Last week’s episodes were great because we got some good, quality characterization for two of the three Sailor Starlights, Seiya and Taiki. I was looking forward to this week’s episode devoted to the third Starlight, Yaten, but the quality of the last two episodes apparently got my hopes too high for the next two.
Luna’s Discovery: The Real Face of Yaten (S5E12/178)
So, Seiya is the hot-headed leader and Taiki is the smart, unemotional mature one. That leaves the third member, Yaten, and what we’ve seen of his so far is that he’s a bit stuck up and isn’t interested in attention from fans. What new things will we learn about him in this episode, the very first one devoted entirely to giving him more screen time?
Nothing. Nothing new at all.
The episodes starts out interestingly enough. Luna has gone missing, and even though the girls have looked for her and hung up “Lost Cat” posters, they haven’t seen or heard from her in a week. They starts to suspect the worst (picked up by animal control? hit by a car?) but they happen to pass by a store fill of TVs and see Yaten of the Three Lights on the news, holding none other than Luna! Bizarrely, Yaten tells the interviewer that Luna is like family, and Luna looks as confused as the rest of us are. Poor cuckolded Artemis.
The next day at school, the girls find Yaten sitting by himself beneath a tree. They debate whether they should confront him outright about Luna, but they’re interrupted by a female classmate walking up and attempting to give a love letter to Usagi. Everyone is pretty flabbergasted by this (with Usagi even gently trying to let the girl down) but it turns out she was actually trying to ask them to give Yaten a love letter. Oh.
Yaten almost ignores Usagi entirely when she approaches him, and is equally as uninterested in the letter, going so far as to throw it into the garbage along with an empty bottle. (PET bottles are not moeru gomi, Yaten!!) Naturally, Usagi is horribly offended that Yaten would throw out a love letter when its author had come up with the courage to write it and (sorta) give it to him, but Yaten simply doesn’t care. He gets too many love letters to care.
Later at Hikawa Shrine, the group is trying to decide what to do next when Luna just happens to show back up. She explains that she was relaxing in the sun outside, on top of the fence to someone’s yard, when suddenly Seiya and Taiki appeared on the sidewalk below reaching up for something. They’re trying to get a pet chameleon who has escaped and climbed up a tree. Without a pet to show off on a “celebrity pets” TV show, they decide to “borrow” Luna for a few days and tell the interviewer that she’s their cat.
One of the themes of both Codename: Sailor V and Sailor Moon is that the J-pop idol scene is superficial and ridiculous, even if it may still be fun to get into and enjoyable. One of the positive things I can say about this episode (and Sailor Stars overall) is that it’s true to Naoko Takeuchi’s self-aggrandizing love for celebrity-focused media.
One look at Yaten’s pretty boy smile, and Luna was willing to go along with the farce. After spending a week or so with him, she wandered back to Hikawa Shrine, and, y’know... the whole duty towards the princess thing.
At Galaxy TV (owned and operated by Sailor Galaxia, remember), a TV show is wrapping up. Luna has wandered there to see Yaten again, but he’s stopped by a female star, Noriko, who was on the program with him. This stupid girl attempts to hit on Yaten while insulting “his” cat, and pretty soon Yaten is impatiently asking her what she wants. Apparently these two have a working relationship, but this harrassment is a Thing when the cameras are off.
Yaten tells her off as bluntly as a person could, telling her that he finds the way she talks annoying and has no interest in doing anything with her outside of work. When Noriko tries to get back at him by saying he’s nothing more than a passing fad pop idol, Yaten walks away muttering a half-hearted agreement under his breath. Okay, you know what, we do learn one little thing about Yaten in this episode: he is the most down-to-earth out of all three. Seiya and Taiki play into the J-pop star thing willingly, but Yaten is cynical and self-aware.
Yaten takes Luna home with him after the female star storms off. In the car, the Three Lights debate what to name her; Seiya has started calling her “Blackie” while Taiki suggests the same name of Noriko’s cat. Speaking of Noriko, Seiya asks if Yaten said something to make her angry. Yaten scoffs, and the topic of him throwing out fan letters comes up.
He says it’s that he doesn’t trust anyone here. None of them know who they really are, so how could any really love them? Taiki diplomatically agrees that “this world” is full of passion, and Seiya asks Yaten if he’s really never felt infatuated with someone on first sight. Yaten is offended y these remarks, asking if the two of them have forgotten about the person they’re looking for. They have no need for anyone but the person who possesses the True Star Light and thus he has no interest in his fans or others. His friends remind him that they’re singing so they can find that person, but Yaten still can’t bring himself to trust the people “here.” Luna, of course, overhears this entire mysterious conversation, but doesn’t understand the true meaning behind some of it... even though the mention of a “Star Seed” should be setting off all kinds of alarms here.
Later (next day?) Yaten has brought Luna to a groomer to be prepared for another TV appearance. Yaten blows off the groomer’s small talk but he likes the way Luna looks in a cute little sundress and hat. (She does look pretty cute like that...)
The girls are outside on the sidewalk watching from the window when they see Noriko, the female star Yaten rebuked, enter with her cat, obviously with the intention of starting shit. First she says Luna is uncute (SHUT IT) and then she says she forgives him for rejecting her because she didn’t realize he was gay (WHICH......... COULD BE TRUE in the sense that Yaten is actually a woman and is potentially a lesbian).
At any rate, Luna herself is tired of this woman’s shit and actually reaches out and scratches the bitch from Yaten’s arms. GO LUNA. But before the situation can escalate, Sailor Iron Mouse shows up to bring us towards the monster of the day portion of the episode. Conveniently, Yaten and the girls don’t see when Iron Mouse removes her civilian disguise, but they do hear her scream from inside the groomer’s when her Star Seed is forced to appear.
Yaten, watching now, reaches for his transformation brooch in his pocket and is about to transform... but then, smirks and turns away. Talking to himself (with Luna beside him), he covers his face and says it doesn’t matter whether he intervenes or not - if they don’t find “that person,” the universe is doomed. This motivates Luna to jump out and attack Iron Mouse, and while Yaten is wondering why Luna would do such a thing when Noriko was so mean to her (...he still sees her as a regular cat, right?) Iron Mouse gets the better of Luna and knocks her out the window with a nasty attack.
The girls, now transformed, intervene and are faced with the day’s Phage, transformed from Noriko. They trade a few blows back and forth, but it’s mostly padding, what we’re waiting for is Yaten.
Cradling the injured Luna, Yaten leaves her with Artemis and transforms into Sailor Star Healer after all. They have to keep fighting because it’s their destiny to do so, all the way until they manage to find “that person.” Star Healer attacks the Phage with a Star Sensitive Inferno, gives her little introduction to the Solar Senshi, and says she’s saving them this one time for Luna’s sake. Sailor Moon heals Noriko, Star Maker leaves without discussion, and that’s pretty much it.
So in Seiya’s episode, he learns some humility and that harsh criticism can be good. In Taiki’s episode, he learns that it’s okay to be nice to people even if it means having unrealistic expectations or bending the truth. In this episode, Yaten learns....... that he likes cats? That he can’t just not save people he doesn’t like? You’re a Sailor Senshi, you jerk, that isn’t something you should have to learn. The conflict set up earlier in the episode - that he doesn’t appreciate his fans and treats others like garbage - basically goes nowhere, and the whole thing ends up feeling pretty pointless. Guess you’re getting shafted for now, Yaten, or maybe the point is just that you’re an asshole.
Friend or Foe? Star Lights and the Sailor Guardians (S5E13/179)
I went into this episode thinking it was a particular one that I liked and remembered pretty well. Unfortunately, I think that might be the next one. While this is technically the episode where the Outer Senshi start to get involved again since the end of the Nehelenia Arc, Uranus and Neptune do very little in this episode. You could basically skip it and what the next one and miss very little, which is probably what I’ll recommend when I do my viewing guide for Stars.
The episode opens with Usagi writing Mamoru another letter in the library. After finishing, she quietly laments the fact that he hasn’t responded to any of her letters, which is the only plot-relevant thing said in this episode. Haruka and Michiru, visiting the library, see her and say hello. They notice Usagi’s evasiveness when they ask about Mamoru, but Usagi can’t admit to them that he’s ignoring her letters. Oh, sweetie...... enjoy your ignorance of his death for as long as you can.
The Three Lights are relaxing at the studio and Seiya brings up the topic of Sailor Moon. Is she a friend or foe? Um, pretty sure she’s clearly a friend, but sure, I’m curious to hear what the three of them actually think about their situation so far. Taiki is immediately offended when Seiya dares compare Sailor Moon to the person they’re looking for, who is finally revealed to be “our Princess,” as in the Starlights’ princess. Seiya is unfazed by Taiki’s firm answer and points out that Sailor Moon has a power they lack, but logical Mr. Forehead insists this doesn’t mean she’s their friend. Uhh... okay. Yaten (who seems way smarter than Taiki so far) says they could use Sailor Moon’s power to help them, which is obviously the right way to be looking at this, because wtf Taiki? She can heal people you guys normally would have had no choice to kill. That’s useful even if you don’t trust Sailor Moon personally. What is your problem.
At Juuban High, Usagi and Makoto are harvesting strawberries in the school’s greenhouse for a shortcake they’re planning on making for the other girls. Makoto hears a noise coming from another part of the greenhouse and grows suspicious - no one else is supposed to be there.
It’s none other than Mr. Forehead himself, admiring the roses as the continues to struggle with his position on Sailor Moon. Mostly, he’s skeptical of Sailor Moon’s devotion to rescuing the Animamates’ victims, reasoning to himself that she doesn’t know what a real battle looks like. Much like Seiya, it seems that the trauma Taiki has suffered in their battle against Galaxia has made him hyper distrustful of others and unwilling to have too much hope, lest he be devastated again. The Starlights may have not been intended to be main characters, but at least the 90's anime does something interesting with them - these past few episodes have really driven home the idea that the Starlights have been through some horrible things, too horrible to mention directly, and are in a desperate situation that may be clouding their judgment.
Makoto decides to investigate who’s lurking around in the flowers, but she trips and sacrifices whatever stealthy entrance she could have had. Thankfully it’s only jerkface Taiki, who immediately comments on how he thought he could get a chance to be alone out in the greenhouse. He’s about to leave when the girls notice that his hand is bleeding - in his anguish over his earlier thoughts, he’d squeezed the stem of a rose too hard and cut his fingers on its thorns. Usagi does the right Anime Thing and wraps her handkerchief around Taiki’s hand.
As... “thanks”... Taiki decides to recite a poem for them. What follows is such a bizarre non-sequitur that I cannot even describe it to you. See for yourself, it starts around the 7:00 mark.
Usagi doesn’t get that reference, to say the least, leaving Taiki to start giggling at her cluelessness. Taiki mentions that he’s going to make an appearance on a cooking show and needs help coming up with a recipe, so perhaps Makoto would like to help and be his assistant? The idol-obsessed pair naturally agree.
Elsewhere, Iron Mouse is relaxing in the sun. She reflects that the weather is lovely and that lately she’s starting to feel like just another cog in a big bureaucratic wheel. If the villain is getting character development in Sailor Moon, that usually means they’re about to die, and sure enough Iron Mouse gets a call from the “Executive Producer” to come see her.
Today, Galaxia isn’t the only person in her throne room - two silhouettes, one with impossibly long hair and the other with large angel-like wings, laugh forebodingly when Iron Mouse enters. Galaxia presses Iron Mouse on whether she’s found the True Star Seed yet and issues a thinly veiled threat when the answer is no. Yup, will be dying very soon.
Rei, Ami and Minako have got together to watch Taiki and Makoto on the cooking show. Poor Makoto is so shy, she’s barely keeping it together. As it happens, both Iron Mouse and Usagi are watching the broadcast from the studio sidelines.
Unfortunately, Usagi is a little too eager to help and butts into the frame to deliver eggs - and then break them, and then get eggshell in the batter, and then sift the flour wrong, and then realize she just used a shit ton of baking soda instead of flour. The batter explodes in the oven and they cut to commercial to sort everything out. Taiki starts laughing again when he realizes that everyone’s covered in goopy failtastic cake batter, and quietly he wonders to himself how many year it’s been since someone has made him laugh like this.
Makoto and Usagi take a break off-stage and have a chance to talk to the star chef for a moment before he inevitably gets his Star Seed stolen seconds later after rounding the corner. The girls transform, but Iron Mouse escapes after seeing that it’s yet another dud (and worrying that she might be in serious trouble). Then comes the most boring part of every Sailor Moon filler episode: Sailor Moon and Jupiter fight the Phage for a little while, the Phage nearly gets a deadly hit on Sailor Moon, Star Maker (Taiki) saves Sailor Moon at the last second, and Sailor Moon turns the Phage back into the chef guy.
Later, Seiya and Yaten comment on how happy Taiki looked earlier that day and how long it’s been since he’s shown that kind of cheerfulness. But it seems Taiki has finally unjammed the stick from his ass by a few inches and lightened up about both Sailor Moon and his fans at school, including Usagi.
So basically this is a second Taiki characterization filler episode, which itself it a way better episode than the single one Yaten has got so far. Ah well. The episode ends with Haruka and Michiru mulling over the new enemy that seems to have appeared and knowing they’re going to need to get involved.
Two more filler episodes done, two check boxes to mark off as we wait for something more interesting to happen. Which should happen next week, if my suspicions are right! See you next time!