This set up, jesus wept. We cut to this huge long shot of Tokyo. Miles and miles of cityscape. It’s peaceful and beautiful for anywhere, but particularly for a huge city like this.
We stay there for several seconds. Then a low rumbling starts in the distance. The screen begins to shake, slowly at first but with increasing violence. A smoke trail appears, coming from the right edge of the screen. It makes a sharp turn and starts speeding towards us.
Something is coming. FAST.
And it knows exactly where it’s going.
THAT THIS IS REI IS FUCKING KILLING ME
I don’t know how far TA actually is from Juuban, but the idea here is undeniable: KIND OF FAR. It looks like Rei runs at least ten blocks toward the camera, and it’s literally impossible to know how many she ran before that turn because she’s coming from such a long distance WE DON’T EVEN HEAR HER AT FIRST. And when we finally do, it’s several seconds more before we see her.
REI IS LIKE HALF THE FUCKING CITY AWAY
PRESUMABLY IN A CLASS
BUT SHE STILL MANAGES TO HEAR THE WHISTLE
AND JUST FUCKING LEAVES
TO RUN MILES IN SECONDS
BECAUSE USAGI NEEDS HER
It’s so over the top and ridiculous and impossible, AND YET ALSO COMPLETELY BELIEVABLE BECAUSE REI HINO
If anybody can figure out a way to actually do this, it’s Rei fucking Hino. If Usagi’s in trouble, nothing – NOTHING – is going to stop her. REI HAS FUCKING DIED AND THAT DIDN’T STOP HER THIS IS NOTHING
And I must take a moment to applaud how that they’ve actually been establishing this all season. Rei has repeatedly turned up at Juuban when she “couldn’t possibly” be there, surprising the shit out of everyone. So in this one moment we have irrefutable proof that Rei is the most fucking amazing, that there is pretty much nothing she can’t do when Usagi and the others need her, that she is so beyond ridiculous and I will never sufficiently express my love for her, and it’s all wrapped in the pay-off for a season long recurring joke.
EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF THIS IS A GOD DAMN TREASURE
Meanwhile Galaxia’s regretting bringing that whip out if this is what’s going to happen.
OKAY THERE’S A LOT TO GO OVER HERE KIDS LET’S GET STARTED
First, the truly divine level of “innuendo in the face of danger” we have going on here, because oh my god. This is something unique between Haruka and Michiru that Stars has cultivated over the course of the season, and I really can’t say enough wonderful things about it. S was such a powder keg of tension between the two of them, all these EMOTIONS that neither Haruka nor Michiru were able (or willing) to express. I’m reminded of times in that season where they faced imminent death, and yet weren’t able to draw strength from each other. Remember when Michiru tried to take Haruka’s hand and Haruka pulled away? (BECAUSE FUCKING HANDS, RIGHT??) It’s such a quiet and sad moment, particularly because it’s Michiru putting herself in a vulnerable position, and Haruka refusing what’s being offered.
Now here we are in Stars. From the first episode of the season, we learn how different things are between them, and gods know I WORDS all over everything at the time. What’s so fantastic though is IT’S KEPT GOING. That wasn’t a one-off, it wasn’t an isolated joke, IT’S WHAT HARUKA AND MICHIRU DO NOW. They’ve gone from “oh no we can’t allow ourselves this tiny moment of barest physical comfort” to “three seconds from making out in front of the ‘queen’s throne’”.
I love that this is their reaction to looming death and fear. I love it for a bunch of reasons I”m going to talk about, but I don’t want to let that idea pass without comment. Because make no mistake, Haruka and Michiru are FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. Galaxia is killing this planet as effortless as she killed countless planets before. She’s already killed the Inners. Michiru’s attacks were brushed aside. Haruka’s sword was caught one-handed, cracked, and tossed away effortlessly. They’ve just been hit directly with Galaxia’s power and I’m going to take a guess that it didn’t feel great. But not only is is a logical conclusion that they’re worried, the creators went so far as to give us visual proof.
Like I’ve said repeatedly, details are everything. This is particularly true when it comes to something visual in animation (especially in this time period when everything was done by hand and so required a substantially higher investment). Basically, characters don’t sweat without reason. We’ve seen Haruka and Michiru get their ass handed to them in a myriad of exciting ways. They’ve looked scraped and bloody and beaten and disheveled, but they never sweat. Sweat isn’t a shorthand for “hurt”. It’s shorthand for “nervous”.
Haruka and Michiru look fine and they sound completely relaxed and so not bothered with what’s going on around them, but it’s all a front. Galaxia may or may not be picking that up, but WE do, and that’s the point. It was vitally important that we know two things here:
Haruka and Michiru are seriously concerned.
When they’re seriously concerned, they turn to each other.
This isn’t just breaking the tension by dropping a high energy sex-fueled bomb on the unsuspecting populace, ALTHOUGH THAT ALSO. It’s about Haruka trying to disguise her fear with bravado, and verbally reaching out to Michiru for reassurance. (Note, by the way, that this time it’s HARUKA opening that door.) And Michiru responds immediately. Their banter is charged, but easy. It’s comforting, but intimate. They’re turning this moment of fear that’s outside of themselves into something personal ONLY about themselves. It’s a reminder of all the other times they’ve done this, and survived. It’s a promise for all the things waiting for them when they survive this, too. (”Later, when we’re alone.”) It’s an affirmation of all the truly personal things they’ve shared that are only for them, just in case this time they don’t get to walk away.
This moment is so many things, in so many ways, and it’s wrapped up in nothing but filthy innuendo between two loving and committed badass ladies and it’s beautiful.
I MAY BE FADING AWAY LIKE MY OWN STAR SEED HAS BEEN RIPPED OUT BUT I DID IT. Three posts, one each for Ami, Minako, and Mako. Almost three thousand words. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more, girls. Please believe me that I wanted to. I hope the ones that i could give you reflect how very much I love you.
I’m going to bed now. I hope to feel better tomorrow. I NEED to feel better tomorrow.
It’s Rei tomorrow.
As I am an actual mess in every possible emotional sense, I can’t rewatch it right now. Still, I want to prepare us all, so I let it run for a couple of seconds.
I’ll talk about this more later (OH SHALL I), but just. The way they did this.
Usagi’s face. The way her eyes never leave Rei. How I’m guessing they haven’t since the moment she unclenched them after realizing she hadn’t been hit and learned why. The way she sets Chibi-Chibi aside, just forgetting about her completely. The way she creeps forward as her eyes well up with tears, hoping that everything she knows is true is wrong.
Michiru doesn’t answer if she’s scared. But at the same time, she does. Everything here answers that question.
We’re down to words now, so let’s savour them. Like how Michiru begins with saying Haruka’s name.
She doesn’t have to. Haruka just asked her a question. Michiru knows Haruka is there. Michiru doesn’t have to say it, which means Michiru WANTS to say it.
For herself. Michiru is an artist, she works in details. She wants to remember how it feels, how the light pressure builds in the center of her throat, how her lips angle together, how her tongue flicks against her teeth. She wants Haruka to remember how it sounds, the syllables both soft and sharp and hers. She wants Haruka to remember how it sounds when SHE says it. No one else will ever say Haruka’s name where she can hear it; that privilege belongs to Michiru alone.
Haruka responds. It’s soft, inquisitive. maybe a little urgent. Their time is short, but if Michiru needs anything at all, Haruka wants to know. They’re disintegrating feet apart, unable to see each other, and Haruka has no idea what she can possible do. But all Michiru has to do is ask. Haruka wants to know. One final MISSION, perhaps.
The way Michiru says “I want to touch you, Haruka.” (there’s the name again) is actually heartbreaking. The delivery is so perfect, filled with a mix of emotions that are particularly gut punching because we never get to hear them from Michiru.
There’s the fear that Haruka was asking about. For dying? Maybe. But I think more for the idea of dying without getting that last touch. And I want to take a second to dwell on that, because it’s not just Michiru asking for goodbye glass of chardonnay (OR SOME FANCY WINE I DON’T KNOW). You could argue that it’s impossible for either Haruka or Michiru to be vulnerable than they are right now, but you’d be wrong. Michiru could choose to die wrapped in the biting self-control in which she lived, but she isn’t. She’s expressing a need to Haruka, a need for connection, a need for comfort, a need for HER. Michiru is risking spending her final moments in rejection, AND SHE WOULD NOT BE WRONG FOR BEING AFRAID OF THIS.
Which is, no question, the parallel this moment is drawing.
As Haruka and Michiru last faced their deaths together before entering Marine Cathedral, Michiru reached out to Haruka for comfort and Haruka turned it aside saying “It’s too late for that.”
Now, far more than then, it’s too late for that. Michiru is exposing so much more of herself than mere death by asking this of Haruka By asking nearly the impossible of her. But it’s something she needs, desperately, and if maybe it’s a little selfish too (after all, Haruka could fail at the very last thing someone asked of her) well, Michiru’s owned her selfishness to this point, why stop now.
And then what runs a close second to my favourite part, because for a second, nothing happens. Michiru’s already moved, she’s already trying. But Haruka just lies still.
I didn’t think there was an actual chance she would say no, but the pause leaves such a delicious opening. Is Haruka remembering those times she pulled away? Is she regretting them? Is she trying to figure out what she can do to make this last wish of Michiru’s come true? Is her head filled with images of herself finding a last burst of strength so she could shoot to her feet and scoop Michiru into her arms, and if they must die, let it be wrapped around each other. She can do that, surely. Love is everything, after all. Is she realizing she can’t? Is she facing yet another failure in an ocean of failure? This one with an extra sting, perhaps, because it’s what Michiru needs, and Haruka can hear that need plain in her voice, but there’s nothing she can do.
Or maybe it’s just Haruka finding the strength. After turning her head and the shuffle she was able to make, she’s just on empty. But she has to find more. Haruka’s given absolutely everything, but because Michiru’s asked for this one small thing, she has to find more.
However you read that pause, the remains that Haruka DOES.
It’s the tiniest gesture, but given everything they’ve been through and how far they’ve come, it feels like victory.
This is the only time Rei fades in the entire scene. She’s without her Star Seed, but still she refuses to go slowly. Rei doesn’t just resist death, she demands that she remain whole, a solid and full presence until the second of her death. Every moment she’s alive, Rei is never anything less than herself. To the very end, Rei is fully and completely 100% Rei Hino.
Of course this is less comforting in a minute. OOPS. I wonder what Rei would’ve said if she’d known. Evoke the Outers maybe? YOU KNOW HOW CUDDLY THEY ARE
“Usagi, don’t forget, you have Michiru.”
Usagi just staring at Rei like
Rei shifts her gaze uncomfortably and fades away a little faster.
SEE IF I’M LAUGHING I’M NOT CRYING
Not that this line gets me too badly. It’s actually the only one that doesn’t completely work for me. Interestingly, it serves a similar function as Rei’s line about Yuuichiro at D-Point. In both cases, they don’t fit their moment, and that’s because they’re laying groundwork for a different moment entirely. At D-Point, it was so Rei’s last words would echo with Usagi, stopping her from kissing Mamoru before she went to fight Beryl (which I adore, so I suffer the clunkiness of the set-up, though I think Usagi’s decision would’ve worked without being specifically pre-established). Here, it’s to remind the audience that Usagi and Rei (and we) think Mamoru is still around, so when it’s revealed he’s dead, it’ll be (ostensibly) an even more devastating blow. Again though, I don’t think the reminder really needed reminding since it’s been reinforced all season.
So this line just kind of sits there, not feeling very natural, PARTICULARLY because it’s coming from Rei, in the wake of her confronting Usagi and the big reveal that she hasn’t heard from Mamoru at all. The last we heard of the Senshi discussing Mamoru, Ami confirmed that he’d never arrived at the university. That doesn’t exactly lead to the conclusion Rei’s going for right now.
Still, there’s some wiggle room with it. What Rei wants to give Usagi more than anything else is determination. Rei wants to be as certain as she can be that Usagi won’t give up, she needs to give her anything she possibly can to cling to. And it’s kind of great that Rei dangles Mamoru in front of Usagi, in a way. Beyond anything else, Usagi responds REALLY WELL to reward-based structures, so I’m faintly amused that even now, Rei’s relying on what works.
Mostly though, what breaks me here is Rei slipping in one last “idiot”. Said in the most loving way with the saddest smile on her face at how silly Usagi still insists on being. So many people love you, Usagi. Don’t you know by now you’ll never be alone?
Rei’s in so much pain, she’s got to be so tired and hurting. And fucking scared, she’s sixteen years old and DYING. But she hears Usagi being afraid of being alone and all she can do is give her that look, filled with such love, and calling her the same familiar thing she’s been calling her since their beginning. It was a harsher word then, spat in frustration and intended to sting. It’s a caress now, a term of endearment, meant to soothe with comforting familiarity. And that moment exists for Rei and Usagi both, a final memory they share.