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.
Of all of it’s merits, Sailor Moon is perhaps most noteworthy for it’s depictions of female diversity. It has a nearly all-female cast, with noticeable differences in gender identities, sexual orientations, and general attributes. Each Senshi has their own back story, life goals, personality traits, and other distinctions that make them prominent and unique characters. Every fan has their favorite Senshi, and the fact that Naoko Takeuchi did such a good job representing her female characters makes Sailor Moon one of the greatest girl’s stories ever told.
There are ten Sailor Senshi. Add Luna and Diana, the female villains, female side characters, the Sailor Starlights and their princess, Chibi Chibi, the Sailor Quartet, and Neo Queen Serenity, and you’ve got a cast that’s made up almost entirely of women. And each of them are different.
There are characters like Ami, a scientific and technological genius, who directly defies gender stereotypes concerning skills. Then there’s Makoto, whose personality is a dichotomy of masculine physicality and feminine interests. Haruka could be considered non-binary or genderfluid, as she displays masculine and feminine traits as they suit her, while Michiru is a cisgendered lesbian.
There are characters like Minako, who takes overt interest in men, and Rei, who takes a vow of celibacy out of dedication to Princess Serenity. There’s Chibiusa, who considers becoming an elegant lady to be utterly important, and Setsuna, who keeps her desires close to the chest. Perhaps most prominent of all is Usagi, who starts out as a whiny, underachieving crybaby, and, over the course of the series, morphs into a strong and compassionate leader.
Each Senshi has their own hopes and dreams, feelings about themselves and each other, interests, strengths, and flaws. And while the art style doesn’t do much to account for noticeable physical differences among the characters, their personalities are intensely distinguishable.
Even the non-Senshi characters, like the villains and civilians, have their own distinct personalities. Takeuchi did a good job of making sure that a lot of her villains had back stories and reasons behind their evil deeds, and even the ones who didn’t have much character development usually had something about them that made them memorable, be it their style of dress, or their powers, etc. Side characters, like Naru or Usagi’s mother, remained important because of their love and support of Usagi, even as they were kept in the dark about her true nature.
Overall, Sailor Moon is one of the most loving depictions of women available. Every character is developed with love and respect. When you engage in the series, you know who they are.
Tomorrow is the premiere of Sailor Moon Crystal. I hope that it lives up to everyone’s expectations, and that it brings together fans both new and old. I can’t wait to have Usagi and the Senshi back.
All photos and properties are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha.