3:21 – Death of Uranus and Neptune!? Talismans Appear
Alternative Title: NO NOT AGAIN, PLEASE GOD WHY
First Aired: 15th October 1994
Tensions keep rising as, after discovering Sailor Moon’s identity, Haruka and Michiru experience a premonition of a Talisman appearing. When Eugeal invites Uranus and Neptune out to a church on the sea, claiming to have found a Talisman-bearer, they spring the trap, not realising that they have been the true targets all alone. How far will their resolve take them?
Ugh. This episode is so darn good. It disgusts me how good this episode is. It’s not perfect by any means, but holy cow does it deliver on the promise of revelation that has been building all series.
Comparisons might immediately made to that notorious episode in the first season. While this has neither the gravitas or emotional heft of that episode, it’s still an incredible watch.
Did I mention how much I love Haruka and Michiru?
So you may recall that in the previous episode, everyone found out about everyone else’s secret identities… what a sentence that was. There wasn’t much of an analysis of how these characters would act following such a revelation, but we get all the good stuff today.
We open, rather ominously, on a rainy grey Tokyo. Starting to set the mood early, aren’t we? I love this framing device. works really well for the ominous & inevitable sense of death.
Still without any music, just an oppressive air, we find Michiru laying down beside the pool with a conch shell pressed against her ear, listening to “the ocean”. It’s a beautiful little daydream, even if the whole listening to the ocean thing is a bit iffy.
Just as she’s looking at her most mysterious and beautiful as we’ve ever seen her as she’s dreaming, we hear Haruka’s voice cutting in.
“How cruel of you to off into your own world. Don’t leave me here…”
The long looks they give each other, the hazy lighting, the silence, all are pregnant with meaning. It’s a look so powerful with love and trust that it’s almost a little heart-breaking. What a perfect moment.
Michiru gives an enigmatic smile, and begins to talk about a dream she had this morning, one that she “feels still, even while I’m awake. I’ve never felt this way before“. Haruka admits she had the same dream.
“There’s no mistaking it. Today, a Talisman will appear.”
What a powerful opening. We’ve been waiting for this event for the entire season thus far, and to be told so bluntly hooks you straight in, 100%, from the first minute.
It’s also interesting to note that this is the clearest sign yet of the Outer Senshi’s futuretelling ability. It’s been referred to in the past, “The seas are stormy today,” etc etc, but this is the first time we’ve had a prophetic dream from them.
Prophecies never work out quite the way you expect them to, though, do they?
Let’s hang out with our favourite evil scientist lady, Eugeal. It’s pretty funny to see her pissing about with floppy discs. Definite dating here… but I think the look of the technology, this mid-90s cyberpunk, continues to look awesomely atmospheric.
Apparently Eugeal has been working on an improved programme to finally locate the Pure Hearts which are Talismans…
Why the sudden impetus to get shit done? Well, Eugeal is facing some workplace-based bullying. It’s actually rather horrible. -SOMEONE- placed tacks inside her slippers…
…and slightly more alarming, although less physically painful, is the fact that the entire inside of her locker is covered in snails…
Oh dear god this is my worst nightmare. Poor Eugeal does not take it well. I’m feeling so sorry for her right now, especially when the locker door swings out further, revealing a crudely written sign saying:
“Snail woman in the station wagon should crash and die!!”
And yes, there were two exclamation marks. That was not a typo on my end. It’s either ONE or THREE exclamation marks, never TWO, OK?
Oh yeah, I suppose the, uh, death threat was pretty bad too.
This is about the time that Eugeal begins to overhear just the worst fucking voice bitching about her somewhere else in the locker room. I am going to complain about this person sooooo much.
This other scientist-lady, we can presume it’s one of Eugeal’s subordinates, laughs at how many Daimohns Eugeal has wasted searching for the Talisman. I have to say, she’s doing a better job than Kaorinite.
Note that the other Witches 5 are kept in shadow. They’re saving their big reveals for later in the series… which they will waste entirely. The Annoying One then boasts how the Professor has her lined up to be Eugeal’s successor when she is inevitably removed from office.
Goddamn I hate this woman. This is Mimete.
Eugeal hates her too, obviously, which is why she’s working so hard to locate the Talismans. I can understand her frustration – the cutesy passive aggressive Mimet needs to be thrown into a vat of mayonnaise and have the lid closed.
Meanwhile… Eugeal’s programme totally just worked. I’m actually really hoping this works, since I love Eugeal and want her to keep her job. You go destroy the world, you crazy scientist!
The results… seem to shock even Eugeal. Brilliant choice not to show them just yet.
This next scene I also love so much. It’s still a miserable day in Tokyo, and Haruka is moodily sitting in a window sill looking out, when the phone rings. She does an extremely Haruka Tenoh-ish thing to do and lets it go to voice-mail.
And holy shit it’s Eugeal.
This is shot so perfectly. The voice message is so personally threatening to Haruka that it should be extremely dramatic, and it is… but it’s accompanied by no music, just that odd oppressive atmosphere again, and ZERO reaction from Haruka, who doesn’t seem to give a shit that an enemy has found out her identity.
This creates a wonderful juxtaposition of building tension, and a complete lack of willingness of the show to acknowledge it, creating this wonderfully weird comic scene.
It also LOOKS great.
It gets even better when, as Eugeal is boasting that she’s found a Talisman, and that she’s triumphant– the voice message gets cut off by the timer.
Again, zero reaction. I love this so much.
Eugeal actually calls back, complains about the length of the voice message allowed (brilliant) and finishes off her threat, inviting Haruka out to a location by fax (lol 90s)… oh and here’s Michiru in a swimsuit, just because.
And still ZERO reaction. When Michiru discusses the situation, it’s so weirdly emotionless, as is Haruka. Something has changed in their behaviour – it’s the prophecy of their dreams, I assume. The knowledge that this is the day they will both obtain their life’s desire of a Talisman, yet at the same time push someone to their death, must be weighing heavily.
And then begins… the scene.
This scene is one of the most memorable in all of Sailor Moon, simply for its sheer simplicity, and it’s set to this lovely bit of music:
Now that’s tragedy.
Haruka looks down at her hands as the piano music begins to play, and wonders how tainted her hands are, and how she must get the Talisman no matter what the sacrifice is.
Michiru looks incredibly intense and sad, and picks up Haruka’s hand.
There’s this strange scene where they’re just touching hands. It certainly does look a little strange, but the poignancy of the motions, that sense of love and trust, of bondship, really comes through. It’s also beautifully tragic.
We’re watching two female characters in a kids’ show in the 90s in a mature, believable, romantic and gay relationship, and it’s not stereotyped or titillating. It’s human. It’s the most convincing, powerful and socially interesting moment in Sailor Moon, ever, and I really will not hear a word against that opinion.
As soppy and emotionally manipulative as this moment is, when I see Michiru leaning in with that longing look, whispering, “It doesn’t matter. I like your hands,” my heart breaks.
What a wonderful show to be able to illicit such emotion from a jaded asshole like me.
Just to remind you that thisn’t just Haruka and Michiru’s show, we cut to the Inner Senshi, all isolated in the dreary day, worrying about Haruka and Michiru’s identities and the lengths they claim they’ll go to to obtain a Talisman… and Uranus and Neptune’s promise that they are enemies.
Again, beautifully drawn moments that capture this growing anxiety, and pulling the other Senshi back into the episode with about 4 seconds each. Brilliant pacing, brilliant editing. What a show.
The person taking this schism the worst is, as ever, Usagi, who responds to strife like a leaf to a flame. The thought that two people who she has come to admire and love deeply could be so callous about sacrificing a life is anathema to her – we’ve had two and a half series thus far to demonstrate this inescapable truth about her character.
But then she gets a phone call from Haruka… I have a baaad feeling about this.
We see a brief scene of Chibi-Usa telling Mamoru that Usagi has gone to meet Haruka and Michiru… alone. It’s exactly something she would do. If she knew it was dangerous, she’s go alone to spare everyone else. Here, she’s just naive enough not to think that Haruka could pose a threat to her.
Also, this is the first episode Chibi-Usa has been in for a few, and I really haven’t missed her at all. Sorry, dear!
Chibi-Usa, in a crowd, gets a brief glimpse of someone with dark green hair that looks… awfully familiar… HINT HINT.
Usagi arrives at the top floor of an apartment complex… and apparently Michiru owns the whole fucking thing, because the aquarium on top is dedicated entire to her use. This lady is RICH, ya’ll.
Usagi tries to make small-talk, happily asking if she can bring her friends next time… but the frosty look she gets is actually pretty frightening.
This is sooo awkward. I feel like Haruka is making a decision as she takes a long pause before finally acknowledging that Usagi is even there.
“Don’t even show yourself in front of us ever again… Sailor Moon.”
Jesus. Poor Usagi. This is killing her. This is the cruellest thing you could ever say to her. She makes one last valiant attempt to ask why they can’t fight together, but Haruka won’t hear of it.
“I won’t allow you to slow us down with your half-baked play war…” – again, this is so cruel and so true. As much as I love the Inner Senshi, they don’t hold a candle to these guys. They lack the ability to compromise, to make hard decisions that Haruka and Michiru have.
So I can’t blame Haruka when she straight up grabs the Transformation Broach off Usagi. It’s a rough few seconds of a scuffle, though. Really unpleasant. You’re watching Haruka become the cold single-minded warrior she always threatened to be.
This is sooo gooooood.
Even then, Usagi begs them to stop their obession with Pure Hearts, but as a final blow, Haruka warns Usagi that if she ever show her face in front of them again, she will die.
Daaaaamn. That’s cold.
Just to shove it in her face a little more, they do the most aggressive thing they can think of and transform in front of her. They don’t even care about the glowing nudity. THESE GIRLS NASTY.
I wonder if Uranus’ true intention with taking Usagi’s ability to transform is that Sailor Moon would not only interfere with their mission: she is a beacon of everything they are trying to kill off in themselves, the compassion, the humanity, the refusal to betray important principals.
Clever, clever writing here. We’ll see how far Uranus and Neptune can take their resolve.
Oh, and then the fucking walls open up to reveal that Neptune has a goddamn helicopter. Told you she was rich. I guess they don’t give a shit about the environment, though. Should’ve taken the bus, ladies.
Just as it looks as though Usagi will be left alone and powerless… a voice behind her asks if she’s going to follow them. Now THIS is even more interesting…
The green haired lady from before calmly informs Usagi that Uranus and Neptune is heading off towards a long-fated battle… but that they’re in grave danger.
This is Setsuna Meioh, and she’s a total bad-ass. She also claims to be an old acquaintance of Uranus and Neptune’s…
Funny how Usagi doesn’t recognise Sailor Pluto whatsoever. I suppose her human form, magic, blah blah. She tells Usagi that there is great peril for the Senshi, and especially her as she cannot transform… but she’s hinting heavily that Usagi should TOTALLY go.
By and by, I have a totally bitchin’ theory about Sailor Pluto and her own personal time-line (gets a bit Doctor Who-sey), but that can wait until later in the series.
It’s a little weird seeing Neptune and Uranus flying a helicopter, but I like it. They’re flying off shore to…
…wait.. what the fuck is this…? A marine cathedral…? Who the shit would pray here? What the hell is this thing? Japan isn’t even a Christian country…
Yeah it’s stupid as heck, but it’s so steam-punk (religion-punk) and I love the pseudo-religious design. A proper setting for a big showdown. Bloody ominous too.
For one last time, Neptune takes Uranus’ hand and warns her that, no matter what the consequence, no matter if they are in peril, they have to push on and obtain the Talisman. Getting SUPER ominous, guys.
Why would anyone build this horrible place?
The first trap is panels which slide out, Bit anti-climatic, actually. These traps don’t really do it for me, would much prefer something with a little more threat to it to be honest.
At the very least, I love how Eugeal is controlling these sliding panels – she’s playing a game of foosball, A clever and funny little trick.
But yeah the action here doesn’t completely do it for me, even though Uranus and Neptune look very cool dodging stuff before blasting the panels apart with attacks.
Uranus, cocky as ever, doesn’t notice one of the panels about to smash into her, and Neptune takes the blow. Damn, that’s quite a blow. Neptune gets swept off and away, leaving a rather silly-looking Uranus.
In the main chamber, the word ominous is losing all meaning as Eugeal plays Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on the massive organ. Seriously, it’s the size of a house.
Eugeal taunts Uranus over loudspeaker as the music plays, boasting that she now has a Talisman-bearer… in the form of Sailor Neptune.
Ohhhhh shiiiiiiiiiit. That’s exactly the most ironic result possible considering Haruka and Michiru’s strong moral code, determination to sacrifice a life, obsession with the Talismans AND their complete devotion to one another! SO IRONY. MUCH WOW.
Seriously, though, great twist.
I love how much fun Eugeal is having with all this. She’s not the uptight station-wagon driver today, she’s going all out with the maniacal manipulation.
Uranus arrives in the main hall to find a… disturbingly restrained Neptune.
Seriously, this thing looks fucked up. It’s extremely Christian, in the sense that she looks crucified, but the mutilation of that imagery into these creepy red vines is something else. It looks extremely demonic. A very powerful shot.
Uranus loses her shit. Despite earlier’s assurance that if either one was in danger, the other would progress on solo, she screams and sprints towards her.
And totally gets shot with… uhhh arrows? It’s a bit unclear. Also, if they were arrows, she’d be dead.
Just to make sure the episode isn’t TOO heavy and creepy, we get the fantastic reveal that Eugeal has no idea how to play an organ, and that she’s just miming the actions while a CD player blears out Toccata and Fugue. Beautiful.
Eugeal advances on Uranus threateningly. I’m really digging how calm and cold she is today. She’s like a Terminator. Eugeal admits that she hasn’t pulled out Neptune’s Talisman yet… because there’s still something else she has to do.
Pull the Talisman out of Uranus.
NOW IF THAT AIN’T THE MOST IRONIC THING EVER.
Uranus doesn’t believe her on the ground that there’s not way she has Pure Heart. To be honest I’d tend to agree, but if you remember they’ve foreshadowed this: Pure Hearts are those completely dedicated to a task, a higher purpose. Who is more distant from her own nature, more dedicated to carrying out her goals, than Uranus?
Eugeal mentions as an aside that the Pure Heart gun fired at this close range will probably kill Uranus… which is when Neptune breaks free from her creepy-ass tentacle cross.
Weeeeell I can’t say I’m that impressed by the idea of this, or how it looks, but Neptune runs right into the line of sight of those arrow guns, which proceed to shoot the shit out of her.
It looks painful as heck though. I really do hate seeing these Senshi being tortured like this.
So Neptune refuses to back down and continues to get shot to shreds as we’re forced to look on at what seems like Neptune’s death.
I have to admire Neptune’s character and force of will here: despite the fact that now she can barely walk, she manages to stumble towards Eugeal… to do what? Save Uranus? In that state?
Either way, Eugeal freaks the fuck out at this inhuman monster, and just shoots her right in the chest.
Uranus’ face is something to behold.
Aaaaand BAM. Talisman. It’s a mirror! That doesn’t appear to reflect anything… Oh well, I suppose it’s purely ornamental.
So Neptune is totally dead, right? Nasty.
Eugeal moves on to Uranus, who is now realising the full extent of the TOTAL IRONY BOMB she just got hit with, ruing the cruel fates for such a ridiculously ironic situation.
And then… another wonderful moment occurs in this darkest of moments.
Uranus looks up to the roof, lamenting the heavens, and a stain-glass skylight in the shape of a butterfly becomes illuminated as we hear a familiar “HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!”
You may recall that butterflies in this series has thus far only been associated with one thing: The Messiah.
Uranus, for a moment, sees her Messiah… before it’s replaced with the entirely ordinary and powerless Usagi.
I really love this so, so much. Usagi, looking so small and plain, but still with that same determination to rescue. Her arrival, just as things looked their worst, in a blaze of light. It’s such a great moment.
And Usagi body slams Eugeal! Daaaaaamn. All the coolness is coming out the bag today. Normally inefficient and cowardly, Usagi isn’t even transformed as she slams Eugeal to the edge. She’s so COOL!
Eugeal trying her hardest not to fall, only to grab a pulley rope and fall down several storeys into the abyss, is hilarious too. She can’t catch a break, can she? Defeat two Senshi and get defeated by a schoolgirl.
Usagi is trying to get Neptune’s Pure Heart back into her body, but in the form of a Talisman it’s just not re-entering. This totally means that death is imminent.
Uranus, defeated, tells her to stop. That this is what they were fighting for.
“You’re so unfair, Michiru… to leave for a world of your own.”
Gosh, that line breaks my heart. Brilliant foreshadowing from earlier in the episode. Uranus is willing to let Neptune die, as is her resolve, but how much further can her resolve go?
After throwing Usagi back her Transformation Broach, Uranus grabs Eugeal’s gun…
Usagi tries to stop her, knowing what she’s about to do, and they have yet another tussle. There’s been a number of those this episode.
Usagi, beautifully optimistic and naive as she is, shouts at Uranus that they don’t need the Talismans. “I’ll… I’ll save the world.” She says it with such a tremor in her voice, too. I really believe it.
And Uranus almost does to. Giving her a sad smile, and admitting to Usagi that she looked like the Messiah, she gives an almighty push.
With her final request that Sailor Moon find the final Talisman, Uranus points the gun at her own heart and fires…
This is truly fucked up. It’s also perfect. They created a situation where Uranus’ resolve, her ideals, were so strong and absolute that she was willing to let the woman she loves die, and then to commit suicide, in the hope of saving the world somewhere down the line.
It’s so infinitely sad, so admirable, so tragic. What a brilliant moment. What a moment that stands in all odds against everything that Usagi is. While this series has focussed more on Uranus and Neptune’s character development, seeing how that directly conflicts in the extreme with Usagi’s world view is compelling viewing.
Oh finally the other fucking Senshi arrive. I’d say better late than never, but you already missed everything. Seriously, they get completely short-changed from about this episode to the end of the season.
The second Talisman appears in the shape of a rather lumpy looking sword. Never really like the look of this thing. Much prefer the mirror and… the other Talisman…
Speaking of which, as the Senshi look on helpless, that Setsuna Meioh appears, watching on calmly.
And that’s the end of the episode! Ending on a bloody grim cliffhanger! If I were I kid, I would presume that Haruka and Michiru are dead – they’ve done it before, after all. My entire ego would be collapsing in on itself too. This is such a good pay-off for everything in the series so far.
And it’s not over! Next episode is amazing too, not least because Sailor Moon is about to get super cool…
Episode Score: 5/5 (Any doubt?)
Architectural Score: 2/5 (A marine cathedral is a good idea, but the person who designed this place needs to be institutionalised.”
Final Thought: I just watched an anime character shoot herself in the chest with a magic rifle and I feel more strongly about that than real-world tragedies. My priorities are totally on straight.
NEXT TIME: Sailor Moon goes Super Saiyan