Sailor Moon Crystal’s newly-found, darker tone continues in this episode, and it remains preferable in this reviewer’s opinion. Admittedly, the episode is a bit predictable when you consider a few things. The last episode, for instance, included Sailor Mars in its title, and it resulted in the enemy targeting and capturing Sailor Mars. The fact that Sailor Mercury’s name is featured in this episode’s title should give you a pretty good idea of where this episode is going. This is still a good episode despite that fact, though.
For starters, the focus on Sailor Mercury is a nice break away from having all of the attention focused on Usagi. That’s not to say that the whole episode is Mercury-centered, because there is plenty of screen time devoted to Chibi-usa’s plot, and somewhat on Usagi and Mamoru, as well, but either way other characters are getting some significant screen time. One thing that this episode does better than its predecessor is that it actually focuses on developing its titular character. While the previous episode certainly featured Sailor Mars, it didn’t really teach us much about her. On the other hand, this episode actually reveals a bit of Ami’s past, her hobbies, and her family life. The enemy who targets her actually uses the impact of past events as a weapon against Ami during the climax of the episode.
I have previously mentioned that Mercury was my favorite of the Senshi, so anyone who has actually paid attention may wonder if I am biased in lavishing so much praise on this episode. I assure you, it is not because Mercury gets the attention. The episode is just that well done, all things considered. The Dark Moon foes continue to present a more sinister threat than Queen Beryl and her lackeys ever did. While Queen Beryl’s servants would use some monster and then run when it is defeated, the Dark Moon denizens actually send out their own people, and even when their people die they don’t abandon their mission. In fact, they don’t even seem to care if their people die, as long as the mission is completed. It makes for a much more serious threat to our heroines, which in turn makes for a better story-telling experience.
As for the episode itself, one thing that I have often criticized is the formulaic set-up of Sailor Moon episodes. While this episode doesn’t technically escape that formula, it does use it fairly well. While there is still a “final battle” in the traditional sense, said battle actually starts well before any transformations are actually done. Ami and Berthier, the enemy of the week, engage in a chess match where Berthier tries to unnerve Ami by unearthing the negative experiences Ami has had in her life. It is a psychological battle that is well executed, and it really helps the episode to stand out. Hopefully the Dark Moon arc will continue with little creative flares that toy with the usual formula, because they work. While the first arc of Sailor Moon is necessary to understand the backstory and who all of the main characters are, the Dark Moon arc is already coming much more highly recommended from this reviewer.
A Christian Perspective:
1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Ami experiences a parallel to the above verse when she engages in a chess match with the Dark Moon’s Berthier. Using the power of a magic crystal, Berthier is seemingly able to read Ami’s mind, and she draws on some negative experiences from Ami’s past in an attempt to unnerve the girl genius and break her concentration. While it may or may not be explicitly stated in the Bible (I can’t think of any verses off the top of my head), it would seem that this is exactly what the devil would like to do to us: remind us of our past so that we are distracted from moving forward. It is certainly a concept most Christians would seem to agree on, at least. I’m sure we’ve all seen the Facebook posts/pictures that say, “The next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future”, so it certainly isn’t a new concept. While we may find that resisting these thoughts is easy at first, they have a tendency to wear on one over the course of time. In the same sense, Ami realized what Berthier was trying to do, but she clearly began to lose her nerve the more the attack went on. Whether in our battle with the devil or Ami’s battle with Berthier, it is clear that in our own power we will fail to fend of these attacks indefinitely, but thankfully…
“Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8a
This is true for Ami, and this is true for us. As Berthier continues to wear away at Ami’s resolve, a voice calls out, cheering Ami on and encouraging her. That voice is Usagi, and while her conduct was certainly inappropriate for a chess match, it was exactly what Ami needed to break free of Berthier’s mind control. We see how, past this point, Ami begins to remember all of the positive things from her past, and how they still played a part in her life despite all of the pain she experienced. This ultimately renders Berthier’s mind games (and magical powers) ineffective. In our Christian walk we, too, have friends that love us and who will encourage us when we are feeling down or defeated. Even more importantly, though, is the fact that we have God Himself on our side. While it may not be possible to fend off the devil in our own power, it is certainly possible to do it in God’s power—after all, God created the devil, and the creation is never going to be better than the Creator. So, the next time the devil decides he’s going to attack us, let’s stop and listen to the voices of those who love us, and let’s also learn to lean on the One who loves us, remembering the price He paid to redeem us and remembering that against Him, the devil has no power.
Language: 1 “h*ck”
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Berthier wears a cleavage-revealing leotard; Ami, Naru, and Usagi are all shown in swimsuits; Ami transforms
Violence: Mars is shown engulfed in flames; Sailor Mercury uses her powers to destroy some enemies; an enemy tries to drown Mercury; Sailor Venus attacks with her chain; Sailor Moon destroys an enemy
Other: A character is credited with using alchemy; another character has a third eye on his forehead; still another character is shown using a crystal ball; Berthier states that dowsing without a pendulum is heresy; Berthier uses a pendulum (magic crystal) to tell the future and/or read minds; the usual magical nature of the Senshi and Dark Moon’s attacks