The Sailors lend themselves REALLY well to fancy fanart.
And we’re back for more episodes! Hopefully with MORE exposition, now that Chibi-Usa is back and we can start HER little bit of characterization. And we hit the halfway point of Sailor Moon S, which is good, because that’s about when they really kick things into overdrive.
The girls are visiting High Schools now, and come across the Victim of the Week- a famous athlete named “Elza Gray”, who appears distinctly non-Japanese (dark skin with red/pink hair). Who FEELS UP Mako & Minako to determine the firmness of their asses, and suggests this makes them ideal for track & field. And the girls then laugh this off (#MeToo). However, the Daimon strikes REALLY early, as this whole thing is just a prelude to the origin story of Sailor Uranus (who was an old rival of Elza’s). Haruka recalls being confronted with her destiny by Michiru, who shared the same prophetic dreams about The Silence. Haruka “Resists The Call”, wishing for a normal life, and her own dreams, which Michiru derides as selfish. However, Michiru later confesses that she feels the same way, but is obligated to sacrifice herself to defend humanity- she ALSO confesses that shes totes in love with Haruka, in that “it’s pretty clear, but she doesn’t SAY it” way, admitting that “I want to be the girl who rides with you by the sea”, and that she was following Haruka’s career BEFORE she knew she was gonna be a Sailor. OMG you guys, the feelz.
Back to the present, the two Sailors interrupt the Monster snaring the others (because OF COURSE it has an ensarement attack), and make short work of it- Uranus even keeping up with the goofy-ass jogging “Shoe-Torso” Daimon in a race, because “I am the wind, after all”. Haruka thinks to herself about this never-ending battle that she’s chosen, but confesses “I’m glad I met you, Michiru”. And then says “I won’t let you go home tonight”, which I’m desperately hoping means the same thing it would mean in English.
An interesting episode. Haruka’s origin story is pretty boring (essentially “she gets confronted by Neptune”), but the actual CHARACTER part of it is fascinating, as she, like Usagi, never wanted this life, and feels constrained by her duty. But the whole Haruka/Michiru thing is REALLY explicit here, to the point where nobody could really miss out on it. And then she and Neptune gain TRANSFORMATION SEQUENCES!!!
(First Appearance: Uranus & Neptune Transformation Sequences)
Chibi-Usa has a first crush! Well, aside from the man who turns out to be her father, of course. But sadly, he’s in love with their art teacher… Michiru? Well hell. He even gives her flowers (“they represent passionate love!”)- she thankfully blows it off as a sweet gift and thanks him once she gets over the shock. That story’s over by the second act, however, as Eudial and her weird “Cubist Art Monster” Daimon attack.
It actually summons some creatures to fight Uranus & Neptune (doing rather well against Uranus, in fact), but Neptune figures out that water is their weakness (given that they’re sculpted from sand), and Deep Submerge nearly melts the Daimon, allowing Sailor Moon to finish it off.
Hi, I’m Tuxedo Mask, and I actually have plot relevance in this episode.
Mamoru meets a friend- and English gentleman living in a great manor house with international students frequently attending his parties. This one is curious, because it’s a sign of Mamoru’s “regular life” (he’s still a student), as well as a dubbing issue- the main crux of the matter is the girls being invited to a party where everyone speaks English. Except of course in the DUB this makes no sense, so it’s shifted to “they’ll be speaking proper English, so we need to speak it even better”. Nice touch, as Mako & Usagi have TERRIBLE English, but Rei joins them in shock & horror when it turns out they have to brush up on the language. Ami and Minako do not- Ami’s always the genius, of course, but Minako would normally be with them… except of course she lived in England for a time, and so speaks it with confidence. This hasn’t been brought up in like sixty episodes, so it’s good of them to remember that.
The girls are nervous at the party (most can’t keep up with Ami’s English skills), and Usagi grabs a drink to cool down. From a clear goblet. Oh yup, now Usagi is SHITFACED, and staggers through the ballroom, embarrassing herself more than usual. Though she sobers up quickly, and soon starts dancing with Haruka. Mamoru gives the Victim of the Week’s interesting backstory- he amassed a huge fortune while young, but found himself alone in the world and with no one to pass it on to, so decided to devote himself to the future on behalf of others. Sadly, this is mostly exposition- unlike the first season of the show Sailor Moon S is largely stuck with a huge cast, and so these backgrounders never really get too much focus.
And that’s the first half of Sailor Moon S! It’s really quite peculiar- this season contains some of the finest work of the series, and the animation is definitely better overall, but you can absolutely see them spinning their wheels at points. Dropping Kaolinite for Eudial adds absolutely nothing to the series, except that Eudial is slightly more silly, and prone to physical comedy. Both even have red hair! And really… 19 episodes in, and we don’t get even the slightest indication of who the villains are, how they interact with each other, or anything? Sure, mystery was a big component of other seasons (Metalia and Death Phantom were both hidden from the audience as well), but we at least SAW THE VILLAINS TALK TO EACH OTHER. A few comments between a “Professor” (who is STILL only seen in shadows) and his #2 agent/s don’t cut it.
The Haruka/Michiru dynamic is definitely a good shot in the arm for the series, however. The two are a fascinating contrast to the other Sailors, given that they’re more stoic and mature- they’re less emotional, and MUCH more aloof. Their comparative heartlessness and focus on their mission is in stark opposition to the emotional, “Save EVERYONE!” mentality of the other girls, giving us some great conflict. Though I will say that seeing them show up in EVERY episode gets a trifle dull, especially if they have nothing to really add. It makes them a bit too smug at times, and they dominate a lot of the plot at other moments. And now that the show has to stick in five Sailors, two OTHER Sailors, plus the Victim of the Week… they really gloss over a lot of stuff. Chibi-Usa’s crush being in love with Michiru, for example, doesn’t get much attention because there’s so much else going on. Hell, poor MAMORU hardly never shows up- Uranus & Neptune tend to take up his “save the day” role, leaving him out of things.
You can really see them screw around with the “Victim of the Week” mentality here, as some of these guys are COMPLETELY meaningless except as a backdrop to a fight- sometimes they just have a couple of lines apiece, compared to the first season, which would put a HUGE amount of focus on the famous painter, or Naru’s “older sister”. Every episode following the same format gets a trifle dull, though. Way too “same-y”.
Some Notes on Sailor Neptune:
Sailor Neptune is an odd one in the show- she’s so unlike Naoko Takeuchi that the manga’s writer admits she was way too hard to write, and that left her as the most bland character of the Sailors. The anime writers had more luck, essentially contrasting her femininity with Uranus’s far more masculine appearance and outlook. In the show, we see that Michiru Kaioh is more or less “The Perfect Japanese Woman”- beautiful, calm, serene, friendly but reserved, great at art and the violin, and utterly, inhumanly graceful. She represents the ideals of their culture so much that Usagi is practically infatuated, and ashamed of herself for being so clutzy and incapable by contrast (“I’m not worthy to be your BRIDE!” Usagi cries to Mamoru). An iconic scene from Sailor Moon S (ie. it showed up in a lot of gifs on “Sailor Neptune Shrines” back in the ’90s) showed Michiru catching a tossed lemon with the neck of her violin, then BOUNCING IT UP AND DOWN with the end of the violin while she continued to flawlessly play it!
Michiru was great when with Haruka- Haruka flirted with other girls, but Michiru completely no-sold it, joking about “flirting with young girls” and stuff like that- teasing Haruka instead of getting jealous. And while both girls were insistent on being cold and practical when it came to hunting for the Talismans, she would be much kinder about it, pitying the poor souls that could be lost, and chiding Uranus for being too cruel about it. At several points, a particularly kind-hearted person would be victimized, and Neptune, whose life revolved around finding the Talismans, would actually be JOYFUL that the person would not be a Talisman-Carrier, even though that would shorten their mission. Haruka would be shocked by this, but Neptune would just smile and say “I’m glad”.
Neptune, ultimately, was not that popular with fans- too much of her gimmick (Smart, Water-Themed Girl) was taken by Sailor Mercury, and she was TOO perfect- though her teasing of Uranus was always cute and humorous, her unflappable nature and general lack of flaws beyond “turns out to be wrong to be so cynical” made her a much blander character than most of the girls in the show.
Sailor Uranus- The Tough One:
Sailor Uranus is a LOT more famous than Sailor Neptune, going right down to her introduction- Neptune is more or less glossed over, while this “Haruka” boy is treated like the most handsome creature on Earth. Even USAGI is transfixed! Minako is basically in love with “him”, following him around and desperately trying to impress him, while the other girls just ogle. And of course, by episode’s end, we have the reveal that Haruka is anime’s most famous example of the “Bifauxnen”- a “Pretty Boy” who is actually a very tall, masculine GIRL.
Haruka passes off the mistake as “I never actually said I was a boy…”- she simply wears male clothing 90% of the time, wears her hair short, and eschews make-up. All the race-car driving, flirting with cute young girls, etc.- it’s all stuff Haruka just DOES. The manga even makes it clear “she’s both male and female”, in the way a 1990 story would mention somebody who was one sex, but played at being another. Regardless of that, she and Michiru were pretty clearly “together”, though they enjoyed teasing each other when Haruka flirted with “Bun-Head” or other girls.
As Sailor Uranus (pronounced “YERR-ah-nuss”, to avoid the gags that have been plaguing the character since before we ever received a dub!), Haruka was deeply cynical and pragmatic. Though this was also Neptune’s forte, Uranus went MUCH further, even scolding her partner for being thankful when someone they knew was revealed to not be carrying a Talisman, since this extended their mission. Michiru was always more despondent over the fact that innocents would have to die to unleash the Talismans, and even asked Haruka repeatedly when it turned out that USAGI must have been a carrier. In a great bit of characterization, Michiru would go “must we really do this?”, while Haruka, clearly agonizing over the decision, said things like how Usagi “MUST be sacrificed!”- it was practical, and the only then they knew they COULD do, but you could see how much it hurt.
This cynicism becomes even more pronounced in later episodes, when we discover ANOTHER point of argument between the Main Cast and the two new girls…
Next up… we’ll meet an adorable, innocent, not-at-all-frightening young girl named Hotaru Tomoe!! I bet she will in no way endanger all reality!