Today I’m revisiting a show I absolutely adored when I was little. When I noticed that Sailor Moon is available on Hulu I just had to sit down to binge it. Let’s see if it lived up to my memory!
The Plot (according to RT):
A trouble-prone schoolgirl receives the ability to transform into a powerful heroine and assembles a team of friends and allies to battle the forces of evil that threaten the world.
Okay, it’s been a good 20 years since I watched Sailor Moon. I was really curious to see whether anything would feel familiar or if I might even remember specific things. After binging seasons 1-4 (I still need to get to season 5, but it was only available in subbed version which means I can’t work or do anything else while watching, so it has to wait for now) I came to the conclusion that I probably started watching from season 3 onwards when I was little. I was actually surprised how many things really seemed familiar. Some episodes I even recognized and recalled specific details about!
But nevermind all that, let’s talk about the show!
There are a great many things wrong with it that rubbed me the wrong way but also many things that I found quite surprising and really forward considering this show aired in the 90s. I want to start with some of the positive things. This mainly includes homosexuality and genderfluidity. I don’t remember exactly at which point in the show this occurred but the girls (and I refer to them as girls as they are 15 years old!) were speculating that one of them is dating and somebody was curious what the boy might look like when somebody else quickly interjected, hey it could also be a girl. And everybody was like, ok yeah, maybe. And that was it. It was depicted as something completely normal. Which brings us to season 3, where two new guardians were introduced. One of them is Sailor Uranus who many people mistake for a boy at first. She dresses like that and usually does not correct people in their assumption, which is why I mentioned genderfluidity before. Haruka, or Sailor Uranus, seems to just move between male and female at her own discretion and it’s never something that gets criticized. In fact, pretty much all the other girls have a crush on her and are disappointed when it turns out that Haruka is not a guy (as they are all straight, I guess). It is also heavily hinted that Haruka is in a relationship with Michiru (Sailor Neptune). Again, nothing that ever gets discussed or criticized. It’s the way it is and it’s normal. How is it that in an anime from the 90s, that was specifically marketed towards children, this can be incorporated in such a normal way without anyone batting an eye, yet here we are in 2021 where it still seems groundbreaking when a homosexual character is included in any show? I honestly didn’t remember any of that from the show, so I was really surprised, impressed and really happy about it!
The show also had some really dark moments, come to think of it. Considering, again that it was a show for kids (or at least that was how it was marketed in the German speaking world when it first aired), Sailor Moon does have its philosophical moments. The Sailor Guardians face their own mortality and actually ponder it. They face violent deaths and are aware of the implications. Season 3 (again) takes this up another notch when even the good guys (Sailor Uranus and Neptune) are prepared to let people die to find the talismans, as it is for the greater good. It’s also in that season where they outright want to just off Sailor Saturn, as she might destroy the world. Mind you, she is just a kid at that time.
Another thing I really enjoyed is the humor. Luna is so sassy, and I’m here for it. I think it was with season 3 that the funny parts of the show really kicked off for me. Before it was decent but with season 3 they really seemed to have found their footing in writing terms and I found myself laughing a lot more.
Okay, let’s talk about some of the things that definitely rubbed me the wrong way. The biggest problem I had was the age difference between Mamoru and Usagi. As she herself keeps reminding us in the first season, Usagi is 14 years old (at some point she turns 15 I believe) whereas her boyfriend is in college. And nobody seems to care??? In fact, he even was dating Rei (Sailor Mars) for a bit before her, and she is the same age as Usagi. Again, this was something I definitely didn’t notice when I was a kid, but oh boy, I hated it so much re-watching the show. Also, for a large part of the show, before they become and item. Mamoru is just a plain asshole to her. And let’s not even talk about the mountain of issues Usagi has that ranges from freaking out whenever he just talks to another woman to losing her shit when she doesn’t here from him for half a day. I understand that the show is trying to justify their age gap but constantly reminding us that they are married in the future, but this is still a giant, glaring red flag for me.
Moving on to Chibi-Usa. Also, let me go on a little tangent right here. In the German version of the show, everybody kept their name except for Usagi, whose first name was changed to Bunny. The English word Bunny. As I learned Usagi is Japanese for Bunny, so I see the connection. But. BUT. This was a show that aired in the 90s. A show for kids. I was in kindergarten when I started watching. It doesn’t matter whether her name is in Japanese or English, I wouldn’t have understood it either way. So, I didn’t realize until rewatching the show now that Chibi-Usa essentially means little Usagi (as her actual name is also Usagi). Mind blown. Okay, let’s get back on track. What is wrong with Chibi-Usa you might ask? She is Usagi and Mamoru’s daughter from the future. She doesn’t really get along with Usagi, who herself seems to have the emotional capacity of a teaspoon as she is unable to feel for a 6 (approximately?) year old kid who is all alone and far away from her actual parents. It’s kinda weird that the show somehow expects Usagi to act like a mother to her, considering that she is only 14 but a little more maturity would have been nice. But that’s not the issue here. It’s rather the big ass Electra complex Chibi-Usa very obviously has. Electra complex? What is that, you might ask. Are you familiar with the Oedipus Complex? It’s essentially the female version. When Chibi-Usa comes to the time the majority of the show is set in, she develops a *huge* crush on Mamoru, so much that she is somehow depicted as Usagi’s rival and even treated by her as such. While Mamoru doesn’t take her seriously, thank fuck for that, it is still extremely awkward. Not just because of the giant age gap but because Mamoru and Usagi are her parents. This just made me cringe so much everything it came up in the show again and again. Let’s not even talk about the Pegasus in season 4, that she obviously was coming on to. And when I say Pegasus, yes, I mean the actual horse.
Finally, I love that we get so many badass women who stand their ground and kick ass. But somehow each show has a bit of a damsel in distress moment. No matter how good the girls are, at some point Tuxedo mask always swoops in to save their ass. I understand that they are young, so they can’t be expected to fight anything and everything on their own, but it really bothered me that it was so much of a recurring theme.
In general, the show was a bit ridiculous in terms of what the characters got upset over and just how much they were attached to the concept of love. Like, Usagi’s biggest dream is to get married and somehow, they kept repeating that that is every girl’s dream. Another thing that was pretty cringe but again the girls are only 14-15 years old, and to be honest, who wasn’t cringe at that age. It is fair to say that I rolled my eyes a lot while rewatching the show. But I understand that it was aimed at an audience much younger than me, so I see that not everything is going to resonate with me.
Revisiting a show after so many years was quite interesting. I appreciate Sailor Moon for the humor that made me laugh a lot, I appreciate it for the LGBTQ+ depiction that was ahead of its time. But the show also has some giant red flags that are normalized within the series’ context and that really rubbed me the wrong way. So, I feel a bit torn about the show now, even though I absolutely loved it as a kid.
Did you watch the show? Let me know in the comments what you think!