The Spirit That Haunts My Fanhood: Sailor Moon

Or it could be a zombie, since it just keeps coming back.

Like many of anime fans of my age, it all began for me with Sailor Moon, back when I was in elementary school and would wake up early solely for the sake of catching an episode of Sailor Moon before I had to go to school (Samurai Pizza Cats ran right after, and I soon added that to my morning viewing). I was only seven years old at the time, and would beg my parents to go to the local Blockbuster so I could rent the video tapes and re-watch favorite episodes as well as watching ones I’d managed to miss. The day that the Sailor Moon movies surfaced on the shelves was an exciting one, in part due to the fact that I had not been expecting it – these were the very early days of the internet, and I was also very young; I did not track release dates for things as I do now.

Of course, there was also the very simple fact that it took me a while to catch on to the fact that Sailor Moon was a Japanese cartoon. Hilariously enough, the presence of Tokyo Tower in the show led me to believe that the action was taking place in Paris. It was a while before I worked that one out!

Throughout the remainder of elementary school, I sort of drifted in and out of Sailor Moon fanhood. The switch of the show from daily airings to 6 a.m. Sunday for the first two seasons, as well as the fact that Sailor Moon S, the third season, was airing exclusively on Cartoon Network, a channel not available in my house, discouraged my avid viewing. It wasn’t until I met a fellow would-be fan and DVD copies of Sailor Moon S began to appear in that same Blockbuster. I’d finally fully stepped into the general anime fandom toward the beginning of middle school, with Pokemon as my springboard, so it only made sense that my love for Sailor Moon would re-surface more strongly.

When Cartoon Network came to my television, I dutifully began to follow Sailor Moon S from the point at which I’d watch the DVD’s to. Sailor Moon SuperS I saw from beginning to end in its first run in the Toonami block; I distinctly recall being irritated with a relative for stopping by unannounced while I was watching the last episode of that season.

On the manga side, I picked up volumes here and there, although my selection was rather random. Only two of the volumes were consecutive; it seems I may have been splitting purchasing duties with the aforementioned friend, but I really can’t remember. But I bought them early enough that the spine is labeled “Mixx” and not “Tokyopop” as that company would later become.

With the conclusion of Sailor Moon SuperS on TV, I began to lapse as a fan. Sailor Moon Sailor Stars was never going to get released in the U.S., at least not then, and I knew it full well. Digital fansubs were not common yet, and I didn’t even know what they were yet. I poked around fansub groups’ websites, examining price charts for having them record their fansubbed episodes to VHS or burn it to CD’s, but I had an allowance of $8 a week and those ideas went nowhere.

I later picked up ADV’s box of season one in a sale on Rightstuf for $50 (original price was $150), and I watched it all the way through, but my overall interest had faded. I still considered myself a fan, but the franchise became a backdrop for my anime fandom more than something I was still crazy about.

With the news of Kodansha’s intent to release the Sailor Moon and Sailor V manga in the United States, I initially had planned only to pick up Codename Sailor V, as I had only read a few chapters before in that awkward pre-scanlation method of scanned pages on one window, translation on the other. I will freely admit at this point that my interest in magical girl shows and manga is fairly low as most ascribe to the monster-of-the-week format and offer little else (this is why I still enjoy things like CardCaptor Sakura, though, as while it is monster-of-the-week-ish, it also is very much character-driven and spends more time on developing the characters and their relationships than it does on the cards themselves). I loved this format when I was younger, but now it seems dull.

And, yet, when I walked in the bookstore, and looked at the fresh copies of Codename Sailor V on the shelves, I couldn’t help but notice the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon copies which sat right next to them. I looked at the cover for a moment, hesitating, and then grabbed it, too. Sure, the Sailor Moon anime couldn’t hold my attention any more, but the manga lacked all that filler and hadn’t been quite as formulaic from chapter-to-chapter… if I was going to re-visit the franchise at all, didn’t it make sense to do it this way?

As an aside, the differences between the Codename Sailor V Vol. 1 and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 1 covers are really fascinating. The Sailor Moon cover has a pink background with soft white spheres with Sailor Moon in a subdued version of her trademark pose, her skirt puffed up slightly. The logo is rendered in curly, rounded lettering. The Sailor V cover, on the other hand, has a mostly blue background with sharp lines emanating out from Sailor V. The lines serve to make it appear as if Sailor V is thrusting out her peace sign toward the audience, while simultaneously launching one of her attacks, crescents flying at the reader. The title is partly done in the same lettering as the Sailor Moon cover, but the ‘V’ is double the size ofeverything else and is done in a jagged font.

Although, really, it isn’t an aside, because, in truth, I didn’t only intend to buy Codename Sailor V because I’d never gotten to read much of it, but also since I find Sailor V/Minako to be a much more engaging character than I find Sailor Moon/Usagi. They are similar characters in that they are both blonde, blue-eyed, and not particularly bright. However, Minako isn’t a total loss, as she is very athletic. And while it is unfortunate that she dreams of being an idol (although, in her defense, that wasn’t as cliched then as it has become!), it ranks leagues ahead of Usagi’s sole goal, which is to be a bride. Minako is also more level-headed and adjusts to her situation more quickly; we are spared the misfortune of having to see another girl cry her eyes out in the face of monsters and have to be rescued by some guy in a mask. And although Minako is just as unenthusiastic about fighting the shadowy forces of the universe, she takes to low-level superhero antics quickly, and to the frustration of her mascot familiar, Artemis, who just wants her to fight the other-worldly types and leave bullying and stealing matters to the police.

But, hey, I bought both, and I’ve decided to follow them both to their conclusion (which, for Codename Sailor V, is regrettably one volume away!). After about five years of just having Sailor Moon sort of lurking around the background, its weird to return to it again, but it feels comfortable, too. I’ve even found myself slowly slipping toward following things like Sailor Moon tumblrs and idly checking Ebay for merchandise (I was shocked to discover that there are barely any Sailor Moon alarm clocks on there any more; they used to have pages of just those alone!). And, then, a thought sneaked into my mind the other day – cosplay? Hmm…

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5 Responses to The Spirit That Haunts My Fanhood: Sailor Moon

  1. ajthefourth says:

    Although I am a bit older than you (so it was junior high initially for me), I was introduced to Sailor Moon in the same way. I also have a mish-mash of Mixx/Tokyopop releases that are volumes 1,3,4,6, then 1,2,4 of SuperS, and the first volume of SailorStars (which although it’s the most maligned season, is probably my favorite of the television series, we’ll see about the manga). I can’t wait to actually have a decent set of the entire series. ^ ^

    Anyway, thanks for this article. You’re not the only one reliving your childhood a bit!

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I’m not sure about Stars being the most maligned – I think that prize goes to SuperS for having the silliest tone on a weekly basis and also for not actually taking care of the villain of the season. I believe SuperS had the lowest ratings of all the seasons.

      I think that in the grand scheme of things for the anime, though, Stars was problematic because it introduced a much more plausible love interest for Usagi than Mamoru. I’ll have to re-read more of the manga before committing to this fully, but the manga does make a much more persuasive case for Usagi and Mamoru as a couple than the anime does.

      Glad you enjoyed!

  2. V says:

    You’re so lucky, having the Mixx volumes… I could never find them, and I’m such a massive fan of Sailor Moon that I almost considered ordering those old out of print volumes off Amazon for £20~£50 per volume.

    Thank the gods for the Kodansha re-release, I resorted to reading the entire manga online and it is now definitely one of my favourite manga. 😀

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Yeah, you’re much better off with the Kodansha releases. The only thing that Mixx/Tokyopop did better on was the paper quality, honestly, but that’s pretty minor. I’m so glad you didn’t bite the bullet and unload £50 for any of those!

  3. glothelegend says:

    I used to watch Sailor Moon on toonami. I should say, my sister was the one that watched it, and Dragonball Z was on after (the show I wanted to watch), so I kinda just sat through the show to watch DBZ. But I did secretly sort of enjoy it. I’ve debated picking it up, but I’m pretty convinced that will never happen.

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