Chibi-Usa and all the changes she has brought to the show have knocked me over, much like our heroine at the pull of a toy trigger. I want to hate Chibi-Usa, but I can’t. The Black Moon crew makes me uncomfortable, but I like it. I can’t really say what it is I am enjoying about the changes Takeuchi has introduced to the show, but it may be the ring of the honesty and consistency I hear from the addition of all these new fixtures.
To continue the metaphor, it’s as if Crystal has played out as an orchestral piece and the conductor has placed unfamiliar instruments and players into the pit. I’m distracted, intrigued and worried about how these new factors will affect the sounds I’ve heard thus far. Chibi-Usa, Koan and Rei’s abduction are like the striking up of new instruments in a tempo that doesn’t seem to match the rest of what the conductor has had play so far, and now she’s removed one of my favorite pieces and players. Will the other Sailor Guardians go away? Can Chibi-Usa replace Usagi? Is she meant to? Why does she sound and look and feel so much Usagi or someone from Silver Millennium? Is the conductor mad? Do I really like her work, or was that first movement, just really catchy and engaging?
Getting back to the old truths and familiar elements that comfort me in this time of transition, one of the best things in this episode is the demonstration of Rei’s changing personality. In fact all the girls get to show a different side. These characters aren’t static and haven’t stagnated. We may not see enough of them in their civilian lives to track everything smoothly, but seeing them experiencing peace at the start of the episode is good for now. It’s equally engaging to see each Sailor Guardian get her time to shine as it is to wonder about the new villain cast. Watching Rei open up to her classmates and seeing her deep care for the nuns, who are important figures in her school, was lovely. It made me happy for her and also gave me an appreciation for the openness of the world Takeuchi presents and which Rei embodies. Rei, a psychic, Shinto shrine maiden, attends a Catholic school and everyone seems to be ok with that. We get no insight that she has ever been given trouble by school officials and they allow two groups of students to have fortune tellers, not something of which an American pastor, preacher or rabbi would likely approve. Rei as a woman of the cloth, or perhaps just as a being of good heart, has immediate concern for the nuns and risks her life to protect them.
Now to address the discomfort and uneasiness brought with the new additions to the show, I’d like to focus on a key difference between the Dark Kingdom and the Black Moon: the Black Moon is more dangerous and has longer-lasting magic at its disposal. Koan had apparently been going around killing people to warm up her fire powers before confronting Sailor Mars. She seemed more powerful than Mars and her flames engulfed her even after Sailor Moon destroyed her with her new attack!