July 5th is an incredibly important day. It’s a day that has been on my and many others’ calendars for quite some time. It’s a day that didn’t ever seem like it was going to come. But it’s almost here. July 5th is the day that my beloved Sailor Moon makes her grand re-entrance into the lives of millions with a brand new anime. And it can’t come soon enough.
To lead up to Sailor Moon’s triumphant return, I offer a series of articles focusing on the things I love most about the Sailor Moon series, specifically pertaining to its portrayal of girls and women. A review of the Sailor Moon Crystal pilot will follow on July 5th.
Sailor Moon stands out for a lot of different reasons, and one of those reasons is because of its stalwart commitment to all things pink, shiny, and cute. Sailor Moon doesn’t own a weapon, nor an outfit, nor a gadget that isn’t covered in hearts, stars, sparkles, and precious stones. Out of costume, Usagi decks her hair out with cute clips, wears girlish clothing, and freaks out over things like jewelry sales and weddings. She’s the quintessential girly girl, the kind of heroine who might have a hard time being taken seriously in another series.
But Sailor Moon takes those cute clothes and heart shaped weapons, and she kicks ass with them. So often, girls are taught that things coded “female”, i.e hearts, pink, jewelry, makeup, etc., are weak and superficial. They’re taught that real heroines eschew their femininity, that doing so makes them more competent, more like their male counterparts. While that can be a completely acceptable route to take a female character down, it doesn’t do much to obliterate the ‘feminine equals weak’ stereotype. But Sailor Moon draws power from femininity. And in harnessing that “girl power”, Sailor Moon can unleash the real power needed to decimate her enemies.
I particularly love that Sailor Moon and the Senshi must call upon the power of stereotypically feminine emotions, like love and friendship, in order to gather the strength to defeat said enemies. The Sailor Senshi often express their feelings openly, both in and out of battle, instead of bottling them up. Emotion isn’t a hindrance to their crusade. It’s a necessity. Their constant belief in themselves and each other are what saves the day every time.
In Sailor Moon’s world, femininity is powerful. The Senshi display their femininity in different ways, based on their respective gender identities, but they all wear it proudly into battle and wield it as a weapon.
According to creator Naoko Takeuchi, only women can be Sailor Senshi. That means that an entire world relies on a group of super-powered space princesses with cute outfits to save the day.
They come through every time, and always with a sparkly accessory on hand.
All photos and properties are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha