3:26 – Shadow of Silence!? The Pale Glimmer of a Firefly
Alternative Title: Didn’t I See You In The Ring?
First Aired: 26th November 1994
Chibi-Usa goes to see her new friend Hotaru, but is turned away by a cold Kaori at the door. Appalled by Kaori’s behaviour, Hotaru runs after Chibi-Usa, only to fall into another seizure. As Hotaru continues to display increasingly worrying powers, the veil between the Messiah of Silence persona and her own mind begins to crumble.
Yaaay a good episode again! The last one I really enjoyed was the one where Eugeal met her end. I think Mimett has really been dragging the episodes down, as well as an overall shuffle to delay the story a little. Here, we develop the story ever so slightly (I won’t pretend, this is still a sliver) but the drama is great, the art and writing are being handled by the good team again, and I have a weird affection for the Daimohn.
Best of all, so much Hotaru. We still haven’t seen enough of her yet. She’s adorable here.
The episode begins with Chibi-Usa meeting Setsuna Meioh on the way home, who greets her with the old Silver Millennium nickname of Small Lady. These two haven’t had much to say to each other yet, so this is a rather interesting display of their relationship.
Chibi-Usa is miffed that Puu never comes to visit (aren’t we all?), and she’s reprimanded for not using Pluto’s human name, Setsuna Meioh… I love Chibi-Usa’s response: “In that case I’m Usagi. Call me Chibi-Usa.” A perfectly snotty and correct response to all the Small Lady stuff.
These two are looking adorable together.
Chibi-Usa looks delighted when Setsuna notices how many friends she’s made, and Setsuna’s reaction is oddly tempered. There’s this feeling that there’s way more subtext here in terms of Setsuna’s motivations for checking up on Chibi-Usa, but she’s as inscrutable as ever. This is good writing.
As Chibi-Usa makes Setsuna promise to be around more while she runs off, Michiru and Haruka slink in behind Setsuna and make rather evil, snide comments about Chibi-Usa’s nativity. I rather liked it, They’re a little blown away by the idea that Chibi-Usa will one day be their Princess. Interesting notion to explore, their reaction to the Silver Millennium, but all we get is Haruka’s desire not to tease her too much.
Come on, give me a little more than that!
I love the tone in shift here. It goes from all happy-go-lucky to super dark as Haruka instantly segways into talking about fiding the Messiah. Hint: YOU’VE FOUND HER. They also talk about how the Messiah of Silence must be stopped from being awoken at all costs… something tells me that we’re going to see another conflict in ideals between the Inner and Outer Senshi.
This conflict isn’t as strongly built as the previous sacrifice, but it’s developing all the themes of idealism and utilitarianism from before. Again, solid writing of the overall series. Some of the best.
So what’s Mimett up to? Working hard to come up with a way to revive the Messiah of Silence? Nah, she’s watching her soaps. They open this scene as though some bloke is breaking up with Mimett (probably to avoid her murdering him in his sleep), with the reveal that she’s getting waaay into a TV show. A good gag.
After losing her shit at a fictional character (GODDAMN SHE’S CRAZY), she rudely answers the phone to literally the only person who ever calls her, the Professor. On the fly, Mimett decides that the actor who just spurned her through her TV (she’s absolutely fucking cray-cray) will be the one to suffer her wrath.
And then Mimett breaks her phone too. Not as funny as the last time they used this gag, but I smiled.
The Messiah of Silence, meanwhile, is doing the same old trope. I wish this was as effective as the first time they used it, but it’s wearing a teensy bit thin. That being said, it’s repetitiveness actually is an advantage, for today there is a rather different event.
The Messiah of Silence, seemingly in pain, lurches forward, muttering about Pure Hearts…
…and we cut to poor fragile Hotaru in bed. They’re increasing the comparisons between Hotaru and the Messiah, it won’t be too long before they break this wide open. Great foreshadowing here, real sense of building dread.
Hotaru (IN HER BITCHIN’ ROOM) isn’t looking so great. She’s always in so much pain that I just want to wrap her up in a blanket and feed her sugar lumps like a horse. Poor little girl. She’s lost quite a bit of time while she’s been out. Her worry is cut short by the door bell…
Chibi-Usa has come to visit. I love her balancing on Luna-P. The best touch is after she falls off, Luna-P floats off looking severely pissed off.
Once again, the figure that opens the door only a crack is Kaori. She’s as malevolent an aura as ever. She wasn’t this scary when she was alive before as Kaorinite… Death becomes her, I suppose. She fobs off Chibi-Usa, telling her that Hotaru is resting and too ill to play, in her coldest voice.
And then she slams the door shut. Poor Chibi-Usa walks off sadly. They take their time with this. They could have easily just transitioned the scene, but they linger on her sad shuffle, her concerned look back at the house. Chibi-Usa, like her mother, is attracted above all else to the suffering of others. They show this time and time again: the idea that others are in pain around these two is anathema. This is a theme that has caused disaster in the past, and shall continue to develop in a BIG way.
In fact, Sailor Moon’s black and white ideals become the driving force behind the finale of this series, and it’s really important to recognise the work that has gone on this season to develop this motif. Good blood job, writers.
Hotaru, meanwhile, is up and about. She asks Kaori about the doorbell, and gets so increibly pissed off at the flippant assistant when she’s told Chibi-Usa was sent away. I love seeing Hotaru angry. Makes a change to the delicate side. She starts to run off, when Kaori suggests she’s being selfish.
I love the look on Hotaru’s face. Some big beef as gone on between these two in the past, and I’m so eager to find out what. I mean, besides the fact that Kaori is obviously an evil goat.
So many good shots of Hotaru today.
Also good is how little Kaori cares about Hotaru having a seizure. It seems her loyalty to the Professor does not extend to his daughter.
Hotaru, panting heavily, finally catches up to Chibi-Usa. Seems like a lot of effort just to say hello, really, but such is Hotaru’s loneliness that she’s so evidently happy. Normally I might be a little cynical about moments like these, but the earnest nature of Hotaru makes this a beautiful and sad little gesture.
Oh and then she totally passes out. Jesus this girl needs an alarm bracelet or something.
And as LUCK WOULD HAVE IT who would be walking right by except (out of anyone else in Tokyo) Usagi and Ami. Well thank god, Chibi-Usa couldn’t have carried poor Hotaru to the hospital.
Chibi-Usa cries of help to Usagi are so genuinely heartfelt that it actually gets to me. She’s suddenly not the self-assured Princess of the future, but the little girl who missed her parents so long ago.
It’s also touching to see that in her panic, he first thought is that Usagi can fix anything. By Usagi’s terrified look, it’s clear she doesn’t share the opinion.
In fact it’s the level-headed Ami who steps in, who gets Chibi-Usa to calm down and suggests they take Hotaru to Ami’s mother’s hospital nearby. I really like this side of Ami. Her dream is to become a doctor, and it’s clear in crafting the character that they gave her the perfect temperament to be one.
They’re always so good at colouring hospital rooms in this show. It’s dusk, so the place is filled with bruised purples and faded orange. With Chibi-Usa looking over Hotaru, it occurs to me that they’ve not really had much a relationship except for Hotaru fainting continuously, at least shown on screen. I understand both their needs to connect, but I think a little more time seeing them just as friends would have been great,
Chibi-Usa is racked with guilt, but Usagi finally steps up, adopting her most motherly tone and stance, and generally looking much more adult than normal, reassuring her future daughter and telling her to be a good friend to Hotaru. It’s a lovely moment, actually.
We then slip inside Hotaru’s mind to see exactly what seems to be troubling her in her sleep… and it’s completely fucked up. Good LORD. It reminds me enormously of the flashbacks to Chibi-Usa’s past in the second season. A little crying Hotaru is crying on the floor. Someone has broken her goldfish bowl, killing the fish within. MURDER IS AFOOT.
…except that as Hotaru laments “Who did this to my goldfish!?“, a cold, dark voice replies, “Oh isn’t that strange? This is something YOU did yourself.”
It’s Kaori. She’s a complete dick. Hotaru’s animosity towards her is completely justified. I mean, just look at her,
We then move to Hotaru coming into the classroom, tentatively happy, only to find her entire class looking shifty, crowding around a boy with bandages on his head. When Hotaru moves to touch him and ask what’s wrong, he screams like a baby and moves back.
The class accuses of Hotaru being the one who injured him in the first place…
Finally, we get an unfortunately framed scene of Hotaru crying into the Professor’s lap. I can’t lie – it looks odd. Hotaru breaks down, unable to remember hurting her classmates (this wasn’t the first time). Her fears, that there’s someone else inside of her, is horrifying.
This is grade A stuff. This is beautiful. First of all, the eerie dream state is perfect for this suppressed and dark memory. There’s something David Cronenberg about her fears overnot having control over her body. The idea that there’s something within her that hurts the things and people she loves is truly disturbing, and it’s pulled off brilliantly here.
I also love the quick cuts as she cries on her father’s lap to Hotaru’s face. Increases this tension, this threat of violence somehow. This is a fantastic theme, really interesting stuff. Moreover, it is perfect foreshadowing to someone else in Hotaru’s life that she will inevitably harm…
The concern Chibi-Usa continues to show to Hotaru in her sleep is pretty adorable. She used to always be the one in danger, it’s novel to see her caring for someone else.
Hotaru wakes up and the girls have a rather adorable moment together. I’m an old cynical asshole and even I found this touching.
Hotaru insists that she doesn’t need further attention, that seizures like this are common for her, and begins to go home by herself. Gosh, girl, you like only just had a massive episode. Maybe rest a couple more hours? Oh well, there’s an independent streak in her despite her fragility to admire, and Chibi-Usa offers to walk her home.
Hey, how about a taxi?
As she leaves, Usagi is incredibly sweet as she asks Hotaru to come round their house for hotcakes. D’aww. A feel good episode amongst a lot of pain.
Outside the hospital, who should turn up but Haruka in her convertible. At this point, if I were Chibi-Usa, I would be checking my clothes for some kind of recording device, because this girl;s timing is uncanny. Haruka offers the girls a ride. Bit weird, to be honest, but whatever they need to do to advance the plot, I’m fine with, since everything else has been such good character development thus far.
Haruka, who appears not to have any ulterior motives for once, unlike that one time, or that other time, asks Hotaru for her name… and recognises her family name of Tomoe – “By any chance are you Professor Soichi Tomoe’s daughter?” Well apparently this knowledge has some meaning for Hotaru. It’s relatively subtle for this kids’ show, but a reflection in the rear-view mirror and a glinting sound effect tells us that Haruka at least suspects something about Professor Tomoe and/or his daughter.
Also she looks evil as shit as she watches the girls laughing together. Haruka has a terrible poker face.
Oh yeah, Mimett’s still around. For some reason a soap actor is just chilling on the street at a cafe at night. Mimett is suuuuper shifty as she approaches him. I actually rather like this. If we saw only these moments of Mimett, I could have liked her, but they tried to “develop” her character too much.
Yuu Kazama, the actor, is apparently on a show called “Jump Out Friends“. That’s the worst name for a soap I’ve ever heard. This name will become relevant in a bit.
Mimett fangirls for a bit, and then gets very… very… close, before dragging him off to a darker, more secluded area. Yeah dude you’re dead. This is an expert stalker, you know.
Haruka, driving along, suddenly gets a strange feeling, and the car grinds to a halt. She seems to be sensing the impending attack on Kazama, and comes up with the brilliant excuse to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru of… “I’m a little thirsty. I just need to buy something in the park over there.”
So crappy poker face and crappy lying. Haruka is hilariously inept that this.
Chibi-Usa instantly realises that Haruka is going off to fight the enemy, and asks Hotaru to stay in the car while she goes off to do “something.” Seriously, though, is Chibi-Moon going to affect the outcome of this battle one way or the other? Seriously though?
Chibi-Usa abandons her friend who has just been suffering from huge painful seizures and runs off into the park and– oh yes, I should mention, this is another one of those episodes where the climax occurs in the exact same park where everything else happens. Ah old friend.
Apparently Kazama is a massive idiot, because he’s accepted being dragged along through a dark park with an unknown and slightly alarming assailant. Mimett has a brief emotional breakdown once again at Kazama “cheating” on her, and his reaction is pretty much spot on.
Mimett whips out the old Daimohn once more. I must say it’s better when she moves things along quicker.
This Daimohn is… special. Very special. Her name is “Utomodachi“, which is a bit like saying “fwendship.” She’s also incredibly disturbing, dressed like a pre-schooler and obsessed with friendship. Evidently she’s a play on the intense friendship between Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, as well as the actor’s show Jump Out Friends. What a weird them, but it works.
Her cry of “I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU FOREVER” right before she tries to suck Kazama’s Pure Heart out through his mouth is especially noteworthy. I really like this Daimohn. Freaky and threatening at the same time, with a strong theme, just as a Daimohn should be.
Kazama’s fate is delayed by Sailor Uranus acting snooty as fuck, entering by herself with a Sonic finger-wag. GOSH I LOVE HER. Look at this lady!
Chibi-Usa takes the moment to alert everyone to the park, before transforming herself. Honestly, what are you possibly going to achieve? Uranus feels the same way, calling Chibi-Moon and idiot and telling her to piss off. A bit harsh, maybe?
Chibi-Moon’s reaction to being called “baka” is brilliant.
Utomodachi moves on to battle-mode… where she really wants everyone to be a “happy family!” It’s disturbing. Cute is creepy, you know. She whips out the Devil’s jump-rope, and sounds so threatening while still spewing insane lines about wanting to be friends.
Just like her mother, Uranus has to rescue Chibi-Moon from death, and isn’t too happy about it.
Hotaru, meanwhile, isn’t doing so good… We’re about to keep cutting to Hotaru as tension continues to build, and it’s wonderfully done as you have no idea how the worlds of Sailor Senshi and monsters will collide with poor ailing Hotaru.
When the Inner Senshi join the fight, Mimett abandons the fight, leaving Utomodachi to it. You didn’t think she was going to take abandonment well, did you? I mean, look at her.
This is fantastic, as Utomodachi bursts into tears and looks like a child fed-up with everything. Rather than wanting to fight, she just spins up her jump-rope and speeds up, shouting “I HATE ALL OF YOOUUUU!” So brilliantly absurd.
There’s a fantastic pause where all the Senshi give their best “what the fuck?” faces, before Uranus realises that the Daimohn is headed straight for…
Hey wait a second, what the fuck happened to Kazama? Did he just run off?
Ahem, any way, Uranus has just realised that Utomodachi is heading straight for her car and she still has only two payments left on the thing, dammit, also there’s a kid inside I guess.
This gets brilliant…
Utomodachi, still at full-speed, charges towards a Hotaru in the throes of another seizure, or so it seems. Noooo poor Hotaru! She’ll be crushed! Right? RIGHT!?
Utomodachi begins screaming “OUT THE WAY OUT THE WAY” as the tension grows and grows, and then…
Hotaru loses it. An incredibly creepy musical motif begins playing, this solo female voice singing lalala in an eerie melody that we will come to associate with… whatever this is. Hotaru’s eyes begin glowing and she paralyses Utomodachi in mid-air with some sort of energy… and she looks wicked.
This is so sooo cool.
As Hotaru passes out once more, and Utomodachi is released (albeit smoking slightly), the Senshi finally catch up, giving Sailor Moon a chance to evolve into Super Sailor Moon and deliver a Rainbow Moon Heartache to poor old Utomodachi. I loved you, you crazy fluffy-panted freak.
Chibi-Usa, her normal self once more, rushes to Hotaru’s aid, but she seems healthy enough… but scared. She instinctually knows that something bad has happened, and warns Chibi-Usa to stay away from her, afraid she’ll hurt her.
This is cruel, but probably a smart move to be honest. I love this conflict. Hotaru dearly wants friends, but lives in terror of harming them. Such an interesting avenue of character development.
Uranus quietly warns Sailor Moon to keep Chibi-Usa away from Hotaru… and then detransforms.
What. The. Fuck.
Well, I’ve always liked detransormation scenes, since we so rarely see them, and while we have seen nudity in a detransformation before, this is rather needless and strange. This is a KIDS’ show. Saying that, by all means, why not. This isn’t sexualised in any way. In fact, Uranus/Haruka walking off huffily would certainly not care if a few girls caught a glimpse of her undoubtedly rockin’ buns. If she’s proud of it, why not? They’re undoubtedly lovely animated butt cheeks
Also it’s totally weird though. Wow. Jesus.
The Sailor Senshi are all a little nonplussed by this warning. They’re obviously not going to take Uranus’ words to heart whatsoever. I can’t help but think that Uranus should have just explained the danger to them, instead of giving vague threats as usual. The Inner Senshi can be practical once in a while.
Poor Chibi-Usa is just sad and confused, and the Senshi instantly tells Haruka to go fuck herself with her advice and tell Chibi-Usa to be even better friends with Hotaru. This will end in tragedy. Without any preamble, this was terrible advice from these girls. Great job.
The episode ends on an oddly positive note, with everyone positive about friendship and junk, but it feels completely at odds with the tone of everything else here, ending on laughter and joking around. Might have been better to go with an ominous ending… but at the same time I understand holding back a little until later in the show. They’re playing their hand close to their chest.
I like this episode enormously. I like how much it spends strengthening themes that will only come into play in 10 episodes. It’s not concerned with packing action and jokes into an episode, like some others – this is a nuanced character development, with beautiful art and genuinely moving moments. Loved it.
And I love Utomodachi too.
Episode Score: 4/5
Monster Score: 5/5 (Utomodachi, let’s be friends!)
Final Thought: I wonder what Kazama told his friends and coworkers the next day. “I got dragged into a dark park by a stalker, who set a green woman with the intelligence and mannerism of a 6 year old school kid, who was also an insane monster, who tried to kiss me, and then some Sailor Senshi turned up, and I went home to have a stiff drink.” What an anecdote.
NEXT TIME: Hotaru, Chibi-Usa and pretty much everyone forgets that Hotaru might be a danger, and pretend like this episode never happened.