Review: Sailor Moon Crystal
Act 4: Masquerade
I suppose I should begin by saying that I was nervous about this episode, not because of the chapter in the manga and whether or not I’d believe Crystal would be able to convey the story, but because of the sour taste Act 3 left in my mouth. Looking back at my review for 3, I have discovered that even though I was ultimately very negative about the animation, I wasn’t necessarily ‘wrong.’ The screenshots I posted still look so weird to me, and it’s gotten to the point where I really don’t even want to re-watch that episode. Luckily, I don’t have to, since this is a review for 4.
Episode 4 follows the manga chapter pretty well, much like the previous episodes, save for a few small details. Rei and Ami hang out at the arcade for a while, waiting on Usagi, and Rei seems a little flustered when Ami gives her pointers on how to play the game. Why this is, specifically, I’m not sure, but I can guess that it’s because Rei isn’t used to having friends, or even having people be friendly/helpful to her. I did enjoy this moment, even if later on in the episode Rei’s personality seems to be a little bland. More on that in a little bit, though.
So, when Usagi finally shows up to the arcade, Umino appears, and he tells the girls that Princess D is in town and throwing a masquerade party. This is exciting, and Usagi ponders what the princess might look like, all while Ami, Rei, and Luna are discussing important things (such as the princess they’re trying to find.) In the manga, Rei tells Luna that she needs to know more about their whole mission and who Luna is before she can really trust her, and this is all left out of the episode for some reason. I was pretty disappointed by that.
Anyway, long story short, Usagi wants to go to the party, and Rei says that’s not a good idea since she has a bad feeling about the event; Usagi disregards this and when she goes home and sees that her dad is going to the party, demands she go too. Of course, Dad doesn’t go for that and so she ends up disguising herself as a princess, instead of, well, just putting on a nice dress manually. But that’s all in the manga, too, so I can’t fault Crystal at all for that.
On the way to the party, Ami and Rei meet up with Usagi; there’s a small difference between the manga and the episode here: Rei says something in the manga like, “Why do I have to come, too?” But in the episode, she just goes along quietly. This is why she’s a little bland to me, here, which is unfortunate. I like all of the Guardians having their own personalities – not to say Crystal’s Rei doesn’t have one, but it’s obviously not as blatant as in the manga. In the classic anime, she was a bit too blunt, and here it feels like the opposite. Hopefully that’ll change later, but we’ll see.
The animation in this episode is much, much better than that of episode 3’s, but there are still a few blips; Usagi’s face changes a bit during the party, as if different people were drawing her and not fully mimicking each other’s style. Once again, this is not nearly as bad as the last episode, but still noticeable if you’re looking (and I was looking, I can’t help it.)
Usagi sees couples dancing around and wants a partner; she’s lonely. At this point, Ami and Rei have went their own way, as Usagi’s mission is clearly different (ie: Rei and Ami are more focused about seeing the Princess’ treasure, thanks to Luna’s instructions) and Usagi ends up on the balcony, a bit depressed. Some mysterious stranger who kind of looks like Tuxedo Mask shows up, since Usagi had previously dropped her handkerchief embroidered with her full name and he found it (therefore causing him to now be fully aware that she was also at the party), and he asks her for a dance. She gets that warm feeling of love inside of her as they dance, whilst Ami and Rei spot Princess D with a woman Rei deems untrustworthy. They follow her when they’re able but are too late to prevent her from being brainwashed by Nephrite, who was disguising himself as the untrustworthy woman. No wonder Rei had that feeling about “her”!
So, Rei and Ami transform and the brainwashed Princess D runs around the entire party with her treasure close by. Nephrite, believing that the treasure is the Silver Crystal, doesn’t back down and Mars and Mercury hope Usagi gets the message and transforms, as well. She does, eventually, thanks to grabbing Princess D when she tries to cause harm to herself/the treasure, and the three Sailor Guardians fight Nephrite.
Well, to be more precise: Mars tries to fight him, and notices that her fire doesn’t do anything (like the manga) and Moon discovers her tiara was burned in the last episode (like the manga) and uses her love for Tuxedo Mask to generate a new one (also like the manga) and shoots a really awesome Moon Beam from her new tiara at Nephrite (was this like the manga too? You bet!) Thing is, Nephrite wasn’t actually there; she destroyed his shadow. He shows up, with the other Generals and taunts the Guardians about how they’ll be annihilated for their cause (this was not like the manga, but it was a good take on the chapter.) Jadeite was there, too, as he was at the beginning of the episode, because … well, I don’t know yet. Crystal’s first big deviation from the manga was keeping him alive, and we obviously don’t know for sure why they chose to do this yet; hopefully we will soon.
After this, Princess D reawakens from passing out during the battle and Ami and Rei de-transform, even though Moon does not. Instead of getting tipsy, like in the manga, she simply passes out, and Tuxedo Mask kisses her.
Without her consent.
Now, this happened in the manga, as well, but to a smaller degree, and Moon was drunk. That doesn’t make it right, not by any means, but it was odd that they removed that detail for some reason.
Anyway, aside from that and a few other changes here and there (mainly with the Generals) the episode was pretty true to the chapter. Princess D’s treasure was just a statue of herself, which pretty much trolled everyone. It was great.
The preview for episode 5 shows Makoto commenting about the storm coming. I am excited and nervous about this episode, since Rei’s was so poorly animated. I love her VA, though! I’m crossing my fingers that it works out and the animation is decent, overall. Even if it’s more like episode 4’s I’ll be happy.
RATING: 4½ out of 5 wine glasses (in memoriam of drunk Usagi)