Sailor Moon Crystal Act 8- Minako – Sailor V
Twists don’t typically dazzle me. I don’t look for mystery or surprises in my media, but the execution of a story, whether earnest and linear or guileful and convoluted, is the mark by which I measure a story. I initially felt some trepidation in reviewing this episode because I feel as if the story told here is incomplete. I want to say I like it a lot anyway, but as much as I may have enjoyed it, I do feel unsatisfied. The difference between an episode with hooks and one that just strings the viewer along is a narrow margin; that I can’t quite call in this instance.
Sailor V’s introduction at the beginning of this episode led naturally from the end of the previous, which was enjoyable because of the pacing. With the conflict ended at the end of Act 7, the characters and viewers are ready to switch their attention to who Sailor V is and what she is doing. The animation for Minako was beautiful and full of character, particularly during the first few minutes. We want to get to know her as we have the other Sailor Guardians and the mystique set about her having been active before the others intensifies that desire. The problem, or perhaps the narrative boon, is that we are so eager to meet her that everything she and Artemis say is accepted without question, but it seems that there is something more going on. The preview for the next episode likely gives away the secret or twist, but the way it was sold in the episode is what matters here. Minako and Artemis have seniority over the others and use that to their end of keeping the others in the dark so she can carry out her mission without their interference. One might assume that Minako’s solo mission has to do with Kunzite, but there are clues in the episode to dispel that notion, which deepens the intrigue. I feel really engaged by the show and want to know more.
The potential repercussions to the mythology of the show and the structure of the Sailor Guardians’ mission and infrastructure are interesting, but most of Mianko’s story ends a bit abruptly by the middle of the episode, leaving room to explore Usagi and Mamoru. If I hadn’t been invested in the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru before, this would have done it for me. The line between Usagi and Sailor Moon is almost immaterial, and the story of their romance is interesting enough for me to swap out Magical Girl for a number of other settings and I am sure I would enjoy it just as much.
There were some errors that brought this episode down for me. I take issue with how the first part of Minako’s story was ended so suddenly. It just felt unfinished, even though the intensity was nice. I also feel that some of Usagi’s heroism has been diminished by Mamoru saving her twice in one episode. The guy loves her and wants to help her out, but it seems too much license was taken to make him cool and noble where that could have gone towards Usagi. She had in fact just had a great scene, but his moment came right after and obscured her glory.
Advancing the story in two directions, despite some big missteps earns this episode 3 out of 5.