Sailor Moon Crystal is Almost Here!
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Sparkler Monthly blog! My name is Carolynn Calabrese, and I am the Marketing Coordinator/Assistant Editor here at Chromatic Press. I’m going to fill this space occasionally with cool things we’re reading, stuff we’re excited about, and anything else we think you guys should see that takes up more space than a Facebook post or a tweet. Sailor Moon Crystal is coming out tomorrow, so we Sparkler staff members got together to write about our first experience with Sailor Moon and why the series matters so much to us. Four of us decided to weigh in below about our memories and experiences with the series. We’re going to watch the show together this weekend and podcast about it, so be sure to check out the Sparkler podcast as well!
Lianne Sentar (head of Chromatic Press prose)
I feel like a broken record lately, since I’ve been talking about Sailor Moon and its influence on young girls a lot (like in this podcast and in a chapter I wrote in an upcoming academic book on global manga). But here’s the short version: Sailor Moon is so unabashedly, so uncompromisingly positive about feminine power in so many different forms that I’m starting to think that parents should force their kids to watch it. I don’t think they’ll need to – since one of the best aspects of Sailor Moon is that it’s fun as hell and everyone freaking loves it – but I really think it’s one of those rare pieces of fiction that “empowers” girls and educates everyone by genuinely tapping into what makes women tick. So much other “grrrl power” media is about some girl who can prove she’s tough/smart/capable in a world of boys, which always serves to remind us that there are “boys” (or just Patriarchy) that we have to prove ourselves to. Not that those aren’t valid, but Sailor Moon sidesteps that entirely and presents a world where girls don’t have prove themselves to anyone, because why would they ever have to, girls are amazing and they’ve always been the saviors of humanity. It’s a safe space, a world of women and men and genderfluid characters where feminine power is celebrated and never questioned, and it actually deals with so many real-world problems (include those caused by Patriarchy!) in the same way: femininity is amazing and aspirational no matter what gender you identify with, every expression of femininity is equally valid, and feminism isn’t a zero-sum game – we love the masculine, too, and it doesn’t ever come close to diminishing our love of the feminine.
Lianne wrote this!
Of course Sailor Moon empowered me personally, since it blew my mind as a teenager, helped me sort out some genderqueer issues I was dealing with, inspired me to write and draw, and gave me a shield of invincibility when I wrote for TOKYOPOP as a teenager and practically insisted (what a brat I was) that the company hire a fanfic writer like me to write the Sailor Moon novelizations they had planned. I got the job, I wrote the books, I got more jobs, I built a career as a writer and editor in the field I was obsessed with, boom boom boom–Sailor Moon was the foundation upon which I built my gender identity, my creative identity, my career, and my adulthood. But what’s so great about Sailor Moon is that I’m not a unique case. Sailor Moon made a generation of girls feel like they were invincible, and we went out into the world to slay our demons and save our world in whatever form that took for each of us. And now that Sailor Moon’s back, a new generation can gain that power, and the rest of us – who maybe forgot that feeling, especially if someone tried to tell us “that’s not how the world works” or we got passed over for that promotion or we were leered at in places we thought were safe – can remember what it feels like to never be ashamed of what we are. Our femininity is the exact thing that makes us all soldiers.
Sailor Moon is a lifestyle. We’re getting a second chance to live it.
Lilian Diaz-Przybyl (head of Chromatic Press comics)
I’ve always been a huge fan of action/fantasy stories featuring girls (the YA category wasn’t as big when I was a kid as it is now, but there was still Tamora Pierce and Patricia C. Wrede and various others to satisfy me), but when I first saw Sailor Moon, it still felt completely different and special to me. It was unabashedly feminine, but unconventionally empowering, girl-oriented entertainment. Sailor Moon had romance, drama, strong female friendships, and the characters’ actions sometimes had dangerous and even deadly consequences. As candy-colored and cheerful as the series could be, there was a darkness there as well. I realized in hindsight that most YA I read at that time either actively avoided pop culture, or used so many buzzwords that it felt either dated, or like an adult was trying too hard to seem cool. I’m not sure how Takeuchi and the rest of the creative staff avoided that pitfall, but there’s an emotional authenticity to Sailor Moon, even amid all the absurd costumes and characters, that really resonated with me as a teenager, and still does now, fifteen years later.
I first heard about Sailor Moon from my local newspaper—it was probably when I was in middle school, when Sailor Moon was running on US TV at like, 6 AM or something, and all these kids my age were getting up early to watch it. The article described it as female-empowering, and dealing with issues that most cartoons, especially ones aimed at girls, don’t cover. (I think it referenced a sub-plot where a character had AIDS, and I’ve never been able to figure out what that was supposed to be referring to…or if I just imagined it).
As a huge fan of comics and animation, I was intrigued, but didn’t get a chance to see the show for myself until high school. Sailor Moon started airing on Cartoon Network right as I was getting home from school every day. I was HOOKED. There were definitely aspects I found weird or juvenile (it took me a long time to warm up to Usagi/Serena as a character), but at the same time, I just couldn’t stop watching.
The best part, though, was that the series also introduced me indirectly to Lianne Sentar, who would eventually become my friend and Chromatic co-founder! When TOKYOPOP started releasing the Sailor Moon manga through its then-called Smile magazine, I stalked my local newsstand (remember those?) for issues. I only managed to get four of them (so I read the end of Sailor Moon Super S before I read anything else from the manga), but one issue featured an interview with Lianne, talking about her work on the Sailor Moon novels.
The interview in question.
It was a revelation for me that someone who was my age was working professionally on a series we both loved. It made that kind of “dream job” seem real…so then four or five years down the line, I sent my own resume in to TOKYOPOP for their new junior editor position, and lo and behold, they hired me, too! Lianne and I worked on a bunch of titles together over the years, with her working on localization and me editing, and we became friends and fujoshi buddies (I still have a zillion BL drama CDs that she’s sent me over the years). So after I left TOKYOPOP, she invited me to join the team at Chromatic, and the rest is history!
Jill Astley (Chromatic Press CFO)
I first heard about Sailor Moon in high school. I’d never heard of anime, but Sailor Moon was on at noon. My friends and I had long spare periods before lunch, so we would drive home and hang out, and somehow ended up watching this odd cartoon with girls fighting makeup monsters.
Coincidentally, we were a close group of 4 friends, and the ‘leader’ got the most into Sailor Moon, so of course the rest of us became Sailor Scouts. My friend with straight, black hair and an acid tongue was Rei, our taller, sporty friend was Jupiter, and pretty much by default I became Ami.
As my friend got more into the series, she started researching online and there were lots of weird rumors floating around (this is before Google, guys). After the TV show was cancelled, she started ordering fansubs from VKLL and by the time we went to university, she had them all. I still remember when she had her first real argument with her crush, a singer from a local band — we mentioned watching Sailor Moon and he said, very authoritatively, that ‘the REAL Japanese show has them naked during the transformations.’ She scornfully told him that she’d WATCHED the Japanese version and it was the same. I like to think that was the beginning of the end of her crush, as he was a bit of a douchebag.
We moved on from Sailor Moon to things like Bubblegum Crisis (my favorite), Fushigi Yuugi (‘Rei’s’ favorite), which we watched all of the last 36 episodes in one LONG marathon, and Ranma, all of which brought their own unique bits of queerness and awesomeness to my formerly very straight worldview. I probably wouldn’t have gotten into anime without Sailor Moon, and would definitely not be the geek I am today, so I’ll always have a soft spot for Usagi-chan and the Senshi.
Carolynn Calabrese (Chromatic Press Marketing Coordinator/Assistant Editor)
For me, Sailor Moon has always been a communal experience, as well as a transformative one. As a little girl, I remember climbing into my grandma’s big green recliner to watch this cartoon about five beautiful girls who fought monsters at 5 o’clock in the morning while she got ready for work. Later, when Sailor Moon started running on Toonami, my brother and I would rush home after school to watch it together. I spent the early part of middle school hanging out in Angelfire / Tripod web rings writing fanfiction and bonding with other young girls all over the world, obsessively saving every cute gif I could find and wondering if someone, anyone, would finally Save Our Sailors.
Art from an extremely angsty crossover fanfic I wrote at 12.
Back in 2011, my best friends and I got together to dress up as redesigned/casual versions of the Sailor Senshi for the manga rerelease party at our local comic book store (and as a birthday present to my lovely friend Victoria). My adult lady friends, all of them between the ages of 24 – 27, still hang out and bond over Sailor Moon, hosting re-watch parties and “drink and draw” events whenever we have the chance.
Dressed up with my friends as Sailor Scouts. I’m the Sailor Moon in the middle.
Takeuchi’s elegant line work and beautiful paneling instilled a deep love of comics in me from a very young age. And the fact that a girl who was as dopey, as goofy, as scared and weird as me could grow up to be a beautiful lady who saves the world inspired me to always believe that I, too, could make a difference in the world. Sailor Moon has been a part of my life for literally as far back as I can remember. It’s still a part of my life. I can’t wait to enjoy the show all over again, and see the ways in which it brings me closer to all the people in my life that I really love.