What Was it Like to Record Audio for the Sailor Moon S Movie?

Tell me your secrets!

Tell me your secrets!

Whether it’s due to really restrictive NDAs signed by everyone involved, a stronger sense of respect for one’s prior workplace, or a power-hungry industry that will shut out anyone who opens their mouths from finding new work, it’s pretty uncommon to find tell-all accounts of what it was like working behind the scenes of Sailor Moon, or even any anime really.

While I wish I could say that I’m here to sate your (and my?) desire for drama, I’m actually here to share with you a heartwarming account by Kotono Mitsuishi, voice of Sailor Moon and Usagi Tsukino.1

Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

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How Did the Concept of Codename: Sailor V Evolve Into Sailor Moon?

In search of the missing link

In search of the missing link

Now that it’s been over a quarter of a century since Sailor Moon first hit bookshelves, and hit the airwaves shortly after that, I doubt it’s really much of a surprise to anyone to hear that another series by Ms. Takeuchi, Codename: Sailor V, served as a precursor to our favorite series.

And if you didn’t know… well, surprise! Now you do. Since I have a strict “one tidbit per post” rule, I guess that means that we call get to just go home then.

… or, I could finish what I started.

Today we’ll be talking about the creative process that was involved in turning a one-shot manga starring the no-nonsense beauty Sailor V and her sidekick kitty-pal Artemis into the multimedia powerhouse starring a full-fledged Sailor Team.

I hope you join along for the ride!

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What Challenges Were Faced In Developing Sailor Moon: Another Story?

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story (1995; Super Famicom)

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story (1995; Super Famicom)

Released on September 22, 1995, – halfway through the anime’s SuperS season, despite being firmly entrenched in Sailor Moon S lore – Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story was a groundbreaking RPG for its time. Not only was it an RPG built from the ground up for a young, female audience, but it also had a much larger cast of characters than most other games in the genre dared to at the time and even included audio from the actual voice talent.

Today I’ll be translating an interview with members of the development staff so we can take a look at some of the challenges they faced in making the game. Let’s get going!

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Why Did ChibiUsa Call Sailor Moon Everyone’s Mother?

To reject a mother

To reject a mother

Though Sailor Moon fans are a pretty diverse lot when it come to the subject of a “favorite” — be in favorite character, season, manga vs. anime, or anything else — I find that the Sailor Moon R movie tends to fare pretty well among fans. Going by sales figures alone, it was definitely the most popular of all three of the movies, grossing nearly 30% more than the Sailor Moon S movie and over double that of ticket sales for Sailor Moon SuperS. It’s no wonder that it’s managed to stand the test of time.

However, one thing that I never really got when I was younger is what is the movie trying to say? It’s only recently that I started to think about ChibiUsa’s famous line to Luna and Artemis: “It’ll be okay, Sailor Moon is everyone’s mom!”

But what did she actually mean by that?

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What’s It Like to Be a Sailor Moon Cosplayer?

Saturn and Saturn

Saturn and Saturn

Whether you’re an anime or manga fan in Japan, Europe, America, or anywhere else around the globe, odds are that you’re intimately familiar with cosplay, and may have even done it yourself. While cosplay isn’t limited to — or even unique to — Japan, it is without a doubt well-known for the high quality of the costumes and incredible attention to detail by the cosplayers who bring our favorite characters to life. Today, I’d like to talk about the experiences of one such cosplayer.

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Were Haruka and Michiru Viewed as Lesbians in 1990s Japan?

How Did 1990s Sailor Moon Fans See This?

How Did 1990s Sailor Moon Fans See This?

As Sailor Moon‘s popularity began to pick up in the west, and the decision ultimately came down to not continue dubbing the series (despite efforts from the fans), the fans started to reach out on the early internet for more information about the undubbed seasons and about the other, mysterious Sailor Soldiers. Fans went back and forth on the nature of the relationship between the little-known Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune – both women! – with people going so far as to make up lies about fake origins, gender transformations, and more.1

A tender embrace

A tender embrace

Though the dust has ultimately settled and, with the more direct statements in the Sailor Moon Crystal, both fans and creators can agree that they are clearly a lesbian couple now,2 this still leaves it unclear as to how their relationship was viewed in Japan. After all, if there was so much confusion in the US, wouldn’t it be natural for there to be confusion in Japan as well?

While it’s difficult to say what a country believed as a whole, I’m basing much of my statements on an article published by Newtype,3 one of the top three anime magazines in Japan. This article was published shortly after episode 126 of the anime aired,4 presumed to be the end of Haruka and Michiru’s story line. The title of the article is:

“Farewell to the Soldiers of Love – The Dramatic Tale of the Soldiers of Forlorn Love, Haruka & Michiru, Comes to an End”

The article is a bit long to provide the English and Japanese in their entirety, but the following is a translation of the relevant parts where the author describes his/her interpretation of episode 110.5

“Neptune, took the bullet from Eudial in order to save Uranus’ life. Uranus took her own life with the gun that was used to shoot Neptune. Didn’t you [the staff charged with creating episode 110] find this to be just a little sexy, in addition to its seriousness?”

“I would like you to read the following as just one interpretation of dramatic expression, as that is all it is. Thinking of this in a Freudian manner, a gun is symbolic of male genitalia. Though they appear to be lovers, neither of them has male genitals. Is there some meaning to the fact that the more feminine Neptune took the shot of her own will while the masculine Uranus shot herself of her own will (that’s right, the one who shot and the one to be shot couldn’t be reversed!)? Then, a symbolic so-called gun comes between the two of them (who do not have any male genitalia) and “talismans” are born from their bodies after they have been shot through. Almost as if a child had been born from within them…”

“The relationship between the two of them is reminiscent of the love between a man and a woman, but it was a deeper connection between spirits that was somehow even stronger than that. I think this scene was drawn out amazingly, with a hidden subtext of sexual symbolism of the depth of their relationship.”

Sailor Uranus and Neptune Investigating a Heart Crystal

Sailor Uranus and Neptune Investigating a Heart Crystal

The author manages to say both a lot and nothing at the same time, which makes it a bit difficult to interpret. Ultimately, though, I think the takeaway that you can get from this article is that if one of the biggest Japanese anime magazines was talking so frankly about the relationship, it’s fair to say that the general consensus among anime fans at the time was that there was some sort of sexual relationship between the two (even if some people chose to read into it in a Freudian manner).

Considering how important the rise to prominence of homosexual and transgendered characters was to fans in the west,6 I’m glad to see that it was seen similarly in Japan and hope that it had similar impacts. Though the anime certainly did downplay Haruka’s mixing of genders, the message seems to have gotten across fairly well, as showcased in a tagline underneath a screenshot on the same page:

“Michiru casually responds ‘Well then…’ to Haruka’s risque line of ‘I’m not letting you go home tonight.’ This was a meaningful scene that only the two of them could have.”

Haruka and Michiru, driving home

Haruka and Michiru, driving home

As for the sexuality of the other Sailor Soldiers? Well, fan theories are abound and the jury is still out, but it’s at least nice to get a glimpse into what Japanese fans thought of Haruka and Michiru’s relationship back in 1995! This does bring one question to mind, though: did the anime really do less to advance the obviousness relationship, or possibly more? As I re-watch the series, they definitely didn’t shy from anything! What do you think?

Behind the Scenes with the Sailor Moon R Game Designer

Sailor Moon R for the Super Famicom / Nintendo

Sailor Moon R for the Super Famicom / Nintendo

[Note: This translation is edited a bit for clarity and comes from an interview in the back of a strategy guide written for the Super Famicom fighting game. You can find the Japanese interview here: Page 94, Page 95, Page 96, Page 97.]1

Opening Up on the Unspoken Stories

Jouji Yuno, Developer/Producer at Angel
Continuing with his work on “Sailor Moon” for the SFC.

— That “ChibiUsa” mode is pretty unique!

ChibiUsa Mode

ChibiUsa Mode

That’s right, it grew far beyond our expectations, though there’s a reason behind how it came to this. When we started game development, there were still quite a few mysteries behind ChibiUsa, so when we were putting our heads together and debating how we should put her into the game, we decided to take her out of the main game and make a separate “ChibiUsa Mode.”

In this mode, you play as the near-invincible ChibiUsa. This was partially related to her height (laugh), but since we that though that it really wouldn’t look so nice to have ChibiUsa get punched by the enemies, so we made it so that even a little kid could make it to the end. We decided to have her use the umbrella she’s had since her appearance as a weapon, but she’s stopped using it entirely lately (laugh). In the game, the umbrella is really important to her since it makes up for the difference in the enemy’s height. What’s more, it’s a lot cuter than ChibiUsa directly punching and kicking the enemies. However, from the point of view of child-rearing, it’s not ideal to be hitting enemies directly with an umbrella, so she attacks the enemies with the energy from the stars that come shoot from the umbrella.

As much as we worried about how to fit ChibiUsa into the game, it paid off and people fell in love with it.

— What about the other Sailor Soldiers?

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