4:1 – Meeting of Fate! The Night where a Pegasus Flies
Alternative Title: Don’t Talk To Strange Horses
First Aired: 4th March 1995
Usagi and the Senshi are living peacefully, excited for the full solar eclipse that is to occur. In the shadow of the Moon, a strange entity appears in Tokyo, a circus where strange and malevolent creatures plot their capture of the “Pegasus”, currently hiding in the pure dreams of someone in the city. Chibi-Usa, meanwhile, has been having strange dreams of winged horses…
Trigger Warning: sexual assault. I don’t dwell on it, but the content of the show heavily implies a discussion on that topic is taking place.
Aaaaaand we’re back. Feels comfortable. Thanks for the wait, Sailor Moon Another Story took way more time to talk about than I thought. I hope these reviews of Sailor Moon SuperS will be worth it. So first things first, we’re now in 1995 at the height of Sailor Moon’s popularity. Sailor Moon S was a run-away success, achieving the highest ratings thus far, and that continued into SuperS, although it dipped a bit later on. 1995 was an insane year for anime, of course, with Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Dragon Ball Z and, of course, the incomparable Neon Genesis Evangelion setting their flag firmly in the soil.
As a matter of fact, Usagi’s seiyuu (voice actress), Kotono Mitsuishi, also starred as a central character in Evangelion, as Misato Katsuragi, the kick-ass captain.
In terms of cultural impact, Sailor Moon SuperS was about to set much less of an example as its competitors, but all that’s to come of course. I’ll say now that in the times I’ve watched SuperS, I haven’t enjoyed it as much as previous seasons, and in fact get pretty impatient by the end. We’ll have to see if this rewatch changes that.
Let’s begin, shall we?
We start in a rather beautiful opening. From a lovely shot of Tokyo at night, into a strange forest littered with crystals. I love this aesthetic. Very mysterious and draws you right in. We get a voice-over saying how the forest is crying, and he’s looking for… someone.
This takes the form of Pegasus. He looks markedly less terrifying than he does in the manga, which I’m thankful for.
Cut to horses neighing an an obvious-not-really-there echoey fashion, and Chibi-Usa now sleeping in her new room, the attic. You know, where all the little goblins are kept. Nice to see that she’s finally independent enough to stop sleeping in Usagi’s room. So our flying horsey friend appears to entering Chibi-Usa’s dream.
We get a rather cool scene of Chibi-Usa running through the streets in her pyjamas in a dream-like fashion, looking for the one calling her. Of course we know where she’s going to end up, the forest. And my this looks good. Definitely apart from anything we’ve seen before, I’m impressed. There is something vaguely… romantic about all this. It’s beautifully animated as Chibi-Usa sees Pegasus and blushes rather prettily like a girl in love.
You know, with a horse.
Who’s in her dream. Without her permission.
I’m not even going to explore the Jungian implications of there being a horn on Pegasus’ head in the dreams of an adolescent girl very much taken with him. Let’s leave that to the Greek play-writes for now.
Anyway, beautiful scene which I shan’t sully just yet anyway. Chibi-Usa reaches out to touch him and he bows his head, turning her into her Princess attire. Yeah this is totally meant to be romance. Bit gross. Pegasus disappears and warns Chibi-Usa to keep their meeting a secret, which is definitely not the first thing you say to a child upon first meeting them.
I love how this romantic scene cuts to Usagi looking severe, and a decidedly-less delicate-looking Chibi-Usa hugging a pillow in bed.
It’s an outing in, I think, Ueno Park in West Tokyo. Ueno has a raised section overlooking the city (Ueno literally means “raised”) much like this, although I don’t specifically recognise the location. We wee Makoto trying (and failing) to flirt with old Motoki. You remember this guy? The creepy douche who works at the arcade? Well he’s BACK.
They’re discussing the total solar eclipse, and even give us a wee scientific breakdown of what exactly an eclipse is. Thanks Sailor Moon, for remembering your audience are mostly young and stupid. Also me, a late 20s weirdo Otaku breaking down your kids’ programming in an obscene level of detail.
Usagi has a rather great moment where she warns, because of the similarity between the word “total” (kaiki) and the word “horror” (another kaiki), there will be horrifying things occurring. Upon further investigation, it turns out that Usagi actually believes this to be true rather than a joke. Kinda hard to explain why this is so funny, but I chuckled at her blankly confused face. We’re comfortably back in the swing of things.
In fact, it’s been so long since I reviewed an episode of Sailor Moon where anything relaxing and fun happens that I really appreciate the relationships between these girls and their performances. Even here, in the season I don’t particularly like so much, simply hanging around these characters feels strangely so much more weighty than anything in poor beleaguered Sailor Moon Crystal.
While spacing out on her new equine obsession, Chibi-Usa gets grilled by Unazuki, Motoki’s little sister. She made one appearance in Sailor Moon R, and another in Sailor Moon S. She’ll actually have more of a role in SuperS, as other side characters wind down or are eliminated entirely. I guess they just liked the energy and look she brought, having the only red hair of all recurring characters. Unazuki puts on a snide voice and warns Chibi-Usa not to do anything which would make her parents cry. Now that I think about that line… she’s like 10, Unazuki, Jesus. Evidently her -actual- parents feel the same.
And the eclipse happens. Great shots of the whole of Tokyo coming to a standstill. Good job on the creep factor!
In the darkness, a weird structure falls from the sky. It’s the most insane and evil looking circus I’ve ever seen, all balloons and weird malevolent curves. A great ominous arrival, I love it. The only one to notice it is Usagi… everyone else just kinda ignores it. Whether this is some kind of magic, or a commentary on how “these Muggles don’t notice nuffink” I’m not sure. I love the look of this shot, great depth of field.
So many great shots! Such care with the art!
And then we go inside and HOLY FUCK THAT’S CREEPY. I hope you aren’t afraid of clowns. We have a brilliant introduction to the Dead Moon Circus through its demented inhabitants. They all chorus about how these damn Muggles don’t notice nuffink (oh there you go, we got an answer on that, humans are just stupid). Every one of these shots are fantastic.
Now, these animations are so good they’re reuse them over and over again to the point where they no longer impress, but in the first episode here this is goddamn amazing. If I can throw out a personal opinion, the best of these Dead Moon performers is the creepy ballerina with a screaming bear’s head. Love you sweetie.
The circus master appears and tells everyone to shut the hell up. This is the imminently disturbing Zirconia, who kinda looks like a cockroach and an old lady had a baby and left it soaking in formaldehyde. Note her name, another gem reference. Takeuchi just loves rocks doesn’t she? Zirconia announces their plans to take over the world (as you do), and summons the Amazon Trio.
Now I’m going to have to write a whole blog post on these guys, because they are… problematic to say the least. Tigers-Eye, Fish-Eye and Hawks-Eye. If it weren’t for the fact that these guys hang about the series way too long, and the fact that they’re used as an allegory for sexual predators, I might say that I really like them. It’s hard for me to like them considering their modus operendi though… Oh I should mention that despite all appearances and the voice actor, who is a lady, Fish-Eye is male. It’s cool to have another gay character around, we can only wait and see how he’s characterised…
Ok, so the basic bad-guy motivation is that the Amazon Trio need to find “someone” who is hiding in “beautiful dreams”. We can assume this is Pegasus, and we can also assume that checking “beautiful dreams” is pretty much identical to the old “Pure Heart” mechanic from Sailor Moon S.
See this is where it gets creepy from the get go. The Amazon Trio are sitting in an empty bar with sad jazz music in the background. I like this a LOT. Great place to see the antagonists get fleshed out, gives it a tongue-in-cheek edge to the evilness. Too bad that they’re pouring over photos of attractive women that they plan to assault. That’s fucking creepy, Sailor Moon. Fish-Eye is disparaging over Hawks-Eye and Tigers-Eye’s grossness… but as we discover this is only because he prefers attacking men.
Tigers-Eye’s tiger’s eye lands on a photo of Unazuki… getting that creepy vibe guys…
Unazuki, you might remember, works at the parlour above the arcade. This is where Usagi grills Unazuki about her supposed boyfriend in a rather funny scene, with Chibi-Usa trying to check out Unazuki’s pendant. As it turns out Unazuki isn’t dating the guy, she’s just a bit obsessed with him from a distance, thinking to herself that it’s probably not destined to be. Which is when Chibi-Usa fucking drops the mic with this line:
“Listen, just because you’re a girl, it doesn’t mean you should wait for your prince to come on a white horse. Sometimes you have to get on your own white horse and go find your charming prince.”
Wow. Chibi-Usa is the smartest character in this show. See this is why I like her. When she’s good, she’s really bloody good. Usagi is left looking a bit suspicions that Chibi-Usa has been reading “Mama’s mature novels“, which one might take to understand is along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey. I laughed hard at this. Sailor Moon is so bloody good!
So Unazuki is stalked on the bus. This is way too real for me. Is this the show realising the dangers that young women face and are trying to educate them early on self-protection and their vulnerability? I don’t know. I’d like to think this is all self-aware, but I’m more inclined to think that they’re just very naive and don’t see this as anything out of the ordinary of an evil character in a kid’s anime. What do you think? I’d like to flesh out my opinion on this a little more.
Tigers-Eye steals Unazuki’s wallet to give it back to her as way of an introduction. He begins hitting on her in a very obviously gross manner.
Meanwhile, luckil, Chibi-Usa is dragging Usagi out at night, hunting for the forest she saw in her dreams. God this episode looks good. The colours! Even better is that both the girls’ outfits are super goddamn cute. They’re rocking the fashion so far. Since we’re spending so much time with Chibi-Usa and Usagi, this is making Usagi feel older than even in the previous series somehow. All a matter of perspective I suppose, but I think they’re treating Usagi as a well-rounded character at this point.
Which is worrying, because where is there for her to develop in this series? Will she have a character arc? We’ll see.
They two hear a scream. Monster time! Tigers-Eye attacks Unazuki with a whip, and acts like the worst kind of perverted park lurker. He has a rather cool transformation into his regular bad-guy outfit, a curtain pops down out of nowhere, and he reappears. It is, in fact, like everything these guys do, a circus act. I like that theme a lot, though I feel it might get stale. Tigers-Eye actually says “don’t worry, I’m no one suspicious“, Unazuki’s answer is obviously “you’re HELLA SUSPICIOUS.”
Usagi and Chibi-Usa arrive and transform off-screen as Tigers-Eye goes through the process of attacking Unazuki. As much as the end-result and intent kinda disgusts me, there is something cool about the style. He says 1, 2, 3, each number corresponding to a table appearing from nowhere, bindings holding the victim down, and a pink mirror appearing from the chest. I like the aesthetics of Sailor Moon SuperS a lot thus far.
Sailor Moon’s intro is now with Chibi-Usa, this entire series being a double-act. So get used to it.
Tigers-Eye summons the first monster-of-the-week, what he calls a “Remless”. What a great name, coming of course from Rapid Eye-Movement sleep associated with the dreaming phase of sleep. So literally these monsters are “dreamless”. That’s CLEVER.
This first is called Karakuriko, who looks… rather similar to another monster we saw in season 1… huh… this is decidedly less creepy though, and much more jovial in nature.
The two get owned fairly fast, of course they do. I must say it’s both sinister and hilarious to watch Sailor Moon having to dodge a blade coming out of a disembodied doll’s mouth.
Tuxedo Kamen saves the day, of course. I’m in a good mood today, so I shan’t say anything bad about him. Tigers-Eye certainly does however, commenting on Tux’s “womaniser’s outfit“. Tuxedo Kamen gets pretty pissed off about this. The two get in a whip/cane fight, which is honestly something I never thought I would see, which ends with Tigers-Eye binding Tux’s shadow to a tree. These Dead Moon guys are tricksy little Hobbitses, are they not my precious?
Always nice seeing Tuxedo Kamen fall into a trap. Which he does A LOT.
Now shit gets SUPER CREEPY. Tigers-Eye finally looks inside Unazuki’s Pure Dream by shoving his head in. Unzauki is screaming for it to stop, as Tigers-Eye yells in apparent ecstasy at how beautiful it is in there. It looks as though he’s defiling her dream. My point is, this is fucked up and clearly an allegory for something unfitting for a kids anime. How intentional is this? I don’t know. I didn’t even see any of this the first time I watched Sailor Moon SuperS as a teenager, because I was so stupid. As an adult, I feel uncomfortable watching this.
Yet at the same time I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they’re trying to broach the subject of male entitlement and attempted dominance in a unique way. I’ll have to think about this more.
For now, as happy as he was in there, Tigers-Eye announces that Pegasus is not in Unazuki’s Pure Dream, but that he has to kill Unazuki anyway to eliminate a hiding space for Pegasus later on. That actually makes good sense. To bad he will, obviously, never manage to kill anything more than a gin and tonic at the bar.
Chibi-Moon, about to be killed by a pelvis, calls for help and A WILD PEGASUS APPEARS. I guess she was in the tall-grass.
Pegasus grants both Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon an upgrade into their Super forms! Blimey, he must have more power than the goddamn Grail from Sailor Moon S for that. This does cheapen that transformation somewhat… but I love the design and hey this is an anime, so go for it.
Super Sailor Moon gets a new weapon, because of course she feckin’ does, and she has this strange attack sequence. It’s definitely not an official attack, and it actually lasts for a couple of episodes before it’s named and given a whole sequence. This does look cool though, and a strange 0.5 foreshadowing version of the attack coming soon. Strange choice, but not unwelcome.
We do get the first STAGE-OUT, the thing the Remless shout as they die. From Refresh! to Cleansing! to Lovely!, there always has to be one. And I love it. Thematic and silly, a nice familiar motif. And Karakuriko dies, done and dusted.
As Pegasus looks on giving total creeper eye, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen are just a bit shocked, but this is IT for Chibi-Moon, she’s completely hooked. She’s been charmed by a horse. So hard not to reference Jung…
As Pegasus disappears, both Senshi revert back to normal. I guess their powers are now directly dependent upon Pegasus appearing to save their ass, eh?
I love the music thats starts playing at the end of the episode. We see Chibi-Moon thinking about Pegasus and realising her meeting with him wasn’t a dream after all. And the Aurora hangs in the sky. Wow, what a pretty way to end the episode. You know, amongst the trans-species love.
And that’s that! Except for the end credits of Watashi-tachi ni Naritakute, featuring Chibi-Usa, love-forlorn, staring out across the city. It’s a beautiful sequence and a beautiful song that really feels like an upgrade of Tuxedo Mirage. I’ll get into it in a blog of its own.
As for the episode, I liked this a lot. Has a distinct vibe from the other series, looked great, creepy in places, downright disturbing in its references to sexual assault, but a strong opener. I’m very interested in seeing where this season goes!
Episode Score: 4/5 – the content is probably a 3, but the art is so lovely I think I’ll bump this up.
Monster Score: 2/5 – Karakuriko was ok. We’ve seen something similar, and she wasn’t that interesting.
Final Thought: Seriously, this season is going to focus on Chibi-Usa the whole way, isn’t it?
NEXT TIME: YOU GIRLS LIKE HORSES? WE GOT MORE HORSES FOR YA. Also a character from season 1 inexplicably returns. I guess the voice actor really needed work.