Ah, Sailor Moon, early obsession of my life, favorite textbook on drawing weird-looking girls, guarantor of my goody goody nerd status in 7th grade. Unfortunately, I never got to the later seasons way back when and have now, in my immense wisdom, taken up the quest to damn well get to the parts with the genderswapping Sailor Stars.
Now, some people I’ve talked to while embarking on this brain-draining journey have expressed interest in rewatching the show for nostalgia, or because they missed the fad the first time around.
Do yourself a favor and don’t.
For all its bizarre and wonderful queer and genderqueer moments, the show buys in heavily to stereotypical “girliness”, a lot of screentime goes to girls thinking about their looks and crushing on boys, men constantly act as deus-ex-machinas to save girls out of conflicts, and romantic relationships are two-dimensional magical fairy things that just happen when you wish really hard. It leaves me tearing at my hair in much the same way Akira and other hyper-masculine boys’ anime does…just on the opposite spectrum of gendered media.
Say what I will about the show in total, I did find the character of Sailor Moon herself way more compelling this time around. She’s a crap-at-being-a-heroine heroine (my favorite kind), and unlike just about every other boy-obsessed coming-of-age girl character I can think of, never needs someone to tell her to “just be yourself”. In fact, she struggles with every supporting character’s constant insistence that she become something else. It’s a great foundation for a strong female character, and it annoys me endlessly that more isn’t done with it.
Well, there are four whole seasons of opportunities left, maybe I judge too fast.
If you still want to reminisce on this cultural juggernaut, why not read the comic? It’s being re-released this September, is totally gorgeous in that twinkly girls’ manga way, and benefits immensely from brevity in exactly the same way that the tv show does not.
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In the meantime, in order to somehow rationalize the 46 episodes I just watched:
HIGHLIGHTS OF SAILOR MOON SEASON 1 ACCORDING TO JEN:
(I would warn you for spoilers, except that this show came out almost TWO DECADES ago, and I already told you not to watch it)
QUICK, SAILOR MOON, USE YOUR MOON PEPPER SPRAY!
Having successfully defeated her monster for the episode, Sailor Moon turns her attention to enjoying the rest of a fabulous gala for which she has magically disguised herself as a princess, in the course of which she gets plastered on cocktails she mistakenly thinks are “juice”. In the single creepiest sequence of animation I think I have ever witnessed in my life, Tuxedo Mask literally SIDLES UP BEHIND HER, then absconds to a romantic balcony with her, visibly HOLDING HER UP, drapes her mostly-asleep form against a column and kisses her.
It’s played off as very romantic, the episode had been hinting at Moon and Tux’s previous incarnations’ (princess and prince of the Moon and Earth, respectively) tragic love affair, and in the balcony blackout kiss scene they both reference feeling that something very similar happened “in a distant past”. Yes. So I will infer that not only is Tux a creepy opportunist, but he is a habitual creepy opportunist fulfilling his reincarnated destiny to be a creepy opportunist
So, girls, be sure to get wasted at parties, it will encourage your magical fated sparkly prince to make the first move.
General Zoisite from the Dark Kingdom (badguy sub-boss #4) was given female pronouns and a voice actress for the US airing of Sailor Moon, presumably because US audiences could not handle a respectful portrayal of a gay character and relationship.
Zoisite is unabashedly effeminate compared to his counterparts, most apparently through his signature of teleporting in and out of locations in a swirling cloud of what appear to be heart-shaped flower petals.
In an unprecedented move for any anime I’ve ever watched, no one mentions it. There is no point at which the anime feels the need to point out, make jokes about, or otherwise make a judgement on Zoisite’s femininity. He’s just another character in the story. And his flamboyance certainly does not prevent him from being the most badass of the 4 Generals, more ruthless and immensely more effective.
When evil bosslady Queen Beryl finally kills him off (her distinctive method of human resource-management), his death is handled with…okay not exactly dignity, but the sparkly girls’ anime equivalent to dignity. He asks his lover/master/partner/???, Kunzite, to let him “die beautifully”, so Kunzite magics in a sparkly girls’ anime backdrop, and they get a last love scene, just to make sure that the audience is aware that yeah, they were totally into each other.
Zoisite’s death is then the only apparent motivation the show bothers to give to Kunzite’s evil efforts from that point on, winning Zoisite the official title of Most Developed Male Character in Show.
Unfortunately, you won’t find gay Zoisite in the comics, in which the Generals turn out to be Tux’s generals from past-life Earth, brainwashed into EVIL, and act as counterparts and eventual vague love interests for the sailor soldiers. Because in Shakespearean comedic fashion, everyone must end up coupled off (or because Moon-Earth diplomacy is mostly practiced through makeouts)
Some animators had a lot of fun designing monsters with the most ridiculous nineties fashions they could imagine. In this still, a sexy science-nerd-themed monster brings back the monocle.