched in a fairly boring and poorly executed plot. All the character dynamics, such as Usagi’s longing for Mamoru and the bizarre love rectangle of Usagi, Mamoru, Ail, and An just spun their wheels and didn’t show us anything new, but the animation was nice, and there was one genuine surprise twist, so it’s not a total loss. On the whole though? I’d be perfectly happy skipping this one on my next rewatch.