This is a review and discussion of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Act 15, I’ll Punish the Thief!, and Act 16, I Must Save Osaka! These episodes aired on Japanese television on January 17th and 24th 2004. A date of January 26th is written on the blackboard during Act 16 and by the general winter wardrobe choices we again see that the series takes place in real time as the episodes aired. Mamoru, while talking to Motoki, refers to events in Act 7, which took place around November 15th, as being “last year”. This is an odd way to reference an event a bit over 2 months old but it is not itself an incorrect assertion. To me it seems a bit like, on a Monday, referring to the events of the weekend that has just passed as “last week”. The events of these two episodes largely revolve around a relationship conflict between Ami and Naru as well as Usagi and Mamoru’s blossoming romance which leads us to the introduction of his… girlfriend?
We start out the episode with a look at Minako’s house. She says goodnight to someone. Is she entering her house, saying goodnight to one of her work colleagues or maybe her manager, or is she entering her room and saying goodnight to a parent? Her parents aren’t seen in the series so we don’t really get confirmation. She talks about it being a lot of work being chased and then we learn that her house gets burglarized! While Minako and Artemis look out the window they see a monster outside. How does this fit into the episode’s story? Thieves steal her jewels which are then taken by a monster posing as a cop. If the thieves weren’t monsters what is this monster doing outside? Was the place being double staked out?
Mamoru receives a cryptic call. What’s going on? He asks if the agreement is by graduation. Who’s this? It seems, later events considered, that this is likely Hina’s father. We’ll see Hina in Act 16 and beyond! She’s like a female Seiya only Usagi’s not dead. Actually that’s probably not a very good analogy.
Fun exchange between Kunzite and and Nephrite. Nephrite makes fun of Kunzite and he, all while insulting Nephrite, suggests that if Nephrite is calling out Kunzite as being a mistake that this means that Beryl made a mistake! A sort of funny play on the idea that if God is all knowing and all seeing than that every bad thing that happens in the Universe is really his doing. Does this mean that Beryl is responsible for fully creating all of the Shitennou? This is not at all accurate given what we will learn about them later making this line of thought pretty weak but still funny on Kunzite’s part!
There’s a bunch of Ami/Naru tension going on in this episode mostly as a fall out of Ami basically physically assaulting Naru in the last episode. Ami senses Naru’s discomfort and intentionally excludes herself from hanging out with all of them together. We’ll see more of that in Act 16. We’re kind of putting that storyline on the back burner while we can focus on Usagi and Mamoru for a bit.
Motoki is looking for a girlfriend for his turtle, Kamekichi. At least that seems to be his plan as he’s showing him photos of turtles. Is this some really weird turtle dating service or did he just find photos of turtles to make Kamekichi think he had a girlfriend? Strangely, this might work. I used to own a turtle named Tommy. We noticed at some point that when he’d see the colour yellow he would do this weird thing where he put his hands in front of his face and vibrated them. We joked about it and used to put Lego men in front of his aquarium sometimes for days at a time. I later learned what was really going on! Tommy thought the yellow was the belly of a female turtle and he was trying to mate with her! He would be perpetually stuck in this seduction loop never actually getting any satisfaction!
Mamoru, observant as usually, recommends that Motoki get a girlfriend for himself before he hooks up his turtle, asking about what’s going on with Usagi. This is supposedly to try to clear up that Mamoru is not a total jerk for going after this girl that his friend had a potential romantic situation with. Motoki mentions that this isn’t a thing anymore, so Mamoru is fine to pursue a relationship with her. Naru seems to see the same going on as she, through Motoki, gets Mamoru’s various contact info and sets Usagi and him up for a romantic date at the jewellery auction.
At the headquarters wee see Luna using a computer! We’ve seen Luna using a computer in many adaptations of the story to date!
While neither Usagi or Mamoru are particular into this set up date thing, they are into trying to stop some Yakuza looking guys who seem to have Minako’s jewels! Usagi recognizes some jewels in a briefcase from what Minako was wearing on TV. Mamoru, a vigilante, suggests that it is a cop’s job. She tells a lazy cop about it and he suggests that more than one piece of jewellery could look the same which is actually a completely reasonable thing to say! Even if it’s from an expensive store and collection Minako’s jewellery, except for her tiara, are probably not one of a kind! Mamoru and Usagi both think this is unreasonable and so they take justice into their own hands. Usagi suggests she could do it herself by transforming into Sailor Moon and then cuts herself off. The two pretend not to have noticed! Mamoru of course knows fully well that Usagi is Sailor Moon but she is still none the wiser about his secret identity!
Mamoru throws a lit flare into the theives’ car and Usagi steals the briefcase! Somehow they don’t get killed. The cop? Turns out he’s a monster. The monster cuts Mamoru’s sleeve and then he falls off of this bridge type thing and Usagi… uncharacteristically runs after the monster instead of staying with Mamoru. This is actually a completely reasonable thing to do but very unlike Usagi who would generally prioritize this nice action of staying with this guy instead of chasing the monster.
Once the monster is defeated Usagi once again patches up Mamoru’s arm, or in this case his jacket, with her handkerchief. This reminds me a bit of Cloud in Final Fantasy Advent Children who wears Aereth’s ribbon but even though that come out a year after this I imagine this to be a coincidence. So does he have two handkerchiefs now? This increases the chances of Hina finding one by about 100%! Well not really if he keeps them together but it’s still very reckless. “It’s not what you think she’s actually a superhero.”. Is Mamoru upset about the whole Usagi running off after the monster? Of course not! He’s knows she’s Sailor Moon! He invites her on another bike ride this time to the police station where, supposedly, those cops would not be as dismissive as the others. If the police are at all reasonable they would chastise these citizens for risking their lives for jewels that they only suspected belonged to someone who can certainly afford to lose them.
To wrap up the episode there’s this big Sarlacc Pit type of hole that opens up in the ground and almost sucks in Makoto, who I should clarify was clearly sick and sneezing prior to getting attacked by this thing!
Act 16 takes off where 15 left off with Makoto falling into a hole! Turns out… she’s fine. She does this weird sneezing thing which makes the whole screen shake. This appears to be done in post instead of using the old Star Trek trick of shaking the camera. She comments about how she probably got sick when the monster tried to suck her into that hole which is of course nonsense since she was sneezing before it happened. It’s just a plot device to keep Sailor Jupiter out of most of the episode as a cost saving measure. I joke about that but there may be other reasons for not including all actresses in all scenes that I’m just not aware of. It seems like the show tries as much as possible to have only 2 or 3 actresses on the location shoots at a time.
This episode is all about the growing tension between Naru and Ami! This started in Act 14 when Ami shoved Naru and denied her access to Usagi, who in fairness was turning into a monster. We get all sorts of elaboration on that here. First there’s the issue with teaming up in class, in that Usagi can’t actually go with both Ami and Naru. The solution? The teacher pairs people up! Ami and Naru are with Usagi’s two other friends and Usagi is paired with … Hikeomon. Who’s that? Just some awkward looking dude with a really low voice!
Naru is sucked into the Sarlacc Pit while Ami makes a legitimate effort to save her. She later confesses that deep inside she was jealous of Naru and that it made her hate her a little and so she wondered what it would be like if she was gone. Rei doesn’t think that’s a big deal and says everyone has a dark side! She shouldn’t worry about it. Terrible? Well it would have been pretty bad if she’d, say, intentionally dropped Naru into the Pit or otherwise just not done a good job of trying to save her but as we see in the scene she really did all she could! She may have some negative feelings but she doesn’t let them affect her actions so that’s fine. As for Ami’s dark side, we haven’t seen anything yet!
Turns out these people are sucked into the Sarlacc Pit and then they end up in an energy farm. They’re basically zombies walking around in a building while their energy is slowly drained. Reminds me a bit of the plot of the Matrix where humanity is being used for their energy while they live in a computer simulated reality. This particular version lacks the computer simulation so it’s much less elaborate. When the gang go to break in there’s a “barrier”. Some kind of force field. In the next episode preview at the end of Act 15 Usagi runs into it and it seems like she just hits a pane of glass. In the episode proper a few effects are added to make it actually look like a proper force field.
During the fight with the monster Sailor Mercury does this amazing move. She jumps over the monster, stomps on her head and then does a finger wagging move to her following it up with a deadly attack. Sailor Mercury sure is getting bad ass!
Ami and Naru eventually make up! Ami comes clean about her feelings of jealousy and … Naru is totally cool with it because she feels the same way! The two pair up. What a nice change from the manga where Naru pretty much only interacts directly with Usagi which results in her being dropped as a character when more of her friends show up. Usagi this time gets paired with … the teacher. I guess this is bad but it seems like a nice way to do well on the assignment!
Meanwhile in the Dark Kingdom Queen Metalia is resurrected and… Jadeite’s back! Hooray!
Finally Usagi goes to Mamoru’s place to give him some cookies which she made. In the Sailor Moon SuperS movie her cookies are terrible but in this case she made them in class with the teacher so they’re probably actually pretty good. She has his address because of the plot device where Naru got it for her in the last episode. There she finds … him with a girl hanging off his arm! Mamoru notices this and it’s damage control time! He basically shrugs off Usagi as being nobody and goes off with this girl. This is Hina, the one I’ve been making jokes about this whole time. Her and Mamoru are in a relationship. This is a fitting plot device because things were moving far too quickly between him and Usagi. You don’t put Ross and Rachel or Lois and Clarke together right away, you have to drag the drama out a little! This character and story arc are unique to the live action series and it’s certainly an interesting twist. I can’t help but notice the similarity between the scene when Usagi shows up and the meme of the man and his partner being distracted by another woman so I had to put this together…
Feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on these two episodes. If you’re looking to watch along with the series you can get English subtitled fan subbed versions from sites such as Miss Dream, TV-Nihon and Sea of Serenity. Fans looking to stream the show can do so from Dramanice and Kiss Asian.
Keep reading for more screenshots from these episodes.