Why Is Sailor Moon Talking About Safe Sex?
While I’ve certainly written more than my fair share of off-color topics in the past, from what the Sailor Soldiers wear under their skirts to their mathematically-derived bust sizes, I never thought I’d actually be writing about an authorized Sailor Moon… condom, with Ms. Takeuchi’s seal of approval. While this isn’t the type of trivia I usually discuss, this seemed worthy of a further look and something I thought would be fun to share with fans in the west. So, what’s all this about?
On November 21, 2016, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) made a press release1 announcing its joint collaboration with Ms. Takeuchi to make a Sailor Moon-branded poster and leaflet to educate young women on preventing sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STD and STI)2 and on the necessity for early detection and treatment. The catch phrase for the project is:
If you don’t get checked, I will punish you!!
An obvious play on Sailor Moon’s famous catch phrase from the anime and manga.
Since Japanese schools rarely have a proper “sex ed” component to their educational programs,3 a great many young men and women in Japan are ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of safe sex — a problem which is exasperated by people getting married later and later and, in turn, having more partners.
Without getting too gruesome, the MHLW notes that rates of syphilis have gone from 621 reported cases in 2010 to 2,697 in 2015 — a growth of over 4x in just five years. They believe that one of the causes for this is a lack of general understanding and knowledge of proper use of condoms (more on that later!).
In order to help turn this around, the MHLW reached out to Ms. Takeuchi to make a plan to make use of the Sailor Moon series (which has a wide-reaching fan base) to educate women on practicing safe sex, on the prevention of STIs, and the importance of getting checked.
The materials being produced in this campaign are: a poster / leaflet and a heart-shaped package with a condom.
According to Japanese news sites, this is an all-knew illustration done by Ms. Takeuchi herself just for this program. While I’m not an expert, this does seem to be new to me, so it could very well be!
On the front of the pamphlet is an appeal to get checked early and emphasizing the importance of treatment. It also includes materials on where to find clinics to get checked and has some basic information on safe sex practices.
The back contains information on recent trends in syphilis, herpes, other STIs, and HIV/AIDS. I’m trying to be as mature here as I possibly can, but I will say that a part of me finds it incredibly difficult to keep a straight face when confronted with a picture of Sailor Moon right above a line about the risks of oral pleasure.
Let’s not stop and think about how old the Sailor Moon cast is.
Here we have the heart-shaped condom packet, of which 60,000 were produced to be handed out by local governments. While some sites have said they’ll be given out at the Coming of Age day ceremonies on January 9, 2017,4 it’s not clear where or how these will be distributed.
As with the pamphlet itself, it urges the reader to get checked out early and often and provides a link to clinics, in addition to explaining what STIs are. Above the included condom is the phrase “Let’s Prevent!”
According to the Asahi Shimbun,5 Ms. Takeuchi had this to say:
I hope that fans and otherwise will understand Sailor Moon’s message and that many more people can carry on with healthy lives through getting checked.
And there you have it! If you’re like me, this may leave you with more questions than answers, but I was definitely interested to see this very obvious acknowledgement that Sailor Moon has grown up, as a series, along with its original generation of fans.
Jokes aside — and, I assure you, Japanese twitter and elsewhere is full of them — I think this is a wonderful step in the right direction in a generally conservative country, especially when it comes to the concept of women and sex. I’m glad to see Ms. Takeuchi fully on board, too.
Do you think we’ll start seeing other programs like this? I wonder what other series will start being used to reach out to adults…
- See the MHLW’s Press Release ↩
- Huh, I never knew there was a difference between the two. The more ya know! See the difference between STDs and STIs ↩
- See this white paper written by Mieko Tashiro of Saitama University ↩
- See Coming of Age Day (Wikipedia) ↩
- See this November 21, 2016 article in the Asahi Shimbun ↩