Sailor Moon Crystal Act 2 Ami – Sailor Mercury
This second episode is a good showing for Crystal, especially after what I felt was a very strong opening. It was simple, informative, engaging, and opened up the World of Sailor Moon. It gets bonus points from me for feeling original despite the ubiquity of this scenario. I see shades of Captain Planet, Power Rangers and even the Avengers (and the MCU build up to the Avengers) in the execution of Luna’s charge to Usagi to find allies who can help her save the princess. It is a bit disappointing that Luna is keeping her eye out for allies when she had specifically instructed Usagi to do it, but the fact that Usagi made a friend of Ami before Luna -seemingly- picked her to become Sailor Mercury may be a key in excusing that inconsistency.
There are some elements that are either irritating plot holes or seeds yet to flourish into awesome plot points. Ami’s transformation device being the Sailor-V prize pen, and Usagi getting one too comes to mind. How does that work exactly? Is Sailor-V directly tied to the Pretty Guardians? If so, why isn’t she 1) the protagonist 2) more secretive about her operations 3) actively acknowledged by Luna 4) in the opening credits? I could go on, but the show has garnered enough good will from me that I’ll leave it at that for now.
This episode succeeds in the execution of its otherwise rote premise by focusing on the relationships between Usagi and Ami. Luna’s involvement in bringing them to together doesn’t detract from how much I enjoyed watching them interact at all. In fact, I am curious to see more of Luna’s role, but that is a subject for another time and place. The contrast between brilliant, competent Ami and slightly frazzled Usagi is great because in just a few scenes, Takeuchi establishes them as very different characters. It may be that the other girls contrast less with Usagi and may be less distinguishable in the future, but the juxtaposition of these two works so well.
The scene in the arcade where Ami earns her magical pen from the Sailor-V game by getting the highest score and Usagi gets it by wanting it so badly and acting up about it spoke to me as a defining moment for them. Usagi’s care for Ami despite their short-lived friendship is another solid establishing story beat for her. Usagi obviously has a tender and loving heart and as Sailor Mercury explicitly mentions Intelligence, as opposed to Justice in her transformation, I see another distinction between the two. Ami’s almost reluctant actions as Sailor Mercury reflect on her claim of only being good at studying; she is smart, but anything beyond that is out of her comfort zone. She is a bit aloof and the interplay between her and Usagi will likely open her up to experiencing more.
The light introduction to Queen Beryl and Jadeite are nice, as is the inclusion of some new magic and Luna’s celestial stairs, but the impact of the relationship between Usagi and Ami really sells me on this show. I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next episode and if you still haven’t ventured in, and you enjoy character driven stories I think you should give Crystal a chance to shine.