Ail and An hijack a casting session, intending to use the studio as a trap for the finalists, whom they will drain of all their energy. The role in question calls for a middle school girl. When Sailor Moon finds herself unable to take on Ail and An’s Cardian by herself, Luna reluctantly reawakens Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako to their memories of being Sailor Senshi.
I neglected to mention it in the previous review, mainly because I had so much ground to cover, but with a new season comes a new opening animation sequence. While not my favorite, this opening does have some nice imagery, and I never really considered just how much the DiC dub’s opening borrowed from this one, but wow! New closing sequence and song too, and the first one I really like. “The Maiden’s Policy” is catchy and fun, and it makes for some great background music when played in a minor key during emotional scenes.
It was an interesting move restoring Usagi’s memories before Mamoru’s. She now remembers the depth to their relationship, the camaraderie experiences through countless adventures fighting side by side, to say nothing of the memories of an epic romance in past life, but all he sees is some batshit eighth grader whose name he doesn’t even know getting all up on him in a very illegal way. It becomes immediately apparent to Usagi how lonely it will be if she’s the only one to remember the events of last season, an idea I feel could have been explored in greater depth.
It would have been interesting if a few more episodes had been spent on Sailor Moon as the lone soldier in this war, much the way she was in the first few episodes of Season 1, only this time aware of what it felt like to be part of team. What’s more, if the eventual faltering of the tiara were due in part to her heartbreak at the loss of her friends, and their reawakening had been spurred by her reacquisition of the Silver Crystal and subsequent power-up, it would have made for some solid dramatic irony. But as is, I don’t really mind.
It’s hard for me to criticize anything in this arc too heavily, because very little of it has any kind of lasting consequences, but endless praise makes for a lazy critique, so let’s start with the treatment of the studio execs. Oh boy, does casting not work that way. “Hey, we’ve got this role we need to cast, so what say we narrow the list down to five or six completely different minors with little to no acting experience?”
And on a strictly in-universe level, it is just way too convenient that the five girls this casting director wants to see, five girls who have such wildly varying appearances and personalities, all fit his vision for the same character and happen to be our hero’s best friends. It certainly makes sense for Minako to be pulled into this scenario, but the others? Not really.
In fact, come to think of it, it would have been kind of great if Minako were awakened here and had a few episodes alone with Sailor Moon to compensate for how little time they had together last season. Their sudden BFF vibe in Sailor Moon S would sure make a lot more sense. But the writers were intent on getting back to the status quo as quickly as possible, so there you have it: Ami, Rei, and Makoto are called into a casting session. Whatever.
A quick aside: I do appreciated how the minor players in this universe recur. Though we didn’t see her, the mention of Mikan Shiratori, established in Season 1 as a popular teen idol, as the star of the film was a nice little touch.
Like Usagi in the previous episode, the girls seem to have retained their battle instincts on a subconscious level… kind of like how Mamoru’s true self shone through the synthetic persona of Evil Endymion. So, was Usagi’s final wish just brainwashing? And how did it work? Just all-purpose Silver Crystal magic? Speaking of which, what exactly happened to the Moon Stick? It obviously didn’t just vanish into the ambient energy and get absorbed back into Usagi’s body. It’s physically gone. So, did it dissolve? Is it lying somewhere at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean? What’s up?
In regard to the setting, I know it’s just a movie set, but this location was one of the best battle backdrops in the series. Can you imagine if the finale of the first season had taken place in a setting as inspiring and colorful (though not overly so) as this instead of some boring as fuck, monochromatic wasteland? It even evokes the ruins of the Silver Millennium, which is pretty damn cool.
Of course, my biggest issue with the episode is the Cardian. Well, I take that back. That’s not entirely accurate. The Cardian herself is fine. Sure, she’s more of a satyr than a minotaur and she growls like a lion rather than snorting like cattle of either sex, but she was competent, visually engaging, and got the job done. What bothers me is what she implies.
See, I like Ail and An. I really do. But it is painfully obvious that not a lot of thought was given to their creation. If they’re aliens, why does their offensive arsenal have a tarot motif, something that is pretty squarely an Earth invention? While there could be something similar to tarot on another planet, most of the Cardians have themes and appearances that are deeply rooted in human cultures. Hell, this one’s name is Minotauron. That’s specific to Greek mythology.
Furthermore, the Cardians are brought to life by some kind of musomancy (is that a word? If not, I’m coining it), but where did Ail learn to play music, much less acquire the skills and experience necessary to fashion a functional instrument? There are just so many holes in the mythology of these two characters, holes that raise too many questions to comfortably suspend disbelief, and it does affect the overall arc.
This episode is split pretty evenly down the middle for me. On the one hand, if you can get past the fairly huge leaps in logic that keep the story moving, it’s fun to watch and highlights some interesting plot points to be explored in upcoming episodes. On the other, it is supremely difficult to ignore those logical failings. They’re pretty glaring and not only distract from the overall enjoyment of the episode, but taint the canon of the series.
All said and done, this episode is not horrible, it’s not great; it’s okay. And for a glorified bit of narrative ligament, it more or less does the trick, but it would definitely have been better for the story editor taking another pass on the script.