Could Toei’s new Tokusatsu YouTube Channel include the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 6 - Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars

Toei, the company which created both Sailor Moon anime series as well as the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series, will be launching Toei Tokusatsu World Official, a YouTube Channel dedicated to Toei’s Tokusatsu series. It will launch with episodes from 70 different Tokusatsu series. While the Tokusatsu series most familiar to worldwide audiences are Super Sentai shows like the ones which are adapted into various Power Rangers series, one Tokusatsu series created by Toei is the 2003 live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series. The live action Sailor Moon series was not mentioned as one that will be part of the first batch of shows. As this would be a fairly high profile show, this likely means that we will not be seeing it on April 6th when the channel launches but it could be coming at a later date.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 37 - Sailor Guardians fighting Putty type monsters Zyrangers Episode 1 - Golems or Putties

While one may not think of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series as Tokusatsu, it most certainly is! Look at the intro paragraph on the Wikipedia page for the show:

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン, Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn) is a Japanese tokusatsu television series based on the Sailor Moon manga created by Naoko Takeuchi. It was produced by Toei Company.

The term tokusatsu refers to a live action series which uses special effects. This dates back to monster movies like Godzilla and includes superhero series such as the Super Sentai series. The Sailor Moon manga was originally inspired by Super Sentai series in which there were teams of superheroes of various colours. This came full circle as the live action series was a tokusatsu version of the manga and anime series. The show often had similar costumes and effects to other tokusatsu series. Some costumes were also reused between series, such as the Zyurangers Golems, known as Putties in the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers adaptation, being reused in Act 37 of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7 - Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Moon in front of a mural

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 7

Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger episode 5 - Pink Ranger in front of mural

Zyuranger episode 5

There have also been locations which were used between series, such as the location used in Act 7 of Sailor Moon which was seen in episode 5 of Zyurangers which was adapted in the first season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. There have also been scenes which were completely recycled such as one clip of the ground opening up which was used both in Zyurangers and Sailor Moon. The images below are from the televised version of the live action Sailor Moon series and from an old Power Rangers tape.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Serenity Destroys the World

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers - Fissure in the ground

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

What do you think? Would you like to see the live action series on this platform? Do you think this is feasible?

Source: Toei Press Release

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Could Keiko Kitagawa be returning in Fast & Furious 9?

Keiko Kitagawa in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The trailer for Fast and Furious 9 was released yesterday and it has been revealed that a number of characters from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift will be returning in this film. This makes me wonder if Keiko Kitagawa, who played Sailor Mars in the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series and was also in Tokyo Drift, might be returning to the franchise? The returning actors that we see in the trailer are Sung Kang as Han, who was in many other Fast and the Furious films, Lucas Black who portrayed the main character Sean in the film, and Jason Tobin who was Earl in the film. You can watch the new trailer below.

In the film Earl frequently interacted with Keiko Kitagawa’s character Reiko so it would certainly make sense to have her join him. Since she’s not seen in the trailer however one might be inclined to believe that she won’t be making an appearance in this one. The two are in many scenes with Bow Wow’s character Twinkie. It would be nice to see him returning in the film as well. Can we have too many characters in a Fast and the Furious film? Box office history tells us that the answer is clearly no! Though Bow Wow would be a tougher get than Keiko Kitagawa, this franchise seems to have a near unlimited budget for big stars.

Keiko Kitagawa in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The return of Han is certainly an interesting twist in the Fast and the Furious franchise. Director Justin Lin, who’s first film in the series was Tokyo Drift, has gone to great lengths to include Han in as many movies as possible. Even though Han is killed during The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the third film in the franchise, he is in a number of later movies which makes them take place earlier in the series. Tokyo Drift becomes a sort of flash forward for the series or alternatively we flash back to earlier films. This is why we still see flip phones in movies released years after they were obsolete. The events of Tokyo Drift finally occur during the timeline of Furious 7. It seem a movie and a half without Han was long enough so he’s been somehow brought back to life. This wouldn’t be a first for the franchise as Michelle Rodriguez’s character Letty was presumed dead after Fast and Furious but shown to be alive with amnesia in Fast Five. Maybe Gal Gadot can return as Gisele somehow as well? Why not? Would a CGI Brian be disrespectful to Paul Walker?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 10 - Rei gazes at the Moon

It remains to be seen if Keiko Kitagawa will be in the film. She is a Japanese actress and model who’s only Hollywood work is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Her part in that film was fairly minor, even though it gave us this great deleted scene of her swearing. The Fast and the Furious films are always huge international box office draws thanks in no small part to their diverse cast from around the world as well as filming in many exotic locations. Including a Japanese actress in this film could only help with this trend.

I wonder how Han will feel about the fact that the team is now good buddies with the guy who attempted to kill him, not to mention Brian and his family, in earlier films? We will find out May 20th when the movie hits theatres!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Sailor Mars

Meet Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice of Sailor Moon, Keiko Han, the voice of Luna, and Katsuji Mori, the voice of Nephrite, at the Animazement convention in Raleigh, North Carolina May 24th to the 26th

Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice of Sailor Moon

Great news for Sailor Moon fans in North Carolina! They will have a chance to meet the Japanese voices of Sailor Moon, Luna and Nephrite at the upcoming Animazement convention in Raleigh May 24th to the 26th! This includes Kotono Mitsuishi, the original voice of Sailor Moon as well as her voice in Sailor Moon Crystal! She has also done a number of other roles in other popular anime series such as Misato in Evangelion. Returning to Animazement is Keiko Han, the voice of Luna from the original Sailor Moon anime as well as the plush and CG Luna from the fantastic live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series. Finally there is also Katsuji Mori, who voiced Nephrite in the original Sailor Moon anime. When not drinking chocolate parfaits Katsuji Mori is an anime voice acting veteran and the main star of many classic series having played Ken the Eagle in Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets), Tekkaman in the original Tekkaman series and Go Mifune (Speed Racer) in Mach GoGoGo.

Keiko Han, the voice of Luna in Sailor Moon

A specific schedule doesn’t seem to be available quite yet but it stands to reason that they would be available for autographs and potentially some panels. Be sure to check out the full schedule when the event approaches. Are any of you in the area and planning to attend this convention? Let us know in the comments!

Katsuji Mori, the voice of Nephrite

Check out Rika Izumi, live action Sailor Mercury, as Nami from One Piece

Rika Izumi as Nami from One Piece

Anime fans who’ve kept up with new stuff since the turn of the millennium will be happy to see Rika Izumi, who played Ami Mizuno in the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series, as Nami from One Piece in a commercial for Indeed. Rika Izumi, who went by the name Hama Chisaki back when the live action series was airing, appears in the commercial as the scantily clad Nami. I can’t say I know much about One Piece but it would seem Nami is one of the main characters from the very fact that she’s in this commercial. You can view the entire thing embedded below.

Rika Izumi as Nami from One Piece

Indeed is a job searching web site. They claim that they are the #1 job search site in the world though this is the first I hear of them. In fairness I’m not looking for work and as you may be able to tell I’ve never even watched One Piece. I don’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of anything beyond the 90s.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 3 - Ami doesn't want to have lunch with Usagi

Source: Natalie.mu via Crunchyroll

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Dark Mercury

Rika Izumi, Live Action Sailor Mercury, appears alongside pages of the Sailor Moon manga in the latest issue of Tokyo Calendar

Rika Izumi, live action Sailor Mercury, on the cover of Tokyo Calendar magazine

Rika Izumi, who played Sailor Mercury in the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series, can be seen on the official Sailor Moon site although no mention of her involvement in the franchise accompanies it! Rika Izumi, who went by the name Hama Chisaki when she played Ami Mizuno, appears on the cover of the latest issue of Tokyo Calendar. The fact that the magazine’s cover model used to be on a Sailor Moon series actually has nothing to do with the magazine’s inclusion on the site. It is featured because of a story in its pages which discusses Sailor Moon taking place in the Azuba Juban area of Tokyo. Though the site only mentions that the article will be appearing in the next issue of the magazine the Tokyo Calendar site actually includes an online version of the article. Check it out to see an interview, in Japanese, with Sailor Moon’s editor Fumio Osano, Osabu, about Sailor Moon taking place in Azuba Juban.

A page from the Sailor Moon manga from Tokyo Calendar

You can also check out this article on dining in Azuba Juban which features Rika Izumi who is in this piece a normal Japanese adult and not dressed as a superhero or genius school girl.

Rika Izumi eats a piece of bacon

I sometimes feel like the fantastic live action series is being completely forgotten by those who control the Sailor Moon property! It often receives little or no mention when various versions of the series are considered and this latest article is a fine example of that! Rather than acknowledge that this actress who had a major role in the only Sailor Moon series to be on TV during that entire decade the live action series remains firmly swept under the carpet like it was the Star Wars Holiday Special!

The cast of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

Meanwhile the cast of the series got together recently to celebrate Daigo’s 40th birthday. Daigo is Keiko Kitagawa’s husband. They regularly get together to celebrate each other’s birthdays or similar such events. I’m glad someone remembers this series favourably!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Sailor Mercury

Rika Izumi eats a cookie

Rika Izumi

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 and 22 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Dark Mercury

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Acts 21, What Did You Do To Ami?, and 22, Ami Becomes An Enemy. These aired on February 28th and March 6th 2004. These episodes introduce us to Dark Mercury, the evil version of Sailor Mercury, which is a unique character to the live action series. I think this story arc is a lot of fun and this very cool character is one of the key differences between other incarnations of the Sailor Moon story and the live action series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Makoto punches Tuxedo Mask

Act 21 starts out with a ton of flashbacks. Naturally we need to focus on what just happened, as something happened to Ami we just don’t yet know exactly what it is. Along with these flashbacks we see a scene of Makoto punching Tuxedo Mask which takes place during Act 20 but that we didn’t actually see in Act 20. Perhaps it just didn’t fit in that episode so they spliced it in as a flashback? She’s angry that he’s using Usagi which isn’t a great characterization of what’s happening but that’s not to say that she doesn’t have good reason to be upset that this man who clearly has a fiancé is stringing her friend along. Makoto is the central character for the early part of this episode for whatever reason.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Ami pretends to be sick

Usagi is not at school. She claims to be sick but it’s actually because she’s a bit heartbroken, again, because of this whole Mamoru’s fiancé situation. Ami is also not at school, prompting Makoto to go check out her home. When she first rings the doorbell we clearly see that Ami’s bed is empty but upon entering Makoto finds Ami passed out sick barely able to wake up. What this likely means is that Ami isn’t really sick and that she’s just messing around with Makoto at this point. Considering that Makoto’s is showing constant and legitimate concern for Ami this ruse is very cold and calculated. Makoto makes her some food to help her out. What is that food? It looks like soggy rice. A bit of searching tells me that it’s kayu, called congee in other countries, a sort of rice porridge which is typically served to a sick person. As a write this I have a cold and recently ate chicken soup, a staple sick person food in western countries, but it seems like such a thing is not universal! Ami chows it down, seems to make a miraculous recovery and wishes to go to the amusement park! How atypical!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Ami and a bear which looks like Usagi's costume

Act 21

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 4 - Tuxedo Mask and Usagi the bear

Act 4

At the amusement park we see a bear that looks just like Usagi’s costume from Act 4. In fact if I didn’t know better I’d say they were reusing props!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Kamekichi

Just hanging around the amusement park is Motoki. Who works at Karaoke Crown when he’s out doing this kind of thing anyway? He always seems to be at the counter when the girls are there yet is frequently seen outside as well. Motoki claims to be taking Kamekichi, his turtle, out for some fresh air. This seems to be a colossally inefficient way to give your turtle fresh air. Although last time we learned that you have to pay for some parks in Japan an amusement park generally carries a heavy price of admission. Did Motoki really pay to come and give his turtle fresh air, a thing which is more of less available outdoors on the entire surface of the Earth? Perhaps he got more free tickets like he did earlier in the series!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Motoki gives Makoto a cup of coffee

After Ami passes out on the ferris wheel Motoki comes to the rescue! He has his car there because apparently he even drove his turtle to a place to give him some fresh air. His car naturally is green and looks a bit like a turtle. It is filled with turtle decorations. Do I judge him for this? Not with the amount of Sailor Moon merchandise I own! Motoki is wearing Makoto’s scarf and mentions that it was the only valentine’s gift he received! Makoto, trying to deflect the implication, says that it wasn’t meant to be that big a deal. Motoki, being the great guy that he is, accompanies Makoto to the hospital and only reluctantly leaves, giving her a bunch of magazines and snacks to help her pass the time. Makoto and Motoki’s fingers touch when he hands her a coffee. I usually wouldn’t make a big deal about this kind of thing however when Motoki went to the amusement park with Usagi he made a point of only holding her hand with a handkerchief as an intermediary showing perhaps a more intimate relationship between him and Makoto!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Nice guy Shingo

Shingo is actually not terrible in this episode! He realizes that Usagi is down and so he gets her… a meat bun! This is a bit like getting anime Naru a chocolate parfait to cheer her up as the meat bun reminds her of the one she got Mamoru on their romantic not date along the coast back in a time before Hina was in the credits for the show.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - University of Saintford

Meanwhile Mamoru is getting ready to study abroad! He mentions that there’s only one month and he has material from “Saintford College” which is also written in English as “University of Saintford”. There is no such place in the real world. A bit of searching only uncovered an unfinished piece of fan fiction which uses such a name. The name is likely a reference to the real life Stanford University. Anyway Mamoru going abroad to study. Sound familiar? It should! This was a theme in the manga and original Sailor Moon anime where Mamoru left during the Stars or Sailor Stars story arc leaving room for Seiya to saunter in and try to steal his girl! Turns out he never really made it to the United States. Will he make it this time?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Ami beat these guys up for fun

Well it turns out Ami went missing from the hospital. This is a lot like when Usagi was being turned evil by Kunzite and ended up disappearing as well. Ami runs into some thugs and she seems to beat them up off screen. Makoto listens to the trees in order to track down her friend which seems to work.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 21 - Dark Mercury's tiara

And then the big moment! Ami transforms but not using Mercury Power. Instead she calls out “Dark Power Make Up!” and transforms into an evil goth looking version of Sailor Mercury known as Dark Mercury or Darkury for short. This character is somewhat of an opposite in appearance and behaviour of Sailor Mercury. Simply put this is the evil version of Sailor Mercury and she’s out to attack her former friends! This is a great story arc showing some great drama between Ami and her friends who’s friendship started out rocky but seemed, until recently, to be pretty solid.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Dark Mercury and her sword

Act 22 continues where we left off with Sailor Mercury attacking her friends. First she turns an icicle into a cool looking sword. This reminds me a bit of the sword that Sailor Mercury created when she was defending Usagi, who Kunzite was turning into a monster. Now Sailor Mercury finds herself in a similar situation to Usagi’s in that episode except with one important difference! When Usagi was on the verge of being turned evil by Kunzite it was Ami who brought her back. Ami can’t bring Ami back because she’s herself! It is the abandonment that Ami is feeling by her friends which has precipitated this transformation and it doesn’t look like there’s any coming back from it! Sailor Moon attempts to heal Sailor Mercury with her Moon Stick but Mercury quickly strikes down the attack! The fight is only halted by Kunzite who seems to be calling the shots, but not for long.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Mamoru and Hina discuss their legal romantic relationship

Back at what seems to be Hina’s place she has made hamburger for the two which Mamoru doesn’t seem to be eating. We learn a bit more about the arrangement. Mamoru has agreed to study abroad, presumably at Saintford University, and promised Hina’s father than he would marry her. This whole arrangement seems odd to me from a Western perspective but a few readers have pointed out that this kind of thing isn’t terribly uncommon in Japan. The concept of mukoyoshi has a family adopting an adult son in law by having him marry the daughter. In many such cases the man will take the daughter’s family name. Does this mean Mamoru would end up as Mamoru Kusaka?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Evil Ami and her posse

Usagi is stressing about how to cover for Ami becoming evil to her teacher and it turns out… she actually came to school! She may be evil but no need to let her grades and attendance record suffer needlessly! Ami has also brainwashed her classmates, including Naru, against Usagi who is stuck eating on the roof like a reject! We’ll remember that both Ami and Makoto spent some time eating their lunch on the roof in earlier episodes, as it seems to be the place for people without friends to go to pass their lunch break. Usagi uses this moment to reflect upon how Ami must have felt herself being abandoned by her friends.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Luna and Artemis

The opinion of the cats seems to be that the gang will have to fight Sailor Mercury but Usagi doesn’t want to have anything to do with that. Unfortunately they will be forced into that situation! A monster appears at the amusement park and the setting for the combat is an odd stage in or close to an aquarium.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Dark Mercury defeats Sailor Venus

Sailor Mercury quickly dispatches Sailor Venus who’s happy to fight a fellow Sailor Guardian. When it comes to Sailor Moon though she won’t fight but instead transforms back into Usagi. This is Usagi at her finest. Her true strength does not come from her ability to fight but from her compassion for her enemy, who in this case is one of her closest friends. This doesn’t convince Dark Mercury as she slashes the mittens that she’d made! This is a symbolic gesture to demonstrate her severing their friendship.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Sailor Moon's light briefly heals Dark MercuryLive Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Sailor Moon's light briefly heals Dark Mercury

Usagi cries and the tear lands on her broach causing a bright cleansing light. Ami appears briefly, calling Usagi’s name, but Kunzite takes her away before this can go anywhere. This Dark Mercury story arc could easily have been ended here. Usagi essentially put fighting aside and showed her feelings to Ami and then there was some magic stuff to make the bad magic go away, which wasn’t really the problem. The issue was between Ami and her friends and it is essentially resolved through their feelings but we can get more out of this story arc by having Ami remain evil and I’m all for it since I dig the character. It reminds me a bit of what they did with Black Lady in the original Sailor Moon anime. She shows up, there’s a little fight, then Sailor Moon pretty much heals her but they needed to do a big finale episode later so Wiseman sweeps her away.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Usagi's tear on her locket

Sailor Venus mentions that Sailor Moon has begun to awaken with that bright light. It’s easy to see the parallel of the tear to other incarnations. In the manga as well as both Sailor Moon anime series the Silver Crystal appears from Sailor Moon’s tear. At this point in the series we have still not seen the real crystal, just fakes put on by Sailor Venus who is absolutely Princess Serenity in this series. The light wasn’t a total waste of time though. Those mittens were repaired which is again symbolic. If the mittens which were cut can be fused together then perhaps there is still hope for Ami’s friendship. The gang are dedicated to getting her back.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Mamoru doesn't think he left the CD player on

Back to Mamoru and Hina, who are otherwise not really interacting with the rest of the cast in these episodes, they arrive back at Mamoru’s apartment and there is music playing! Hina wonders if he left a CD on, which seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation! I would think a radio or TV could also fit the bill! Mamoru, being no stranger to monsters and all sorts of terrible things, assumes the worst! It’s also worth mentioning that Mamoru is a thief who regularly breaks into jewellery stores to steal expensive gems. A person like that probably assumes some illegal break in could be a real possibility! Alternatively as a fairly unfaithful man perhaps he suspects there is a lady in his apartment! He goes in alone, which serves the plot well because Hina would not know how to react to seeing Zoisite’s ghost. He again refers to Mamoru as Master Endymion. Endymion is Princess Serenity’s lover! Looks like Mamoru’s juggling three women since it’s well established that Minako, and not Usagi, is actually Princess Serenity.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 22 - Zoisite

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.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 and 20 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Usagi gazing at Mamoru

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Acts 19, Usagi’s Doki Doki Valentine, and 20, Hina was Mamoru’s Fiancée. These episodes once again focus a lot on Usagi’s reaction to Mamoru’s girlfriend Hina and the events surrounding Valentine’s Day as a new young friend of Usagi’s explores a romance with a young boy. The episodes originally aired on Japanese TV on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, and February 21st and because of this some of Act 19 actually takes place on Valentine’s Day as the title suggests. A note on the Act 19 title! Doki Doki is the Japanese noise for a heart beat so the title might read something like Usagi’s Thump Thump Valentine or Usagi’s Ba-dum Ba-dum Valentine. There isn’t really a single universally accepted English onomatopoeia for the sound of a heart beat as there is in Japanese. Considering the domestic name for the North American release of the Famicom video game Doki Doki Panic perhaps it would make sense to call it Usagi’s Bros. 2 Valentine.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Usagi completes her scarf

Act 19 continues with the saga of Usagi’s cursed scarf! This middle school teacher really did create a lot of drama when she suggested her students give their scarves to a boyfriend! Usagi, motivated by the power of love, completed her scarf and is glowing while looking at the completed product only to then become overcome with sadness. A little heartbreaking.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Hina and two jealous girls

Usagi is surprised when she walks into her dining room one morning to find that in Shingo’s place is a young girl! This is her mother’s friend Nozak’s daughter Hikari. Usagi isn’t sure how to entertain her but Hikari knows exactly what she needs help with! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and she wants to buy chocolate for a boy she likes, Daichi. The catch? He’s in love with another girl. The twist? It’s Hina! Hilarious! Usagi and Hikari are both trying to win over the affection of a boy who is in love with the same girl!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Usagi embarrassed

When the two run into Hina and Mamoru both Usagi and Hikari are treated the same way as she gives them both a lollipop! Mamoru laughs at this, as we see that Hina is treating them both as children. This naturally leaves Usagi a bit embarrassed. She’s already self conscious about the fact that Mamoru has a serious relationship with this older woman and this action, one of kindness from Hina, doesn’t help her case. This gets even worse when Usagi attempts to eat her sucker and sees that Hikari have given hers away to an even younger child. Looks like Usagi has a lesson to learn from her young friend!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Hikari gives chocolate to Daichi

Is there actually a chocolate which will make a boy forget about the girl he’s in love with? It looks like there is but it’s the 5000 yen chocolate, which is about $45 US, while Usagi was eyeing a chocolate which cost about 1/10th of that cost. Somehow giving this chocolate to Daichi totally wins over his heart! He says he’s got a new game, supposedly a video game, and invites Hikari over to… watch him play. I thought they would play together but in the next episode he makes reference to showing her how to play next time. Really bro? It’s a new game! You can both learn together! I wonder what kind of game this would have been in 2004. It’s probably a PlayStation 2 game, since they had the most market penetration in Japan, though it could have been a GameCube game or, much less likely, an Xbox game. The Gameboy Advance was also nearing end of live at the time but judging by the fact that Hikari goes to his home to play it, they’re probably not talking about a handheld.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Rei pretends she doesn't know Minako is Sailor Venus

Meanwhile Makoto knows all about Mamoru and Hina’s engagement but doesn’t want to tell Usagi about it because she’s already upset enough. Seems like a plot device to me! They also don’t want to tell Rei, who is also keeping Sailor Venus’s identity a secret. This is all just bad for the group! Rei also seems to be keeping Sailor Venus’s identity from Luna who has actually spoken directly to Minako in front of Rei so the show can’t seem to make its mind up on whether or not Luna knows what’s up. You would think she would be in a hurry to get together with Artemis so that they can share stories about how awkward it is to pretend to be a plush cat.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Minako loves Artemis

Luna has got some competition for Artemis’s affection though because Minako got him chocolate! As always I ship Minako and Artemis though this relationship is more heavily hinted at in the manga and more prominently the anime than it is here. Still Minako seems to have chosen Artemis as her Valentine, giving him first a jack in the box style gag box of chocolates and then real chocolates. Life, it seems, is like a box of chocolate. The real kick? Cats don’t actually like chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs, though it’s only really an issue for dogs who will eat pretty much anything they think might be food. Cats on the other hand are much more discriminating and don’t like sweet foods, like chocolate. Of course Artemis is a plush cat who can talk so I can’t really say what his tastes are like. In the manga and anime Luna enjoys star candies so perhaps these alien cats do like sweet foods after all.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Motoki and his scarf

More Makoto and Motoki shipping going on in this episode! First we need to get the turtle shipping out of the way. If you recall back in Act 15 Motoki was trying to hook up his turtle Kamekichi with some lady turtles. One of them was Maririn and I guess he liked that one since she got him chocolates in this episode. Having only seen turtles eat turtle food, some bugs and spiders I can’t say for sure this is something he’ll want to eat but it fits with Motoki’s odd fascination with turtles. I wonder if they’re chocolate turtles! Makoto, who has her sweater she made for her assignment, very nonchalantly gives it to Motoki claiming it doesn’t fit her style and he’d be taking it off her hands. Motoki, previously forever alone, is ecstatic at getting a Valentine’s gift but Makoto doesn’t seem to have put the same importance in it.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Sailor Moon gives chocolate to Tuxedo Mask

Sailor Moon gives her Valentine’s chocolate to Tuxedo Mask, who naturally isn’t her first choice. Tuxedo Mask, knowing fully well that Sailor Moon is Usagi, asks if there’s someone else she should be giving this too. When she tells him that “someone else” has a girlfriend he tells her not to give up! I know Mamoru has been acting a bit dense but he really should know that someone else in this case means his alternate identity who has a girlfriend and is engaged. If he doesn’t, he’s being really ignorant. If he does, well this is sort of infidelity. Is it unfaithful to encourage someone, via an alternate identity, to pursue a relationship with you even though you are unavailable? I would think so.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Minako continues to do her own photoshop work

Minako continues to do her own graphic design work! She’s using photoshop once again this time to superimpose herself on an image of a stadium as a trap for the enemy! Decent enough trick because the enemy seems to assume she’ll still be at this stadium by the time the photo is uploaded to her web site. Rei knows the score and tracks down the same building to find the generic monster. I can’t even tell when we are getting the same monster or if we’re getting “new” monster meaning an old costume with some feathers on the shoulder pads or something. This show’s strength isn’t its unique monster designs! Sailor Moon SuperS it is not! Anyway Sailor Mars finds Nephrite attacking Sailor Venus because they both fell for the same trap. He takes the Crystal! Oh no!!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 19 - Nephrite steps on Sailor Venus

Act 20 immediately follows Act 19! It’s convenient that these episodes seem to go in pairs which match the way I’m reviewing them. Anyway Venus makes the Crystal explode somehow and it turned out to be a fake! Oh look I have a whole suitcase full of fake Crystals!!! Rei is starting to suspect that Minako is trying to distract the enemy. She’s about to ask if she’s really… something but Minako cuts her off saying she’ll need to awaken first. We are meant to assume at this point that Minako has already awakened and the rest of the Sailor Guardians have not.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Mamoru, Daichi, Hikari and Usagi on a bus

The ridiculous double love triangle between Hikari, Daichi, Hina, Mamoru and Usagi is about to get much more ridiculous! Hikari and Daichi want to go on a date but they need chaperones. Who better than Usagi and Mamoru? Not an awkward situation in the least! Granted they are both participating as chaperones but one can not get past the idea that it’s kind of like they’re going on a date together themselves! Hina is unavailable for a change. It’s funny that for the first 15 episodes of the series Mamoru is always wandering the streets of Tokyo alone but since the Hina plot point was introduced they’re always always about town together!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Usagi walks awkwardly

Usagi is very awkward at this date, at one point walking with her arms and legs in unison. From watching various anime series I’ve learned that this is a sign of awkwardness or nervousness which isn’t really common in the west. Still it’s fairly easy to grasp the idea that a person be too focused on something to walk properly. Try to pay attention to exactly how your arms move in relation to your legs and you’ll probably mess it up. Consciousness isn’t good for everything! I’m not totally sure what the venue for this date it. It seems like a somewhat basic field and park but they actually pay for entry. In Canada one would never pay for such a place but perhaps in Tokyo where space is at a premium this makes sense. The venue has some zip line type of thing, badminton without an actual net and finally the gang settle down for a picnic in which Mamoru comments that the food is very good. Usagi is generally universally considered to be a bad cook in all continuities but it’s also some sort of important relationship indicator that a man find a woman’s food to be palatable in Japanese culture. Again something I know only because I watch a lot of anime.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Makoto cringes

Makoto is stalking to two on their date, planning to tell Usagi about Hina and Mamoru being engaged. She seems to have figured out that Tuxedo Mask is Mamoru and confronts him about this. I’m not sure when exactly this realization was meant to have happened but Usagi still has no idea. Makoto doesn’t get a chance to warn Usagi and when Hina shows up there is a comment made about the bride needing to sit next to the groom! Now it all comes crashing down again for Usagi! She sees a monster and says she has to leave which probably would seem awkward to Mamoru, the only one for whom this social situation is awkward, but he is actually Tuxedo Mask and has full knowledge of the existence of monsters and such so it’s not really a big deal!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Kunzite confronts Ami

The monsters, all repeats of earlier monsters, were just illusions to distract the Sailor Guardians. Early in the episode Kunzite, watching Sailor Mars and Venus’s building tension, decides that he wants a Sailor Guardian for himself! Conveniently everyone starts to ditch Ami not for any personal reason but just because they all have their own stuff going on. Ami sits quietly alone in the headquarters knitting mittens for everyone while Luna keeps her company. Now at the end of the episode Kunzite confronts Ami on the street and attacks her, at which time she transforms. He surrounds her with this black energy stuff. This is the start of one of the more interesting differences which is unique to the live action series and we’ll be seeing more of that in the next episode!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 20 - Kunzite attacks Sailor Mercury

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.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 and 18 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Hina

This is a review and discussion of the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Acts 17, Minako Transforms in Front of Rei’s Eyes, and 18, At Last, All 5 Sailor Guardians Are Together. These episodes aired on Japanese television January 31st and February 7th 2004. They focus on the appearance of Mamoru’s girlfriend Hina and the shipping of Sailor Mars and Sailor Venus.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Mamoru checks out Usagi while Hina is jealous Distracted Boyfriend or Man Looking at Other Woman meme

Act 17 starts off where Act 16 ended with Usagi running into Mamoru and Hina. They do this awkward thing where they reshoot the events of the last episode which sort of already happened, having Mamoru react to seeing Usagi with Hina on his arm. I can’t help but notice how similar the scene of Mamoru looking at Usagi while Hina looks at him is to the recent meme of the “Distracted Boyfriend” or “Man Looking at Other Woman” which I’ve posted about a number of times. I’ve included both for reference. Hina asks if that girl is there to see him and Mamoru, being totally awkward and ignorant, assumes she is not because she didn’t speak up. He really should know better! The source of the conflict here is not Hina but Mamoru! Hina is portrayed by actress Moeco Matsushita who we’ll be seeing for a number of additional episodes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Minako faints

Meanwhile Minako continues to be on the run! We see that she’s hiding out in a hotel with a painting of a greek temple on the wall. Is she in Greece, like she did in the Sailor V manga? Almost certainly not as she quickly ends up hiding out in a Church in Tokyo and then back at the hotel, so it’s likely a local one. We see Minako faint, which is the first tangible indication of her mysterious illness which will be a plot point for most of the rest of the series. The specifics of this illness are never explicitly described but for the purposes of the show it’s some sort of supposedly terminal illness which she is suffering. In the interest of those who may not have seen the entire series I won’t get into more specifics until they play out.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Usagi chose the right yarn

At school Usagi’s home ec teacher, or whatever we call that kind of class in Japan, is giving the students a project to make a scarf and give it to someone special such as, and she actually suggests this, a boyfriend! This seems like a large amount of pressure to put on a bunch of young teenage girls but whatever I’m no educator! Usagi is clearly torn as she wants to make the scarf for Mamoru but that would be mildly inappropriate given he apparently has a girlfriend and so she instead decides to make the scarf for Tuxedo Mask because that’s a totally different person. She picks out the perfect yarn to match Tuxedo Mask, which is white, and proceeds to neglect her knitting as she drowns her sorrows in some very intense karaoke of, naturally, “C’est la vie”.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Hina is actually really nice

While the scarf is only partially complete Usagi literally runs into Mamoru and Hina. Hina’s reaction? She’s apologetic and deeply concerned that Usagi may have ruined her scarf which is clearly intended for a special person who she doesn’t realize is actually her boyfriend. A lesser show would have made Hina evil so that Usagi would be justified in trying to steal her boyfriend. This isn’t a lesser show! It’s Sailor Moon! By making Hina a kind and caring person it just complicates and puts a more realistic spin on this drama. Most love triangles don’t involve a “good guy” and “bad guy” pining after the same person. The real world is more nuanced! Usagi is devastated by this finally empathizing with Hina and realizing what a nice person she is.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Rei's mother Risa Hino's grave

It is the anniversary of Rei’s mother’s death, meaning that she died around January 31st. Her tomb stone notes that her name is Risa Hino and that she lived from 1963 to 1995. This puts her at about 32 years old when she died. Rei is about 14 at the beginning of the series, in 2003, so she would be about 6 when her mother died. This seems to roughly fit with the age of the various versions of young Rei we see in flashbacks when her mother dies. Rei would have been born when her mother was around 26 which also seems like a pretty reasonable age to have a child. No inconsistencies here from the prop department! Risa Hino is buried, or at least has a grave marker dedicated to her, at a Christian church in Tokyo. This seems a bit odd to me as I learned from a fantastic book, Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon, that only foreigners are usually buried in Japan as laws require Japanese born citizens to be cremated. Rei appears to be fully Japanese and Risa is a common Japanese given name not often found in other cultures. Still this church has an English speaking white priest who has an accent when speaking Japanese and occasionally says things in English. While speaking to the priest we learn that Rei hates her father for working while her mother was dying.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Rei prays to her mother at St. Juban Church

Speaking of this church, it’s clearly not a real church! Well not all of it. The various signs refer to it as “St. Juban Church”. How to break this down… a Saint is a person, generally a human, who is determined by in this case the Catholic church to be holy and given the title of Saint. Juban is a place, not a person. It is a reference to Azabu-Juban (or Juuban). It is a neighbourhood in the Azabu district in Tokyo. One might wonder if Juban is named after a person who might be the Saint this church is referencing? Not really possible. Juuban means “10th” or “Number 10″ so it’s like saying the 10th neighbourhood in Azabu which means it isn’t named after a person. St. Juban is not only not an actual Saint but the concept of such a Saint doesn’t make much sense.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Sailor Mars and Sailor Venus in the St. Juban Church gymnasium

Further a lot of the shots of this church are clearly just taking place in a gymnasium which looks like a school gymnasium. It actually looks very similar to the gym that Minako plays volleyball in Sailor Moon S episode 100, I Want to Quit Being a Sailor Guardian: Minako’s Dilemma. I know there is a school gym later in the series but I don’t recall if it’s the same set. Do some churches include school type gymnasiums? This seems plausible but I’m not expert in the Japanese Christian Church scene. The area, which has a podium and projected cross on the stage, clearly has basketball nets visible as well as lines on the ground for various sports. My primary school and many others I’ve visited had this sort of gym/stage set up so that large gatherings such as graduations or school plays could be held in the gymnasium rather than requiring the school to have a large and expensive auditorium. Another variant on this type of amalgam is the cafetorium, which is a mix of a cafeteria and auditorium. While a lot of the action in Act 17 takes place in the gym there are also other parts to this church including a proper chapel. While these could all be part of a real church in Tokyo, which I couldn’t find any specific information on, it may also be the case that these are just a number of locations used for these episodes that were dressed up with a few prop crosses and Christian decorations to make them seem like part of a single church. Alternatively the gymnasium may have been part of a school affiliated with the church. As a child I attended cubs at a Christian school which was next door to an affiliated church which I also attended at Christmas time. The school and church shared and name and both had crosses and Christian imagery displayed throughout. That school’s gym also had a stage in it!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Minako recognizes Sailor Mars

This church is the stage of major Minako/Rei shipping! This is a prominent friendship and somewhat complex relationship of the series and this is just the beginning. Minako nearly immediately notices that Rei is Sailor Mars, because she’s good at that, but Rei can’t do the same. Instead she seems to notice something but it’s actually that Minako is well known pop idol Minako Aino, something that almost any other girl her age would have noticed. This reminds me a bit of Usagi who fails to recognize who Seiya of the Three Lights is despite the fact that he’s a big star. Minako was at the Church praying which may insinuate that she is Christian in this continuity. Though Rei is visiting her mother it’s not clear how much she may be an observing Christian. She attends a Catholic girls school in the manga and anime despite being a Shinto priest. She may simply be visiting her mother’s grave though she is kneeling and praying in a Christian fashion. I wonder if either Minako or Rei feel that their own godlike powers are at odds with their various religious beliefs. My understanding of religious beliefs in Japan is that many people will simultaneously observe certain practices of conflicting religions without any real concern. There is a lost sick dog which shows up at the Church and Minako and Rei seem to think it’s their responsibility to care for him which is the excuse for them to remain around and interacting with each other for a couple of episodes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Dancers make Sailor Venus blonde

After the monster attack Rei immediately transforms but Minako hesitates, unwilling to give up her secret identity. Finally she does and we are exposed to the most ridiculous of transformation sequences to date! The best part is when these gymnastic dancers frolic through her hair to make it blonde! I guess in the continuity of the show this is their actual hair and not awful wigs! During the fight Sailor Venus is injured by an exploding sword and Sailor Mars stops to help her, still under the impression that she is Princess Serenity. Sailor Venus chastises her for this and so we are introduced to the Venus/Mars conflict which just make this ship that much better!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 17 - Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars face off

Act 18 again starts where we left off, with Sailor Mars and Venus fighting! Sailor Mars doubles down saying she wouldn’t have had to stick around if Venus had been better in battle! Venus insists that she doesn’t want to be protected by the rest of the Sailor Guardians. How odd! She’s the Princess, isn’t she??? Later in the episode she clarifies to Sailor Mars that she should never leave Sailor Moon’s side and that this is an order from the Princess! What a curious order from someone who we should suspect is the one that should be protected!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Rei is jealous of Minako's poster

The Rei/Minako feud continues in the form of taking care of the dog! Rei shows up with a big bag of cheap dog food so moneybags Minako goes out and buys premium healthy canned dog foot! All well and good but he’ll get sick if he’s not used to eating wet food. Rei refers to the dog as Taro and Minako refers to him as Riki. In order to help find Taro/Riki’s owner the two make signs. So they make a little flyer with a photo of the dog on the computer and make some photocopies because it’s 2004 and such a thing is easily done? We did see Minako use Photoshop Elements not long ago! Well no. Each of them hand paints a lost dog sign complete with a painting of the dog! Rei puts up her small but fairly elaborate sign and Minako, who should be working on her new album, hangs a much larger sign! Humourous if not completely ridiculous! This of course is a proxy fight taking the place of their actual argument which is rooted in misunderstanding. We can note here that Luna seems to share knowledge of Sailor Venus’s identity as she is there at the poster feuding and speaks to Minako. When speaking to Artemis Minako seems to regret what she said to Rei but the next time she sees her she spews out the exact same arguments! Why don’t these two just get along?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Usagi images placing a scarf on Mamoru

Meanwhile Usagi’s scarf isn’t going well. Her teacher calls her out and says it’s more like a handkerchief. Hilarious! She’s already given two handkerchiefs to Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru. Why not a third to go with his collection that he has going on his nightstand? While confiding in Makoto and Ami she reveals what we’d all figured out. She wasn’t really thinking of Tuxedo Mask when she was making this thing. She was thinking of Mamoru. Well okay she was actually thinking of Tuxedo Mask anyway but she didn’t actually know that. In her mind they are still separate entities.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Makoto empathizes

Makoto’s reactions to Usagi’s unfolding emotions are impressive. Just seeing the look in her face shows so much. She’s really feeling Usagi’s pain and, knowing what we do about her recent unrequited love, I like to think this also played into the way she acts and feels here. Ami similarly feels pain for Usagi but she doesn’t have the emotional baggage to really feel it like Makoto does.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Motoki and Makoto on a pseudo date

Makoto has some advice for Usagi! Don’t give up even if he has a girlfriend! She might not stick around! This reminds me of episode 30 of the original Sailor Moon anime, Total Chaos: the Messy Love Rectangle, in which Usagi and Makoto find out that Motoki has a girlfriend and Makoto is unphased! Of course in this continuity Motoki is quite single, so Makoto arranges a meeting with him to grill him about Mamoru’s girlfriend. Have I mentioned I’m shipping these two? This isn’t the first hint at a relationship between these two we’ll see and there’s more to come! Motoki is disappointed that Makoto wasn’t interested in a date with him, but Makoto gives him some turtle food and all is well. Motoki confirms that Mamoru indeed has a girlfriend and that her name is Hina. He says that Usagi should give up on Mamoru since he and Hina are in love. That’s great Motoki! Where was this wisdom when Naru asked him for Mamoru’s contact information so that she could set Usagi and him up? I guess Motoki just isn’t that great with women.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Young Hina and Mamoru

Now that we know a bit about Hina, we get a bit of backstory. Hina and Mamoru have known each other since they were children when Mamoru said that one day he’d marry Hina! I used to say stuff like this to girls when I was like 5 years old as well but I never married any of them! If you liked it, Mamoru, then you should have put a ring on it. With all the jewellery theft he does in his night life he had ample opportunity to make it official! Right so we see young versions of Hina and Mamoru in this one scene and as luck would have it the Church that Hina wants to get married in is none other than St. Juban Church, home of the holiest church gym in all of Tokyo! In this case they are in a legit church, where the priest turns out to be the monster who actually was a separate entity in episode 17 but whatever. The monster probably possessed the priest. Everyone is knocked unconscious except for Mamoru and Hina who escape to the church gymnasium and pass out!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - The Sailor Guardians with Sailor Venus in the middle Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - The Sailor Team with Sailor Moon in the middle

Everyone is called to the church gym and for the first time in the series all five of the Sailor Guardians are together! There’s a cool series of shots that takes place here showing all of the Guardians in order with Sailor Venus, the Princess, in the middle. Seen from a different angle however we see the Sailor Guardians with Sailor Moon in the middle. The camera lingers on this shot for a moment. What could this mean??? If you haven’t figured it out you probably aren’t paying attention and aren’t familiar with any other continuity! This is the part in the series where the online arguments between the Sailor Venus is the Princess and Sailor Moon is the Princess camps became really heated. I recall someone at the Genvid forums pointing out this fact and it seemed like a slam dunk to me. There’s even a basketball net in the background! Dunks for Jesus!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Mamoru and Hina holding hands

The monster is dispatched and afterwards the gang find Mamoru and Hina unconscious, holding each other’s hands. Sailor Moon mentions that love is always a good thing, and so she’s accepted Hina’s feelings but also accepted how she feels about Mamoru. Amazing. How many people would look at such a situation with such optimism? Once again we see that the strength of Usagi’s heart, rather than that of Sailor Moon and her Crystal, are what really make her the exceptional hero that she is! Sailor Moon quickly heals the two which makes me wonder… could she heal someone’s terminal illness with that thing? She is seen regularly healing people who have had their energy drained by the Dark Kingdom but could she heal cancer or pneumonia with that thing too? Seems relevant since …

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 18 - Minako only has 6 months

Back at the hotel room Minako is chatting with Artemis. He suggests that she may be pushing away the other girls in order to spare their feelings. She mentions that she only has 6 months left. Six months until what exactly?

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.

Continue reading

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 and 16 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Tension grows between Ami and Naru

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?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Minako and Artemis

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?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Mamoru receives a phone call

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Nephrite and Kunzite argue in front of Queen Beryl

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Ami Mizuno

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Motoki tries to get a date for Kamekichi

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Mamoru and Motoki talk about Usagi

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Luna at the computer

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 17 - Luna and Artemis typing on a computer

Luna using a computer

At the headquarters wee see Luna using a computer! We’ve seen Luna using a computer in many adaptations of the story to date!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Usagi and Mamoru talk to an incompetent cop

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Usagi is torn, much like Mamoru's jacket

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Usagi bandages Mamoru

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 15 - Makoto falling into the Sarlacc Pit

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Sailor Mercury and Mars save Makoto

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Naru judging Ami

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Naru falling into the Sarlacc Pit

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 Preview - Usagi hits a window

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.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Sailor Mercury

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Ami and Naru make up

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!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Jadeite lives

Meanwhile in the Dark Kingdom Queen Metalia is resurrected and… Jadeite’s back! Hooray!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 16 - Usagi sees Hina and Mamoru

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…

Mamoru checking out Usagi while Hina is upset

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.

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Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 and 14 discussion

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Kunzite

This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Act 13, The Last of the Shitennou, Kunzite, Appears, and 14, Usagi is Turning Into a Monster? These episodes first aired on December 27th 2003 and January 10th 2004 on Japanese television. There was no episode aired on January 3rd in the usual time slot, likely due to some sort of new years related event. I recall being quite disappointed that there was no new episode that week back in the day! Act 13 discusses the build up to New Years events and Act 14 includes a late New Year celebration, once again confirming that the show takes place in real time. A date on a computer in Act 14 even shows that it is January 10th 2004. These two episodes centre around the introduction of the fourth of the Shitennou Kunzite!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Makoto wants to meet Sailor Venus

The episode starts with the girls recalling their great times meeting Sailor Venus, the Princess, who is totally not in either of the episodes I’m talking about this week! Humourously Sailor Jupiter, who was not included in the scenes where the gang met Sailor Venus, says she wished she could meet her! I’m sure they’ll find the budget to arrange for all of them to be in the same scene soon enough! The only thing we see of Sailor Venus is a flashback to a scene that we didn’t previously see where she basically says don’t protect me but keep protected the Earth! It’s like she’s shielding them from something!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Motoki is devastated that he lost Kamekichi

We start the story out with a bit of humour! Motoki lost his beloved turtle Kamekichi! He’s turned Karaoke Crown upside down looking for him and it seems as if he hasn’t slept all night! Usagi and Mamoru, who seem to keep crossing paths, agree to help him track down his turtle! Sounds like either the turtle would be found very close or not at all, given what I know about turtles! I do actually know a thing or two about turtles as I had a pet painted turtle when I was younger. He’s still alive and well because turtles live quite long! While most celebrity pets from older shows and movies you’ll watch likely died years ago Kamekichi is probably one of the few long lived exceptions to this. Well it seems I was totally wrong about Kamekichi because he shows up at a creepy looking house that by all indication appears to be some distance from the busy city streets where Karaoke Crown is located.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Shin

Kamekichi ended up at this guy Shin’s house. Who’s Shin? A guy who, like Mamoru, has lost his memory! This is a very interesting character that adds a whole other angle to the Shitennou that we’ve never really seen before. Shin is a nice guy who likes flowers, nature and the sea, but he’s afraid there’s something very sinister lurking inside his lost memories and he’s sort of right! So who is the real Shin? Is this nice guy really anybody or the absence of a person? Beryl seems to have intentionally just put him in this weird state to have him on stand by waiting to awaken Kunzite who’s pretty much evil and doesn’t care about Shin having been there. There are actually further layers of repressed memories beyond what we see in this episode which only complicates the issue. All of this reminds me of this movie called Regarding Henry where Harrison Ford loses his memory and amnesia Harrison Ford is actually a nice guy but memory Harrison Ford is a jerk lawyer who cheats on his wife. Good movie!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Usagi and Mamoru going for a motorcycle ride along the coast

Usagi, who loves to meddle, decides to get a few things to try to jog Shin’s memory. Mamoru, who claims not to like meddling, comes along to make sure she doesn’t do anything too irresponsible. What ensues is a lovely date sort of non date! Usagi rides on Mamoru’s motorcycle across the romantic coast! We get a sneak peak at the new single Over Rainbow Tour which is sung by Miyuu Sawai, Usagi’s voice actress. We’ll be seeing a few of these in the coming episodes as there was a lot of merchandising going on! In Act 12 we had the first of Minako’s new singles as well. All of the Sailor Guardians had singles which included two songs each. Minako, what with her character being a singer, has additional songs throughout the series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Usagi shares a meat bun with Mamoru

After getting a few trinkets for Shin Usagi decides to buy what looks to be a meat bun and shares it with Mamoru. How sweet of her! A lovely end to their not really date. I wonder if Hina knows about this?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Kunzite

Mamoru gives the trinkets to Shin alone, as Usagi is a bit late, and although it seems like this is what’s giving him his memory back it’s actually just a coincidence as Queen Beryl is blowing evil into a flower which seems to be doing it. Shin is actually Kunzite and was actually out the night before turning some girl into a monster which looks like a werewolf. Mamoru lies to Usagi telling her that Shin got his memory back and decided to leave. In reality Shin turned into a bad guy and attacked Mamoru! Bad news! As for Shin, did he have a mortgage to pay on this house? Was he just squatting? Does he have a job and income?

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 13 - Usagi becoming a monster

There’s a fight against the girl turned monster and Kunzite, now sporting much longer hair than Shin, uses his long hair as a weapon! He makes hair appear around Usagi’s neck much as it had done to the girl turned werewolf monster. Looks like Sailor Moon’s going to turn into a monster! To be continued! A little cliffhanger.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 Preview - Usagi becomes tired

The next episode preview at the end of Act 13 actually takes place a whole 2 weeks before Act 14, due to the missed episode. As a result we have a bit of an inconsistency between what is shown in the preview and what we see in the episode. We see the 5 girls dressed in formal kimonos for a New Years celebration and Usagi faints in this scene. In reality Usagi doesn’t faint at this point at all but later, while singing karaoke. Did most people forget during this 2 week period? Not the hardcore fans that watched the episodes over, over and over again while waiting for the next one!!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Sailor Moon's tiara gem supposedly heals hear

Last time Usagi had a strand of Kunzite’s hair embedded into her neck which, based on what it did to another girl, means she’ll turn into a monster! Somehow though Sailor Moon’s tiara’s gem glows and she seems to be totally fine! Or is she?!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Ami and Usagi sing C'est la vie

The gang celebrate a late New Years party dressed in Kimonos, which seems to be the thing to do. We get a reference to something that is known in the west, New Years day, but mixed in with Japanese traditions which are very unique to their culture. Rei was preparing for New Years celebrations in the last episode and the gang is now getting together to do the the same. They have a Karaoke party, which is a good idea since they have free unlimited access to a magical room at Karaoke Crown which seems to exist outside of space. Makoto sings Minako’s new song, Katagoshi ni Kinsei (Venus Over My Shoulder), which we previously got a preview of during Act 12. Want to hear the full version? Just buy this CD! (Amazon conveniently reminds me that I already purchased this particular item on March 8th 2004…) The rest of the party involves Jenga and Nako Nako dress up.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Mamoru carries Usagi on his back

Suddenly … Usagi faints! The first stage to becoming a monster, it seems. Everyone wants to do something which seems to exclude watching over Usagi or bringing her to a hospital. I guess bringing in a girl who’s turning into a monster is a bit like bringing in someone with a gun shot wound. Bound to bring up some questions! Ami decides to watch over her and take charge of Usagi’s unconscious body. Mamoru, who knows very well that Usagi is Sailor Moon and knows that she’s got a magic strand of hair turning her into a monster, sees what’s going on and offers to help carry Usagi to Ami’s place. Motoki says that carrying her is too much for a girl! This is nonsense of course. Makoto could easily carry Usagi, or perhaps even Mamoru, on her back with ease. It is probably true however that carrying Usagi on her back is too much for Ami but something that Mamoru is more well suited to do given her strength and size! While it is neither incorrect or controversial that men are, on average, stronger and larger than women one must not generalize in such cases, especially when a strong and tall woman who regularly beats up guys who are up to no good is around!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Ami's computer monitors Usagi's health

At Ami’s home she whips out her computer which seems to have some fancy apps on it! I almost wondered if this was a Super Computer like the one from the manga and anime! After all it seems to have an application to monitor someone’s vitals! Who would have that except for … ah yes Ami’s mother is a doctor. The machine, attached to Usagi’s finger, monitors her “temperatur”, “blood pressue” and other things. The temperature seems to be in Celcius as a correct body temperature is listed as 30 degrees. Monster temperature seems to hover around 0 C which is when water freezes.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Ami shoves Naru

Since it’s getting late Ami calls Usagi’s mother to ask if she can stay over. Solid plan! Too bad Naru calls looking for a CD that Usagi was supposed to return to her which leads her to Ami’s next. Here we have the beginning of a complicated relationship between Ami and Naru. Previously Naru was a bit surprised to see Usagi befriending Ami but she seemed to be turning around on her. Unfortunately when Naru comes to Ami’s to see Usagi, Ami pretty much denies her access to her home. She could say a lot of things here to clear things up like that Usagi is sick and is resting, which is technically true, or even some elaborate lie like that she’s drunk or she’s out doing something she doesn’t want her mother to know about and Ami was just the cover! Ami’s not great with people though and wouldn’t be great at casually lying like this, and so she shoves Naru thinking that Ami and Naru’s relationship can stand to be sacrificed for Usagi’s good!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Sailor Mercury fights Kunzite

Well things get serious with Usagi as her temperature drops and Kunzite teleports her away. Ami, somehow, knows how to find her and chases after her finding Usagi in some cavern. Where is this cavern? Probably not at the D-Point in the North Pole though it looks like the standard cave type sets they use for all of the Dark Kingdom stuff. Ami and Kunzite fight for real. Ami is so beat up that she ends up with dirt on her face!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Sailor Mercury defends with a sword

Sailor Mercury manages to make a sword out of water which is a weapon we will be seeing something very similar to, but not identical to, in a future episode. Kunzite may not have had much success in making Sailor Moon evil but this is something that will be revisited later in the series. Sailor Mercury will again get a sword and her and Kunzite will find themselves in a similar cave. Ami’s character is conflicted with all kinds of feelings and this will be culminating in a very different story arc for her character that we don’t see in any other incarnations of the series.

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Sailor Mercury cries

Sailor Jupiter and Mars show up, because Sailor Venus isn’t in these episodes, and the fighting continues. Ami keeps calling out, in a psychic way but not with actual words, to Usagi in order to try to reach her. Just when it looks like she’s about to transform into a monster… she tells everyone to shut up and is healed. How? It seems everyone calling her was so loud, especially Ami’s calling, that it woke her up! Perfect plot device which requires only seriously wanting her to be all right without actually requiring anyone to actually do anything to make her better!

Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 14 - Tuxedo Mask and Kunzite

Finally Tuxedo Mask confronts Kunzite. He says that it looks like Shin is gone and Kunzite responds that he never really existed. What exactly does this mean? Is it because he wears a wig now? Is it because he doesn’t have a social security number? Shin was Kunzite without his memories. If Kunzite exists so did Shin just like Usagi still exists even if she’s … I mean just like Minako still exists even if she’s just the reincarnated version of the Princess! This makes us ask ourselves some interesting existential questions about what makes a person and if that is still a person lacking some memories. Since most of the characters in the show lacks some past memories we’d tend to think that yes they still exist, but in what state are they a different person when those memories return? Henry still “existed” when he lost his memories in the film! In the same way we are always changing as our memories grow as no one is the same person they were when they were a child or even yesterday. Does the show plan to answer such deep existential questions? Not really. But it’s kind of fun that it even plays with them.

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.

Continue reading