Act 4 of Sailor Moon Crystal breaks the routine of the last three episodes by not introducing a new guardian and actually made some big leaps from the manga which left me pretty twisted for the last few weeks but I finally have my thoughts sorted on the “Masquerade Dance Party”.
This has been the first episode that’s based off a part of the manga I didn’t like but somehow they still did better than the original anime. Let’s try explaining the manga first and then addressing how Sailor Moon Crystal approached those events. In the manga while Rei and Ami wait for Usagi we see a very different side of Rei than we did in the last act. Suddenly she’s incredibly stuck-up and quite mean to Luna. This is the Rei that people are used to seeing in the original anime. I’m really glad Sailor Moon Crystal decided the weird personality shift would really hold back the character so they just blew past it and instead made Rei incredibly sweet to Ami and downright charmed by Usagi’s tardiness.
This is really important to me because this show is really trying to focus on teaching girls the value of friendship. With Rei being angry and closed off we see that she doesn’t trust the other senshi and that’s such a huge step back from the last act. In the manga she actually calls Luna out. Picture a beautiful young girl standing in the middle of an arcade screaming at a cat about needing to know the truth about the cat’s past. Yeah, that’s just crazy. But in the SMC she just sits forlornly and in awe that she has been chosen as a guardian. She mentions how tired she’s already grown of fighting evil and she just started. That’s the best version of Rei. Someone who deeply understands the emotional endurance needed to keep bad spirits away. Someone who is grateful and not obnoxious. Someone who sees it all and uses that to help others.
The next big change is that Jadeite is alive! Whoa, in both the original anime and the manga he dies and is replaced by the next general but in SMC he’s just been demoted. This is huge because we get to see all four generals together for once. Next is the actual masquerade, like in the manga Rei warns against going because she has a bad feeling about the whole night but there is no way that Usagi would ever pass up the chance to dress up like a princess and go to a fancy party. Again, not to be a broken record about how much I love SMC Rei but when Usagi runs off to the ballroom instead of being snippy and catty Rei says, “Let her be for now.” She’s not angry at Usagi for being a flake, she’s focused on finding the princess.
There is a whole rendezvous scene between Usagi and Mamoru but really that doesn’t seem nearly important when only minutes later Ami and Rei bust in on a monster trying to steal a gem from the host of the party, Princess D. This is another change that I really love. In the manga Ami and Rei totally take a backseat in the all the action. They aren’t seen at all until after Nephrite reveals himself. After Usagi uses her new tiara we see all four generals standing together as they introduce themselves to the senshi and disclose their nefarious plans. All the while looking like a boy band with a heavy Euro-centric glam metal influence.
Now here’s the part that really bothered me in the manga. After the fight Usagi basically gets drunk and passes out on a bench where Tuxedo Kamen finds her and proceeds to kiss her. Gross. So fucking gross. Putting aside the fact that she’s 14 years old let’s not sugarcoat how wrong it was of him to take advantage of the situation. Now I understand when Naoko Takeuchi wrote this series in the early 90’s I’m sure she meant no harm by this moment but in the last 20+ years we’ve come a very long way in rape awareness. Everything about this scene is uncomfortable and not at all romantic. At least in SMC she’s not drunk but she is very much exhausted and still unconscious, so still totally inappropriate.
This might not seem like a big deal to you but the nuance of this scene is much more crucial to me than the animation shift or the manga differences. SMC is not exclusively for young women but it’s aimed at that demographic and we can’t let girls believe it’s okay or magically romantic for a man to kiss us when we’re passed out. Unfortunately due to the conversation Mamoru has with Luna they couldn’t completely cut it from the new adaption but it’s still icky and I was pretty unhappy about it.
Setting that cringe-worthy minute aside this episode did also feature an awesome bit where Sailor Moon saves Tuxedo Kamen and he acknowledges the hell out of it. So, yeah, ladies don’t bother waiting for a man to save you because you’ll probably need to save his ass later. All in all, it was a pretty great episode if you can ignore the very apparent animation style change and the rape-y closer. Next up is the episode I have been dying for so hold on to your butts, Moonies, because Denise is about to lose her cool.