One of the more endearing “behind the scene” mysteries to me about the development of the Sailor Moon anime is just why, exactly, did Luna and Queen Beryl share a voice actress. Certainly, Keiko Han was a very talented – and veteran – voice actress who’s been active in the industry since her debut in 1977,1 but that doesn’t explain why the anime would choose to reuse her talent for two major roles. Today, we’ll take a look at one theory to explain this.
Over this past year of exploring all of the hidden histories and minor intricacies in the world of Sailor Moon, one point that we’ve continuously come back to is that nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems. Much like an onion, there are layers and layers of neat bits of trivia. So in honor of the one-year anniversary of this blog, I’d like to go back way to the beginning: what was the inspiration behind the magical girl known as Sailor Moon?
When you consider what a hot property Sailor Moon was as a full-blown multimedia marketing machine from the early- to mid-90’s, it seems like something of a mystery that there never was a movie for the fifth season to wrap the series up. After all, with the new stories and characters introduced in Sailor Stars, there must have been a lot of potential for making a movie, right? Well, that’s what we’re going to take a look at today!
Motoki Furuhata has always been an interesting character to me in the world of Sailor Moon not only because he manages to be a strong supporter of Usagi and the rest of the Sailor Team even before he knows much about what’s going on, but he also neatly ties together the worlds of Codename: Sailor V and Sailor Moon. While I’d love to talk more about Motoki, though, today I’d like to talk about his girlfriend, Reika Nishimura, and some of the mysteries about her.
A frequent topic of conversation for this blog is is just how much the story and characters of Sailor Moon had changed from Ms. Takeuchi’s original plan for the series. Many of the changes, such as Ami originally being a cyborg, were done early in the planning process and before the characters actually came to light while others, like Makoto’s rougher side, slowly were adjusted as the series progressed. What we’re looking at today – Sailor Moon’s ability to fly – is one of those odd situations where it was removed from the series only to be put back in later, for Eternal Sailor Moon. So how was Usagi originally meant to fly?
The internet, as I’m sure you know, is home to a great many bizarre theories, half-baked connections, and misunderstandings. But for every ten poorly-considered campaigns to buy breakfast pastries to save your favorite anime, there are at least one or two legitimate pearls of wisdom to be found. Today I want to take a look into a Japanese fan theory making the rounds on the internet that Ms. Takeuchi was inspired by the 1985 cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power1 when she made Sailor Moon.
While it’s easy to look at the Sailor Moon series now, in its long history spanning nearly two-and-a-half decades, and to say that its monolithic success was basically guaranteed. I mean, when you look at its legacy – an immensely successful five-year run for both anime and manga, a long-running musical, a television drama, and countless other product lines – it’s hard to not look at it with our 20/20 hindsight and say that the series was destined to end up this way.
But is it really that simple? When you take a look at some of the decisions Ms. Takeuchi and the animation staff made, there’s some room to wonder if some emergency plans were made to cut the series short, specifically before Makoto made her appearance. Let’s take a closer look!
Naru Osaka is one of those secondary characters that is incredibly hard to pin down. At first glance she’s just one of many background characters – like Ms. Haruna Sakurada, Usagi’s family, and many other members of the supporting case – but when you actually take time to look at the amount of work put into developing her character, you realize that quite a bit more work was put into her background than many others. So what do we actually know about Usagi’s best friend?
The first time anyone sees the Sailor Moon R movie, I’m pretty sure one of the things to pop into their head is that, you know, the villain of the movie looks an awful lot like those villains, Ail and An, who appeared in the Cardian Arc of the anime. Surprisingly, though, despite the fact that it’s pretty obvious and seems like a consistency issue you’d like to address, absolutely none of the Sailor Soldiers (or even Fiore himself) address this issue. As silly as it sounds, this has been nagging at me for years and I finally decided to take a look into it.
One of the things that makes it much more difficult to use the Sailor Moon anime as a source when trying to pin down its various mysteries is the fact that you can never quite be sure what parts of the story are meant to be canon (i.e., fit into the larger context of the story and “actually happened”) and what events are meant to be side stories. Making matters worse, the anime wasn’t even too concerned about internal consistency for events that were clearly canon, like Sailor Pluto’s death at the end of Sailor Moon S and her casual reappearance in the SuperS movie and in the Stars anime, as if nothing had happened.
Typically, though, I think it’s safe to say that the Sailor Moon movies are non-canon, especially since the Sailor Team doesn’t seem too particularly concerned with other enemies at the time (the Black Moon Family is never mentioned in the R movie, etc.) and at the beginning of each season and the arrival of the next threat, it seems pretty clear that they haven’t been fighting any other enemies in the mean-time. That said, the Cardian Arc itself could be considered non-canon, which leaves us with a possible double-non-canon interesting plot issue.
Researching this issue lead me to a source I’ve gone to before to answer series canon questions; the December 1993 edition of Animage magazine1 which featured an interview on page 28 with the Sailor Moon R series (and movie) director, Kunihiro Ikuhara2 as a part of the promotion machine for the then-upcoming Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie.3 Much to my surprise, he actually addresses this question head on:
“As you can tell by looking at the enemy, this story is a renewal of the Ail and An arc. Of course, the angle we’re telling [the story from] is completely different.”
“Renewal,” when used like this in Japanese, would be akin to a remake in the West, with the implication that something has been updated and redone better than before, as with a shop being renewed, or the re-release shinsouban manga which was referred to as the “Renewal Edition.”4
So after all these years of wondering if they’re from the same planet, if they were siblings, or if maybe all aliens outside of the Sol system looked that way (though this was disproved in Stars), it turns out the answer is really quite simple: the movie is taking the basic premise of the Cardian Arc and is a retelling, using story elements from the Black Moon Family (primarily ChibiUsa’s existence) to flesh out the story.
I’m happy to have this mystery finally put to rest, though to be honest a part of me does wish that there was a bit more to the story. I’ve always been a fan of the Cardian Arc and the characters appearing therein, so it would have been nice to see the story expanded upon rather than re-written. But it is good to know that Mr. Ikuhara did address the issue!
Few attacks in the history of the Sailor Moon series have undergone as many alterations as the sailor-suited soldier’s debut attack in both the manga and the anime. While it’s up for debate whether or not her crying, which unleashes ultrasonic sound waves that distract the youma Morga in the midst of her assault,1 is a special attack in its own right, in the tradition of most anime and live-action shows in the sentai fighting-force line, I think it’s fair to say that anything without an explicit name is just a part of them being super soldiers of justice. Otherwise, you will need to start coming up with names for their ability to jump to high places, a name for Sailor Jupiter’s punching, and more. That said, Sailor Moon’s tiara is the first named attack, but its name has gone through several major changes. What gives?