The two latest episodes of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars are now available on Hulu and Neon Alley. This week with episodes 174 and 175 we get a decent introduction to the Three Lights Seiya, Yaten and Taiki as they get into high jynx at Juuban High school.
Episode 174, A School Storm: The Transfer Students Are Idols, introduces us to a distraction for Usagi. Like with many Sailor Stars episodes we start off with Usagi writing a letter to Mamoru, who is off in the States studying. She will write him a lot but we don’t get any letters the other way. In 2016 Usagi would be sending text messages of some kind to Mamoru. In 2006 maybe it would be AOL instant messenger. In 2001 it might be ICQ. In 1996 though, it’s ancient pen and paper. This may seem archaic but this really was a different time where the Internet was a new and evolving thing that not everyone had access to. Email was common a couple of years later but in 1996 I did not have any regular access to the Internet, which I only occasionally used to find sites to trade Sailor Moon tapes. Enter Seiya. Usagi and him had a brief encounter last week but this week’s encounter is not at all subtle about their relationship. In a scene that mimics Usagi’s first encounter with Mamoru the two walk into each other on the street. Seiya even goes so far as to call Usagi “Odango Otama”, Mamoru’s first season nickname for her. There is no question. Seiya is here to replace Mamoru and everyone seems to know it but Usagi. Mamoru is out of sight and out of mind. Usagi writes to him but doesn’t hear back. Seiya is here and wants to be a part of her life. He is the appealing simple boy in contrast to her difficult and complicated current relationship. It only makes sense for her to gravitate towards him but Usagi is ever faithful to Mamoru. Only making this distraction more obvious, the Three Lights are attending Juuban High school, where Usagi, Minako, Makoto and Ami attend. Rei is at a different school but manages to show up all the time because she is, like everyone but Usagi, crazy about these new students. Not only are they sharing a school but they all sit next to each other. Minako asks Yaten to sit next to her. Taiki sits in front of Makoto, who is nervous of course. Seiya takes it upon himself to sit behind Usagi, which bothers her like it would bother no other girl in the whole world. As she formally introduces herself as “Tsukino Usagi” Seiya intentionally mispronounces her name as “Tsumiki Dango”, a reference to rice cakes that are eaten while starring at the Moon, further mocking of her “odango” hair style. Seiya is good at everything, and shows his prowess in various sports. This brings us to football jock Yuji Kayama, the target for this episode. He does not have a True Star Seed and so turns into Sailor Guts, a disgusting Phage who shoots sweat bombs at his enemies. The Sailor Starlights show up and we get to see the first instance of Sailor Star Maker’s Star Gentle Uterus. What is this about? I don’t even know. I tried many times to listen to this attack and find that it sounds like something different but there is no question that she is really saying “Star Gentle Uterus”. There is no alternative Japanese meaning to uterus that is not known to us ignorant western folk. It’s the womb inside of a woman where babies are made. This does make some sense with the concept of Maker, but it just seems like such an odd attack name.
Episode 175, Becoming an Idol: Minako’s Ambition, steps up Minako’s polyamourous abilities! In Sailor Moon SuperS we saw her successfully dating two men at the same time. Now she’s trying to date three! She seems to be trying to get hooked up with all of the Three Lights! Usagi has taken a number of photos of her with all three of them. The sauciest being one of her and Seiya that looks like they’re kissing! In reality she pretending to have something in her eye and got Usagi to take a candid when they were close. Minako’s plan is simple and self serving. She is working as the Three Lights’ assistant to try to learn to be an idol herself and maybe score one of them as her boyfriend! What teenage girl would not like every aspect of this! It turns out being an idol is actually hard work! As we follow the Three Lights on an average day there isn’t a lot of down time. This brings us to Saki Itabashi, a photographer who is working with the group. Sailor Iron Mouse targets her as being someone full of ambition enough to perhaps have a True Star Seed! Oddly she doesn’t notice the Three Lights, who are right under her nose, as being potential targets. I’m sure there’s no reason for which these guys are being ignored. Finally Minako decides that all of this assistant work isn’t worth it and she decides to concentrate on being an idol herself.
Something neat that viewers may notice is that Sailor Iron Mouse disappears with the help of a magic phone booth. This is not unlike Doctor Who’s TARDIS or the phone booth from the Bill & Ted films, both of which function as time machines. Which was this inspired by? Naturally the TARDIS is going to be assumed to be the inspiration as Doctor Who has been popular since its resurgence in 2005 and was itself the likely inspiration for Bill & Ted’s phone booth time machine. That said I think there is a case for Bill & Ted being the actual inspiration here. Doctor Who was popular back in the day but in 1996, when Sailor Moon Sailor Stars would air, the series was in the early part of a very long hiatus, having been off the air since 1989. The Bill & Ted movies did not come much later, in 1989 and 1991, but they would have been more in the public consciousness at this point in time. Additionally Doctor Who does not actually travel in a phone booth. His TARDIS is a Police Box, which is like a specialized phone booth only used to phone the police and protect a victim. The time machine from Bill & Ted however is actually a phone booth and, like Sailor Iron Mouse’s machine, is not bigger on the inside. This more similarly matches the style of her machine. All said I am not hip to what exactly was popular in Japan in the mid 90s, but as a teenaged boy who was only saw Doctor Who in passing but was a big fan of the Bill & Ted films, this is what immediately came to mind when I first saw this device.
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