The title above feels like something silly, doesn’t it? It feels like asking “why anime girls like bishounen” or “why male otaku worship Goku.” But really, if a female anime fan being ga-ga over Sailor Moon feels like something obvious, maybe it’s time we really talked about why. I know I’m not alone when I say that the sailor-suited soldier of love and justice – and princess of the silver millennium – means more to me than any character I’ve ever seen in an anime.
This realization hit me towards the beginning of the week. I was grocery shopping for the week when I decided for no reason to browse the DVD section to see if there were any good titles on discount. Imagine my surprise when my eyes landed on the brand-new cover of Sailor Moon’s first full-length movie Promise of a Rose. I knew the film was coming to DVD again (because Funimation has all but rescued the series) but I did not expect to find a copy in my town. Thinking back on the memories I have about the film, I got a little misty-eyed.
It could very well have been an overreaction but it was my genuine feelings. Because, when it comes to the grandmother of all magical anime, I have a lot of complex emotions.
I Need a Hero
As mentioned in my Childhood Anime Heroes post, one of the big reasons I adored Sailor Moon as a character was because she was very similair to me. But I don’t think I really hammered home why that was such a big deal. But to really immerse you in the flood of emotions I have about Usagi as a person, I need to take you back a ways.
I need you to follow me back to the world of the 90’s. Cartoons back then were freaking fantastic: Justice League, Teen Titans, Code Lyoko, you name it. Despite what some might say, girls had plenty of heroes they could look up to. Girls like Wonderwoman, Starfire, Hawk Girl, Raven, and several others would charge into battle without a second thought and wouldn’t waver for a second. In true DC fashion, they were the pinnacles you looked up to on high.
And then Toonami flooded in. The very first thing I watched was episode one of Sailor Moon.
I, an incredibly clumsy little girl who cried easily and wore her emotions openly, was introduced to my fictional, emotional twin. And this girl who bawled at the drop of a hat and couldn’t help but trip all over herself managed to save the day with just a little encouragement. Eventually, she started running into the fight all by herself and being far braver than I ever was. It changed everything.
While it’s wonderful to have heroes who are G.I Jane right off the bat, there’s something cool about seeing someone just like you make the journey from bystander to hero.
This Anime Is Girl Crack
I like girly things. I like girly things a lot.
Frills, skirts, nail polish, makeup, jewelry – all these things and above take me to my happy place. This isn’t new for me at all; when I was a little girl, I adored the color pink, wore beaded jewelry everywhere, and collected kids makeup. So, imagine the adoration this pretty pink princess would have when her first superhero magically transfor a s in swirl of sparkles and ribbons. Her power came magically from the things I adored.
And the only got girlier as the show went on:
Oh yeah, I went old school… and possibly fan-made. Oh well.
It’s pretty easy to dismiss the transformation scenes as nonsensical and silly, but I think it behooves us to take a step back and look at what made them popular enough to become memorable. It’s a chaotic, druggy haze of ribbons, frills, hearts and magic, alongside some punchy sound effects and some sweet tunes. And as the show went on and on, the attacks and transformations just got more and more sparkly, adding feathers and rainbows into the mix. It’s a miasma of girly stereotypes and I ate it up – I still eat it up.
And I always will. I won’t get into how “inherently feminine” any of these things are – we’re a silly anime blog, not a political one – but imagine how awesome it is to see feminine, girly things turned into tools of justice. I can be a hero and wear a pretty dress; who’d have thunk it?
Miss Moon is a Badass
I am no stranger to the criticisms that come at this show and this character. I grew up in the era when DBZ ran for the first time and I heard Goku’s biggest fans slam my hero left and right. “She always needs to be rescued by a guy” they said. Others who have no affiliation with the other show claim she’s a terrible hero because she’s always afraid, cries too much, and acts like a big baby during the fight.
These criticisms, however, can go jump off a bridge and float away with the trash. Needing allies to pull you out of a near-death experience is nothing to be shamed over, and expecting a fourteen year old Japanese schoolgirl to instantly be brave and skilled in combat, magic or no, is ridiculous. You have to look at what she accomplished when it came to growth; when you do that, she becomes amazing.
I’m off to save the world with my rainbows and sparkles. Problem?
In her backlog of accomplishments, Usagi/Serena can boast defeating an alien tree that drains life force, deflecting a meteor hurtling straight for earth, a sorcerer who manipulated an entire kingdom to destroy the world, and even the actual end of all existence. Between her and her love interest, only one of them has been kidnapped over and over again for extensive periods of time, while the other has been held hostage once and only for a few hours. In short, she was breaking stereotypes before that was a thing, all while boasting pretty clothes and weapons.
My Final Word
I think Sailor Moon is a show that’s easy to write off. It’s very easy to look at it as this silly little Magical Girl anime loaded with absurd characters, sugary animation, and just overall pathetic stories. But I think reading between the lines is far more important here. Sailor Moon herself is not perfect and I don’t believe she was supposed to be. She’s not supposed to be Wonder Woman, charging forward with the pride of the amazons; nor is she supposed to be Bayonetta, a flirty bad-ass who’s as dangerous as she is attractive. She’s supposed to be the flawed hero who overcomes her own obstacles to become something amazing.
And that, ultimately, is why I will defend this show and character tooth and nail. We all have our own flaws, flaws that won’t just vanish when it’s convenient. But those flaws can be overcome if you’re brave and stubborn, something I’ve carried with me my whole life. I can never thank Naoko Takeuchi enough for creating the character with so much love and detail, but thank her I will until I’m blue in the face. Takeuchi-san, thank you a thousand times over.
And thank you, my wonderful readers, for letting me gush.
What does Sailor Moon mean for you? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this.