Now aware of Tuxedo Mask’s true identity, Zoisite appears to Mamoru, baiting him into a confrontation: one winner-takes-all duel for the Rainbow Crystals. Despite still being wounded from their last encounter, he accepts. On his way to the duel, he runs into Usagi and, in too much pain to bicker with her as per usual, is actually nice to her. This, combined with the realization that he’s bleeding through his clothes, arouses her suspicion and she follows him. Both get trapped by Zoisite, forced to reveal their identities to one another. Before the duel can happen, however, Zoisite gets down and dirty as usual and literally stabs Tuxedo Mask in the back.
Meanwhile, newcomer Venus’ go-getter attitude forces the other Senshi to step up their game. Their rescue attempt comes a moment too late as they find Tuxedo Mask dying in Sailor Moon’s arms. She sheds a single tear, which draws the Rainbow Crystals into it, and merges them into the Silver Crystal. The appearance of the Crystal finally reveals the identity of the Moon Princess: none other than Usagi herself.
Before we actually discuss this episode, I just have to ask… Is it just me or has Zoisite’s hair been getting less and less puffy since his first appearance? There must be a lot of humidity in the Dark Kingdom.
Okay, but seriously:
Finally, we get Mamoru’s backstory, which is just so Batman with the dead parents and the sizable inheritance and blah blah blah. I mean, I get it. It works, I guess. But there are so many Party of Five kids in this show, just living without parents all willy-nilly. It’s a bit much. Also, I wonder how all the memory stuff works for him. Like… he was a kid, not fully aware of his past life memories, then he lost most of his present life memories. Now that he gets the past life memories back, did that just reboot the entire hard drive? I mean, can he access all his memories now or is he still Swiss cheese brain about his early childhood?
Also… here’s the thing. I grew up on Marvel Comics. I was conditioned to view a character’s death as a temporary setback. Nephrite’s death completely rocked my world, it shook me to my core. So, after that, when Tuxedo Mask got impaled and lost consciousness, I was convinced that it could very much be it for him. And I had to wait a whole fucking weekend to learn otherwise. It was a smart move on the writers’ part. By taking a prominent recurring character like Nephrite and offing him, it really left that door open. We didn’t know which way Tuxedo Mask would go, and to their credit, though he does survive, he comes back wrong. But that’s a future post.
Lastly on the matter of Tuxedo Mask, we finally get a transformation sequence for him and his hat just plops on his head like that? Weak. His hand was extended! The hat should go to his hand, then he puts it on his head. Jesus, people!
As for the mutual identity reveal, it was a long time coming and, one could easily argue, long overdue, but especially now that I’m re-reading the manga and watching Sailor Moon Crystal, I appreciate the placement of it here. Why? Because Usagi and Mamoru has spent 33 episodes developing two very distinct relationships with one another, one as their true selves and the other as their “super” selves. These are two very different dynamics, so the revelation for each of them that the person they most respect and are most irritated by are the same person is a real blow, as opposed to a few chapters/eps of some light interaction and square-one suspicion, followed up by a lightweight confirmation of what they pretty much already knew.
Was 33 episodes a bit too much time? Of course it was, and Sailor Moon is notorious for this, but the event itself was fun and satisfying, however long it took us to get here.
And speaking of things that are long overdue…
I can understand those who wish the whole “Is Venus the princess?” thing were explored more fully, and in fact, that’s exactly what they do in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, but at this point, the only people who didn’t think Usagi was the princess were people like me who thought it was just too obvious and that the princess was going to be her doppelganger or something. I do wish they’d spent more time on the fact that Venus isn’t exactly a team player at this stage in the game. She’s been working on her own for so long that she needs some time to adjust to working with others. Wasted opportunity there, I think.
In fact, there’s a whole lot of wasted potential surrounding the character of Sailor I’ve always been disappointed in the execution of Venus’s character, because her premiere episodes were so strong. From the moment she shows up, she’s just taking names and kicking ass. She’s the first Senshi to be introduced as a Sailor first, her civilian identity something of a footnote. She shows up to her first Senshi meeting and takes charge, speaking with the kind of experience and authority that frankly she’s earned. This episode, for Venus, was a hell of a follow-up to a striking debut. Sadly, for dear, sweet Minako it’s mostly downhill from here, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
All that said, this is an amazing episode. The animation is gorgeous (though only in about half the scenes for some reason), there’s nothing but plot and character development from beginning to end, and it really utilizes most of the characters to their fullest. It’s one of my favorites to this day.