This Sailor Moon Crystal review contains spoilers.
Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 Episode 11
The time has finally come for Mistress 9 to open the way for the Pharaoh 90, and part of that means a supernatural makeover, in which she sheds her human prison and becomes a creepy, spikey demon lotus. Hotaru’s spirit is having none of this, though, and manages to spoil a little of Mistress 9’s fun by returning the Inners’ souls to them and reviving Chibi-Usa before she evanesces into the ether. Chibi-Usa transforms and shows up just in time to save everyone’s asses and accept a power up to Sailor Chibi Moon.
This isn’t going to be an easy episode to review, seeing as there are only so many ways to say, “Shit. That was really good.” But I’ll do my best.
This episode was a beast. It came in, took no prisoners, and wasted not a second. It looked good. It sounded good. It was just a delight to watch.
Part of what makes Infinity such a great arc is its darkness. And not dark in a calculated, over the top, manufactured, Batman vs. Superman kind of way. It’s just, by its nature and its subject matter, an incredibly haunting story in a way that no other Sailor Moon arc is. Don’t get me wrong, Stars has a lot of gravitas and mythos going for it, and I’m not trash-talking it by a long road, but despite its considerably higher body count, I don’t think Stars is as dark as Infinity is. It doesn’t have the same unsettling, gothic quality to it. And that tone is what makes this story so perfect.
We’re talking about dueling messiahs of light and dark, a character like Sailor Saturn whose sole function in destruction, discussions about the ethical application of murder for a higher cause, a father using his daughter to experiment with his scientific ambitions, what is essentially demonic possession as a leitmotif. I mean, this is just raw, dark creepiness. And it’s gorgeous.
At this point in the plot, all the character arcs for the season are pretty much complete. Hotaru makes peace with the fact that she’s essentially dead and does what good she can before she completely passes from this world, including one final affirmation of her friendship with Chibi-Usa, which doubtlessly has been the highlight of her life. Chibi-Usa’s power up to Super Sailor Chibi Moon marks her growth. And, of course, Sailor Moon has not only been accepted by the Outers but has truly taken her place in their hearts as their princess and future queen. All that’s left now is a big fucking battle. Game on!
The trisected Mugen Academy is one hell of a set piece, especially with Kaolinite’s creepy fountain floating above it like some of unholy altar. Nice. It’s also helpful that the Inners are all snoozing there. That’s going to come in really handy later.
We see that Mistress 9 is 100% done with the limitations of human form, and I like that Naoko was willing to let her get ugly with it. So much of Sailor Moon is — and I don’t say this critically — about glamor, the glamorous good and the glamorous evil. It’s nice that Naoko was willing to just say, “You know what? Fuck it. Let this demon bitch get hideous, starting with some serious crazy eyes.” Crystal really took it up a notch over the manga with those eyes. That shit was capital C creepy.
And as for the one holding all that crazy in check? Hotaru’s spirit is strong as fuck. Guarding not just Chibi-Usa’s soul and the Silver Crystal, but all the Inners’ souls too? And all while cock-blocking Mistress 9? Damn, girl.
I actually prefer Hotaru being the one to appear to Chibi-Usa and return her soul, as opposed to it being Sailor Saturn, as it was in Sailor Moon S. They never knew each other as Senshi before this, and they were friends simply as two girls, so it’s more fitting that it be Hotaru to come Chibi-Usa, rather than Saturn.
So, we get another Moon Chalice, and along with it, a power up for Chibi to Super Sailor Chibi Moon. Sweetness. I have to say, it’s been bothering me how Sailor Moon doesn’t really drink as cascade of energy from the Chalice; she just sort of dumps some glitter in her eyes. What?
One thing that’s always bothered me about the evolution of Chibi’s powers is that she’s a Senshi in training. Her goal is basically to become the Sailor Moon of Crystal Tokyo since her mama is busy ruling the world and shit. So, in theory, Chibi-Usa’s arc should culminate in her assuming the same power level Usagi had in the very first episode. But instead, Chibi’s powers just seem to match Usagi’s. Even once Usagi becomes Eternal Sailor Moon, Chibi still powers up to the level of the Sailor Star Senshi, which makes no sense. But alas. I can’t pretend I don’t know why this is. Naoko didn’t really think about the balance of her own mythology past, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Moon and Chibi Moon matched and came as a set?”
Whatever. I can’t argue that they look cool together. I mean, they totally do. That’s just some messy mythology right there.
And on the subject of odd power distribution… again with the arbitrary flight powers?! What the fuck? Look, I don’t have a problem with the power of flight. I don’t have a problem with the Senshi being able to fly. But if that’s going to be the case, we can’t have any more circumstances in which height is a threat or an obstacle. Because if you can fly, it’s not.
But again, those are small potatoes in light of the fact that this episode was a goddamn roller coaster. Each scene just builds upon the last so beautiful and at such a perfect pace. Ooh… this is the good stuff.