3:35 – The Horror of the Approaching Shadow! Eight Senshi in a Tough Battle
Alternative Title: Yeah, We Probably Should’ve Killed Hotaru
First Aired: 4th February 1995
The Sailor Senshi approach Mugen Academy, only to find an impregnable barrier around the building. Mistress Nine, who only needs the power of the Grail to call forth Pharaoh 90 to this dimension, eagerly awaits Sailor Moon’s arrival. The Outer Senshi mobilise on the enemy also, but find themselves vulnerable approaching the site by air. Meanwhile, Professor Tomoe is ordered to personally deal with the Senshi, and his true nature is finally revealed.
Euuuuu Sailor Moon S is so awesoooome! The episodes have been building so well, and after last episode’s brilliant set up, this one really delivers the goods. This is pure anime crack right here. It’s dark, it’s emotional, it’s got great character moments, it’s got brilliant art, it’s got perfect musical cues, it’s got time manipulation, it’s got explosions, it’s got Mistress Nine.
MISTRESS GODDAMN NINE.
I guess the only downside is that we’re really coming to the end of the series, and that hurts a little. Not to reveal too much of my hand, but Sailor Moon will never get better than the climax of Sailor Moon S.
The episode starts, appropriately, with M9 (to her friends) looking sleek as baby oil on a penguin in front of what appears to be a galaxy. Very very cool imagery here. Colours are just popping off the screen.
Professor Tomoe kindly and obviously exposits the plan, the McGuffin if you will – the Messiah of Silence only has to place the Holy Grail atop a funky looking device and that’s the world ended. So, uh, yeah, maybe it would be best if Sailor Moon stayed at home for this one?
The Grail will apparently “light the way” for their glorious master from another dimension, Pharaoh 90, to come and fuck shit up in our good old dimension. One would have thought will all that fancy technology, the Death Busters could invent a streetlamp or two for the lost little evil galaxy lifeform, but I’m guessing it’s metaphorical.
This is a great opening, by the way. They’re setting the stakes up with awesome visuals, creepy music and the Professor’s consistently engrossing, entertaining and fascinating patter. This will set the pace and the mood for the nest 3 episodes.
I also really love when the two sides of the Professor merge in a moment of fervour. Very cool.
We’re also given a friendly reminder that Chibi-Usa is totally dying right now, with Mamoru sustaining her life. Even better is the Professor’s fantastic line, “The age of light filled with lies will end and the age of shadows where true darkness reigns supreme will begin!”
Well jeeze mate, maybe just take a holiday or something. That sounds like a lot of work.
They made a great decision to have Mistress Nine be completely passive here. She seems dangerously quiet and without emotion as the Professor gives his opening declaration of intent. They keep flashing to her hooded eyes in a really effective way. She’s now the unknown entity, silent and deadly. It also maintains the question viewers will have – is Hotaru completely gone? Is she in there behind the malice?
This is anime, so obviously she is.
The Senshi, meanwhile, are looking cool as heck just outside Mugen Academy on a ruined road. There appear to be no people left in Tokyo. ALSO they’re back in their civilian clothes, despite them being transformed at the end of last episode. so there’s one for you continuity junkies.
Seriously, the art is so good here. The cold grey backdrop, the serious, contemplative faces of the Sesnhi. Powerful moment before what will inevitably a lot of fighting. Really gives the viewer time to appreciate the calm before the storm one last time.
The girls swear that they’ll save the world, Chibi-Usa and Hotaru. Another sign of their idealism and nativity we’ve seen throughout the season. They’re trying for everything. One suspects that they might end up with nothing. But this is Sailor Moon so they’ll probably end up with something at the very least.
This is where the good old “pre-battle” tune kicks back in. They always save it for the end of each season, or have so thus far. The girls transform, but we’re thankfully saved the entire lot of sequences again, especially since we got them last episode anyway. Time management is obvious in effect in this episode.
Hey, let’s throw a helicopter into the mix. We’ve seen this one before, it’s the one belonging to Sailor Neptune. Maybe she should have used the money for charity instead, and taken the bus to Mugen Academy. I’m just saying.
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are taking the skies over to the school. There’s a rather sweet moment of Neptune and Uranus holding hands for support. It’s nice, especially since we haven’t seen too much of them since the Grail appeared. However, all the character development they’ve built up over the season thus far will come into play here. I really like how they used them in the finale.
Pluto, sitting in the back, looks even more torn up about the sacrifice the Outer Senshi are willing to make. Again, great animation here, really makes her look conflicted. As she is – apparently the idea of sacrifice isn’t sitting as well with her as she made out previously.
As the Inner Senshi approach the building on foot, Mistress Nine appears to sense the Grail approaching. Seriously, Sailor Moon, you should’ve left that shit at home. Both Professor Tomoe and Mistress Nine can’t quite believe their luck that the ONE THING they need to destroy the Earth is being carried towards them.
Ohhhhhhh Sailor Moon…
Mistress Nine decides that she cannot allow intrusions just yet, as she’s not yet fully awakened. So, quite casually, she sets up what is undoubtedly the most powerful, effective and apt decisions in Sailor Moon – she sends, like, a billion monsters out to defend the building. See, Queen Beryl, this would have worked quite well for you too.
The Senshi outside witness a weird gooey purple barrier cover the ruined Mugen Academy, a lot like the slime in Ghost Busters 2 if I had to make a comparison. Except… despite the face that I was complementing the Death Busters a couple of scenes ago, they fuck it all up by leaving a star-shaped hope on the very top.
It’s cool seeing all the horrible Daimohn goo the Professor has been making all explode in a horrible red bukakke mess, with millions of Daimohn Eggs pouring out of every vent…
…only to burst back into primordial ooze once more, coalescing into unformed Daimohns. I guess this is what they look like when they’re not combined with an object. The sheer number of these monsters, when you consider how problematic they’ve been for the Senshi, ramps up the threat yet another level.
Gosh I love this episode. So very dark.
Sailor Mercury, using her Super Computer (haven’t seen so much of it lately, nice to see it getting its due. It’s still very cool), determines that the only way through the barrier is Sailor Teleport, but before they can pull out the move, the Daimohn goo begins pouring from the school.
…which makes it look like the building is bleeding. This is pretty damn gross. Another fantastic shot. Really… David Lynch-esque.
The Senshi are unable to even prepare using Sailor Teleport (which is a bit of a cheat move anyway) before they’re completely deluged by gross Daimohn goo. Seriously, this is SUPER GROSS. It’s like a blood bukakke. I imagine hell to look something like this. I really am in awe of how different, how weird, how horrible this all looks. They’re really trying hard to make this threat look bigger than previous series.
We get to see the Senshi fire off attacks, Sparkling Wide Pressue, Crescent Beam, burning Mandala, but honestly, how they heck do you fight goo anyway? At least all the attacks look awesome. This is the premier art team, here.
Sailor Moon finally gets out the old classic, non-transformed Moon Spiral Heart Attack (still one of my favourites), and it blasts the entire area in a pink heart shaped area of effect. It looks simultaneously powerful and cute all in one. It’s kinda funny actually.
But of course, they don’t even have time to breathe before more goo gets shot out of the Mugen Academy barrier. So many rude jokes I could be making here but I’ll restrain myself.
Mistress Nine isn’t looking as calm and collected as before. We might put this down to stimulating all the Daimohn gunk to come alive all at once. She’s loking seriously, seriously awesome here. I love her design. It’s minimalist, really. The only thing spectacular about her design is her extremely long hair, all several yards of it, but there’s something about how sleek it is, how perfectly black it is. It’s also her large eyes, not narrowed in anger or hate, in a strange detached weariness. The purple lipstick goes beautifully with all the black, and even the shape of her eyes is strangely different from anyone else in Sailor Moon.
There is, to, something childish about her face. It’s a mutilated form of the Hotaru we’ve come to know rather well. It’s both her, yet most definitely not her at the same time, much like Black Lady now that I think about it. There’s no doubt about it, however: Mistress Nine wins.
And now for her next awesome trick: Phantom Hand! Mistress Nine’s hand goes all funky and she reaches through a rip in space… I have several comments about this simple manoeuvre, more in a second.
For now let’s cut back to the Sailor Senshi getting their asses handed to them by the Daimohn spooge. They just can’t keep up with the amount of blood-snot being fired at them, even if they still look awesome doing it. In the end, they seem to keep getting saved by Sailor Moon’s Moon Spiral Heart Attack.
Well thank god for that! As long as Sailor Moon doesn’t go anywhere, they should be ok.
Just as the Sailor Senshi think that they have enough room to pull off a Sailor Teleport, that rip in space opens up in the sky, and Mistress Nine’s awesome space hand comes flying out to grab Sailor Moon by the throat! Now THIS looks awesome. I love every bit about how this was animated.
The Senshi try their hardest (to the point where it looks like they’re going to pull her arms off) but Sailor Moon is eventually pulled up into the Death Busters’ lair by Mistress Nine.
Well, these girls are completely screwed, and what’s more they know it.
Now, about this Phantom Hand. This looks aaaaaawfully familiar to me. It looks like Wiseman’s hands. he too was able to use them to grab people from a distance. This was made even more clear in the manga, where he was able to actually grant this power to Saphir’s zombie corpse (ahhh warm memories).
My point is that this might be (but totally probably isn’t) foreshadowing to a link between the Death Phantom and Pharaoh 90. COULD IT BE? It’s probably more likely that the animators really liked doing the effect before and just decided to recycle it, but hey, I like to dream.
Now that the Grail is inside the academy, the Daimohn crap apparently doesn’t feel the need to actively defend the building. Instead, it draws back to coat the purple barrier, and a million shapely evil female visages seem to form out of the gunk. A very disturbing image. Really reminds me of Christian imagery of hell, actually.
The Inner Senshi really haven’t seemed as useless with Sailor Moon as right this very second. They can’t teleport in, they can’t fight their way in, so following in the tradition of this series so far, what good can they do?
Just to rub salt into their wounds, the Outer Senshi arrive in their helicopter, and notice the ruddy great hole that Mistress Nine left in the room, presumably as an ornamental feature of their new headquarters. Function over fashion, Nine. Uranus moves to enter the building through it.
…or not. As it turns out, the Daimohns aren’t so stupid as to just let the Senshi drop on in. In an incredibly scary scene (seriously, kids watched this?), the gooey Daimohn facade notices the helicopter fires strings straight towards them.
I can’t believe Uranus and Neptune are so unprepared. You would think with their precognition that they would have seen this comping. Common sense would have done just the same. Either way, seeing the helicopter not so much as a symbol of wealth but a ruddy death trap is something else.
Sailor Moon evokes the biggest sense of threat not from its supernatural forces, but by it real ones. The idea of being in a helicopter crash is patently all too real, and it feels incredibly immanent as the Senshi realise they’re about the die…
And, indeed, the goddamn helicopter explodes. Wow. There is no walking away from that.
Except obviously there is. As exciting as this scene is (it’s super exciting), we can’t have Uranus and Neptune not make it to the end. They’ve earned their place fighting against Pharaoh 90. And, indeed, while the manner of their saving seems a little… Deus Ex Machina-esque, you can’t deny that time freezing isn’t the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.
Seriously, the sight of Uranus and Neptune looking around to see the helicopter in the middle of an explosion all around them truly is masterful work. It looks fantastic, it feels fantastic. Absolutely love this.
The ladies look around to see an even more kick-ass sight. Honestly, I can’t believe how awesome this imagery is. Sailor Pluto, using all the powers at her disposal. While we’ve known in the anime that she’s the Guardian of Time and Space, they have never quite revealed the extent of her powers. Well here it is, in all its glory.
We have, of course, seen this before in the manga, as well as understood that it resulted in her death. They didn’t manage to fit this in the previous series, so I’m really glad they’ve moved it up here. It feels right, even as it seems contrived. I really love this moment, one of the most memorable in the whole of the show.
And just LOOK HOW COOL THIS IS.
All the shots of Pluto ripping open a hole in time and space, with frozen shots of the helicopter around her, are stunning, especially her posture and expression – it’s a beautiful pose, making full use of her height and long limbs, as well as the Garnet Rod. The face she is making is strange – sorrowful, guilty, yet strangely hopeful..
And indeed that’s what she is. Screwing around with time, she says, is the ultimate abuse of her powers, the “greatest taboo“. Sounds like Chronos will be docking her pay. She doesn’t answer when Neptune asks what will happen to her for breaking time to rescue them, only gives them an enigmatic smile, and sadly asks them to find the “real Messiah” before teleporting them inside the academy.
Now, this is an extremely important moment in Sailor Moon, and I would like to direct you to an accompanying post I will write soon to purely to hash out an idea based on the last 30 seconds. I’m sure you will find it illuminatingly dull and completely without merit. So stay tuned for that.
Just to make sure Uranus and Neptune didn’t escape from certain death without at least a cracked shin bone, Pluto, as her last act before “divine punishment” or whatever teleports them about 7 feet above a concrete floor. Nice one, Pluto.
This sneaky method of gaining entry into the building has not passed by Mistress Nine, who seems mildly impressed that the Outer Senshi would be willing to stop time just to get in. Hey, it’s a super exclusive nightclub, I’ve done worse to sneak in.
Just to note that since the beginning of the episode, there has been no more shadow over Professor Tomoe. Both sides of his personality are front and centre. It’s strange to watch, actually.
The Professor admires Mistress Nine’s prowess, trying to brown-nose as much as possible I dare say. Strange to see him so admiring. Mistress Nine responds that it’s thanks to the immense power of Chibi-Usa’s Pure Heart, but then she quietly adds “Don’t use that Pure Heart to do bad things…” in a rather childish way… just like Hotaru.
Ahah I knew she was in there somewhere. Mistress Nine looks appalled.
It’s at this point, when she’s frustrated, that the two characters seem to blend into one, mainly by her voice – it’s sounding less cold, less imperious, and more like the young fragile girl we knew. Nice touch this, really subtle work, but boy is it effective.
This really hits home in the next trick Mistress Nine pulls. She glows, then morphs… back into the form of Hotaru in her school uniform. I really like this fluid identity these two have got going on. She announces that she’s off to fetch the Holy Grail, and considering Sailor Moon’s tendancy to believe everyone at face value, this is almost entirely certain to work.
Professor Tomoe is ordered to get rid of Sailor Uranus and Neptune… and he’s not too happy about this. I guess he’s more into R&D than getting his ass kicked by Senshi.
As an extra revelatory shock (this episode is lousy with them), the Mistress Nine-Hotaru thing names Professor Tomoe as… “Daimohn Germatoid“.
Wait, what? He’s just a fucking Daimohn? Wow, here we were thinking that he was intimately linked with the power of Pharaoh 90, and in the end he too is just a monster akin to his own creations. This is cool stuff, and the scene really ramps up the anticipation of seeing Tomoe in action.
The Inner Senshi, meanwhile, haven’t done shit. They’re given something to do, however, by the rapidly expanding Daimohn goo bubble. It’s a bit of a mean way to get them out of the way, but at least it seems suitably heroic and dangerous of them to attempt to stop the Daimohns escaping into the city.
In a similar way that their future selves will create a barrier around the Crystal Palace in Crystal Tokyo, the Senshi set up in a square shape around the perimeter of Mugen Academy. It’s a really cool sequence, actually. Dull, broken streets with the Senshi powering up and glowing, looking ace as hell.
Hey, they got their badass moment, even if they weren’t even allowed in the club.
Sailor Moon, meanwhile, is on the cover of a blues album, just chilling in the darkness. Gawwwd the shadowing work in this scene is so coooool! This is the first time we’ve seen animation like this and damn it’s effective.
Sailor Moon looks around and instead of freaking out that she’s in total goddamn darkness she spots an “unconscious” “Hotaru” “sleeping” on the “floor.” OK that was probably one too many quotation marks.
So we’re all pretty sure that Sailor Moon is fucked right here, right? I mean, Mistress Nine couldn’t have formed a better plan to manipulate Sailor Moon than if she lived with her for 10 years. This is precisely what we see Sailor Moon as – a bleeding heart who wants to see the best in everybody. It’s playing on that aspect of her character that Haruka has been disparaging for the last 34 episodes.
We’ll find out in a bit, first there is a rather fantastic sequence that has, just like everything else in this episode, stuck with me for a very long time – Daimohn Germatroid.
Uranus and Neptune find themselves in a very worrying corridor. It’s got a suitably sciencey feel to it, with mist on the floor and steel blue colouring, but it’s looking far more… organic than usual Death Busters architecture.
The most concerning feature is… the fucking horrendous deflated blow-up sex dolls adorning the walls. My oh my.
Professor Tomoe appears to declare that these sex toys are of his invention. I guess he made so many because he keeps wearing them out? You gotta be more gentle with your fleshlights, dude.
He’s acting particularly unhinged, even more than normal. Great performance here, as Tomoe’s voice takes on a psychotic, violent edge to it. It looks even more insane with his face no longer in shadow, he looks utterly deranged.
“You two… it’s against school rules to come in here” – I love the juxtaposition of mundanity and threat.
Apparently Tomoe’s plan was to have superior students of the school become hosts for Daimohns… “Just like this man, Soichi Tomoe.” Well it’s pretty obvious that his alter ego is fully in charge here.
And then he completely loses his shit. His laughter, already manic, because high-pitched and utterly inhuman. The voice actor is just camping it up, but it comes off so disturbing as opposed to funny. This is the greatest maniacal laughter I have ever heard in any medium.
And then HOLY SHITBALLS WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT THING?
It’s going to take a fucking tank to kill this Germatroid thing! Uranus and Neptune are in real trouble, I don’t know why she’s even bothering with a World Shaking because-
Oh he’s dead. Well that was easy.
So obviously Germatroid isn’t going to be defeated with a single attack. This is Professor Goddamn Tomoe we’re talking about here, he’s been with us the entire season. He has been the face of the antagonists, the principal impetus behind all the events thus far. This really feels like an poignant fight, so I’m glad they made this so infinitely unique.
Germatroid is now possessing all the gross sex dolls in the room, and my oh my are they terrifying. If you thought one dude laughing insanely was bad, throw in 100 dudes all cackling in a horrifying echo.
These things are an amazing parody of the Tomoe we’ve come to know and love. The design is a fantastic mutilation of the familiar. Great art work.
Germatroid promises the duo that he’s analysed their every move, and they’ll find it impossible to beat him. Yeah right.
The dolls, all twisty and gross and stuff, keep getting blasted back, but they’re resilient to any damage, and they just keep coming. We get awesome action shots of Uranus and Neptune kicking the shit out of these Freudian nightmares (one big eye coming to get you? Freudian).
Eventually of course, they’re cornered. They really linger on the mocking laughter and horrible smile of the dolls, and with the music and ambiance, this is actually really tense. They’re hitting every note right here. I really feel like the pair are truly screwed here.
Until (of course), they hear a voice: “Talisman” AS IF THAT’S A FULL SENTENCE THAT MEANS ANYTHING. Jesus Pluto take English lessons.
Before them appear, once more, the Talismans that reside within their Pure Hearts, and the bad ass Outer Senshi theme tune (violins blaring) busts on in as they begin to weild the Talismans like weapons.
This. Is. Bad. Ass. There’s something so right about them grabbing these things. Now they feel… complete. This moment is as cool to me as when Super Sailor Moon transformed for the first time. Even better is the serene look on their faces. They no longer have any doubt whatsoever that they’re going to smush Germatroid. It’s very, very cool.
Without hesitation, Neptune holds the mirror up before the dolls surrounding them. It appears to reveal the truth of things – the dolls turn transparent and freeze when she turns the Deep Aqua Mirror on them.
Eventually she comes across the one doll that seems to be the true host of Germatroid’s power, doing his best to blend in nonchalently. I really like this, among all the drama and threat they still inject a wee bit of humour. Balances out the mood nicely.
Now, I’ve said in the past that I’m not too fond of the Space Sword’s design – I don’t like the toy-like jewels for one thing. However, seeing Uranus unsheathing the blade, revealing what is essentially a goddamn lightsaber, is so cool.
Germatroid’s reaction of “Eep.” is so perfect.
As is where Uranus shoves the Space Sword – right in that damn Freudian eyeball. PERFECT.
Germatroid has been one of my favourite characters in Sailor Moon. This was a good death, too. Not many antagonists in the show can say that, really. I’ll give him a decent send off blog soon.
This rescue by Pluto makes her even more mysterious. We had her originally extremely distant and mysterious, then had her be a little pedestrianised by her appearance in the 20th Century. In this episode she’s manipulated the flow of time and drawn out Uranus and Neptune’s Talismans from afar. She’s back to being that strange entity again. I like it.
Yes it’s a total Deus Ex Machina, but when you have an infinitely powerful and vaguely defined character like Pluto you have to expect these things once in a while.
Oh yeah, you guys totally left something behind.
Meanwhile, Mistress Nine is totally manipulating the fuck out of Sailor Moon. It’s like shooting the broad side of a barn. That’s the first time I’ve ever used that turn of phrase, not sure why it’s sudden popped up now.
Anyway, “Hotaru” (yes she’s evil but she’s so brilliantly drawn here) tells Sailor Moon that if she lets the Grail shine in this room, all the evil will be destroyed. Well that doesn’t seem suspicious in the slightest, does it?
Sailor Moon smiles, gets up, and is TOTALLY about to do the exact thing that she really shouldn’t. She looks so adorable as she does it though, smiling at Hotaru and telling her how glad she is that Hotaru is OK.
Which is when Mistress Nine, who remember is infinitely powerful and cool and beautiful and junk, totally drops the ball by calling Sailor Moon “Usagi”…
…which Sailor Moon picks up on. It figures, the ONE TIME she’s actually observant.
The look on Hotaru’s face when she realises she’s been rumbled is awesome.
Mistress Nine gives her own entrance speech to match anything Sailor Moon has ever given. That creepy ass brass/woodwind theme starts playing, as Hotaru rises up in the air. This reminds me of the The Exorcist a little.
Mistress Nine is terrifying. I can’t say that she’s as interestingly flawed and obsessive as Queen Beryl, nor as flat-out creepy and malevolent as Wiseman. She’s constantly got this fragility about her, with her tussles over Hotaru’s mind and body, but when she’s bad, she’s goooood.
Uranus and Neptune burst in at this point, which is precisely what Sailor Moon doesn’t need right now.
Sailor Moon, foolish and idealistic, steps in front of Mistress Nine to beg them not to attack. It’s admirable, but honestly, I can’t condone this at this point. There really doesn’t look like there’s any saving Hotaru here…
Mistress Nine simply chuckles. I really like the movement she makes here – her hair fold back like curtains upon a stage, and we see that this broken room is, in fact, the very final laboratory of the Death Busters.
And wow, this looks awesome.
And more awesome.
This is Pharaoh 90. What a way to end out an episode.
Any my god what a good episode this is. It’s so self-evidently perfect by itself, but more than that it acts as a perfect pay-off for the rest of the series so far. It’s set up such brilliant cliffhangers too, the stakes feel enormously high and there’s a real threat. I really feel like this is the most amount of danger Sailor Moon has been in, which is ridiculous when you remember she’s died once before.
That’s the beauty of this show. It’s kept on giving, it’s kept on evolving, it’s kept on making moments like these feel fresh and new.
The Daimohn tsunami, the helicopter explosion, Mistress Nine, the Sailor Pluto time freeze, the Daimohn Germatroid, the Inner Senshi barrier, the battle with the Talismans, the fake Hotaru, the reveal of Pharoah 90, these are some of the best moments of Sailor Moon ever and they’re all in one episode. Absolutely spoilt for choice.
I cannot wait to review the big finale of Sailor Moon S in the next episode.
Episode Score: 5/5
Monster Score: For Germatroid? 5/5
Final Thought: Always wanted to know a little more on the exact nature of the Daimohns. So the Death Busters’ ultimate plan was to possess a whole bunch of humans with monsters? is Mistress Nine a Daimohn? Definitely more mysterious than the plain old Droids or the Youma.
NEXT TIME: The most extraordinary final battle where Sailor Moon doesn’t fight. MOON CRISIS MAKE UP.