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4:7 – Makoto’s Friendship! A Girl Who Adores a Pegasus

Alternative Title: I Will Shout At You Until you Write Something

First Aired: 13th May 1995

Sailor Jupiter chained to Sailor Moon

Makoto’s old friend Tomoko has become an enormously popular author, but after she hits a creative block, Makoto becomes deeply concerned. With Tigers-Eye perusing his new target, the author of a book about a Pegasus, both Tomoko’s career, and life, are in danger.

This is the first episode in Sailor Moon SuperS that really hits a bum note for me. It’s not for any obvious reason, the quality is good, there’s a decent attempt at character development and any time spent with Makoto is always worthwhile (I mean, she IS the greatest fictional character of all time, no hyperbole whatsoever). The problem is that this forms the archetype of what I find so vexing about SuperS: a fixation on characters-of-the-week with vague problems who never return or make any real impact on the characters.

In the end, this isn’t an episode about Makoto, which is what I really wanted, so much as an episode on a stranger we’ve never seen or heard about, and who will never return. So how can I be invested in this plot? And this structure will be repeated so often in SuperS that it really will try many people’s patience. It’s by no means a bad episode – a lot of it I rather like, but it’s rushed, and characters react in ways that don’t feel natural.

We start out on Usagi reading the end of a novel about a Pegasus (I guess it’s research of a kind…?) and bawling. Apparently the book was extremely popular, having sold over a million copies, and the girls all agree that it’s a moving and beautiful book. Apart from Rei, whom Usagi points out hasn’t read it, because she doesn’t slavishly buy everything that Oprah recommends. You commercial slaves, Sailor Senshi!

I do like Rei silently worrying that she’s fallen behind the times. I do identify with this, having read nothing of note for my entire life thus far. I must say that I love the animation in this episode, even if the writing stutters a bit. This is as close to the “official” look of Sailor Moon as possible.

Chibi-Usa, meanwhile, wonders if the author of the book has also met a Pegasus, but then notices Makoto having that weird eye-vibration thing that anime characters seem to get from time to time to convey that they are feeling some kind of emotion. She reveals later that the author is a friend of hers, Tomoko Takase. What. Are. The. Odds. We thus learn that Tomoko was incredibly close to Makoto (never heard of her, will never hear of her again), and also that she’s fifteen goddamn years old.

"Come on, sound it out. G... R... backwards three?"

“Come on, sound it out. G… R… backwards three?”

There’s a nice moment where Makoto claims she didn’t reveal she knew Tomoko before because she didn’t want it to sound like she were boasting about a celebrity, to which Usagi just looks at her blankly as though modesty is a concept so alien to her that it defies understanding.

So we get a flashback, which looks lovely, of Makoto being the one who supported Tomoko, encouraged her to write, gave her the strength to publish and, eventually, make it big. It feels… empty. After so many episodes (134 to be precise) I just don’t feel like this kind of post hoc character backstory works anymore. What I do like is Makoto’s wistful reminiscence at the end that Tomoko has gone off to be super popular while she remains wayward and average.

Of course, this is exactly my point: I’m interested when I see more of Makoto’s character, not hurriedly thrown-together backstory.

"I don't know how to read but I'm guessing this is pretty good!"

“I don’t know how to read but I’m guessing this is pretty good!”

Usagi insists on the group going to see Tomoko so that Makoto can properly congratulate her old friend, and Makoto’s obvious reluctance is steamrollered by the combination of Usagi and Chibi-Usa’s enthusiasm.

Cut to the Dead Moon Circus, where the Amazon Trio are getting chewed out for being so goddamn ineffectual. You know, Zirconia really should have retired this douchebags weeks before, but she seems to have no contingency plan, because she decides to give them a target herself. It’s her freaky flying eyeball Zircon that produces these Polaroids, apparently. Just imagine that thing flying around town, snapping people.

"Ok the test results are back and it looks as though Tigers-Eye has chlamydia. Gross."

“Ok the test results are back and it looks as though Tigers-Eye has chlamydia. Gross.”

The target is obviously Tomoko, the author of the goddamn book about a Pegasus. The Amazon Trio have a bit of a laugh, having apparently read the book themselves (they really don’t seem the type to read), and Tigers-Eye offers to… uh… you know… “seduce” her.

We then get another enjoyable , if unmemorable, scene of the girls walking to Tomoko’s house. There’s some great banter here. Usagi, for instance, has brought two copies of the book (one for eBay probably), while Rei chastises her: she’s brought three copies, “One to keep at home and look at, one for safe storage, and the third to show off to others.” All this, despite the fact that she’s never read the book.

I love that, really speaks to Rei’s character, and is a nice throwback to her other mercantile and over-excited meetings with fame. The others simply call this “her bad habit“.

"Well it's better than her last habit of Vicodin."

“Well it’s better than her last habit of Vicodin.”

So this is where the episode gets a bit depressing. They turn round the corner to find that Tomoko’s house has been besieged by a gaggle of literary agents in what can only be described as a rather pathetic junket. I mean, seriously, this is for a teenage author? It all feels very clunky and unrealistic.

As for Tigers-Eye, he struts around the corner, confident that “literary girls” would be clamouring for any bit of attention, but I rather enjoy how his face falls at the sight of so many “rivals“. Clot. He eventually just tries fighting them, and appears to lose.

Yes, that's the face of a man any woman would be lucky to have

Yes, that’s the face of a man any woman would be lucky to have

Makoto learns that Tomoko has just sort of disappeared, and is behind on her deadlines, to which Makoto has a fairly melodramatic freak-out, shouting that Tomoko “only has her stories! Just her stories!” which is, uh, kinda dumb. This is so uncomfortable and sudden. It hasn’t flowed, it hasn’t been earned. They’re trying to give Makoto an emotional moment, but it’s happened so suddenly that we can’t identity with it. It’s just… awkward. Very, very awkward.

And of course she instantly knows exactly where to go, their old crying spot by the river. So Makoto hasn’t seen her since she transferred schools? And they seem to live within easy travelling distance? And this is meant to be her dear old friend? It just feels so forced.

"Stop CRYING ya dumb BABY. I SAID STOP." - also my parenting technique

“Stop CRYING ya dumb BABY. I SAID STOP.” – also my parenting technique

So Makoto has a bit of a go at a poor crying writer with a creative block and makes her run off. Such melodrama! Whoever wrote this is feels like they’re trying to condense an entire novella into a 25 minute episode, and it’s just not working.

Hey, still, Tigers-Eye creeping from the bushes with his butt in the river is funny, so there’s there.

"Oh well, any port in a storm. Ahhhhhhh..."

“Oh well, any port in a storm. Ahhhhhhh…”

Cue another flashback, this time of Tomoko being bullied by archetype anime bullies. We already know where this is going. I do like how rough Makoto is acting before being disarmed by Tomoko’s meekness. It is rather sweet. Also great is how Makoto just starts reading her book without permission and tells her to shut up. How quickly did she read that damn novel? Either way, I really do love Makoto here.

This is great stuff, really decent characterisation of Makoto, but it’s such a shame that the present-day framing feels off.

"Hey, so can you teach me how to read or what?"

“Hey, so why did you write an entire book on school graph paper?”

We continue the flashback. This time Tomoko is staring at some football player’s butt when Makoto comes along with a drink to cool her off. BALLS, RIGHT LADIES? Apparently this dude is her muse. Makoto urges her to ask him out, which of course Tomoko refuses to do.

Then Makoto has the worst idea of all time to try and get laid: get your stories published, become a famous writer and then ask him out. Because that’s SO EASY TO DO. Also problematic is basing motivation for personal success on the attention of of others, especially on an unrequited love. She should be writing for herself, not for some dude she doesn’t even talk to. I’m beginning to see why Makoto hasn’t had successful crushes thus far.

"It'll totally work, dude! All you need to do is figure out cold fusion and you'll definitely get laid."

“It’ll totally work, dude! All you need to do is figure out cold fusion and you’ll definitely get laid.”

We cut to Tomoko crying in her room in the dark (no Linkin Park playing, so close to my 14 year old self)… and then we see the real reason for her creative block: she was at a signing event and saw that football dude on a date. Hence, this mess. Well Makoto really gave some bad advice there, didn’t she? Never base your happiness on expectations. I’ve learned that the hard way.

"CRAWWWWLING IIIIN MY SKIIIIIN, THESE WOOOOUNDS..."

“CRAWWWWLING IIIIN MY SKIIIIIN, THESE WOOOOUNDS…”

After wimpering a bit how no one understands her (wow she really IS me as a 14 year old), Tomoko’s self-indulgent reverie is interrupted by Chibi-Usa, who appears to have ran all the way back to her goddamn house just to yell some encouragement about Pegasus.

Tomoko’s reaction is the perfect response for any author to positive feedback: she draws the curtains and has Shinji Ikari-level ego-death. This is how I respond to children and all of life’s problems too.

"Hey kid, SHUT THE HELL UP, YEAH? IT'S TWO IN THE MORNING."

“Hey kid, SHUT THE HELL UP, YEAH? IT’S TWO IN THE MORNING.”

Cue Makoto, who also legged it in the middle of the night to Tomoko’s house. She starts give a real nice pep-talk to the neighbourhood about how she’ll return to being a coward who hides her stories. “Even if there’s one person who’ll read your story, you should write stories just for that reader!” Heeey that’s better advice than “if you write maybe you’ll get to bone that one guy.

Tomoko has vibrating eyes too as she finally opens the window to let the hermit-stank out. Happy resolution!

Oh LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH

Oh LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH

OH FUCK OFF YOU GODDAMN SOCIOPATH.

Wow that’s creepy. Get the shit out of her room, dude. Why any of this? This isn’t a seduction, you’re just attacking her in costume. So what? I feel like the writers are a bit confused about what exactly the modus operendi of the Amazon Trio actually is. Their “hook” as horrendous as it is has nevertheless gotten murky when plot gets in the way.

Transformation time! Sailor Jupiter action! Having already had the emotional climax, this fight feels awkwardly placed, but hey why not we need the usual structure. Today’s Remless is Tenko, the escape artist. I kinda hate her design a bit. Really wish these Remless looked a bit more threatening sometimes.

"Hi I'm Tenko! I'm mad because my hair is a ball of felt pipe cleaners. Grr! Look how angry I am! Yay!"

She looks like an extra in The Max from Saved by the Bell

Anyway, she ties Sailor Moon, Chibi-Moon and Jupiter up in chains and BAM they’re rendered utterly useless. In a fairly amazing moment, Jupiter tries to use Supreme Thunder, which is conducted by the chains, thus shocking the lot of them. I laughed rather hard at that. I do like it when they find novel uses for their attacks, not just the usual attack-dodge cycle that the Inner Senshi seem to be cursed by.

"Oh so this is the searing pain I inflicted on all those poor bastards."

“Oh so this is the searing pain I inflicted on all those poor bastards.”

After Tigers-Eye sees that, despite Zirconia’s insistence, Tomoko does not have Pegasus in her beautiful dreams, Tenko places a time bomb on the Senshi. I did rather like Tenko’s explanation of what would happen in 2 minutes, although maybe a nice round 8 seconds would have been better?

Tuxedo Kamen arrives and frees them, obviously, because cutting ropes and chains is his only job in Sailor Moon SuperS. His arrival lines, “Chains are not for beautiful maidens, only for villains and violent dogs,” is rather odd. I reckon PETA wants a word with you, mate.

"And remember kids: Tuxedo Kamen says fuck all dogs!"

“Hey can you guys even hear me up here? What’s the goddamn point of this then?”

Jupiter lobs the bomb back at Tenko, aaaaaaaand Moon Gorgeous Meditation time, job done. Not before Tomoko wakes up from her capture and sees Pegasus, however. Heeey it’s that thing out of her book! She’ll think she’s gone insane, of course, and check her self straight onto the ward. Good job, Pegasus. Maybe hide from the humans?

"OK so those mushrooms have kicked in, then."

“OK so those mushrooms have kicked in, then.”

Later, everyone completely ignores the fact that Tomoko was just attacked inside her own home, and she just goes on about the Pegasus she saw. So I guess that’s her fixation now, not the footballer dude? Oh well, this is probably healthier for her… right? Whatever the case, Tomoko seems to want to write, and Makoto promises to read her new book.

And then they never see each other ever again.

"We should TOTALLY hang out! Next month maybe. Yeah. See you on Facebook."

“We should TOTALLY hang out! Next month maybe. Yeah. See you on Facebook.”

THE END.

This episode is awkwardly paced and written in places. I love Makoto in it, but she doesn’t feel like the centre of the plot, and that’s a real shame. Overall, it’s just fine, but it could have been amazing. What’s more worrying is that it sets a standard for the rest of the series that gets increasingly stale.


 

 

Episode Score: 3/5

Monster Score: 2/5 – Tenko was fine, but she just can’t cut it against other monsters throughout the series

Final thought: I feel like Tomoko went on to write 50 Shades of Grey

NEXT TIME: The relationship between Pegasus and Chibi-Usa becomes increasingly concerning for all involved

 

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9 Comments »

  1. I notice a lot of commonalities between your favorite fictional character of all time (MAKOTO IS BEST SENSHI) and mine (STORM IS BEST X-MAN). Maybe it’s the lightning, I never could turn down a good thunderstorm.

    And yet I consistently find myself wanting to tie the Pokémon Pikachu in a sack and chuck it into the nearest large body of water. Ah well.

    As a writer myself who constantly struggles with block, I really sympathized with Tomoko. Even though Mako’s HYPER AGGRESSIVE “ARE YOU ENCOURAGED YET?!” Shia LeBouf tactics are…well, ‘poorly thought out’ feels like an understatement…the fact that she’s BEING so encouraging, that her supportiveness of her friends (eventually) goes beyod the matters of the heart (something our beloved Jupes has NO BUSINESS GIVING ANY ADVICE TO ANYONE ON EVER), speaks really, really well for her and continues to push her forward as a terrific person to have in your corner, in or out of a Remless battle.

    I feel like that Godawful editor-Daimohn from Sailor Moon S (the first victim of Dead Scream, IIRC) would have been much more appropriate here as a Remless, even though she wouldn’t have fit in with the Dead Moon Circus’s “performers” motif. Or maybe this story would just have fit better in last season than this one, I dunno. (though I don’t want celebrity-hungry Mimett ANYWHERE NEAR Tomoko, plzkthx. Give this one to Eugeal, she’d have nailed it.)

    Weirdly enough, you hardly ever see stories about Pegasusesuseuses (fuck it, Pegasi) in fantasy literature, be it young adult, children’s, or adult contemporary. (I don’t know if that thing on the cover of Madeline L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ counts?) Probably because Tolkien never put them in HIS books, so all the Follow-the-Leader types figured, why do anything differently? Which is a real shame, because I really dug Swift Wind as a child.

    (5 bucks says no one reading this blog will EVER remember who that is. What’s that translate to in pounds? I don’t know how to currency…)

    Point is, I’d have read the hell out of Tomoko’s book even if it was schlock. Because Pegasi are cool, even when they’re creepily attracted to 9-year-old Moon Princesses from the future.

    • All excellently put. I’ll say that in terms of creativity, motivation and blocks, Kiki’s Delivery Service so perfectly captured the sense of frustration and self-doubt that it rather makes this poor 25 minute episode look a little thread-bare. I don’t think this episode is trying very much at all to saying anything about the creative process, which is a shame, because it’s a topic that fascinates me.

      Also your reverence of Pegasuses appals and disgusts me. Clearly the noble griffin is far superior.

      • I love griffins too. (Fitting, since Pottermore put me in Gryffindor). :p

        Basically, if it’s a mythical creature and not the kind we see a thousand times in every fantasy story ever, I love it. And sometimes even if they are — despite their overuse, dragons are awesome, at least when they didn’t use to be horrible cackling green-haired women.

      • Forgot to mention that I love Studio Ghibli and Kiki’s Delivery Service, but comparing an episode of Sailor Moon SuperS to it might be just a leeeeeetle bit like comparing an off-the-shelf engagement ring to the Hope Diamond.

      • I second this. Griffins are badass. And Pegasus is not even a Pegasus, its an alicorn JAPAN.

  2. First of all, “crying spot” LOL. Second why is Tomoko wearing Mokoto’s school uniform? Doesnt she wear it because the regular school uniforms from her school too small for her? Why is Tomoko wearing it? Also interested in reading your review of Mokoto’s next episode.

    • I assume this is Makoto’s old school where she actually got the uniform, before she transferred to Juban high

  3. Yet another episode with a contrived storyline and bad writing. I still enjoy SuperS at some level because watching it just feels like hanging out with old friends who are having fun, and the show has some good comedy moments in it. But that’s all the show is, for the majority of the scene. No interesting and dramatic storyline… just hanging out with the girls and some one-shot side character, monster appears, monster gets shot down.

    I’m loving the captions for your screenshots btw.

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