Tuesday, June 24, 2014

13 - Girls Unite: The End of Jadeite

Welcome to the last episode of Jadeite's arc! And while that might qualify as a spoiler, the title's already done that for me. This is a show that really loves to tell you what happens in the episode before you watch it.

Last time, you may recall that Jadeite, already earning Queen Beryl's wrath due to a string of failures, managed to get one of her Youma killed as well. This episode opens with Beryl explaining to Jadeite where he now stands. I mean, aside from in front of a furious evil queen, under spotlights designed for maximum intimidation.
She gives him an ultimatum: deal with the Sailor Guardians or face Eternal Sleep.

Eternal Sleep is one of those little early-show oddities. I think they weren't really sure if they could talk about killing people, let alone actually do it, so instead they came up with this thing that's basically the same as death, but with a different name. At least, that's the best explanation I can come up with. Having said that, Sailor Moon kills a lot of Youma, and it's pretty clear that Jadeite's being told to kill the Sailor Guardians, so... I dunno.

Usagi is at home stargazing. You know, as much as the show tries to make out that Usagi isn't good at anything, speaking as someone who was really into astronomy as a kid, she's pretty impressive when it comes to recognizing constellations. Even Libra, which doesn't look like crap. She then makes up two more constellations - Motoki and Tuxedo Mask - and starts to wonder if Motoki might actually be Tuxedo Mask.
Wow, that's a bizarre image. I mean, Motoki's nice and all, but he has all the heroic gravitas of Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen. Still, Motoki being Tuxedo Mask would be convenient for Usagi, since she's in love with them both.

Usagi is given a break from imagining hot blonde guys in the sky when an actual hot blonde guy appears in the sky. Jadeite has abandoned all subtlety and broadcasts a message to the entire city, accompanied by his pimp music, no less, stating that if Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars don't meet him at Haneda Airport at 1 AM the following night, he'll burn the city. By the way, it's a minor thing, but the subs misspelled Haneda Airport. Like many of the locations in the show, it's a real place. They spell it right in the rest of the episode, so I imagine it's just a typo.

The next morning, Usagi, Rei and Ami discuss Jadeite's message, which is pretty obviously a trap. Rei says they have to go, Ami says they need a plan first, and Usagi is just plain scared (though thankfully not to the point of crying). Meanwhile, the appearance of a giant sky-pimp threatening to kill everyone means that even the perpetually oblivious authorities of Tokyo have sprung into action. They claim that the apparition was a prank, but that they'll be sending police to the airport just in case. At school, Naru, Umino and the sort-of-chubby girl debate the apparition. Amusingly, Umino thinks Jadeite must be an alien here to give mankind a stern warning to change its ways. They discuss going along to the airport to see what happens, and Haruna forbids it, saying that kids their age shouldn't be out that late. Usagi, not wanting regular people to get involved with this, agrees with her. Haruna is so surprised to hear Usagi talking responsibly that she wonders if she's sick.

Usagi doesn't appreciate the reaction, and later complains about it to Motoki. Motoki says he appreciates how Usagi has a unique perspective on things, which she interprets as incontrovertible evidence that he totally loves her. She's so happy after leaving the arcade that she kicks her shoe off, and naturally it lands on the head of Mamoru, who's famously shoe-intolerant. She gets the usual lecture from him about how terrible she is, but this time she's not bothered, because an awesome guy likes her. Mamoru says that any guy who likes her must be a loser, and this sets Usagi off crying. Which would usually annoy me, but it leads to this.
At long last, Mamoru suffers some consequences for his treatment of Usagi! He runs away, completely embarrassed.

It's night at the airport, which is full of cops. Jadeite shows up and uses some magic to make them fall asleep. Unfortunately, this is a Nakamura episode, so the cops look just plain bizarre when they fall over. I mean, look at this.
While Jadeite plays with his action figures, Usagi, Rei, Ami and Luna arrive at the station to take the monorail to the airport. The Haneda monorail is a real thing! It's always fun when the show includes real places. Our protagonists note that the last train has already left... but then a train car opens up, just for them. They get in, and Luna notes they're definitely moving right into the enemy's trap. For maybe the first time, she looks really worried, like she's wondering if she's got these girls into something they won't be able to get out of.

When they arrive in the airport, they find it's full of cops... evil cops! The police attack the girls, Rei fights a few of them off and they run, while Usagi wonders what the world's coming to.
That's nothing, Usagi, you should see the new head of the FCC. Oooh, that's topical!

The girls make it out onto the runway, pursued by cops, and transform. Sailor Mercury analyzes the police using her computer, and concludes that these are clay golems, not real people. There's no time for a second opinion as Mars incinerates them with Fire Soul. Then Jadeite appears and reveals he's been watching all along, and now knows their true identities. Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars get into an argument about who's prettier (I know it sounds absurd and out of place, but it's actually kind of fun, particularly their expressions which suggest they've both come to enjoy this kind of back and forth). It's Sailor Mercury who adopts the role of the badass and tells the other two to prepare to face Jadeite.

Jadeite is... pretty powerful. His opening move is to aim a plane at them. And when they seem to be successfully running away from that, two planes. Mars wants to blast them with Fire Soul, but Luna objects, saying the cost of the damage would be too great. That's kind of an odd thing for Luna, of all people, to be worried about, but they agree not to attack the planes, and keep running. Soon they're at the end of the runway, beyond which is the sea. Suddenly, Tuxedo Mask appears! He distracts Jadeite, stopping the planes, and the two do battle!

Well, um, the thing is, we haven't actually see Tuxedo Mask do very much other than show up at exactly the right moment to distract the bad guys. So how is he at one-on-one combat against a man powerful enough to move planes with his mind? Maybe... not so powerful? Tuxedo Mask and Jadeite tumble into the sea, and it's Jadeite who emerges, proclaiming that Tuxedo Mask is dead. Which might have been a serious blow to our heroes' morale, except Jadeite has to push it that little bit further...
Firstly: Wow. Secondly: Did you forget who your boss is? You know, the one who's got you terrified for your life right now? Just... just asking.

Anyway, this kind of talk only strengthens our heroes' resolve, and they stand united, ready to beat him.
Jadeite sends a plane after them again, but this time, Luna tells them not to fall for the distraction: Jadeite is the one they have to beat. And so, a plan forms, with Sailor Moon serving as the decoy. Sailor Mercury cast Bubble Spray, obscuring their location, and Sailor Moon makes a break for it. Jadeite sends the plane after her, but can't see the other two. He sees Sailor Mercury and aims an energy blast at her, but doesn't notice Sailor Mars behind him, charging up an ofuda. She pins it to his back, and suddenly, for reasons he can't fathom, the planes are chasing him. He runs away, and finds his escape blocked.
With his powers sealed, Jadeite is defenseless as Sailor Moon aims Moon Tiara Action at him. He dodges! Ha! Wait, wasn't there something he was running from?
Oh yeah. Plane.

Still, being run over by a plane apparently didn't quite kill Jadeite, as he manages to teleport back to the Dark Kingdom... where he's immediately face to face with Queen Beryl. He tries to tell her that he knows the identities of the Sailor Guardians, but Beryl isn't listening anymore. She Eternal Sleeps him on the spot, and there's a brief shot of his successor standing in the shadows.

The girls have won, though with the apparent loss of Tuxedo Mask. But wait! Tuxedo Mask is somehow fine! Mercury asks him who he is and why he helps them, but he says he can't reveal that right now, and tells the girls to treasure their friendship, before making a dashing exit. And that's the end of the episode! Exiting on a high note, rather than Usagi falling over. That's how it's done.

Monster of the Day: This episode didn't have any. Unless you count the clay golem cops. I am not counting the clay golem cops.

Most valuable person: Sailor Mars, for her awesome gambit that sealed Jadeite's fate.

Least valuable person: Well, both Jadeite and Mamoru were jerks in this episode, but that's sort of Jadeite's function in the story. Mamoru has no such excuse and gets this award again.

This episode is pretty unsubtle with its feminist message. But it's a kids' cartoon from the early nineties: the fact that there was a feminist message is impressive enough. I feel like this episode marks the point where the writers had finally worked out what kind of a show this was. It's been said that Junichi Satou had some trouble communicating his vision for the show early on, with some of the staff unsure of just how straight they were supposed to play the premise. This episode really seems to nail it.

By the way, in the ADV sets, the title of this episode was translated as Girl Power! The End of Jadeite. I'm... really not sure what they were thinking. "Girl Power" was kind of dated in 2003, tied as it was to the Spice Girls (who weren't the first to use it either, but that's another story). All I can assume is that someone at ADV really like the phrase, since the oddball one-off OAV Makasete Iruka was renamed Grrl Power by ADV. Incidentally, I really recommend that show if you can pick it up.

Back to the episode, I think the series' first big boss battle was done really well. Jadeite was a bit of a blank slate for most of his run, with a lot of his personality being established in these last two episodes of his. The season's other generals will be more developed, for better or worse. The girls' decision not to transform until they were in the airport always strikes me as a bit odd, but they're still new at this. Despite that tactical hiccup, we can already see how our characters have come a long way in just thirteen episodes, forming a formidable team. This episode gets four stars out of five.

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