Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
This is a review and discussion of the Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series Act 11, We Got to Meet the Real Minako!, and 12, Sailor V’s True Identity Was The Princess. These episodes introduce us more personally with the character of Minako and reveal Sailor Venus and Artemis for the first time! Since these two episodes aired in Japan just before Christmas in real time, that being December 13th and 20th, they also include a decent amount of Christmas content. Karaoke Crown and many other locations are decorated with Christmas decorations and in Act 12 Usagi transforms into Santa Claus and buys Minako some cake, which appears to be some sort of strawberry shortcake, and wishes her a Merry Christmas. We also have discussion of a Christmas pageant and Minako is redecorating Nako Nako in a Christmas style. Once again this confirms that these episodes come close to real time.
Though we have seen her previously as Minako and Sailor V Act 11 gives us our first elaborate scenes featuring Minako Aino as portrayed by Ayaka Komatsu. This character is really the polar opposite of Usagi in nearly every way as we’ll see in both of these episodes. While Rei is generally portrayed as being the voice of reason, keeping Usagi’s impulsive light heartedness in check, Minako is the same on a whole other level! In her we see a serious, mission driven and broody character who, though in contrast to others in the series, is incorporated well and makes for an interesting dynamic. It took a while for Rei to come around but ultimately she fully integrates into the group hanging around HQ and in social situations. We won’t be seeing the same for Minako.
The plot for Act 11 is straightforward. Minako was injured and taken to a hospital and Usagi is looking to crash it. She mentions that she is only superficially wounded. I wonder how one gets superficially wounded by getting hit by a truck? This seems like an all or nothing type of thing where either the truck doesn’t hit you, and you’re totally fine, or the truck hits you and you have a bunch of broken ribs, a concussion and possibly end up dying. Perhaps it is Minako’s super strength and powers, which she exhibits even in civilian form, which account for her coming out of this relatively unharmed. I wonder what the truck looks like!
Minako has a couple of handlers in this episode and neither of them is the guy who was with her when the car accident occurred. Did he get killed? One of them brings her the Sailor V outfit from the trunk. Does this mean that Sailor V brought her Sailor V outfit to London in case she needed to fight crime? Perhaps it was simply in the car when she landed! I wonder why the uniform is even removed. Most Sailor Guardians transform and don’t actually keep their uniforms separate. Minako clearly has Sailor V’s compact which allows her to transform in the manga so why does her costume persist after reverting to her civilian form? Assisting her starting in this episode is her ridiculous cartoon character of a manager who looks like some drop out from a Japanese variety show which isn’t worth watching.
Artemis is seen but not heard in this episode, though his identity isn’t revealed. He is voiced by veteran anime voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi who has voiced iconic characters such as Ranma in Ranma 1/2, InuYasha in InuYasha and many, many more. They discuss Minako’s decision to become Sailor V and the Princess. Odd… isn’t the Princess already the Princess???
Mamoru still has Usagi’s handkerchief on his night stand. Has Hina noticed this? He’s playing a very dangerous game!
So Usagi wants to find Minako and offer her some kind of well wishes, and get an autograph, but no one knows which hospital she’s at! Luckily her father, who we don’t see in this episode or ever, somehow found out that she’s at the Juuban Hospital. This is relayed through Usagi’s mother, with whom she has actual contact and an actual relationship. Usagi and Makoto go to the hospital and abuse of their powers to disguise themselves as nurses. Not a bad trick! They see Minako’s annoying manager chasing her at the hospital and assume he is a monster! Hilarity ensues, Usagi blows Minako’s cover and somehow they end up getting pushed into a room alone with Minako and horrible manager.
Minako immediately notices that Usagi is Sailor Moon, though neither Usagi or Makoto can do the same. Her impression of Usagi is complete disappointment, as Usagi is a star crazy fan looking for a signature who seems to put no priority into her missions, the exact opposite of Minako. Usagi actually mentions looking for Sailor V and the Princess along with other less important things than chasing idols, because she is very bad at masking her secret identity. Minako is so completely upset by who Usagi is that she choses not to show up to this week’s conflict in order to fight bad guys instead simply asking herself why this girl is Sailor Moon. Why, we must ask, does Minako care so much about one of the four Guardians? She is the Princess, as we are meant to believe at this point, and Sailor Moon, who the show is named after, is one of her guardians and not the other way around! The truth, as you may suspect, is a bit more complicated.
Back at the HQ we get an actual look at just what it is that Ami is doing when she’s “looking for Sailor V”, as she’s apparently been doing for the past month and a half. She’s at a computer doing web searches on the Internet! Fair enough! It seems to work! They find a hit for a Planetary Festival which includes Moon, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter in the description and mentions that the guest is V. This is sadly not a great lead as Minako actually flakes on showing up but it is a great trap set up by Zoisite, who does a really good job of hypnotizing everyone!
Luna, it seems, can’t be hypnotized and it tied up and has tape put on her mouth. How can she get out of this? Band aids on her forehead was literally a thing she could not get out of in the manga and anime series! Still we see Luna effortlessly remove the tape from her mouth by, if you look closely, simply touching her paw to the non sticky side of the tape. This is not how tape works! Shortly after Luna’s struggling seems to have completely removed the ropes. How is this possible? It must have been done in the same way that she tied a clock to herself in the anime.
At the climax of the battle Zoisite and Tuxedo Mask touch each other, which causes and a big flash and a revelation. Zoisite also sees Tuxedo Mask and the Princess! Unfortunately the silhouette of the Princess we see can’t be accurately identified as anyone. It seems that it’s neither Miyuu Sawai, who plays Sailor Moon who isn’t actually the Princess as far as we know, or Ayaka Komatsu, who plays Sailor V who at this point we are to believe is totally the Princess. Why is this? Is it some third person? Actually it just seems that they hired an actress to play this silhouette in order to keep the worst kept secret a secret from fans. To be fair, this was probably effective amongst young fans, first time viewers and that odd subset of watchers who were convinced that Minako was the Princess who I will never stop harping on.
Act 12 starts where Act 11 left off, with Minako being disappointed with Usagi! It really is a continuation and follow up to the last episode as Usagi goes back to the hospital to get the autograph she forgot, and we go through a lot of the same motions again! This time she seems to be more of a doctor than a nurse in her disguise and when she see the manager, who’s actually a monster this time, she suspects that he’s just a manager unlike the last time where he was just a manager and Usagi assumed he was a monster! Life is hard for a superhero teenager!
Meanwhile Minako is using Photoshop Elements to work on a Nako Nako graphic. I’m really surprised she isn’t getting someone else to do this or perhaps farm the work out to some outside company. Never a moment’s rest for an idol I suppose!
Let’s talk about this manager monster for a moment, and not just the fact that they found a way to make an annoying actor even more annoying by making him a monster. The odd thing I always noticed was that this monster’s shadow looks like Chibi Chibi! Chibi Chibi isn’t actually anywhere near this series and I doubt the resemblance is intentional.
Minako ends up doing normal person for a day! This wasn’t why she was running away from her manager but that’s what Usagi thought, noting that this kind of thing happens in comics all the time! Totally legit. In fact an episode of the original Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Moon SuperS episode 146, Juban Holiday: The Carefree Princess, had just this plot when Princess Ribuna shrugs off her responsibilities to be normal for the day. Minako is upset that Usagi doesn’t notice that her manager is a monster and thinks her idea that she just wants to escape is dumb, even though that’s exactly what she was doing when Usagi found her in the last episode! She was trying to escape the hospital without her manager knowing!
Minako gets her clothes dirty on wet paint and so her and Usagi go clothes shopping, a great excuse to bond! They get ambushed by fans at the store and Usagi dresses herself up as Minako, using her clothes and not her magic phone, and distracts the crowd. Minako thinks this is stupid because she could just have taken the back door. This reminds me of myself, a cynic calling out something ridiculous from this show! This would have been a perfect time to ditch Usagi completely but I guess Minako wanted her hat back and so she meets up with Usagi again!
Finally the two end up in a ferris wheel, why not, and Usagi gives Minako a cake for Christmas. To their surprise the two eat it the same way which they find quite funny and in this, Minako finally allows herself to laugh and relax for the first time in ages. Indeed even Minako, originally dismissive of Usagi’s simple mindedness and lack of focus on her mission, warms up to Usagi’s kind hearted optimism! All of the girls are lonely and find friendship in Usagi and Minako is no different. In her case she secluded herself for the purpose of her important mission. With this she finally decides it’s time to reveal herself to the gang.
Following the battle with Minako’s manager monster Sailor V shows up and transforms into Princess Sailor Venus. She’s got a tiara! Oh wait they all have tiaras… She has a tiara fitting of an actual Princess! She also has a crescent Moon on her forehead in the style of Princess Serenity. Artemis the cat shows up and presents Sailor Venus as the Princess of the Silver Millennium! Looks like the gang’s all together and there are no more mysteries! Sailor “Venus” is the Princess of the “Moon” Kingdom and Sailor Moon is just another guardian. Makes sense! Case closed. This revaluation somewhat resembles the appearance of Sailor Venus in the manga which takes place at the end of Act 7, Mamoru Chibi – Tuxedo Mask, and beginning of Act 8, Minako – Sailor V, but the rest of these manga chapters have little relevance to this story and we the big Princess switcheroo from early in Act 8 doesn’t happen for a while or possibly ever!
There’s another confrontation between Zoisite and Tuxedo Mask but this time Zoisite remembers something important! Tuxedo Mask is Endymion! Mamoru recognizes this name too, but what does it mean? Maybe it was his name back when he was courting the Princess. You know Sailor Venus who is the Princess! It’s in the episode title “Sailor V’s True Identity Was The Princess”. During this confrontation Sailor Venus attacks Zoisite with an unnamed attack which appears to be crescent beam and he turns into a rock. They’re running out of Shittennou. Maybe they should bring in Kunzite!
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.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Nearly 5 months before actual Christmas Bandai enveiled these Christmas themed Sailor Moon Petit Chara figures at Wonder Festival 2015. These variant figures of Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Chibi Moon are in their Sailor Guardian forms but with Santa Claus hats and outfits matching their colours. In addition many of the Sailor Guardians have a special item. Sailor Mercury has a book of carols. Sailor Mars is holding a candle. Sailor Jupiter has a bag of gifts. Sailor Venus has angel’s wings. A mini Artemis which resembles a small snowman accompanies Sailor Venus, though no Luna appears to be included in this set.
Why now? Why not at Christmas time? Well the toys will actually be released in November, they’re just being announced now. Wouldn’t these toys make great Christmas decorations?
Keep reading for individual photos of the figures.