Well it’s time to start posting regular updates on this whole effort, so here’s a regular update. About the whole effort.
If you’re not familiar with whats going on, I and my co-author Bonnie are doing a book on Sailor Moon. Specificly, we’re examining how it impacted women in North America by A) interviewing various women, and B) Seeing what impacts we see as common.
Simple, but effective – so I want to do updates reguarly.
So right now we’re writing chapters on the titular heroine of Sailor Moon, and the values in the show. It’s gotten very interesting.
Here’s what we’ve found:
First, when you look at it, Sailor Moon, a reincarnated Moon Princiess is about as far from a Disney princess as you can get. Clumsy, cute at best, overanxious, she had the world on her shoulders. Sure she had a handsome prince, but he was an problematic amnesiac who couldn’t remember his past life nor his previous magical abilities, making him a big, juicy target in a top hat. Add the fact that various supernatural beings tried to kill her all the time and let’s face it – Sailor Moon’s life sucks.
The inversion continues with the character – she was also subversively loveable. She had a big heart under the ditziness and manic behavior. She brought people together. She was very human in her feelings and her flaws and that really made people love her and relate to her. Sailor Moon was that wacky friend you new – or that flawed person you were – that somehow got everyone on the same page.
The same kind of subversiveness was part of the show’s values. The show had it’s moments of moralizing (often via Tuxedo Mask, who was used as a hunky Jimminy Cricket when not being kidnapped), it had “Sailor Says” shoehorned into it in North America, but t did have core principles. It was about love, friendship, and persistence, as well as a understanding, and forgiveness.
For an action show with a surprisingly high body count (especially if you were a Monster Of The Week), it emphasized a lot of values that were distinctly non-violent. Even when there was violent, it was often motivated by love, justice, and protection of others – and those motivations gave characters their powers. The show often involved fighting monsters, but it was about non-violent values.
The show and stories often delighted in gender fluidity and playing with standard gender roles. There were obvious gay couples such as Sailor Uranus and Neptune, but also gender-shifting and gender-bending characters. The characters, even when evil, were not evil for their differences in sexuality – in many cases, such as Zoicite, it humanized them.
Sailor Moon was a story about a clumsy reincarnated princess who freaked out constantly and saved the day, was about love and forgiveness in the face of cosmic horror, and where gender and sexuality weren’t simple. Sailor Moon was filled with things that seemed contradoctory, but were reall a different way of seeing things.
Now, put yourself in the place of a girl or young woman seeing this for the first time and you can imagine it’s a revelation.