The Animation Art of Sailor Moon – Ikuko Itoh: Tuxedo Mirage

Observations:

  • Tuxedo Mirage would be used for almost the entirety of the S season, excepting the first two episodes before Haruka & Michiru’s introduction, which used Sailor Moon R’s Otome No Policy instead. The first season had two ending sequences (Heart Moving and Princess Moon), SuperS also had two (Watashi-tashi Ni Naritakute and “Rashiku” Ikimasho), and Sailor Stars had the same ending sequence for both parts, but with the same song (Kaze Mo Sora Mo Kitto) at different tempos.
  • It’s by far my favourite of the ending sequences, and Tuxedo Mirage is my 2nd favourite Sailor Moon song overall. (#1 is Moon Revenge – it is not a coincidence that both songs were performed by Peach Hips, a.k.a. the voice actresses for the Inner Senshi)
  • Oddly enough though, excepting Haruka and Michiru’s inclusion in the images, the visuals and lyrics of Tuxedo Mirage feel like they belong to another season. Kunihiko Ikuhara’s direction of the S season emphasized Haruka and Michiru’s relationship well over Usagi and Mamoru’s (as he dislikes Mamoru’s character), and the plot itself has very little to do with the Silver Millennium backstory – the Silver Crystal isn’t even important in this storyline. I wonder if Itoh was being a little bit rebellious here, even though she didn’t seem to care much for Mamoru’s character either.
  • I’m not sure what the actual name of the item is called, but I really like the idea of a rotating nightlight that displays images from the past. The scene itself is very mysterious – where is this taking place? The old white bricks suggest it could be the Moon Kingdom. The moon in the corner of the window suggests that this place is on Earth, but I think that the background, including the moon & clouds, is fake, as there has to be a solid surface for the nightlight’s images to project on.
  • Thus, the entire window display is meant as a cohesive unit. It’s not looking out into the real night sky, but a decoration on this wall. Its magical properties, such as the fact that it can display many different images without repeating them despite constant rotation, and the moon “phasing” down a tiny Tuxedo Mask to join his Serenity, also suggest that this is from the Moon Kingdom.
  • The images themselves show scenes of the Moon Kingdom that we never got to see, including depicting Princesses Uranus and Neptune hanging out with the others. They are each wearing formal dresses (which are different from the Princess dresses of the manga, which wouldn’t be introduced until the Dream Arc) rather than their Senshi uniforms. Interestingly enough, Prince Endymion appears as his Tuxedo Mask form first, even though that form technically shouldn’t have existed in that time period (beyond the dance scene in the Moon Kingdom flashback, and that was appropriate attire for a formal ball). My theory is that Endymion changes into the Tux sometimes, as wearing the armour constantly would get uncomfortable. It’s of course necessary for the Tuxedo to be referenced, what with the song title and lyrics.
  • Flowers are an important visual motif in the projected images, which is consistent with the glimpses of the Moon Kingdom that we did get to see (e.g. the scene of Princess Serenity picking flowers in an enormous flower garden). Several different breeds of flowers are shown, and in one of the images, we see that the Moon Kingdom Senshi are relaxing in a flowery field. I can’t identify every flower that is used in the images of the Princesses (and I’ll be referring to clearer, higher quality images here, since you can’t see the details very well in the ending sequence), but for the ones I can recognize, I’ll pass on some of the flower symbolism (which happens to work nicely with their characters).
  • Princess Serenity: Obvious one here, it’s three different colours of roses. White Rose symbolism: “Purity, Innocence, Silence, Secrecy, Reverence, Humility, Youthfulness, “I am worthy of you”, Heavenly” [That describes Usagi almost perfectly.] There are a few shades of Pink Roses: “Appreciation, “Thank you”, Grace, Perfect Happiness, Admiration, Gentleness, “Please Believe Me”” And, of course, Red Roses: “Love, Beauty, Courage and Respect, Romantic Love, Congratulations, “I Love You”, “Job Well Done”, Sincere Love, Respect, Courage & Passion” [The meaning of Rose colours] It’s very interesting how each colour of Rose still manages to describe Usagi/Serenity’s character.
  • Princess Mercury & Mars: Mercury’s flower resembles an Iris. The symbolism of the Iris is: “The flower symbolism associated with the iris is faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope, valor, compliments, promise in love” My, doesn’t that sound a lot like Ami? Mars’ flower looks like a Tiger Lily, and here’s the symbolism for that flowerLike other lilies it represents the female principles of love, beauty, and mercy. The Tiger Lily alone symbolizes female courage, with its bright orange symbolizing career success and joy.” Dang, perfect.
  • Princess Jupiter & Venus: Jupiter’s flower resembles a periwinkle, which symbolizes: “One of its earliest symbols is of immortality; however, in more modern times these blossoms generally represent new friendship, fidelity in long time relationships, and spiritual harmony.” You’re not going to find anyone more loyal than Mako-chan! Minako’s flowers are a little harder to identify, but I think they’re blooming Tulips“Tulips are symbolic of fame and perfect love.” I don’t even need to add any more to that, that couldn’t represent Minako more if it tried.
  • Princess Uranus & Neptune: Haruka’s flower seems to be another type of Lily, but as it’s not as easy to identify as Rei’s Tiger Lily was, I’m just going to list the Lily’s general symbolism of “Majesty, truth, honor, which still works for her character. Michiru’s flower is probably a pink orchid. Pink orchids signify “perfection” and “pure affection,” and hey, look at that, instant Michiru.
  • Now for a bit of lyric analysis. This is another song where the lyrics were written by Naoko Takeuchi, and fortunately for me, this time they make sense.
  • In a crescent dish, I take off my star earring
    What should I do? My heart, my heart is bursting
    Even if the fireworks become stars, and love disappears into darkness,
    Please! Don’t let these kisses stop” There is a LOT of romantic imagery in these lyrics – star-shaped earrings in a crescent dish reinforce that this is a series with a lot of astral imagery in it. I find the lyric “Even if the fireworks become stars, and love disappears into darkness” fascinating, as it has two meanings that I can derive from it. First, this may refer to the couple staying out so late that all they can see is the stars and they are surrounded by darkness. The second meaning may refer to how the instantaneous but finite light of the fireworks will eventually fade into the near-eternal light of the stars.
  • This scent of velvet can steal me away
    These hearts are a love met in the milky way
    A mantle in the midnight, a spreading rainbow” These lyrics probably refer to Tuxedo Mask’s red cape (which is possibly made of velvet). Prince Endymion wears a cape as well, however. This lyric at first seems confusing, but it’s the “mantle” of the Milky Way that is the rainbow, not Tux’s cape. Serenity is making a direct comparison between the velvet cape and how the Milky Way looks.
  • The canary orgel quietly fades out
    What should I do? My heart, my heart is bursting
    Even if tears become stars, and the carousel disappears…” It’s a shame that the second verse wasn’t animated, as these lyrics directly reference the visuals. An orgel is a music box (which seems to be quite a popular instrument in Japan) that creates tinkling music by rotating – just like the nightlight, and just like a carousel. Serenity is once again begging for Endymion to stay with her, even after the music fades, and after her “tears become stars” – her unhappiness/loneliness becoming a memory, in other words.
  • I want to be humbled by your velvet glance,
    These hearts are a love sworn in the milky way
    A tempest of petals gently holds me
    Forever and ever without disappearing
    A tuxedo mirage” I’m going to…leave aside the “humbled by your velvet glance” line as it doesn’t quite make sense. However, “A tempest of petals gently holds me, Forever and ever without disappearing,” is a great lyric describing anime Tuxedo Mask’s powers over roses, and how the Silver Crystal perpetuates the lives of the Moon Kingdom residents seemingly forever (and even then, the Star Seeds of their Souls continue to exist).
  • …man this is a great ending sequence.
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