In the summer of 2018, while taking care of my family’s dog during their trip to Canada, I made the decision to finally watch the original Sailor Moon. I had watched the americanized version when it was airing on TV during my grade school years, and I remember falling in love with its magical charm. The love for this show never really died, as I was thrilled when Sailor Moon Crystal made its way to Hulu. However, with how short-lived that reboot was, I felt like I was left hanging in regards to more Sailor Moon content. It had never really occurred to me that the two versions of this show that I had watched weren’t necessarily the full scope of what this universe had to offer, so I went boldly into this magical adventure, ready for my life to be changed.
As I write this, it’s now the beginning of 2019, and I have finished all 200 episodes. And yes, it was worth every minute of my time.
After finishing this show, it was no surprise that it’s been something that’s stuck with me for so long. The transformation sequences and fight scenes are cathartic, the sense of camaraderie with all of the main characters feels like you’re sitting right in the diner drinking a milkshake with them, and the way Usagi Tsukino (aka Sailor Moon) triumphs over evil makes you believe that literally anything is possible. She was the hero I needed when I was younger, and to my surprise, she’s still the hero I look up to, today.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that this show had aged so well. If you know me, you know how much I appreciate good quality representation in shows, whether it’s for representation of women, queer identities, people of color, or any other marginalized group. So considering how much I look out for these things in the shows I watch, I was so happy to see that the messages for empowering women can still be applied to today. The main cast is headstrong, determined, and are always willing to fight for what’s right, and though Sailor Moon stumbles and cries through a lot of the tense situations, she ultimately inspires people to make choices based on what you feel is right, not by what others expect of you.
Not only that, but the queer representation in this show is phenomenal. The show handled Haruka and Michiru’s (Sailor Uranus and Neptune) relationship in such a positive way. The two of them were unapologetic in expressing their love and attraction to each other, and definitely didn’t shy away from some heavy sexual innuendos.
I was also surprised to see that they weren’t the only ones, as they introduced the Sailor Starlights in the final arc of the show, a trio of Sailor Guardians who disguised themselves as a male pop band in order to search for their princess. One of the Starlights, Seiya (otherwise known as Sailor Star Fighter), was determined to get Usagi to fall in love with her, and the show definitely showed its growth when Usagi didn’t cringe at the idea of a woman falling for her. Granted, she first assumed he was a man, but didn’t react negatively about it when the Starlights revealed that they were actually women. It may have been subtle, but I think it showed promise.
Of course, the show isn’t without its problematic moments. I mean, it was definitely a product of its time as a 90’s show. As I began watching it this past summer, I was wondering just how how often I would cringe and wish I was watching something more progressive. I mean, there was a whole episode about weight loss, and it was ladened with messages about your body needing to look a certain way to be beautiful. Usagi and her friends were definitely a little iffy about the relationship between Haruka and Michiru, and often referred to it as the types of relationships that women shouldn’t have (minus Ami, aka Sailor Mercury, who called them out at one point for making too much of a big deal out of it).
And while these problems were there, I think the show eventually grew into something that could stand as a positive show with good messages to take away. To be fair, they were in the show throughout the entire thing, but the show eventually found its footing and held its own as something that could inspire its viewers, much like Usagi grew into the gentle, but determined leader that she became by the end of the show.
Looking back into when I decided to start watching the original Sailor Moon series, and how I feel now just after finishing it, I almost feel like I was meant to watch it at this time of my life. There are so many themes regarding following your dreams, doing what you know is right in your heart, and remembering that you’re not alone in anything that you might be struggling with. It inspired me in ways I wasn’t expecting, and I’m so glad I decided to make the long journey through it.
In fact, it inspired me so much that it’s looking like the novel I’ve been talking on and on to friends and family about starting will be an urban fantasy story, much like Sailor Moon! Of course, it won’t be just like it, but it definitely will be in the sense that it will center around young people with magical powers. Specifically, young queer people with magical powers, because that is definitely the book I needed as a kid. I always found it hard to brainstorm stories with fantasy elements, even if it’s just a light amount of fantasy, but watching this show at this time of my life helped me get the inspiration to create something inspired by a show that has stuck with me for so long. It feels kind of cheesy to say that, but listen, I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it. Also, I have the potential to be cheesy. I’m aware!
Overall, I’m so glad Sailor Moon exists. I’m so glad I let myself enjoy it in so many different stages of my life. Who knows? Maybe I’ll watch it all over again in a few years. This show made me feel whole in such a way that I feel will be eternal. I’m more than okay with this.