Sailor Moon Returns! (Hopefully…)

Incase You’ve Been Living Under a (Moon) Rock…

Sailor Moon Manga(Naoko Takeuchi)

     26 years after the first magical girl anime hit Japanese airwaves in 1966, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon became an international smash hit, and altered the magical girl genre dramatically. One of the Sailor Moon franchise’s greatest marks on the magical girl genre is the fusion of monster-fighting, sentai teams with the trappings of magical girl TV shows (henshin transformations, foreign princess in human world, animal familiar). Before Naoko Takeuchi began Sailor V, and subsequently the global phenomenon Sailor Moon, magical girls used their powers to aid people in need.

Sailor Moon is Gay!

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(Estivel – DeviantArt)

   I first discovered Sailor Moon when I was six. The DIC dub came on on Saturday mornings at six, and my cousins and I were religious about waking up early enough to watch it. I’m not sure what it was about the spinning, sparkling magical girls fighting evil monsters that entranced me, but by the age of 10, I had fully discovered the power that is Sailor Moon. I began buying monthly chapters of the manga as they were printed by MIxxx, and then began buying the Smile magazines just as Stars was beginning to be printed. By this age I was a little more aware what was pulling me in the awesomely glittering magic world of Sailor Moon, and the Sailor Starlights simply sealed the deal. 
     From the beginning Sailor Moon features queer characters. Every season of Sailor Moon featured some queer relationship. First Zoisite and Kunzite, Prince Endymion’s soldiers turned bad by the power of evil Queen Beryl, were lovers in the manga and Japanese production of the anime. Then there was the Sailor Moon R movie, where Fiore, a male-bodied alien, is deeply and dangerously in love with Mamorou. Then came the much celebrated lesbian couple, Sailor Uranus and Neptune. Sailor Moon SuperS brought us the flamboyant Fisheye who, like Zoisite, had his gender swapped in the English dub of the show. And last, the Sailor Starlights appeared and they most of all represented a high grade on the queerness scale. The Starlights in the manga, are always female-bodied, but they come to Earth disguised as young and attractive men (bishies!). But in the anime, they assume the form of a male body and only become women when they transform. Compound that with Seiya and Usagi’s budding romance and we have quite a queer situation on our hands.
     Sailor Moon was/is a safe place. One where cute girls, trans* people, gay men, and even tiny children could become a much more graceful take on a superhero and could save the world with the power of love. As a queer kid, I wanted to be a part of that. Now as an adult, I have a small hope that when or if the Sailor Moon reboot is dubbed into English, it is not censored. Perhaps, there is a chance they will let the queer elements from the manga and Japanese production that enticed me so much as a child remain in the story; it is twenty years later after all, and Sailor Moon’s target audience in the States should no longer be limited to children.

Once More With Queerness

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    I expect that the queer elements will naturally be present in “a more faithful to the manga” Japanese production. But I fear that, like the original english dub of the show, relationships and genders may be changed to make the show “more appropriate for children.” A good examples the bizarre alteration of Sailor Uranus and Neptune’s relationship from lovers to cousins. As Rose at the AutoStraddle blog said so well, “It was particularly infamous because the dubbers, puzzingly, kept in plenty of subtext, so they more-or-less turned an ordinary queer girl couple into an incestuous one.” And most shamefully, by editing out the non-heteronormative characters, the English production of Sailor Moon sent out the exact message to young queer kids that I was seeking to forget by losing myself in Sailor Moon; that there was something wrong with us.
     After a worrying amount of delays and lack of information or PVs, it is said that Sailor Moon’s 2014 reboot we be launching globally on Nico Nico Douga in July. As the months of 2014 have progressed, we have received increasing information about the crew.

  • Director – Munehisa Sakai – Munehisa has directed episodes for Smile PreCure!, Heartcatch PreCure, and Suite PreCure,
  • Series Script Supervisor – Yuuji Kobayashi – Kobayashi has written episode scripts for Suite PreCure and Smile PreCure!, as well as a few episodes of Saint Seiya Omega.
  • Character designer – Yukie Sako – Sako was the chief animation director for Majestic Prince, Yumeria, and The Big-O
  • Series composer – Yasuharu Takanashi – Yasuharu has worked on the music for four PreCure series (Fresh PreCure!, HeartCatch PreCure!, Suite PreCure!, and Smile PreCure!),
  • Art directors – Takashi Kurahashi and Yumi Hosaka Takashi has also worked alongside Yumi on the Mononoke anime.

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(Source Unknown)

     So judging by the common denominator among the newly announced crew, it may be that we are getting yet another Precure series simply dressed up as Sailor Moon. Although, Producer Atsutoshi Umezawa, one more person who has worked on the Precure franchise, says the reboot will be a more direct adaptation of the manga. So perhaps, even if this turns out to be SailorMoonPrecure, this anime will explore the mythology from the manga that was largely disregarded by the original.
     Despite so much of the crew’s ties to Precure, I hope the reboot takes a page from the Madoka school of magical girls and lets itself be a little darker, lets the stakes be higher, and lets the threats be real. If the new show absorbed that element while maintaining the ridiculous cuteness that’s sure to happen with so much of the crew having work on Precure, I would be thrilled. Part of why I want the show to take on a more mature tone is that I have grown up. Watching Sailor Moon as a child on Saturday mornings, the stakes seemed very high. But now, as an adult that still values the power of love and friendship, the threats just don’t ever hit home because the girls never seem to have much to lose. And if they do experience any loss, you know they’ll fix everything by just loving each other really, really hard.

     I am concerned that the show will be delayed further though. We still have not seen any official production images, no PV, and no solid release date. With the pattern that has been established, I sincerely hope that the announcement of a new Sailor Moon anime doesn’t become reduced to nothing but a marketing ploy to sell more Sailor Moon merchandise after its 20th anniversary.

D