These Books Made Me

Manga Edition: Sailor Moon, Part 2

December 23, 2021 Prince George's County Memorial Library System
These Books Made Me
Manga Edition: Sailor Moon, Part 2
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We are back with part 2 of our foray into the world of Sailor Moon. In this episode we will discuss romanticism, Usagi's leadership style, the male gaze in Sailor Moon, and how much of a downer it would be to outlive everyone you love. 

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped us and is a product of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System podcast network. Stay in touch with us via Twitter @PGCMLS with #TheseBooksMadeMe or by email at TheseBooksMadeMe@pgcmls.info. For recommended readalikes and deep dives into topics related to each episode, visit our blog at https://pgcmls.medium.com/.                                       

Maria:

Hi, I'm Maria.

Heather:

I'm Heather

Vilma:

I'm Vilma.

Darle:

And I'm Darlene.

Maria:

And this is our podcast These Books Made Me: Manga Edition. Today we're going to be talking about Sailor Moon. Friendly warning as always: this podcast contains spoilers. If you don't yet know Chibi Chibi's true identity, continue at your own risk.

Darlene:

Naoko Takeuchi, the creator of Sailor Moon once said "heroes of justice tend to come from a specific type, but I wanted to make her unconventional. She's a crybaby and lazy, and sometimes even cheats a little. I wanted to draw a normal girl like that. So Usagi is pretty self-centered although she matures over the course of the story's run and her selfishness and self-centeredness come to the surface too. I keep drawing her thinking what a little witch." < L augh> I, when I read that, I immediately thought of Jane Austen's quote about Emma, where she said, I'm going to take a heroine whom no one, but myself much like, which I thought was very interesting because Sailor Moon is very well liked amongst people, but I don't know, when I was younger, she wasn't my favorite character. And I think that it was because, you know, she was very a crybaby. She wasn't very like adept < l augh> and everyone else seemed like they had better leadership qualities than she did. And so it's just natural to kind of gravitate towards one of them because they kind of present more confident and in charge. But one thing that's great about Usagi is that she kind of leads by example and by her own warmth. And I think that that's what fans have kind of come around to really loving about her over the years. I don't know. How do you guys feel?

Heather:

I love the Emma quote. I think that's so great because it's really true. Like, especially at the beginning, I don't think Usagi is the character that anyone identifies with. Right? I mean, she really struggles. Like it's a struggle for her. She's constantly crying. She constantly is like, I don't wanna do this. We talked about sort of the reluctant heroine aspect, but it is sort of a coming of age story for her because she, we watch her mature. We watch her sort of grow into her powers. We watch her eventually, you know, learn to, I guess, embrace her role. But then that also does bring up with the other characters. Why do they follow her? And this idea of like, how much of it is choice, how much of it is th at they're just kind of accepting their fate or their destiny to be in that role to her as the leader, there's a lot to explore with Usagi's leadership qualities. What do you all think?

Vilma:

Uh , yeah, Usagi, definitely like she was not the, the heroine I was looking for when I was younger. As I've gotten older, I've learned to understand her and be more accepting of the fact that, you know, she wasn't off looking for adventure. She saw this kitten in, well, not kitten, a cat being, you know, bullied in the street by these kids. And she jumped into protect it, which right there, she was exhibiting warmth and leadership in a certain way. And I guess it could almost seem like the other Scouts didn't have a choice, but to follow her, but you do see her grow. And sometimes she takes like two steps forward, one back, like she's kind of a crybaby throughout and she does some immature things, but there is consistent growth. Like, and it's with that warmth, she's able to put Amy at ease when Amy comes from a very like sheltered kind of like she's very alone and she's immediately able to connect with Usagi and Usagi is the one that's usually , um, trying to be a peacekeeper in things like she wants to talk about things, as opposed to when we're first introduced to Uranus and Neptune, you know, the other Sailor Scouts are immediately like suspicious of them and they don't trust them and they kind of wanna fight. And then later on when that new group is introduced, when Saturn is introduced again, it's like very violent. Let's fight them. They're enemies. And Usagi's usually the one going like, can we like talk about this when, before she had been the most immature, I definitely agree that the other Scouts in the beginning showed more leadership potential. And the thing is that she leads with her warmth with her love , uh , with being protective. And at one point she even says, you know, I'm not trying to save the world. I'm just trying to save the people I love. I'm trying to protect the people I love, which I thought was beautiful. It's very clear that all of her leadership comes from her loving the people around her and the Scouts, although it is predestined, definitely. They genuinely love her back, which I think kind of takes away some of the negative connotations for me because they all choose to follow her. Maybe it was predestined, but it comes from a place of such love and respect that I feel like it, it works out fairly well. I don't feel like they ever feel like they're missing out. They're pretty fulfilled in what they're doing because they love Usagi the way they do.

Maria:

Yeah. She's very naïve, but she's maybe the most empathetic mm -hmm < affirmative > of the group, which is why she's such a crybaby. I mean, she feels everything so closely when her friends are injured or even when she comes across some of the villains like Queen Beryl or even like Sailor Galaxia like, she feels for them and it's just like, it's very emotional for her. And I think that's also why everyone else protects her. I mean, Ami was very, very quiet, but she's, she's got a strength to that quietness everyone does is, but I guess, because Usagi's just like a very sweet, empathetic character. I, I guess everyone seems to wanna use that or, or want to protect her for it, which I guess when we like talked about keeping her clean or like away from all that evil, but she definitely uses her strengths with that to kind of like bring out the good in others. So I think that's also why it's a good leadership quality cuz she knows how to kind of pull that out.

Darlene:

Yeah, And I think it's also great that at least you see it in the manga a lot, but she is aware of that kind of effect that she has on other people. And it's more so in a way that she feels guilty, that people fight for her and that people seem to die for her, spoilers, I guess. < laugh > . Um, but that kind of self-awareness I think also detracts from it being such a like negative image in your mind. I think I also thought that it was really interesting that the creator kind of used a lot of her negative qualities as parts of her power. Like I think in the beginning when she really was struggling with everything, her cry in itself was like a power.

Maria:

Yeah, that's true,

Darlene:

which I thought was really interesting and sort of like empowering these really like negative traits that people have with like teenage girls or like usefulness in general, like crying, cuz we did have that whole discussion about how people want to protect her from these things. There was that point where Tuxedo Mask or Mamoru didn't wanna like burden her with what he was going through because he didn't wanna put more on her. And I remember that was like the tension that I created as well. So I don't know that I always liked it cuz I, I sometimes felt like that tension was kind of unwarranted < l augh> cuz they could just be like open and honest with each other. Like what would her knowing about what was like it's going on regardless mm- h mm < a ffirmative> like she's gonna have to deal with it anyway. And yet they like would keep things from her in protecting her. I think they're also protecting that vision of the future and that piece. And I think that that's also what keeps them going. But we did have that discussion before about how we felt about how like undying their loyalty was to her mm- h mm < a ffirmative> and how that was kind of very strange cuz she gets to live her life. She gets to, you know, marry someone and have a child and they seem very much like that they've accepted their fate, that they're just gonna protect her mm- h mm < a ffirmative> and protect the kingdom. And that that's primarily their goal. And it's brought up many times, especially with someone like Sailor Venus who has a lot of dreams about being like an idol and she wants to date around and then it it's like twice in the manga you get her having this realization that no she's already sworn loyalty to one person only. And then that's Usagi and I'm just like, I, I feel like you can still have your life and still protect her and this kingdom. And I , I didn't like how it was one or the other

Heather:

Sailor Moon is essentially a romantic story and, and not just romantic in the form of like, oh, love between people, but like romanticism you know, this idea of devotion to beauty and truth and peace and you have this initially damsel in distress, even, even though she's very powerful, like she doesn't know her powers at the beginning, so she's always just, oh I hope Tuxedo Mask comes and saves me even though she really doesn't need saving per se, but that is the relationship that's set up at the beginning. And I wonder with the other girls like Sailor Venus seems to have the most maybe natural like leadership yeah. Qualities early on. But the way that she exerts that is almost in the form of like a knight, like in a, you know, a traditional knights and princess and fairytale and dragon kind of role where she's not looking to marry the princess, she's giving her life to sort of be in the service of what Sailor Moon embodies like of her queen. You know, mm - hmm, < affirmative > , it's this real commitment to she's fundamentally good and pure and, and this protectiveness and that there's some, you know, noble aspect of devoting your life to that. That is maybe satisfying to her. But it's interesting just thinking of it in that way, because you would think that this would turn into a, an inversion of sort of romantic tropes. It never really does. Does it, the, the only like real inversion is that you have more females i n roles that are typically reserved for males, like knights going to slay the dragon kind of thing. Well, this, there usually are girls who are doing that, but at core, I don't know that Usagi really turns any of those tropes on their head because she retains still throughout that sort of warm helplessness about her, even when she is incredibly powerful. It's a, it's a very, interesting dichotomy contained within that one character. But I think like the through line through this story is pretty classically a romantic story.

Darlene:

Yeah, And she pretty much is the personification of kill 'em with kindness. Like I never thought about it until maybe more recently when I was watching the anime again and uh , reading the manga, the silver millennium crystal is pretty much like her pure of heart.

Maria:

Yeah.

Darlene:

Right. Yeah. And that light is supposed to shine upon like anything dark in the whole series. I don't know that it's necessarily like an inversion of the trope, but it is nice to kind of have that traditionally like feminine quality, like that empathy and that love and that light be considered something very strong, almost unbeatable strong mm - hmm < affirmative > like, that's kind of that energy source that all the villains kind of chase after, throughout the whole series, not knowing that even if they had it, they wouldn't really know how to do anything with it because they don't possess that pure of heart.

Maria:

Yeah. And it's interesting too, I guess, going back to the knight trope or, or even in Sailor Moon Crystal, we saw Prince Endymion or Mamoru's past life. I mean he had his knights.

Heather:

Yeah.

Maria:

And, and like Sailor Moon Crystal, you see l, those knights were paired off with a sailor scout. Yeah. And each one was killed off. And in order for that to kind of like accomplish it was it kind of pushed them to go off and defend Sailor Moon and kind of just step away from those love interests As well.

Darlene:

Yeah. I always felt bad that he never got to keep his knights the way that she kept hers, essentially. I guess that'd be too many characters to focus on, but

Heather:

I mean, he, he gets the short end of this stick. < laugh > a lot of Times throughout the story, like I feel like he has a rough go of it at many points along the way, but you know, it's not about him really < laugh >

Darlene:

Yeah. I don't know if I brought this up in the first part, but I think Takeuchi did say that she doesn't feel that same like empathy or pull towards her male characters and that's why they go through so much and that's why she can kill them off so easily. < laugh > so I do think that there's something there, like it's not really about them and I don't think that they were at the forefront of her mind.

Maria:

Yeah. And I think that's why the anime stepped in and kind of gave Mamoru like a huge backstory and we even seek male male like relationship with him. And I can't remember the character's name, but with the rose, that's why the rose was so big in the anime , um , itself.

Darlene:

Oh yeah. For Sailor Moon R the movie.

Maria:

Exactly. Yeah.

Darlene:

That was my favorite. One of all of them <laugh>

Maria:

But it's just like a big moment. Mamoru got that glimpse of like male love from this character in the anime movie. So I thought that was interesting.

Darlene:

Yeah. And the anime does that as well. I think even for like Usagi's leadership , um, I do think that it expands on it because it gives a lot of redemption arc to some of the villains mm- hmm < affirmative > like the way that rather than her, you know, like Silver Millennium Crystal, just kind of like turning them to dust a lot of the times it redeems them. Yeah. Um , which I think kind of expands on that notion of how it's supposed to bring about peace and love. And I don't think that we see that in the manga cuz it's really just like once she like uses that they're just gone. Yeah. Yeah. Um , so a hundred percent like great in terms of killing off her villains, but it's not really that much of a redemptive story, the way that it is in the anime.

Vilma:

Yeah. Mamoru's four knights. I think we see them like twice more and one of those is in a flashback mm - hmm < affirmative > and then like he actually keeps their gems and like they can astral project and they're still watching over him as astral projections, but it's not the same. Yes . You know, Usagi's interactions with her own knights. So it was definitely like very lopsided.

Maria:

I, I guess that makes it a little harder to swallow what Mamoru says to her about how she'll end up outliving them.

Darlene:

Oh yeah,

Heather:

yeah,

Maria:

Yeah. It's < laugh > no conversation.

Heather:

back to the downer again .

Vilma:

< laugh > okay. So that, that was super sad because at the end, once we find who Chibi Chibi is, we find out that it's Sailor Moon from the future beyond what we'd already seen her in the future. And the fact that she's there with them and has to take inspiration from her younger teenage self, given the fact that all of Usagi's power seems to come from her love and her relationships. The fact that she couldn't find that in her time had to go to the past kind of implies that she didn't have anybody at that time to take strength from and to want to protect, which is why she was in the past. And that was just, it seems so very sad because in the last line of the manga, Mamoru does give that kind of very negative, very kind of heartbreaking , um , foreshadowing where he's like, you know, you'll outlive us, I don't remember the wording exactly. But it did imply that she would continue long after all the rest of them had died. And with Usagi whose relationships are so important to her, that just, it just felt like such a tragic ending to me. Like as soon as I read that, I was like, what, there's another chapter, right? What is this? No, I don't like this < laugh > yeah. Maybe I read too much into it. I'm hoping I read too much into it, but that's kind of like where it ended off in my mind. And that was kind of a bit of a downer.

Heather:

I think that interpretation is accurate so well. And I think also, but that's a very class, classic fantasy trope as well. Right? Yeah. You have this sort of romanticized notion of the person that outlives everyone else. And there is sort of like a loneliness to the heroes journey. Like you get that a lot in, in Tolkien mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Vilma:

and Merlin also in the Arthurian legends, Merlin's the last one left

Heather:

Where it's just this idea of this person loves across time and across like the boundaries of, you know, whatever the impediments are, but ultimately at the end they're alone. Like, because the person with that amount of power just kind of keeps going on and everyone else sort of falls by the wayside. I don't know. It's a very like Arwen from Lord of the Rings. Yeah. Kind of example. And it's not a like nice, happy ever after bow to put on things at all. I, I wonder about that choice too.

Vilma:

And I mean, in a way you could almost find hope in that because in that final arc, she was alone for a huge portion of it. And in that final fight, she was alone, which we had not seen before. She always had somebody there, if not to, you know, physically fight with her then to give her the emotional strength that she needed , um, that final fight was, you know, her alone. And then it's implied that she's gonna be alone in the future. But that doesn't mean she will always be alone. Like that's kind of a different way I started thinking about it. Maybe now that she's kind of taken strength from her younger self, she can go to the future and try to build new relationships. Or I don't know, Sailor Moon's all about reincarnation. Maybe they'll be reincarnated again, who knows? But I was trying to think of how it wouldn't end too heartbreakingly. And I was like, okay, because there is loss in real life mm-hmm <affirmative> and if she could just learn to move forward from that, it wouldn't be the tragic, she's all alone and heartbroken in the future. That's kind of how I started thinking. I just to try to make myself feel a little better about it. < laugh > we now know that she can fight alone. She can defeat these huge odds by herself. She has that strength, I guess it would be, how can she handle her personal life? Can she move forward? Which we will not know cuz I'm pretty sure she's not gonna keep writing these, but it's an interesting way to look forward. And of course there's always like the fanart and fan , uh , doujinshi. I should probably start looking those up. See what other people have said. Like fan interpretations are really half of the fun with Sailor Moon, I think. Yeah. Yeah . So there's a lot out there.

Darlene:

Yeah. And the anime, I think does a really visual interpretation Of kind of the fact that she, like you said, she had those relationships along the way and she's kind of taken strength from that. Mm - hmm < affirmative > and so even if they're gone, they kind of still exist within her. Yeah. Um , and it's kind of, sort of that same, you know, the same concept as like grief being like love persevering, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> mm - hmm < affirmative > so the fact that they may be gone, but they've still given her so much that she still kind of retains all of their love and all the love for them and all their love for her within her. And I guess that might give her some strength and maybe that's something that she had forgotten and needed to be reminded of. Yeah. Yeah.

Maria:

Guys, I'm going to cry. I think <laugh> this week we're going to play a game courtesy of uQuiz let's find out which Sailor Moon character we are. Okay. For question one, imagine a mysterious cat with a glowing crescent moon on her forehead follows you down the road. You turn towards her and she begins to talk of the apocalypse to come and insists it is your duty to save the world. What do you do, ladies?

Heather:

Okay. We'll just read the answers we pick because there's so many answers for every question on this quiz, cuz they really are. I think trying to capture a whole lot of the characters <laugh> I'm going to go. I straighten my posture. I say, oh, is it my time to shine? Finally, have I finally been chosen? If this is my burden to bear then I shall bear it as a hero must I'm ready. I was born for this. <laugh>

Vilma:

Uh, I panic and run home. I yell as the cat is chasing me. Horror music begins to play in my head as I run

Darlene:

<laugh> I ask the cat where she's from and who she is. Cuz I feel like if anything, I'll always ask questions.

Maria:

I think I take her home , um , to explain herself, let's be like, let's go to my house and have some tea and talk about this. Okay. <laugh>. okay. Question two in the local bookstore. You...?

Heather:

This one's really tough because well, okay. We all work in a library. So I feel like bookstores are already like just crises of what to choose for us. < laugh > um , I think I would pick the volume of poetry that I know will deeply move me and carry it in my purse. Rereading it till it's spine cracks. < laugh >

Vilma:

I would choose some pulp fiction in the sci-fi slash horror slash thriller genres. It's about the excitement of It all.

Heather:

That's a good one too though. <laugh>

Darlene:

Yeah. I was like, I think I'm gonna go for that one.

Maria:

Think I'm going to be the odd one out and just go to stationary. < laugh > okay. Question three. Which of these archetypes do you relate to the most?

Heather:

Okay. We can read these cuz these there's a lot, but they're one worders. So like our choices are the mystic, the knight, the princess, the mage, the artist-poet, the scholar, the jester, the mentor, the ghost, the lover or the rebel.

Multiple voices:

Or the traveler.

Heather:

Oh and the traveler. Sorry. Bottom of my scrolling. < laugh >

Maria:

I think I'd go with the traveler. always.

Heather:

I'm torn on this one. Um

Darlene:

Yeah, there are so many good ones.

Maria:

Yeah,

Heather:

There are.

Vilma:

I'm thinking the mystic. I'll go with the mystic.

Heather:

I'll go with the mage.

Darlene:

all right. I think I'm gonna go with the princess.

Maria:

Okay. Question four. You're sitting down at a concert and the people in the chairs in front of you keep taking selfies, which you feature in the background of what do you do? < laugh > I'm looking down. I feel very awkward and try to look busy, looking down at my phone. < laugh >

Heather:

<laugh> I think I'm exchanging a humorous look with my friend and I don't feel bothered about it though. I am tempted by the one that says to like basically photobomb them < laugh > but I was deterred by everyone's a potential friend after all and striking up a conversation with them. Cuz I think I would just photo bomb them and not like talk to them.

Vilma:

Yeah. That option's not up, but that's.

Heather:

That's not there I'll I'll just laugh about it with my friend.

Vilma:

Yeah.

Darlene:

Yeah.

Vilma:

I think I would feel very awkward and try to look busy looking down at my phone also. <laugh>

Darlene:

I think I would exchange a humorous look with my friend and not feel too bothered by it.

Maria:

Question five. Which of these ideas about apocalypses resonate with you?

Heather:

Hmm. These are all really good.

Maria:

I kind of like, we deserve a soft epilogue. My love.

Darlene:

Yeah. I like that one,

Maria:

But because I'm a chicken, I'll probably just go don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good, special effects < laugh >

Vilma:

I love that one.

Heather:

I'm torn between. Sure. Everything is ending, but not yet. And we stared into the face of death and death blinked first <laugh> those are both good. Um Hmm.

Vilma:

All of these are actually really good.

Darlene:

Yeah. And they're quotes. I'm wondering where they are from yeah,

Vilma:

Me too. I like, I have heard the languages of the apocalypse and now I shall embrace the silence.

Heather:

Yeah. That one's good too. Okay. I, I guess I'll do sure everything is ending, but not yet.

Speaker 3:

<laugh>

Darlene:

I'll go with, we deserve a soft epilogue

Maria:

Question six. You try something you've never tried before and you're not very good at it. The first time or the second or third times, how would you react?

Darlene:

So I think I would tell myself to stick with it till I'm good. I'm harsh on myself and don't allow myself to be bad at it for longer than I can work myself out of

Heather:

I think I'm doing that one as well. Just cuz I'm stubborn.

Vilma:

I think I take it easy. I keep on it out of enjoyment. Don't think too much of the results. It generally surprises me when months later people tell me I'm good at it. I mean that last part, not so much more. More the first part < lau gh >

Heather:

That's very healthy though. < laugh > a really healthy approach.

Maria:

Yeah. I think I told myself to stick with it as well.

Heather:

I am like intrigued by who would put I'm terrible at everything which you've given me.

Vilma:

I mean, that's a very Gen Z response.

Heather:

<laugh> that's a downer <laugh>

Maria:

Okay. Question seven. Which of these types would you crush on?

Heather:

I think I'm going with the funny one who looks out for others and doesn't take themselves too seriously.

:

Yeah.

Darlene:

Yeah. I think so too.

Heather:

Yeah, though most of these are really good too. Yeah. Like who doesn't like a super smart person who's adorably awkward with emotion.

Maria:

< laugh > I think I'm gonna go with that one. < laugh >

Heather:

Or your best friend you've known for years and have your own like inside jokes with

Darlene:

Or the masked hero in a tuxedo and cape who.

Multiple voices:

who hands your roses

Heather:

I have to say though. Okay. So obviously that's the Usagi one mm - h mm < affirmative > but like in real life < laugh > if some dude kept showing up in a tux and like throwing a rose and then like walking off the scene, that would be so weird. I don't think you would crush on that person at all. You would, you would just, yeah. You probably call the cops .

Maria:

Stalker report.

Heather:

Why do they keep showing up wherever you go? < laugh >

Maria:

Question 8. What kind of story would you star in if you could choose.

Heather:

This is tough too. These are, these are all good as well. I'm gonna go with the ancient epic legend featuring you with a sword that cements you in history as a symbol of valor.

Vilma:

I think I'm gonna go with the folk tale where you learn a lesson, outwit your beasts and perhaps even return from the underworld. That one's a little scary at the end, but seems to end well, no, I like that one.

Darlene:

I think I'm gonna go with the heart wrenching almost tragedy with the comfortingly happy ending. <laugh>

Maria:

Yeah, I think I'm doing that one too, Darlene. Question nine. You commission an artist. What do you ask them to paint?

Heather:

These are just weird. < laugh >.

:

yeah.

Heather:

Um ,

Darlene:

But I like a landscape you keep dreaming of

Heather:

That's what I'm gonna go with too, because the others, like I don't, it seems really strange.

Vilma:

Yeah. The landscape.

Maria:

Yeah. Same. Okay. Number 10. Choose a concept to be the face of.

Darlene:

Oh, these are all really good too.

Heather:

Oh yeah. These are all one worders too. So we have time. Honor. Love valor, fate, beauty, comfort, strength, wisdom, creativity and mirth.

Darlene:

I think as the Ravenclaw that I am, I'm gonna choose wisdom. <laugh>

Maria:

Nice.

Vilma:

I think I'm gonna go with comfort.

Heather:

I'll go full Gryffindor and pick valor. < laugh >

Maria:

I think I'll go with creativity. Okay. Number 11, a friend hurts your feelings deeply. What do you do?

Heather:

I forgive them. Once. <laugh>

Darlene:

It's that once period.

Heather:

Mm - hmm < affirmative > it's ominous, right?

Darlene:

Like what happens next?

Heather:

Well, you know, fool me once < laugh >

Maria:

I'll probably show up at their house and ask if we can discuss this privately,

Darlene:

Yeah. Same.

Heather:

Also a mature and healthy response. <laugh>

Vilma:

I mean, I, I would actually also prefer that one. I don't know if I'd show up at their house. I would like text and maybe talk over the phone.

Heather:

Well you have the option to send an ambiguous, hard to read text and see what they do. <laugh>

Vilma:

I mean, I would actually do that one instead of the healthier one

Darlene:

<laugh> that feels like subtweeting though. Right? <laugh>

Vilma:

I'll say I'll show up at their house just cause I wanna pretend I'd be mature about it. <laugh>

Maria:

Number 12. Do you like the Zodiac sign you were born with?

Vilma:

Yes. We're great. < laugh > < laugh >

Heather:

Agree. I like my sign fine though. I do like the one that says, I think it must be fun to be all of the signs and that there's like something to like about every sign.

Darlene:

Yeah I think the same way. I feel like every time I look at different signs, I'm always like, oh, it'd be cool to like have that personality trait associated with my sign.

Maria:

But I wonder if that's where your birth chart comes in. It's just like your rising sign, your moon sign

Darlene:

Unfortunately, my rising and my sun are the same, so I can't even escape it. < laugh>.

Maria:

Oh no! Okay. Number 13, choose one of these ways of looking at people.

Heather:

Okay. These are easy to read. So astrology, MBTI , uh , Dungeons and dragons classes, individuals, threats, potential friends, an audience from my iconicism. <laugh> crowds too big to fathom with some unique faces. I recognize only as themselves and aspects of one enormous concept of humanity. I'm going with Dungeons and Dragons classes.

Darlene:

<laugh> I think astrology is the most fun.

Maria:

Yeah. I agree.

Vilma:

Uh , individuals, I think, although I do love an audience for my iconicism. < laugh > that's an interesting way to look at it.

Maria:

Are you ready to look at our results?

Darlene:

Oh my.

Heather:

let go for it.

Vilma:

Let's go. Oh my God.

Darlene:

Oh, interesting.

Multiple voices:

< laugh >

Vilma:

I'm Chibiusa again < laugh > That's hysterical.

Darlene:

Oh, no.

Vilma:

OK.

Heather:

So you're even changing some to try to get

Vilma:

I changed several of my responses. Apparently this is who I am, right? So I'm blunt. sharp tongued, funny and iconic in an effortless way. Very cute. A little bit mean, but forgivably so easily pleased with presents. Simple at heart, a total jock. I just cannot with a quiz. < laugh > How did you guys do?

Darlene:

Um , so I actually got Sailor Saturn <laugh>.

Vilma:

oh nice.

Darlene:

This is probably like the third different person that I've gotten < affirmative > but she actually does fit my Zodiac sign. Cause all of them kind of fit a zodiac sign, but it says melancholic, tendency towards appearing Gothic, not true. The weight of the world on your shoulders. Good with secrets, strong on the inside, ultra powerful. But few realize it because of how private you are

Maria:

I got the same <laughs>

Heather:

Okay. I got Sailor Pluto.

Darlene:

Okay.

Maria:

Oh cool.

Heather:

Lonely, harsh, very stylish, very graceful. Willing to look for the good in others. Hard on yourself. Very powerful, but also silly at unexpected times. Good with secrets. The type others look up to. So now I'm curious about, you said each character aligns with the Zodiac sign, Darlene.

Darlene:

mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Heather:

Which ones do they go with?

Darlene:

So you know how like each sign has like a planet ruler

Heather:

mm-hmm <affirmative> oh, they match.

Darlene:

Yeah. So Leo, I think it would actually be Tuxedo Mask. Tuxedo Mask is Leo < laugh > < laugh > and someone was like, of course Tuxedo Mask would be the Leo.

Heather:

I mean, showing up in a tux and like < laugh > , rescuing somebody and throwing a flower at them. That, that is fair. That is the Leo thing to do.

Darlene:

Let me see Sailor Pluto though.

Vilma:

Scorpio.

Darlene:

Yeah. Okay. And then like Sailor Moon and, and Sailor Mini Moon. Both are Cancer.

Vilma:

Yeah. They're both Cancers actually. No, this one says that Sailor Mini Moon is a Gemini that's wrong then maybe this is not the most reputable source. Cause I have seen the one where they're both cancer.

Darlene:

We did wanna do a blog post about blood types. Mm - hmm < affirmative > cause she was very intentional about.

Vilma:

Yeah.

Darlene:

What she chose for each of them. But yeah, I think, think it's nice. Like on one hand, yeah. I've said that I don't really like this whole idea of fate and that everyone's like predetermined to be a certain way. And like I do like the intentionality, I think of like all of her characters and that she chose very specific like birth dates for them. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I think even the color scheme of their , um , outfits, very much mirror that are planets and how like we visualize each planet. So I thought it was nice. Very cohesive.

Heather:

Yeah. There's a lot of depth there. I like that too.

Vilma:

Each episode we ask whether our book passes, the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test asks whether a work features two female characters who talk to each other about something that doesn't involve men or boys. So does it pass?

Heather:

Yes.

Darlene?:

Yeah.

Heather:

With an asterisk <laugh>

Vilma:

Yes. I say yes also, but not as, by as much as one would hope, especially with Usagi's character because so much of her is centered around her relationship with Mamoru and you know, a lot of her motivations are centered around that.

Heather:

mm-hmm

Darlene:

yeah. I'd say it also passes. U m, but there is a historic difference, I think, between the manga and the anime.

Multiple voices:

mm -hmm <affirmative>.

Darlene:

mm-hmm <affirmative> because the anime was mostly through the eyes of male animators. And I think even the creator of Sailor Moon has kind of touched on it before, where there are certain things that they kind of got away with. And certain things that they just added that she probably would not have. And you can see that very clearly in some of the episodes mm-hmm <affirmative> and how they kind of portray teenage girls and how they think teenage girls should be. So very much a yes with an asterisk < l augh>

Maria:

Yeah I agree, as well. A lot of the relationships, like, I mean, as you mentioned, Darlene, like the anime was different. I mean, mm-hmm , <affirmative> even Mamoru becomes very center character with some of the other girls. So.

Vilma:

I didn't like that. How, how big a role he was and then that weird, like fighting for his attention mm-hmm <affirmative> whereas in the manga, it was very clear, very early on. Like they were end game and nobody else even thought like, no, that was not something they, it definitely felt like they did it just to create that tension and rivalries to play up these like traditional female tropes. And I was just kind of like, this is unnecessary, I don't like this <laughs>

Heather:

Yeah. Well, and I think we talked about how the anime had to fill a lot more time. Yeah. There's a lot of filler episodes where they're just kind of cranking out content, but I think it's really telling that for the filler, like where they've diverged from like the main plot, oftentimes those are the most obvious like, oh, a guy totally wrote this because it , it does hinge on a male character or it hinges on even if the male character is not a big part of it. They're talking about a male character the whole time. Right. Or they're talking about getting with a male character. It's very, very centered on sort of that it's the focus for every girl in this series, in those episodes. It's just extreme. Yeah.

Vilma:

I found that really annoying because it played up on all of these traditionally teenage girls. Like this is what teenage girls talk about. It's like how many teenage girls have you talked to though? Because this is not what teenage girls talked about. Near the end, uh , I forget which volume it was, but they actually did like four chapters of all of the Scouts , uh , take preparing for their exams to get into high school. And I love those four chapters. They were hysterical because Mamoru was barely in them. So it was literally just all of them talking with each other and acting the way I know for a fact teenage girls act because I was a teenage girl. I was like, we need more of this content. You know, those were fun.

Maria:

Yeah. Even within the anime, the original anime with Pluto, we see her and Neo King Endymion mm-hmm <affirmative> she? I mean, she's obviously very attracted to him and her being lonely <laugh> as pointed out in the exam in the test. Um it's he becomes the center even in the future.

Vilma :

Yeah. I , I mean, he was the only male, so it kind of felt forced. Like they had to focus all of their romantic yeah. Intentions towards him because he was the only male in the group. I mean the outer planets, honestly, they all had really sad stories. Like mm-hmm , <affirmative> the, there was a lot of loneliness being alone. I mean, Saturn's whole thing was that all of the other Scouts feared her until the very end, because she was supposed to be a world ender or whatever, spoiler alert. Um , so all of them were so alone and then they had this one, like epitome of male, beauty and male wisdom and male, whatever. And they all like fell in love with him. I was like, no, < laugh> like, no, it was, it was weird. I didn't like that.

Darlene:

Yeah. And I think , um, even things that traditionally we look at as possibly being problematic about it, like the sailor suit and just even like how small it is. Mm-hmm <affirmative> , I don't know. I think it's really interesting. The just juxtaposition between the male and female gaze, because even though Takeuchi was the one that drew sailors , um , guardians, the sailor suit, the idea for it actually came from her male editor mm-hmm <affirmative> so he was just like, yeah, you can do whatever story you want, but I , you know, they should be in a sailor suit. Um, and she was like, okay, that's fine. I'm just gonna do my own story based on that. And then I think her input was that she really wanted Tuxedo MasK to appear in a tuxedo, which I thought was really interesting because I think on one hand you have a kind of sexualized like uniform in Japan mm-hmm <affirmative> and like, there are many things written about the sailor suits and usefulness, but I thought it was really interesting that her input was that she really wanted the male protagonist to be in a tuxedo. But yeah, I mean, there are certain things that I do feel like the anime added that just kind of weren't even really necessary. One thing was the skeevy grandpa , um , Ray's grandpa. And I know that she a lludes to it in the manga, but it was just like very, you know, i t w as kind of glossed over, but I do feel like the anime kind of took it a step further and they had a whole episode on it and I feel like it was more so played for laughs, like oh, this is just t he facet of his personality, like whatever. And I know that Ray scolds him, but I still think that the whole episode plays for laughs a nd I don't even know how I feel about that. This is terrible behavior. Like he should stop m m-hmm < affirmative>, you know, he should not be talking to these girls this way. And then also like the transformation scene. I know a lot of people talk about it, u m, in the anime because they almost kind of present nude and I mean with like a lot of different l ight colors and background changes, but I know that there was like a lot of talk around it at that time. And it's really interesting c uz I could see it in the manga and not think anything of it. And I, I feel like it's because I know a woman drew it.

Heather:

Well, in the manga it's also like a page. Yeah. Part of it with the anime is it's so prolonged. Yeah. Yeah. I know some of that's probably just the practical nature of like, Hey, I can recycle this stock footage and it kills off this much, you know, time in an episode. And when you're trying to churn out an animated show, you probably love that stuff because it's less work that you have to do in each episode, if you can kind of keep going back to that well over and over, but it is long like the transformations in the anime take forever. And it's just like, she's spinning clearly like in nude silhouette and I ,

Darlene:

And the close up shots of certain things, I'm just like

Heather:

There's a lot going on there. And I, I think you're right, like in the manga, it's not as concerning because it is, it's just, you hit it and you move on mm-hmm <affirmative> like, even when Usagi like changes into different costumes, essentially, like when she transforms in the manga, it's like nothing mm-hmm <affirmative> in the show, it feels so skeevy at times because she's like 14 and then they have this transformation into a like hypersexualized male version of a character. So the flight attendant kind of costume or like the, even the princess costume mm-hmm <affirmative> okay. She turned, turned into a princess, but she also turned into like an extremely voluptuous princess. Yeah. And it's just cleavage everywhere. Yeah. And then the anime does things like showing her in the bath and they it's mm-hmm <affirmative> it feels a lot more centered on that than the manga ever does. Yeah. I, I don't know it's some of that is just because I think it got away from the female creator and I imagine it would've been very different, but some of it is you're like in it for so long too. Whereas with the manga, you're really more just in the story and you're moving along through it. Yeah. And the anime, you're just kind of like sitting there like, wow, this is a lot, you know? And, and it, is it an adult it's disturbing at times? Like, yeah. I think the scene with the grandfather, like it does not play well at all. I think Naru's whole relationship. That is yikes. I mean, there's a lot of things where they are really like focusing on the way that they're presenting the girl. Like she's leaning over, she's taking clothing off. There's just a lot there. And you think about like, again, those are supposed to be 14 year old girls. Yeah. Oh yeah. Even for male gaze, I feel like it, it goes a little skeevy.

Darlene:

Yeah. I wonder, I mean, I guess that's the thing with the anime that you kind of live with them in their day to day lives a little bit more. And so it just makes that stark difference from them in their, school uniform, which is longer and more age appropriate. M m-hmm < affirmative> to the sailors suit, which then you're just like, wow, this is like incredibly short. I think that that difference just hits you more once you like see it because you like literally saw the whole long transformation. And then now you know, that like she's baring a lot more leg and, um, there's a lot more emphasis on her chest m m-hmm < affirmative> because, you know, like the way that her suit is silhouetted. So

Heather:

Yeah . And in the anime, I feel like the transformation, it makes it like more clear that when they transform this idealized body happens to them out as well . It's not just that the outfit changes their whole fit figure transforms. Yeah . Each time they do that. And then that also, you know, just from the perspective of , we've kind of talked about with the manga, especially like feeling like this is a real empowerment of femininity that like you can be strong and be traditionally feminine and into pretty things and girly, but in the anime it's okay. Well, what sort of that idealized femininity looks like to them seems so much more sexualized than it ever presents in the manga. Yeah. So like, okay. I guess in the anime, sometimes you have the girls talking about something that's not boys. Like, I don't know, Ami talks about her test scores sometimes. Like things like that, but it's pretty minimal. Like it really, for as much time as we spend with all of the female characters in the anime, it's really uncommon that they talk about something that doesn't go back to one of the male characters or wanting a boyfriend or yeah . Things like that,

Vilma:

Unless they're specifically in a battle setting or preparing for a battle, you know , those are the only times they're not really focusing on boys and romance and it's kind of like, there's more to them than just like the warrior. And then this typical teenage girl, like, you know, you've got all these episodes, give us more well rounded characters come on now. Yeah. And we never really got that. Unfortunately.

Maria:

I mean, for anyone who's new to reading the manga as well. I mean, if you don't know Chibiusa's background as well, her transformation, and even when she becomes black lady, it's, it's really, really crazy how that quickly changes. I mean, the slit in her dress in the manga is much shorter than it is in the anime. And then just like that sexualization of, of her, Vilma and I , when we were at , um , the branch we had been looking at when she went to school, like her classmates, just how like much taller and like how much of a voluptuous again, mm-hmm <affirmative> they were compared to her and it's like, and what do you see? You see Mamamoru with on what a nosebleed?

Vilma:

Yeah. That was weird. That was in some extra chapters after it had already ended. And that entire, I never even finished that chapter cuz I just found it like so weird and repulsive, it was like Chibiusa, I think they had like a field trip or something. Yeah. And then these other two girls that were supposed to be her age. Yeah. And yet they did not have the body type of, what is she supposed to be like eight or something like that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like they were developed and they were in skimpy clothes and Mamoru got a nose bleed. And I was like, what is happening right now? This is a level of disturbing that thankfully was not in the main. So I'm just treating it as not canon, but I'm yeah. Cause I was like, this is putting my opinion of Mamoru like down several levels cuz I'm like, Ew, no, what is happening right now?

Darlene:

Yeah. I'm glad someone helped her edit that out or was like, yeah, I don't think that that, cause I mean then again, that goes back to just this idea of, yeah. You can have a female creator, but they can kind of perpetuate a lot of these stereotypes, lot of these tropes and it's not always like, there'll be this idealized like feminist literature just because it's written by a woman

Heather:

And they're from the same society that's creating the

Darlene:

yeah.

Heather:

They are in the society. That's creating the male gaze version of things. Like how much of that gets internalized. Like you can never completely divorce yourself from your culture and your society that you've grown up with. So it has to infuse it on some level.

Darlene:

And it speaks to that larger conversation about like, even if you have like, you know, for the anime , even if you have male creators trying to create a really strong heroine at the end of the day, like who is the one that who's the one behind the scenes, like doing that and who gets to decide like what that strength looks like. And so even in a , when it's supposed to be empowering for girls, it's still with, you know, like male creators in mind and what they had, what they champion as like their form of empowerment. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so yeah, I think there's like a lot to discuss there. Yeah. In terms of how the creators definitely shape how you view a character. But yeah. I mean going to back to Black Lady , um, I don't think I've ever read those extra chapters cause that does not <laugh> sound familiar to me, but I remember I , I have gone back to like reading the whole Black Lady arc and liking it more so the second time around or when I revisit it, because I felt like I kind of got a sense of what she was trying to say that like Chibiusa is a character that was very much sheltered and she lives in a really, in a society of peace. And so there's no real, I guess that's happening with her. And so we find out that she's actually like 900 years old mm-hmm <affirmative> , but she's presenting as like a six year old. And so she looks very, very young and she acts very young as well. She's lived a very sheltered life. There's no conflict or anything and it doesn't even seem like she has any friends. I guess what the villain in that arc kind of , um, exploits is that idea that she feels like she's not being seen by those around her and that she's not being allowed to grow. And so it seems like this sort of twisted, demented like view on this idea that growth and maturation means growing into your sensuality. And the, and I think that that's why that specific dress was chosen and the way that she looks that there's something kind of like deep and dark about that. Cuz it was kind of one of her like deep and dark desires.

Vilma:

That whole Black Lady arc with , uh , Chibiusa's background. Actually it made me feel sorry for her. Like there's a lot of, of things about Chibiusa that I have issues with, but that actually made me feel very sorry for her because you get that she's incredibly lonely. Mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, the only people around her are her parents and her parents' friends as much as she loves them. And we see that she has that, that bond with Pluto, she's still very lonely and there is actually a scene where it looks like she's being bullied by other children. So she's experiencing these negative emotions, she doesn't really have people that she can talk to. Uh, other than Diana, the kitten, u m, she doesn't really have her own anything. So there's this repression of all these negative emotions, cuz it must be hard to sit there and be experiencing these negative things and having these negative emotions when you know, your mom is the epitome of what it means to be good and peace and right and justice and a woman and your father is the male version of this. So everything should be perfect, but it's really not. Yeah. And so you're internalizing and repressing. So it made me understand her character a little more. I mean I still have a lot of issues with her < laugh > but it definitely that arc made me, you know, feel bad for her. And when you think about it, I forget which villain it was. But they talked about the fact that sailor moon and the crystal extending people's lives and everything, it wasn't necessarily good. It wasn't right. It changed what humanity is. Like. I wonder if Chibiusa in a way also represented that because she didn't get to grow. She got stunted too. Yeah. And that wasn't necessarily a good thing for her own mental state. That whole thing, just a lot of food for thought there < laugh > . Uh , but going back to the way the girls' bodies were represented, I felt like a lot of it was also the creators, the animators being very aware of what was expected of them. Mm -hmm <affirmative> like, it felt a lot like fan service in a lot of cases, they were just following tropes that kind of worked on anime across the board. Like the pervy old man that is seen in so many different anime. And manga you have at least one of them in Ranma, in Dragon Ball Z, just, you know, pull one up and odds are, there'll be a perverted, like the pervy sage in Naruto. It's just this wise old man, but he has this thing and then he's pervy towards women, but it's funny. Ha ha ha. And it's like, it's not, but it's like, that's how it's treated. I think a lot of it was conscious choices that the creators knew this works, this gets laugh. People like this. And although this is marketed towards girl who wanna to pull in some guys, we should show a little skin.

Heather:

So I guess all of that being said, looking at Sailor Moon as a whole, do we think that it is something we would recommend to girls now?

Vilma:

I think I would, but I would also point them in the direction of other, uh more recent manga anime that I feel handles things better. But I think I would, I mean, it's so iconic and it was one of the first ones that we had our female leads. I mean, she wasn't a supporting character. She wasn't the love interest. She was the lead. She was the hero. There is no one stronger than her. And it had this group of girls and they were all the heroes. It was, I don't know. I feel like it's too iconic to not recommend it.

Darlene:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think similarly I grew up with it. Um, and so I obviously like my nostalgia definitely tints how I view it. And I've asked myself this several times because I, I do see a lot of what is wrong with the representation. It does come from that kind of nineties era of mm-hmm <affirmative> it was definitely heading in the right direction, but it still had its own problems. I think of, you know, just Buffy and Charmed mm-hmm <affirmative> and all of those, it's kind of like there is feminism there, but it's kind of problematic feminism. You're kind of, kind of getting into your own and being able to really tell your stories. But like Heather said, you do, you are still tinged by your own culture and the male gaze as well. I think I would still recommend it, but I mean, one of the things that I really enjoy about consuming any type of media is just reading all of the think pieces about them. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and like the way that people like think through watching Sailor Moon. I think that that would be good supplemental reading because I think that it gives context to a lot of things and helps readers think about certain things in a different light.

Maria:

Yeah, I I'm on the same boat. I mean, nostalgia is huge factor for this , uh , with this, for me, I would still recommend it and readers, the kids are as curious as ever the perspective that they'll be reading, it will be different than ours at the same time. Cuz we're reading back and we're adults and it's just a like, ugh, this should have changed. Yeah. I would still definitely recommend it. It still very much shows a lot of good.

Heather:

Yeah. I think I would, for sure recommend the manga like I don't really have many reservations about that. Like it actually holds up pretty well. I mean sure. There's some like sort of problematic things and like even with the female creator, there's some male gaze issues that are just like very common throughout manga and body image issues and things like that. But I think that that's, that's just part of the genre to some degree. And so like just going into it and knowing that that is part of it and then being able to talk about it is it's totally iconic. Like I think that it's, if you, if you like manga at all, this is a must read and like it's also, I think a good starting point for girls that wanna get into manga, still the anime. I have really mixed feelings about having watched it now. I don't, I don't know. I think I, I could recommend it, but with like a whole lot of, Hey, just in advance, there's some really problematic things in this, which then I think it would just depend on the age of the person I was recommending it to mm-hmm <affirmative> like I would have no issues recommending it to my oldest daughter because she would just be throughout like, that's gross. Like what is, that's not acceptable, you know? But then I think she would also find certain things pretty progressive given the time mm-hmm <affirmative> . So like I think she could get her way through it without internalizing things in a weird way. Like she's already at that level, but for like a really young girl.

Maria:

Yeah.

:

Yeah. Maybe with some handholding, like watching together so that somebody's bringing up, like that's not cool. Like that's not good at all. So yes, wholeheartedly on the manga for me.

Maria:

Well, that's it for this special episode of These Books Made Me: Manga Edition as always feel free to drop us a tweet. We're @PGCMLS on Twitter and #TheseBooksMadeMe with suggestions for books and manga. You'd like to see us cover in the future.

Intro
Usagi as heroine
Usagi's traits
Sailor Moon as romantic story, knights, and other tropes
Male characters
Usagi's future
Game segment
Blood types
Bechtel Test
Would we recommend Sailor Moon now?
Outro