3:31 – Invasion from an Alternate Dimension! The Mystery of Mugen Academy
Alternative Title: Change The Channel
First Aired: 7th January 1995
Hotaru, her father, and everything in the Tomoe residence up and vanishes after last time’s confrontation with the shadow of Sailor Saturn. The Sailor Senshi decide to investigate Professor Tomoe further, particularly the school he is owner of, Mugen Academy. Mimett, meanwhile, feels herself being replaced within the Death Busters by fellow witch Telulu, and decides to break out some experimental technology to defeat the Senshi…
I looooove this episode so much. A true return to form after a period of a number of lacklustre episodes. This one has intrigue, investigation, humour, horror, atmosphere, and even some morbid mortality thrown in for good measure.
Best of all, of course, is that this is BYE BYE MIMETT.
The episode starts off with Chibi-Usa running in the rain. I love the colour palette in this opening, it’s all blues and greys. A little on the nose in terms of mood-setting, but boy is it effective.
These shots of her running are punctuated by her memories ( nice little recap) of Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto shouting at the Senshi about how Hotaru is the Anti-Christ and must be stopped at all costs.
I totally understand Chibi-Usa’s reaction as she runs inside the Tomoe residence to find it entirely empty. It’s like she never existed. Someone you love is being accused of heinous crimes that even they are not aware of, and then they evaporate. This is properly sympathetic stuff.
This scene continues to look gorgeous, with long shadows as she runs down the empty corridors. Actual creative art design, how I missed you. I wish this animation and writing team did all the episodes.
As Chibi-Usa begins to break down (again, her grief is entirely believable and sympathetic. They’re whipping the pathos out early) she spins around to find Setsuna, her Puu.
This is a complicated scene, in that Setsuna has no defence for her actions. They are reprehensible, yet necessary. She can’t offer any comfort to Chibi-Usa, who she seems to love like her own child.
As Chibi-Usa begins to accuse her of taking Hotaru, then chasing her off with her cruelty, her grief is really powerful to watch. Setsuna does nothing, just stands there.
When Chibi-Usa finally splutters out “Puu… I hate you” you really feel it. It hurts, man. Setsuna just ends up hugging her in this lonely house. Some real nuanced motivations going on here, especially from Chibi-Usa, who now both hates and loves Setsuna, and both abhors her actions yet cannot bring herself to push Setsuna away.
I find this an interesting psychological state. Chibi-Usa compartmentalises her emotions because, even in her anger, she can’t bring herself to truly hating her friends.
We cut over to the Senshi assembled in Mamoru’s apartment. I like when they hang out here, makes a nice change of location, even if his place continues to feel weirdly cold. Needs Usagi’s touch, Mamoru.
Usagi’s face when watching Mamoru do some research on Professor Tomoe on his laptop is amazing. Even more amazing is that this is January 1995 and he has the internet. That’s impressive.
Soichi Tomoe, we learn (with Usagi’s placid curious face hovering in the background), is a pioneer in genetic research, and currently a professor at, and the owner of, Mugen Academy.. which instantly makes everyone rather suspicious of the place.
I love all this. I love the research, the moody music, the intrigue, the discovery. Like a David Fincher movie.
Mugen Academy is the school which Hotaru attends, as well as Haruka and Michiru. It’s an elite private school with strict rules and high entry standards, and its campus is in a frickin’ skyscraper. This sounds like the coolest, most evil school of all time.
I really like all this Mugen Academy stuff too. There’s something about this monolithic institution that feels right at home with the Death Busters.
Thus the plan is formed to investigate Mugen Academy…
…just as Setsuna walks in with a soaking wet and thoroughly miserable-looking Chibi-Usa. She looks like a drowned rate.
Usagi begins fussing over her like a concerned mother, which doesn’t seem to help Chibi-Usa’s mood much. It seems everyone can read her mood except her own mother. Poor Usagi.
Then, like a COMPLETE DICK, Mamoru raises his hand to tell her to cease her clucking about. The bloody arrogance and condescension of this move…grrr… I dislike this. They’re always making Usagi out to be a bad mother, when she was the only one concerned with Chibi-Usa’s health after being in the rain all night.
Mamoru has taken charge of this whole thing despite having had very little to do this series. I do like seeing this serious side of him though. As Setsuna turns to leave, he point-blank asks her about Mugen Academy.
The look she gives him is so incredibly dirty. I love Setsuna.
Apparently the academy has only operated for 3 years, in which time crazy shit has happened there (Setsuna’s words, really). Suspicious of the school, Haruka and Michiru enrolled to investigate, which is why they’ve been wearing the school uniform the entire series thus far. Cool that they’ve had this Chekhov’s Gun on the wall for 30 episodes.
Chibi-Usa listening to all this just looks miserable and cold. I continue to feel sorry for her. Gosh, the mood of this episode is so dark.
Setsuna doesn’t know if Hotaru is truly a part of the Death Busters, but she is Sailor Saturn, and thus incredibly dangerous.
This is all a bit too much for Chibi-Usa. I love how pitifully she’s drawn here. Her character is really coming through here – she’s tortured by all this talk against her dear friend. I buy her reaction to all this too, it’s in keeping with her psychology from the second season.
Chibi-Usa tearfully screams at Setsuna that she can’t kill Hotaru, that she really is good, and Setsuna’s returned expression is… complex.
There are so many lingering, complex looks in this episode. Ace job. It’s moments like these that set this anime apart from anything else going on at the time. Sailor Moon showed that even anime for kids could be so much more.
Usagi, a little calmer, asks Setsuna if there’s any escape from this conflict, especially since Hotaru is a Sailor Senshi, just like them. It’s incredibly naive, and Setsuna’s expression says as much. It’s pure, it’s idealistic, it’s unrealistic, it’s doomed.
This storyline address the idea that what is ethical and right can also create the worst outcomes. Sailor Moon as a show may seem happy-go-lucky and shallow to outside observers, but we’ve seen time and time again that the show has actually a very mature, measured and creative approach to moral dilemmas.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s go hang out at the Death Busters’ lab. I though it was beneath the house? I guess maybe they have a second one somewhere else.
The Professor is on the phone to Mimett, as usual. She’s so chipper about having found the next target, a quantum physicist by the name of Sergai Ajimov (he looks Japanese, though…)
The Professor expresses interest in his theories of multiple universes… but informs Mimett that her services are not required at the present. Maybe this is because Mimett has chosen to attack the keynote speaker at a special event at the Professor’s fucking school. What a moron.
No, the truth is that the Professor has someone else in mind…
Mimett gets suspicious as hell at this sudden withdrawal of work. Apparently she’s been anticipating get replaced (or sacked) because she has soy equipment at the ready. Maybe just do a better job, Mimett.
We see another of the Witches 5, Telulu, still shrouded in shadows. It looks a little off having her aaaaalmost revealed but not quite yet, but I think it works effectively at having Mimett’s replacement seem even more deadly and mysterious as she… which isn’t hard, frankly.
The Professor expresses regret that Mimett isn’t getting him the results he wants. He’s rather nice about her to be honest. It looks as though Telulu is next in line for the executive position.
Mimett, obviously, does not take this well. As simplistic as she may be, her lust for attention and her ambition are quite entertaining to watch… when she’s motivated about it.
MImett’s solution is to use a voice modulator to sound like the Professor over the phone, cancelling his orders to Telulu… in not quite convincing enough language. I guess Mimett will be going all out to secure her job today…
Hey, doesn’t this all seem familiar?
Oh yeeeah, Eugeal. Mimett draws comparisons even further by promising to use one of Eugeal’s old machines, thus proving once and for all that Mimett is competely useless and without any talent of her own.
Goddamn Mugen Academy is set up like the Nazi headquarters. Really impressive palette again, dripping with potential threat.
The gang prepare to sneak in to see the guest speaker. This is fun! We’re seeing the Inner Senshi actually DO stuff, together, actively investigating the enemy! Wish they did this more…
Oh yeah, they totally left Mamoru at home in slacks, shirt and tie because who wants to hang around this wet drip?
He discovers that 4 years previously, the lab where Tomoe was researching exploded in a freak accident, and he his young daughter Hotaru (aged 9) were the only two to survive. Well this seems ominous…
Mamoru has a touching small scene of looking over sleeping Chibi-Usa, thinking back to her conviction of friendship towards Hotaru, and gets a conflicted look of his own. Throwaway moment, really, but this stuff adds real flavour to the characters.
The Senshi, meanwhile, are poking their heads around corners. This is their investigation tactics, I suppose. I really like this scene. Among all the darkness is this fabulously comic moment.
A security guard pokes Minako repeatedly on the butt (!?) with Makoto being the only one who notices the terrifying security guard. Pretty sure he’s meant to be white…
With all the girls terrified, he points them in the direction of the lecture hall, and they slink off…
…until he shouts “YOU FORGOT SOMETHING” and points to Usagi, completely unable to move due to shock.
I laugh every time.
Would you believe that this security guard’s role isn’t at an end yet? Mimett waltzes by with a suspicious sack, and he stops to ask what’s inside.
Her response is to taser his ass.
OK now THAT is funny.
Anyway, this Ajimov fellow is giving his lecture on parralell universes that feels just a shade too detailed to be mere coincidence. Definitely get the feeling that they’re trying to tell me something about the mysterious Pharoh 90 thing we saw last time.
The designers have a wonderful trick here. As Sergai prattles on about other universes while heavily implying that this has something to do with the Death Busters, they cut around the overwhelmingly empty school, with the girls sneaking about looking for clues.
Very cool framing device.
Also in the school, in the secret classified super top secret evil information room, are Haruka and Michiru doing some spying of their own… They fail to find exactly what they were looking for, the entrance to the Death Busters’ hideout, but at least they get to look awesome in this dark and atmospheric room.
Seriously the colouring and lighting in this scene is so cool.
We also get a shot of the Professor just finding Ajimov’s lecture fucking hilarious as he shares the joke with his… glass orb universe thing. He reveals that Pharaoh 90 is, in fact, a sentient galaxy of its own, awaiting the moment to swallow the Milky Way. I like this stuff. Such a great marriage of sci-fi, fantasy and horror.
And we get ANOTHER awesome scene! They’re spoiling us today.
Hotaru, asleep on the Messiah of Silence’s throne and in her horrible clothes, is dreaming. This will not be a happy dream let me tell you know.
We get a flashback of Hotaru at her dad’s lab. He seems so much nicer and… more sane.
Apparently whatever experiment he and his cohorts were working on tore a hole in space time, causing the massive explosion reported previously.
In the midst of the carnage, Professor Tomoe holds Hotaru’s dead body. Fuck me, this is grim stuff. That’s a dead kid Sailor Moon is having you look at right now.
His anguish is so utterly complete. Perhaps a little over enthusiastic, but who am I to judge? I’ve never PLAYED GOD WITH SCIENCE OR WHATEVER and killed my kid.
…enter the voice, who offers to save the life of Hotaru. For free right? You’re totally doing this out of the goodness of your heart and I will have no cause ever to regret this?
Nah not so much. Tomoe agrees to any price at all to save Hotaru, of course, but the voice’s price is their bodies and minds. Not such a great deal then. It’s super creepy seeing whatever entity is speaking to Tomoe enter his eye.
So Hotaru is possessed also… but it seems to not be in the same way as Tomoe, who apparently has all his free will removed.
The nightmare ends with Tomoe’s split personality being complete, with sudden terrifying flashes between the man and the mad scientist.
Incidentally, I am constantly irritated by the “scientist plays god and destroys mankind” bullshit. Science operated under ethics boards and regulations is the greatest invention humans have ever created, and has and will save the world. This vilification in fiction of science and its practitioners is old and tired, yet it continues year on year.
I’m not saying I mind it here. This feels so divorced from reality, from science, that its much more fantasy. Just pointing out that while this should annoy me (my standards are exacting), Sailor Moon pulls this off compellingly.
Right, let’s het Ajimov off this stage yeah?
Enter Mimett talking shit to the crowd. She actually stops to bask and comments on how much she likes basking in attention…
Before she attacks the entire audience and conveniently puts them all to sleep. How about leave them concious and screaming and stuff?
Today’s Daimohn will be all sciencey, right? Really advanced and stuff?
Nah, it’s just a shitty 1990s computer with a woman sticking out of it. I still sort of like this Daimohn though, Upasocon has much more personality than the recent monsters.
Ajimov’s (I’m just wondering if Sergai Ajimov is a reference to Issac Asimov..) reaction to being pinned down by a funky 90s rocker/personal computer is rather amusing. He blushes furiously as she puckers up to take his Pure Heart.
She’s so serious (“PREPARATIONS COMPLETE“) that the sight of her trying to make out with the bemused professor is a great contradiction. Loved it.
The Senshi bust on on, and every single one of the girls is fired up. I like to see them actively giving attitude. This episode is bringing them to the forefront of the episodes again. I love Sailor Moon’s reaction at having all her best lines stolen from her.
Mimett sets Upasocon upon the Senshi. She uses language like Robocop, which is rather wonderful, then throws super-cute computer mice at them.
OK that’s not so bad, I mean it’ll hurt and stuff, but…
AHHH THEY TURNED INTO RATS WHAT THE SHIT.
And then Sailor Mars burns the rats to death with Burning Mandala. Please don’t let the RPSCA hear about this…
I love this next part. In the mission to give the Senshi more to do, they have Sailor Juptier descend upon Upasocon from the air looking badass, before firing off a Sparkling Wide Pressure with a fist into the Daimohn’s stomach. SO COOL. SO VERY VERY COOL.
See why Jupiter is everyone’s favourite Senshi?
Even Mercury gets to do something… she uses her super computer as, uh, sunglasses, I guess, because she’s attacked by more rats and has to be saved by a Venus Love-Me Chain.
There quite a few cool shots of the Senshi fighting off killer rats and Upasocon throwing floppy discs as ninja stars. Really like this battle!
Eventually the Senshi are pretty beaten up as Mimett busts out a curious looking machine… She’s getting all hubrisy and stuff, so you know things are about to go badly for her.
Boy how they go badly.
Tuxedo Kamen swings in using his new favourite weapon – his own daughter firing hearts out of a wand. That’s some great parenting, Dad. This isn’t even the first time he’s done this. Once is ok, but more than once and it just looks a bit silly.
Anyway, Pink Sugar Heart Attack distracts Upasocon for, like 1 second, which is enough to for Sailor Moon to double transform and use Rainbow Moon Heartache and kill Upasocon.
I’ll be honest, after the awesome fight we saw, the Sailor Chibi-Moon reversal seems a little cheap. Oh well, it doesn’t mar it too much.
Plus, we get this next scene, as Mimett, cornered, decides to activate Eugeal’s old machine… It looks like a piece of shit, frankly. There’s no way this thing is going to work as designed.
While pointlessly screaming “WITCHES ELECTRIC WARP” as she presses a few buttons (I guess showmanship?) Mimett glows for a moment and vanishes…
Appearing instead on the giant monitors on stage.
OK great plan. What the fuck are you going to do as a screensaver, Mimett? It’s 1995. You can’t even edit Wikipedia pages yet.
I love the look on Super Sailor Moon’s face when she sees what Mimett has done. This does, in fact, look pretty damn creepy. She promises that the machine has amplified her powers too…
But we never find out whether this is even true or not. I’m guessing it was not.
Telulu, hiding in the shadows of this entire episode, makes a quiet entrance, and Mimett is immediately terrified. As she should be.
Telulu casually asks whether Mimett found out why Eugeal never used the stupid TV warp machine… before showing that she has the power cable to the TVs in her hand.
The look on Mimett’s face is horrifying. That’s the face of someone about to be murdered. Her begging is truly horrendous to see. It actually makes me feel properly repulsed. Good job on the actress on conveying such helpless pitiable frantic fear.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – why shove yourself inside a TV when your mind could be lost forever the first time the janitor switched off the power? To that I say I have no idea.
Well there you have it. Mimett has fucked off to the other side. I presume… they sort of don’t explain what exactly happened to her, I just presume she’ll spend eternity haunting message boards asking for famous people to sign her computer screen.
“Farewell, idiot” as Telulu so precisely phrased it.
Super Sailor Moon’s expression of horror is even more moving. Seeing this infighting, this casual murder, is pretty powerful stuff.
…which is where the episode concludes. Not the most complete of endings, but you can’t resolve all those threads in 25 minutes. This is such a great set-up for the next few episodes, though.
I imagine we’ll have a long and satisfying tenure with our dear Telulu, right?
Episode Score: 4/5 (So many awesome moments. So moody and beautiful too.)
Monster Score: 4/5 (Upasocon didn’t do too much, but she looks and sounds pretty cool. Loved the design)
Final Thought: Maybe Mimett would have been better served to use the Witches Electric Warp on the Senshi before pulling the plug? Maybe? What an idiot.
NEXT TIME: So excited to meet this new bad guy Telulu! Oh… she’s dead.