The Eleventh Day of Christmas – Sailor Moon Kisekae Dress-Up Book
On the eleventh day of (Sailor Moon) Christmas, we have delivered unto us an actual kisekae paper doll dress-up book, dating back to the Sailor Moon S anime season. I know I must have mentioned earlier that I’ve covered a ton of variations on the dress up doll formula over the past week or so, but when you consider the theme of the series – a junior high school girl who uses the power of magic to transform her clothes into that of a sailor-suited warrior of justice – and the elementary school girl target audience, it’s a pretty obvious “toy” when you think about it. Kisekae also was (and still is) incredibly popular in Japan, eventually spreading out to the fledgling anime otaku community in the West through sites like OtakuWorld. So what does an actual, paper kiss doll look like?
Since I’m just a few months into the life of this blog (a month and a half, actually… my, time flies!), I’m purposefully keeping things early in the life and story of the Sailor Moon series – specifically limited to the original season and R, or the Dark Kingdom and Black Moon arcs of the manga. I tried to keep the toys I’m reviewing here to that period as well, though unfortunately that wasn’t always possible. When you stumble across a mint condition book like this, you just have to overlook that it’s from the Sailor Moon S run, you know? Maybe next year I’ll move further into the latter seasons!
So before moving too far into this, I suppose I should clarify just what exactly the dress-up dolls and kisekae are, for those who don’t know. It’s not entirely uncommon in the West, though for many of our younger readers who grew up with all video games, 300+ TV channels, and always-on internet connections, I suppose it’s possible you may not have run across these. Kisekae basically means “to dress-up” something or someone and is generally applied to these types of dolls, but is also used on home-screens of smart phones or even website design, offering you an opportunity to mix-and-match and customize the appearance. The term is also used generally in Japan (and often as kiss dolls in the West) to refer to the digital and analogue 2D dolls on which you stack cut-outs of clothes to customize the look and appearance of the character.
This book comes with five different characters – Usagi, Minako, ChibiUsa, and Haruka – and quite a few different outfits for each. I’m not exactly sure what lead to the character choices (Minako seems a bit odd), but my best guess is that a second companion book was sold and they wanted to save some of the other popular characters (Ami and Rei, for example, and one of the new Sailors – Michiru) for that one.
As I mentioned, each of their characters has their own clothes which – for once – are actually interchangeable between all the characters! I know this is a constant minor gripe of mine, but it’s nice to actually see that while each character has clothes designed specifically for her, they can be mixed-and-matched for use elsewhere. Also interesting, few – if any – of these clothing designs seem to come from either the anime or the manga, so it seems that the designers took certain liberties when making the clothes for each of the characters.
That’s not to say that the outfits don’t fit – they do – but it is interesting to have a chance to see Usagi dressed up in a different fashion than what you’re used to seeing her in the anime or on cards and other promotional material. Haruka, however, is another story entirely. I know that the anime on occasion tried what they could to make her a little more feminine, but… wow, some of these outfits seem like something she’d rather be caught dead in than actually wear out in public.
I’m surprised that the designers, for once, decided to go with a design that would allow you to exchange clothes between characters, even if it’s clear that certain designs were meant for each of them. We don’t really need an Usagi dressed like Sailor Mercury, but it’s still nice to have options, you know? All in all, I’d say the artists did a pretty impressive job on this book, and it would make a nice decoration on a corkboard or something, especially if you could just change the design whenever you see fit!