Sailor Moon R: The Movie: Does the “R” Stand for “Really Gay”?

2016 may be a shitshow, but at the last moment, anime seems to be conducting a noble effort to make the end of the year a bit sweeter. Freshman on the sports anime scene, Yuri!!! On Ice, appears to have skipped the typical queerbaiting of its predecessors and jumped right to a heartwarming portrayal of a healthy relationship between two bisexual men (fingers crossed this won’t get fucked up as it approaches its final episodes); unable to keep himself from his passion, Hayao Miyazaki has stated he’ll return from retirement for just one more feature length animated film with Studio Ghibli; and both Spirited Away and Sailor Moon R: The Movie are getting theatrical releases, Spirited Away in early December and Sailor Moon in January. As I’ve traveled back home for the holiday season, I’m about 90% sure that none of the theaters in my little town are going to be showing either of the two animated films. Like that would stop me, though.

sailor-moon-promise-of-the-rose-coverOut of the Sailor Moon filmography, I remember watching Sailor Moon R—subtitled Promise of the Rose in the North American release—back in the wee days of my youth, and as such it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when I say that it’s hands down my favorite of the three. Aside from the rose motif, little me adored the flower-based baddies and the romantic triangle that had a satisfying conclusion. Older me sat here not even a day ago reminiscing about the film wondering, “did this movie even have a love triangle?” I’m not doubting the shoujo genre or glossing over its flaws, but I watched the dub of the movie, and if there’s one thing I remember about the early dub of Sailor Moon, it’s that anything pertaining to not being straight typically had a shoddily woven rug thrown over it in hopes that the kiddies wouldn’t notice. And the potential love conflict between Darien, Serena, and the antagonist Fiore would have had almost inescapable implications of homosexual love between Darien and Fiore. Yet, upon watching the film again and keeping an eye out for this, I found that Fiore’s feelings probably weren’t intentionally glossed over. Furthermore, while the American dub may actually be gayer than the original Japanese, the ambiguity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case.

Note: since I’m mainly speaking of the dub, I will be using the names from said original dub.

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Thoughts on Crystal Tokyo

I’ve been re-watching the old DiC-dubbed episodes of “Sailor Moon” as well as reading the re-release of the manga and both are at the Crystal Tokyo part of the story, which has gotten me thinking about the concept of 30th century earth as Naoko Takeuchi envisioned.

If you don’t know Sailor Moon shame on you Crystal Tokyo is the future Kingdom ruled by Neo Queen Serenity (Sailor Moon’s future self) and King Endymion (Tuxedo Mask’s future self). The Kingdom rules not only Japan but the entire earth.

Back when I first watched the show something rubbed me wrong about the whole idea of Crystal Tokyo. Even as a kid (I was in fifth grade so I’m guessing I was around eleven years old) something seemed wrong to me; it seemed like going backwards to go from individual democratic societies to a monarchy, living in a crystal palace of all bizarre things, ruling not only an individual country but the entire world. When I got the subtitled DVDs and was watching them during my senior year of college last year, my roommate in particular had very strong opinions opposing Crystal Tokyo and Neo Queen Serenity declaring sovereign reign for herself over all the earth.

The fact that she’s a kind and generous ruler who brings peace (and also magic!) doesn’t really make up for her unilateral ascension to the throne.

But as I listened to DiC’s King of the Earth describe the situation in which she rose to power I think I finally understood and accepted the idea of Crystal Tokyo and Neo Queen Serenity.

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Manga Mondays: The Return of Takeuchi and A Taste of Sailor Moon Feminism

Over the holidays something amazing happened to me. No, I didn’t find the “meaning of Christmas” or had one of those bad romantic comedy kisses in Times Square when the ball dropped. I finally, after many years of a sobbing fangirl heart, was able to read my beloved Codename Sailor V in all of its two volume, translated glory. And it was g-l-o-r-i-o-u-s, indeed!

Outside of Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus was always my favorite scout out of the whole inner and outer scout groups. She was always so perky, unafraid of her emotions, and, on a less important note, that hair-bow was cute as shit. Before she showed up in person during the main Sailor Moon series, there was always a sense that there was something special about her. She had a video game based on her (that Bunny/Serena kicked ass at, I might add), darn it! However, the question remained: how did Sailor V know so much about the previously decimated moon kingdom and about the scouts themselves? Unlike many prequels I have run across, this one actually answers this plot question and several others as well.

For those of you who are not familiar with the basic premise of the Sailor Scouts, they are basically teenage girls who use ~space magic~ to transform into baddie-battling super heroines with some school drama tossed in on the side for some spice. In the Sailor V series, this recipe remains the same. We follow one, Minako Aino, through a normal day of school: crushing on a popular volleyball player, hanging out with her friend, Hikaru (who looks like she could be Ami’s twin sister), going through classes, and all of that slice-of-life stuff. However, she runs across a mysterious white cat—who fans will instantly recognize as the snarky, but lovable Artemis—that eventually gives her the power to change into the “pretty soldier in a sailor suit”, Sailor V. For the two volumes we go through a baddie du jour each chapter as Minako learns more and more what it is to be a Sailor Scout and what her true purpose in life is. I won’t spoil the ending, but it really ties the whole thing together nicely.

This series further promotes what I like so much about the main Sailor Moon manga/anime. Such as young girls standing up for themselves while not being afraid to face their emotions. Young girls forming friendships that are strong and act as a fount of strength rather than a pool of backstabbing and bitchiness. Girls that are cute but can still kick your ass into tomorrow if the need arises. And while there are arguments on whether or not Sailor Moon and its spinoffs can be considered as a feminist text, I believe that these messages are indispensible to both growing girls and already grown women alike.

In an entertainment industry where young girls are all but forced to have role models that are detrimental in one way or another but are shown as ‘perfect’ Sailor Moon fills that spot with a beautiful imperfection. Of course none of the girls are perfect, but they have friends that are willing to point out their flaws and, in turn, make them all better people. And really, that’s what we should be looking for in friends: not only people that can make us laugh and we can act completely stupid in front of, but people that are looking out for our best interest and want us to become more than we are now. Whereas we can’t realistically aspire to be guardians of planets, we can certainly shoot for being the best person we can. And Sailor V shows this beautifully through Minako’s inner ‘transformation’, as she becomes less boy-crazed and more ready to take on the world in front of her.

If you’re already a fan of the series, I would highly recommend you pick up these two volumes. If you are not, then Sailor V is a great place to start!