Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 - Scent of a Monster: Chanela Will Steal your Love

Watching the opening teaser of this episode, I think I have my first real complaint with the translation. In the original, Sailor Moon lists various animals that are angry because of the Dark Kingdom's plan to use pets against their owners. It's just the kind of quirky thing Sailor Moon likes to do in her speeches. This translation just... doesn't mention them. This isn't a case where it's an obscure reference or a joke that wouldn't translate well. They just left it out, and that sucks. If the Martina Navratilova line in Episode 14 gets cut, I'm not gonna be happy.

The episode begins with Usagi having a nightmare where she's chased by an evil dark cloud. Then Tuxedo Mask appears to vanquish the demon using rose petals. The dream is just getting good, then Usagi hears a scream and Tuxedo Mask disappears. She wakes to discover that it's Shingo screaming: he has a fear of cats and Luna was sleeping on his bed. So naturally, Usagi picks up Luna and starts dangling her in front of Shingo, demanding he bow to her as the Goddess Queen of Space. Yeah, it's cruel, but Shingo's been so awful to Usagi in his last few appearances that he really had this coming.

At breakfast, Usagi asks her parents if they can keep Luna, but Shingo is opposed. Their parents tell them they have to work it out between themselves, which doesn't bode well for progress. On the way to school. Luna says that she was so tired after looking for the Moon Princess that she didn't realize she'd fallen asleep in Shingo's room. Usagi suggests that Luna should try to make Shingo like her. So Luna goes to a pet shop and observes the animals, hoping to pick up some tips on how to be appealing.

We get a brief scene in the Dark Kingdom, where Beryl and Jadeite discuss Jadeite's newest plan in the vaguest possible terms, then it's back to Usagi, who's discussing the Luna situation with Naru. Apparently Shingo's fear of cats goes back to an incident when he was a baby, and a cat bit his nose. Umino mentions that this is a trauma he can identify with only too well, as when he was a baby, he was eaten by an alligator (handbag).
Yeah, it's a joke so weak it's barely a joke at all, but it's worth it just to see baby Umino.

Outside Shingo's school, Luna tries to win his affection by jumping on his shoulder and being cute, but just ends up traumatizing him. He explains his problem with cats to his friend Mika, who takes him to Pet Shop Perfume, a new pet store selling a new kind of pet called a Chanela.

As if by magic, a shopkeeper appears! The slightly sinister lady extols the virtues of the sweet-smelling Chanelas, which convinces Shingo, though not half as much as the weird hypnotic light one of the creatures uses to put him under its spell. Mika, similarly hypnotized, says that she wants one as well. The shopkeeper says they can just take the Chanelas now and pay whenever they want.

The pets have an immediate effect on Shingo and Mika: as they're walking home, they're unable to concentrate on anything other than their Chanelas. Meanwhile, Jadeite lurks in the dark, harvesting energy.

At home, Luna tells Usagi that her mission to make Shingo like her has failed. Usagi insists she shouldn't give up, and here comes Shingo now! Luna tries to be affectionate again, but this time gets kicked away!
Ouch. Shingo announces that the Chanela is now his pet, so Usagi must get rid of Luna. Usagi responds to this outrage by crying, which drives Shingo away. It really does seem at this early point that they were going for "people under evil influence are hurt by Usagi's crying", but as a superpower, it sucks, and pretty soon it was forgotten about.

Shingo informs the family of how great the Chanela is: for instance, the fact that it doesn't eat anything. Dad thinks this makes good economical sense for a pet, but I personally make a point never to trust any creature that violates the laws of thermodynamics. Or for that matter, any creature that causes your child to make this face.
Mom and Dad decide that keeping both the Chanela and Luna would be the perfect compromise, but Shingo deems it unacceptable, and leaves to stare lovingly at his Chanela for fifteen straight hours. Not an exaggeration: when Usagi's getting ready to leave for school the next morning, Shingo apparently hasn't moved all night. As she spies on him, she notices the Chanela is glowing.

At school, a large number of students have brought their Chanelas with them. They hide them when Haruna comes in, but are unable to resist looking at them for too long. When Haruna sees one of them and tries to chastise the student, she gets attacked and knocked over. That's pretty harsh: I mean, it was only last week that she was almost killed by an unlicensed weight loss procedure. And the week before that she spent a few days in a coma. And the week before that, she was attacked and sexually harassed by demonic students. Wow, Haruna's had a terrible month. She'd probably be safer teaching at Sunnydale High.

Usagi asks Naru if she thinks something might be suspicious about the Chanelas. Well, they turned your brother into a zombie, caused a student revolt and glow eerily when they think nobody is looking... so yeah, I think something's suspicious about the Chanelas. It's a pet peeve of mine when the characters take forever to notice the blatantly obvious bad thing that's happening, so this scene irked me a little.

Anyway, Usagi decides to go and check out the pet shop selling the Chanelas. Mamoru shows up there too, because apparently his day isn't complete without annoying Usagi, but on this occasion she just tells him to sod off and carries on with her day. Luna is in the pet shop as well, apparently having come to the same conclusion as Usagi. Unfortunately, Usagi looks into the eyes of one of the Chanelas, and falls under its spell.

Usagi starts acting like Shingo, completely focused on her Chanela, becoming hostile to Luna and ignoring a little girl who's fallen off her bike. So Luna takes action, jumping on Usagi's head, and pulling the Chanela away from her.

With the spell broken, Usagi apologizes for her dickish behavior, but the more immediate concern is Shingo, who's still in his room, staring at his Chanela. Usagi tries to grab the Chanela, but fails. She slaps him to snap him out of it, which doesn't work either, and he runs off with his pet. Luna suspects he'll return to the pet shop and instructs Usagi to transform into Sailor Moon.

At the pet shop, a crowd of Chanela owners has gathered. The shopkeeper releases the remaining Chanelas and instructs her new minions to distribute them throughout the city. Sailor Moon bursts in and confronts them, and the shopkeeper reveals her Youma form, before sending her minions - who now look like lizard people - after her.

Sailor Moon doesn't want to use her tiara against the minions in case she ends up hurting them. So Luna tells her to shout out "Moon Tiara Stardust" instead. This makes the tiara do a few little loops over their heads, and... okay, it's a crappy power the writers pulled out of their asses for this episode that would never get used or mentioned again. But it works, and Shingo and the others are returned to normal. Then there's just the matter of the huge lizard Youma. Sailor Moon leads her out into the parking lot, but gets grabbed by her tail. Then she and Luna notice her "weak spot", at the base of her tail. You can tell it's a weak spot because it flashes as if she's a video game boss on easy mode.
Subtle, eh? Yeah, this whole battle is one cop-out after another. So Sailor Moon throws her tiara at the target, and the Youma is no more.

Shingo rushes out into the parking lot, hoping to get Sailor V's autograph. Sailor Moon hides behind a car, explaining that Sailor V and Sailor Moon are totally different. Shingo says whatever, Sailor Moon's cute too. Well, that's awkward. Still, Sailor Moon uses the hero worship to her advantage, telling Shingo that he has to be nice to Luna. He agrees, and is true to his word, spoiling Luna rotten from that point on.

Monster of the Day: Iguara has a simple but neat design. Her powers are being huge and wrecking stuff. Can't argue with the classics. It's a shame her fight with Sailor Moon ended up being so pathetic, though.

Most Valuable Person: Luna is back to being a pleasant character from her awfulness in the last episode, and she puts up with a lot in this episode without any complaints.

Least Valuable Person: Since it's going to get boring if I just keep putting Mamoru here every episode, I'm instead going to go with Mika, whose sole function in this episode was to lead Shingo into an enemy trap.

There are some bright spots in this episode, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is basically episode two all over again, but with pets instead of tarot cards and not as good. Seriously, the plots are exactly the same. Dark Kingdom opens new business run by a Youma. Youma distributes object to customers, including someone close to Usagi, making them evil. Customers become hostile to those around them. Haruna gets knocked on her ass. Customers are driven away by Usagi's crying. Customers return to business and are issued further instructions by the Youma. Sailor Moon bursts in, customers are transformed and sent after her. Sailor Moon must deal with them and the Youma, which shows its true form. Yeah, I know this show had a lot of formulaic episodes, but not usually to this extent. And don't tell me they were stuck for ideas; it's episode five. And just in case you think there's a chance this was all a coincidence... guess what? This episode and episode two have the same writer.

This episode gets two stars out of five. There are good parts, and it's nice to have an episode that shows us how Luna became an official pet of the Tsukino family. Sadly though, the good is overshadowed by a highly derivative plot and a fight scene that just plain sucks.

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