Growing Pains – Sailor Moon Crystal 20 Review

Sailor Moon Crystal 20 – Crystal Tokyo – King Endymion

Act 20 is a solid episode full of charming character moments and interpersonal drama which allows us to learn more about the principle players while, somewhat slowly, moving the plot along and telling the audience crucial things it needs to know about the Black Moon cell whose motives and goals have been fairly vague.

King Endymion makes for a fun plot device. Takeuchi may have not left herself very much room to maneuver, once Usagi and her companions travelled to Crystal Tokyo with Chibi-Usa, but the way she wielded Endymion was satisfying on two levels: he provided the catalyst for several humanizing emotional reactions and gave the audience new information about Black Moon, Crystal Tokyo and the like.

Father Knows… Stuff

King Endymion’s attempts to quell Chibi-Usa’s guilt and sorrow felt sincere and came off well. He tries to comfort her and exhorts her to be strong by offering her a challenge. He doesn’t tell her what to do, but asks if she can rise to a challenge. Whether she does or not is debatable at this point. It was foolish of her to return to Crystal Tokyo on her own, but missing her parents and feeling the pressure of being at the center of conflict between her parents’ younger selves pushed this child to take, fairly courageous, if less than ideal actions. Mamoru sure dropped the ball, by leaving the Time Key accessible.

Lots of Blushing

Endymion is an adult man who has been having sex with his wife for hundreds of years. It’s beautiful, natural and normal for him. Who knows what kinds of social progress have occurred within Neo Queen Serenity’s reign besides that. It is funny to me that Mamoru, Usagi and Minako all become so flush when Endymion clarifies that Chibi-Usagi or Small Lady, if you prefer, is the child of the Queen and King they will become. That means they are going to have sex. Again. At least once more. They just had their first sexual encounter together in the last episode, but it was in private and as far as we can tell, no one knows about it. When Endymion declares the familial relations, he is telling teenagers that sex is happening among their circle and everyone is charmingly put off by it. Minako may be wondering if it has already started, Mamoru and Usagi may be wondering if Minako thinks they have had sex, in their minds it is an uncomfortable mess and it makes for a delightful scene.

Oh dear. these poor kids can't even look at each other right now.
Oh dear. these poor kids can’t even look at each other right now.

Endymion brings on another bout of blushing as he praises Sailor Pluto for her many virtues. She is such a great individual on paper, but it is interesting to see that she is either extremely flattered (possibly because he is the King and she respects him greatly, which would mean to me that he is a really good king) by his words, averse to public praise or maybe a bit of both. We know from last episode that Pluto is an emotional person, but the addition of humility to her character is so lovely and serves a theme of this episode which seems to be rounding and humanizing the core characters.

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Fighting For the World of Tomorrow, Today

At the end of the Dark Kingdom arc, Usagi was an invincible goddess who revived her friends and the world. Black Moon has negated those accomplishments one by one. Her fellow soldiers and friends have been abducted. Even when she knows where they are she cannot yet reach them. Chibi-Usa separated her from her family when she first arrived. Usagi pulled away from Naru and her other friends as she reeled from Black Moon’s waves of attack, which could come at any time, while balancing the loss of her team and holding on to hope that they can be found. Mamoru and Chibi-Usa’s relationship, which had put her off for so long is still an issue for Usagi despite the fact she is their daughter.

Chibi-Usagi, or more accurately, Small Lady, travelled through time to get help from her parents to save the future, the world she will inherit from them. The Black Moon stands in utter contrast to Usagi and the world shaped by her magnanimous heart. Where Usagi’s power and influence bring longer life, increased joy and peace, the Black Moon, with their Malefic Black Crystal seek to bring ruin, strife and death. Usagi Tsukino, high school student, lover of manga and pretty things is confronted by her future, which holds suffering and imminent doom and is forced to grow up to handle it. Throughout the Black Moon arc, Usagi has become increasingly isolated from her friends and has had to rely on fewer people for support, until at this point she is nearly alone. Being an adult doesn’t have to mean isolation, but there are times when there is no one but you to face a challenge and that is where Usagi is. Precedent has shown her that Venus could be taken away easily and despite her chiding herself for getting upset with Mamoru over Small Lady, there is still a distance between them.

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 The harsh reality of what an equal and opposite force can do to you has become part of her. She has internalised the failure to fully defeat the Black Moon and the loss of her friends. Once invincible Sailor Moon is vulnerable. As the episode closes, Usagi is captured, dead-eyed and suspended in an orb of dark energy, splayed out like a corpse. I don’t know where this is going. I am new to Sailor Moon and while I know there is more Sailor Moon to come, I am afraid for Usagi. I don’t know how she can escape this situation or what she can do. What can anyone do? I don’t fully grasp what Demande’s designs for her are and don’t want to let my imagination wander towards the darker possibilities that stand out to me. How will prince Demande’s efforts affect Usagi, could she become as disillusioned and nihilistic as her enemies?

In Conclusion

Act 20 provides emotional context for Usagi’s struggle, making her mechanical deficiencies in Crystal Tokyo impactful. The Legendary Silver Crystal’s power is time-bound, but the guilt, shame, self doubt, and daunting odds she faces nearly alone- all of which are reinforced throughout the bulk of the episode- make the sting of her powerlessness against the Black Moon even worse. For the happy moments and humor experienced along the way which helped cement the foundation of this episode’s surprising end, I give it a 4 out of 5.

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