In Memoriam: The Professor, Insanely Brilliant
I adore Professor Tomoe. There are few enemies in Sailor Moon that bring such insanity and such malevolence to the table while also being one of the biggest sources of hilarity. A huge number of belly laughs in Sailor Moon S are his alone.
Bit more then that, he was never dull, infinity watchable and most definitely memorable. Here’s a brief tribute to our Professor Tomoe, otherwise known as the Daimohn Germatoid.
There’s no one more cheesy, more hammy, more unlikely to be a captivating enemy then Professor Tomoe, but by George he managed it. He is the perfect example of the beautiful ability of Sailor Moon to marry the ridiculous, with the comical, with the terrifying.
Undoubtedly, kids across Japan, and the world, baulked at seeing this unpredictable shadowed lunatic. From his first entry, Tomoe represented a dramatic shift in tone, in art direction and performance, so much so that it he feels like a completely unknown entity, and remains so for most of the rest of the season.
Arguably the Death Busters are the Professor, and his laboratory became as much a part of his identity and the atmosphere of the antagonists as Tomoe’s shadowed face and blank, illuminated glasses.
It sounds like such a stereotypical trope on first appearance. I can’t stand the “evil scientist” gambit. It’s so often used by those who don’t know any real scientists, and assumes the worst about a profession seeking to explain the world a little better. I feel as though Tomoe’s character didn’t try particularly hard to break this.
Saying that, I don’t mind at all. I’ve never felt science or scientists were being attacked in Sailor Moon S. It’s just apart of a cyberpunk vibe the series was going for, full of steam and pipes and odd machinery, but it was melded with this wonderful dark magic vibe that made all the evil sciencey stuff oddly organic.
That laugh is the most memorable thing in Sailor Moon S. We’ve had characters with insane maniacal laughter in the past, namely Esmeraude, but unlike with Esmeraude where I wanted to dunk my head into a vat of pig fat to end to noises, Tomoe strikes an entirely hilarious, yet terrifying pitch. He really goes all in, it doesn’t sound as though he’s forcing it, he’s just that amused and that insane.
Tomoe’s intimacy with his creations was always an alluring aspect to his character. I really enjoyed how he seemed connected to each of his Daimohn creations, how he hunched over his desk with glowing testubes creating Daimohn eggs. I also loved the Daimohn Oven, with its marriage of steampunk & cyberpunk styles. His enjoyment and passion for creating completely daft monsters was always great to watch.
The truth about Tomoe’s identity, his possession by Germatoid for a number of years, is so very sad and pitiable that it really is rather moving. Who would have thought that such a two-dimensionally evil character could evoke such pathos by the end? I’m glad they didn’t kill him, as Naoko Takeuchi did in the manga – he ends up being such a pathetic pawn that it seemed cruel to just kill him off. My sentimentality is breaking out again.
The performance of voice actor Akira Kamiya cannot be overestimated here. He’s utterly brilliant as Suichi Tomoe, ranging from the wonderfully ridiculous hammy laughs, to building emotional rants, to genuinely pained father, and better yet it all feels like the same character. I’m astonished at his ability here.
I’ve never been much of a fan, but Akira Kamiya’s other big anime role is as Kenshiro, protagonist of Fist of the North Star.
In no particular order, here are some of my favourite moments with Suichi Tomoe in Sailor Moon S:
“Kiss? I haven’t done that in years. Hahahahehehe HAHAHAAAAHAA HEE HAHAHEHAH!“
This moment, from episode 3:5, was probably the first time we saw the extent of how broken Tomoe is. This is such a hilarious reaction to such a weird, mundane statement, yet it’s played completely straight.
My favourite aspect of this moment is Kaorinite, ever playing the straight-man, reacting as though this explosion of insane laughter is entirely normal.
Professor Tomoe hits the treadmill
This was from a number of unrelated activities Tomoe did in his spare time that episodes would cut to occasionally. Truthfully they were little more than excuses for a thematic Daimohn to be chosen for that week, but they were always weirdly entertaining.
One of the best was episode 3:17, where the Professor’s entire screentime is made up of him perspiring with those horrible spider-like limbs flying everywhere. As we fade away from the screen, he picks up the pace and truly turns creepy as he enters, in his own words, a “last spurt.”
We meet Hotaru’s dad and he’s a total bish
After spending half a series wondering what horrid thing lies beneath the shadows over the Professor’s face, it’s somewhat of a shock to realise that we would all totally bang him. Such a great reveal, and to have it as a cliff-hanger at the end of an episode is inspired.
The Professor looks at dudes in Speedos and cracks up
One of the things I adore about the Professor is his professional approach to his co-workers. Unlike, say, the Four Generals of the Dark Kingdom, or pretty much every one in the Black Moon army, Professor Tomoe seems only to want unity in his lab.
While he expresses frustration with his underlings, mostly he’s patient, understanding, encouraging, and psychotic (obviously), which leads to some genuinely disturbing/hilarious moments, such as when he picked up a magazine Mimett had been reading, stares at a photo of a teenage idol in his swimming trunks, and just finds it so, so funny.
The Professor gets locked out, turns violent
When the Professor’s house was turned into a dimension vortex for an afternoon, he got locked out of his house while buying snacks for the office. His reaction to this is gold, yelling “I AM THE MASTER OF THIS HOUSE” and making threats, before finding his sworn enemies, the Sailor Senshi, standing behind him.
Big belly-laugh moment.
The first moment we realise that the Professor is, in actually, a figure to be pitied as much as feared, is the flashback in episode 3:31. We see that Tomoe was a loving father who’s experiment was used as a gateway by Pharaoh 90, who killed his daughter Hotaru and used to turn him into a willing vessel for Germatoid. It’s fantastically done, beautifully animated, and deeply disturbing to see the human before his life was destroyed by the Death Busters.
Quite a large part of episode 3:35 was giving Professor Tomoe a proper send-off. The episode built up slowly, giving us a glimpse of something dramatic happening to the face of the Death Busters for the previous 35 episodes.
Seeing him finally reveal himself as the Daimohn Germatroid was horrifying, even if he spent little time as this gross cyclopic plant-bat thing. They really went for the terror factor here, and it really does land home thinking that this thing was inside Tomoe the entire time.
And then, of course, the battle with Uranus and Neptune, where he inhabits several dozen flexible empty shells. Absolutely brilliant performance here, the cacophony of insane laughter was really effective. Even better, of course, was the solution to his attack on the Outer Senshi. A sword to the face.
Episodes Survived: 35 (Damn!)
Effort: A+ (He did nothing wrong… except get killed by Uranus of course)
Final Score: 5/5