smsupers

3

Minako’s is super short, painfully so, only these two sentences. It does a lot with those two sentences (I mean watch how many words I’m about to spew about them), but I can’t help but feel a little cheated.

Because look at how up front and gloriously SELFISH this is.

This is fucking GOLD right here.

There really is nothing that I don’t love to death about Minako, but if I had to pick just one thing, it would be her complexity. What I think works so well about Minako in a situation like this — and what is unfortunately squandered — are the levels involved. I really am loving this whole Senshi mirror sequence, but I can’t help but feel that the writers kind of backed away from the edge by having only one long bit (I’m guessing Rei will be short too), and that bit was only Mako’s.

Because Mako is EASY. Mako is very relatable in that way. Like I said in one of the posts about her part, Mako’s fear/desire is low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to write an extended sequence for her, because the concept, while utterly true and utterly heartbreaking, isn’t a difficult one.

Minako is a difficult one.

There’s never just one aspect to anything Minako does, and we see that here. “I go through so much trouble to keep the peace, but nobody praises me.”

I give up so much of myself to save the world, but where’s my attention?

Holy shit, you guys.

This is MirrorMinako directly acknowledging that becoming Venus after V is an unfulfilling downgrade.

HOLY SHIT.

Minako gave up everything well before everyone else, and she had to fight alone and bleed alone and be afraid alone. But she also became an international celebrity alone. She had video games and merchandise and at least one movie. V was a legend. V was a STAR.

That she was lonely and unhappy, I don’t doubt for a moment. But she is Minako, and the one thing about Minako is that Minako is never just one thing. Minako LOVED being Sailor V, and everything she saw was hers, hers, hers.

When she became Sailor Venus, Minako gained so much. She had comrades, she had teammates, and she would come to have family. That Minako is a thousand times happier with the Senshi than she could ever possibly hope to be without them isn’t even a question.

But being with the other Senshi also means giving up part of herself. Minako is part of a team now, she is one of many. She is, to the world at large, nothing special. Sailor Venus could disappear tomorrow, and who would notice? Who will remember Sailor Venus, when there is Sailor Moon?

Who will praise her for her sacrifices?

And there are SO MANY sacrifices. Minako has been sacrificing since she was thirteen years old. The moment she met Artemis, she gave up absolutely everything she would ever be, and she’s STILL giving. Even now, she has to cling to every moment she can steal, she has to live them so fully, because she is cursed with knowing how brief they are.

Minako is the goddess of love. Not only of giving love, but of RECEIVING it. She desires love, she CRAVES it. She wants as much as she can possibly get from as many people as she can possibly touch.

She had it all in the palm of her hand. She alone was the brightest star in the sky. But the Senshi needed her, her Princess need her, and so she gave up everything.

Minako is the goddess of love. Not only of receiving love, but of GIVING it. She loved them so much, these people she had never met, that she gave up everything that mattered to be with them.

She gave up being a star to become a sidekick in someone else’s story.

And no one will ever, ever thank her for that.

3

I really love moments like these for Usagi, where she indulges for just a few minutes. She’s upset and afraid. She’s the big hero of course, she’s the Princess. She’s the one who will defeat the bad guys. But she never does it alone.

You see that literally, time and again, where she has to call on her Senshi to help her. But it’s true of Mamoru as well. He can’t give her power like they can, but the simple act of having him there gives Usagi strength.

Here she’s savouring this moment with him because he won’t be able to be there directly. And she just sinks into it. They hold hands and they kiss, and Usagi assures him that she’s going to take care of everything and make him okay again.

When Usagi stands apart from Mamoru and lets go of his hand, you see for just a second there that grabbing it again is the only thing she wants to do. She can’t. The others are waiting, and she has to save him.

But she wants to. It’s in these moments where Usagi shows again and again what an amazing hero she is. Emotion doesn’t make you weak, love doesn’t constrain you. Usagi takes her love for Mamoru, and it makes her strong enough to resist that desire to stay. It makes her strong enough to go fight evil without him.

Screw your big tough emotionless heroes. Give me a girl who wants to hold her love’s hand but has the strength to leave instead any day.

4

I know you technically attacked before Mako this season, Minako, but I just have to make you power-up last forever and ever and ever.

The greatest thing about Minako’s attacks is how her elements are so unspecific. “Light”, “love”, “metal”. How do you depict that? Fire, lightning, ice, those come with definitions and expectations built right in.

But love?

Human’s can’t even agree on what the hell it even is. The creators are completely free to weaponize that however the fuck they want.

Minako’s lack of easy definition extends even to her power set. Well done, Minako, well done.

So Venus Love and Beauty Shock, what do you do?

Uhm.

Twelve episodes after this attack debuted, and I still don’t actually know.

It seems to create a concentrated but undefined heart of … energy … I guess … that can

explode?

laser through guys?

make the screen flash?

Minako, the fuck does your attack even DO??

Since there’s basically no way in hell to know, because I think it’s pretty clear from the above that nobody has a fucking clue, I’ll make my best guess based on what we’ve seen from the episodes and what the attack animation suggests.

Minako, as stated above, deals primarily in three forms: light, love, and metal. “Love”, of course, has no contextual meaning in terms of attacking, so I tend to consider it Minako’s own force of will. It’s “energy”, which again is so abstract a phrase it lacks meaning, but drawn from Minako herself. Not “love” in the sense of Usagi, who is love in its purest form (both selflessly and selfishly), but Minako’s essence. Her “Minakoness”, if you will.

There’s absolutely nothing to support this in canon at all, but I personally love the idea that much of Minako’s “love” power comes directly from her sense of self. Essentially, so long as Minako’s sense of herself is high — her belief in herself, her friends, her princess, and her purpose remain high — Minako’s attacks are at their most powerful. For a character like Minako, who is simultaneously so selfless and self-centric, who so often can struggle with her identity and her duty, I enjoy weaving those concepts even deeper into who she is and what she can do.

Whether that’s an idea you like or not, what we know for sure is that Minako has light, metal, and “love” — however you choose to define it — as her power manifestations. Crescent Beam is pure light, and Love-Me Chain is love and metal combined. Based on the attack’s animation and the few results from it we see, Love and Beauty Shock becomes a new union for Minako, this time in light and love.

It does damage — clearly it does damage, it punched a hole through a monster — but like many of Minako’s attacks, I see it being multi-purpose and having a defensive element as well. Again, it’s really impossible to know what Venus Love and Beauty Shock does, but I believe it can function as a directed punching blast of light/love “energy”, or it can work as a flashbomb and blind and disorient foes. I imagine that when Minako attacks, she can decide whether it will be a focused single-target power attack, or a more widespread but less specifically powerful one.

Once again, Minako’s versatility is unmatched.

As I mentioned while discussing Flame Sniper, the multi-enemy potential in Love and Beauty Shock fills a hole in Minako’s arsenal that perfectly matches with the precision of Rei’s new attack. Between the two of them, their attacks are so attuned and cover so many angles, their potential deadliness as a team on the battlefield is awe-inspiring.

But this is Minako, so how does it look?

The animation in Love and Beauty Shock, I just love to pieces.

When Minako’s symbol appears, little sparkles begin to emerge.

They almost seem to peek out from the top right corner, which is pretty adorable. It immediately gives the impression that this is going to be something cute and fun (and totally NOT that it’s going to be a giant fucking heart-shaped laser that will punch a hole in your gut). That playful aspect is what the first half of Love and Beauty Shock is all about. That lends the attack name a kind of dual meaning, in that not only will MInako’s love (“power”, really, if you take my previous meaning) and beauty shock you, but both are going to come at you and kick your ass and the degree to which your ass will be kicked will also be a shock.

The presence of the sparkles — not hearts, but sparkles — also very much fuels my impression of the light contribution to this attack.

Those sparkles continue to grow until there’s so many they’re blinding.

That functionally the dazzle of the Venus symbol — so of Venus herself — is so bright and overwhelming that it’s all you’ll be able to see does not escape me.

The sparkles give way to just one lone glimmer which finds the corner of Minako’s lips like she’s in a JEM video. The shimmer traces her lip as the camera pulls back to reveal a bright-eyed, friendly Minako. She winks at the camera — cute and flirty, but not overly sensual or sexualized, which I really quite appreciate — and then brings her fingers to her lips, kisses them, and produces a heart.

Minako alone in these attacks is the one who manifests her power directly from herself. Ami creates the water harp, and, visually, the attack comes from its strings. With Rei, the fire is everywhere around her, but even though mentally formed, the attack itself is object-based in her bow and arrow. Mako’s lightning rod tiara is the focal point for her power, and the leaves that swirl around her simply appear through no apparent action of her own.

But Minako has only that glimmer, and from the moment we begin her actual attack, it’s part of her. MInako has no “thing”, she has only Minako. She reaches up to herself and produces the manifestation of her attack: one heart. One lone, golden heart. Minako remains cute, flirty, and brimming with love throughout this. One kiss, just for you, with all the fun and promise in that wink.

And then.

SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER.

The frames literally jump to this. There’s no warning and no transition whatesoever. One second we’re here, with the heart beating and Minako’s hair wafting around her:

And the very next frame is the one above.

Like flipping a switch, we’ve gone from playful Minako to I will end you Minako.

I love that. I love that SO MUCH. Everything you need to know about Minako Aino you have right here in these two frames. She loves you, she will kiss you. She loves you, she will kill you.

And then Minako takes a stance of pure power. There’s nothing fun and flirty about what she’s dong any more.

Sailor Venus is a warrior, and if you ever saw anything different, that is all on you and that will be the last mistake you ever make.

Minako flings her lone heart and it reproduces and encircles her, in what is a nice visual touch (link? ha ha Jet Wolf is funny) to her Love-Me Chain.

More, it is a wall. The shot lingers with Minako surrounded by her glowing, beating hearts, and as we watch that moment, she feels protected. Minako has surrounded herself with love of herself and her friends, and she is untouchable and undefeatable. it’s there where Minako is at her most powerful and beautiful of all.

Then she gathers it together as a single heart. Continuing with the idea that Minako’s love power is her love and faith in herself and her friends, she holds in her hand everything that has value to her. She has turned it into something that will shield her, and something that will kill any threat. 

Minako’s love for herself and her friends literally is her power. And Minako loves them so much that she will love her enemies to death.

2

Now FUCKING OW, because this hurts like a kick made of pure feelings right in the teeth.

Although not the sum totality of Mako’s feelings, I’m continuing with the idea that the best lie contains a grain of truth.

And the truth for Mako here is that her friends don’t understand.

That REALLY hurts when you consider in the last post how I was talking about how she would never view her friends as anything less than perfectly feminine. Now not only is Mako judging herself under different criteria than the others, but those differences have convinced her that they can’t understand her.

The killing blow comes in HOW.

It’s not that they can’t understand a dream of working with flowers and cakes. These are “traditionally feminine” pursuits, after all, and that is exactly what Mako sees in each of her friends. It’s that they can’t see that for her.

Which isn’t so! I don’t believe for one second any of her friends have told Mako that she either couldn’t or shouldn’t do these things. Even at the time when she was most challenged about her dreams, when she and Minako were fighting, Minako pretty much said “You’re lucky, those things are easy for you.”

Those things are SO Mako, they are EASY.

Yet there’s a part of Mako that is so convinced she can never be feminine, she’s not even entitled to DREAM about it.

WTF SuperS?

SuperS. Here we stand, at the end of our not entirely enjoyable journey. I look back at our overlong time spent together, and I am left with one question that burns brighter than them all.

What the fuck?

What the actual fuck?

How do your pieces fit? When are you set? How long did you take? How does your plot work? What was up with the whole crystal thing? Nehellenia was the what how now?

What is your deal, SuperS?

Making things make sense is pretty huge for me. If you’ve been around my blog for a week or so, you’ve probably heard me mention my Giant Sailor Moon Canon Voltron. This is my Sailor Moon core. This is is what fuels my meta and interpretations, my headcaon, my ‘fics.

I really really need to know what your deal was, SuperS.

I need you to MAKE SENSE.

And so, before I finally bid you farewell, you and I are going to hash this thing out. It may require twisting and trimming, it may take some shoving and a whole lot of willingness to run with shit, but I WILL make you fit.

Because WTF SuperS?

Keep reading

4

Rei. Oh Rei. You 100% amazing utter narcissist.

Mars Flame Sniper, as both an attack and an attack animation, you have stiff competition. Like I was saying in the SuperS movie, I utterly adore Fire Soul. It ranks as one of my favourite attacks in the entire series.

I also tremendously love Burning Mandala, in part because it makes such a stark contrast to Fire Soul. Fire Soul is all about the uncontrollable essence of Rei, while Burning Mandala is about the control Rei must have over herself anyway. They are a wonderful matched pair of attacks in a way that none of the Senshi have.

(And I also love Burning Mandala because of Rei’s propensity to fling it as an answer to literally everything that pisses her off, which is just extra fun when you consider the above.)

With those two attacks going so well together, from an animation perspective, Flame Sniper just doesn’t fit with them. So it’s fitting that it becomes its very own thing, and like the attack itself, it’s ALL about Rei.

Let’s first look at Mars Flame Sniper as an attack in and of itself. There is, of course, the connection with archery in Shinto and with mikos specifically. That Rei would manifest an attack in this way, in something that is so vitally tied to her spirituality and sense of self, is fantastic. No other attack ties everything together so personally as Flame Sniper, and it makes perfect sense that it’s Rei who is able to go there. Working with my headcanon that the Senshi’s attacks are specific to them (so that no other Sailor Mars that ever has been or ever will be will have Burning Mandala or Mars Flame Sniper), it makes perfect sense that the one who puts herself out there 1000% every time would manifest something so deeply personal to beat the shit out of bad guys. (And she does it with every attack she has, because Rei Hino, everybody.)

I also love this progression of Rei in her attacks. She begins with Fire Soul, which is an area of affect attack. She just kind of sprays fire all over the fucking place in the general direction of her enemies and calls it a day. Burning Mandala graduates Rei to discs of fire which are, again, kind of widespread, but in more fixed spots. Mars Flame Sniper is a precision attack. It’s single target, specifically aimed, and with every bit of fire and will Rei can inject into it.

We’re actually seeing Rei’s emotional progression in the series play out through her attacks. She begins as a raging inferno, barely controlled, to some modicum of refining herself, to the ability to pinpoint exactly who and where she wants to destroy.

Another fantastic thing about Flame Sniper is how, alongside Love and Beauty Shock, Rei and Minako have become an even more devastating team. Between Rei adding a precision attack and Minako adding an area of effect (targeted, but AoE all the same), they are near perfectly balanced, each able to cross over and join the other in facing off against single enemies or hordes, or able to cover each other when they want to focus on different methods of attack. More and more I am convinced at the battlefield devastation possible between Rei and Minako.

All of that is pretty great for the attack, but what about how it’s animated? The first thing I have to point out — and it’s strange as hell because I’m not sure how or why this happened, but Rei’s hand animation is different. Here are all of my hand gifs for the Inners:

I got really excited about this at first, because I was sure that the animators just reused the same hand animation frames for each of the girls, but when Rei didn’t match Ami, I thought instead they’d animated everyone differently.

But then I saw Mako and Minako, and no.

So why is Rei different? As you can see, her hand snaps out with much more force than the other three. It’s sharper and much more dramatic. Rei’s fingers very nearly leave the bottom of the frame, the motion is so extreme.

I’ve checked multiple episodes to see if this is something isolated to just their power-up eps (where I made the gifs) or to see if it changes later int the season, and it doesn’t. Which makes sense, really. They spent the time and money to have a perfectly good hand-flinging-into-shot attack, why waste it? Especially when they can’t be arsed to go add fucking pupils to eyes of their most often used henshin for their starring characters.

So maybe they’d planned at first to vary up the hand animation for each of the Senshi, even if just in little ways, then changed their mind or ran out of time/budget? Given how relatively little effort wound up going into Mako and Minako’s power-up episode, that doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. Because Rei is the odd one out, I have to consider it an anomaly, and so not thing I’ll attribute much to character. But I do love how much more forceful Rei’s hand clearly is from Ami’s, and — at least in terms of the linework and shading in these captures — how much sharper it looks as well. I lament that we might have had a visibly larger hand for Mako, and perhaps a more seductive unfurling of the fingers for Minako. Those would’ve been amazing tiny character details that I would’ve loved to have seen.

But back to what we do have. Immediately with Rei, her fire begins to spill out of her hand. Ami had to build power, it had to swirl around her. Rei, it’s like she’s been holding it in check this entire time and now has simply opened the door and let it pour out of her. The speed with which her hand becomes consumed from view is astonishing, to the point where in order to keep it that second gif the same length as everyone else’s, I had to include more fire. Rei’s hand simply disappears twice as fast as everyone else’s, that’s how fast and overwhelmingly powerful this animation is showing us she is.

Then the attack itself, and every time I look at it, I have to laugh. Rei has an arrow, right? Rei has a bow and arrow, that’s it. Ami has an entire harp with multiple strings, Mako has a million leaves, Minako has a circle of hearts. Rei has one bow and arrow, yet in the course of the bottom two gifs — the bulk of her attack — you get five distinct images of Rei Hino. Like I said at the outset, Mars Flame Sniper isn’t just an attack, it is ALL ABOUT REI.

Every single time, an image of Rei is interrupted either by flames or Rei herself (between the second and third image she pops up into the frame to cover herself with herself, and that is so beautiful I can barely stand it). Even the last two I thought at first were the same image, BUT NO, Rei must take the opportunity of the obscuring arrow flashes to POSE DIFFERENTLY.

Ami, Mako, and Minako, once they begin their attack, it’s a long, continuous shot.

Rei jumps in there five times.

This attack lasts seven seconds.

That is fantastic.

That the attack itself looks amazing is without question. The swirling fire is gorgeous, and it takes good advantage of the fact that we are instinctively both drawn to fire and fear it (hey, there’s a nice analogue for Rei herself). I am totally in love with Mars’ bow; seriously this shot?

Stunning. It oozes all the fierceness and power that is Rei Hino.

But make no mistake. The real feature in Mars Flame Sniper is not the Flame Sniper part, it is MARS.