One of the reasons I started this project is because I love being able to see how one creative work can influence another, and how certain artistic ideas endure and evolve over the years — the geneology of art, you could call it. Seeing how Sailor Moon influenced its descendants is pretty easy; figuring out how Sailor Moon was influenced by its ancestors takes a little more effort. Here are a few examples I observed where Sailor Moon took a trope from its forebears and put its own spin on it:
1. Like the girl-aimed shows from the 80s, Sailor Moon gave its heroine a couple of adorable animal mascots to serve as mentors. However, compared to the squeaky-voiced cutesy-poo mascots of the Pierrot girls, Luna and Artemis are much more serious and dignified. They come across like reasonable adults in feline form (which according to the manga is exactly what they are) with a lot more depth and complexity to their characters than I’d expect from a mascot. They also get a lot more focus than is usual; Luna has plenty of scenes where she’s investigating the latest villainous activities by herself and being her own autonomous character, and if there’s another MG show that had a whole film dedicated to a mascot’s romance with a human, I can’t think of it.
Funny how Precure would later go in the opposite direction, taking us back into revoltingly cute territory, complete with babytalking voices and gratuitous verbal tics. I’m looking at you, Heartcatch fairies.
2. The Monsters-of-the-Week in Sailor Moon all look like they stepped out of Cutey Honey TOS.
Interesting, I knew Cutey Honey was a big factor for Sailor Moon but it’s all the more obvious with side-by-side comparisons!
Some writers have a rather cynical view of their audience. They believe that you, the audience, suck. In fact, you suck so much that you couldn’t possibly relate to a protagonist who’s actually heroic or admirable in any way. No, you need a protagonist who sucks just as much as you do, someone who’s a pathetic loser with few redeeming qualities, so that you can easily put yourself in their shoes. You’re welcome.
This approach to building a protagonist is sometimes called This Loser Is You, and I viscerally loathe it with the fire of a thousand suns, so you can imagine my horror at how the protagonist of Sailor Moon, Usagi Tsukino, fits this trope to a T. She’s a whiny, shallow, stupid, cowardly crybaby who we’re inexplicably expected to root for and even relate to, despite her being one of the most insufferable heroines I’ve ever come across. How did this happen? Do the writers really hate their audience that much? Or, God forbid, do they think her constant tantrums and complete incompetence are somehow cute? Gah!
lol interesting read.
I actually agree with Usagi being way more balanced & likable in the manga! It’s interesting how divisive a character she can be. Besides the crying that tends to get on people’s nerves some people consider her to be a total Mary Sue. Other people, like you say, consider her a groundbreaking feminist icon. It’s nice to hear outside viewpoints sometimes, and yeah I actually agree with a bit of this. She doesn’t grate on my nerves as bad as she does for some people, but I can see why she does. Interesting how much Sailor Moon really is a product of its time, makes me wonder how it’ll be updated in the upcoming anime?