3:17 – The Bond of Destiny! The Distant Days of Uranus
Alternative Title: Out of the Closet
First Aired: 3rd September 1994
When someone from Haruka’s past is attacked, she gets rather nostalgic, and events leading up to her becoming Sailor Uranus is revealed in a remarkable flashback. In a blend of destiny, duty and love, Michiru reluctantly leads Haruka onto a path she will never be able to escape.
What an amazing episode. Absolutely beautiful. Sailor Moon hasn’t explored the past of a character since Usagi & her past life in series one. Here, the writing is justs so on point.
Not only is it a fantastic story, beautiful and sad, but it explains so much about the motivations of Haruka and Michiru. Not only their motivations but the very foundation with which their characters are built upon. It’s fascinating stuff.
Even more fascinating is the link between Haruka choosing the path of a Senshi, and the obvious immediate attraction that she and Michiru had for each other. Thus, an exploration of what made Haruka who she is, is also another chance to explore this loving and, yes, homosexual relationship.
Not bad for a little girl’s anime from the mid 90s.
The episode opens with a bookend. A little bit dramatic, maybe, but then again Haruka is cool enough to pull off, “Back then, I wanted to become the wind”, without looking like a berk. In fact, when she’s on that motorcycle, this line comes off as downright cool.
In this brief scene, I think they’re saying quite a lot about Haruka. We’ve seen before her dismissal of her dreams and aspirations for a higher purpose, and that it’s brought up again as she speeds down a tunnel says to me that she’s trying to escape thoughts of those flippant dreams of “wanting to become the wind.” And therefore, since she’s still trying to speed away from those dreams, she hasn’t quite given up on them either.
All that from a single line. Gosh I’m full of it today, aren’t I?
Actually no. No matter if my interpretation of the moment is the same as the writers’/animators’, the fact that I have the ability to pick apart, to question, to find deeper meanings, says enough about the quality of the writing here.
And then we get this rather revealing painting. Wowzers.
As Haruka continues a soliloquy, it’s evident that she’s the POV for this episode, which in itself is rather rare for Sailor Moon. I like that they’ve mixed up the ambiance of the episode already.
She’s not making too much sense, but it’s obvious that’s be extremely nostalgic, reminiscing on the follies of her past. She looks so goddamn cool.
Meanwhile, something horrifying is taking place in the Death Busters’ lab. The Professor is on a treadmill. I’ve never seen anyone look so terrifying on a treadmill. I didn’t think it was possible, but here it is.
Of course this has a tenuous link with the Pure Heart he wants Eugeal to go find.
The horror hasn’t ended, however. He increases the running speed until he looks like a goddamn demon and screams “LAST SPURT!”
Now now, settle down. Yes it’s ridiculously disgusting but let’s move on and pretend that never happened.
Soooo what are the Senshi doing in a highschool? They’re actually here on an open day, since they’re now in the third year of junior-high. All their studying recently has been for the high school entrance exams.
As Usagi points out, Rei’s school, TA Girls School, has an elevator system, meaning that she automatically upgrades to high school without need of exams
So what the hell is she studying for?
Once again, the humour in this scene is just spot on, and the art is fantastic too.
The girls notice the legendary track runner Elsa Gray pounding some, er, floor. On the… track? Look, you didn’t come to this blog to read accurate sports terminology, ok? Just accept that she’s running or whatever.
Anyway, she’s an international-level hurdler. You really must hear a Japanese person try and say “hurdler” repeatedly. Almost as entertaining as “library”. Just kidding, you know I love you, you crazy whale-murderers. Kisses.
I liked how all the girls bowed deeply when Elsa noticed them. Very respectful.
Elsa isn’t so respectful. She’s nice enough, but immediately goes on to check out Minako and Makoto’s “glutes.” For sports reasons. Or so she says. I’ve always presumed that she too was gay by her competitive and friendly relationship to Haruka and Michiru.
I’m probably reading in to it, but I always felt like they were hinting at something more than professional rivalry from Elsa. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Elsa reveals that she isn’t as confident in her running as she seems to be – that there was one person she just could never beat. Who could it be I wonder!?
(Spoiler: it’s totally Haruka.)
So Else spills all of this out to a bunch of strangers she just felt up. Bit weird, that.
We’re starting the main event early today, as Eugeal rocks up in the white station wagon and confirms her target. Not entirely sure why she’s speaking into what looks like a toy recording machine…
Haruka, meanwhile, jumps in a bush nearby, as is her wont.
The girls, walking away from the school, hear a scream which alerts them to Elsa being attacked. I should point out that this iinterruptsa rather nice conversation between the girls about doing their best in the upcoming exams. I like those little supportive moments. Always feel genuine with these characters.
Elsa is putting up a pretty good fight against Eugeal’s Pure Heart gun. In fact, she’s still standing when Sailor Moon et al. turn up in a tree. You could probably save time by directly joining the battle instead of finding posing positions amongst foliage, guys.
Today’s Daimohn is the rather obviously named “Hurdler.” Inspired, guys. It’s not that interesting to be honest, but it’s rather amusingly designed, it’s torso being a giant shoe. Anyway, stuff happens and the Senshi get caught in a bukakke lasso, which is gross.
Haruka, meanwhile, is contacting Michiru to get her over to the school. When Haruka mentions that the target is Elsa Gray, Michiru’s reaction is extremely muted. I’m guessing this is yet another person they don’t particularly want to be a Talisman-bearer.
We drop into Haruka’s memories of Elsa Gray – the person who introduced Haruka to Michiru, before she had awakened as Sailor Uranus.
This is going to be so sweet.
Haruka had been having the same nightmares as Rei – the approaching destructive Silence. Obviously it made something of an impact on her.
While Rei heard a voice telling her to find the Messiah, Haruka hears a rather familiar voice and a rather familiar colour. Well this is fascinating.
Sailor Neptune appears as a vision to warn Haruka that only they, together, can defeat the Silence. It’s very weird to think of a Haruka who didn’t know Michiru, but here it is.
We drop into another memory of Haruka at the race track, lined up next to Elsa Gray, who expects a challenge from the famous Tenoh Haruka.
Haruka beats the shit out of her.
As she runs, she has another internal monologue, and from her speak of “fighting to escape from my own destiny“, as well as other parts of the episode I see Haruka at this time as aimless, confused, empty, feeling that her life means something more but reluctant to pull on that thread.
And then she met Kaioh Michiru… man if THAT isn’t symbolic.
Elsa introduces Michiru to Haruka – Michiru is rather adorably dressed in a sailor school uniform. It’s rather flattering, and also rather strange to see her looking so… adolescent. She normally looks mature, so well put together.
I always got the impression that Elsa was actually trying to set Haruka and Michiru up by this introduction, knowing Michiru’s fascination with the runner. Interesting angle.
Haruka instantly recognises Michiru as the one from her vision, and knows that Michiru knows who she is too. I love this set up. There’s so many meaningful glances and lines. You really get a sense that this is the most important event in Haruka’s life.
As it is.
Haruka reacts the only way she knows how – by being completely flippant and cold, naturally. She calls Michiru weird and asks what the hell she wants, before Michiru asks her to be a model for one of her drawings.
My, that’s rather saucy, actually. I think we know where this is going. This reminded me of the episode with Yumemi Yumeno (a name I only remembered because of its absurdity.)
Michiru’s hurt expression when Haruka refused actually caused me emotional pain. I’ve never seen Michiru be hurt by Haruka before. Strange and, yes, a little painful to see, as much as it would have hurt poor Michiru.
WHAT A GREAT EPISODE YOU GUYS.
We’re in Tokyo Bay, aboard a cruise ship, and Michiru is playing her violin expertly as Haruka watches on in a tux, looking moody. I love how she’s always rocking an attitude.
Haruka walks off in a heavy mood, and Michiru notices her leave with a rather astute glance. I loved this. I don’t know why. It speaks to me of an uncomfortable attraction, an acute awareness of where the other person is as they leave the room.
As Haruka walks down some curiously stately steps (looks more like a temple than a ship), she suddenly notices a HUGE FRICKIN’ PAINTING of the world being engulfed by a tsunami. Wow, this thing is beautiful and terrifying… just as the end of the world surely is.
Michiru must have legged it from playing the violin to the other side of the ship, because she’s suddenly sitting down on the steps ahead of Haruka looking all composed and beautiful, as though she hasn’t sprinted for half a mile.
Michiru is mysterious as shit when she speaks to Haruka, ignoring the elephant in the room.
Note the placement of the characters in this scene – Michiru despite her loftiness, is looking up at Haruka, and there’s a large cold space between the two. Symbolism or something!
Michiru continues to try flirting with the stony lady, mentioning how all the girls at her school fancy the pants of Haruka, mentioning one in particular that wants to go cruising in her car.
Wait, in her car? Haruka has a car at this point? Did she get her licence at 14 or something? Mental.
Haruka returns to the subject of the FREAKIN’ DISTURBING PAINTING, asking why a buttoned-down genius girl would have such a tragic fantasy.
I love Michiru’s response: “It’s not a fantasy. I can see it clearly. Just like you can.” The change in her voice is palpable as the change in tension. The light-hearted flirtation is gone from Michiru – it was a cover for something far more serious. Brilliant writing here.
Haruka gives her the dirtiest look before dismissing Michiru’s visions, telling her to deal with it herself and to leave her out of it. It’s another incredibly selfish and cruel moment that highlights how much Haruka has changed since becoming a Senshi.
Sometime later (one of those hard to define transitions), Haruka is by the track, when she hears something rather worrying from a garage. She enters to find…
…this creepy fucking kid crying for help. Poor guy. It takes him all of two seconds to explode.
Seriously, this is fucked up. The horror-worm he becomes is far beyond anything we’ve seen in Sailor Moon. This is here to highlight the difference in destinies between the Inner Senshi and the Outer Senshi – namely, the Outer Senshi deal with shit like this.
Also note that the kid is wearing the same uniform as Haruka and Michiru are currently wearing in present day… never noticed that before. I he’s a student of Mugen Academy. It’s all falling into place.
Anyway, HOLY JESUS LOOK AT THAT THING.
Haruka tries to beat the Devil’s Penis in the face (face?) with a crowbar, but still senses the poor little boy inside. I can tell you now that this wouldn’t have stopped me in the slightest. If I see this thing, I’m beating it to death.
Naturally, the Dimensional Turd gets Haruka into a corner, and strikes, but it’s repelled by a glowing light between them…
Which forms into a Transformation Pen! We’ve not seen this one before, since we’ve never seen Haruka transform… yet. Kinda toy-ish looking, but hey, it’s fine.
Haruka moves to grasp the pen, but a voice calls out “Don’t!“, and the pen drops to the floor.
It’s Michiru. She warns Haruka that taking that pen will change her life, that she’ll never be able to go back, that it will irrevocably destroy her dreams and her life. That’s one pretty fucked up pen.
Michiru, displaying a level of affection for Haruka in warning her against the pen, and a level of trust by transforming into Sailor Neptune in front of her, is quite a bit more reckless than we’re used to. That’s love for ya.
Neptune beats Wormy to the ground, and moves in for the kill, but Haruka stops her, accusing her of murder of an innocent boy. Neptune’s utilitarian response, “The Silence is approaching… if I don’t do this, there will be even more victims…” is surprising, mainly because from Haruka’s fervour in present day, we would assume that this philosophy was hers first.
As it turns out, Michiru was the one who opened Haruka’s eyes… in more ways than one it would seem. I love the complexity of the relationship and backstory they’ve created in a single episode here. It’s ruddy great stuff.
Neptune’s resolve here is spine-tingling, as is Haruka’s contradiction – which sounds so very much like Usagi’s arguments a few episodes ago that its beautiful symmetry. Haruka wasn’t just a cold-hearted warrior from day one. She developed into her utilitarian philosophy when she saw no alternative.
Now that’s character development.
When the worm gets up again, attempting to chomp Haruka’s face off, Sailor Neptune throws away everything she just said about sacrifice and totally throws herself in the way to save Haruka. Again, brilliant to see Neptune’s principles crumble when it’s Haruka in danger.
In a bit of a cop-out, Neptune manages to fire off a Deep Submerge at the worm, turning him back into the boy, no harm done. I really think that considering the psychology and the situation, this kid needed to die by Neptune’s hands. I understand that this is still a kids’ show after all – you can’t make your characters murderers (although Usagi totally is in the manga), but I still feel like they chickened out at this moment.
At least they showed themselves aware of this contraditory moment with Neptune’s line, “I could have killed him. No, next time I’m sure I’ll kill… It’s not that I’m fine with it, but I am a soldier.”
Haruka is, naturally, horrified that Neptune could have given herself such an injury to save her, especially since Michiru’s dream is to be a great violinist.
Michiru’s response blows my mind.
“I didn’t investigate you because you were the other soldier… It goes back much further than when I realised you were the one. I was watching you in your first race from close by. I wanted to cruise along the beach in your car… just once… You don’t rely on anyone at all, and you are always honest to your feelings…. I know more about you than you do, because I’ve always been watching you. You are the one person I don’t want to see walking the same path that I did. But when you were the one.. I was happy…”
Yes, I just wrote out her entire speech. It’s a beautiful, complex confession of love. In a kids’ anime. This is such brilliant stuff. While this is meant to be Haruka’s past, it really is Michiru who steals the show for me. Haruka may be all flash, but Michiru is the soul.
How could Haruka not pick up the pen after that?
And the we cut back to present day…
TRANSFORMATION SEQUENCES! OMFG.
These are hands down the best transformation sequences in the entire show. Short, snappy, beautiful, mysterious and set to that awesome violin music.
This is followed up with a World Shaking, and it’s at this point that I pretty much die from happiness at how awesome Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune is. They are just SO cool. Flawed, complex, interesting and powerful. UGHH SO GOOD.
I must be careful not to fanboy over this too much.
Uranus and Neptune free the Senshi and put Eugeal on the ropes in a single move. So much classier than the Inner Senshi.
Hurdler (still a shit bad-guy for how awesome this episode is), runs away laughing, but Uranus continues to prove how bad ass she is by outstripping it and holding it in an arm lock, giving Neptune to chance to drown it with a Deep Submerge. Now THAT’S teamwork.
They’re really making the other Senshi look like complete shit.Oh well, at least Sailor Moon gets in the final attack with a Moon Spiral Heart Attack, but it feels like an empty victory.
It seems as though the Inner Senshi are just letting Uranus and Neptune do whatever the hell they want nowadays. They don’t object when Uranus checks the Pure Heart to see if it’s a Talisman. Maybe they’re intimidated by all the ass-kicking they did today.
As Uranus and Neptune walk off looking all cool, the other Senshi ruefully admit that, however much those guys are assholes, they’re still pretty good at what they do.
The episode ends with another shot of that painting of Haruka in a rather saucy pose. As Haruka voices over that all she did was accept her fate, we realise that the illustration is, in fact, the portrait that Michiru always wanted to do of Haruka.
So yeah, another explicit hammer on the head about their relationship – that it’s proper adult. I like this too – it’s not a watered down airy-fairy homosexual relationship. This feels like a genuine physical coupling of people in love. Solid.
The episode ends with Michiru and Haruka cruising along the beach at dusk, Haruka doubling her resolve the find the Messiah and carry out her duties, but in a rare warm smile, she turns to Michiru and…
“I’m glad we met.”
“Let’s cruise around like this forever. I won’t let you go home tonight.”
Wow. For me, this is far more beautiful and romantic a moment than Usagi has ever had with Mamoru. Sorry guys, the gays win.
Episode Score: 5/5 (Obviously)
Monster Score: 3/5 (For Hurdler. Worm Buddy gets 5/5 for sheer bloody terror.)
Final Thought: Haruka and Michiru are my OTP, and if you understood that, I hate you, and myself, and we’re bros.
NEXT TIME: From a high to a low, as next episode decides the balance out all of today’s goodwill with total awfulness.