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.
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?
- Questions: 6 (outlined below)
- Date conducted: October 14 ~ November 1, 2020
- Valid responses: 1,2962
- Data set: Available for viewing/download here
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?
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?
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
What year did you first become interested in Sailor Moon?
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?
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.
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!
- Tuxedo Unmasked went live on November 1, 2015, though I started work on the topics posted here several months in advance ↩
- Technically I received 1,299 — so close to a solid 1,300! — but three were obvious spam with insults written in it. ↩
- Or the other way around, if you’d prefer. ↩
- Not really. The preferences for the 90s anime and manga seem to have no connection to when you joined the fandom. ↩
- Slightly; Makoto tends to score higher than Minako among long-time fans. ↩