This Sailor Moon Crystal review contains spoilers.
Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 Episode 10
The Silver Crystal has completely changed the Death Busters’ game, but it seems like Hotaru ain’t giving up without a fight, as she’s still battling Mistress 9 from within. She’s also got a hold on the Chibi-Usa situation by guarding her soul. Her dad, meanwhile, turns out to be even more of a monster than he already appeared to be, and then becomes a LITERAL monster to take the Senshi on.
I continue to be impressed by Hotaru’s strength of will. Not only is she managing to curb Mistress 9’s actions to some degree, but she’s also safeguarding Chibi-Usa’s soul, which judging from Mamoru’s reaction, is having a positive effect on Chibi-Usa physically.
As for the other Tomoe in question, it’s hard to say whether Professor Tomoe has an incredibly strong will or an incredibly weak one, but either way one thing is for certain. He is crazy as a shithouse rat. What could initially be explained away by some kind of Faustian pact that altered his mind more than he bargained for is now revealed to be incidental to the plans of a sociopath who was already on the brink. Unlike the Professor Tomoe of Sailor Moon S, who was a more or less decent guy who was backed into a corner by Pharaoh 90 and surrendered his free will to save his daughter, this guy was already a mad scientist whose induction into Pharaoh 90’s service was just another step in his already-in-progress journey toward damnation.
Tomoe’s backstory here clears up a few things besides his true nature. Kaolinite gets a posthumous backstory which confirms that she was originally human and Tomoe’s lab assistant. This wasn’t just a cover story, an alias invented for her like the civilian identities of the Witches 5, whom Tomoe grew in a lab. And apparently with accessories. I’m going to chalk this up to an animation error, but you’ll notice that Viluy’s mosaic hat is in there with her. It’s also a little strange to me that all their hairstyles are in place. I know it was for the sake of character recognition, but it’s still ridiculous.
The villains aren’t the only ones to get some backstory. Though we already knew the facts of what the Outers were doing in the ancient past, we finally get an emotional context for it. They were lonely, not just Pluto but all of them. It makes me wonder if Haruka and Michiru’s romance is exclusive to present day. It’s kind of hard to make a relationship work when you’re permanently stationed on different planets. I mean, I know it was just a visual and they actually inhabited castles that orbited their planets. Still. Then again, it does make for a bittersweet story about lovers who have found each other but can never be together. It makes their current relationship all the more poignant.
What really makes this episode stand out to me is its simplicity. If you really think about it, not much actually happened. It was a very straightforward story without a lot of moving parts, but it worked very well. It was so incredibly effective because of the emotional context provided for what was going on. Knowing what Professor Tomoe was all about set the stage for the final conflict. Knowing that he was a complete sociopath and narcissist eliminated all ambiguity about what had to be done. There was no saving this guy. There was nothing to save. He was already a monster long before the Death Busters came along, and the only mystery remaining is how such a fucking psycho could have found a woman to fall in love with and marry him.
Was Keiko a mad scientist too? That would be a pretty cool twist, if Hotaru had all these idealized memories of her mother, which turned out to be complete bullshit, because Mama was a morally corrupt psychopath.
The point, though, is that the stage is set so perfectly that when Tomoe finally bites it, it works because it is the perfect end to his character. Everything he’s done and everything we’ve learned about him have brought us to this point. Even Hotaru is able to accept this. She loves her father on some level, of course, but knowing what she now knows, this is simply how it has to be, and she makes her peace with it. Have I mentioned how fucking amazing this kid is?
This, of course, brings us to the Chibi-Usa segment. I’m happy that the gaybaiting I was worried about at the start of the season has all but disappeared. What we’re seeing is a real spiritual connection between two friends, which, as I’ve noted in other reviews, is a theme that resonates very strongly with me. Not all true love is romantic. The love of a friend can be just as true and can endure long past when romances may fail you, so it’s so great to see that unfolding here.
Chibi-Usa and Hotaru are really the best friendship we get in this series. Sure, Naru is Usagi’s nominal best friend, but it’s not a relationship that’s ever developed in any way, and with Naru receding into the Useless Character Abyss, we’ve all but forgotten her. As for the other Senshi, we don’t really get enough time on their friendships with each other beyond the basic structure of their clique to really get them. Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, though, is a friendship we’ve seen built piece by piece from their very first encounter. There’s really nothing else like it in the Sailor Moon franchise.
So, now that Tomoe’s gone, it’s really Mistress 9’s show to run. Pharaoh 90 is still waiting in the wings. He’s not ready to take over yet, so it’s our lady of black roses who will be giving the Senshi a run for their money for the next three episodes.
In terms of presentation, while the previous episode wasn’t poorly animated (except for a few shots), this one is clearly better. They got the good animation team back for this one. Even with Mistress 9’s crazed Luffy eyes, it’s looking good. The music was solid too. The score during the fight with Professor Tomoe’s final form was on point. It was the perfect Part 2 to an expertly executed Part 1. Now, we head into the three-part finale, and hot damn… are we in for some intense action and drama, because just as we’re standing on the edge of the final showdown, Super Sailor Moon’s powers give out and she reverts to Original Recipe Sailor Moon.