3:4 – Usagi’s Idol! The Graceful Genius Michiru
Alternative Title: Ever Played “Bouncing the Lemon”?
First Aired: 23rd April 1994
After realising that Mamoru is several standard deviations higher than her in terms of IQ, Usagi decides to improve herself. She turns to violinist/artist/all-round genius Michiru to tips, and the graceful girl is happy to help. In an effort to expand her experiences, Usagi takes Mamoru to a violin recital, not knowing that the Death Busters have also targeted the event.
After a successful series of opening episodes to Sailor Moon S, this one… stumbles a bit. It’s one of those episodes from the less-than-talented animation & writing teams that really drop the ball for the last 3rd of the episode. There’s some stuff I like well enough, which we’ll come to, but man oh man today’s Daimohn just wrecks it.
I’m shocked anyone from the art department could find work after the disaster of some of these shots.
The episode opens with Usagi turning up at Mamoru’s place, having baked cookies and eager to have him try it. There’s nothing in the history of this show that would tell you this is a good idea. Even Usagi knows it: I love the line “If there’s love in them, one or two… or three or four burnt ones won’t get in the way…”
Hearing no response, Usagi does what any self-respecting person would do: she opens the door. I’m presuming to rob his rich ass.
Usagi spots some of Mamoru’s school books lying around (seriously, in the anime he looks as though he should be in university), and is dismayed to find that she can’t even understand the titles, such as “Future Considerations of Genetic Engineering“.
Hold on, what does Mamoru even study…?
Usagi, her brain now completely leaking out of her ears, drops her stupid burnt bunny cookies all over his table, and has an epiphany, that she’s an idiot who is in no way near Mamoru’s level.
This is a bit eye-rolling. Not the self-concious part, the whole OOPS dropped my cookies stuff. I’m interested to see a more inflective Usagi, even if this goes absolutely nowhere.
Mamoru returns to his apartment to find a weepy Usagi, and he figures that the best way to make her feel better is to try one of her cookies… which he evidently regrets.
At least you solved one problem. He’s relatively sweet, telling her that she doesn’t need to change. On the other hand, his condescending chuckled, and this machismo of the self-assured male comforting the hysterical and self-concious female is rather dated for my sensibilities.
In the manga, for instance, Mamoru is just as self-concious as Usagi and not so condescending. This relationship really is off-balance in this moment, and I’m not so fond of it. Much preferred it in Episode 2 of this series.
Usagi discusses the incident with her friends, who are as supportive as you’d expect (even Ami is a little cruel). None of this is working for me, the writing and artwork feels like one of those really bad ones from the early days of season 1, and that was 2 years before this. This studio made no attempt to develop all this time?
Usagi eventually falls upon asking Ami to teach her about genetic engineering, Makoto to teach her cooking and Minako to teach her English to become a better person (…for Mamoru to marry. Again, old fashioned sensibilities).
Minako responds, in a really good accent, “Why?” in English, which I actually found rather charming.
Rei only gets asked how to wear a kimono. I guess that’s all Usagi thinks she’s good for.
Everyone bails on this, even Ami, who suggests that Usagi get her biology and chemistry up to scratch first. Rei tells her not to bother, that Usagi is just being whimsical and that she’ll forget all this eagerness to improve herself in a couple of days.
This is, of course, exactly what happens, but it’s a rather cruel sentiment all the same.
It’s even worse when it comes from Luna, who is completely out of character in this moment, suggesting that Mamoru won’t even want to marry her. Wow. Not nice at all.
Usagi, upset, walks off, and ends up at an amphitheatre. I love this setting. She spies Michiru on stage playing the violin, and Haruka playing.. the lemon? What is she even doing with a lemon? What possible reason could she be tossing a lemon for?
Haruka is muttering about the concentration of powerful energy in Juban and the attacks on humans, and we get a rather frank discussion of the couple’s objectives.
They have only a vague memory of their past lives as Sailor Senshi: all that really matters to them is to find the three Talismans and the Holy Grail, which is pretty much what the Death Busters are after.
We also get the reveal from Michiru that the extraction of the Talismans from their hosts means the death of the owner, and that these two are ok with the sacrifice for the greater good.
Meanwhile, Usagi hasn’t caught any of this useful information, she’s just watching Michiru play violin. Hey, maybe pay attention to what people are talking about, yeah? Could save you a lot of hassle in the future.
So, Usagi now wants to play violin. I can understand, whoever is performing this violin solo is definitely accomplished.
Haruka seems keen to show Michiru’s talents off, and so throws the violin at Michiru (ohhh so this is why she’s holding a lemon…?), who catches and bounces it off her violin as she plays.
It’s quite an amusing moment, and while the art is still shitty, Michiru does look pretty good.
With Haruka driving off, Michiru and Usagi get to know each other at an art exhibition. Usagi makes the mistake of asking Michiru what she wants to do with her life, and gets one of those long deep looks and a careful considered response.
Haruka and Michiru need to lighten up a little. Maybe take a beach holiday?
Oh, it turns out that Michiru is multi-talented – she can also draw like the dog’s bollocks. I actually dig her Space Whale thing.
Haruka rejoins them outside the gallery, loudly spouting about the enemy’s HQ, and Michiru shushes her, pointing out that Usagi is still around, but she needn’t have bothered, frankly.
Yeah, Usagi has decided that her brilliant violin début is right here, right now, outside, in public, with someone else’s expensive instrument. I sort of love her for this.
You know, it’s always in these crappy written & drawn episodes that Usagi is reduced to laughing stupidly, crying a lot and eating. We’ve had the crying & laughing, now we see Usagi eating parfaits like she’s trying to make herself sick.
…and she promptly starts crying again.
Michiru actually has something rather lovely to say in response to Usagi’s woes: “Cheer up. You look wonderful when you’re trying hard.”
Hell yes, Michiru, I like that a lot.
She even gives Usagi (plastered with gunk that does not look at ALL sexual in the slightest) a couple of tickets to a classical music concert, telling her to bring the one she cherishes most.
Haruka gets a lot of love (because she’s a fucking badass) but this moment does do a lot to showcase Michiru’s sweetness… when she’s not championing the death of a Talisman holder, naturally.
We get another few perfunctory shots from the Death Buster’s hideout, which is the best looking thing in this episode, since they’re recycled shots from before.
And that’s pretty much it from the Professor or Kaorinite again. Better pick up the pace, guys.
It’s the night of the recital, and Usagi is pulling along a white tuxedo-wearing Mamoru, sans mask. I can’t believe he whipped this out. Do you know hard this would be to clean?
Usagi and Mamoru can’t even enjoy a single night together, however, since all the other Senshi (and even the fucking cats) turn up to tag along during the concert. They’re trying to have a date, you insensitive bastards.
Still, they all apologise for their behaviour earlier, which is good at least.
The Pure Heart target today is some random musician – the Daimohn Egg implants itself in a violin, and my butthole is already bleeding with how annoying this Daimohn will become.
Apparently Michiru’s real motivation in inviting Usagi was just to check out her boyfriend. She and Haruka do a little spying on them from the balcony.
As an aside, the audience are just plain weird. All the ladies are young and attractive, all the men are either old and nasty-looking… or in one case a blond Elvis impersonator (but nearly as cool as Maxi from Soul Calibur though).
The violinist comes on, and I’m actually rather interested to see what he’ll play aaaaaaaand it’s fucking Vivaldi. Ugh. What a let down.
If you thought that was bad, the Daimohn that emerges from the violin NEEDS TO DIE A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH.
Stupid Arpeggiatting Violin Woman (her name is Octave, and I want her to burn) is extremely irritating, since she’s continually singing her attacks over screeching strings.
The fight with The Death Of All Music takes place outside, once the public has all been knocked unconscious (conveniently) and it doesn’t get better.
The lines are corny, the animation is bad, everything is pretty darn rubbish. I’m actually glad when Tuxedo Kamen turns up, just because he shuts this Daimohn up for even just a second.
Thankfully Sailor Uranus and Neptune arrive just in time to get attacked by the stupid violin woman, and despite their insistance that they won’t be allies to the Sailor Senshi, it’s Sailor Moon who has to save Neptune from being stringed off a piece of horrible corporate art .
Well she did one useful thing this episode.
Let’s just cut to the chase, Sailor Moon kills this stupid monster with Moon Spiral Heart Attack, which looks even better when compared to the car crash that was the animation in this episode.
Uranus and Neptune leave after checking the Pure Heart isn’t a Talisman, and Sailor Moon voices the opinion that, hey, those sailor-suited lesbians aren’t so bad after all. I’d have to agree.
Back in their civilian dresses (and one white tuxedo), Mamoru offers to take Usagi out for a meal to make up for the frankly awful evening they had on date night.
He episode ends as all the other girls (including Mamoru’s ex girlfriend Rei I might add, which is a bit weird) jump at the offer and invite themselves to dinner too.
Seriously, this is going to sound harsh, Senshi, because I love you, but maybe it’s time you stopping attending dates between Usagi and Mamoru, yes?
All in all, yeah, not the best episode. I liked a couple of moments with Michiru. I liked the violin-lemon bouncing moment. I liked Usagi attempting to play violin. That’s pretty much it. Everything else was hovering somewhere around “shit”. They can’t all be home runs, guys.
NEXT TIME: An EPIC three-way battle takes place between cosmic warriors, more cosmic warriors, and a sentient vacuum cleaner. In a dump.
Episode Score: 1/5 (I may have liked a couple of moments, but the bad stuff makes this episode draaaaag)
Monster Score: 1/5 (Notice that the episode score and the monster score seem weirdly related to each other)
Final Though: How did Michiru first realise she had the ability to bounce a lemon off her violin while playing? What possible accidental circumstance could have led to the first time? I’m deeply intrigued.