The Animation Art of Sailor Moon: Ikuko Itoh – Episode 94

Episode 94: Protect the Pure Heart! A Three-Way Battle

       

Observations:

  • Huuuge leap forward now, almost 30 episodes. Ikuko Itoh has been promoted to Chief Animator, and the general look of the series has subtly shifted over to her style, as she was a character designer as well. Almost all of the new transformation sequences, attack sequences, opening/ending sequences, etc. were animated by Itoh. (The exceptions are Uranus and Neptune’s transformation sequences – Kunihiko Ikuhara invited his friend Hideaki Anno to be the animation director for those)  She’s basically perfected the eye shape she’ll use for the rest of the series. She would later do the artwork for the S and SuperS laserdisc releases.
  • S is my favourite season, but if I had one major complaint about it, it’s that filler episodes have low quality animation. And, unfortunately, even though this episode’s animation was directed by Itoh, it doesn’t look half as good as episode 68 did. When she’s given a large budget (such as the episode where the Holy Grail is revealed and the climax of S) the animation looks amazing.
  • This is another episode directed by Itoh that focuses on a supporting character; Unazuki Furuhata. This is significant as the supporting characters were gradually phased out in S and SuperS.
  • Unazuki appears to go to Rei’s school, and is slightly older than her since Usagi mentions that she’s in high school. Oddly enough, she seems to live on her own. It makes sense for the college-aged Motoki, but not so much here. But considering Makoto’s living situation, maybe the series thinks that teenagers living alone is normal.
  • When Unazuki asks Usagi about kissing Mamoru, a guy keeps staring at her and listening in while she debates whether to admit she’s kissed Mamoru before or not. What a weirdo.
  • I refuse to believe those rose wreaths around Haruka & Michiru were meant to be taken seriously.
  • The vision of Adam & Eve kissing looks like Usagi and Mamoru. So, is Usagi unable to visualize any relationship besides her own or something?
  • Michiru’s expression while she says to Haruka, “We don’t have the luxury to fall in love right now,” is very interesting. She’s trying to smile, but her eyes are sad. And considering the conversation about first kisses before, I have to wonder if they’ve actually acted on their relationship yet, or whether they’re giving all of that up for their mission. And I have to wonder at what point that changed, because by the SuperS movie & Stars season they’re making innuendo at each other constantly.
  • The moment where Prof. Tomoe loses his mind over his sexual frustration kills me. The hysterical laughter is crazy enough, but then he smashes a phallic beaker in his hand. (I, uh, have academic experience with Freudian analysis) Kaolinite then starts laughing too, for no particular reason. Maybe she felt awkward.
  • Unazuki’s room is stupidly cute. Those candy-shaped cushions, pink decor, and that elephant vacuum. Chibiusa would be right at home here.
  • Oddly enough, Unazuki didn’t have to touch the vacuum to awaken the Daimon. I wonder if it’s because she only just stopped using it.
  • I deliberately didn’t screencap the Daimon’s Heart Crystal-removing star. I generally dislike rewatching the early episodes of S because the animators repeatedly put the stars in sexualized areas of the always female Daimon’s bodies – legs, cleavage, and right on the breast in one case. It’s some really blatant male gaze, and I’m glad they stopped doing that because it was an inexcusable idea. Children’s show for little girls, animators. Remember?
  • Uranus and Neptune keep referring to Unazuki’s Heart Crystal as the Talisman before examining it. Getting a little ahead of yourselves, ladies.
  • I love the scene of Usagi repeatedly ringing the doorbell as if she hopes that the 25th time she rings it, she’ll get an answer. Typical Usagi logic.
  • Rei is the only one not still in her school uniform. Not really sure why that is, but maybe she lives nearby to Unazuki (which, seeing as they go to the same school, isn’t too hard to believe).
  • The structure of this episode is different considering it’s a filler – the Victim of the Day was attacked well before the halfway point.
  • Another thing that is different in this episode is how Unazuki reacts after having her Heart Crystal stolen; she turns into a Kissing Zombie. Ami’s speculation that maybe Unazuki has become “impure” gave me the same reaction that Minako has.
  • Gotta say, the animation sequence of Rei using her ofuda is pretty awesome.
  • I would love to ask Mako why she thought the Heart Crystal would be inside a garbage can.
  • The Daimon uses a “tick sensor” to locate the Heart Crystal. I think this might be a cultural thing that is lost in translation. (I’m reluctantly using the Pioneer subs; I don’t think they ever bothered to explain cultural references)
  • One subtle character thing I enjoyed was Mamoru referring to Unazuki as “Unazuki-chan.” He rarely shows familiarity with anyone besides Usagi and Chibiusa, so it shows how close he is to the Furuhata family.
  • Sailor Moon looks pretty majestic doing her speech in front of the setting sun…but she’s standing on a pile of garbage.
  • When Tuxedo Mask is doing his speech, the camera briefly lingers on a Tux UFO Catcher Doll that was thrown out. Aww.
  • Usually I skip screenshotting stock footage like the “I will punish you” bit and the attack sequences, but Itoh animated the Moon Spiral Heart Attack sequence. The eyes are always the clue – I recognized this animation sequence as her work before knowing the responsibilities of the Chief Animator/Character Designer. It might be my own bias speaking, but I vastly prefer the stock animation created for S and SuperS – much more dynamic and colourful.
  • Does Tux Do Anything In This Episode? Yes! He even takes on Neptune, and it actually looks like they’re evenly matched.
  • I won’t be doing Japanese vs. English script comparisons for S and SuperS, as I barely watched any of the Cloverway dub. I was already watching the Japanese version by the time it started airing.
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