In the immortal words of the Plain White T’s, “hate is a strong word, but I really, really, really don’t like you.”1 And, if the internet is to be believed, this pretty much sums up the relationship between Sailor Moon‘s creator and acclaimed anime director (Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and more) Kunihiko Ikuhara.
It makes a certain amount of sense, when you get right down to it, too. They both have very strong, outspoken personalities, and Director Ikuhara was personally responsible for completely changing Rei in the anime — a sore spot in Ms. Takeuchi’s eyes.
Today, we’re going to take a look into whether there’s any truth behind this rumor and why (or why not!) that may not be the case. Regardless of which side of the anime vs. manga debate you happen to be on, you’ll want to stick around for this!
Misattributed and even completely made up quotes have been around since time immemorial. Long before Wikipedia, magazines, newspapers, and books, humans have been constantly ascribing words to people who never said them ever since the earliest oral traditions.
The internet and its constant demand for speed over accuracy, however, has made this whole issue a whole lot worse. Rather than checking the accuracy of a source, it’s just easier to assume that the information is correct and to just copy and paste it. After all, the person before you probably did their due diligence… right?
On and on this cycle goes, until you have what was once an off-the-cuff “quote” someone mis-remembered showing up as definitive answers across the internet. Which is where we find ourselves with the infamous quote by Director Ikuhara regarding what he thought of Ms. Takeuchi’s contribution to Sailor Moon:2
Sailor Moon would have been better without Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga.
Say what you will about Director Ikuhara’s rather… unique personality, but I was pretty surprised to see such a big name in the anime world go out and openly speak ill of the creator — the mother, if you will — of a franchise he dedicated years of his life on.
However, everything else about it seemed to check out. Unlike other absurd and baseless fan rumors, the further down the rabbit hole I went, the more information I was able to uncover its legitimacy.
Apparently it happened in an interview after Stars ended, which means it must’ve been anywhere between March and December 1997.3
Another source says it was an anime magazine, and some say Animage specifically. Animage had a strong relationship with Sailor Moon, even holding official contests for episode concepts, so that seems about right.
Several of the sources attribute this quote to an interview promoting Revolutionary Girl Utena’s launch, which led me straight to the interview I was looking for: the May 1997 issue of Animage, featuring an interview with Director Ikuhara and writer Yoji Enokido.4
Sleuthing never felt so good.
That is, of course, until I finally tracked down the relevant issue… only to discover that there’s not a single mention of Ms. Takeuchi in it. Or even Sailor Moon for that matter.
As fate would have it, our favorite director was busy working the Utena hype machine and also did an interview in the May 1997 issue of Newtype, this time together with the manga artist and his partner in crime, Chiho Saitoh.5
Bingo! … right?
Once again, we came up blank. No mention of Ms. Takeuchi, and only a passing mention of his work on Sailor Moon. How was such a sure thing going so horribly wrong?
Well, the more I began to read into the context surrounding these internet “quotes,” the less and less sense they began to make. Apparently Director Ikuhara blamed her for the Sailor Moon series ending at Sailor Stars. But that didn’t make any sense. The last episode that he worked on was episode 166 — the last episode of Sailor Moon SuperS. He had moved onto his own projects and left Sailor Moon before Sailor Stars had even started, so there’s no reason for him to be upset about it.
Yet other sources claim that this quote, in fact, is the very reason why Director Ikuhara didn’t work on Sailor Stars — apparently Ms. Takeuchi was so incensed by his remarks that she demanded Toei pull him off of the anime.
Alas, that doesn’t make any sense either. Even assuming that the quote was misattributed both in time (1997) and context (about Utena), Director Ikuhara had already left Toei shortly after his final episode in 1996 to form his own creative thinktank, Be-PaPas.6 It’s kind of hard to get someone fired when they already quit.
That being said, the idea of a strained relationship between the two of them isn’t entirely unfounded.
Ms. Takeuchi herself admits in her afterword in the manga version of The Lover of Princess Kaguya7 that the Sailor Moon R movie caused her untold amounts of stress due to how it deviated from her story, and even goes on to apologize for how much of a fuss she rose with people in order to make sure she was involved in the Sailor Moon S movie.
Despite her apology, however, Ms. Takeuchi still mentions at the end that she’s sad that the anime doesn’t track closer to her original manga storyline, though she admits this is a byproduct of the fact that they’re both being created in real time.
Even with all that history, however, I still have yet to be able to uncover any actual interviews where either of these titans of the Japanese entertainment industry has had anything negative to say about the other. In fact, in all the research I’ve done, I’ve actually found that Director Ikuhara has been quick to praise Ms. Takeuchi for her creative genius:8
Passion is incredibly important for creators. Take Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Sailor Moon, for example — her designs are amazing. She loves figure skating, and she put all sorts of figure skating design elements into their clothes.
So does Director Ikuhara hate Naoko Takeuchi? While it’s entirely possible that he may have some sort of resentment toward her for one reason or another deep inside, I’ve been unable to find anything that would suggest that’s the case. When I first started looking into this question over a year ago, I figured it was going to be an open-and-shut case considering how specific the quote, even down to where and when it first appeared.
However, at the end of this long journey, the only evidence I’ve come up with is actually to the contrary — in every interview I’ve read with him, Director Ikuhara always praises Ms. Takeuchi’s work, even going so far as to say that he originally “didn’t get” the story the manga was trying to tell until the series became a hit around Sailor Moon R, and he tried to keep in mind that the series was supposed to be much more than a plain-old drama.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve been able to uncover about the supposed Ikuhara/Takeuchi feud! But what do you think about all of this? Do you get any sense of animosity behind the scenes, or was there more going on with Ms. Takeuchi’s ultimate buy-out of the anime broadcasting rights than a simple disdain for the people who made it? I’d love to hear you all chime in below!
- See Plain White T’s – Hate (I Really Don’t Like You) ↩
- See reference 1; reference 2; reference 3; reference 4 ↩
- Since Sailor Moon aired its final episode on February 8, 1997, this means that the magazine must have been on the bookshelves in February. The absolute earliest that could be is a magazine dated March, since they tend to come to stores several weeks before the month written on them. ↩
- Again, Revolutionary Girl Utena debuted on April 2, 1997, meaning that the relevant magazine is one marked as being one month ahead due to release times: see Revolutionary Girl Utena (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Whisperings of a Rose (Interview) ↩
- See Be-PaPas (Wikipedia) ↩
- See vol 11 of the original manga ↩
- See 2013 panel given by Kunihiko Ikuhara ↩