Sailor Moon, conceived and written by Naoko Takeuchi, rose to popularity in the 90s with its animated adaptation. It became a worldwide phenomenon, and still is today. In case you haven’t seen it, Sailor Moon follows a girl named Usagi, 14, who transforms into Sailor Moon, a pretty, monster-fighting guardian and past-life moon princess. The show follows her and her friends’ adventures in love, fighting evil and friendship.
I have loved Sailor Moon since I was a child. I remember sitting in my grandma’s living room glued to the TV screen with my bowl-cut hair and Tamagotchi in hand. What attracted me, and many others, to the show was the relatability of Usagi: she is a young, immature, clumsy, gluttonous and emotional person. Likewise, I was clumsy, I loved junk food and I cried at the drop of a dime—I could relate. However, as I got older, I started to see Sailor Moon as a feminist show.
In both TV and film, superpowers are usually coded as masculine. However, Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians use their femininity to destroy evil. The typically-masculine weapons, such as swords and guns, are replaced with compacts, wands, tiaras and attacks with names like “Moon Spiral Heart Attack.” There’s no need for them to present themselves as masculine because their power comes from their femininity. The Sailor Guardians—Rei, Ami, Makoto and Minako—are self-reliant, as well. In the beginning of the show, Sailor Moon is assisted by Tuxedo Mask, a high school boy, who disguises himself to help the Guardians; however, as the story continues, he is needed less and less. In fact, he gets kidnapped multiple times throughout the show and is rescued by the girls.
The series depicts a variety of sexual orientations and gender expressions. In a time when there was very little LGBT2QQIA+ representation in children’s media, Sailor Moon was busting through glass ceilings. Famously, two of the Sailor Guardians, Haruka and Michiru, are a lesbian couple. When they’re not fighting evil, Haruka presents as masculine and identifies as both a man and a woman. Fans have speculated that Haruka is intersex or non-binary. They are one of many examples of LGBT2QQIA+ representation in Sailor Moon. In Season 1, two of the four male antagonists have a romantic relationship. Another character who is within the spectrum of LGBT2QQIA+ is Fisheye from Season 4. However, it’s contested amongst fans whether Fisheye is a gay man or a trans woman. Throughout his story arc, Fisheye physically presents as male and uses male pronouns but dresses in traditionally effeminate clothing when out in the human world. Finally, in Season 5, the show introduces Sailor Guardians from another galaxy called the Starlights, who are transgender. The Starlights present as men when they’re assimilating into the normal world, but transform into women when they need to fight evil.
It’s worth mentioning that within the fandom, some don’t consider the Starlights transgender or part of the LGBT2QQIA+ community, because it’s impossible for people to magically change their gender. Additionally, Takeuchi intended the Starlights to always be female, but the showrunners did not adhere to the manga storyline. While I can understand why some wouldn’t think of the Starlights as transgender, for many of the transgender, non-conforming, genderfluid and non-binary people who watch the show, representation is important, even if it’s only implied.
Sailor Moon was revolutionary when it was released—not many other popular TV shows had tackled sexuality or gender so directly before. It also rejuvenated the genre and created the standard for future magical girl anime like Cardcaptor Sakura, Pretty Cure, and Madoka Magica. As sexual orientation and gender expression have become a prominent part of the mainstream culture, I think Sailor Moon is more relevant than ever.
Go-to sources for Sailor Moon fans
- Ochibawolf on YouTube – Sailor Moon collectibles and reviews
- Sailor Tortilla on YouTube – Sailor Moon collectibles, news and reviews
- moonkitty.net – Hasn’t been updated in a while but a great resource