So I’m writing this just as I’m seeing the first new art from season 2 of Sailor Moon Crystal. I’M SO EXCITED. I’ll try my best to stay focused on these two episodes of Sailor Stars, but it’s gonna be hard, because they suck.

A School Storm: The Transfer Students Are Idols (S5E8, 174)

Alright, so we really are plunging into the filler ocean with this episode. It’s not really skippable because it sets up the status quo, but at the same time, nothing really happens. I’m gonna be shorter today than I was in the previous weeks, so just bear with me.

This episode opens with Usagi writing Mamoru a letter. She assures him that she’s doing great - which is a little suspect considering how downtrodden she looks at first - and tells him about how the others have become obsessed with the Three Lights, the new J-pop group. They all dream about making a member their boyfriend, but naturally, Usagi is only interested in her dear Mamo-chan.

Mako, Ami and Minako are busy adjusting to high school life. The track team tries to convince powerful Makoto to join, and she somehow gets roped in even though she’d really rather join the cooking club. Ami helps the computer club download and translate some data from an English website (which hilariously is just the lyrics to “Danger Zone”). And Minako joins the volleyball team, naturally.

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After school, Luna catches Usagi as she’s about to head home. She’s not interested in a club, she says, unless it’s the “super fun, where I can sing and dance, where they have lots of pastries, lots of really handsome guys, and that takes trips to America” club. You know, it’s moments like this that make Usagi so awesome.

On the walk home, Luna and Usagi talk about the new enemy and strange new Sailor Senshi they saw at the park the previous day. Usagi asks how to explain it to the others, and Luna suggests that they not tell them until they know more, WHICH IS COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR LUNA. You haven’t told them yet, girl?! Are you insane?!? That seems kinda important???

Right on cue, none other than Seiya Kou runs right into Usagi as she’s stepping around the corner of a building. She falls to the floor and Seiya teases her again, saying that most girls would be happy to run into him. Usagi still doesn’t recognize him as the leader of that new boy band her friends are crazy about.

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We cut to the building for a TV station, “Ginga TV.” (“Ginga” means “galaxy.”) Sailor Iron Mouse sits at a computer in a dark room full of cubicles, reminiscent of the Death Busters’ grungy, dark laboratory scenes in season 3. Hey, if they wanna rip off Sailor Moon S, I’m all for it.

Iron Mouse chooses a new target, a football player at Juuban High School (what a coincidence), before getting a phone call. Instead of reaching for the phone on her desk, she answers a secret phone in one of the drawers instead. “Producer Nezu, the President wants to speak with you.” Her bubbly attitude turns serious, and she heads down a dark, empty hallway full of junk and file cabinets. In front of a elevator marked as unoperational, she swipes a key card and the elevator opens. When it arrives at her floor - the floor numbers count wildly, like split seconds on a stopwatch - she exits onto a floor that’s not a floor at all, but a large, endless space with galaxies and stars in the background.

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Sailor Galaxia (I think this is the first time her name is mentioned) wants to know if she has found the “true star seed” yet so she can “seize the Milky Way galaxy.” No, she answers, she’s still working on it. Galaxia is seated on a throne behind a curtain, and DAMN, SHE’S JUST SO COOL.

The next day, the Usagi, Ami and Makoto are walking to school and find a huge crowd of girls outside when they get there, including Minako. It turns out that the school’s newest transfer students are none other than the Three Lights, Seiya Kou, Yaten Kou and Taiki Kou, thus giving us yet another instance where we have to wonder if this is super cliche or if Sailor Moon helped create the cliche back in 1996. Even Rei has stopped by on her way to her high school to check it out, and we get an adorable scene where Ami reveals herself as the biggest Three Lights nerd.

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Well-mannered Taiki is willing to say thank you, but Yaten doesn’t give a shit and wants to get away from all the noise. Seiya recognizes Usagi and says hello, leading everyone else to question how the two of them know each other. And what do you know, all three of them are in their class, too! Seiya sits himself behind Usagi, much to her annoyance. Of course, Minako is doing her best to insert herself into every Three Lights interaction she can. I love her. Never change, Minako.

Outside, Sailor Iron Mouse has found Juuban High School. Okay, I’m calling it: she’s gonna attack football guy, Usagi will happen upon the situation by sheer coincidence, the Starlights will show up to save her, and she’ll turn football guy back to normal. Anyone willing to take this bet, please e-mail me at youmusthaveneverseensailormoonbefore@givememoney.com.

Seiya gives the basketball club a try (with fangirls screaming the entire time) and then heads out to try the football club. After a hard tackle, Usagi rushes to his side to check on whether he’s okay, but the football guy helps him up. Football is all about beating each other up and being understanding about it, you know? Also the animation completely tanks for both the basketball and football scenes... but at least it isn’t animated by Masahiro Ando.

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Later, football guy is cooling off at the water fountains when Sailor Iron Mouse, disguised as the talent agent “Nezu,” approaches and attacks him for his star seed. And what do you know, Usagi hears him yelling and arrives in time to transform as Sailor Moon! Amazing! At least we get to watch the Eternal transformation sequence, while it’s still cool and not overplayed.

Sailor Iron Mouse is unimpressed with Sailor Moon’s appearance, and she turns football guy into another Phage. Pretty much the only notable thing about this episode - other than establishing that the Three Lights transfer to Juuban, which can be summarized in a sentence - is this UTTERLY AMAZING MONSTER OF THE WEEK.

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This guy is easily in the top 10 most ridiculous Sailor Moon monsters-of-the-day. Just look at him. Pink. Muscles. Sailor collar and speedo shorts. Jojo poses. It’s really, really hard to top.

Anyway, the Inner Senshi show up to bail out Sailor Moon, but they immediately start running away too. The Starlights show up to interrupt everything, and we see Star Maker’s (Taiki’s) attack, Star Gentle Uterus. Yes. That’s what it’s called. The Starlights goad the Inner Senshi for being so ineffectual, and Sailor Moon heals football guy with a Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss. They aren’t really ineffectual when Sailor Moon is the only one who can heal a victim versus just killing them, but I do understand with the whole running away thing.

At any rate, the Inner Senshi now know about the new enemy and new Senshi, and Usagi never gets any kind of consequences for not telling them, so basically that entire plot point is pointless. Later, they convene at Crown to tease Usagi about joining the manga club and being a bad artist, and... that’s it. That’s the episode. A whole lot of nothing. Moving on.

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Becoming an Idol: Minako’s Ambition (S5E9/175)

I hate this episode even more than the last, and it pains me to say that because this is a Minako/Sailor Venus episode, and she’s my favorite character. Well... might as well power through it.

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Minako and Seiya are walking outside Juuban High alone. After finding a deserted spot, Seiya asks what Minako wanted to talk to him about, and we discover it’s a ploy by Minako to have her picture taken with Seiya so it looks like they’re dating. This is pretty in-character for Minako, but as we’ll see, having an entire episode devoted to Minako manipulating others to make herself look important for the sake of fame just makes her come off as callous, which she isn’t. There isn’t enough humor, humanity or personality to offset the bad taste this episode leaves me.

Anyway, the girls meet up at Crown to talk about how Minako has sent in a bunch of photos of herself with the Three Lights to make it look like she’s going out with them - perfect tabloid fodder, and she reasons that this will help kickstart her own career as a pop star idol. Also, the animation is still absolutely terrible, just like the last episode. It’s interesting that people bitch about Crystal’s animation, while this one looks equally as bad.

But... at least it isn’t Titty Wrinkles Guy. Anyone but him. Anyone.

Minako announces that she’s now the personal assistant of the Three Lights, and that’s how she’s gonna get famous and “love will grow naturally.” Everyone is quite flabbergasted by this, with Rei wondering how she even managed to become their assistant.

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As an aside, the Three Lights are hanging out (at a studio somewhere?). We’re fed a few breadcrumbs of plot here, as Taiki asks whether they can really find “her” and Seiya answers that the entire point of them posing as pop stars is to get as much attention as possible to try to find “her.” And that’s pretty much it for plot relevance in this episode. It won’t be on my required or recommended list when I do the viewing guide for season 5, I can tell you that.

We get another scene at Ginga TV of Iron Mouse picking a new target (it’s a celebrity photographer today) and reassuring Sailor Galaxia that she’s still looking for the true star seed. Meanwhile, we kill some more time with Usagi and Minako as they watch the Three Lights do some voice training, and they run into the photographer revealed a few minutes earlier as the next target. How convenient!

The next day, at an autograph event, Minako is attempting to get in on the action by offering her own autographs too. The photographer pulls her out because she’s messing with her shot, and honestly, do any of us care at this point? Who wants to bet that Iron Mouse will attack her, Sailor Moon will just happen to be there, the Starlights will show up to intervene, and Sailor Moon will turn the monster back to normal? Yawn. This is Sailor Moon at its worst.

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Sure enough, photographer lady shows up after the event to take more photos, and the Three Lights are forced to drink nasty health-food juice as part of a commercial deal. Later, they agree to work a little longer and have their pictures taken by photographer lady, even though they’re exhausted and hungry. Minako learns a lesson about how pop stars actually work really hard (do they, though? really? do they? drinking nasty juice with a straight face and putting off a meal for an hour while your picture is taken counts as hard work? I’m pretty sure it’s the performances that are exhausting) and appreciates that their lives aren’t just about fun and glamor.

Sailor Iron Mouse catches the photographer outside after the shoot and attacks her, forcing her star seed to come out of her body with her two bracelets. Minako sees it all happen and transforms into Sailor Venus. And as Venus and Iron Mouse are fighting, Usagi happens to just... come across them. Yet another fabulous coincidence!

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The photographer turns into a Phage (thought: wouldn’t it have been much more awesome for them to turn into something looking more like a legitimate Sailor Senshi, instead of a monster?), the two of them dodge attacks for a while, the Starlights show up, Sailor Star Healer (Yaten) uses her attack Star Sensitive Inferno, Sailor Moon turns the photographer back to normal, and Sailor Moon wonders if the Starlights are on their side when they split.

The next day, Minako meets with the others at Crown in a shameless display of reused animation and explains that if she debuts as an idol as the assistant of the Three Lights, it’ll be too cheap and delegate her to sideshow status. But Minako won’t give up on being an idol, or something. And then the episode ends.

This episode is bad and marks our first experience with pointless filler in Sailor Stars. While it’s at least not wildly out of character as filler episodes can sometimes be, it’s grating, annoying and pointless, and it depicts my favorite character as a selfish and petty person. Yep, this definitely won’t be on the watch list.

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Let’s hope next week is better. See you then!

Vectored logo used in header image is by bleuette on deviantArt. Screencaps are from mooncaps, except where there are Hulu subtitles, which I took myself. Thanks to Unimplied for gif help!