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Sailor Moon’s Gift of Diversity

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Sailor Moon’s Gift of Diversity

Genesis Sandoval, Editor

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Sailor Moon is regarded as one of the most popular manga series of all time. Just one year after the manga’s first release, it was adapted into a 200 episode, now world-renowned anime series. Both the anime and manga have become a staple to not only the magical girl genre, but anime as a whole. One thing that is often disregarded though is the diversity present throughout Sailor Moon. The series paved the road for femininity in anime, LGBTQ+ relationships, and transgender characters. The diversity was beautifully done (except maybe in the original English dub of the anime) and is an important part of both anime and LGBTQ+ history. 

In the 1980s and early ’90s, anime and manga were often targeted for the male demographic. The magical girl genre was not popular at all, and Sailor Moon did something to change that. After Sailor Moon’s anime release, it essentially changed anime forever. Now a unisex community, anime began to embrace femininity without being overly sexual. Usagi, the main character of the series, is emotional and almost powered by love. Instead of seeing her emotions as a weakness, Usagi’s love for her friends and boyfriend are what fuel her to fight. Sailor Moon also features a transformation scene on an episode-basis, where characters transform into their superhero counterparts. During the transformation, the heroes are considered more feminine, but stronger. This has become an important piece to Sailor Moon, as femininity is not considered negative but gender roles aren’t enforced either. Kumiko Saito explains in The Journal of Asian Studies, “Female hero figures reflect the shifting ideas of gender roles in society,” and she could not be more right. Sailor Moon presents femininity as a positive attribute without falling into sexist ideas, a crucial point in the male-dominated anime community at the time.

LGBTQ+ relationships can still be rare in pop culture today. For Sailor Moon to feature some of the main characters to be in a relationship was a huge step in the ’90s. Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh, or Sailor Uranus and Neptune respectively, are portrayed in a relationship in both the manga and original, Japanese anime. The original dub, however, makes them cousins instead of lovers, a weird change that raised more questions than answers for English-speaking communities. Despite this, the relationship between the two is praised for the much-needed representation. Their relationship is normalized, and scenes between them are now considered iconic. Haruka and Michiru were not even the only ones to engage in an LGBTQ+ relationship. Zoisite, a villain in the series, is just one example of a man in a relationship with another male character. The show and manga were not afraid to embrace relationships that heavily faced stigma in the real world.

Not only did Sailor Moon feature LGBTQ+ relationships, but characters who are often regarded as not-quite-cisgender as well. Haruka Tenoh’s gender has been up for question since her initial appearance in the manga, and many now believe she may fall under the umbrella term of transgender. A quick Google search for “Haruka Tenoh gender” brings up over 22,000 results. Haruka is initially introduced as Michiru’s boyfriend, and Michiru even describes Haruka as, “Both male and female…She possesses the strength of both genders.” The Sailor Starlights are characters in the series who literally swapped genders often during episodes. Gender fluidity and being transgender are standard in the Sailor Moon universe, with no one questioning why or how the characters are the way they are, and that is so important today.

Naoko Takeuchi, the creator of Sailor Moon, has created a beautiful universe that strays from heteronormative and cisnormative standards that are still present almost 30 years later. Femininity is beautiful, but often seen as a negative trait, yet Sailor Moon creates a perfect balance of femininity and masculinity without exploiting or oppressing the characters in the process. Sailor Moon has created a universe in which everyone is welcome and unquestioned about being themselves. This imaginative universe is relatable and provides diversity in the last place people expected to find it, and hopefully, Naoko Takeuchi’s creation will only continue to be the beginning of some much-needed representation in pop culture. 

 

“The people of the world, all of them, whether it is the different race or the different language or the different lifestyle, tend to only think about what we cannot share. But our brains are all the same. We are the same people. With everyone’s strength, we can all share the same feelings. That much is obvious. But it won’t come easily.” –Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Moon

About the Writer
Genesis Sandoval, Editor

Hi, my name is Genesis. This is my third year writing for The Pegasus. I’m a senior, and can’t wait to graduate. I listen to music often, and sleep...

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