Some General Thoughts While Re-Reading Sailor Moon

sailor moon manga image nakayoshi 1993

I haven’t been watching much anime of late as I simply haven’t had much opportunity to do so – my internet connection currently is such that streaming is simply not possible, ditto for torrenting. So it goes! I did just start the first Another light novel, which I really hope is either as ridiculous and glorious as the TV series was, or, y’know, actually creepy. And I have been slowly working my way through Sailor Moon R (first time ever watching it subbed!) as well as Princess Nine. But, well, overall it seems like I’m poised to expelled from the weeb-lyfe ranks, no longer permitted to tread its hallowed halls! Good thing I’ll still have Sailor Moon, though.

When the Sailor Moon manga was re-released in North America, I bought the first volume in-store not necessarily because I felt inclined to re-read it, but more because I wanted to support it. So while I picked up the second volume of Codename Sailor V when it was published, I’ll admit that I didn’t do so with Sailor Moon. I’d enjoyed the series when I was much younger, inconsistent and tiny “Mixx” editions and all, but it wasn’t something I really felt like re-visiting; my general sense was that it was the sort of thing that if I returned to would only prove tiresome to me now, something that has been the case with other franchises of my youth (the first season of Digimon stands out in particular as a show I find disappointingly dull now). So, there it sat for a couple of months on my shelf, unread. Gee, Kodansha USA’s release sure looked nice! Oh, hey, the latest copy of Twin Spica, yes!

I finally did get around to reading it, although it was over a year before I ended up picking up subsequent volumes, and it took a re-re-read of the first volume before I did so. Maybe thoughts about the new series coming along nudged me toward it. Or, more likely, my decision to re-watch some of the anime, itself brought on by the pending series, brought me there. So I picked up that second volume, Sailor Mercury gazing out gracefully at me, and even grabbed volume three, with fiery Sailor Mars splashed on a white background, and then… well, I’ve got up to volume six now, and just read all of five this morning since I finally got a day off, so I guess we’re going strong.

In the past, I’ve honestly always preferred the anime slightly to the manga – I liked the expanded storyline since, although there were some totally awful filler episodes, it gave us more time with and more fleshing out of the supporting cast. But I’m realizing that part of why I probably liked that is that I had more experience watching the anime, and being around anime!Usagi – who is AWFUL about two-thirds of the time in the first two seasons – and I didn’t like her at all. So of course I liked seeing more of the supporting cast! Although I still chafe pretty hard at the fact that Usagi basically gets to have everything while none of the other girls do, and the other girls end up giving up their dreams because ancient royalty. But, hey, I’m an American! Of course I’m not gonna roll terribly well with monarchies! (When Chibi-Usa’s identity is revealed, she states that she’s used to being treated with more deference because she’s a princess, implying that she should be treated that way because she’s a princess, and I just wanted to reach into the pages and give her a good spanking.)

But, I digress slightly – the point is, I think I prefer the manga now. I do like that the anime lets us spend more time with the others, but so many of the more obnoxious elements from the anime simply don’t exist. (I think the only sticking point I have left is that the enemies in the anime are generally more complex and likable – in particular, Sailor Moon R’s Black Moon Clan is just a lot more fun to watch than their manga counterparts, largely because many of them end up being semi to wholly-tragic figures.) Rei and Usagi will have spats from time to time, but its never so much that one genuinely can’t understand how the two can be considered friends. Minako has some flakier moments, but you’re not left scratching your head over her having been a crime fighter of her very own prior to joining up with the rest. And Makoto isn’t saying every three seconds, “He looks just like my old senpai!”

Oh, yeah, and as I said before, Usagi’s a hell of a lot gayer. Which, again, is reallllly exciting to me, even though she does date a guy throughout the whole thing and, yes, is destined to end up with him. Actually, thinking on Usagi, her story is pretty great – she starts off as fairly unremarkable, but slowly matures and strengthens over the course of the series, gets the handsome, wonderful guy, has a group of incredibly supportive friends, and gets to be queen of the whole damn world. Given how much of popular fiction is given over to indicating or directly telling little girls that their role is to be rescued from the bad guys or to stand around looking worried while their man saves the world, Sailor Moon is one hell of a powerful message. I think some would quibble about Usagi having a boyfriend the whole time, questioning how “feminist” that aspect truly is, but I would argue that one of the things at work here isn’t that Usagi needs a boyfriend, but instead that you don’t have to go become a helpless damsel if you have a boyfriend, or that you can’t have one if you’re powerful and capable of protecting yourself and the entire world. And one of the undercurrents in the manga through the first two arcs is that Mamoru has to come to accept that Usagi is much more powerful than he is, that he can be there to assist her, but that he isn’t capable of saving her. (By the way, though, Mamoru is a lot more useful in the manga than in the anime – it isn’t just tossing of roses for him with pithy one-liners of encouragement, he actually has a couple of attacks and possesses healing powers and psychometry. The party member who is the healer is the dude!)

More generally, by the way, the explicit “girlyness” of Sailor Moon is absolutely indicative that one doesn’t have to be “manly” to be a hero. And in case it comes across as a necessity for girls to always be “cute”, Haruka might have a sailor suit on as Sailor Uranus, but she flips the bird at this idea otherwise. Ditto for the Sailor Starlights, merrily cross-dressing away in the manga when not in battle.

Getting back more specifically to the manga, I do like that we have civilian friends of the senshi noting that they realize something is up. Its very brief, but it feels a lot more realistic than having the friends be totally oblivious… I mean, running off to fight evil all the time doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing one could keep completely under-wraps from close friends – they’re going to realize that something is going on, even if they don’t manage to catch quite what is. And big bonus points for Motoki actually KNOWING that the girls are the senshi and that there’s a secret command center beneath the arcade.

I know there were other things I wanted to say, but I’ve forgotten them! D= But, hey, that’s ok – the beauty of having a blog is that you can gasbag whenever you feel so inclined, so I’ll just have to get back to you when I recall it… for now, its time for me to start digging into the Death Busters arc – I am very excited for Haruka~

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3 Responses to Some General Thoughts While Re-Reading Sailor Moon

  1. Stef says:

    Gayer than Haruka explicitly making a move on Usagi and her not disliking it? Surely you jest!

    In the anime at the end of the Black Moon arc, Naru figures out that Usagi’s involved in the crazy shit that’s happening. It’s not explicit if she knows she’s Sailor Moon though, and it’s never brought up again. It does take a gajillion energy stealing attempts on Naru for her to connect the dots however. She’s such a cosmic target.

    And yeah, Haruka supplanted Ami as my favourite character. Sorry Ami, but Haruka’s haircut is just better than your’s. That and she has more to say than “let’s study!” I’ll still love you though.

  2. Leah says:

    Great piece! I’m really looking forward to the reboot, too.

  3. Pingback: Gender Reader: April 2013, #1 | The Lobster Dance

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