> I first read the Sailor Moon manga in 2014, 22 years after it was first published, and loved it. I love the gorgeous epic that is the manga. I'm not a huge fan of the 90s anime or Crystal's stories, but the manga is an awesome read.my sailor moon tag
So, queer headcanons for the Senshi... I see Ami and Rei as aro ace and queer-aroflux, respectively. Usagi is bi, Minako is pan. IDK about Makoto. Haruka is 100% genderqueer. Chibiusa and Hotaru are smol future wives. I also really like the idea of polyamorous Usagi. Like, she basically married all the senshi in the end of the manga, anyways. Anyways, they're all queer and love each other.
Sailor Moon: Arcs
Reminder that it is 100% Sailor Moon canon that somewhere in the universe is an entire planet of people with fish for heads.
So, I know that it's a very common joke in the fandom about how no one ever recognizes the Sailor Soldiers, even their own families and friends- Naru eventually gets an idea that Usagi might have something to do with the Sailor Guardians, but doesn't know for sure, Motoki didn't know until Makoto told him, Natsuna didn't realize Mina was Sailor V until she saw her transform, and Michiru and Haruka- who are celebrities in their own right- meet the senshi several times but it isn't until Haruka kisses Usagi that she draws the connection between their civilian forms and senshi forms.
But it's fairly plain, at least to me, why this is: their transformations. While the coloring in the manga is pretty inconsistent and both the anime series disregard it entirely, Naoko Takeuchi states in the Materials Collection that the Senshi's eye colors change: Ami's goes from dark blue to almost cyan, Minako's turn gold, Rei's turn red, and Makoto's change from hazel or brown to green (This can be seen if you look at the character sheets and check between civilian and senshi forms). Not to mention that in some color spreads the Senshi's hair colors change as well. Rei gets pink or red hair, Makoto gets green, Setsuna's may turn more of a dark purple or black, Haruka's hair goes from platinum to completely white, and in some spreads Usagi has pink or silver hair. (Examples of this color swappage can be seen at the bottom of this page). These color changes alone might make recognition quite difficult by themselves, but it's also quite possible that the henshin also adds a glamour that hides the sailor guardian's face (or prevents recognition like prosopagnosia) and makes them look older. This would explain why nobody in Juuban is worried about a group of mostly teenagers (not to mention Chibiusa, who starts out looking like a toddler and eventually gets to be about middle school age, and Hotaru who starts out 12 but ends up around 10 physically after being reborn) fighting monsters in the streets. Minako even gets a Sailor V video game, even though she was somewhere around 13 at the time.
The transformations making everyone look older and with different hair and eye colors would make recognizing the Sailor Soldiers very difficult unless they wanted you to know exactly who they are.
Sailor Moon: Character Development
Fun Fact: in the anime, Mercury's Supercomputer contained a reference to (of all things) RoboCop. The screen displayed the three Prime Directives programmed into Officer Murphy:
I love this line, this moment, because it’s the culmination of Usagi’s development. She’s given a chance to die, to let everything end because she’s struggled so hard, she’s been through the worst possible pain- and she knows because of her power her life will be fraught with danger. So she has a chance to just end the pain.
But she’s like “No. No, my life is hard because of my power. But if I wasn’t Sailor Moon, I wouldn’t have met these wonderful people, and I want to live on my world surrounded by the people I love. I know it will be tough, but I have a world to protect, and I’ll keep living because I love the people around me, and we’ll always keep going.”
It’s such a huge contrast to the first arc, where she was very much willing to give up on life. She killed herself because she had to kill her boyfriend, leaving her loved ones and earth behind in her despair. But in Stars? The exact same thing happens her, literally everyone she loves dies and she has re-kill them when Galaxia sets the zombie Senshi-and-Tuxedo-Mask on her and she’s told, “hey the only way to fix this is to end all life” and she’s like “nope, sorry I’m not giving up, I can still get through this and save everyone”. And then she’s straight up handed the oppurtunity for a peaceful death and she’s like “nah, sorry, I have stuff to do and I wanna be with my loved ones.”
It’s such a massive example of character development and shows how much more self-assured she’s gotten, how much stronger. She’s truly reached it, she’s become the hero for the world, the person who everyone can always count on. She went through hell and she came out of it knowing she can overcome anything, with true faith in herself and everyone around her. There’s so many narratives where women are punished for being strong and powerful, that they are condemned to suffer for it. That’s why I really appreciate the massive agency Usagi has here. She could choose to end her suffering, to give up the fight. But she recognized that while it’s hard being a powerful young woman, it also brings her all this joy and helps the world so much, and she’ll always have people that both depend on her and support her. She’s proud of who she is. And I love it.
Usagi is a great character. We watch her grow from a clumsy, lazy, self-centered teenager into a fearless goddess of justice who takes down the force of chaos itself. But the great thing is? She doesn’t stop being the girl we met back in chapter one. Sure, she’s indomitably powerful and her teardrops turn into the universe’s most potent energy source, but she also likes video games and donuts and napping and she gets crappy grades on tests because instead of studying, she was playing video games and eating donuts and napping. She whines about having to study for high school entrance exams, then stops a Texas-sized asteroid from slamming into Tokyo. Also, she was totally having sex with her star-crossed-reincarnated-prince of a boyfriend.
J.K. Rowling once made a really interesting point about the Narnia books (which I have not read):
“There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She’s become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that.”
Takeuchi avoided this in Sailor Moon with such deftness and grace that I’m only fully realizing it now. Usagi and Mamoru were totally boning–there are all kinds of dreamy, gauzy artbook pictures of them together in bed or discreetly covered in feathers, not to mention the penultimate scene of the manga, where they wake up in a (seriously awesome) bed together all naked and cuddly. Moreover, check out the illustrations of Usagi in lingerie and just straight up topless that Takeuchi busted out for her self-published artbook. Usagi is pure-hearted, but she isn’t “pure” in the archaic sense. She’s sexual. And I love that she can be both. She’s the amaranthine avatar of goodness and love and serenity in the universe–she is every cherished ideal we hold of what it means to be a “magical girl.” She stands for truth and freedom and hope. She wears floaty pastel clothes and enormous pigtails and her weapons are covered in hearts and stylized angel wings. She’s often drawn with angel wings herself! And she has sex. It doesn’t make her dirty, or suddenly inappropriate as entertainment for young girls. She doesn’t lose her power or her magic. She is a multifaceted young woman who loves sweets and comics and vanquishes the forces of evil and also has sex.
And the thing is, this kind of attitude in entertainment helps everyone. It’s not just very sexually active girls who need characters like Usagi, or even just girls in general. This particular aspect of the manga has always stuck with me and informed my attitudes about sex. Whoever you are, however you handle your sexuality–it never makes you dirty. You can be queen of the mahou shoujo and have sex and wake up the next day to slaughter the wicked hordes with your bunny-bedecked Magic Rainbow Sparkle Sword. You can do both. You can be both. One does not invalidate the other.
Let’s talk about the scope of Sailor Moon. Let’s talk about how, by the end of the final arc, it has universe-sized implications. We learn that every planet with intelligent life has its own guardian senshi—which, given the preponderance of intelligent life in this series, implies the existence of thousands, if not millions of pretty soldiers. We learn that Usagi is one of many, many princesses with their own sworn sisters and legendary romances. We learn that every villain up to this point was just another facet of Chaos, the final villain—the only one that ever mattered. We watch Usagi battle Galaxia, she who has conquered a thousand planets, on the lip of the Galaxy Cauldron. We watch Usagi defeat the primal, cosmic force of chaos itself by destroying the origin point of all existence.
This is a story of sweeping mythology and galaxy-shaping forces and that in and of itself is fantastic. But the thing that sets it apart, and the thing, I suspect, that has held our fascination so fiercely is that it is utterly female-centric.
Think about it. There are lots of amazing, star-spanning stories out there, and tons of mahou shoujo tales as well. I’m a fan of a whole lot of work in both categories. But can you think of another story that combines the two so wholeheartedly? One that spans thousands of planets and thousands of years? One in which the principal players, from the foot soldiers to the goddesses to the ancestors are nearly all female? We laud Sailor Moon for its diverse portrayal of femininity, for its treatment of sexuality and for its subversion of gender norms. And that’s great. But how often do we sit down and talk about how goddamn epic it is? This is a universe, you guys. This is huge and rich and complicated and unlike stories in a similar vein, it doesn’t just have one or two token girls—it is dominated by women.
We have our huge, primeval forces: Life, love, death, chaos, and creation. We have characters who act as channels for these forces (and achieve nigh-goddesshood): Usagi, for example, as the font of creation, love and life, Hotaru as the grim reaper, the “Messiah of Silence.” We have the establishment of death as a necessary presence, as a comrade-in-arms in her own right. We have soldiers who wield the elements of nature as weapons in a war against nothingness and disorder. We have a story of lost splendor, of the death of a holy kingdom thousands of years before, of a princess who impaled herself on her lover’s sword rather than live without him in the midst of a planetary war. We have bonds of duty and honor that tie a few chosen women to their princess until death. We have a system that spans a million galaxies, a system organized by mysterious cosmic forces wherein an intergalactic sisterhood battles a thousand iterations of Chaos, the eternal enemy. And even after Sailor Moon defeats that cosmic foe, she is informed that he will be reborn—there must always be chaos. There must always be balance. There must always be senshi.
And upon setting up these laws, Sailor Moon complicates them and deconstructs them and takes them to their logical ends. We watch Haruka and Michiru seek the murder of a fellow soldier because they misunderstand her power over death. In small, emotional glimpses, we learn of the loneliness of a senshi like Pluto, with her solitary power—an important one for sure but one that strips her of her sisters. In Nehelenia, we meet a neglected minority of the Silver Millenium, a people denied its glory a thousand years prior. In the StarS arc, we not only learn that there are senshi far beyond the Solar System with their own strange powers and clothing—we learn that some don’t want to be senshi. Galaxia was so taken aback by her duty towards a “hellish” planet that she became a ruthless despot allied with the force she was sworn to fight. Through the animamates, we experience the yearning of all those unchosen girls who long to be senshi too, who give up their lives to a tyrant in the hope of one day being so anointed. In Sailor Cosmos, we meet a Sailor Moon who failed, one who, in her indecision, plunged the world into misery and has returned to set things right. Through the asteroid senshi, we peer into the future of this universe and comprehend the eternity of these soldiers, their permanence and power.
And it’s all women. Jesus Christ, you guys, no wonder we still love it. No wonder there’s a manga, an anime, a series of musicals, a live-action series and a reboot. This story deserves a goddamn Silmarillion. We could (and will!) spend years discussing the implications of this story, the things it hints at but isn’t able to explore. It’s huge. It’s rich. It’s complex. And it’s defined by women. The weapons are encrusted with rhinestones, the antagonists are wicked queens with sleek gowns and ombre hair. The pillars of this story are legendary female warriors who protect all sentient life against darkness. Some of these women are shy, some are bold, some love other women. Some of them rebel against their fate, some of them—it must be repeated—sacrifice themselves to destroy the force of chaos itself. This is awesome in both the classic and modern sense of the word. It’s epic. And it stands alone, even today. That makes me a little sad, to be honest, but ultimately I just sit here in wonder. This is a saga.
This scene is so important to Chibiusa and Pluto’s characters as well as their relationship with one another.
Before I get started, the context of this scene is that Chibiusa ran into the Door of Space-Time because she was running away from some mean kids who teased her about not actually being Serenity’s child because they don’t have much in common (and we wonder why poor Chibiusa had such an inferiority complex…)
So anyway, the second Chibs walks into the Space-Time corridor, she’s greeted by name and identified as a member of the Royal Family. Not only that, Pluto’s statement thoroughly disproves what the bullies were teasing Chibiusa about; there’s no possible way that Chibiusa isn’t Serenity’s child, because otherwise she wouldn’t even be able to enter. Pluto introduces herself, and Chibiusa seems to instantly like her. Aww!!!
Okay, this next one is huge. Chibiusa’s inferiority complex makes her feel as though she’ll never measure up to her mother and that she’ll never achieve her greatest dream, which is to grow up into a beautiful, graceful Lady like her mother. But, right off the bat, Pluto mentions the striking similarities between Neo-Queen Serenity and Chibiusa, coming to the conclusion that Chibiusa will grow up and be just as great of a Lady as her mother is. Chibiusa is taken aback by Pluto’s statement. In the manga, she mentions that the other people who had ever spoken to her like that are her parents. Most of us know how it is; if your mom or dad calls you beautiful or praises you, you suppose it’s their “job” to do so and so don’t take the compliments as seriously as you would from someone else. The same sort of thing is happening here; Pluto is the first person who isn’t Chibiusa’s mom or dad to compliment and praise her, so she’s a little flustered (and maybe upset).
Sensing that Chibiusa is upset, Pluto suggests a little magic trick to cheer her up. She shows Chibs how to do it (Chibiusa actually uses the “Abracadabra” trick a lot with Luna-P) and then conjures up a flurry of blossoms, which awes Chibiusa and clearly makes her admire Pluto. She’s so pleased by the display she quickly forgets what she was upset about. There’s also another scene where Chibiusa and Pluto discuss Pluto’s Garnet Rod and Serenity’s Cutie Mood Rod and how, someday, Chibiusa will take up her mother’s wand.
Finally, Chibiusa tentatively asks if she can visit Pluto again. With a smile in her voice, Pluto assures Chibiusa that she will always be waiting for her. Their relationship, including their first meeting, is just so heartwarming and sweet. They each have something that the other needs (Pluto needs companionship, Chibiusa needs a sympathetic figure who won’t constantly try to measure her up against her mother).
Later, Pluto’s death in the manga is what made Chibiusa break free of her brainwashing and triggered her transformation into a sailor senshi. Chibiusa was convinced she was alone- but she looks at Pluto and realizes “no- this woman has supported me and always been by my side and been my best fucking friend- and this is despite the fact she’s been alone for CENTURIES, that she’s more lonely than ANYONE- and still she sacrifices everything and takes responsibility. This is what being an adult is- responsibility, sacrifice, enduring loneliness.” And it’s that that allows her to break free of Black Lady and take the first real step to adulthood. It’s so beautiful and thematic and I love Setsuna in the manga so much and I love how important her friendship with Chibiusa is.
The anime made direct changes to the central tenants of Rei’s character that I really disliked, namely, her attitude towards men and sexuality in general. How that is handled is one of my favorite things about manga Rei and why I have so many feels for her.
Rei doesn’t like men. She has no desire to be with them romantically, and holds a mild mistrust/distaste for the gender in general. It’s easy to see where that mistrust stems from- her father abandoned her, and his aide who was one of the only men she felt she could trust and look up to turned into a different person (who she’s convinced will be her father 2.0) and basically left her too. And on top of that, Rei doesn’t seem to harbor any sexual urges or desires regarding boys. Now think about this. Rei in the manga is a character who mistrusts men as a rule and is not interested in heterosexual romance at all and just plain doesn’t feel she needs men or sex in her life- and she is never demonized for it, she is never mocked for it and she is never “fixed”. She stays this way till the end. Her last major line in the manga is stating that she doesn’t need a man. In fact, she specifically goes through some development where she is able to realize that it’s completely fine she isn’t interested in a relationship with a man.
Her issues with men are explored in the manga with sympathy and respect. She’s not painted as some bitter, hateful ugly rabid caricature who froths on and on about how men are the devil and is bitter and insecure and can’t get laid. She’s the most attractive of the inners in the manga, and guys and girls alike line up to drool over her. And her distate for men in not a bitter hatred, just- a lack of sympathy and desire not to deal with them. It only comes up when her friends are assuming she wants to be with a boy- she reminds them “I don’t like boys” and when her friends react in shock, she shrugs and says “that’s how it is, deal with it”. The only other context it comes up in is she hears about men being attacked while chasing after women, and is like “wow,look at all the fucks I give, a taste of their own medicine”. She doesn’t react violently when guys order her drinks in attempts to woo her, she’s like “wow if you’re a sucker enough to do that, bring it on, i’ll lay here and enjoy myself!” And on top of that, she is perfectly happy and fulfilled without a heterosexual relationship- she states several times that the strong bond of loyalty she has with other women is enough for her.
When do you ever see that? When do you ever see a woman who distrusts men and doesn’t want a boyfriend not depicted as hateful or in need of immediate help, but as a happy, fulfilled and ultimately good person who stays single (well, there’s Mina :P but subtext aside), who DOESN’T end up just needing to “find the right guy”, who is depicted as being just fine the way she is?
What’s more, Rei is shown to struggle with the heteronormativity of those around her. She genuinely doesn’t understand why the norm is wanting to get a boyfriend and have sex. She doesn’t understand why she’s being urged to do these things when she doesn’t want to do them. So a villian preys on this insecurity and tells her she has to go and kiss guys even if she doesn’t like them, she has to find a husband so she can get taken care of, that she IS a deeply broken and unhappy person- and how does Rei respond? She says “Screw you, I’m Sailor Mars, I don’t want any of that, I even took a vow of chastity in the past”. She realizes there’s nothing wrong with who she is.
I also love Rei for her passion and how intense and hardcore she is about protecting women! It’s also both heartbreaking and wonderful how lonely she was before she met the Senshi, that she was isolated both because of the stuff she went through with her family and the fact she was “different”- but when she finds Usagi and the others, she finds her purpose in life and she starts to open up and accept them. The part where she’s so touched when she gets birthday gifts from them, how she's so happy when she finds out that there’s this huge important reason for her powers that got her excluded and that she’s actually a part of something, not set apart- then there’s how she admits her loneliness in Stars and admits she wishes she went to the same school as everyone- it’s so sad- but then Mina comforts her and it’s great because you see can that this girl is healing, that she has found true friends and a connection.
First appearance: Episode 173 (anime); Act 49 (mentioned), Act 50 (first physical appearance)
Star Seeds, first introduced in Sailor Stars, consist of a very small glittering sphere enveloped in a protective, transparent crystal. Star Seeds appear to be the Sailor Moon universe’s equivalent of a soul, at the very least in the case of Sailor Senshi; while the body may die, the Star Seed shines and lives on eternally.
Every single person in the galaxy possesses a Star Seed, although there were two types: Those belonging to ordinary people, and those belonging to Sailor Senshi. Ordinary Star Seeds are colorless and “weak” (according to Shadow Galactica, at least); if they are forcibly removed from the host’s body, they blacken and turn the person into a Phage.
However, the Star Seeds of Sailor Senshi, called “True Star Seeds” in the anime and “Sailor Crystals” in the manga, possess a permanent shine. They are bright and colorful and shine forever. Every heavenly body in the galaxy is represented by its own Star Seed, and the Sailor Senshi of that body is its carrier. The Sailor Crystal imbues the Senshi with the power of the star she protects, allowing her to transform and fight. If a Sailor Crystal is forcibly removed from a Senshi, it will not blacken or turn her into a Phage. However, the body the Senshi will disappear (or disintegrate in the manga), which is equivalent to dying. Fortunately, as long as the Sailor Crystal is recovered, the Senshi can regenerate her physical form.
It’s common for magical girls to be pictured against bright and colourful or soft and sweet backgrounds, and Sailor Moon also reflects this, with many pastel or vivid neon image spreads. But series creator Naoko Takeuchi was also fond of juxtaposing her characters against striking jet black backdrops, invoking a sense of solitude, power, and the inky emptiness of space - befitting imagery for the princess of the moon.
Tomoe Hotaru is abused by her father. She suffers from an illness that leaves her breathless, weak and wracked with pain. She is picked on by her classmates. Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are planning her murder. Her magical senshi power is to bring about the apocalypse. She possesses healing abilities, but their strangeness only further ostracizes her. She is friendless, neglected, and odd. In another story, Hotaru might have been a tragic character: the wan little waif who wasted away in the name of Righteous Suffering. But this is Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, and hers is a story of triumph.
Hotaru’s victory is, in my opinion, one of the most viscerally stirring of the series. She retains her spirit and strength when possessed by the demonic Mistress 9 and eventually overpowers her for the sake of saving Chibiusa. She leaves behind her past of misery and abuse and gains a second childhood. It’s easy to roll one’s eyes at happy endings, but I love Hotaru’s–I love how unabashed it is. She gets to grow up all over again in a idyllic country house with three loving mothers who teach her the names of the planets and how to play the violin and only fume a little when she breaks their fine European china. I love that she retains her strangeness: she quotes Einstein, ghostly forms appear when she practices violin, she grows at an inhuman rate and Michiru notes that even as a little girl, she maintains a slight aloofness, that her eyes sometimes “turn ice cold….like Saturn.” She’s sweet and happy and loved but she is still Sailor Saturn and she is still frightening.
But that’s ok, because Hotaru is all about fear. She is called, over the course of the story, “the guide to death,” “the goddess of destruction,” “the soldier of silence,” “the journeyer from the valley of the dead,” and “the messiah of silence.” She’s the grim reaper of the Sailor Moon universe, the senshi who only appears when armageddon is nigh. Even after her reincarnation, her powers revolve around silence and ruin and she tends to loom at the back of the group, clutching her black glaive. She’s terrifying to the point that she drives her fellow senshi to attempt homicide. She is death, and we fear death because we see it as an end, as a doom, as a presence to be fought at all turns. We struggle away from it even as it asserts itself all around us.
But as Hotaru herself notes, she, as death, is essential. Without her, there can be no rebirth, no progress–she is the forest fire that prepares the land for new growth, the blood that feeds the soil. We fear her because we do not understand her. We cast her out and drive our thoughts away from all she brings because we’re frightened. Because our conception of the world is narrow. But Hotaru’s story is about accepting the pain and hardship of life and the interconnectedness of all things. It’s about understanding that fear is temporary and that we can endure it. That we can come out the other side and realize that there was a beautiful future waiting for us just beyond the darkness–and that it would not have been so beautiful without the darkness. She emerges from the horror of her home life, from possession and ridicule, to find that she was a heroine all along, despite what the world told her. She discovers that her strangeness makes her strong–she discovers that she was always strong. She discovers that without fear, there can be no courage.
We’re afraid of death. We’re afraid of the bizarre. We’re afraid of the different. We’re afraid of fear. Hotaru teaches us that we must accept this, and let it pass through us. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s not something to fight–it’s an emotion, like all the others. In accepting her, Usagi and the senshi accept the necessity of destruction, and further, of darkness and death; they accept their fear and as such destroy it. We fear, we struggle, and we die. Without these facets of life, there can be no courage, victory or life. We could run from Hotaru, or we could embrace her, as the series itself does, and achieve a fuller greatness. In Sailor Moon, death isn’t just a friend–it’s a comrade. A goddess. A pale little girl in a dimly-lit room. A beautiful child in the arms of her family. A sister.
While the characters of Sailor Moon are often known for their bright, vivid hair in shades of blue, green and pink, series creator Naoko Takeuchi occasionally liked to explore a world where their hair fell on a spectrum of naturally-occurring tones.
Look, regardless of how you feel about Naoko Takeuchi, you have to admit she A. was really determined and B. had zero fucking chill:
It all gets so much funnier when you realize that prior to introducing Sailor V, Naoko Takeuchi was almost exclusively a romance author. The darkest thing to happen in The Cherry Project was some Mean Girls-esque bullying from some figure skaters.
Imagine your favorite romance author going “soft love stories are great, but what I would really like to do is write an epic sci fi/fantasy series with an ensemble teenage cast that dies multiple brutal deaths in their struggle to save the planet from malicious alien forces.”
While Sailor Moon already showcases an impressive variety of unreal hair, like Sailor Mercury’s blue and Sailor Pluto’s green, series creator Naoko Takeuchi liked to sometimes push the envelope by portraying all her characters with a rainbow of hair colours. Before finalising her designs she toyed with making Sailor Moon’s iconic blonde dumplings pink or white, and used her original colour spreads to explore what could have been.