Sailor Moon has been one of the many anime that jumpstarted the anime phenomenon of the ’90s. Incidentally, while Sailor Moon captured the hearts of many kids in the ’90s for its girl power flair and superhero theme, it has also become one of the anime that inspired many LGBT and struggling kids with its subtle, but open portrayal of gender emancipation.
On VICE’s latest American Obsessions episode, they tackle the fandom of Sailor Moon and highlight how Sailor Moon transcended its being an anime and became an inspiration to queer ’90s kids. Starting out with International Sailor Moon Day, celebrated every first Saturday of August, thousands of Sailor Moon fans come together and celebrate the well-loved anime of the ’90s. It has become a tradition for most ’90s kids, especially bullied, queer and LGBT ’90s kids who found a friend in Sailor Moon’s lovable characters.
Maddalena Zarcone came to the Anime Expo 2015 dressed up in a Sailor Moon cosplay and shares how Sailor Moon became a huge part of her life.
“Sailor Moon was my own alter ego so when I was upset and insecure. I always felt like there was somebody out there who was super strong and capable and you know what, I can be like that.”
A lot of the attendees also note how they saw Sailor Moon as the first anime that really was able to openly portray LGBT characters such as Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, the landmark lesbian couple of Sailor Moon.
Japan has always been more open about portraying LGBT characters and relationships in their anime than most Western countries, and Sailor Moon has been one of the first of many to showcase LGBT characters, while also transcending the Japanese medium and going mainstream. However, while Sailor Moon became known worldwide, a lot of the LGBT undertone in the anime got lost in international translations, such as the U.S. American translation. For example was the famous relationship of Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus.
Haruka Tenou or Sailor Uranus was seen to occasionally flirt with girls, particularly Usagi. Michiru Kaiou, also more commonly known as Sailor Neptune, was also seen entertaining men, but the two were always perceived to be a lesbian couple, as seen through the romantic scenes they share. However, in the U.S. American translation of Sailor Moon, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were portrayed as cousins instead to cover the LGBT undertone of the anime. This has disappointed many Sailor Moon fans who saw Sailor Moon as an avenue for LGBT dialogue.
Charlene Ingram, Senior Manager for Animation Marketing for Viz Media, shares how Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune should be a source of inspiration instead of a taboo.
“In the ’90s to the early 2000s when Sailor Moon was dubbed here in North America, originally, some of the relationships were changed. One that really comes to mind is Haruka and Michiru.
“The scene that really stood out for me was when Uranus and Neptune were about ready to go to big battle and Uranus talks about how she has blood on her hands and how she can fight. And Neptune just takes her hand and says, ‘Haruka, it’s alright. I like your hands.’ That was just a very touching, sublte, knowing moment that love just kept growing. I’ve never seen anything like this in any type of media, not just animation or anime. That’s art that needs to be encouraged. Life is too short to not be who you really want to be.”
This is why when Viz Media started re-releasing Sailor Moon in 2014 as Sailor Moon Crystal, Ingram shares they wanted to bring back the original intention and relationships in the Japanese version. Erica Mendez, voice actress of Sailor Uranus for the U.S. dub, shares how excited she is to be able to finally give Michiru and Haruka the treatment they deserve.
See below a preview of Michiko and Haruka’s reinvention.
Watch the full documentary by VICE below.
Viz Media announced that the first episode of the third season of Sailor Moon Crystal will premiere at the same time for U.S. and Japanese fans. The subtitled U.S. version will stream alongside the Japanese premiere on April 4, 2016, via Viz Media’s streaming platform and Hulu. You can watch the other episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal for free via Viz Media’s Sailor Moonstreaming platform here.
Sailor Moon Crystal is the remake of the original shojo manga series Sailor Moon in commemoration of the original series’ 20th anniversary.
[Image via Facebook]