You hear that? It’s the sound of the plot rapidly picking up its pace. And my sympathy for Taiki rapidly fizzling into nothing.
Truth Revealed: The Starlights’ Past (S5E24/190)
Taiki and Yaten have been called to the rooftop of someplace in Tokyo, lit only by the ambient light from the city and the moon. The people who called them are none other than Setsuna, Haruka and Michiru. When they transform in an instant under the cover of a cloud passing over the moon - an admittedly cool and creative way of getting around the fact that they were never given redone transformation scenes for their Super forms - Yaten and Taiki aren’t surprised. They figured the three of them were Senshi having something to do with the recent catastrophy between Sailor Moon and the Starlights, in which Seiya was seriously injured.
The Outers explain that it’s their job to protect the Solar System from outside threats and that they want the Starlights to stay away from Usagi. Of course, they’re preaching to the choir here - Healer and Maker don’t want anything to do with Usagi either - but in a demonstration of idiocy and ineptitude, Healer drops a pointless line implying that they’ll screw-over Sailor Moon if it benefits them somehow. Listen, y’all, making even more enemies on this foreign planet makes absolutely no sense, and honestly I can’t think of a situation where sacrificing Sailor Moon would help them in any way.
The two sides are preparing to fight when Seiya storms onto the roof, still weak from taking Tin Nyanko’s blast, and defuses the situation by promising he’ll stay away from Usagi. This won’t last longer than this episode, I promise.
At school, Usagi can’t focus. She replays the events of the night before over and over in her head, and her friends notice how off she is. They try to cheer her up, but Usagi isn’t even listening to their efforts. The only thing that snaps her out of it is Minako giving her a filched phone number - a chance to talk to Seiya.
Unfortunately, when Usagi calls the number, everyone’s unfavorite caustic stuffy killjoy, Forehead, answers the phone. Taiki rebukes her efforts to schedule a time to meet with Seiya, and Yaten yanks the phone out of his hand to bluntly inform her that Seiya will not talk to her. He says it’s because she caused Seiya to get injured, but once again, that’s fucking stupid and really makes both Yaten and Taiki super unlikeable. It’s not Sailor Moon’s fault that Tin Nyanko tried to attack her, nor her fault that Seiya jumped in the way, so fuck right off with this dumb excuse, for real.
Usagi and the girls meet up at Hikawa Shrine, but they barely have a chance to console her before the Outers arrive. (Where is Saturn??) They confirm that Seiya will refuse to see her, but instead of answering Usagi’s questions, they just repeat the agreement they made with the Starlights. Usagi has a brief moment of clarity and gets angry at them for going behind her back, but she quickly apologizes, too purehearted to be mad at her friends for something she 100% deserves to be mad about. The Outers try to convince her that they can’t trust anyone but themselves, but none of it sits well with Usagi, who thinks they can work anything out if they just talk. She runs off, upset.
Meanwhile, Lead Crow and Tin Nyanko still aren’t getting along. Crow is pissed that she interfered with her last job and vows to prove her wrong (again). In her search for a new target, she remembers that Siren loved amusement parks - and settles on a related target. I think the magazine says he’s related to the Three Lights somehow, not sure - for whatever reason Hulu didn’t subtitle the writing, despite aggressively subtitling all the other writing, sometimes to a ridiculous degree.
Usagi, having rushed home, is crying in her bedroom. Luna comes to comfort her, and Usagi asks if she’s wrong about the situation they’re in. Luna tells her no, not really - it’s just more complicated than she’s realizing, and everyone has duties that override how they might feel about it, making Luna the most level-headed person in this episode so far.
Then, the phone rings. When Usagi answers, the line is quiet for a moment, but then there’s a voice - Seiya’s voice - telling her to come to a concert tonight at an amusement park, and to be sure to “listen to my song.” The call ends before she can say anything. Usagi dejectedly confirms to Luna that it was Seiya, but Luna gives the meeting her okay, implicitly saying she won’t tell the others. YOU DA LADY, LUNA.
Seiya walks back to rehearsal, telling the others that he went to the bathroom, but he almost immediately collapses. Taiki suggests canceling the show, but Seiya refuses - he knows Usagi will be listening now. And he gives the most awkward thumbs up.
That night, Usagi rushes to the amusement park, but the tickets are completely sold out. Then she sees the Ferris wheel and realizes she’ll be able to look down directly at the stage from it. Genius! Seiya, too, looks for Usagi in the audience as soon as the lights come up - but then notices her transformation brooch glinting from the top of the Ferris wheel. Wow, er, good eye there, Seiya.
As the Three Lights start to sing, Usagi realizes that the song sounds different today for some reason - and she feels sad and warm in her chest at once. She closes her eyes briefly, but when she opens them, the view outside has transformed into outer space and she can hear Seiya’s voice.
Seiya shows her what Galaxia has done: march from planet to planet, slaughtering its inhabitants and turning their homes into cold, dead worlds. Her goal is to obtain true star seeds, “the energy of all the stars in the galaxy,” and when she has them all she will be its unstoppable ruler. It happened to Seiya’s planet, too... but their last hope, their Princess, fled before she could be killed and headed towards Earth. The Starlights fled as well and are searching for her.
Usagi sees an image of the Princess, a long-haired woman with flowing robes, and she can feel a warm, happy light. But before she knows it, she’s back on the Ferris wheel, watching the concert. Seiya wonders if Usagi heard his message and promptly collapses on stage in front of the audience and his bandmates. The crowd screeches. MUCH DRAMA!
And now for Formula! The man Crow targeted earlier gets a phone call about Seiya’s collapse (I still have no idea who exactly he is or what job he has here), but when he runs outside, Crow is waiting there to take his star seed. It’s another dud, and Crow leaves immediately in frustration.
Despite having collapsed, in the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive, Seiya has sneaked away from Taiki and Yaten. After stumbling towards the Ferris wheel, he and Usagi somehow find each other (with no other people around, at an amusement park). At almost the same time, the Phage finds them.
Seiya is about to transform, but he’s too weak. Usagi transforms instead, but the Outers soon appear to back up Sailor Moon - and earn a glare from Seiya. They give Sailor Moon an opening, and she turns the Phage back to normal.
But now there’s hell to pay. The Outers demand to know why the Starlights broke their deal, but Yaten barks that it was Usagi who went to see Seiya. Despite this being totally false, Usagi tries to take the blame, but Haruka isn’t particularly convinced. She tells them again to keep out of the way, which certainly isn’t a controversial request from their perspective. Seiya is carted off before Usagi has a chance to say anything.
Sooo, eh, this episode is pretty good, putting aside the overall problems with the story that I’ve mentioned previously. Although it’s been alluded to since the first episodes with the Starlights, their backstory has finally been completely laid out. Galaxia is clearly an enormous threat, but I also can’t help but keep thinking how they could have told all this stuff to the Outer Senshi. On a backwoods planet running from Space Hitler and find yourself talking to the people whose job it is to fight off outside threats? Telling them about Space Hitler is probably a good idea, not just as a bargaining chip but to help yourselves out. But I know, I know, we need that sweet drama.
Butterflies of Light: A New Chapter on the Horizon (S5E25/191)
So this episode isn’t filler, but only because of the first half. The second half is yet another “learn a lesson” story between Ami and Taiki, the first of whom is sweet but very boring, and the second of whom has become my least favorite Sailor Moon character ever over the course of doing these articles.
Anyway, the episode starts with the unaccompanied 2 year old wandering the streets of Tokyo with nobody batting an eye. It seems she’s chasing after illusory pink butterflies, and as she takes a step towards them she finds herself in a lush forest. The butterflies lead her out onto the surface of a pond and transform into an ornate incense burner. She transforms into Chibi Chibi Moon as she stares at it. What COULD thus be about...?
Elsewhere, the Three Lights sense the Princess’ energy coming from the butterflies. They know she has to be closeby. Galaxia feels it too, recycling the same scene from a few episodes back. Ok, I get it already - the butterflies are the Princess!
Usagi is in her room, avoiding the others and listening to Three Lights music on her headphones. She can’t stop thinking about the horrible images Seiya showed to her through his song at the concert. The girls, who have noticed her change in mood, try to invite her out to a video game event in the city, but Usagi refuses. They’re worried about how depressed she’s been since the concert, but it looks like Usagi hasn’t told them anything about what Seiya showed her.
The animation tanks as they think back on the feud with the Starlights. Ami mentions that she tried to e-mail Taiki to discuss everything, but she never received a reply. They all agree to do whatever it takes to help set up a meeting and fix the situation! Which isn’t too demanding of a promise, because it turns out Taiki is making an appearance at the same video game event they were going to anyway.
Plus, it gives them a chance to dress up in SWEET-ASS COSPLAY!
I have no idea what characters their costumes may be parodying. This show’s from the 90's, and in my experience, references in anime can get extremely obscure and dated (same problem I had during Excel Saga). I think Makoto is supposed to be Cammy from Street Fighter, and I’m pretty sure I saw a pseudo-Felicia from Darkstalkers in the background of one of the pan shots.
Except Ami, anyway. She didn’t dress up. She’s busy thinking about how to talk to Taiki, but the others are focused on winning the game event and standing out from the other attention-hungry girls!
Minako, Makoto and Rei all give the tournament a try, but they’re easily defeated by schoolboys with much better skill and familiarity with the game. It then swiftly becomes self-parody as they lay in a crumpled heap on the floor, as if physically beaten, and ask Ami to win the tournament for them. I mean, she’s been established in the past a video game maverick who can master a game in minutes, so I don’t know why she didn’t just try to begin with, but it is pretty funny.
It’s the finals. Ami makes her debut in a proper cosplay costume, and her opponent is a spectacled, disrespectful nerd. The nerd looks suspiciously like a character from the Sailor V manga who told Minako she couldn’t possibly be good at games because she’s a girl. He got his ass kicked, of course. Sailor Senshi - battling Gamergate since 1992!
The match begins, and Ami manages to win by reminding herself that she has to in order to get a chance to talk to Taiki. Taiki presents the trophy to her before realizing who exactly she is, and now he’s got no choice but to talk in some manner.
Backstage, Ami confronts him. She begs him to try to understand Usagi and to recognize that she has nothing to do with the problems the Starlights are facing. Usagi is kind and sweet, a person who earnestly wants to bring joy to the people around her. Taiki’s only response to these obviously true facts is basically “Well, that’s just, like, your opinion man,” and AGAIN brings up Seiya’s injury.
Ami, bless her heart, calls Forehead out on his bullshit. That’s just a convenient excuse and Taiki isn’t telling her the truth. Taiki already knows that Usagi is harmless, and so does Seiya, which is why he protected her. And if the situation were switched around, what then? What would Taiki have done if someone he cared about was in danger? Basically backed into a corner, Taiki either has to admit he’d have done the same as Seiya or concede that he’s a massive coward.
Unfortunately, the Formula interrupts the conversation. Lead Crow has gone after one of the event announcers, and while Ami transforms to run out and face the Phage, Taiki turns his back on the situation and refuses to help her, even when she starts to lose.
Meanwhile, Usagi is still sitting in her room. CC wanders inside carrying the same incense burner we saw at the beginning of the episode, and pink butterflies start to fill the room. Usagi can smell something wonderful as they dissipate, and she asks CC where she got the burner. Of course, CC just gives her usual baby babble answers. But either way, Usagi has brightened enough to decide to go to the video game event after all... which is a good thing, because Ami is getting her butt kicked by the Phage. She’s got the other three girls, but they aren’t taking it seriously and start to get wrecked too.
Backstage, Seiya is furious that Taiki abandoned Ami. He turns to Yaten and poses the million dollar question: “Don’t you think we’ve lost sight of something? What would the Princess say if she saw us acting like this? Don’t you think there’s something wrong with how we’re going about this?” Uh.... yeah???
Of course, Yaten and Taiki just stare at him before he announces that he won’t be participating in this farce and runs to help. Taiki, too, thinking back on Ami’s words, realizes he would have taken a hit for someone he cares about, just like Seiya did. And Yaten, with no one there to back up his snotty personality anymore, follows too.
After transforming, Star Maker interrupts an attack by the Phage on the Senshi, who are exhausted. But he follows it up with an outdated proposal that they “finish this quickly,” or in other words, just kill it instead of healing it back into the person it came from. Of course the Inner Senshi refuse, but Star Fighter is there to remind them again of what’s important here: unlike themselves, who gave up on their own planet, the Senshi here fight until the very end to protect other people.
At any rate, the situation is defused by the arrival of Sailor Moon, who heals the Phage back to normal as usual. The day’s events have pacified everyone enough that they send each other off outside after the game event (but of course Taiki has to stubbornly assert that he still hasn’t “accepted everything” about them, whatever that means). Usagi FINALLY gets to ask Seiya if he’s okay, and he happily lets her know that he’s fine now. As they leave, with CC in tow, Taiki smells the Princess again and wonders what’s going on.
So, yeah, basically filler and not particularly good filler, but we do get some important breadcrumbs of plot. And the scenes at the game event with the girls cosplaying are pretty funny. So not a total loss I guess!
Next week is one more filler, and then a hugely important episode. See you then!