This is a review and discussion of Live Action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Act 5, Is Usagi a True Friend?, and Act 6, The Transfer Student is Sailor Jupiter. These episodes aired on TV in Japan on November 1st and 8th respectively and, as with earlier episodes, those dates seem to match dates in the show as a calendar in Usagi’s room shows that the month is November. For the first time we get a live action original story with Act 5 and Act 6. While Act 6 is somewhat close to the manga Act 5, is still its own original story. While it may have seemed at first like this would be an episode per episode adaptation for the manga, this is no longer the case and the series will continue to deviate from the source material as it goes on. Want a faithful adaptation? Watch Sailor Moon Crystal! This series is about to do its own thing!
Act 5 is all about Ami doubting her friendship with Usagi. There’s a monster in here somewhere, but that small aside is almost unnecessary to the story. This is a pure drama episode focusing on the friendship between Usagi and Ami. In earlier episodes it seemed as if things were going well for those two, but we are quickly learning that for Ami, making friends doesn’t come all that naturally. As she goes through her daily life she sees a number of examples telling her that many friendships are not as they appear, and so she begins to doubt the strength of her bond with Usagi. This goes so far as to having her imagine being shot by Usagi! Like mother, like daughter! Though my mind always goes to Chibiusa when I see Usagi with a gun, there is an early image of Usagi drawn by Naoko Takeuchi which similarly shows Sailor Moon wielding a gun. This was drawn before the concept of Sailor Moon was completely figured out.
Ami buys a book, “How To Be A True Friend” which gives advise that she doesn’t really follow all that well. This causes her to act atypical in a number of ways. She speaks to Usagi more casually, using the honorific “chan”, which was something Usagi had mentioned she wanted her to use. The “chan” honorific is used between friends while the “san” honorific is more formal. When other students boo the teacher because of a surprise test, she boos along! She even intentionally fails the test (or pretends to have failed the test) in order to help out with chores as punishment. She even skips her cram school in order to go to a pyjama party with Usagi and Naru. This is not the Ami we are used to, and it’s not one we will see for long!
This pyjama party is some weird stuff. It’s no one’s birthday, but it’s full of streamers! The girls sing karaoke and Ami claps along in a robot like motion and finally joins in. When it comes to trying on makeup however things are not as easy as screaming a catch phrase and transforming. Ami ends up looking like a clown causing Usagi and Naru to laugh, which Ami perceives as laughing at her. Distraught she tries to wash it off and collapses out of exhaustion. Usagi finds the book and is upset that Ami is trying to be someone she’s not. She tells her that lying is the one thing friends don’t do! Usagi, of course, is a good friend through all of this but Ami only sees evidence that their friendship is eroding as she basically is hearing her state ways in which they aren’t real friends. She doesn’t say “chan” and they lie to each other.
Meanwhile Rei, who herself has been shown to be very antisocial in past episodes, is very socially aware and the voice of reason. She tells Usagi not to push things and she’s totally right! What we have in Ami and Rei are a girl who doesn’t have friends because she’s bad at it and a girl who doesn’t have friends because she doesn’t want any!
There’s a whole glasses sub plot. Ami wears fake glasses, which is pretty odd. Do people really do this? I’ve recently started wearing real glasses and it’s a real pain to get used to. As I type this I’m distracted by the visible frames and twitching my nose, but Ami feels some sort of comfort from them. This makes me wonder… what if she really needed glasses? Ami wears glasses but Sailor Mercury doesn’t! Does transforming somehow heal all physical limitations? In the not at all canon Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon series which only ever had a pilot which never went to air, Sailor Mercury was in a wheel chair but when she transformed she still needed a special flying vehicle (which we can’t call a wheel chair because it doesn’t have wheels) to move around. Would a Sailor Guardian with glasses have something like Sailor Mercury’s visor? Regardless, they’re fake, and by the end of the episode Ami finds she isn’t wearing them anymore which is a sign of her gradual transition into the person she was pretending to be.
Ami also manages to call Usagi by her given name “Usagi” by the end, though there is no “chan” honorific included. This is an upgrade from the “Tsukino-san” she would usually say. Moreso Naru and Usagi’s other friends refer to Ami as the more informal “Ami-chan” instead of the formal “Mizuno-san” they had been using. This was a small change none of them had noticed, but indicative of an overall acceptance on their part that they were seeing Ami differently. The use of honorifics in this show and anime in general isn’t something that is always obvious to western viewers who don’t use such terms, but this episode in particular illustrates how different honorifics can be used even between classmates at the same level and that this can tell us something about their relationship. Throughout the series it is notable that Usagi very quickly uses the “chan” honorific when she first encounters the Sailor Guardians. This is an example of how easily she makes friends and is reflective of her genuine kind heart.
A bit of trivia. Early in the episode when Ami is listening to the radio she’s tuned to the FM frequency 77.7. This would refer to a 77.7 MHz carrier frequency. The problem? This is out of the normal range for FM radio which is in the range of 87.5 to 108 MHz. So what’s at 77.7 MHz? Pretty much nothing! A bit of reading at Wikipedia tells me that in the US and Canada radio controlled devices generally use between 72 and 76 MHz, putting this frequency between those that are commonly used. I don’t know why Ami isn’t just tuning in to everyone’s favourite radio station, FM no. 10!
Act 6 introduces us to Makoto Kino, Sailor Jupiter. She’s played by Mew Azama who I feel perfectly captures the character both in the way she looks and acts. The immediately evident thing about her is that she’s incredibly tall, and we’ll notice that whenever we see a group shot of the girls either posing in the show or in promotional material. Check out the new banner I’m using for the site and you’ll see that she’s leaning in and still taller than everyone else! This episode once again has a lot of drama and emotion and to me is one of the high points of the series. One might be inclined to say that, like with the episodes introducing the other characters, that this episode follows the manga Act 5, Makoto – Sailor Jupiter, but upon some reflection the only resemblance is the appearance of Makoto. While the Manga story centres around a wedding dress shop this episode is about basketball and no more resembles it in any way than the anime episode 25, Jupiter – the Powerful Girl in Love, with Crane Game Joe follows it. The anime, similarly, introduces Sailor Moon, Mercury and Mars in similar ways to the manga, but did not do the same for Sailor Jupiter or Venus.
Basketball is a major theme here and I wonder if anyone working on the show ever actually played the game. I’m no pro myself but at 6’2″ it was inevitable that I end up shooting a few hoops from time to time in my day, although a general lack of coordination and athleticism kept me from excelling at the sport. The superstar basketball player that all the girls show up to watch play is Takeru and this dude is not at all well equipped to play basketball! He’s wearing a really inappropriate hat and his scarf can’t possibly be doing him any good. Instead of basketball shoes he’s got these old and busted boots. Nice superstar! I wonder, do people really do this kind of thing in Japan? Just hang around a basketball court fawning over a run of the mill street player and taking photos? It reminds me a bit of episode 14 of the anime that centred around tennis where everyone turned out in droves to watch a player.
Usagi, creeping around the court to watch this Takeru guy, gets confronted and intimidated by a few jerks. Makoto shows up, protects her, and beats the crap out of them! How fantastic. Makoto is a transfer student from another school where, rumour has it, she got in a fight and so she got kicked out! As always Makoto is wearing the wrong school uniform and although it isn’t mentioned the idea is that she continues to wear this because she’s so tall and that her new school doesn’t have a uniform in her size. I don’t know how sizes work in Japan but as I understand it in North America women’s clothes sizes only affect width and for height you get petite, grande and venti clothes. I think that’s right…
Makoto has no friends, and so she hangs out on the roof at lunch time in the no friends club with Ami! As always though, Usagi is there to become her friend! This seems natural at this point as Makoto helped defend her. While walking on a bridge Usagi walks on a ledge to compensate for the fact that Makoto is so tall! Shopping montage! The two go shopping and try on various humorous clothes. The store they go to is Claire’s which is a chain which has locations here in Canada. A good place to buy gloves during prom season which work for Sailor Moon cosplay! Makoto is new to the area, having not only changed schools but also having moved in to a new place. She lives on her own since, as she states, her parents died when she was 10. These backstories keep getting more tragic! More important than that, as we eventually learn, is that she left because of her “Sempai”, a theme which is always around for Makoto. She compares various boys she finds attractive to her “Sempai”, a term which here means a student of a higher grade, something which in the English dub was a reference to her “old boyfriends” though in reality it does not seem like they ever dated. We see a number of people leaving Makoto at one point and it seems like one of them is likely her Sempai. There are two teenaged boys in the mix but I imagine the last one to leave, the well dressed one, is meant to be him.
When Makoto arrives home at her apartment one night she finds a love letter from Takeru inviting her to show up at a fountain at 10. Makoto arrives early in the morning, but hours and hours go by and no one shows up. This bears a striking similarity to episode 147 of Sailor Moon SuperS, Destined Partners? Makoto’s Innocence, in which Makoto waits for hours in the rain for Tiger’s Eye who has stood her up. Inspiration for this series from the anime is certainly possible, as that series had completed airing years before this series began production. In this story however, Takeru did not stand her up at all. The letter was a cruel prank by the three basketball jerks which causes great heartbreak to Makoto. Luckily Luna sees this and, somehow, is able to alert the girls via their cell phones. I expect she could communicate with them when in the headquarters but she’s clearly on the go when she sees this which makes me once again wonder if Luna’s powers have any limit!
This leads to a completely ridiculous and hilarious scene in which Usagi, Ami and Rei seek to take revenge on the basketball jerks by somehow using their phones to transform into basketball players? Does using a magic phone to make yourself wear basketball clothes make you better at basketball? This episode seems to suggest that yes it does, which makes us wonder why this isn’t used for actual saving the world purposes! So the girls show up looking all bad ass and totally cream these jerks at basketball using seemingly superhuman abilities to do things like jump super high. Justice?
Meanwhile through a conversation with Rei she mentions that she doesn’t like boys. Does this mean she likes girls? The interpretation from the manga would more mean that she’s not interested in boys, not that she’s interested in girls instead. In this way she’s quite unlike her boy crazy anime counterpart, though in other ways she is much like she was in the anime. In the manga it is mentioned by Rei and Minako that as Sailor Guardians their dedication to protecting the Princess precludes them from pursuing romantic relationships. Though this passage somewhat resembles the sentiment Rei mentions here, it can’t be said that it’s for the same reasons. Rei has only been a Sailor Guardian for a brief time, around a month by my estimate, and does not know who the Princess is or have full access to her memories of her previous life. It seems like this attitude about men is one she had before meeting Usagi. Further, without getting into specifics, the girls continue to pursue romantic relationships and it’s strongly indicated that far in the future at least one of the Sailor Guardians, besides the Princess, will herself be getting married.
Finally Takeru seemingly shows up at Makoto’s apartment but he’s actually possessed by a monster and he takes her to a dimension filled with candles. Makoto is so hardcore that she resists his charm and decks him. Woo! We get a real sad montage of everyone who’s left her, but Sailor Moon comes in to take Makoto’s hand, perfect symbolism of Usagi’s friendship which saves Makoto from a life of loneliness. Takeru, it turns out, is a bit of a wuss as he flees from the monster in terror while hardcore Makoto faces him. He’s quickly dispatched and the four Sailor Guardians are finally together as a team! Now there’s just that pesky business of finding the Princess…
We get a glimpse of Zoisite as the episode ends. Again, he looks very little like his manga and anime counterpart, except for the pony tail.
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.