I was a kid who absolutely loved to watch cartoons and anime, either before I went to school, had to go to sport or needed to procrastinate my homework. To be honest not much has changed. There were the standard Pokemon’s, Digimon’s and Dragonball Z’s that had me hook line and sinker, but no other show had me swooning each time I heard its theme song like the one and only Sailor Moon.
The beautiful transformation sequences, abundantly unique characters and powerful women, along with a simple yet effective storyline combine to give us, dare I say, the best cartoon heroine of all time. Here’s why:
A princess is often immediately characterised by Disney tropes of being helpless, weak, needing a man to help her(or in Mulan’s case, needing to become a man), having a resoundingly sweet singing voice and being the most beautiful girl in all the land. These characterisations portray dated ideologies made by some guy from the 1930s whose best work was about a girl who ate an apple and needed a man to wake her up so she could continue cleaning with all her little animal friends. It’s tedious and boring to see these girls from Disney play constructed roles so seamlessly, which is why the imperfect Sailor Moon (a.k.a Usagi, a.k.a Serena) is just the hero we need to save the day.
Unlike her princess counterparts, Sailor Moon wasn’t afraid to get messy. As a regular high school girl, Serena had no concern in her life other than an unhealthy obsession with boys, food and playing video games at the arcade instead of studying. She wasn’t born into heroism but ended up saving the Earth. Her flaw of reluctance only proves her relatability and humanity; if a talking cat called Luna climbed through my bedroom window and talked, I would most likely break down and/or call my mum and ask what she put in my food. The countless flaws that Disney princesses lack are made up for by Sailor Moon as her inability to do well at school, her ubiquitous crying and childish attitude synthesize to create a relatable, bratty teenage girl with heart of gold that she goes on to share with the world whilst fighting evil.
Sailor Moon became a beaconing advocate for women and girls to be represented as powerful, through the strong notion of unity and friendship between sailor scouts. There are ten main scouts; there would obviously be tension between the Guardian of Fire and Mars, Rei, and our sweetheart Serena. However, the fighting was left behind whenever there was an enemy to take down. Their strong bond of friendship triumphs over their differences and becomes their most powerful asset in battle. We see this in the season one finale where Serena breaks down after all of her friends have died, and before Rei’s final battle with the doom and gloom girls. Rei comforts the crying mess that is Serena in her last moments which juxtaposes her past reactions to Serena’s sporadic emotions. Moments like these exemplify how important friendship and bonds are. This is a consistent message throughout the series. Serena will do anything to protect her friends and that’s what a real princess should do.
Another blatant fuck you towards Disney movies from this brilliant anime was the fact that Serena was the powerhouse and not her male counterpart. Although Tuxedo Mask was suave, sophisticated and extremely hunky in his outfit, he didn’t stand a chance next to the sailor guardian of the moon in either appearance or power. Serena is a bloody gorgeous magical girl, even I wanted to be like her (which lead to many arguments with my mum about what I would be wearing to school book fairs). To be honest, I just wanted to have those damn blonde pigtails at my feet; they were gorgeous. Sailor Moon wasn’t overshadowed by Tuxedo Mask but had him there to support her when times were rough. Theirs is the truest form of love that has graced our screens – I’m so thankful that this is the unrealistic love that I aspire to share with someone one day.
No matter the challenge, Sailor Moon’s shining beacons of light and justice were able to dissipate even the strongest darkness through the powers of love, friendship and unity shared by herself and comrades. She is a badass bitch and she lets her foes know that she’s the sass queen of the show, as well as the most powerful Sailor Guardian in the team.
Sailor Moon is the ultimate juxtaposition to Disney princess movies. Her fatal flaws consume her as a character and translate into her leadership, friendship and love. Of course, we have Frozen and Mulan which challenge this juxtaposition but no-one’s flaws are made more apparent than the moon princess herself. She is an imperfect human which is why she is such a great heroine for people to look up to. She can be comfortable in her flaws and insecurities with her friends close by her side.
Looking back on this show as a 21-year-old man, I’m glad that my parents weren’t afraid to let me watch badass bitches in sailor outfits because it has made me the person I am today. I would like to give a special mention to this anime for pushing the boundaries of gender and homosexuality in the 90s. Sailor Neptune and Uranus are characters in this show that really do not give a fuck about their relationship, again showing that true love in its purest form is achievable. Sailor Moon is the best, peace out.