Monday, 7 July 2014

Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal- Mahou Shoujo at Its Finest

Even if you don’t follow anime all that much, it’s extremely hard to avoid the Sailor Moon phenomenon. Even the guys I live with know about it, and that’s not just because I haven’t stopped talking about it since I watched Sailor Moon Crystal at the weekend, but I’ll come to that later. Sailor Moon is one of the most popular mangas/animes in the world, and when you watch or read it, it’s easy to see why. Girl power! Relatable characters! Talking cats! Magic powers! Unnecessarily long outfit changes! The list goes on and on. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Sailor Moon, it’s hard to deny it lasting influence and creation, if not affirmation of some anime tropes.

Way back in the early 90s, a little show called Sailor Moon started in Japan. It followed the story of Usagi Tsukino, a 14-year old schoolgirl who discovers that she’s a member of the Sailor Senshi, and must defend the Earth against the evil Queen Beryl and her minions in the Negaverse. Luckily for Usagi, she has a (very patient) mentor in Luna, a talking cat, who also helps her find other members of the Sailor Senshi. A few years later, it got (poorly) dubbed into English, and aired in the UK, which is how I came across it, scrolling for shows to watch after school. Now, I’ll admit. I wasn’t that big on Sailor Moon when it started, and I preferred Cardcaptors (the dub of Cardcaptor Sakura) Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh. However, one of my childhood friends totally loved it, so I watched it, and then later we’d re-enact it on the playground at school. I never really thought about it that much as I got older until I got on procrastination-tool Tumblr, and a whole lot of the accounts I’d follow would reblog stills from the 90s show, gorgeous fan-art, and the odd still from the disastrous live-action film. I’ve found that as I’ve got older, I appreciate the show so much more. I’m rewatching the show from the start and absolutely loving it, as well as all the nostalgia! 

But why do I love it? As well as essentially perfecting the formula for mahou-shoujo (that’s magical girl anime, in case you were wondering) the content itself is really amazing. The characters aren’t just caricatures and archetypes, they full, expanded personalities. They have completely human traits, which make them extremely believable as characters. When Serena/Usagi finds out she’s a sailor scout what’s her first reaction? She wants out! I would most likely act in the same way, especially if my cat started talking to me. Above all that is the underlying message of girl power running throughout the show. Sure, Tuxedo Mask helps the girls out, but they’re never dependent on him to save the day, and they kick ass in their own regards and in their own way. Every single character fights, an no one slacks off. It's all about teamwork and co-operation, which is an excellent message to send. It (as well as Cardcaptors) had a pretty profound effect on me as a kid, and was one of the things that made me realise that ladies could totally kick ass and be super cute at the same time.

Sailor Moon Crystal is the reimagining/remake/adaptation of the manga that has been highly anticipated by a lot of fans. I’ve lazily followed its progression, rumours and news online, but when I sat down to watch the first episode, I totally loved it. I’m not usually one to follow anime (I’m VERY choosy when it comes to watching anime) but I’ll be following this! It follows the story of the manga almost perfectly, with the first episode being the first chapter, or act in the manga, following Usagi as she becomes a Sailor Senshi. The animation is updated, favouring a more ethereal colour palette and modernised style. The only niggle I have with the animation is that in Usagi’sepic transformation, it looks almost TOO digitised and almost video-gamey for my liking. This may well be me being a bit picky and too in love with the original, but it just didn’t sit right with me. The new series seems to be trying to be more serious than the old series, but I think it works quite well. The girl-power drive is still strongly in the show (just check out the theme tune for evidence of this!) and this warms my heart to see. The story is an almost perfect adaptation of the manga, and while there are less of Usagi’s OTT facial expressions and reactions, it’s still damn good, and I will continue to watch it weekly, and regale my housemates with tales of talking cats and magical girls.

If you want to know more about Sailor Moon, The Mary Sue are putting together an exhaustive guide to the show here.

You can watch Sailor Moon Crystal here.

Let me know what you think! 

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