Sailor Moon and All That: A Long and Winding Post About Sailor Moon

sailor moon first season

Here, there, and everywhere. Also: a message to anyone bitching that Sailor Moon MUST appeal to dudes or it’ll just suck and no one will watch it.

I keep going back and forth about writing this post, because there is so much I have to say on this front. In fact, this is why I never got around to posting when the new Sailor Moon anime was first announced, because, well, where to begin? Sure, I could’ve just left it at, “Wow, can’t believe this is happening and wicked excited about it!”, but, actually, there’s no way I could’ve stuck to that. So I kept mum… but I was wicked excited. At the same time, it was announced a year ahead, so it faded out of my mind after a while, particularly so because so few details had been made available. Even now we still don’t know much, other than that Momoiro Clover Z is doing the OP and that it airs this coming summer. The rest is basically rumors and hearsay. Its easy to forget something when there’s so little to go on.

However, I recently began re-watching Sailor Moon R (in Japanese for the first time! and first time in, oh, eleven years or so). Its held up, for me, better than I was expecting, given my experiences more recently with trying to watch Heartcatch Pretty Cure; I figured that if I couldn’t really manage Sailor Moon’s most obvious descendant, I was doomed to find a re-watch of Sailor Moon R dull. But, surprisingly, twelve episodes in I’ve only skipped most of an episode once, an irritating and idiotic piece of fluff about Usagi and Mamoru caring for a stranger’s baby. And this was an anime-only arc! And there I was, suddenly chomping at the bit again for the new anime, wishing that time would hurry up and get us to the summer. (And, luckily for Kodansha, it prodded me to get back to buying those volumes of the manga to replace my old TokyoPop ones!)

At the same time, I’m kind of stunned with just how much of an idiot Usagi is in the anime. When I watched Sailor Moon as a kid, I fairly actively disliked her… and the fact is that “Serena” was one of the very few characters who was improved slightly by the DiC dub (everyone else was rendered meaner and dumber – see Rei in particular, who goes from being hard on Usagi to “wait, you’re her friend???” territory). Sure, Usagi matures over the seasons and is less stupid, but in these early days it really does beggar belief that she could possibly be a super-heroine. And, yes, we do see that she cares quite a bit about her friends, but her predilection for tears, whining, laziness, and brainlessness make it shocking that she could manage to be friends with any of the other members of the core cast, let alone that she’s dating a guy like Mamoru (although anime!Mamoru is pretty boring and Tuxedo Mask’s lines are really corny as hell… Moonlight Knight’s are somehow even worse).

Speaking of Usagi, Rei, and Mamoru, may as well hit up what I would like to see out of the new anime in terms of the characters:

  • Usagi more like her manga self; she starts out rather stupid in the manga, too, but she’s not nearly as aggressively idiotic and it comes off as much more to do with her age than with her innate abilities. Her serious side shows a lot sooner in the manga, too, so it doesn’t feel as weird to have her as the leader there. She’s also just flat-out more likable as a character overall. 
  • Mamoru more like his manga self! I still think he’s a bit boring, but he’s a lot more useful in the manga. What makes this more interesting, too, is that while he’s more useful, he takes on a role that is more traditionally feminine, as he has healing powers and can perform psychometry. (Fascinatingly, Naoko Takeuchi stated that she created Mamoru as her ideal of a man, but admitted that a lot of her friends complained that he was too much of a wuss! My taste in men definitely runs more to Takeuchi’s than her friends =P)
  • I’m getting a bit repetitive, but Rei more like her manga self; she’s the character who probably has the biggest change from manga to anime, as she goes from a fairly aloof young woman who has no interest in boys or romance to boy-crazy and hot-tempered. Rei does feud a bit with Usagi in the manga, but it isn’t to the extent her anime counterpart does. Let’s go with the more serious iteration, please.
  • Wrapping it up on the “more like the manga version!”, Minako. Its disorienting how quickly Minako goes from being the fairly mature, battle-hardened member of the group in the first season to totally ditzy and silly in Sailor Moon R. I understand that part of it was that she was a bit Mary Sue-ish in the first season, but the drastic change is very irritating. I’m ok with her being a little scatter-brained, but some moderation is needed here, since, honestly, first season Minako and from R on Minako are two different characters.
  • Please, please, please, please retain Michiru as the one who pursued Haruka. I love how that runs counter to the usual narrative for couples with a “butch” girl and a “femme” girl. Michiru gets to be elegant and feminine but doesn’t get stuck as “weak”. She wants her lady – she gets her lady!

I’m hoping that we’re either going to get a full re-imagining, or that we hop into the future and get to watch Sailor Chibi Moon and her crew in action (her supporting senshi are the former Amazoness Quartet, drawing their powers from the four biggest asteroids in the Asteroid Belt; this is excised from the anime, where the Amazoness Quartet members just become normal humans after being defeated). What I am not terribly interested in is just watching a more faithful adaptation of the ground the already-existent series has covered. At the same time, this seems the most likely for what we will get, since there was no announcement of new manga from Takeuchi. There could be such an announcement in the offing, but it would be odd if there were so and they didn’t announce it concurrently.

Of course, there’s also the option that Takeuchi could be just working directly on the anime itself without doing a manga, but given her irritation with many aspects of Toei’s adaptation, it’d be surprising to see her doing so. But! Takeuchi’s also in a much, much different place than she was when her manga became an anime; the franchise has basically been printing her money for twenty years now, and she’s a veteran manga author. She will have a lot more say this time around than she did back then (when she only ended up making Sailor Moon because her editors wanted her to take Codename Sailor V and make it more marketable by expanding the cast).

So, yeah, TL;DR we know nothing, please let it all be new material. And for the love of all things good and lovely, can we please cut the fatphobia? Whenever the dieting crap crops up, Sailor Moon feels ancient as hell.

In the meantime, I’m now thinking maybe I do want to re-watch S after all (I re-watched the first season twice in the past six years, so I don’t feel a need to re-visit that). And maybe I should finally watch Stars, that elusive season that never touched American shores (officially). SuperS can go jump off a bridge, though; I didn’t dislike it to the extent that a lot of folks have (in large part because I don’t hate Chibi-Usa), but it certainly is the weakest season (maybe because it was Kunihiko Ikuhara flipping off Toei for 39 episodes) and I feel no need to re-watch it. And I even got my hands on Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon for a watch! I don’t even like to watch J-Dramas! But I’m going to watch it anyway!

Even though I am skipping the first season, it is actually my favorite season (even though the Outer Senshi weren’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eyes yet!). To me, its the one that has the purest essence of the franchise, as its the season that is the premise stripped to its core. Season one is Sailor Moon before things got really complicated and the mythology spun to such grand ends that we find out that Usagi is queen of the entire earth someday. And, really, I like that – I like that in season one its a group of re-incarnated girls defeating an ancient evil. Sure, its a little disappointing that they forget it all in the end, but there’s just something about normal girls with normal lives stepping up to save the world. And, quite frankly, there’s something depressing about setting everyone up for a future in which Usagi gets to “have it all” while all of her friends are fated to just be her guard and not have their own lives. So much of what happens after for the personal development of the other girls is about them accepting that they won’t be able to pursue the dreams they had, and that really bothers me.

And this is what bugs me so much about the franchise – Usagi gets her dream guy, her dream comes true (her dream is listed as “to get married”), gets to have a daughter, and gets to be queen of the world. Basically, Usagi gets everything she wants, while everyone else, to varying extents, exists to protect her and support her. And this wouldn’t bother me so much if we didn’t watch the Inner Senshi in particular get excited about things they want to do with their lives and talk about what they want from life over the course of the anime and manga. Minako wants to be an idol. Ami wants to be a doctor. Makoto wants to be a housewife. And, yes, most of them want to have a boyfriend and get married someday.  We can see it all as about having to make sacrifices for the people we care about, and about how becoming an adult means giving some things up, but when its all countered by Usagi getting everything she wants, it really, really bugs me.

But I do still like the franchise. For all of its flaws, Sailor Moon was a gamechanger, and it was the starting point of my existence as an anime fan. Sailor Moon was, “Hey, what if YOU saved the world instead of your boyfriend doing it?”.

Speaking of, in my attempts to find more concrete info for the new series, I ended up trawling through blogs and forums quite a bit. One of the most hilarious and oft-repeated remarks I saw was that, well, in order for Sailor Moon to be any good or successful, it would OBVIOUSLY have to incorporate more “seinen and shounen” elements like Magi Puella Madoka Magica. This is funny since:

a. um, Pretty Cure???

b. these people have obviously never watched nor read Sailor Moon, since if they did they’d know that Sailor Moon incorporated a ton of shounen elements; Takeuchi changed the magical girl genre forever, taking it from a genre wherein girls had magic and used it for things like becoming an idol or for adventures with friends to it being largely a genre that was about girls being super-heroines who save the world

c. there is literally no way possible that this new anime won’t make a shit-ton of money; even if it isn’t very good, simply by dint of it being Sailor Moon, it will make a stupid amount of money – that’s what happens with 20+ year old franchises worth billions of yen

d. LOL Sailor Moon is for girls, dammit, don’t you have enough of your own magical girl shows?!?!?!

But, really, that last bit – there is absolutely an undercurrent of misogyny to this idea that Sailor Moon has to be more for dudes or it’ll just suck and no one will like it. Yeah, I know, I just said it took on a lot of shounen elements in the first place, but it was still aimed at girls. There are literally dozens of magical girl shows for dudes, from Nanatsuiro Drops to Moetan to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. You have your own crap, so leave my crap alone.

And, anyway, HELLOOOO Pretty Cure?! Pretty Cure was/is made for little girls. A huge portion of the fanbase is adult men. So, gee, hmm, somehow not having seinen elements hasn’t hurt it at all! (I may as well also add that from a commercial standpoint, Precure completely owns Madoka Magica, even with that ridiculous number of Blu-Rays sold by the latter.)

So, yes, stop whinging about wanting Sailor Moon to be more like magical girl shows for boys and men. It isn’t for boys and men. It is for girls. You are perfectly free to enjoy it still, but you cannot demand nor can you expect it to be tailored to your demographic.

Anyway, bros, I think I wanna wrap up here. I’ve pretty much exhausted what I have to say on the subject now, although I’m pretty certain that if you give me a couple of months I could definitely come up with another 2000+ words of my feelings on Sailor Moon.

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6 Responses to Sailor Moon and All That: A Long and Winding Post About Sailor Moon

  1. Oh man, I saw some of the live action Sailor Moon (the first three or four episodes) and it wasn’t good. I’ve been told by people who’ve seen the whole thing that the acting gets better as the show goes on but apparently the CGI remains terrible throughout.

  2. Foxy Lady Ayame says:

    100% agree with what you said. Additional wishes:
    – to have the last arc’s cool villains adapted (like sailor lethe and mnemosyne) and all the other elements that were unadapted 😛
    – to find a balance between the length and the plot. The manga felt too short for me. The anime too long but at least we got to see more of the sailor senshi besides Usagi

  3. I haven’t touched the anime of SM in sooo long..what a project.. rewatching this series.

  4. Cholisose says:

    I actually watched a few episodes of the original Sailor Moon just recently, since I had somehow missed out on it when I was younger. I was somewhat surprised to see just how goofy the whole thing was, but I suppose it wasn’t trying to be terribly serious for a kids’ show. And it’s perhaps more difficult to see the show’s significance now, twenty years after it aired and affected the genre it is famous for. I’ll be curious to see what focus the new rendition of Sailor Moon takes in terms of tone and whatnot. I imagine they will try to handle it in a way that will please both long-time fans as well as a new generation of children.
    I definitely agree though that a story should focus on whichever target audience it wants. There’s no need for an anime, manga, movie, or book to be apologetic for being aimed at girls. There are plenty of franchises that have succeeded when they maintain their focus accordingly (i.e. doing what they do best, rather than trying to cater to everyone).

  5. Alan Zabaro says:

    I’d heard Takeuchi didn’t care about the way the Starlights were changed in the anime, but did she hate a lot of other things about Toei’s adaptation? And what’s the story with the Ikuhara/Toei drama?

    Until you mentioned all that, I’d figured this new anime would be a remake along the lines of Dragonball Kai or the Hunter x Hunter remake – more budget, less filler, but basically unchanged aside from that. I’d hope for characterization a bit closer to the manga as well (at least for Rei), but the first series was such a success in its time I wasn’t sure Takeuchi would want to mess with it too much.

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