Sailor Moon SuperS episodes 156 and 157 were added to Hulu and Neon Alley this morning. This week’s episodes are all about Chibiusa as she befriends a starving artist and a kid who has a dream of making a flying bike.
Episode 156, Don’t Lose Sight of Your Dreams: the Mirror of Truth, is all about starving artists. Literally. Chibiusa makes a painting of Usagi, but Usagi doesn’t think it’s as pretty as her. This sheds light on what this episode tries to tell us is a common problem with artists as we meet Kamoi, who has the same problem with all of his clients. He makes extremely accurate portraits of his clients but they are all upset, wanting him to make them prettier than they really are! Usagi and Chibiusa feed Kamoi because he is literally starving, letting his artistic integrity get in the way of profits. Enter CereCere, who is apparently interested not only in finding pure hearts but also in corrupting them. She offers to fund Kamoi if he paints her in a flattering way, which he reluctantly agrees to. There’s a fight and then Kamoi gets his groove back, pledging to always be honest in his work. Once Chibiusa has completed her portrait of Usagi, Kamoi asks her what the work is titled. In a rare moment of insight into Chibiusa and Usagi’s real relationship she reveals that she has named it “The Person I Most Admire”.
Episode 157, Pegasus Disappears: Wavering Friendship, explores the plausibility of a flying bike! Now I know this is a show about magical girls who defy science and logic at every turn, but I just can’t get my mind around the physics of this flying bike. Young Hiroki basically is trying to construct a bike which is all pimped out with wings which will fly. This isn’t working because you can’t really make a bicycle fly. Kyuusuke, who is always kind of a jerk, plainly states that what he is doing is impossible. His evidence is simply that if bikes could fly there would be flying bikes all over the sky! This is actually a pretty decent point. The best evidence that bikes can’t fly isn’t so much an in depth exploration of the physics involved but rather the realization that in about 200 years of bicycles and 100 years of planes we don’t have flying bikes. This isn’t the FAA keeping the little man down. It’s just incredibly impractical. This said what Hiroki is trying to do with his machine, the St. Louis, is actually more of a glider. He’s not going full tilt on a flat surface trying to get some lift. He’s speeding down a hill and off a cliff trying to glide. Gliders exist so from that point of view what he’s doing isn’t total nonsense. Ultimately, with Kyuusuke’s help, Hiroki is able to get the St. Louis off the ground. A bit far fetched, but he’s not exactly propelling himself indefinitely in the sky with this thing. It’s likely that, moments after we see Hiroki and Kyuusuke flying off into the horizon, they would quickly lose altitude and crash very hard, perhaps into a the side of a building or into a busy street, destroying the St. Louis and breaking a few bones in the process. But this is a show about girls with super powers fighting monsters so maybe not.
I did a bit of research to see if there were any real flying bicycles. One can find a lot of images of people on the ground with flying bikes, but none of them soaring through the skies. The video embedded below shows what such a device is like. It’s much more light weight than the St. Louis with a much larger wing span and manages to get airborne for only a few seconds. Still it is a bike and it flies, so the concept is not total nonsense. Don’t expect to be flying to and from work every day without some external power source though.
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