With all seven Rainbow Crystals extracted from their hosts, it’s now all a matter of which of the three involved parties will gather the others’ spoils, the Sailor Senshi, the Dark Kingdom, or Tuxedo Mask. Sailor Moon is the first target, so to lure her out, Zoisite attacks Naru, who happens to be on a quasi-date with Umino, who — thanks to Usagi’s shameless projection of her own ideals and fantasies — decides that what Naru must really want is Tuxedo Umino Mask. Yes. You read that correctly.
This episode is definitely on the lighter side, and that’s fine by me, considering how increasingly hardcore the next few are going to be. And while it’s never exactly been a favorite of mine on a pure entertainment level, I deeply appreciate its narrative value both in content and placement.
The Rainbow Crystal saga is, without a doubt, the tightest stretch of episodes in Season 1. Every single episode furthers the story, even one that mainly exists to resolve Naru and Umino before we encounter some dense plot developments, we have a very smart action plot to frame it.
Again, one of the strongest elements of this arc was the fact that any episode could go one of three ways. As of the start of this episode, the Dark Kingdom has four (red, green, blue, and indigo), Tuxedo Mask has two (orange and violet), and the Sailor Senshi have one (yellow). Even with the villains doing incredibly well, they’re still short three crystals. At this point, it’s a game of McGuffin musical chairs.
After two consecutive losses, Zoisite got his shit together and collected three crystals in a row. Sure, he lost the last one to Tuxedo Mask, but he is wasting no time in rectifying the situation. His methodology is pretty solid. One of the reasons Zoisite is my favorite general is that he’s smart. He learns from his failures, he exploits his enemies’ weaknesses, and he adapts. Twice now, he’s seen Sailor Moon rushing to the defense of Naru Osaka, so when he needs to draw Sailor Moon out, who does he go after? It makes perfect sense to me. And so, I love that Zoisite’s plan, well… works. He gets the crystal. He wins. Good God, I love it when the bad guys win from time to time. It keeps their threat viable. It raises the stakes.
As I said above, the great thing about this whole arc is that any episode can go one of three ways and this isn’t the first time we weren’t sure who was going to get the crystal. It was touch and go here for a bit, and it looked like maybe Tuxedo Mask might win the day, but ultimately Zoisite won, setting the stage for the next episode where the tug of war for possession of the crystals continues.
As for the whole Tuxedo Umino thing… I don’t know. It’s fairly ridiculous, but so is Umino. He’s also desperate and the kind of guy who would probably have very little grounding in reality. And whether you think the idea of Umino trying to be Tuxedo Mask is funny in and of itself or funny due to the lameness of the very idea, it will get a chuckle or two from damn near everyone. For me, it was the scene outside Naru’s door. For the second episode in a row, Zoisite shows his comedic potential by seeing Tuxedo Umino’s silhouette, suspecting it’s Tuxedo Mask and backing off, the whole time admitting what a worthy rival Tuxedo Mask is. So, by inference, by being a ridiculous hot mess of desperation and borderline stalker behavior, Umino saved Naru’s life. Like… just by standing there. I don’t care what anyone says. That shit is hilarious.
To take things down a bit — and you knew I would — this episode is not without its issues. The message that we give boys that they have to be persistent, that a girl telling you she’s not interested is just her playing hard to get, is not the best ever. And men aren’t solely to blame for this. Both sexes participate in the propagation of this idea, and while it certainly may be true in some cases, most of the time when a girl turns you down, it means she’s not interested and you should fucking get a life and go away. It’s not an invitation for you to dismiss her wishes and pursue her because you feel entitled to her company. And, you know what? If she is playing hard to get and is disappointed that someone in whom she was interested took her at her word and disengaged… MAYBE SHE’LL FUCKING LEARN NOT TO PLAY HARD TO GET, because that is some manipulative bullshit we all can do without.
So, that said, in today’s climate, I find Usagi’s advice to Umino rather unsavory and advocating harassment, but I’ll give them a pass on account of the characters young and stupid and don’t know any better. Though I don’t like the show romanticizing and ultimately validating Umino’s “persistence” for a girl who isn’t into him, I am a huge fan of Naru and Umino as a couple. Theirs is one of the sweetest and most understated love stories in the series. Especially when compared to all the high drama and theatrics of the alpha and beta couples.
In keeping with last episode’s reminder of Sailor V, this episode reminds us of Luna’s mysterious associate from whom she’s been receiving her orders. And here she delivers the revelation of the Moon Kingdom, though I honestly don’t get everyone’s surprise. They’ve been looking for the Moon Princess. Sure that could have been a poetic title, but at this point in the plot, where were they goin to think she was from? Detroit? Besides, I’m surprised anything shocks these girls. I’d expect at least Mako-chan to be like, “Oh. Of course. Of course she’s from the moon. What the fuck ever.”