“La la la never give up, ganbaru wa!” – these truly are words to live by, and I don’t think any of our beloved sailor-suited girls of love and justice could have said it any better (absent the help of the musical genius of Stan Bush) in the second ending to the Sailor Moon SuperS anime, Rashiku Ikimasho.
But there’s a problem: when you stop and read through the lyrics, it doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense.
Today we’re going to talk about some of the confusion surrounding this awesome song, and what makes the song so powerful. This may get a bit detailed, so be sure you’ve had a nice cup of coffee (or delicious Pop-Tart?) before we dive straight in!
I know, when you first saw the title being about a song in Sailor Moon, you were probably expecting yet another entry in my extensive coverage of Moonlight Densetsu. And to be honest, I don’t blame you. But bear with me here – I am reasonably capable of talking about other songs.
So, like usual, our first step is in establishing our baseline and making sure we’re on the same page… or at least in the same chapter. After all, if we’re not talking about the same issue, we can’t even begin to talk about whether something is right or wrong in the first place.
There are two major problems facing modern, non-Japanese-speaking Sailor Moon fans in trying to understand the song:
- a lot has changed in the past 20 years since the song came out
- things popular among kids in Japan aren’t necessarily popular in the West
If you’re curious about following along, as far as I’ve been able to tell in looking across the internet, there’s only one good translation of this song, and that would be the one by Kurozuki.1 The others are so bad that they’re frankly misleading.
With that out of the way, it’s probably a good time to ask “what’s actually confusing about the song?” for those of you who either (1) never thought it was confusing or (2) never even bothered to look at the lyrics in the first place.
Well, a major theme of the song (likely told from ChibiUsa’s perspective) is that you can rewrite your profile whenever you want, be it your love profile, your fighting profile, whatever.
For you savvy kids of the internet age, you probably immediately jump to the (semi-) correct conclusion that ChibiUsa – being tired of her current profile – logs into her
MySpace social media profile and changes things around. New selfie icon, maybe a cover image of her cat. Y’know, as one does. Changing how other people see you.
But that’s not how things worked 20 years ago. The profile being referred to here is actually one that would be found in a so-called プロフィール帳 (purofiiru chou; profile notebook).2 They were incredibly popular among young girls in the 90s, though they’ve been around since at least the 80s and are still sold today.
These profile notebooks typically consisted of fun Q&A games to play with your friends and, most importantly, a bunch of “profile” pages that you could fill out or give to your friend to fill out and give back to you. You would then have them all collected together to have a copy of all your friends likes, dislikes, birthdays, hobbies, what they’re like as a person, etc.
Yes, dear reader, these are essentially the character bios that you’ve come to know and love in nearly all anime.
The point of the song, then, is that you don’t need to commit to just one “you” and stick with it. During this pivotal time in your life, of going through puberty, you’re allowed to just rewrite yourself – or your “profile,” if you will.
“But,” I can hear you objecting angrily, over the sounds of my way-too-noisy keyboard, “that’s ridiculous! How could you rewrite your profile in the pre-internet age!”
And you, my pleasant-but-annoying fictional reader, would be correct. If Ami, Umino, and Momo-chan all have their own copies of ChibiUsa’s profile, changing would be pretty tough.
Except that the very first profile in these books is generally, unsurprisingly, about yourself. And this is the profile that the song (and presumably ChibiUsa?) is welcoming you to rewrite. You’re young, you’re growing, and you’re in a period of transition. The song is telling you that it’s okay to rewrite how you see yourself – which has nothing to do with how you express yourself to others (you know, in our modern social media profiles)
And one last, probably trivial note that doesn’t matter to anyone, but in every translation of the song (even the Kurozuki version I referenced earlier), it makes mention of ringing a pocket bell when you’re feeling like crying.
The obvious conclusion is that this is a tiny little bell that one keeps in their vest pocket and only rings in the case of an emergency, but unsurprisingly, that’s incorrect. A “pocket bell” is what we’d know in the west as a “pager” or a “beeper.”3
So when ChibiUsa is feeling down, she’ll page the other senshi to let them know she’s going to take a break from being a soldier, but that’s okay, because she’s allowed to rewrite her fighting profile.
And that is probably more than you ever really wanted to know about the types of games Japanese elementary school girls played in the classroom and on the playground in the early- to mid-90s! On the plus side, I managed to talk about pagers, so I feel like I achieved something, at the very least.
Anyway, I’ve really been wanting to write about this song for awhile since it’s one of my favorites in Sailor Moon. But also, like many other things in the series – and pop music in general! – it’s definitely a product of its time, and there’s a lot lost as the years go by.
If there are any parts of other Sailor Moon songs you’ve had questions about, let me know down below! I’d be interested in taking a look at some of the the other songs from the series and dissecting them!