「Masquerade 仮面舞踏会」 (Masquerade Kamen Budoukai)
“-Masquerade- Dance Party”

I feel bad for always expecting the worse out of Sailor Moon Crystal but sometimes it works out in the end because when the episode is not so terrible, I’m pleasantly surprised. This was not one of the those episodes… however, to be fair, it wasn’t horrible. The show still feels very episodic and repetitive, but I like how it’s segregated itself from the original Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon Crystal has really started going down its own path in terms of plot and revelation of events. I actually like how the villains are introduced and now we know who the Four Kings are and what their mission is. It’s also very easy to follow and for younger girls (who are the intended audience), the story is very liner and predictable. As a fan of the original anime, obviously I know what’s going to happen next, but I’d like to think that young girls watching this for the first time would find it suited to their tastes. There’s continuity between the episodes, a clear goal for the protagonists and if you’re still confused, hell – they even give a recap of who’s who at the beginning.

With all that said, Sailor Moon Crystal still doesn’t make me feel connected to the characters in any way. I don’t feel like Usagi, Ami or Rei are relatable for “supposedly” 14-year-old girls. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, they behave more like 17-year-olds with their fully grown bosom and their maturity levels. Tuxedo Mask/Chiba Mamoru also reminds me more of an university student rather than being only “slightly” older than Usagi. Their actions don’t really correspond to how they should behave as (pre)teens to me – except maybe Usagi (but that’s just her character). Which leads to my other point that Usagi’s relationship with Mamoru at this point is simply based off of some teenage crush/love-at-first-sight type of ordeal. Yes, I understand that she’s physically attracted to him and there’s so much blushing! But underneath all that, there’s still nothing that solidifies their relationship for me other than these random flashbacks and this “pull” that they have towards one another. Which, by the way, I can only “feel” because I know what’s going to happen. Otherwise, I would probably react with something like, “Why are strangers lips on her lips?! Is it normal to kiss random sleeping girls?! Must be them drugs…“. Honestly, it feels like the show is speeding through some moments where they should really capitalize on to build that connection between the characters and the audience. Otherwise, what you’re telling me is – you know it, I know it, let’s get through this quickly because we all know it’s inevitable!

I’m only so harsh on Sailor Moon Crystal because I’m expecting so much more out of it. I knew the story would be different, but I was hoping that it would remind me of why this show is so great and reinforce why it’s held so highly in the magical girl shoujo genre. Unfortunately, so far, it hasn’t done either of those things and I keep watching every week to give it an opportunity to prove itself. There’s no chance of me dropping the show (yet) but it’s disappointing when the animation is awkward, the characters are bland and the most enjoyment that I have is actually seeing the differences in the villains’ POV. The original anime actually had a lot of focus on the Four Kings and gave them distinct individual personalities. I don’t mind the way they’re portrayed now, but we’ll see next episode who’s going to face off against Sailor Jupiter.

Bottom Line – @RCCherrie: #SailorMoonCrystal is trying way too hard to force Usagi’s relationship with Tuxedo Mask =S ugh.

 

Preview

39 Comments

    1. I still stand by my stance that Jupiter is extremely underated and that she deserves her own spin-off. She too big a character to just be a supporting character senshi in the franchise. So many possibilities for her.

      Corey Lucas
  1. I kind of think that the whole Tuxedo Mask thing is supposed to be young girl fantasy. It’s supposed to be fate destiny unmei. A young girl meeting the perfect man, who she is destined to be with and destined to fall in love with. It’s the idea that, for every girl, there is some perfect guy out there, just waiting to sweep her off here feet. Sure that’s schmaltzy, but still, I think that’s what’s going on here.

    hjerry
    1. Perhaps the gist of SMC when it comes to male + female relations
      is opposite of the recent Disney movie that had the song:
      “Fuck it all, fuck it all, don’t a give shit anymore” ?

      …oops, I mean:
      “Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore”

      Horse Mask Joker
    2. Pretty much this. I mean, yes the original anime series made it a lot more about hate turns to belligerent sexual tension and then love, but the manga’s take on it was fate/love lasting beyond a life time. It’s a very sentimentalist take but it makes internal sense with how the manga (and crystal I’m guessing) present it.

      Acerbus
  2. Technically this was my favorite episode yet, just from the fact that the humor starts coming in and the plot starts to solidify a bit more. Also the animation looks better, even with a few dips here and there. I do like how the Four Kings are technically still around for longer than they were originally (Mars was supposed to have offed Jadeite last episode), so maybe there’ll be some differences in the end anyways. (I’m hoping for a Four Kings vs. Inner Senshi brawl.) I’m also liking that Rei is portrayed as her manga self (well duh), not her original anime self (yeah, not a fan).

    But honestly…I kinda think that following the manga chapter for chapter isn’t exactly helping. It’s not until Venus shows up that the manga itself got good, otherwise it kind of was a character introduction arc for the first 2 volumes. It’s not awful by far, but since we’re so used to this type of thing by now, and now that the writing for these kinds of shows has changed, it seems more bland that it originally was. …at least that’s how I’ve started to realize it.

    Next time we get my favorite Inner Senshi, Ryuu- sorry, Makoto! 😀 (I know, but when I heard her voice, all I could think of was “Ryuuko, you’re an actual magical girl now~”)

    platinum
    1. You know Ami Koshimizu also voiced Kallen, Holo, Tenma, Anemone and the Demon Queen as well. Not just Ryouko. I have a voice crush on her and now that she’s Makoto, I have fallen in love with her. She has such a great resume!

      Corey Lucas
  3. I don’t get it. I will most likely be down-voted but I’m old now, like hell old and I’m enjoying watching this show a lot. Of course it will be different and of course you will not feel the same about it as you did about the first anime – how old were you back then? 8? 10? 15? Age matters a lot in case of such stuff. I feel that the creators went for the old fans making this show less kiddy, more mature which I like a lot!. I’m not saying it’s perfect, lots of things could have been improved but I do appreciate their effort. I kind of feel that your hate towards the show is kind of forced, like you want to hate it, maybe dropping it would not be such a bad idea?

    Hayama
    1. I agree pretty much with everything you said, though I wouldn’t advise anyone to drop it just yet. Episode 4 is technically the last one that had its obvious clear-cut counterpart in the first anime (ep.22), and from now on we’ll finally get to see the exclusively manga stuff. Once the introductions are over with Venus’s arrival (most probably in ep.8 of Crystal), we’ll get into the meat of the story and it’ll be a blast. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.

      kaguraa
    2. I’m old but I still love Sailor Moon. It’s not the story, it’s the animation and quality control that’s at fault here. If you are blinded by nostalgia, that’s one thing. But I’m a huge fan of the manga and anime and I don’t understand how anyone can watch this and not feel utterly disgusted by the treatment that Toei has given the series. It’s lifeless and looks like the animation you would get in a cheap doujin game except with more anatomical errors.

      Ralicht
    3. It also feels that a lot of people were more or less expecting the older anime, but merely updated. Well then wait for the remastered series (including Sailor Stars, last I heard) to come out on DVD/Blu-ray and you’ll get your wish.

      As said, the series isn’t perfect and it’s understandable how people who grew up on the older anime will find (perceived) problems, but I also enjoy Crystal thus far.

      In terms of…

      “I don’t feel like Usagi, Ami or Rei are relatable for “supposedly” 14-year-old girls. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, they behave more like 17-year-olds with their fully grown bosom and their maturity levels.”

      …this has practically been the norm in anime since the 90s; young teenage girls who look and/or act (much) older than they normally would at that age, so I don’t really such things as a downside unless one expects a much more realistically portrayed anime of which Sailor Moon definitely is not. Don’t females also normally develop at earlier ages than males?

      HalfDemonInuyasha
    4. Lol your user name and you connect if “old” caught my eye… Omg have you ever watched kodocha???? Totally awesome if you did! No one knows that anime/manga anymore….

      roro3
    5. Yeah, I’m older too and the animation quality isn’t such a big deal to me. But with relation to the Fullmetal Alchemist animes, or even Hunter X Hunter, I can understand people’s frustration. Watching the opening credits this time I realize how much Sailor Moon pioneered female protagonists, not to the detriment of its male characters being reduced to being sexist or egotistical. DBZ, Bleach, nor Naruto has a strong female protagonists or antagonists that led in any arc. I believe that is what makes the magical girl genre so great. It’s not about saying,”I don’t hit women.”. It about not having to.

      Jounouchi
  4. Let’s be honest… this is terrible.

    After the first episode, I thought “Ok, they’ve decided to play the adaptation completely straight and traditional. I respect that.”

    After the second episode, I thought “But that doesn’t stop it from feeling quite stilted and dull. Because, you know, now that I think back, the manga was always less fun than the old anime. But plenty of time for it to pick up.”

    After the third episode, I thought “This is just boring. And badly animated. Badly animated and boring.”

    The fourth episode was little short of a train-wreck. There are problems here of the source material (the manga, while “darker” than the old anime, lacks much of its character), the philosophy behind the adaptation (we’ve gotten used to magical girls just… well… moving around a bit more and looking like they’re actually fighting) and the execution (the art is cheap and dreadful).

    I went back to the old show and looked up the equivalent episode in that. Fair to say, it’s not the best episode of the old show either, but at least the old show managed to be mildly entertaining for that episode purely on the basis of its energy and the chemistry between its cast. Traits completely lacking in SMC.

    Rogueywon
  5. I dunno, Jupiter is alright but best Sailor Girl would be Venus or Mars for me. Venus because she’s been doing work for ages. Mars because of “Oh Starry Night” That’s right!

    Duzz
  6. The reason the characters are bland and the story feels rushed is simply, that it’s a faithful manga adaptation and, hands down, the manga pacing and characterization are plain bad. The characters in the manga are cardboard cut outs, they have no personality except being “pretty” and the manga is simply episodic and rushed. The reason why Sailor Moon is held so highly in the magical girl shoujo genre is the old anime. Because it took a mediocre story with mediocre “characters” and made them good and entertaining. Sailor Moon Crystal is exactly what I thought it would be. The only thing I didn’t expect was the utterly bad animation. Thankfully Episode 4 was a step up from Episode 3 again. Still, the quality is horrible. And this from a show which is backed by tons of merchandise. I don’t get it.

    hal
    1. Well, the only one who has the chance to be introduced, is Pluto. That is, assuming that Crystal will keep the ‘one manga chapter per one episode’ ratio it’s been maintaining so far. If it does, the Dark Kingdom arc will be over in 13 episodes, while the other 13 will cover the Black Moon arc, in which Pluto (and Chibi Usa) appears. It’s still to soon to tell, the may add fillers or plot points non-existent in the manga to stretch the Dark Moon arc into 26 episodes (I hope not), but one thing that is certain, is that you definitely shouldn’t expect to see Uranus, Neptune and Saturn this season.

      kaguraa
      1. Ah sorry, I meant ‘Dark Kingdom’ instead of ‘Dark Moon’ (there’s no such thing as ‘Dark Moon’ in SM, of course – it’s a pity we can’t edit our posts here). But anyway, speaking of Pluto, I really do hope Crystal covers the Black Moon arc as well, as Pluto’s got so much more backstory in the manga than in the classic anime, not to mention her role overall is much more important in the manga, so it’s something really worth the wait (and I do hope that all the five manga arcs are eventually adapted into anime, even with all the criticism Crystal is getting)…

        kaguraa
  7. I want the clichés and tropes of maho shojo back. I want the “power of love and friendship can overcome anything” motif and the “never give up” motif to come back. I don’t want another deconstruction because that type of narrative can get really old really fast. Not everything needs doom and gloom to be good. Both Sailor moon and Cardcaptor sakura always had a “sophisticated maturity” about them that isn’t present in magical girl shows today.

  8. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this episode. Sure, it still has its flaws but the animation looked a lot better this time and I spotted far less weird faces or absurd proportions. So while it’s still not perfect this episode really gave me back some hope for this series after the utter disappointment of episode 3. (Which I really liked story-wise as it stayed true to the manga (aside from the Jedeite part) but the drawings…)

    So yes, actually looking forward to the next episodes again! <3

    (I also agree with what others have said so far: The real beef only starts after Sailor Venus has been introduced (my absolute favorite of the inner senshis) so I'd give it a shot at least until then if you're still unsure about the story.)

    lalu
  9. Wait, what, one of the fourth king is supposed to be dead now in the manga. Why does it differ from the manga in this case? What are they trying to do with it. I am pretty surprised. (They’re nothing more than mooks in the manga, totally)

    Reika
  10. I figured that they would the Senshi and Four Kings route. This has Takeuchi’s control written all over it. I have a bad feeling about this. So Jadeite DID teleport away. This is gonna be a bumpy, messy and interesting ride. So this is basically NOT following the manga but a NEW original series that maybe Takeuchi WANTED out of her manga.

    Corey Lucas
  11. Well, this episode was a little bit better in terms of directing and pacing.
    I eagerly await the introduction of Makoto, a strong, tomboyish girl to balance our current sweet and soft-spoken trio.
    I’m happy the Generals get more screentime too.

    I didn’t like the fight, with Rei and Ami on the sidelines, and that cringe-inducing forced kiss scene. I know it was supposed to be romantic, but ugh. Creeper vibes. Keep your hands to yourself, Mamoru.

    As for the quality… I compiled some screenshots here – http://imgur.com/a/NDBBA.
    I think we shouldn’t get our hopes up.

    Reite
  12. accusations about a kiss being assault just goes to show how perverse our society has become; that we can’t preserve things as innocent anymore because of a few headlines in the media and because otaku have destroyed what made maho shojo likable in the first place besides mamoru is mature enough to know not to take advantage of any girl regardless of age.

  13. a kiss isn’t assault now if he was holding her head while doing it that would be a different story. I bet if it was haruka and michiru in that scene people would be “OMG sooo hot” wouldn’t they

    1. Haruka and Michiru are a couple, so it’s an entirely different situation.
      Mamoru is kissing an underage girl he barely knows, who may be his enemy, and who is unconscious, so unable to make decisions about herself. So yes, it is a form of sexual assault.
      Just imagine yourself in Usagi’s position. Would you be okay with a kiss like that?

      Reite
  14. Usagi and Mamoru’s love is a fairytale. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Love fated to be and lasting eternally, overcoming the evil which has kept them apart all this time. You’re meant to buy into it because it’s romantic and innocent.

    Would I want a strange guy to kiss me in my sleep in reality? Of course not. But in fiction you have the benefit of living a fantasy where the true love of a life time exists and fate will bring you together though romantic and mysterious means. Perhaps a childish view of romance, but one that some people enjoy imagining if not for themselves, for their fictional heroes.

    AMgirl

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