Sailor Moon and Her Original Petticoat Design
There’s really no way to broach this topic without sounding a bit creepy, so let’s get the first (and most important) fact out of the way: what you’re seeing under the Sailor Solider uniform is the bottom half of the bodysuit/leotard. But what we’re discussing today is why that is, how it came to be, and what the inspirations were for the makeup of the design we all know and love today.
First off, it’s worth noting that the uniforms for all of the Sailor Soldiers can be broken down into nine basic components, which you can see broken up (literally and figuratively) pretty well in episode 27 of the anime, when Sailor Mercury is battling against Urawa as Bunbo.
The Five Inner Senshi
With such a long-running and beloved series like Sailor Moon, it’s easy to overlook some of the more basic details of the series as obvious and just part of “the way things are,” but when you actually stop and take a close look, you can’t help but wonder why that’s how things turned out. The fact that there were originally five members of the Sailor Team, for example, is one of those. Often referred to as the “Inner Senshi,” the original five sailor-suited beauties making up the core team are simply seen as the staple of the series, but when you actually stop and think about it, things don’t quite add up. Though there’s been no direct word from Ms. Takeuchi on this issue, there’s a surprising amount of tradition in Japanese TV, manga, and traditional theater culture as well which supports this five member team, so let’s see if we can make some sense of it!
The Various Forms of Senshi
As we discussed earlier, the term senshi as used in Sailor Moon‘s title is the cause of quite a bit confusion due to the change from the traditional Soldier and being re-interpreted as Guardian in recent years. While doing all the research into the background on the name, though, I ran across multiple examples of the use of senshi pre-dating Sailor Moon (which isn’t too surprising) in a form rather similar to that in Sailor Moon, which gives us more of a sense of the context in which the title existed and how the title Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon fit into Japanese public consciousness in the early 1990s.
It turns out that during the early- to mid-1970s, there was a great deal of manga, anime, and live action series bearing the senshi moniker. For those who lived through the late 80s and through the 90s in the US, you may be familiar with the popularity of the term “ninja” almost anywhere you looked, in comics, cartoons, tv shows, and movies. As the Vietnam war ramped up and drew attention around the globe, soldiers and the military came into the limelight and even pacifist nations like Japan were pulled into the build-up. Unfortunately, the traditional term for a military soldier, heishi (兵士) was, and is today, heavily stigmitized in the post-war era. Even today, the term used when applied to the Japanese military nearly exclusively refers to the combatants in WWII and prior to that.
The term of senshi, however, carried with it no such stigma and was more closer tied to the older samurai warriors. So what can we learn about the context of senshi leading up to Sailor Moon? Well, as it turns out, there’s a richer story than you’d initially believe!