Sailor Moon: The Hero I Needed

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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.

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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.

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Haruka and Michiru (Sailor Uranus and Neptune)

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.

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Sailor Starlights (Taiki, Seiya, and Yaten, AKA: Sailor Star Maker, Fighter, and Healer)

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.

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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.

The Futility of “Being the Adult” (Thoughts on A Series of Unfortunate Events)

I recently had a self-imposed four-day weekend, due to having unused vacation days at work that would disappear if I didn’t use them. I was supposed to use that weekend to get caught up on projects I wanted to work on, and while I did do that, I also…participated in less productive activities. Hey, if I’m going to take two whole days off of work, there better be at least some relaxation, right? 

That bit of relaxation manifested in the form of me binging the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix

I didn’t read the books when I was younger (except for the eighth one, not realizing it was part of a series), but I regret it now, because the jargon in the show is dripping in Lemony Snicket’s captivating writing style. Overall, I thought the tone of the show had such an impressive level of wit, beautiful storytelling, and really managed to bring you along for the, well, unfortunate ride of the Baudelaire orphans. Everything hit the mark for me so far, and I’m so hopeful for the rest of the show (except for that final musical number. I’m still a little salty about that.)

For those who haven’t watched it, here’s a quick, mostly spoiler-free summary: the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, were told by their parents to go out for a leisurely day by the beach, which struck as a little bit odd to the children. During this leisurely outing, they are approached by Mr. Poe, who informs them that their parents died in a fire that set their home ablaze. The death of their parents forces them to live with their closest living relative, Count Olaf. Olaf is downright cruel to them, and is constantly scheming to find a way to get the Baudelaire fortune, which was entrusted to Violet when she turns eighteen (she is fourteen when the story starts. Klaus is twelve, and Sunny is an infant.) The story details the several unfortunate events that spiral out of control after they move in with him, as they try to avoid him using them for their inheritance, however he may try to get it. However, the Baudelaire children aren’t your ordinary group of kids: they’re much smarter. Violet is a master inventor, Klaus is essentially a human encyclopedia, and Sunny’s few teeth are sharper than your best kitchen knife, and these skills help them keep their head afloat in a time where they’re almost drowning in misfortune.

As I was watching this show, I couldn’t help but think of the subtle points made through painfully obvious situations about the capability and self-awareness of children, and the futility of “being the adult.” 

Despite Violet and Klaus being mentally capable of handling the adult world without their parents, shown through how they were able to prepare a meal for Count Olaf’s theater troupe on their own (with minor help from Judge Strauss, who helped them find a recipe), the adults in their lives seem to constantly undermine their intelligence. Not only that, but I noticed many instances where the adults were blatantly shown to make incredibly terrible decisions, showing their incapability to “be the adult” in situations. These are the instances where I seemed to notice it the most. (hint: there will be spoilers):

  • Mr. Poe constantly defining longer/complicated words for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, despite them already knowing/not asking for clarification.
  • Mr. Poe for some reason, passing the kids along to a strange man who only claims to have relation to the kids, but never shows any actual proof. Seriously?! 
  • Mr. Poe never ever believing that Count Olaf is trying to ruin everything through disguising himself to dole out some more dastardly plans (I have a LOT of problems with Mr. Poe, clearly.)
  • Mr. Poe somehow LOSING the kids before they run off to the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, which leads to the owner (who’s a real dick) putting them to work, despite them being incredibly underage (okay I’m done complaining about Mr. Poe, now.)
  • Judge Strauss believing Count Olaf’s bogus claim that the kids are spoiled and always complain, despite the fact that she had talked to them the day before, and they were nothing but polite and gracious to her.
  • Judge Strauss CONTINUING to disregard what they have to say when Count Olaf offers her a chance to fulfill her lifelong dream of being an actress (but at this point, I figured she was just beyond gullible. Which lead to her dismay, anyway!)
  • Their Aunt Josephine being so self-involved in her own fear, that she almost disregards the kids entirely (because her fear and problems were always more important than the fact these kids have just lost their parents, endured the “care” of an evil man who just wants their money, and had an uncle killed by the same man who wants their fortune. Yes, Josephine, please focus more on how scared you are of everything.)
  • Aunt Josephine (condescendingly) correcting their grammar in situations where the situation was more dangerous than their improper grammar.

Their Uncle Monty, who was the second guardian they were passed along to, Jacquelyn (Mr. Poe’s secretary, who is a part of the secret society that the Baudelaire kids’ parents belong to) and even Count Olaf, are probably the only adults who don’t treat the kids like they’re incapable of handling themselves. Sure, Justice Strauss eventually feels bad for not believing in them, and their Aunt Josephine has faith that they’d figure out how to find her when she fakes her death, but several times in between those moments, they undermine them as if they were just ordinary kids. However, they show countless times to the adults in their lives that they are anything but ordinary.

As you watch this show, it’s so tempting to sit there and think “there’s no way an adult would make that decision,” and I thought that on several occasions. However, the way those choices were so blatantly put in there, and with how often it happened, it felt like an artistic choice. It’s like the show runners purposely exaggerated the flaws in the adults, and emphasizing the strengths in the kids, to make a point about what it really means to “be an adult.” Sure, there’s a time when you finally become a legal adult, but legal adults still often act like children (I’m sure we all know a few, like that.) We’re all taught that getting to a certain age means that you have the knowledge equipped to handle any situation, and that children often “don’t know what they want” or “don’t have enough life experience” to know how to handle things themselves. While both of these statements can be true, I think A Series of Unfortunate Events does a fantastic job at blurring those lines, showing that the capability of children is really much more complex than we make it out to be.

I think this show is brilliant for all that it accomplished in just the first season. It’s such a brilliant subject matter for current and upcoming generations, showing that young people really are smarter, more capable, and more self-aware than we give them credit for. Too often in society, I see people who are older discredit someone just because they’re not closer in age to them, and while age does have a lot to do with becoming more mature, it’s not an end-all for making that kind of judgement on someone. Maturity is something we have to actively work on; that’s not something we gain simply by letting the biological clock tick. The Baudelaire orphans show how possible it is for young people to adapt to their surroundings, be resourceful in times of need, and be self-aware enough to know what they need to survive, and I think the media rarely gives that kind of credit to an age group that could be easily underestimated.