Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: Sailor Moon (1992-1997)

Sailor Moon (also known as Bishoujo Shojo Sailormoon ~Pretty Soldier Sailormoon~ in Japanese) is a highly-popular magical-girl, action-adventure anime that debuted in Japan on March 7, 1992. Originally planned to run for only six months, the anime repeatedly continued due to its popularity, concluding only after a five-year run (1992-1997). Based on the manga of the same name by Naoko Takeuchi, the successful anime adaptation resulted in spin-offs such as as art books, musical theatre productions, video games, and a tokusatsu (live-action) series.

The story focuses on the life of a teenage girl who learns of her destiny as the legendary warrior of love and justice, Sailor Moon. As the reincarnation of Moon Princess Serenity, she must defeat evil powerful villains that once destroyed her beloved kingdom. With the aid of her talking cat (Luna), she bands together with the other Sailor Soldiers (former guardians of Moon Princess Serenity) and the mysterious Tuxedo Mask to save Earth.

This anime lasted five seasons (200 episodes) and featured three films. The five major story arcs revolves around the reincarnated defenders of a kingdom that once spanned the Solar System and around the different evil forces that they encounter. The major characters are teenage girls who can transform into heroines named for the Moon and the planets they used to represent. The use of "Sailor" comes from a style of girls' school uniform popular in Japan, the sērā fuku ("Sailor outfit"), on which Takeuchi modeled the Sailor Senshi's uniforms. The elements of fantasy in the series are also heavily symbolic, often based on Greek/Roman and Asian mythology.

The anime has been cited as revitalizing the magical girl genre by adding dynamic heroines and action-oriented plots. The music (insert songs, battle music, and image songs) are both catchy and memorable. Each voice actor also sang character songs. It has influenced other popular magical-girl series, such as Fushigi Yuugi and The Vision of Escaflowne. It also had a large international following in Asia, Europe and South America before it was picked up for production in North America. The English adaptations of both the manga and anime series became the first successful shoujo title in the United States. The anime adaptation of Sailor Moon attempted to capitalize on the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z.

In my childhood, I loved Sailor Moon because it symbolized empowerment for girls. I watched teenage girls enduring everyday pressures while at the same time protecting the world from evil forces. I was awe-struck by their pretty transformations, their strong friendships, and reoccurring themes of love and justice. My cousins and I would rush to the living room to make sure we made it in time to watch the show every afternoon. It is primarily responsible for opening me up to the world of Japanese animation. Nearly twenty years later, Sailor Moon has developed an international cult following to this day. In 2004, there were over 3.3 million websites about Sailor Moon!

In 2011, Sailor Moon saw a resurgence in popularity with the bimonthly release of the new manga comic collections in English and the video game. Some ideas thrown around have been to 1) Re-dub the entire series (in 2009, Funimation considered this option because the English version censored many scenes from the original Japanese version), 2) release a Blu-ray set, and 3) stream the episodes over Netflix, Hulu, etc. Naoko Takeuchi, the manga artist and creator of Sailor Moon, also created a website to commemonrate the 20th anniversary of the highly-acclaimed series (stay tuned to other anniversary-related events).

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed watching Sailor Moon in my childhood. I highly recommend this anime and hope that you take the time to watch it. DVD copies are difficult to find because Toei Animation still holds the license, but it is available to watch online various anime streaming websites. Sailor Moon fans may also want to check out Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon. The book analyzes the nuances of Japanese society and its effect in shaping the main cast of Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon American Opening Theme (English)

Sailor Moon Transformations and Attacks (English)

All Sailor Scouts Group Transformation (English)

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