How Did Fans React to the Deaths of the Sailor Soldiers?

Some Serious Sailor Moon Fans

Some Serious Sailor Moon Fans

Though it seems that Ms. Takeuchi was stopped at the last minute by her editor, Fumio Osano, from killing the Sailor Team at the end of the Dark Kingdom arc, their anime counterparts weren’t quite so lucky. For a show which strayed even more into family-friendly territory (which can be seen often with the comical moments between Rei and Usagi that didn’t exist in the manga) and even cut out some of the deaths from the series (such as Jadeite being killed in the manga and frozen in to an eternal slumber, Princess Serenity’s suicide in the manga after the death of Prince Endymion, etc.), it’s a bit odd that they’d go the opposite direction and actually kill off the main cast in the epic climax. So after being lulled into this false sense of security, how did the fans react? And, by extension, their parents?

June 1993 Animage

June 1993 Animage

The information for this article comes from the June 1993 issue of Animage magazine.1

The first, and most widely-publicized, story comes from a midnight radio DJ for Radio Fukushima, Arata Owada.2 As the story goes, he used to would watch Sailor Moon together with his daughter every Saturday and was shocked to watch the Sailor Team fall one by one. He was so upset by this that he actually called up TV Asahi and demanded to know what they planned to do about the characters. Since he often discussed anime on his late-night radio show – and was vocal about his concerns – he eventually caught the attention of Animage, which asked him to do a phone interview.

In the interview, he said that his daughter was so shocked by the ending that she came down for a 40°C (104°F) fever and stayed home from kindergarten for a week. When he finally took her to the doctor, he was told it was autointoxication3 and the doctor asked if she had suffered some sort of trauma or shock recently.

Nothing Can Stop a Fan

Nothing Can Stop a Fan

Another – and perhaps more interesting – story comes from a fan-letter section in the same issue of Animage called “Mom’s Too!” In it, a 32 year old mother offered her opinion on the matter. She noted that in real life, people don’t die and then magically come back, so she was opposed to the idea of the Sailor Team so imply being “reset” and then coming back to life as if nothing had happened. She was concerned that her daughter would take away the opposite lesson: that people die and come back, that death isn’t permanent, and may lose out on the importance of life.

Looking around on the internet also gives various anecdotal stories from people about their classmates not coming to school or the author themselves not being able to eat for several days after watching the climax to the first season, so it’s pretty apparent that the impact these episodes had on Sailor Moon fans was huge.

Personally, though, I think it’s a good thing – it really shows that what could be written off as a simple anime really did touch people’s lives, and that the TV Asahi staff did a wonderful job of making these characters real. Isn’t that really the greatest compliment?


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16 thoughts on “How Did Fans React to the Deaths of the Sailor Soldiers?

  1. Interesting read 🙂 I personally loved the climatic ending… but I grew up watching the totally cut and censored DiC version xDDD When I watched the original version much later, I was pretty shocked by the deaths… it was soooo much sadder… but again I was already much older so it didnt affect me as much as oppose to seeing it as a child.

    • Thanks for the comment! It’s kinda funny, I grew up with the (heavily-censored) DiC ending too, but even with all the cut content, I was still gutted when I first watched it. =p Still, though, I absolutely love the way Classic ended and wouldn’t change a thing. Kudos to the directors!

  2. This was a fascinating article! Thank you!
    While their deaths were utterly horrific and had me traumatized for days before I could gather my courage to watch the next episode, it really is just part of the Sailor Moon experience. In other books and shows where characters die, when you cry, its a terrible awful feeling-yet somewhere buried deep inside…it feels so good to be experiencing the drama.
    But yeah, when Sailor Uranus and Neptune died….ugh. The weeks afterward everything was like in a dream. Honestly I couldn’t eat or sleep well for a couple days because how could they be dead???? My favorite super-cosmic-powered, helicopter flying, elite elf-like lesbians were….DEAD???? Probably cried harder for them than when my uncle died. THEN IT HAPPENED AGAIN WITH GALAXIA.
    Idk man, were their deaths just as traumatizing for you as the Inners? Did this cause the studio any loss in popularity or sales?

  3. I think im around maybe 9 or 10years old at that time… and in my country philippines, we have the uncut/uncensored version. I remembered i did cried so much. But never as such being traumatized about it! I just remembered it being best fight! And that in the next day i went to school and talked to my best friend that it was a very awesome and best episode! And we talked about how awesome the fight scenes were! And thats about it… i think we are not as innocent? Lol or maybe we are just more open about those things…

  4. This episode was not censored in Italy…
    And I knew by experience that in japanese cartoons, characters actually died!
    So I thought they were dead, period.
    But then my grandma took the TV guide and told me the next episode was titled “La vittoria delle guerriere sailor” (“The victory of the sailor soldiers”) but I still didn’t believe they would turn back alive, lol.

    • Wow, talk about spoilers! =p I can’t believe that they put it right in the episode title. But I guess you can’t really do much about that.

      Thanks for sharing the story about Italy! I love hearing about how the series was modified in other countries!

      • In fairness, though, Italian broadcasters always purchase each season of any anime after it’s all out in Japan, and broadcast it daily Monday to Friday. So unless there’s a weekend in the way, you usually only have to wait till the next day for the next episode. I think that softened the blow in a way, as we weren’t left hanging for a whole week with most of our heroines dead!

  5. I have a tough guy friend who liked to tease me for watching Sailor Moon, though he did watch it along with Dragon Ball Z with me sometimes.
    When we watched the uncut version on the ADV DVDs when they first came out, I was shocked to turn around and see him with tears streaming down his face at that episode.
    He said it wasn’t exactly the deaths that affected him so much but the despair it caused Usagi, when she broke down each time until her final breakdown when she sits down and cries (before the memories/spirits of the senshi encourage her to fight on).
    I realized that was probably the saddest part. This girl had just watched her friends die in horrible ways when just minutes before we’d been watching them laugh and tease one another.
    After that day I shed tears every time I watch that episode. (Kotono Mitsuishi really knows how to make some sounds of despair and sadness!!)

    • Amazingly, it was actually a substitute actress who played Usagi in those episodes and yes, Araki Kae did an AMAZING job, it never left my memory–she would later play Chibiusa!

  6. I wasn’t that shocked about the Sailors deaths and actually quite liked it. It was a surprising and thus nice twist on an otherwise too sugary story.

    But do you know Ashita no Nadja? There is a matador in it who had some on’s and off’s with some flamenco dancer. In the end they decide against a relationship and wedding and start pursuing their dream. And after a super successful fight with everyone cheering for him, he stepped out of the stadium and gets driven over and killed by a horse carriage. And hubby and I just got surprised in a bad way and thought wow. And why? And if they ever decide to show that anime in a different country, you can bet money on the fact that they will censor that meaningless death scene.

  7. In Lithuania we had a German version. The deaths weren’t censored but I was already 14-15 at the time, so it didn’t affect me much. Plus I was already traumatised by Digimon Tamers. xD

  8. i am so proud that the anime-staff did not include Serenity’s suicide but choose to show the death of the senshi. Because suicide is never an option, but dying to protect your friends, to protect people, in this case the world, you care for, has actual meaning. it was way better handled in the anime than in the manga, if you ask me.

    thank you for this blog. you are great! 🙂

  9. I’d argue the last 2 eps of Season 1 are the best finale for any season of the show. When Rei dies it really hit me even though I watched it at age 19 and then again at age 29

  10. Pingback: Episode 16: Ambling Bags of Meat – Donna and Jaclyn Take Adulting: A Podcast

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