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I considered working this into the main essay, but I'm too psyched, I just have to get out why I'm so excited about the Sailor Moon manga being reprinted. The out-of-print Tokyopop manga ihas with outdated art (Japan got shiny rerelease reprint volumes), flipped pages, English dub names and a general Blind Idiot Translation (especially obvious when the translators didn't realize a character was quoting William Blake).  None of the scanlations of this series are complete, either. And the fun story of Sailor V finally reaches the US!

This is Naoko Takeuchi's original vision for Sailor Moon. When asked about the differences between the anime and manga, she replied that the anime's staff was men, while her story was told from a women's perspective- by girls, for girls and about girls.

(Especially obvious since the manga lacks a lot of the male gaze and has none of the nude transformation sequences or skirts flying up the anime boasts, as well as other things)

(and don't get me wrong, the anime is fantastic and feminist as well, and did some things better than the manga. But that's not what we're focusing on!)

This is a story about women- tons of women. Every personality type you can imagine. Young women, old women, queer women, straight women, ditzy women, brainy women. This is story about the bond of friendship between these women and how they are the most powerful people in the universe.

Sailor Moon is classic superhero stuff- eldritch villians, secret identity drama, the power of friendship, face-melting horror, epic battles- but it's set in a world where teenage girls are the greatest heroes.

This is a story where for once, it is the guy (Tuxedo Kamen) who gets captured and brainwashed and killed and resurrected and rescued over and over again by his girlfriend. He's unashamed about it too, suavely thanking her for saving him yet again, rushing to alert her when he spots trouble, flatly tells her that he doesn't have her powers and he got in over his head, it's up to her to save the day. He worries about being a burden on her, he is repeatedly in awe of how strong she is and openly praises her for her power and when asked if Sailor Moon is strong? He unflinchingly replies "she's invincible" And she worries that he'll get hurt, and vows to always protect him.  This is not to say he's not important to the plot and doesn't get his moments to shine- he does so, much more often than in the anime. He just maintains a open and sweet relationship with her, well aware that she's just cooler than he'll ever be- he adores her for it.

He acts as her backup, motivation and emotional support, and he's good at it.  It doesn't make him less of a "man", or less desirable. This is a couple that reaffirmed their love for each other by stating their dream as "protecting the planet, together with you". It's not a relationship without it's ups and downs (more mature than in the anime, there's a lot of serious issues with jealousy, confusion and Mamoru worrying that he's a *burden* to Usagi, poor thing) and there's a lot of spark with them ragging on each other and teasing with each other- but it's always clear they support each other no matter what, and Mamoru is actually a nice guy you'd want your heroine to be with, not a sexist jerk.

Here's a couple of my favorite pages of them to illustrate my point. Behold Mamoru being totall unashamed as he goes "oh wow you save me a lot don't you"

Sailor Moon grabbing Tuxedo Mask and smooching him (their first kiss!) and then telling him to run away because he'll get hurt, she can take care of this monster. Behold how he clutches his jaw in shock and inner monologues about how strong and cool she is omg!

In addition, it's the story about a group of ten (eleven) girls, all with different personalities and powers- but all of them have their strongest relationships with each other, and their mission and female friends are the most important in their life. They have different attitudes towards men- some are boy crazy, some hate men, some don't think about it much, some are lesbians- but none of them need men and Usagi is the only one with a boyfriend. All of them explicitly state their highest goal as to protect their planet and the people they love.

This is one of my favorite pages of Sailor Moon and I cannot wait to see it all reprinted and shiny and properly translated, because it really gets to the core of what it's all about. Sailor Venus coolly states that she has already found her one and only (her best friend, Usagi, and the princess she is sworn to protect) and Mars puts her arm around Venus while bluntly saying "we don't need men. Got a problem with that?" (Some fun slash overtones there, but what I'm focusing on is the defiant and blatant show of female independence, sisterhood and solidarity that is really the core of this series.

Also the awesomeness that is Jupiter's introduction, with her realizing she didn't deserve to be treated like shit by her ex-boyfriend, that she's finally found friends and people that support her in her fellow Sailor Senshi, and that there's no time to cry over boys when there's ass to kick.

This is the manga where the main character is a princess, but also the soldier that protects the princess- e.g. a princess who rescues herself. And unlike most princesses who never become queens (it's desirable to make girls princesses because they get to have the frills, but none of the power), we see that Usagi does become Queen- of the entire world so she can protect it and ensure peace. This is a manga where girls literally rule the world. For the BETTER. This is a manga where girls not only never lose their power or are corrupted by it, but just become more powerful and more important as time passes.

This is also a manga where a mother-daughter relationship is the core of the story in later volumes, where a female legacy plays a big role. We see a little girl determined to take after her mother and be a kick-ass soldier with her own team of warriors. We deal with her insecurity that she'll never live up to her mother- something many girls can relate to. We see a vulnerable young girl struggle with her mother, look up to her mother and ultimately figure out how to be her own hero while following in her mother's footsteps. Female legacy is a huge deal in Sailor Moon, and we see that the torch will be passed on, and there will always be powerful girls protecting the world.

This is a world where femininity is not something to be ashamed of, it's the source of POWER. The girls don't use their pretty clothes and jewels and compacts as playthings to impress men- these things are all weapons against evil, and powerful ones. They declare themSELVES pretty, needing approval from no one. Our hero possesses all the typical "chick" attriibutes- emotional, tearful, forgiving, loving, nurturing- and she uses these attribute to triumph and kicks ass. She burns monsters alive with the purity of her love, sends out supersonic waves that shake the villains down when she bursts into tears, and her friendship and forgiveness is the most effective superpower one could ask for. The "girly" emotions and affectations are not something to be ashamed of or suppressed, but the source of the power these girls wield. They don't have to imitate guy heroes at all or act "masculine" to be taken seriously- girliness is just as powerful. The manga also rips apart the idea that masculine and feminine traits cannot coexist by showing Sailor Jupiter to be the tomboyest toughest fighter...AND the best cook, master of housework and hopeless romantic.

(I should note these girls also kill villains left and right with fire, ice, lighting and love, unlike in the anime, the villians are mostly bit parts and rarely redeemable, so the girls have no problems icing them. There's some definite gore and violence in Sailor Moon- strangling, stabbing with swords, people having their flesh melt off, turning into zombies, being electocuted and burned alive, shanking each other in the streets...)

Each arc of the manga has a specific theme that adds up to a beautiful coming of age story that sees a vulnerable, insecure. clumsy crybaby teenage girl grow to become a powerful and self assured protector of the world. The manga has our main characters develop much faster and more overtly than in the anime, and it's a joy to watch. Each manga arc has it's own particular theme and leap foward for Sailor Moon's character.

The first arc is about love, and sees the contrast between the powerful and honest love Sailor Moon has for her friends to the obsessive, twisted and controlling love the villain embodies. It's about Usagi starting out as a hero, gaining confidence, falling in love for the first time, and truly understanding her connection to other people and the power it brings her.

The second arc is mostly about responsibility- Sailor Moon has to take responsibility for the irrational jealousy and insecurity she harbors towards her future daughter, Chibiusa (future daughter) has to take responsibility for the destruction caused by her actions, the insecurity and inadequacy she feels as well as her own jealousy, she had to deal with death, and she has to take on her power. Usagi is also faced with the idea of parenthood, and the massive responsibilities she'll face in the future. Also, there's a big theme of time and the future in general.

The third arc is about sacrifice, ideals, and moral relativism. Would you be willing to sacrifice an innocent to save the world? Here's where Usagi and the Senshi truly develop their moral convictions, and stubbornly stick to them and fight to defend them. A true clash of ideals between comrades. There's always a choice, always another way, and Sailor Moon will never give up finding it.

The fourth arc is pretty blatantly about dreams and goals and growing up. We deal with the individual goals and dreams of each of the senshi, their insecurities about being unable to reach those dreams, and having to decide what their true goal in life is. We also see Chibiusa struggle with her desire to live up to her mother and her desire to grow up- and we really get to see her grow up. There's also Usagi realizing her goals and truly throwing off her childhood- and Mamoru actually discovering his own power and getting his chance to shine! Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask really become a partnership.

The fifth arc is about war, and it's corruptive and neverending nature. Sailor Moon loses everything, deals with the embodiment of all evil and sacrifices everything. We see her truly accept that being a soldier is part of who she is, and she's glad of it because she got to meet her friends. She also faces the choice of whether to accept death to stop the fighting, or keep going despite the difficulties. If she wipes out the source of evil, does that also mean wiping out the source of humanity?

Other themes that run through Sailor Moon are struggles with her dual identity and which part is really her, and also themes of destiny and reincarnation, and past lives affecting the present.

See, Sailor Moon is actually pretty full of interesting themes and death and drama and development, as well as being chock full of feminism, it's pretty much an epic story, a true heroes journey. The plot is pretty tight with lots of interesting themes and beats that got left out of the anime (it also lacks the filler of the anime) and lots of cool backstory. The art isn't perfect, but it's ethereal and pretty to look at, especially in reprinted form.

I'm also highly excited for Codename Sailor V, the prequel to Sailor Moon, released in the US for the first time. It shows Minako Aino being a kickass independent hero and how she developed and grew into the experienced leader warrior Sailor Venus (while still having a fun and brash personality)- the true beginning of Sailor Moon. It's often light hearted and hilarious superhero hijinks, but it also has some really tragic beats as Minako struggles with whether she should choose duty or love. Also, lots of face kickin; action and extra backstory! A must have!

So, I hope you get how truly epic this manga is and exactly why I'm psyched to see it properly translated with shiny reprint art. Sailor Moon is an awesome feminist manga with an epic storyline, and it would be great if we could all support this new release with cash! I have no doubt that in addition to attracting old fans as a milestone of the genre, it will also draw in new fans with it's pretty soldier sailorsuited girl power and fun read. After all, I only fell in love with the manga and anime last year!

Whew! I just had to express all the reasons for my joy. Sailor Moon shows being a girl as not only okay, but as desirable and powerful. And for that I love it.


( 83 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I ADORE the anime! I just decided to focus on the manga for this post and point out some things it did better than the anime/themes not present in the anime when going about my "sales pitch".

Like I said, the anime did some things better than the manga (mainly, more focus on Mercury, Jupiter and Mars- the anime really developed their characters and I wouldn't love them nearly as much without it. The manga sometimes focused on Usagi's development a little TOO much. She also loses a bit of her relatability with how quickly she grows out of her flaws. Also, more characterization for the villains, more color and humor and slice-of-life- action, and I vastly prefer the finale of Season 1 to the finale of the first manga arc- the season 1 finale was just perfect and heartwrenching, while the first arc finale was not perfect and had some weird aspects)and pretty much all the themes I mentioned here are present in one way or another in the anime, if diluted- and the anime has some cool themes and plot points the manga didn't too.

Overall, I feel the R arc and the SuperS arc are way better in the manga, so I can't wait to see them published. The S arc in the anime and manga are equally good, the StarS arc is really different in the manga and probably a little better than the anime and first arc I think is better in the anime- though the manga adds a lot of cool backstory and thematic tragedy. So basically, all iterations of Sailor Moon rock, just in different ways. And no denying the impact the anime had.

Ugh, don't get me started on the cousins thing. I know they probably had to do it, and it's hilarious that they didn't bother to sensor the "sensual" scenes, but ugh. The dub made a lot of unnecessary changes and censors, though I'm glad it existed to introduce Americans to SM. Hopefully they'll do a more accurate redub someday.

Codename Sailor V is too amazing, I'm still suprised more people haven't heard of it, but then I visited TVTropes while watching SM, so that's how I became aware. I think I'm going to do a seperate post for a Sailor V breakdown (hopefully not as long) because it's a really fantastic story that lets you get to know Minako, and without it, Sailor Moon wouldn't exist!
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - nevermore999 - Mar. 24th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firemelon - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
This is one of the most beautiful tributes to the BSSM Manga I've ever read. Thank you!
Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow
Aw, thanks! *blushes*
Re: Wow - sageofmudora - Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Great Article on BSSM
User sageofmudora referenced to your post from Great Article on BSSM saying: [...] great and points out a few of the most feminist moments. nevermore999.livejournal.com/132687.html [...]
Mar. 22nd, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
Could I link to this at ontd_moonies? This is a great post about the manga (which I appreciate because my SM knowledge is pretty much anime only).
Mar. 22nd, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Mar. 23rd, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
I was linked to this article via Tumblr. It is amazing, and you did such a good job at why Sailor Moon is not only awesome, but why strongly influenced me in my early years of college. I had seen the series dubbed when I was in high school, but the manga was introduced to me when I was 19, and it's one of the largest media influences on me (Slayers being another -- which actually predates Sailor Moon by two years when it comes to the novels -- which also has awesome female characters and a heroine who not only kicks a lot of ass and saves her love interest, etc.)

This is why Sailor Moon being license-rescued is such a good thing. My niece, who was born during the original run of the series, is now a teenager herself. I'm hoping to become a parent in the next year or two. It's a series you want to expose children to, especially girls. One of the disappointing thing about modern media is that it's still filled with a lot of masculine-oriented series that pushes the roles of girls aside. Look at Bleach for example. There's the promise of a strong female in Rukia, then she's locked in a tower for an entire arc unable to help herself and Ichigo must save her. Same thing goes for Orihime, who spends her own arc wringing her hands. Look at Pokemon, Naruto and other series where there are shades of strong female characters, but their achievements are overshadowed by the boys.

That's why series such as Sailor Moon, Slayers, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, etc. stand out. They show the awesome power of women, and how we can do amazing things and still be girls. I want my children and my nieces to be exposed to that sort of story and know that girls aren't just sex objects. We're amazing, complex and powerful.
Mar. 24th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
Well said. I should check out Slayers sometime. :)
(no subject) - dqbunny - Mar. 24th, 2011 07:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
a world where teenage girls are the greatest heroes
User heygirlie referenced to your post from a world where teenage girls are the greatest heroes saying: [...] told from a women's perspective- by girls, for girls and about girls." (Click for the full piece [...]
Mar. 23rd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Great read! I posted up my thoughts growing up with Sailor Moon here: http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/4017014098/sailor-moon-returns

This could be the start of something bigger if Kodansha plays this right.

Having a strong female lead and having the male lead treat the female lead as superior really created a very positive tone for the series that girls can save the world.
Mar. 24th, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
Thanks! Nice article, Makoto was my fave in the anime too.
Mar. 24th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
I love what you wrote and agree with this 100%!
Mar. 24th, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
Mar. 24th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
"has none of the nude transformation sequences or skirts flying up the anime boasts"

It certainly does! Sailor Moon frequently has transparent or no clothing. Naoko also frequently drew the characters in lingerie or sexy poses, and even drew the main characters in playboy bunny suits. I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of panty shots, but there certainly are many times that there *would* be one... if the characters appeared to be wearing anything at all under those skirts.

Example: http://www.mangafox.com/manga/sailor_moon/v01/c001/37.html
Mar. 24th, 2011 04:53 am (UTC)
Takeuchi does do the transparent bodies thing on occasion, but there's not nearly as much getting naked as in the anime, especially in the first couple of arcs- Takeuchi apparently DID have a problem with the amount of male gaze in the anime and the henshin stuff so she must have seen a difference- I was referring to the transformation sequences, I wasn't saying there was never any nudity ever- in fact, I thought I'd put that the manga had "less female nudity", so sorry for being unclear.

And I'm aware of the sexy side art (though I never saw any lingerie), but I was talking about the manga's body of work itself.I guess I was merely trying to get across that Takeuchi had expressed issues with some of the stuff in the anime herself, I should have just said that, I didn't mean to make it sound like the manga was free of fanservice or anything.

And the skirts don't really ever fly up to where panties would be shown, not even in the picture you posted though they stay on the very edge most times - I do think there's a panel in the third act where Usagi lands on her ass and you can see a tiny bit of leotard/panties/whatever so she is supposed to be wearing something under there.
(no subject) - iwaitedtilldawn - Mar. 24th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nevermore999 - Mar. 24th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 24th, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
I am also going to disagree with you here:

"This is a manga where girls not only never lose their power or are corrupted by it, but just become more powerful and more important as time passes."

Chibi Moon is corrupted. Her jealousy, lack of self confidence, and the power she inherited as Sailor Moon's daughter turn her into a villain, Black Lady. She gets over it, but it does happen.

It also arguably happens with Galaxia, the most powerful senshi in the universe, and also with Sailor Cosmos, who is an analogue to Sailor Moon. Galaxia becomes overwhelmed by the burden she attempts to take on and starts a holocaust against the entire universe. Cosmos, overwhelmed by her/chaos, loses hope, and in the process, her family, friends, and planet.

And what of all of the animamates? They all betrayed their own planets and gave their souls to chaos for power, and were eventually killed for it, either by their own masters, or Sailor Moon herself.
Mar. 24th, 2011 05:03 am (UTC)
I was pretty much referring to the main ten when I said that. It's often a trope for when women weild a lot of power, they either must suppress it or they lose control and go evil. "Powerful women are scary" etc. For a woman to have the insane amount of power Sailor Moon weilds and not get corrupted, not have to supress it and in fact to grow up to enact positive change across to globe with it as she gets older is a big deal.

Chibiusa was manipulated, but she only unlocked her true power to transform when she turned good again- she didn't become Chibi Moon until after the Black Lady deal. The animates sold out, but not because they couldn't handle their power- just cuz...well, they weren't cool enough. Cosmos didn't get corrupted or lose control, she got scared and gave up. Galaxia just looked down on everyone in the manga.
Mar. 24th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
I just wanna say, thanks for an amazing article. I try to explain to friends/acquaintances about how awesomely feminist BSSM is sometimes and no one believes me. 8/
Mar. 24th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Mar. 24th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
It has been my mission for the past 6 months or so to introduce Sailor Moon to a group of guy friends but have only received staunch refusal along the lines of "it's so girly and stupid."

My husband introduced me to Sailor Moon. My HUSBAND! I've seen polls that asked Sailor Moon fans their gender. It's always a 50/50 split. Sailor Moon is amazing, has stood the test of time, and will always be a classic and epic series. The SuperS anime even goes so far as to talk about rape and child molestation...without talking about. These are serious subjects!

Sailor Moon is truly a powerful series and I'm glad you wrote this. I'll be sure to share it with them the next time the topic comes up.

Edited at 2011-03-24 04:56 pm (UTC)
Mar. 24th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, the beautiful dreams stuff in SuperS was really disturbing and reminiscent of sexual assault. There's a lot of interesting stuff to analyze there, I could probably go into that stuff forever.
Mar. 24th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
This is an amazing essay. All I can say is WOW. I really am excited for the manga, and happy that Sailor V's coming out in English. ♥

Can I link this to my journal? I need more people to see this. *^*
Mar. 24th, 2011 11:00 pm (UTC)
Mako <3

And no problem! Feel free to link it. I just put up a (really long) essay on the V manga if you're excited about that: http://nevermore999.livejournal.com/132909.html
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:19 am (UTC)
This is a great post. ^_^
Mar. 25th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Ooh, PGSM! <3
Mar. 25th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
This is such a fantastic post and reminds me of everything I love about Sailor Moon, except it's put so much more eloquently here lol.

I hope you don't mind me linking this to my tumblr?
Mar. 25th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And no problem, of course you can link it.
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steph hey you


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