Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: Crystal, Episode 33, “Three Guardians.” Toei Animation, May 2016. Approx. 24 minutes. Available on Crunchyroll.
I think I missed an episode in here somewhere. Hm.
Anyway, in this episode, the pace picks up as the story heads toward its climax. The three outer scouts, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto, finally explain what they’re doing, though by this time the audience already knows: they were reborn on Earth for the purpose of taking down the Death Busters from the Tau Star System, who invaded Earth through a rift in space-time. Same thing most of us do on weekends.
We also finally get the backstory on the mysterious Haruka, Chibi-Usa’s new pal who also happens to be the daughter of a nefarious mad scientist. Though the reveal of her tragic past isn’t a particularly big surprise, it’s a little different from the previous anime version, which changed details from the manga.
And because it’s not a surprise, I’ll say spoiler warning, but then go ahead and discuss it: yeah, Haruka’s a cyborg. She was in a fire that killed her mother, and the mad scientist dude rebuilt her body. So she’s like the Bionic Woman, except weak and sickly all the time.
I’m slightly disappointed in the way Haruka’s cyborg limbs are depicted. Again, it’s faithful to the manga, but the manga was decidedly unimpressive at this point. I was hoping the anime might get more creative.
The story progresses in typical fashion toward a climactic action sequence with a villainess, which nicely segues with the conflict that’s been building between the inner and outer sailor scouts. The last of the Witches 5, the level bosses of this story arc, is Cyprine, whose magic enables her to force the sailors to fight one another.
Cyprine can also split into two people, though I’m not sure what the point is of that particular power.
As Crystal does generally, this episode sticks closely to the manga. In this case, a few scenes are simplified. A little scene depicting conflict between the mad scientist and the leader of the Death Busters is deleted, and some extraneous characters are removed from another scene.
This might be laziness, or it might be so that sufficient attention could be given to the action sequence at the episode’s end, in which the sailor guardians of the inner planets fight the ones from the outer planets. In outline, this sequence also follows the comic book, but it’s been expanded, and it makes for an exciting scene, easily one of the best Sailor Moon Crystal has had thus far.
Also, I didn’t realize it when I read the manga, but Chibi Sailor Moon, even though she dominates the plot, really gets hosed during the action sequences. She finally has her own attack spell, “Pink Sugar Heart Attack,” and she’s used it twice thus far, but it’s failed miserably both times.
Like in the comic, the chapter ends with a cliffhanger, but one that anticipates a new magical item and a levelling up, which of course will come in the next episode.
This is one of the better episodes in the series. It looks as if it was given a lot of attention. It reveals several plot points and puts an end to the monster-of-the-week scenarios that bogged down the last few chapters. Although some alterations to the story, such as the scene that was removed, are arguably detrimental, some other small changes are improvements; in particularly, Sailor Uranus, who’s not a very likeable character in either the comic or in Crystal, is a lot less catty in this episode than she is in the corresponding manga chapter.
Also, as an aside, I’ll just add that I really like the way Crystal depicts the guardians’ secret underground base. I think the base was eliminated from the old anime for some reason, but the animators of Crystal put a lot of thought into its design.
My biggest complaint is still that the actions of Uranus and Neptune throughout this arc simply don’t make sense. Earlier on, they were keeping secrets from the other sailors while also unnecessarily provoking them, such as by attacking them, or by Uranus’s habit of hitting on Sailor Moon, which was flat-out stupid.
In this episode, the outer scouts apologize for their earlier behavior—but without ever explaining that behavior.
In the end, it looks like conflict that was thrown into the story simply for the sake of conflict. Most of what happens in this arc happens because of protagonists holding the idiot ball. Admittedly, this is Sailor Moon, so asking for tight writing or logical behavior is asking too much.