Sailor Moon: Usagi’s A Model – The Flash of the Monster Camera review

We get some solid character development in this installment of the classic Sailor Moon! Here's our review...

A gifted young photographer named Kijin Shinokawa becomes Nephrite’s next target, transforming a young man with an interest in landscapes to a pervy model-hound. While the ensuing modeling competition fails to capture the interest of Ami and Rei, Usagi falls for it hook, line, and sinker. As expected, Usagi’s frivolous impulse certainly frustrates Luna to no end, it does put Sailor Moon in the perfect position to save the day.

Okay, Nephrite, we know. We know the stars know everything.  Really, it’s stuff like this that reminds me how young the target audience is, the fact that the writers feel the need to reinforce essential info within the body of every episode to make sure the kiddies get it. Sure, this is also the strategy in adult shows here in the States, but that info is usually contained to a “previously on…” segment at the beginning; it doesn’t bog down the flow of the episode, and anime that skew older don’t seem to feel the same need.

Did Nephrite actually say that Young Einstein’s energy will increase by photographing lots of young women? So, basically he’s relying on a teenage boy’s dick to destroy the world. On the one hand, ew for his choice of secret weapon. On the other, bravo for a fairly effective plan.

So the white outlines and water-color blotchiness of the background art in the fight sequence… stylistic choice to depict the world gone awry or shameless budgetary technique? And the less said about an empowered young girl dodging a hostile boy’s white spurts of destruction, the better.

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Not only is one of the few instances in the superhero genre where repelling an attack with a mirror actually makes sense, we see more development of Usagi as Sailor Moon, using some very good critical thinking skills under pressure. Unfortunately, what should have won the day didn’t, and we had another fucking unnecessary use of the tiara. Usagi’s development here is underlined in the tag when Usagi’s family comments on how she’ll never be like the girl who inspired Kijin, even though that’s exactly who she is. Since all they know of her is Usagi and not Sailor Moon, it shows us just how far she’s already come. Also, I think Usagi deserves some credit here for her problem-solving skills as well as her keen fashion sense on the matter of her bathing suit.

It’s also worth noting that while Mamoru appeared in this episode, Tuxedo Mask didn’t. Sailor Moon required no inspirational platitudes to get down to business and needed no instruction to figure out the solution. She took the information at hand and put the pieces together on her own, making it clear that while she’ll never be a scholar, she’s not as dumb as she’s generally perceived. She’s just lazy, and that extends to her thought process, but when her back is against a wall, she’s actually capable of being rather cunning and clever.

This episode is another instance of the show drawing attention to girls’ and ultimately women’s issues without being too ham-fisted. This isn’t an on-the-nose exploration of body issues like Episode 4 was, but one can’t responsibly tackle the subject of modeling without mentioning the preoccupation with weight that is foisted upon women, so much so that it becomes casual, conversational, and practically invisible. Naru and Haruna speak so matter-of-factly about their dissatisfaction with their absolutely stunning bodies, and that’s not even what the episode is about. This sort of self-imposed body fascism is so pervasive in society that it’s practically white noise, which makes it all the more insidious. Ironically, in this scenario, the voice of reason on the matter of what comprises female beauty is a guy.

Leave it to Mamoru to espouse such a positive message and be such a fucking asshole in the process. For anyone who couldn’t guess he was Tuxedo Mask, this is another hint. The qualities he finds attractive have mostly to do with character and not appearance. If they did, he’d have been all over Usagi’s ass from the start because, as he will admit in the next arc, he does find her physically attractive. But it’s Usagi’s heroic alter-ego that’s piqued his interest, if only on a subconscious level at this point.

So, the girls all get new communicators, which look pretty much like pocket calculators. Naturally, Usagi abuses this new gadget immediately, and Ami is quick to chide her for it, but I honestly don’t get what the big freaking deal is. Is there some kind of limited power source to these communicators or the Disguise Pen? Will they run out of juice at some point? Because if not, why does Luna the first airborne fuck about *how* they get used? And why now, Luna? Why new items now? Have Usagi’s parents been buying the high fiber cat food? Also, on the matter of Ami, Usagi is a slacker, no doubt, but she has a point here. Ami needs to loosen the fuck up.

And on the subject of characters who could use an attitude adjustment… you know… the more Sailor Moon I watch, the sadder Haruna-sensei looks. She is such a hot mess, it’s starting to spill over from funny to mildly tragic. My gods, woman! Did it ever occur to you that the reason your desperate ass can’t land a man is that you act like you’re fuckin’ fourteen?

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Lastly, nothing to make a good episode even better like a little Zoisite, and we learn that tracking down the Silver Crystal is his specific job. The plot thickens!

All in all, a good one. Not great, but certainly worth the time spent. We got some solid development on Usagi, some unexpected development on Mamoru, a fun and interesting fight sequence, and even a little more intrigue between Nephrite and Zoisite.

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3 out of 5