Honestly every time I think about the 90s Dream and Stars I just…
like, look, there were a lot of decisions made in the 90s that were pretty WTF. Basically just forgetting to give the Dark Kingdom any motivation or backstory, especially forgetting to include the backstory for the shittenou, relegating Sailor Pluto’s role in her introductory season to that of basically a breathing “Do Not Enter” sign and not giving her?? ANYTHING?? to do???
But the decisions made for Dream and Stars seem like active financial sabotage sometimes.
Like, hi, I’m Naoko Takeuchi. You want to make merch of my story?
Here, have four new asteroid senshi for you to sell dolls, transformation items, and merch of.
Or you could just cut them, wtf.
Here, have a whole new set of crystals to sell alongside the Silver Crystal. One for each senshi and Tuxedo Mask!
Or, okay, skip that too, I guess. It’s definitely not going to become relevant in the next arc. Oops, wait, yes it is, my bad.
Speaking of new action figures and dolls, here’s human forms for all of the cats!
OR NOT. Okay…
Well, I made this thing called the “Holy Moon Chalice” as an upgrade to the holy grail that… oh, you’re not even listening.
Fine, you said you want new senshi for dolls! Here’s new senshi! So many new senshi! Look at this one, she’s a l i t e r a l b u t t e r f l y!
You skipped her? She was an important part of the journey into the Galaxy C- YOU CUT THE EPIC FINAL BATTLE IN THE HEART OF SPACE?
Well, you at least included my beautifully designed enigmatically mysterious final Sailor Senshi, right? Have you seen her? Have you seen how pretty she is? How compellingly vague and enticingly incomplete her story is? Look at her!
So Chibiusa is 900 years old but her parents never notice her weird thing about her father?
Much as I’m hating Black Lady sucking face with her future father (AND OH I DO), I do see where it’s more complicated than that. Or at least In how I’m choosing to interpret it, let me say. I have absolutely no confidence in Takeuchi’s writing nuance, and so don’t know how much of this I would say is incidental and how much is intentional.
In the context of 900-year old Chibi-Usa (MY ETERNAL FAVE), Black Lady has really only improved on the situation in one way: physically. Her body is adult, but her emotional maturity is still about eight years old. I don’t know that many of Black Lady’s actions don’t stem from a child “playing” at being adult now.
You hear things like “I’m going to marry daddy when I grow up” from little kids, and it doesn’t mean they literally want to bone their dad, it’s a child’s lack of understanding of different forms of love and the nature of a marriage, and a bunch of shit they literally can’t understand yet because they’re a child.
So as much as I’m against 900-year old Chibs (AND I AM), and as much as I want to throw up when I see them kiss (AND I DO), I don’t see it as Chibs having “a weird thing about her father” (and this isn’t even necessarily her father in her eyes because it’s Mamoru, though I agree her renaming him Endymion is intensely wtf) so much as just Chibi-Usa being very young and very alone and very confused and trying to act like she thinks she’s “supposed” to act now that she’s suddenly become “an adult”.
HAVING SAID ALL OF THIS
Even if this WAS Takeuchi’s intent – something I am not at all convinced of – I think she did a piss poor job with it. Black Lady has been fanatically devoted to Wiseman throughout this, which dulls the personal edge from any of her actions, making them seem more “because I’m evil” than “because I am Chibi-Usa and this is how I’m hurting”.
Chibs hasn’t shown this jealousy over or need to “claim” Mamoru at all. She’s really been nothing but sweet to Usagi and doesn’t seem to mind Mamoru spending time with her at all. Her motivations here would actually make more sense if she and Usagi had been bickering over him, though gods know I loathe that shit and would never invite it.
The impetus for Chibs running away and being caught by Wiseman in the first place was driven by Pluto, and yet none of this is about Pluto. I feel this is the greatest misstep in the whole thing. Black Lady hasn’t even brought Pluto up. She immediately targeted Mamoru and then seemed satisfied, but that’s an avenue she never had to fight to win. Mamoru willingly gave Chibs everything she needed whenever she needed it. It feels to me like, once again, the conflict has to be turned towards keeping Usagi and Mamoru at its center, by default making it NOT about Chibi-Usa, which feels the saddest fucking thing of all, frankly.
I REALIZE I’M GOING WAY OFF-TOPIC HERE I APOLOGIZE. Just, to my eyes, story would be so much more dynamic and interesting and with 100% less deep-throat father kissing if Black Lady had turned her attention to the one person Chibs felt the most betrayed by, the one person in all the world she thought was hers and only hers.
Is it just me or is Chibs a sadder child than she ever was in anime R? I mean considering that theory you just put out about Endymion's hologram having the ability to touch stuff but phasing out JUST as Chibs runs to hug him really makes me wonder what kind of parents he and NQS are! Like, no fucking wonder?
Chibi-Usa is VERY much coming across sadder and more sympathetic to me in the manga so far. And I say that as someone who didn’t find her particularly UNsympathetic in anime R. I’m struggling to find much of anything that’s working for me in the manga, but Chibs would definitely be one of those things. And, as utterly frustrating and so done with him as I am otherwise, so is Mamoru when it comes to Chibs.
I’ve been pondering on that for a bit, and I think there are a few reasons for it.
For one, Usagi is overreacting SO DRAMATICALLY that you’re sympathetic to everyone else by default, in a way, as being The Reasonable People In The Room. The manga also has less Usagi and Chibs conflict, so there are less opportunities to find Chibs annoying (or at least annoying in that way, mileage varies otherwise). Then there’s how Chibs so badly just wants COMFORT, which is a perfectly natural thing for any kid, and even more so one who’s been through what she has. That she’s struggling to find it (or “keep” it, such as with Mamoru) elicits a sympathetic, even protective response.
In a similar vein to the reduced conflict, I think this is one of the few times where I’d feel the manga’s pace is its asset. The anime had to spin its wheels so much sometimes, which was usually a plus in my view because it allowed for the character focus that I live for. But I think even Chibs would start to tax that sympathy if we got basically the same “poor me uwu” every week for thirty-something episodes, however understandable it may be. So in the anime, Chibs was given more than that. Even though she was years younger in anime R, she was more proactive to find and “steal” the ginzuishou to help her mum. She was being hunted, but because that was a weekly thing, dangerous situations had to be created for Chibs to happen or wander or run into. In a way then, anime R Chibs, particularly for a while there, is much less a sympathetic victim, which is almost entirely the tug of manga R Chibs (who in exchange lacks nearly all of anime R Chibs’ gumption and spunk).
But for what it’s trying to do right now, I find myself with little but complete sympathy for manga Chibs, and my heart goes out to her almost constantly.