The Animation Art of Sailor Moon: Ikuko Itoh – Episode 124

Episode 124: The Horror of the Approaching Shadow! Eight Senshi in a Tough Battle

       

Observations:

  • Episodes 124 and 125 are my absolute favourite episodes in the entire series, so I’m probably going to gush a LOT.
  • The episode starts off with a minor continuity error. Episode 123 ends with the Senshi walking purposely towards Mugen Academy, already transformed. But the episode begins with them still in their civilian forms, I guess so they can have the dramatic transformation scene.
  • Holy crap the art style in this episode is amazing. Ikuko Itoh is at her artistic peak in 124 and 125. Be sure to click on the thumbnails to see the screenshots full-size because they look so damned GOOD.
  • Does Mamoru Do Anything In This Episode?: Hahahahaha he doesn’t even have a single line. Sly move by the writers, getting the two weakest fighters to sit out the action so that they don’t hold the other characters back.
  • The gesture where Neptune holds Uranus’ hand as they fly in the helicopter is such a significant moment. Neptune is not only trying to offer comfort to Uranus, she’s comforting herself. It’s a callback to episode 110 where their holding hands was a symbol of their relationship. Uranus doesn’t react here, much like how she didn’t react when they were about to enter Marine Cathedral. It signifies how single-minded Uranus is to their mission.
  • I strongly suspect Pluto was thinking of far more than just of Usagi’s hopeful words. I often wonder if she knew what was coming and was therefore sorrowful about it.
  • Animation Error: When Mistress 9 senses the Holy Grail, the beads on her dress are missing.
  • I love how Mars is the one who senses the Death Busters’ actions before they happen, and describes them as an eerie silence. It ties in really well to her apocalyptic visions.
  • I have to wonder why the Daimons are all female. Maybe they’ve all been cloned from the same source, and it’s combining the Daimon DNA with an object that differentiates them? They’re kind of gross when they’re just humanoid formed magenta gel.
  • The use of colour in the scenes where the Senshi fight back against the Daimon horde is wonderful. I also love the little sight gag of Sailor Moon falling over behind Mars. It stands out in an otherwise deadly serious episode. I also love that Moon Spiral Heart Attack is visually represented as a giant glowing pink heart.
  • Mistress 9’s grabbing Sailor Moon by the neck adds a whole new level of brutality and coldness. She wants Sailor Moon alive, but is going to cause her as much pain as possible along the way. And the blood red colouring of the scenes (with the complementary blue-cyan arm) really adds an emotional punch of fear to the scene.
  • Animation Error: As Mercury looks up in horror to where Moon was, her earring is red instead of blue.
  • It’s very significant that Jupiter is the one speechless with fear after Moon is kidnapped. She’s always the one who speaks and acts first, but for possibly the first time, she’s at a loss of what to do.
  • The Outers probably thought they were going to outsmart the Death Busters by flying to them instead of walking. It’s also interesting that Neptune is the first one to sense the Daimon horde attacking, which is another callback to her premonitory powers that are similar to Rei’s.
  • Pluto is writhing in pain, but her expressions are not filled with fear the way that Uranus and Neptune’s are.
  • Putting the commercial break right when the helicopter explodes is just mean. Poor Japanese children.
  • I like that the time-frozen flames are blue with heat and electricity. It adds a kind of otherworldly fear to the chaos surrounding the Outers.
  • Uranus is pure-hearted because she is willing to sacrifice anyone to save the world, without fear of getting her hands dirty. Neptune is pure-hearted because there is one person in the world she can never sacrifice. We never find out what makes Pluto pure-hearted, but I believe it is also related to sacrifice – she will sacrifice herself to save the world and the people she loves. The Time Stop technique and its punishment is one example of this. Her duties to guarding the Doors of Time are another kind of self-sacrifice, because she willingly accepts loneliness for eternity because that is what she was born for.
  • “If you find the real Messiah…” I’ve always wondered what she was going to say. Or if she deliberately left things ambiguous. (She’s the Mistress of Time, after all. Don’t tell me she didn’t know how many seconds of stopped time she had left.)
  • The English dub of this episode is one that I absolutely refuse to watch, mainly because it completely ruins the scene where the Inners connect their powers to protect the city. Calling it the “Sailor Box” and adding a bunch of stupid dialogue in a scene meant to be silent is just asinine. You are DEAD to me, English dub script writer. DEAD TO ME.
  • I love the use of light and shadow in the scene where Sailor Moon wakes up from being unconscious. The muted colours and the darkness surrounding her really emphasize that she’s all alone in a dangerous place.
  • Germatoid is really, really gross. The sound effect of the bits of him falling on the floor is repulsive.
  • I really like how the Uranus/Neptune vs. Germatoid scene shows off what good physical fighters the two Senshi are. Uranus looks so awesome flipped upside down.
  • Uranus and Neptune clearly didn’t hallucinate Pluto communicating to them, so she must have some kind of ability to mentally connect to the present from the Time Gates.
  • Animation error: When the mirror appears in front of Neptune, she twitches a little. The two frames making the strobe effect don’t quite match up.
  • LOVE the scene where they use their Talismans for the first time, and how it shows how perfectly mentally connected they are as a team. They circle around in tandem, and communicate and work together without any words.
  • It’s really sweet that Prof. Tomoe’s first thoughts after waking up were of his daughter. It shows a deep contrast between how Germatoid basically didn’t care about Hotaru at all except as a vessel for Mistress 9.
  • Adore how Ikuko Itoh draws Hotaru. Hotaru’s main trait is her wide purple eyes, and since Itoh is a master at drawing eyes in this series, she looks absolutely adorable and gorgeous.
  • When Sailor Moon catches on to Mistress 9’s blunder at referring to Moon by her real name, it really shows how far she has come as a person. In the beginning Sailor Moon was this cowardly ninny. And yet here, she blows open Mistress 9’s trap all on her own, just from the power of her mind.
  • Uranus and Neptune bursting through the door to Mistress 9’s lair is interesting symbolically. They’re bringing light to a world of darkness.
  • Mistress 9’s character design is so great. She clearly resembles an adult Hotaru, but she is cold, sexual, and crafty. The purple lipstick defines Mistress 9 as a beauty, but also signifies how different she is from the simple and self-conscious Hotaru.
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