What References Did the Animators Fit Into the Sailor Moon Anime?

Think the Sailor Moon offices looked like this?

Think the Sailor Moon offices looked like this?

A question I (and many other Sailor Moon fans) often get asked is: Which do you like better? The anime, or the manga?

Nearly 20 years ago, when I was first getting into Sailor Moon, this was an easy answer for me — the manga, of course! It’s closer to Ms. Takeuchi’s vision and tells a more mature, concise story.

But now, I’m not so sure about that. As weird as it is to say, I think they’re both my favorites, but precisely because they are so different, and how much fun you can tell the animation staff had in creating some of their wacky monsters of the day and sub plots. Today, we’ll talk about one such episode!

Asato & Baby

Asato & Baby

Way back in episode 21 of the first season, we follow the story of an up-and-coming animator working in an animation studio. It’s not much of a leap to imagine that the animation production staff felt strongly about life in their chosen profession, and the episode is full a lot of little in-jokes.

Considering how hard the characters are working in this episode, though, they make it pretty clear that the occupation isn’t all fun and games. There’s obviously a lot of blood, sweat, and tears invested into being an animator and working on a popular anime.

Much like Toru Furuya’s misadventures as a father which later inspired an episode, here, too, we catch a glimpse into the personal lives of the staff dedicated to bringing this anime to life.

In the scenes with the animation director Asato, you’ll notice that he’s carrying a baby around on his back. This character is an homage to Sailor Moon‘s very own series director, Junichi Sato,1 who also had a very young child at home at the time this episode came out. Hopefully he didn’t actually take his kid to work…

Incidentally, apparently the baby was voiced by none other than Aya Hisakawa, the talented and versatile voice of Ami Mizuno.2

Hiromi Matsuno &Kazuko Tadashita

Hiromi Matsuno & Kazuko Tadashita

Also crossing the fourth wall in this episode are the two animators, Hiromi Matsuno and Kazuko Tadashita, pretty obviously named after the real life Hiromi Matsushita and Kazuko Tadano (husband and wife character designers and animators working at Studio Live on producing Sailor Moon episodes at the time).3

And before we go, one last fun little bit of trivia about this episode:

When Ami comes out of the book store and finds Hiromi’s dropped draft sheet, they actually put in the proper names of some of the staff members who worked on the Sailor Moon anime.

  • Yoshizawa -> Takao Yoshizawa (episode director and storyboard in various episodes)4
  • S. Dive Kurata -> not sure who this is (any ideas??)
  • Itasaka -> Yasue Itasaka (color stylist and ink/painting)5
  • Ikuhara -> Kunihiko Ikuhara (director)6
  • Tadano ♡ -> Kazuko Tadano (character designer)7
  • Igarashi -> Takuya Igarashi (episode director)8
Giving away the credits before the episode's even done!

Giving away the credits before the episode’s even done!

And there you have it, a brief glimpse into the heads of the people behind the Sailor Moon anime. I’m sure there are many, many more references in this episode just waiting to get caught, but these are the ones I was able to pick up through my viewing.

Now that we’ve come this far, I guess it’s a good time to ask you, the reader, the question posed at the very top: which is your favorite version of Sailor Moon? Anime, manga, Crystal? Live action… musical maybe?? Let me know!



  • My favourite is PGSM, then 90s anime. I never really got into the manga tbh xD

    • It’s funny, first I was all over the anime until I discovered the manga, which is when I decided that the anime was just a watered down version of it.

      But the more I watch, the more I see the love the teams clearly put into making the anime, you can really tell it’s more of an expansion on the same story.

      And PGSM is just plain awesome!

  • The anime is definitely my favorite (particularly the S season); it was my first foray in and the one I return to the most often. I only recently read the manga, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. The difference in pace took some getting used to at first, but I really came to appreciate how quickly it moved and how action-packed it was. There’s just no substituting the character development in the anime for me, though; while the monster-a-day formula can get a bit tiresome, the length of the anime seasons really gives all the senshi time to have well-defined personalities and relationships. Crystal for me was mostly a disappointment, though I didn’t hate it at all. I think it improved between the first and third seasons, but I don’t know that I need a fourth and fifth.

    • I think you put this quite nicely into words. The manga tells a great story, but it moves so fast that you have a hard time really getting a handle on the individual personalities / character developments of each of the Sailor Soldiers.

  • I personally find the Sailor Moon Manga extremely overrated, as controversial as that may be. Nor did I find it particularity deep, or mature for that matter. But to me it read more like a rough draft, rather then a proper polished product.

    No surprise really, given how rushed Naoko was in pumping it out. But this meant we ended up with things being introduced, and then suddenly being forgotten about by the next chapter.
    A narrative that jumped from one moment to the next without any real build-up or breathing space in between. Hence things like the Outer/Inner feud ended up feeling horribly forced, because it comes right out of left field.

    Likewise the characters felt more like outlines rather then actual personalities. Which is another problem as Naoko really didn’t care that much about anyone outside of Usagi, Mamoru and Chibi-usa.
    The Inners for example, are pretty much useless after the first arc. In Black Moon, they are all conveniently abducted. Apart from Minako, who (and let’s be honest) doesn’t do anything.
    And of-course Infinity introduced the Outers, who ended up making them look completely redundant. And with Stars, everyone who wasn’t Usagi, got royally shafted…
    And don’t get me started on how horribly boring and interchangeable all the villains were.

    I mean even Naoko herself has gone on record, that she herself was unhappy with how her work turned out.

    I guess it’s no surprise that Crystal for me, turned out as horrible as it did. They’re just wasn’t enough substance being provided. It relied heavily on you being familiar with both the characters and story beforehand, rather then trying to stand on its own.

    As for PGSM. I have tried to get into it, but the whole soap opera aspect just doesn’t engage me. To say nothing of how dated the effects are, and the amount of wooden acting outside of Keiko Kitagawa. Who for me pretty much carried the whole thing.
    Over-all, I prefer the musicals to it. I don’t think those really get enough love.

    I guess the Anime for me is the best all-rounder. Not to say I don’t pretend it isn’t perfect, but then again what is? But the characters were so much fun and down to earth, it was hard not to enjoy it.
    Classic is my personal favourite. I find S somewhat overhyped, to be controversial again. But it was Rei and Usagi’s relationship that made the show for me. It’s my favourite thing in the whole franchise.

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