Sailor Moon is one of the most popular and well remembered anime in the west. Since first airing in the 90’s it has gained many viewer and has probably brought many people into the genre of anime, i know it did for me. But is there more to this show than just relatable characters and good old cartoon violence? Well that’s what we are going to look at today. We’re gonna look into sailor moon and its origins, then we’re gonna look at some good old theoretical frameworks to look at the meta side of this beloved show, and finally we’ll see if sailor moon is a new heroine.
Sailor moon started as a manga series, and was written by Naoko Takeuchi and published in the monthly publication Nakayoshi Magazine. It was written as a shojo manga witch is a basically a kind of manga that is aimed towards teenage girls. Oh and manga is basically comic books in japan if ya don’t know. It also fell into another sub genre called magical girl anime, now from what i gather this is basically a kind of anime or manga that focuses on a female hero, as she fights crime with magic powers. Their are some noticeable tropes that go along with this like long transformation and the fact that their all in high school but it’s all in good fun. But what about sailor moon what is it about? Sailor Moon follows the exploits of one Tsukino Usagi a middle school student who one day find a cat that gives her magical powers and is also a moon princes. It seems ridiculous but it’s still some good old fun. Being the princes of the moon comes with some responsibilities though, first she needs to fight the evil Queen Beryl and her dark kingdom as she tries to steal the energy from the earth people. She also must assemble the sailor scouts a group of other moon people who will help her fight for the moon and against queen Beryl. She is Just a normal teenage girl and has the common traits that come with being a teenager like being a cry baby and also lazy. She also falls into most of Queen Beryl’s schemes. She is also aided by the mysterious tuxedo mask who really doesn’t do anything and is totally not Damian. Sounds like a lot of fun? Well it is well it is. It’s the perfect amount of camp and tropes that make it fun to watch even if you hate anime or even fun! What makes this series stand out to me is the characters they’re all pretty fun and interesting. First you have Tsukino Usagi who is relatable to a fault, she is lazy, and a crybaby and doesn’t do well on tests just like most grown adults who watch this show. Then you have sailor mercury who is a huge nerd and has trouble making friends because of how socially inept she is. There is also sailor Jupiter who is tomboyish and knows kung-fu. More and more sailor scouts join their crew as the show goes on and it only gets more and more interesting as the show goes on. What i think is most effective about the show is how relatable the characters are and how down to earth they are, their are normal people put into extraordinary circumstances.
Although they may seem quite different Marxist and Feminist criticism are quite similar. Both have to do with who has the power in society weather that be men or that be the rich. What is important about feminist criticism is about what it mean to be a women in society. The main thing that is brought up is the difference between the female, the feminine, and the feminist. Feminist is strictly about what it is like to be a woman in a male dominated society and the struggle that goes along with it. In contrast the female has really nothing to do with the struggle or about the patriarchy but more about what it’s like to be a women. Lastly femininity is what the patriarchy wants women to be. Marxist has a lot to do with feminism but you just got to replace men with the rich. Marxist criticism is all about the base and the superstructure. What Marx’s is talking about is that the base is the economy and everything around it is the superstructure. The superstructure is basically the culture that surrounds everything and is directly influenced by the base. That was a quick description of the methods we will be using to look at Sailor Moon.
First the feminist view. If we look at the feminine, the female, and the feminist sailor moon definitely falls into the Female. Although the show is very girl power and centers around girls doing things and fighting crime it really never about the woman’s struggle against a male dominated world. In fact their are not a lot of male characters. Besides tuxedo mask, swirly glasses and some of queens beryl’s henchmen their are not any real recurring male characters. In contrast there are a lot of female characters in fact the majority of characters are females. Another things is that it really does not focus on the characters in the terms of men. Most of the struggles in the show are based around what it is like being a women and what it means. An example of this is the episode focusing on weight loss, which has the villain making people think they are fat so they can go into the gym so they can steal their energy. Now body image is a very relevant topic in feminist circles, talking about the male gaze and how women’s bodies are fetishized. However the show goes against that and tell you to just be comfortable the way you are and not worry about what other people want to see. However this little lesson at the end is really not gendered in a way and is more general to everyone who might have body image problems. I think what this comes down to is audience, this is a story for teenage girls, so it deals with problems that teenage girls have and tries to give a solution or moral to help them get through it. Now weather that has to do with the patriarch is up to speculation. Yes you could say that body image problems affect women a great deal and this was probably written to help teenager over come this male glaze they face and the pressure to look a certain way. But you can also say the same for men. In the end i really don’t think sailor moon can be classified as a feminist work, it is certainly a female work as it focuses on what it is like to be female but it really does not focus on the struggle of women, but rather their condition.
Marxism is focused on one thing power who hold the power and what the economy has to do with it. To focus on this i want to look at the relationship between Queen Beryl and her servants. In this relationship Queen Beryl hold all the power and would represent the rich while her servant would represent the workers. Now Like Marx would say the worker is oppressed and we see Queen Beryl berate and even kill workers. So if we look at power queen Beryl has all of it. To look at another example i would like to focus on the first episode. The first episode is about jewelry. Basically the jist of the episode is that and evil servant of Queen B is using Jewelry to steal people’s energy, she get people to buy it through sales. This would be an example of a superstructure and a base. The base is the economy, the superstructure around that gave the jewelry value and therefore let the servant of Queen B steal energy. It is asking why we covet things that have no real value besides what the economy gives them. The metaphor of material goods stealing souls writes itself. So in short the Marxist criticism is that the superstructure gives frivolous items values for no reason, which is a product of the base.
Besides all that is sailor moon a relevant character? I think so. What is important to note about this is that Sailor moon falls for all these traps, she tries to lose weight and she tries to buy jewelry, however she also overcomes them like we all do. At the beginning of the story Sailor Moon is not a fully developed character who can react to a situation and have a stance on it, she is just a teenage girl and we see her overcome things like materialism and self image. We see all of her faults and all of her stupid mistakes, but we also see her overcome them, and rise to a leadership role. We see her doubt her ability to lead the sailor scouts but we also see her overcome it. Why i think sailor moon is still culturally relevant is because we see her deal with everyday problems and we see her overcome them in spectacular ways. I may never be a sailor scout but i will surely deal with body image problems or materialistic wants. That is why i think sailor moon is a relevant character, because of the relatable problems she overcomes.