Sailor Moon Fandom Survey Results

State of the Sailor Moon Fandom: 2020 Edition

State of the Sailor Moon Fandom: 2020 Edition

After having spent the past 23+ years as a semi-active member of the community, I like to think I have a fairly good finger on the pulse of the Sailor Moon fandom. But as we’ve learned countless times in the past, “gut instinct” tends to fall short of the actual facts.

To commemorate Tuxedo Unmasked‘s fifth anniversary,1 I figured now was as good a time as ever to poll the fans about their favorite characters, seasons, and version of the Sailor Moon franchise! 1,299 responses later and I think we’re in a place to start identifying some interesting trends.

If you’ve ever wondered who the most popular Senshi is in the English speaking world, how unloved Mamoru is, and how many people still prefer Scouts over Guardians, you’ve come to the right place! Today we’re going to dive deep into the fans that have kept Sailor Moon alive even when the franchise lay dormant.

I hope you're ready for a bunch of numbers... Usagi wasn't

I hope you’re ready for a bunch of numbers… Usagi wasn’t

As is often the case, we need to start off with a little bit of housekeeping before we dive into the numbers. After all, you’ll probably want to know where all this information came from, right?

Before we start making any assumptions, I do want to acknowledge one obvious caveat:

The responses could very well be influenced by the types of people who follow me on social media (Facebook & Twitter) and may not be representative of the larger fandom. People who are interested in Sailor Moon minutia may well have different opinions of the series.

Now with that out of the way, let’s crunch some numbers!

What is your preferred version of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon?

Favorite Version of Sailor Moon (click to enlarge)

Favorite Version of Sailor Moon (click to enlarge)

While I wasn’t surprised to see the 90s anime outpace all other versions (combined!) in terms of popularity, I was taken aback at just how underrepresented Sailor Moon Crystal was. I thought for a moment that this might just be a side effect of the fact that there are many more fans who got started with the 90s anime than Crystal, but even accounting for years in the fandom, Crystal still loses handily to its older anime sibling.

I suppose it makes sense when you consider that in a day of streaming and DVDs/Blurays, the old anime is just as accessible if not more so to people just now getting into the series.

What is your favorite season?

Favorite Sailor Moon Season (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

Favorite Sailor Moon Season (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

If you were to ask me a month ago what the most popular Sailor Moon seasons were, I would have absolutely put the Black Moon arc in one of the top spots judging by the sheer amount of fanart (primarily Prince Demande and Black Lady) and merch alone. Much to my surprise, though, this is actually one of the least popular seasons among fans.

Of even more interest is how the relative popularity changes depending on if someone is a self-professed fan of the manga or anime. The first and third places are held firmly by S / Infinity and Sailor Stars respectively, but manga fans show a much stronger preference for SuperS / Dream (second place) over Classic / Dark Kingdom (fourth place). This makes sense when you consider that the Dream arc made a strong showing in the manga by telling a compelling story and bringing all the cast back for starring roles.

Read also:  Where is the Original Sailor Moon Musical / SeraMyu Cast Today?

Things are a little different for anime fans, who rank Classic / Dark Kingdom as the second best season while Sailor Stars only barely edges out R / Black Moon by a few votes for third place. SuperS / Dream scores a paltry 10.8% of the votes from fans.

What is your favorite Sailor Moon form?

Favorite Sailor Moon Design (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

Favorite Sailor Moon Design (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

Once again, this is a question that took me completely by surprise. Perhaps it’s just my own personal bias, but I always thought the classic school uniform-inspired Sailor Moon design was the definitive design loved by all. Apparently I’m really not good at gauging these types of things.

Much to my surprise, Super Sailor Moon is the fan favorite design across both the anime and the manga. While the classic design scores a respectable second place among fans of the anime, it’s actually the least popular of all of Sailor Moon’s transformations among manga fans. As for Sailor Cosmos’ popularity — or lack thereof — in the anime, I think that’s a simple byproduct of the fact that the character never showed up in that version.

Choose your top 3 favorite Guardians

Favorite Senshi (Total; click to enlarge)

Favorite Senshi (Total; click to enlarge)

Disclaimer: I omitted Mamoru, the Three Lights, Chibi Chibi, and Princess Kakyuu because they scored low consistently and for the sake of brevity.

There are a few things that really stood out to me here and took me by surprise. First off, I had no idea that Makoto of all people was the most popular Inner Senshi and that the supposed fan favorite Ami did so badly.

Worse still is just how poorly ChibiUsa ranks — only barely outperforming Mamoru by a measly four votes. I thought this might be a byproduct of the way Rini was handled in the old DiC dub and some residual 90s fan hate, but her low rank held through regardless of when the person first became a fan of Sailor Moon.

Another thing that I found incredibly surprising was the fact that Setsuna performs about as well as Haruka and Michiru. For being the forgotten Senshi that frequently gets the short-end of the staff, I’m impressed at just how much love she gets from the fans!

Even more interesting, though, is how closely intertwined season and character preferences are.

Favorite Senshi (by season; click to enlarge)

Favorite Senshi (by season; click to enlarge)

Disclaimer: Usagi was removed for the sake of simplicity since she ranked first in all seasons. The first bar on the left represents Mamoru for Dark Kingdom ~ Dream and Seiya for Sailor Stars.

I apologize for the somewhat messy chart here — there’s a lot to see and it’s a bit hard to get it all in one place where you can easily compare the data. But what I wanted to draw attention to is just how much of an impact a respondent’s favorite season had on their favorite character.3

For example, the Inner Senshi fill out the top spots for fans of the Dark Kingdom arc while Setsuna enters the top three for fans of Black Moon. Hotaru — who always performs well — really shines along with Haruka and Michiru among Infinity fans, and those who prefer the Dream arc finally give ChibiUsa to love she’s been longing for. Lastly, I found it interesting that Seiya takes second place only to Hotaru among fans of Sailor Stars, which is far better than Mamoru ever did in any of the seasons he appeared in.

Read also:  What Fan Suggestions Were Considered for Sailor Moon Episodes?

What year did you first become interested in Sailor Moon?

Year you joined the Sailor Moon fandom (click to enlarge)

Year you joined the Sailor Moon fandom (click to enlarge)

This question isn’t terribly interesting on its own, but I wanted to include it 1) as a substitute for age (which isn’t necessarily important); and 2) to get a sense for how opinions on the series might have changed depending on when you joined the fandom. For example, do people who got into Sailor Moon more recently have more favorable opinions of Crystal than long-time fans?4 Do long-time fans have different character preferences?5

But the real reason I asked that question was so I could check it against the final one…

What do you call the “Senshi” in English?

Translation of "Senshi" (separated by years as a fan; click to enlarge)

Translation of “Senshi” (separated by years as a fan; click to enlarge)

Though the reason behind me asking this question was to see what era of fans started to adopt the 2003-era Guardian translation, I was also surprised to see how many of the fans who grew up with the Scout moniker still prefer it, even though the translation hasn’t been used for Senshi in about 15 years now. In fact, I’m curious as to why newer fans — those who have joined the fandom after the original Sailor Moon dub was off the air and the new Kodansha translation was out — would even be using the “Scout” term at all. But that’s probably due to a lot of the old information still out there online.

My work here is done

My work here is done

I’ve spent hours poring over these spreadsheets and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface here with some of the observations that we can take away from it. For example, the connections between character preferences (e.g., Seiya fans tend to also be fans of Haruka and Makoto while Hotaru fans tend to lean toward Setsuna and Minako). Whether series preferences (anime, manga, crystal, etc.) impacts character preferences like it does with the individual seasons, and more. For the sake of brevity, though, I think we’ll call it here.

So what do you think of the results? Do these pretty much match with your observations of the Sailor Moon fandom (be it fanfiction, social media, or other interactions), or does your experience differ with what you’ve seen here? I’d be especially interested in hearing from around the world!

Last but not least, thanks to all of you who have joined me on this five year journey at Tuxedo Unmasked! Let’s keep it going!

Support Tuxedo Unmasked on Patreon!


References:

  1. Tuxedo Unmasked went live on November 1, 2015, though I started work on the topics posted here several months in advance
  2. Technically I received 1,299 — so close to a solid 1,300! — but three were obvious spam with insults written in it.
  3. Or the other way around, if you’d prefer.
  4. Not really. The preferences for the 90s anime and manga seem to have no connection to when you joined the fandom.
  5. Slightly; Makoto tends to score higher than Minako among long-time fans.

12 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Fandom Survey Results

  1. This is so interesting! Especially how Hotaru is so popular despite being in only 2 seasons of the 90s anime. I’ve been active on the sailor moon editing community on instagram for a few months now (@venusxaino) and I really see so many Hotaru, Usagi and Makoto fan accounts in comparison to Ami and Chibiusa fan accounts. Also the term senshi is generally used by people from 12 to 19 while scouts is being used by people born in the 90s just like shown on this survey. By the way I saw an account named @tuxedo_unmasked on instagram with like 700 followers. Is that you?
    ~Inge

    • Huh, that’s interesting to see these preferences also play out in fan works too! I wonder what the results would be if you looked at DeviantArt or AO3 for fanfiction characters.

      As for Instagram, nope, I’m not on there. Must be some other person who hopefully isn’t pretending to be me. =D

  2. Fascinating stuff! Though given how I’m on a few Sailor Moon fansites and Discords, I find many of these unsurprising. There is a MAJOR fan-hate against “SuperS” in particular (no shocker it’s still the most hated one), many still don’t like ChibiUsa, and Sailor Jupiter is incredibly beloved by female fans in particular.

    I think Jupiter being such a contrast of masculine strength and feminine vulnerability is like candy to girls who love the show- in many ways, she’s the most “Westerner-friendly” character as a result. Rei’s “Mean Girl” stuff reminds girls way too much of the bullies they used to encounter, by contrast. And Ami typically bores a lot of modern fans. Just TOO nice and flawless.

  3. I missed participating the poll! It’s my fault the results are so inaccurate… I refuse to believe that over 10% of people put SuperS as their favorite season, and less than 5% more put the best season (R) as their favorite. I fully understand anyone who puts S and the first season ahead because they were incredible as well… but Stars is ahead of R? It’s hard to understand… I can only guess people disliked the Makaiju section and felt it tarnished the incredible Black Moon arc.

    Manga results make sense, the excellent SuperS/Dream arc got the respect it deserves. I’d even put it ahead of S/Infinity. I still think it’s weird that the best manga arc made the worst show season.

    Chibiusa as the least popular… I still blame the DiC dub for that. She’s one of the best. Then again, I didn’t pick her as my favorite either… maybe she’s 2nd or 3rd on everyone’s list, but nobody places her 1st? I’m another Makoto fan… she’s just plain nice, she’s considerate, she can cook, and also happens to be great at sports and is the strongest inner senshi besides Usagi. All of the characters are wonderful and likeable… Usagi and Minako are fun but dramatic, Ami and Rei are caring and considerate but a bit uptight perhaps? Makoto is just a great all around person with a relaxed attitude… most of the time. And cooking skills can’t be overlooked!

    As for Sailor Scouts… it’s just catchy, it sounds good. I go with Senshi just because none of the translations are quite right, Soldier is the closest but it sounds so military related in English. A word like Warrior fits… but no alliteration harms it. I give a big fat BOO to “Guardian”, I don’t care if Naoko herself chose it, even if the definition does make sense. It was soldier/senshi (or scout) for 20 years, no changing it after all that time!

    I’d be interested in seeing more polls, especially on more specific topics. I’ll make sure not to miss it next time!

    • I’m wondering if part of the ChibiUsa issue just comes up as a legacy part of the Sailor Moon fan culture, similarly to how “Scout” still hangs in there. New fans may not have the same baggage (DiC, etc.) but they still interact with long-term fans and read old online content. So in the end, they’re still exposed to all the self-reinforcing hatred of ChibiUsa and other things that have become deeply ingrained in the Sailor Moon fandom.

  4. Poor Ami, she’s one of my favorites, but her design and powers tend to be underwhelming compared to the others.
    Personally, the 90’s version of Shine Aqua Illusion is one of my all-time favorite anime attacks.

    I used to prefer Sailor Moon’s base form, but in the past few years I’ve come to really like her Super Form.

    • I’m also surprised to see Rei do so poorly — I always felt like she was one of the more popular characters in the late 90s and early 2000s. Maybe I’m just remembering wrong?

      • She was hated on a lot because of how harsh she is with Sailor Moon many fans don’t see past it and realize she’s one of the ones that absolutely loves Usagi enough to give up her life for her but out of the other 4 I always felt she was the closest to Usagi is why I shipped them together since I was 10 years old

  5. I’m not surprised Chibiusa ranked so badly she’s been hated on since I joined the fandom in 1995 well 1999 was when I really saw opinions online but she’s always been hated on and still is hated on today and you have no idea how much that hurts me even today. Even a Anime store I went to that hated her everyone hates chibiusa instead of understanding she’s just a little girl lost and scared in the past and stile the Crystal cause she wanted to be just like her mom also in Crystal/Manga we know it was due to bullying like give her a break! But no cause she’s actually 900 years old everyone says fuck you Chibiusa. I’m so fucking sick of it lets not forget she went after Mamuro so they hate that too and I’m surprised she did well in the dream arc considering so many people hate it because A she falls in love with Pegasus a manifestation of Helios spirit and the 90s because the Outers are not in it.

    • I always had written the ChibiUsa hate off as a side effect of how poorly the DiC dub handled her character in the west, but the fact that even new fans (who likely were never exposed to the DiC dub) are still so disinterested in her seems really strange. I wonder if it’s just something about the character’s portrayal and western values, maybe? Kind of like the Scrappy Doo syndrome…

      Either way, it’s definitely bizarre!

      • Not even Western I know friends from Japan they also hate her they say is because she’s 900 years old meaning she’s an adult acting like a brat and not you know a child. Also her going after Mamuro kinda fucked it up more. And people hate her more now that they know she pulled a gun at Usagi everyone hates she did that to her mother even though Usagi and her from the past are more like sisters. The 900 year old crap fucks with it and her personality is not liked sadly. Trust me it hurts me no one can see she’s just a child and that her Usagi from the past are like sisters and not mother and daughter.

        • Even back in the 90s they had serious issues with young fans in Japan disliking ChibiUsa due to her behavior in R, but I always figured that they sorted that out across S and SuperS.
          Basically the creators thought it’d be funny to create an antagonistic relationship between mother and daughter, but fans just saw it as their favorite character (Usagi) constantly being harassed by an annoying little kid. It was really a poor call when writing the season.

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