3:1 – Premonition of the World’s End? Mysterious New Warriors!
Alternative Title: Cleavage of Doom
First Aired: 19th March 1994
Although their recent battles have ended, the Sailor Senshi face a new threat: their high-school entrance exams. The girls try to buckle down and study hard, but Rei begins having disturbing visions of an impending cataclysm known as “The Silence”. Confused and worried, Rei is swiftly attacked a new form of enemy so powerful that it resists all attacks from the Senshi. With Rei’s “Pure Heart” torn from her, and Usagi helpless, mysterious new Senshi appear…
We made it! We’re here! I flippin’ adore Sailor Moon S. That is to say, I love all seasons in different ways, but this is probably the coolest out of the show. So many interesting developments and expansions on the Sailor Moon lore, so many awesome episodes and kick-ass moments.
And so much violin music.
It’ll be another long road to tackle every single episode of Sailor Moon S, but I’m very much looking forward to it. Let’s jump right on in!
First things first: a brand new opening. Sailor Moon S has a bit of an interesting opening when compared to the previous two seasons. There’s only one opening for the entire series, but it changes and develops as the series does. I’m not overly fond of it. The animation lacks the style and flair of all 4 of the previous openings, but there are several really stylish shots.
Also… Moonlight Densetsu has been rerecorded. God knows it needed to be done, that 1992 mix was getting rougher as technology progressed, but again, I’m not too fond of the arrangement. I actually prefer the original, even if the quality isn’t as high.
I’ll discuss the finer points of both music and animation in a post later in the series, I imagine.
The series proper opens on just the most horrific sound. It sounds like the Grim Reaper choking on a chicken bone. It’s truly disturbing.
Against this is a wonderfully dark shot of the Sailor Senshi frozen in, like, some sort of red stone. It’s very creepy.
The only one not frozen is Rei, whom we are to understand is seeing this vision. She mutters “the Silence is approaching…“, which may be the most metal moment of the whole of Sailor Moon.
As a dark whorl tears up a city, approaching Rei, a bright light appears behind her. Rei asks it “are you the Messiah?” (getting some super Christian imagery here guys) but the light appears not to give a shit, splitting into three and buggering off.
The Senshi all crumble away into darkness as the vision ends.
THAT IS TOTALLY BITCHIN’. I love this opening so much. It’s not even the best animation team, but goddamn they nailed the ambiance, they nailed the mystery, they nailed the foreshadowing for the rest of the season. Well done. This is Sailor Moon throwing down the gauntlet – there’s a reason this was the best anime of its age.
Rei wakes up with a start, to realise that the sucking horrible sound of Death was, in fact, Usagi snoring. I love this joke. Great tension reliever.
Rei begins to tell the girls about the dream she had, but Usagi, lovable and obtuse, begins describing her dream about having eaten too much ice-cream.
I don’t need to tell you now, but I love Usagi in this episode. In this entire series, in fact. She’s developed into a much richer and more likeable character than in the manga by this point. Sorry manga!
The girls are all studying for the high school entrance exams (this is truly one of the most gruelling and high-pressure times in a Japanese teenager’s life), which explains why Usagi was asleep. ‘Atta girl.
As the girls chat complete shit in the way that we’ve all come to love, Rei seems happy at first, but the memory of her friends being destroyed in her premonition dulls her mood.
A really great episode for Rei too. The Inner Senshi, bar Usagi, really weren’t developed much in Sailor Moon R (as much as I loved it). Already we’re getting some interesting indecision and worry from Rei, who is normally so aloof and haughty to her friends.
Cut to the mist awesome evil hide out ever. This is the Death Busters’ lair, a cool-as-fuck lab filled with test tubes and other sciencey stuff. I love the colours, I love the design, I love the creepy music, it’s perfect.
I normally hate fiction which demonises science and scientists for cheap villains. It usually reeks of this weird anti-knowledge conservative fear of intelligence, but I have to give Sailor Moon S a pass – it’s just so darn stylish and interesting, you see.
In a very cool shot, we meet our antagonist for the series, the Professor (as we know him for now). I love everything about this guy. He’s brilliantly performed, a mix of insane humour, raw aggression, genuine & overbearing curiosity, and a certain brittleness that sounds just on the verge of a manic breakdown.
Just look at the shots they give him! Beautiful stuff, and definitely more on the horror side than last series’ antagonists.
The Professor is pissing about with some test tubes until he produces a strange looking floating egg of some kind, then calls over his assistant, Kaorinite.
Now this is a curious character. She’s undeniably a great design, with long red hair and just the creepiest blank stare I’ve ever seen. We’ll be with her for a very long time, but honestly she doesn’t display too much character until much later on.
For now, we get a description of the basic modus operendi of these jokers: the “Daimohn Egg” will hatch a monster, which seeks out humans with “pure hearts” (whatever they are) and steals them.
Certain Pure Hearts, the Professor exposits carefully for the stupid viewer, are “Talismans” that will lead to the Holy Grail, which allows the bearer infinite power. I’m kidding, really, this stuff is hammy, and creepy and brilliantly schlocky. Even better is the music, this tense, rising strings number that make these corny plans sound mesmerizing horrifying.
I’m also loving this Christian imagery. The Messiah, the Holy Grail, the Trinity of Talismans. It’s really interesting to see a Japanese take on these old and worn memes of the West and reinterpret them. It makes these Christian ideas seem to exotic, ancient and powerful, much like Steven Speilberg did with Raiders of the Lost Arc.
So here’s the plan. Daimohns -> Pure Hearts -> Three Talismans -> Holy Grail. Boom.
The scene ends with the first of the Professor’s trademark maniacal laughing fits as the Daimohn egg flies out of the lab. Whereas Esmeraude’s laugh was infinitely irritating and deminished her character, the Professor’s is just brilliant. What a great voice actor.
I should point out that every time the Daimohn egg leaves the lab, it takes a different route. This time it’s pretty simple, a drain on a dark street corner, but I like that they’re starting small – they’ll work their way up to some great visual gags later on.
Right, this has all been pretty serious, let’s liven things up by visiting Usagi.
Oh dear. 5 out of 100. This is amazing. I love the teacher’s attached comment of “I beg you, please study a little more.” It sounds so futile.
Usagi’s reaction is amazing. This is our reintroduction into Usagi for Sailor Moon S, and it’s perfect. They haven’t used a school-failing joke for some time, and its reintroduction was lovely.
So distraught is Usagi, distracted with the thought that Rei will see her score and bully her for it, that an equally distracted Rei walks right into Usagi’s face. I’M ACTUALLY LOLLING, GUYS. This is such a good episode.
In the park, Rei and Usagi are using a water fountain to dab their head wounds (seriously, what a weird thing to happen). I love their chat here. Rei teases Usgai for her score a bit, but comes off as supportive for once.
The scene is intercut with that premonition again, with a creening string scream that is really at odds with the warm conversation the girls are having. It’s really well done, and really reinforces the sense of impending doom from the start of the episode without over-doing it.
I love this conversation. Rei acts casual, and asks Usagi what her dreams of the future are. I guess being Queen of the fucking World is a bit obvious.
Rei’s confident in her dreams of becoming a singer-songwriter, model, voice actress and (embarrassedly) a loving wife. It’s a really tender moment, and you become incredibly attached to Rei in this moment, a feat I didn’t think possible.
Rei ends the scene with a “cheer up, Usagi! That’s really your only good trait.” which is simultaneously both back to being her old bitchy self (which I loved anyway) and also weirdly sweet too.
Meanwhile, dark things are afoot at the Hikawa Shrine, as our travelling Daimohn egg embeds itself… into a sanctified shrine tree. Very intriguing stuff. Overseeing this is a completely redundant Kaorinite floating about, but hey, she’s got nothing better to do.
And the target of the attack? It should be obvious by now.
Usagi, meanwhile, is still brooding over her awful score, and what Rei said about trying harder. Another adorable scene. She tries to imagine what Mamoru would say if he saw a score like that, unaware that he’s standing right behind her (how small is this fucking city? Those coincidences are cosmic).
Mamoru looks so worried about his dimwitted 14 year old future-wife. Usagi tries to smooth it over, but Mamoru knows the only way to motivate her. It’s slightly condescending (ok it’s VERY condescending) but this time I’ll let it go because it’s so funny.
“It’ll be a little lonely , but I guess we won’t be able to date for a bit.”
Of course this horrifies Usagi like nothing else can.
He rather sweetly tells her to do her best, and leaves her bereft. ANOTHER GREAT SCENE. I’m being spoiled today.
Rei, meanwhile, is picking at that scab again. She’s trying to perform a psychic reading to discover more about that horrifying vision she had, but nothing seems to work.
I love the art here.
This becomes a very quiet and introspective scene here. It’s actually incredibly well paced, written and drawn. It’s getting only close to dusk, so that there’s only a tinge of orange. There’s no music, just Rei worried and muttering to herself. The atmosphere is strangely pregnant.
Rei decides to draw a fortune for herself since nothing else has worked. She draws one out, but we never see what it is. We just see her disappointed face reading it in a long pause. What a clever decision.
To ensure a fortune comes true in Shintoism, one must tie the fortune onto a sanctified board of tree, which Rei does, saying a quick prayer that everyone will live happily.
And finally the Daimohn awakens. Such a great build-up. The quietness, the loneliness, Rei’s worries… the moment the Daimohn appears from the tree is fantastic.
We’ve had a demon tree monster before, which was a lot scarier, but the Daimohn Mikuji is a weird parody of everything about Shinto shrines rolled into a monster. This will become a theme of the monsters in Sailor Moon S – they really found a rhythm for monster design and went for the craziness.
Mikuji rudely announces to Rei “I will have your pure heart that worries about your friends!” and Rei tries to run away from the shrine to lead the monster away from Grandpa.
Gosh, she’s so caring, so quiet, so introspective today. I really think this is one of Rei’s best episodes in terms of character development.
And holy shit we’re only half way through the episode. This is going to be a long post…
We get some funky new music, again with an awesome string riff. This is actually Vanessa Mae playing, the virtuoso violinist, fucking nailing that riff. Looks like Sailor Moon can afford Vanessa Mae money nowadays.
Rei tries to transform, but the Daimohn locks her hands onto a concrete wall with hands that break off. A really cool, really creepy feature of Mukuji, but she’s not finished yet.
With Kaorinite egging her on, Mikuji opens her gi up to reveal a very sexily-placed black star tattoo right above her cleavage! Wow, that’s, uh, that’s pretty kinky actually…
The sexy-ass star shoots a beam of dark light into Rei’s chest, which seems to be causing her a great deal of pain. It’s pretty horrible actually, it really is a scene of torture. Poor Rei. With how sweet and sensitive she’s been this episode, this scene is all the more gut-wrenching.
Kaorinite obviously feels like she’s too important for all this torture, because she buggers off before the Pure Heart even comes out. Maybe she wanted to beat the traffic.
Meanwhile, Usagi is walking along with Luna, the latter of which is trying very hard to drag the former to study group at the shrine. I love it when Luna threatens violence on Usagi.
When Usagi hears Rei’s screams (it’s still nasty to hear), she transforms into the Pretty Soldier in a Sailor Suit, Sailor Moooon! … as she does most episodes.
Sailor Moon gives her usual spiel against Mukuji, who pauses in her Pure Heart nabbing to attack. Naturally, Sailor Moon gets her ass kicked.
The other Senshi arrive, but for once the monster is actually pre-emptive and disables them before they can even transform. Wow, this monster is kicking ass.
Even after Tuxedo Kamen appears to distract Mukuji, Sailor Moon’s Moon Princess Halation… is deflected! We’re never seen an ordinary monster do THIS before. The Halation has seemed almost ludicrously powerful.
We see that CREEPY-ASS power of Mukuji’s once more, as Sailor Moon is pinned to a tree by hands that turn into stone and break odd. Even worse, Mukuji’s teeth clamp down on her transformation broach!
This is the first time in the series we’ve seen Usagi de-transform like this. It semi-happened in Sailor Moon R: The Movie (as that Fiore creep was grabbing her boobs), but to see it fully here, in a first episode, with all the Senshi beaten, really really really ramps up the danger like never before. What a great season opening!
And then just to make my day, Tuxedo Kamen is also trapped. Probably should have been paying attention, dude. Seriously, this Mukuji Daimohn is over powered, and I love it.
The torture on Rei begins once more, and her friends are powerless as a crystal appears before her. It’s another really effective moment, seeing the light go from Rei’s eyes, seeing Usagi struggle uselessly against her bonds, remembering Rei’s dreams of the future.
Excellent writing today. Some of the best. Usagi’s cries are heart-wrenching.
Normally at a time like this, Usagi’s grief and powerlessness would help her attain a new level, but there’s no such escape today.
Oh well it’s pretty close to that, actually.
Attacks seem to come out of nowhere, an earthen one and a watery one, both which are strong enough to flat-out kill Mukuji in two hits. This makes the failure of the Senshi that much more worrying.
Rei is still down for the count, nothing seems to rouse her.
As for the mysterious shadows in the trees, they inspect Rei’s Pure Heart, declaring it not to be a Talisman, and coldly throw the heart back down.
It’s a really good moment, one that highlights the difference in skill & the difference in outlook. The Inner Senshi are so hopelessly outclasses in this episode that it’s a really good set-up for the rest of the season.
Rei’s Pure Heart re-enters her body, and everyone is delighted to find that Rei isn’t dead after all. Thank god for that then.
This might be a cheap move, to place her in such danger and have it all work out ok, but such was the level of threat that it really felt dramatic. Even better is Usagi’s reaction of bursting into uncontrollable sobbing that Rei has to calm Usagi down.
Another really sweet moment between the two that increase my affection for both immensely.
The episode ends with the Senshi realising that they have a new enemy, shadowy and uncertain allies, and another end to peaceful days. A fantastic opening to a fantastic series.
What a great episode. Loved every minute of it. Great for Usagi, great for Rei, great for the Death Busters, great for the monster, great for set-up, great for danger, for art, for music, for mystery, for story, for character development. I daresay this is as strong an opening episode as the very first of Sailor Moon.
NEXT TIME: Usagi and Mamoru defeat an enemy with a thinly-veiled phallic symbol.
Episode Score: 5/5 (Naturally)
Monster Score: 4/5 (I like Mukuji’s design, performance and danger)
Amount of Cleavage in One Episode: 78% Boob Saturation