I am seriously excited to see Minako getting to bond with the others; this is the first time since she showed up thirty-two episodes ago where she’s getting to really interact with someone who isn’t Usagi. It’s not something I think I noticed much the first time around, but Minako’s lack of integration has been bugging the heck out of me.
It’s an interesting look at the group dynamic too (intentionally removing Usagi since she’s the hub). A special friendship between Rei and Ami makes sense, since it was just the two of them for so long, and at a time when nobody really had any idea what was going on, so they had a lot of scary learning and growing up to do really quickly. Then Mako shows up, and again they have a bit of time where it’s just the three of them; Mako going to the same school as Ami clearly helped the two of them bond tight, while Rei and Mako have a mutual respect but a complete lack of understanding (which I touched on a bit ago), which brings its own interesting style of friendship.
Then Minako comes in and while the group becomes complete, she also hovers at the edges of it. That makes sense; she’s an outsider in every way. They’ve got history together that she’s too late for, a reputation to push past, and she doesn’t even have the advantage of going to the same school. Plus she’s so used to being on her own that however gregarious she is, Minako’s brain is still in loner mode. She’s not used to having close friends that she can share everything with; the few times she’s tried that haven’t exactly worked out well. I feel like Minako’s just been going through the motions. They’re her comrades, her allies, but not her friends.
That’s changed, though, or IS changing. I’m not sure when it happens — my rewatch is just a step or two above watching it for the first time so I don’t have the context of what’s to come when I think about this stuff — but it definitely does. And I’m thrilled for Minako about that. It breaks my heart that of all the Senshi, the girl whose personality should’ve made it the easiest actually had a harder time than anyone in accepting her friends.
I get so ridiculously thrilled around this point in the series, because Minako is really an awesome kid. She still comes off as the outlier for a while, but she’s being inexorably sucked in. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED, BLONDIE
(which may be the exact wording I used when we made our blonde best girlfriend start watching the show. I’m so proud, she’s up to Mako’s introduction. <3)
Anyway, on Minako — I believe it’s this season where she starts to realize “hey, I don’t have to do this solo anymore, I don’t have to be ‘the strong one’, I can just be me ‘cuz I’ve got these people who like me just fine”. And then she starts going batshit crazy and yeah Minako babe you’re as much a mess as the rest of these kids.