Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie (Parts 1 and 2): In the Name of the Moon, I Watched This – Netflix Review

Having watched almost no previous Sailor Moon, I felt like I could go ahead and take on this challenge. I was wrong.

There’s not going to be a real summary section to this. I decided that my limited comprehension of what was going on is best represented by me drunkenly dictating my thoughts into my computer’s voice-to-text. I’m four shots in, and I have no f*cking idea what happened, but here’s what I remember. 

****SPOILERS****

It started off with a knock-off Rita Repulsa actually named Zirconia (Naomi Watanabe/Barbara Goodson), then there was an eclipse, a pegasus (but actually an alicorn) called Helios (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Brian Beacock), and an H.R. Geiger circus. I assumed this meant there would be xenomorph clowns or something coming, but fortunately it ended up mostly being girls in form-fitting outfits. Anyway, Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru (Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond), Sailor Moon/Usagi (Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh), and their time-travelling 900-year-old-but-somehow-still-five-years-old daughter Sailor Chibi Moon/Chibiusa (Misato Fukuen/Sandy Fox) are having a sleepover.  Oh, and Chibiusa is hot for her dad, which is creepy on several levels, but I guess daddy issues are still a thing in the future. 

If it has a horn and wings, it’s an alicorn. Friendship is magic.

Zirconia’s boss, Nehelenia (Nanao/Laura Post), orders her to attack the Sailor Scouts so she can get a crystal that I am guessing I should have known about from previous arcs. Zirconia passes the task to her minions, the Amazoness Quartet: JunJun, VesVes, CereCere, and PallaPalla (Yuko Hara/Erika Ishii, Rie Takahashi/Erica Lindbeck, Reina Ueda/Cassandra Lee Morris, Sumire Morohoshi/Xanthe Huynh). They have a tiger attack Usagi and Chibiusa and the girls almost die cuz they can’t transform but then they get an upgrade and the horse blesses them and then everything is back to normal. There are things called Lemures that the dub pronounces “lemurs,” and I wanted to break the f*cking TV every time they said it, that the Amazons from the creepy circus summon to trap people in nightmares, but the horse upgrade lets Sailor Moon and Mini Moon get rid of them. Then Mamoru gets lung cancer, but apparently it’s actually a flower? Modern medicine was not prepared for this. 

Oh, and Usagi and Chibiusa switch ages for like 3 minutes and that’s still weird.

The Amazon Quartet turn a fish, a tiger, and a bird into three members of a knockoff version of the Misfits. Not the real band, the ones from Jem and the Holograms. The three animals in human form try to trap Sailors Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter (Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins, Rina Satō/Cristina Vee, Ami Koshimizu/Amanda C. Miller) in their own nightmares, but the scouts beat them really easily (though Mercury does it the easiest, because she’s the best). Sailor Venus (Shizuka Itō/Cherami Leigh), whose cat Artemis (Taishi Murata/Johnny Yong Bosch) has a boner for her, gets attacked by the circus’s knife throwers, but she ends up killing them before the Amazons capture all of the scouts aside from Usagi, who collapses from another flower in her lungs. Turns out that Helios is also a priest from the center of the Earth and that he has a black flower in his chest because he’s actually projecting from a cage in the center of the Earth. Then, weirdly, Sailor Saturn (Yukiyo Fujii/Christine Marie Cabanos) is shown reading W.B. Yeats as part one ends. 

These are the evil minions, not a new all-girl J-pop band.

Part two starts with the reveal that Sailor Neptune (Sayaka Ohara/Lauren Landa) and Sailor Uranus (Junko Minagawa/Erica Mendez) are married now, and hopefully nobody tries to make them cousins again, because that’s f*cking weird. Or they’re not married but they wear matching rings along with Pluto? I’m hoping it’s a polycule, but I bet they wouldn’t allow that on television. Whatever, Neptune and Uranus are adorable together. Along with Sailor Pluto (Ai Maeda/Veronica Taylor), they are raising Sailor Saturn, who was apparently reborn as a kid? Anyway, Saturn gets her memory back of being a teen, then gives powers back to Sailors Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. They go save the other non-Moon scouts, because they’re still trapped by plants somehow, and then Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon show up only to be injured. They get healed and there’s something about crystals that, again, is probably part of the mythology that I skipped by not watching Sailor Moon Crystal (oh, THAT’S why they call it that). Also, the horse dies, but death means less here than it does in a comic book, so he’ll be fine.

Don’t call them the B-Team, they get sh*t done.

All of the scouts go to fight Nehelenia, whose backstory is revealed as basically Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and they all get trapped until some power of love stuff. Sailor Moon gets another transformation sequence into Eternal Sailor Moon, and she fixes everything with the power of… moon love crystal stuff. The horse comes back to life (told you), and the Amazons are revealed to be asteroid scouts, because we’re out of other celestial bodies. Everyone lived happily ever after until next season, unless this is the finale. 

Tuxedo Mask is there too, but who cares.

It’s really funny that throughout most of this, it really hit me how much Sailor Moon is just Dragon Ball Z for girls. Death means nothing, time travel subplots abound, random villains show up that are somehow stronger than the last ones despite the last ones being “the strongest in the universe,” and the new bad guy is always beaten by some new transformation or technique pulled out at the very last minute. Given how much of my childhood I spent watching roided up people with spiky hair yelling at each other before firing beams, it’s not surprising that a lot of people spent theirs watching cute girls transform into superheroes and… well, still largely stand around yelling before firing beams. At least on Sailor Moon there are a lot of characters with varied personalities and a nice overlap between personal problems and superhero problems. The movie even drives this home by having the villains attack their insecurities more than attack their physical forms. 

And at least some of that insecurity is that they will never look as fabulous as these anthropomorphic minions.

Overall, it’s a movie that’s designed for young girls, but I get why so many people love it. More power to you.  

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Great Pretender (Season 2): The Long Con – Netflix Review

One of my new favorite shows returns for a new season and a massive scheme.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Makoto “Edamame” Edamura (Chiaki Kobayashi/Griffin Faulkner) is a small time con man who gets tricked by international major con-artist Laurent Thierry (Junichi Suwabe/Aaron Phillips). Chasing Laurent, Edamura ends up getting dragged into a scheme by Laurent and his team, consisting of the muscle Abigail Jones (Natsumi Fujiwara/Kausar Mohammed) and actress Cynthia Moore (Mie Sonozaki/Laura Post). The trio, now a quartet, work to scam money from the most evil people on the planet, often with the help of Edamame’s associate Kudo (Yōhei Tadano/Mike Pollock) and Laurent’s old friend Kim Si Won (Kujira/Karen Huie). Despite Edamura’s attempts to get out of working with the trio and to reform his life, he keeps getting dragged back in. Now, it turns out that Edamura’s new employers in his “honest” life are involved in international child slavery. The team reunites for one last score, as they say.

Guess which one keeps getting dragged back in?

END SUMMARY

When I first watched this show, I felt it had many of the same strengths as the show Leverage, but with the advantage of being able to spend multiple episodes on the same heist. There were only three total heists in the first season, which allowed them sufficient time to explore the characters and to show more of the work that is going into each of the cons. They all take place in new locations and with wildly different modi operandi, which continues to keep them interesting. The second season doubles down on that quite a bit by being only a single heist, just one that gets increasingly more and more complex as more players keep entering the story.

And the bad guy is fully prepared to kill anyone at all times.

A big thing is that, while two of the cases in the first season expanded on Abigail and Cynthia, this season gives us a deeper picture of the motivations behind Makoto and Laurent. As you would expect from a pair of criminals who seem to have strong internal moral codes, their backgrounds are extremely compelling. I particularly love the reveal of what drives Laurent, but Makoto’s story is the one that actually ends up continuing during the present narrative. 

I’m not sure how long ago the flashback is, but he’s got some 90s hair.

The other thing I really like about this season is that it posits that what the gang does is not just good for society, it’s actually good for their victims. Many of the people they steal from, or at least their families, seem to have become genuinely better people after they realize that the money and power that gave them immunity also led to their corruption. It turns out that the power cannot compensate for the feeling of a clean conscience. I’d like to believe that to be true, even for all of the powerful bastards out there.

Not that it stops them from seeking some payback.

Overall, still a good series. Check it out if you haven’t.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

The Promised Neverland: A Horrifying Premise, a Fantastic Follow-Through – Netflix Anime Review

This show has a disturbing set-up and uses the heck out of it.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Emma (Sumire Morohoshi/Erica Mendez), Norman (Maaya Uchida/Jeannie Tirado), and Ray (Mariya Ise/Laura Stahl) are three 11 year old children who live together at an orphanage called “Grace Field House.” They live an idyllic existence with their foster siblings and their caretaker whom they call Mom/Mother (Yūko Kaida/Laura Post). One night, after one of their siblings is adopted, Norman and Emma sneak out to give the child her stuffed animal, only to find the child dead at the hands of a demon. It turns out that Grace Field House is not an orphanage, it’s a farm and they’re the crop. Now the three have to find a way to escape along with their other siblings while evading Mom and her assistant, Sister Krone (Nao Fujita/Rebeka Thomas). 

The neck tattoo numbers should have been an indicator.

END SUMMARY

This show is one of the most aggressively disturbing set-ups I’ve seen in a long time. It hits harder than many shows because it’s not just a dystopia, it’s a dystopia focused on killing children. Almost all of it, at least so far, has been off-screen, but it’s still a horrifying idea that this happy orphanage is literally just raising children to be slaughtered. The show does a good job of keeping the pressure on all of the characters through that and it’s all the heavier because these are young people who normally wouldn’t have to consider their mortality. 

Yeah, that moment where your life gets torn apart.

What sets the show’s cast of characters apart is that these aren’t normal 11 year olds, they’re all prodigies on an epic scale. They not only are heavily educated, but they’re constantly trained to think critically. The explanation of WHY they were raised that way is a bit of a stretch (at least the one they gave so far), but it justifies having a hypercompetent set of protagonists so I can accept it. Against a normal adult, these kids would likely triumph without issue, so naturally their opposition, Mom, has to be unbelievably intelligent and resourceful. Watching the two groups scheme and counter-scheme is like watching a high-level chess match, sometimes literally. It’s tense and exciting and full of twists. 

She oscillates between loving and sadist very easily.

Overall, this was a really solid series. It’s rough to watch, because of the plot, but it’s worth it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Great Pretender: It’s Leverage Meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Netflix Anime Review

Netflix brings us a new heist series from the studio that animates Attack on Titan.

SUMMARY

Makoto Edamura (Chiaki Kobayashi/Alan Lee) is a Japanese man who was forced into becoming a con artist after being the fall guy for a fraudulent corporation. He attempts to run a scam on a French man named Laurent Thierry (Junichi Sawabe/Aaron Phillips), only to find out that Laurent is a much better con man. Makoto chases after Laurent and ends up following him to the US, where he finds out that Laurent is a gentleman thief who steals from the corrupt. The two end up becoming associates after Laurent drags Makoto into a scam on a drug dealer. Along with Laurent’s associates Abigail and Cynthia (Natsumi Fujiwara/Kausar Mohammed and Mie Sonozaki/Laura Post), the pair travel the world trying to take money from the most despicable people on Earth.

They’re a fairly diverse group of thieves.

END SUMMARY

I was a big fan of the show Leverage, but I often found it to be too formulaic. It was a series about repeatedly committing elaborate heists and, as Rick and Morty pointed out, eventually having a big reveal that everything was “just part of the plan” gets old. This show manages to avert that a bit by having each of the heists consist of four or five episodes apiece. The first season actually only consists of three separate heists and, with so much time to spend on the stories, they’re able to focus more on the growth of the main characters, mostly Makoto. While it does still tend to have a “let me tell you how it really happened” finale, the fact that they’re spaced out by several hours and usually less dramatic than in films like Ocean’s Eleven helps to make it easier to deal with.

Yes, Rick you can make a tired genre watchable through character development.

Makoto and Laurent’s relationship is one of the more interesting facets of the show. Laurent is the more talented one of the pair and operates on a completely different scale from Edamura, however, he’s also somewhat colder and more unforgiving towards his victims. In the first heist, for example, Edamura becomes concerned about the welfare of one of the goons working for the target and his son, even risking everything to help them. Laurent would likely have just ensured everyone went down if it weren’t for Edamura. However, Laurent considers his business to be completely moral, something that Edamura starts to doubt after the initial partnership. Edamura frequently states that he’s getting out, but, naturally, after Laurent lays out the pitch to him, he tells the son of a b*tch that he’s in. Their relationship bounces between mentor and student, partners, and semi-rivals, which keeps it interesting.

And occasional wingmen.

In terms of supporting characters, Abigail and Cynthia both end up getting a bit more development than I had expected from the beginning and there have been hints that there is still a lot of ground to explore. I feel like Laurent’s background is the least explored as of now, but that is natural given that the show is really only starting. The villains that the cast deals with are also expanded upon better than I would have thought. While many of them are still unrepentant in their lack of care for their victims, they also seem to have some personal relationships that matter to them, which is more than we usually get for targets in shows like this. 

I want to know where Laurent gets those shirts.

Overall, I really did enjoy this show. It’s more character-driven than most heist series. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.