In the world of manga and anime there is one genre that is essentially exclusive to it – Magical Girl. When we think of this genre it is hard to not automatically think about Sailor Moon. Many would agree for those outside of Japan, Sailor Moon is automatically associated with all things anime such as Pokemon and Dragon Ball. I doubt anyone could argue that Sailor Moon is not iconic. Sailor Moon redefined and set new standards for the Magical Girl genre in the anime world while simultaneously popularizing shoujo manga.
While Sailor Moon changed the industry, it also changed my childhood. I was born right in the middle of the 90’s while Sailor Moon was broadcasted in Japan from 1992 ’til 1997. It was finally ready for American consumption in 1995, and by that time I was old enough to understand cartoons I instantly fell in love with. In layman’s terms, this was about a moon princess kicking ass on earth, literally every little girl’s dream. We are all familiar with the idea that lots of girls were hoping to find their Prince Charming. Well, the pretty soldiers infiltrated my life so much I instead waited for a Tuxedo Mask to sweep me off my feet. I remember taking my baby sister’s baby carrier that had two long straps on it and placing it on my head so I could pretend it was Usagi’s long blond hair while spinning around on my parent’s bed yelling “MOON COSMIC POWER, MAKE UP”. It was definitely one of the reasons I started watching more anime – eventually turning me into a full blown otaku by the time I was in middle school. Before I knew there was a term to describe this kind of animation I always tried finding other cartoons that also looked like Sailor Moon. During elementary school, with the few female friends I played with, we always role-played by picking a Sailor Solider to reenact. When I got good grades and report cards, my mom rewarded me by taking a way-too-long 30-minute walk to the grocery store to buy me the movies on VHS. I would wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch Tokyo Mew Mew because it was close enough to be like Sailor Moon. I constantly drew the characters – they were all over my note books at home, on my homework, and any blank piece of paper I could get my hands on. Sometimes when people introduced me to others, they would feel the need to mention how obsessed I was.
They were quite right about my obsession, but the further I grew up, my beloved childhood role models become a distant memory. While I was soon to start my second year of college I discovered something amazing. The same old 90’s anime that was center to my childhood was getting the modern treatment. In the Summer of 2014, Toei started releasing a new version of Sailor Moon. It is called Sailor Moon Crystal, and the difference between this one and the old classic is that Crystal is truer to the manga in both plot and artwork.
Even prior to this, I started noticing in general how much more common anime has become in western culture. It was odd to me because I remember when I was younger I was teased relentlessly at family gatherings for my obsession with Sailor Moon and anime. I hated the drives to visit my cousins during that time because I was constantly put down by being labeled by them as a nerd. In middle school, the only kids who liked anime had hygiene problems. They were the schools’ lepers so I desperately tried to alienate myself from my interests so I could be normal. While other kids phone ringtones were songs such as Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music,” mine were opening themes to animes. At first I felt slight envy that high school kids could now walk into Hot Topic to grab a shirt with Usagi Tsukino’s face plastered on it so they could pair it with their skinny jeans because it’s cute or a well received fashion statement. Not only that, there was several other anime products being offered because enough people were now buying them now that they are considered cool. Of course, I didn’t stay mad for long, instead I became happy. I am glad that the culture now is a lot less hostile towards those who enjoy Japanese super heroes. Anyone who wanted to start watching anime had so many resources available at hand and many welcoming fans in the United States. You no longer had to go to an anime convention to buy t-shits and socialize with other like-minded individuals. While to an extent there is still a stigma when it comes to anime fans, it is still far less hostile in 2015.
It’s interesting to see the way modern technology and culture is treating the new Sailor Moon Crystal. Instead of being released on television, it is instead being streamed on Niconico, which is basically Japan’s version of YouTube. And thanks to the new enormous popularity of anime in the States, it gets rebroadcasted onto Crunchyroll.com and Hulu the next day once subs are put in. If it were not for the acceptance of Anime in this new age it would not in-a-million years be found on Hulu. And thanks to the new way of watching TV series, it is now streaming only through internet connections.
As I am establishing myself as an adult, it has been incredible to relive my childhood every 2 weeks with a new episode on Crunchy Roll. I feel an incredible sense of solidarity as I watch each episode and can find fans from several walks of life through the internet. I had no idea there were so many other women like me who also found solace as young girls when Sailor Moon came on their television sets when strong powerful female protagonists were diamonds in the rough during the 90’s. It has been 20 years since its birth in 1995, and yet here we are anticipating 2 new episodes every month. Yes, a large part of the fan base for Crystal are people like me getting drunk off nostalgia. Other Sailor Moon fans hate Crystal for its portrayal of the characters and animation quality. While it has reinvigorated the love for Sailor Moon, it has also sharply divided those same fans. Regardless, this only means that this wonderful anime is now being introduced to a brand new generation who might of never heard about it in the first place if it were not for Crystal. While lots of fans continue to hate it for valid reasons, I fall into the camp who adores Crystal. Through stressful essays and tests in college, I am a kid again for a brief 20 minutes finding escape in the magical moon kingdom.
When Lucy isn’t studying for exams or watching Sailor Moon she is a DJ for KSSU Sacramento State’s student run radio station.