In this third and final installment, Ms. Takeuchi’s friend, editor, and partner-in-crime Fumio “Osabu” Osano goes deep and discusses the inspiration behind some of Sailor Moon‘s most pivotal scenes and the impact the series has had on society as a whole!
Don’t miss out on this rare behind-the-scenes look into the history of our favorite series!1
If you haven’t read the first two parts, check them out here:
Would you say that the friendship between ChibiUsa and Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn) was an important story element in the third arc?
Though she tends to get lost in Sailor Uranus and Neptune’s shadow, Hotaru was actually an incredibly popular character, especially among male fans. That slight sense of hopelessness must have been what drew them in. There are even stories that her name is the source of the word moe.
Editor’s comment: I feel like he kind of missed the point of the question here on the importance of the friendship between ChibiUsa and Hotaru and refocused the question on Hotaru’s impact on the series’ fans. All the same, though, he is right in saying that Hotaru was an incredibly popular character, especially among manga fans. However, it’s unlikely that she is the source of the otaku word moe.
Uranus and Neptune are incredibly popular and certainly need no introduction. The “girls’ love” aspect of their characters really draws you in.
There are actually quite a few people who say that seeing the two of them together when they were a child has led them to follow in Uranus and Neptune’s footsteps as they grew older. (laugh) Ms. Takeuchi was constantly mindful of the fact that she wanted to introduce a wide variety of women across all ages, from the childish to those who were more mature. I guess you could say that these two characters were necessary to the series.
Editor’s comment: In case it’s not obvious, he’s stating in a roundabout way in the very first sentence that Haruka and Michiru’s lesbian relationship inspired a lot of people to pursue an LGBT lifestyle once they became adults.
At the time, I imagine that there weren’t a lot of lesbian relationships depicted in kids’ magazines. Did the lead editor or anyone else try to put a stop to this?
Not really. In fact, there were quite a few characters like them in shojo manga by that point.
To be honest, when I was reading through the manga as an elementary schooler in real time as it came out, I had a hard time understanding what Sailor Uranus was feeling during her emotional outburst in Act 38.
I was thinking, “but doesn’t Uranus love Neptune? Does she like Usagi too?” Kids are quick to associate everything with a sense of romance. (laugh)
In 2016, I had a chance to interview Junko Minagawa and Sayaka Ohara (Sailor Moon Crystal’s Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, respectively) and asked them about this scene. They interpreted this to mean that “Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are both soldiers and view the Princess as someone they must protect above all else.” That helped make the scene click for me.
It wasn’t clear back then? Huh, I guess that it must have been a difficult scene for the readers then. The feeling that Uranus was expressing went beyond gender. I’m sure there must have been a lot of other difficult scenes, though I’m impressed at how kids nowadays really just get it. (laugh)
(laugh) There’s a lot for me to rediscover as I read through the series again as an adult. Moving onto the fourth story arc, where ChibiUsa takes a lead role, there are a series of stories that depict each of the Sailor Soldiers’ respective dreams. It was really nice to just see who these girls that are always putting their lives on the line in epic battles really are.
Scenes like this are where Ms. Takeuchi really shines, matching the tempo and beat perfectly. She’s really good at just hunkering down and getting things done in one go. Around this time she was pretty much just locked up and drawing manga all the time, so I’m sure that she was contending with her feelings of just wanting to get out and run around. (laugh) If we had a little more leeway, I would have loved to put in more scenes like that.
I’m sure everyone knows the famous scene that I’m talking about, but Usagi suddenly came off as really mature here.
I suspect that Ms. Takeuchi had already decided on this scene as she was drafting up the concept for the end of the story. The concept of a celestial body existing within your own heart was an important part of the fifth story arc.
Finally, that brings us to the fifth and final chapter of the story.
To be totally honest, I don’t remember a thing about the fifth story arc. All I remember is little flashes, like eating leftover gyoza the next day, due to how busy we were. (laugh)
I think this famous exchange with Rei and Minako did a lot to change how people thought about the way women lived their lives. They just laid it all out there that they would rather put their lives on the line to protect someone over thinking about romance.
It left a rather strong impression on fans as well. I’ve even been told by some that no matter how many times they read through the manga, the always look forward to reading through the lead up to this scene.
In contrast to the desire to go out and get a boyfriend like was depicted in the fourth story arc, here we can feel how passionate they are about their decision to protect Usagi above all else.
There’s definitely a lot to be said about this gap. While Usagi may be modeled after Ms. Takeuchi, I believe that she also breathed a bit of herself into all of the other characters as well. She has both a really bright and cheerful side along with a dark side as well.
Was it already decided in the beginning that there would only be five story arcs?
There was no clear decision. Around the third story arc, Ms. Takeuchi felt that she had done all she could with the story. However, considering ChibiUsa’s popularity, she felt that if the story were to go on, then there could be some sort of story with Usagi falling away and ChibiUsa taking up the reins – a story of passing on to a new generation. But I think from the beginning she had always planned for the story to end with Usagi and Mamoru’s marriage.
I thought that maybe it would be good to do it after a climactic end in the fifth story arc, so ultimately we had the fourth arc feature ChibiUsa as the main character and then led up to the wedding in the fifth.
I distantly recall having some sort of conversation about the cauldron and such that ultimately appeared at the end of the series was in the beginning with her. Actually, wait, no. I definitely remember that. (laugh)
In the interest of full disclosure, there is a little more to the interview after this, but it deviates from the “behind the scenes” look at the manga and goes on to discuss questions relating to the some of the announcements made during the June 30, 2019 Usagi / ChibiUsa Birthday celebration. While interesting as Sailor Moon news, there’s little in the way of interesting new insights and didn’t merit a fourth part to this series.
With that being said, I’m glad that not only did Osabu open up so much in these interviews, but that the interviewer actually seemed to be a Sailor Moon fan at heart, asking some really great and pointed questions. It still amazes me that there’s so many new tidbits still left to be revealed even 25+ years later.
Maybe someday we’ll be saying the same about Sailor Moon Crystal!