Or, Literally Anyone Could Do this Better than Usagi
By T.K. Wilson (Rated PG)
Sailor Moon Crystal chronicles the adventures of the Sailor Guardians, Usagi (Sailor Moon/Princess Serenity), Ami (Sailor Mercury), Rei (Sailor Mars), Makoto (Sailor Jupiter), and Minako (Sailor Venus, no, I don’t know why she’s last when Venus is the second planet from the sun) in their fight to protect earth and the moon. They are joined by Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask), Usagi’s future boyfriend, and together the team faces The Dark Kingdom who want to rule over both the earth and the once-inhabited moon. Are you confused yet? It gets better.
Usagi is the reincarnation of Moon Princess Serenity (not to be confused with the cargo ship of the same name) who fell in forbidden love (of course) with Prince Endymion of Earth (reincarnated as Mamoru). In a combination of classic tales “The Weaving Maid and the Herd Boy”, “Princess Kaguya” and “West Side Story” the lovers are violently parted when an evil force drives the humans to attack the people of the Moon. Endymion gives his life to protect Serenity, Serenity’s friends (now the Sailor Guardians) are all killed trying to help the two, and in despair Serenity takes her own life.
Reborn on earth many centuries later (because once wasn’t enough) Usagi is a normal, if a bit immature, 14 year old living in Tokyo when she and her new friends are given their powers and memories back. Mamoru is three years older than Usagi, and has been searching for the identity of the mysterious girl he’s seen in his dreams for many years. Which is totally normal and not creepy at all… All these various plots weave together to make a reasonably harmonious whole… though it probably makes more sense in Japanese culture.
Usagi, for all her faults (and she has a few!) is a sweet, kind, loyal girl, who loves her friends and in return, her friends love her. Sometimes I wonder why, but loyalty is always commendable. Okay, not always, but usually. Mamoru is an exceedingly loyal and noble boy, who would willingly die for his lady-love. Again, with some of Usagi’s behavior early on, I wonder why. But through her adventures, Usagi greatly matures into a much more responsible and princessly young woman.
There is a good deal of non-bloody violence, (And my, aren’t these villains gentlemen to allow the girls to transform and do their catchphrase thing before attacking?) and some minor swearing, but the greater problems with Sailor Moon are twofold: The spirituality (which is not surprising considering the country of origin) and the main character herself. Usagi begins the series as a whiny, spoiled, crybaby brat. Like I said, she is much improved by the end of season one, but for about 10 episodes preceding the finale, Usagi sobs, screams, and faints her way through her adventures. I found myself wondering more than once, “This is your big feminist heroine?! Literally anyone on her team could do better than this! And feminists complain about Scarlet Witch being emotional!” I wanted to reach through the screen, shake her and yell “My gosh, pull yourself together!” And the crying gets worse whenever Mamoru is involved; it seems like every time the boy is on the screen, Usagi breaks down in tears. Sheesh, someone needs some couples’ counseling.
There is also a little matter of Usagi and Mamoru’s age gap. In their previous lives, it seems that they met when they were older, maybe in their late teens or early twenties. Three year age gap in early adulthood? Totally fine! That’s about how far my mom and dad are, but not when Usagi is 14, that makes Mamoru 17. So then, is it normal in Japan for a girl in her last year of middle school to have a high schooler boyfriend, or what? How about for this same high schooler to render the unconcious girl aid in his apartment? Nothin’ off about that? Okay then…
The spirituality is typical of anime, a hybridization of Zen Buddhism and Shinto. Rei is the most spiritually attuned of the crew. She has some form of psychic ability and is a Shrine Maiden (basically a female acolyte in a Shinto temple). Rei’s gifts make her a valuable exorcist, and she uses scrolls written with words of power in her attacks. Sailor Mercury’s battle cry, “Douse yourselves in water, and repent!” also speaks to the spiritualized aspects of the anime. It’s also stated that prayers to the power of the moon are more effective than magic against evil. So… basically blatant paganism.
All in all… No. Just no. Run as far away from anything Sailor Moon. It’s simply not worth suffering through Usagi’s flaky behavior and paganism. Instead of Sailor Moon, I recommend her sister magical girls from the “Pretty Cure” series for younger girls. For older girls in the 14 and up range, I would recommend “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”. The Pretty Cures and the girls from “Madoka” are much better role models. And almost no paganism.
Image from amazon.com