As someone who’s fascinated by the nitty-gritty of how things work, the distinction between the Inner and Outer Senshi is a subject that I find incredibly interesting.
Though we’re given a (very) brief explanation within the series that the Inner team handles threats from within the Solar System and the Outers handle those from beyond, any other distinctions between the two groups are fairly vague and left up to fan conjecture.
Today we’ll be taking a look at how Iriya Azuma, producer of Sailor Moon S, approached these two teams and what he felt the distinction was between them. I hope you stick around, because this is actually pretty interesting!
To be totally frank, the breakdowns of the teams in the Sailor Moon series have always come off as a bit odd to me.
First off, we have the fact that Sailor Jupiter is a member of the Inner team, while the planet is an “outer” planet. I suppose I can overlook this discrepancy, though, since there’s no way that Ms. Takeuchi could have known that she would wind up representing every planet when the series first started.
Second, there’s the question on where Sailor ChibiMoon fits into all this craziness. The anime (and at least initially in the manga) seems to treat her as a sort of “junior” member of the Inners, which I guess is fair enough. But then she later gets her own team with the absolutely-have-nothing-to-do-with-the-Moon-or-the-future Asteroid Senshi of Sailors Ceres, Vesta, Juno, and Pallas.
Third, Saturn. I mean, that should be enough right there. Is she a member of the Outer senshi, or some rogue member totally on her own? In the Infinity Arc (Sailor Moon S) I’d say the latter, but from the Dream Arc (Sailor Moon SuperS) and on, it seems like the former. But then she also seems to be paired up with Sailor ChibiMoon in the manga, so is she an honorary member of the ChibiMoon/Asteroid/Saturn brigade? Who knows.
Finally, we’ve got the “original” Outer team of Sailors Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Is it pure coincidence, or by design that this team is so much more mature than the Inner team? And why should there be any difference in how they act compared to the other team?
So what did he have to say about the two teams? Glad you asked!
The blurb was titled: 「ムーンはOL?」 or “Sailor Moon is an Office Lady?”
Apologies in advance for those of you who already know, but I feel like we need to take a quick timeout here and cover really quick just what in the heck an “office lady” (abbreviated “OL”) actually is:3
An office lady, often abbreviated OL, is a female office worker in Japan who performs generally pink collar tasks such as serving tea and secretarial or clerical work.
Basically, think a very generic, generally administrative role within a company. We won’t get into the specifics here, but let’s just say that you’re not really looking into a strong career path or growth in your role. You wouldn’t call a female boss an “office lady.”
Rather than spend a bunch of time going on about what he could possibly mean by that title, let’s just let the man speak for himself:
Uranus and Neptune, the two new, mysterious soldiers appearing in this series, are clearly at a whole different level in terms of strength, ability, and commanding presence compared to Moon and her team.
He goes on to explain:
To try to explain the dynamics between Sailors Uranus and Neptune and the other five Sailor Soldiers, well, I guess I’d say it’s like a career woman (that’s probably an outdated phrase) and a new office lady (that too) at a company.
While all the men in the office continue to hold onto their biases and look askance at her, this office lady who’s been in the company for awhile continues working right along with grace. And then there is this newbie office lady, thinking it’ll soon be her chance to shine, all the while getting scolded by the older woman for still being too naive. And yet, she admire this younger girl.
One day, they get assigned to the same project. What starts out as mutual respect turns into rivalry, followed by reconciliation, and then a sense of camaraderie. I’m sure throughout that process, all sorts of situations unfold between these two.
Well, at least that’s the kind of situation I’d like to give viewers a glimpse into.
This isn’t the first time that we’ve compared the world of Sailor Moon with the dynamics of Japanese corporate life, and I imagine it won’t be the last. But I have to say, as weird as this sounds, I feel like this description really does give an interesting insight into the relationship between the Inner Senshi and Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, at least in the anime.
What do you think of this explanation offered up by the series director? A bit too much on the interpretive side, or maybe he wasn’t successful in getting the image across?
For me, personally, I don’t think I would have come to the assumption he outlined here if no one were to mention it to me. However, I can really get a sense of that underlying story element when I look back on the interactions between the teams across Sailor Moon S.
Of course, I love hearing other people’s views on things like this — especially from those who may not necessarily live and work in Japanese corporations. After nearly a decade living in Japan, I kind of lose touch with what’s “normal” in the West, so the fresh perspective is great to have!