All caught up with the Sailor Business podcast. They get better about doing research as it goes on! Plus, by now they have a large-enough listener base that a lot of solid, deep information is being called/sent in. Good stuff. Very listenable.
Followed a rec from one of their episodes to the Love and Justice podcast, where the shtick is that they compare plots across all the different versions. Starting with the Crystal episodes.
I did wince when they got to Ami's introduction, and were confused that the manga was "more modern" than the '92 anime, because she uses a CD instead of a floppy. Guys, your whole thing is comparing different versions, and you don't realize the manga had two different releases? (Well, three at this point, but the uber-high-quality edition hasn't been released stateside.) The version used for the Kodansha translations has a whole lot of updated art, most of which involves fixing wonky figures and adding more details, some of which involves the Dark Kingdom tech getting an upgrade.
Again, it's still early episodes, and fun enough that I'm sticking with it. Hopefully someone eventually clues them in.
I ended up writing a long thing to Sailor Business, because they've been really doing a disservice to Michiru's character. And apparently I have a lot more Feelings about her than I realized.
Context: They just passed the two-parter where Usagi is a daimon target. Before Uranus and Neptune arrive on-scene, Michiru asks Haruka if she's really okay with the possibility of that cute girl being sacrificed. Haruka, stoically, insists that she's fine. They gotta do what they gotta do.
...So our hosts keep saying Michiru is "passive" or "go along to get along." Because Haruka is the more overtly loud and confrontational one...and that means Michiru is just following her lead, taking cues from her.
But now they've seen Michiru's episode with Ami -- she didn't waver or wait for direction, she went straight for the jugular. And that's a microcosm of how she's approaching the whole quest: do something ruthless and cruel in the short term (pulling no punches with Ami/killing the Talisman holders) for the sake of a greater good in the long term (making Ami stronger/saving the world).
There's an old butch-femme trope/cliche, that femmes are "steel wrapped in velvet," and that's Michiru. On the surface she's all soft graceful feminine hobbies, but underneath she's perfectly capable of knifing you in your sleep.
The flip side of the trope is that butches are "velvet wrapped in steel," i.e. Haruka has a tough exterior but is a marshmallow underneath. Which lines right up with the podcast's favorite relationship trope -- "which of these people is the dog, and which is the cat?" Haruka is the dog! She barks really loud, but she's a sucker for belly rubs. She yells a lot about how they have to kill the Talisman holders, to cover the fact that she's the one who wrestles with it most in private.
Michiru handles the idea much better. Michiru is the cat who will knock all your stuff onto the floor, and look you in the eye while she's doing it, with zero remorse. Michiru is the senshi who would win Most Likely To Become A Supervillain -- not from brainwashing/hypnosis, we already know who's most likely to go through that, but based on her own personality and for her own reasons.
So when Michiru asks Haruka if she's okay with killing that cute innocent Usagi to save the world, there are two things going on here.
First is basically a supervillainy spot-check. Michiru knows it makes sense to her to kill a few people for the Greater Good, but is that really the moral strategy, or just the most coldly efficient one? Well, Haruka wouldn't be capable of doing this for the sake of cold efficiency alone. So Michiru can reliably calibrate her moral compass by Haruka.
The second angle is Michiru being a concerned girlfriend. What if they get the Talismans and save the world, but afterward Haruka can't handle the guilt? What if she has lifelong nightmares about Usagi's death?
We don't see what would have happened if Haruka had broken down and said "no, I'm sorry, this is too much, I can't go through with it." So different viewers can have different interpretations. My guess is that Michiru would say "it's okay, sweetie, you don't have to, we'll find another way"...and then send Haruka home and go to Tokyo Tower on her own, making herself solely responsible for whatever happens to any Talisman-holders who show up.
Because sacrificing three lives for the sake of the world is one thing, but making Haruka feel bad about herself? That's a bridge too far.
So, yeah, ruthless...but also, to be fair, a teenage girl in a traumatic situation. Part of the way she's handling it is by telling herself, "look, I know I'm not a Good Person. A good person wouldn't be this resigned to murdering three innocent people. But at least I can protect Haruka's soul from being crushed along the way. I still get to draw the line somewhere, and I choose here."
It takes another level in heart-rending when (and wow, I am looking forward to these episodes) you find out that Haruka got into the senshi game for Michiru. She told Haruka not to do it -- trying to protect her, although at that point it was in an impersonal, "nobody should have to deal with this stress" way -- and maybe Haruka would've listened, except then Sailor Neptune got in a monster fight she was going to lose without Sailor Uranus as backup.
So on some level Michiru is trying to atone for not being strong enough to keep this cute girl out of the fight.
...and you know, this makes it all the more satisfying when we get to that one SuperS special. A minor antagonist claims he has world-destroying powers, but Uranus and Neptune aren't intimidated by that threat anymore. And Neptune cheerfully leans into her ruthlessness -- she's 100% bluffing, but she's very good. Terrifies the pants off the guy. She has the power to simultaneously be a Big Damn Hero and out-villain the villains.
(Would you believe it, when I was a teenager, Michiru was the senshi I was least interested in? No, really. Even accounting for the context of her relationship with Haruka, who is probably my team-wide fave, I was not expecting to have this many Michiru feelings. But someone was Wrong On The Internet, and bam, here we are.)