The episode opens with Usagi and Chibiusa in a bookstore, where Chibiusa manages to get Usagi to buy a book for her that is full of illustrations of flowers and fairies. Absorbed in it as they walk home, she walks into a man who himself is equally absorbed in drawing. It turns out that this man, Kitakata, is the author of the book, and in the course of their conversation, he admits that if he ever married, he’d want to marry a fairy-like woman. Elsewhere, Tiger’s Eye and Hawk’s Eye are grousing over their pile of potential targets, but Fisheye surprises them by admiring one of the photos; they then realize that it is of a man, and the audience sees Kitakata pictured. Fisheye approaches Kitakata in the guise of a “fairy”, and the man is quickly infatuated. However, the jig is up when Fisheye accidentally crushes a flower and doesn’t react how Kitakata thinks “she” should, so Fisheye attacks him. Usagi and Chibiusa are close at hand, and they dispatch the Lemures with little problem. Kitakata awakens and it becomes clear that he was somehow aware of the battle which went on while he was unconscious, although he says he saw “fairies”; Chibiusa tells him she believes in the fairies that he believes in.
Wow! There is a lot to talk about with this episode! So much so that I feel at ease handling the sexism of Tiger’s Eye and Hawk’s Eye in only a couple of lines. They end up arguing over whether younger or older women are better, and end up using an analogy of fruit to support their respective arguments (fruit is sweetest right before it rots vs. fruit is best when it’s fresh) – blah blah blah reducing women to objects. Their arguments anyway are both solely along the lines of things like their physical beauty and their wallets, not their personality or character, but, again, nothing new.
Into this comes Fisheye. What *is* surprising is that neither TE or HE had realized that Fisheye is into men – Fisheye doesn’t make any bones about his interest in Kitakata, so it doesn’t seem he’s been secretive about that, and he’s also pretty emphatically refused to take part in the two others’ weekly hunt for women. TE does remark that he had wondered about Fisheye, but it’s clear that neither he nor HE had actually fully cottoned on to it.
Fisheye remarks, “I wonder what sort of girl he likes?”, and HE states that they’re all boys. Fisheye doesn’t deny this, but crossdresses when he appears before Kitakata. And this is, I think, where things get complicated from an analytical standpoint.
So, first of all, anime!Fisheye is a man. This episode willfully muddies the waters, as it raises the question of his gender by drawing attention to his gender with both HE’s remark and Fisheye’s own, and then later features a shower scene where suds completely cover his chest area and nothing is shown below the waist. However, all the official material for the anime explicitly identifies Fisheye as a man. I am taking the time to spell this out as I’m not interested in re-engaging very old fan theories, in part because to do so would prevent me from actually addressing the reality of how Fisheye is portrayed and characterized within the show, specifically as regards his habit of crossdressing to deceive his targets. Yes, the anime does want to make us wonder a bit, and I think that that, too, is worth talking about, but I don’t want to get bogged into a question that is already answered.
However! I will note that in the manga, things are far, far less clear. Fisheye appears to be biologically male, and uses male personal pronouns, but in associated material, Naoko Takeuchi describes him as the “ball-balancing girl (???)” for the Dead Moon Circus, and notes that he wants to be the “best ball-balancing girl (!!) in the world”. (By the way, it has nothing to do with gender, but Fisheye doesn’t have a demonstrated interest in men in the manga – he does try to seduce Ami, though.) Perhaps interestingly, Hawk’s Eye also is a bit ambiguous in this regard, as Takeuchi notes that his own dream job would be as a bar madam in Ginza or Las Vegas, and he disguises himself as a woman when he approaches Makoto as a target. But, of course, I’m concerned with the anime, not the manga.
Ok! So, back to the anime and Fisheye’s crossdressing! There’s a LOT to chew on here. On the one hand, Fisheye disguising himself as a woman to go after a heterosexual man conjures up the trans- and homophobic canard about transwomen as being predators who trick heterosexual cismen into thinking that they’re “real” women – the whole “men in dresses” nonsense. On the other hand, well, is it really that different from what Hawk’s Eye and Tiger’s Eye have been doing in pretending to be the sorts of men they think their targets will be weak to? In a vacuum – no. But we don’t live in a vacuum, and this show wasn’t made in one, so one does have to consider it in light of widespread homophobia and transphobia in society. And in that light, Fisheye’s preferred methods are quite problematic.
Even acknowledging the problems with Fisheye’s depiction, though, I’ll admit that I *like* Fisheye. He comes off as much more potentially sympathetic than do either HE or TE, in part because he seems genuinely infatuated with Kitakata, and also interested in spending time with Kitakata while doing things Kitakata enjoys. Ultimately, for Fisheye, it doesn’t seem like the cold calculus game that HE and TE go in for. Where TE and HE tend to start getting impatient with their targets, FE doesn’t, and only shifts his attitude and reveals his true nature when Kitakata gets upset over the crushed flower.
By the way, the crushed flower – if anything, Kitakata’s the one who seems unreasonable when the confrontation comes. He goes from discussing bringing Fisheye to meet his parents and the idea of marrying Fisheye to “You’re dead to me.” in the space of about a minute. And it’s all because Fisheye is worried about his dress being stained instead of in utter devastation over the flower. Fisheye might be the bad guy, but between this and babbling about getting married during a second “date”, Kitakata comes off looking like a finicky weirdo.
Actually, speaking of marriage, there’s one big change between now and the mid-90’s in shoujo series – there just isn’t this same monomania about marriage going on. For all that Sailor Moon was pretty progressive in many ways, it feels like marriage as a concept is never very far away in the show. Of course, this may be a bit inevitable given that two of our main girls have as their primary goal that of being a bride (Usagi and Makoto, for the record; in the anime, Rei does express a desire to get married on more than one occasion, but its not her primary goal). Whenever it comes up, the show feels very dated.
Some additional asides:
- Just to toss even more queerness into the mix, TE and HE both get flustered and red-faced while watching Fisheye apply make-up.
- Would I be reading too much into things if I wondered about Fisheye’s introduction as an active participant in the Pegasus hunt in an episode which is focused around a guy’s interest in fairies? It could be a coincidence… but I’m not wholly convinced there wasn’t a subtle joke at play here. It’s the sort of thing I could see Ikuhara pulling.
Next week we’re back to our boring heterosexuals, as Hawk’s Eye steps up to the plate. I might feel uneasy about Fisheye’s crossdressing, but I do think it presents more to dig into at this point than more go-rounds with our PUA bros.