When you consider just how much inspiration Ms. Takeuchi took from the real world when creating the Sailor Moon universe, it seemed almost certain that the school uniforms in the series must have come from somewhere. However, no matter how hard I looked, I was never able to come up with a solid lead as to what actual schools could have served as the base for the Juban Junior High School uniform design.
That is, until this weekend.
In an interesting turn of events, what I thought would be a quaint, uneventful museum visit wound up solving one of the oldest open questions I’ve been researching off and on since this blog was first started.
And better yet, the question was answered by none other than Ms. Takeuchi herself.
Stick around, we’re about to take a trip down memory lane!
Though this information is probably only useful to those in Japan (and until June 24, 2018), there’s a fascinating museum exhibit being held right now at the Yayoi Museum titled 「セーラー服と女学生」 (Sailor-fuku & Schoolgirls).1 The exhibit covers the history of school uniforms in Japan and their depiction through time in both photography and pop art, going all the way back to the Meiji and Taisho eras2 through today.
And since they had an exhibit dedicated entirely to sailor uniforms, it was only natural that Sailor Moon would be showcased as well.
While there was unfortunately no new or particularly unique Sailor Moon-related art on display, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had conducted a brief Q&A with Ms. Takeuchi about her thoughts on school uniforms, including how the Japanese “sailor fuku” has become popular in the west, and the importance of uniforms in modern Japan. Though I’d love to translate all of her answers, unfortunately that falls a bit beyond the scope of this blog article.
What we can talk about, though, is the series of questions where Ms. Takeuchi addresses her inspiration for the school uniforms worn by the Sailor Soldiers. Considering that I’ve personally spent a not-insignificant amount of time trying to answer this very question, it was quite a pleasant surprise that find the answer here when I wasn’t even looking.
So then, where do they come from?
Well, first off, she’s mum about Rei’s uniform (as well as the Outers and Mugen Gakuen), so I can’t really say much about that. But Ms. Takeuchi does go on to say that the design for Makoto’s school uniform is entirely made up. She liked the idea of having a brown uniform design — something that seemed unique at the time and like it would make Makoto stand out even more — and also felt that the brown of the uniform went well with her chestnut hair.
The designs for Juban Junior High School (worn by Usagi and Ami, along with Naru and others) and Shiba Koen Junior High school (worn by Minako) were inspired by the uniform Ms. Takeuchi wore back in her own schoolgirl days at Kita Junior High School in Kofu city.3 Though the ribbon used on the uniform is a light blue now, apparently back in her day it used to be a deep red.
Even though I can’t find a picture of what the design looked like back in the 70s, honestly, I think it still looks pretty close nowadays.
Ms. Takeuchi then went on to explain that, for the previous three generations, every woman in her family had attended Yamanashi Eiwa Gakuin4 — an all-girls Christian school that a young Naoko was positive she would also attend when she reached junior high school. However, her parents decided that it would be better for her to go to a public co-ed school, which wound up being quite a shock for her when she found out that she wouldn’t be wearing the same uniform as her mother, a design she spend years admiring.
School uniforms are pretty serious business, apparently.
As one last interesting side note, Ms. Takeuchi mentioned that ChibiUsa’s “school uniform” was inspired by old, European-styled uniforms. This was done intentionally to give ChibiUsa a slightly different impression from the rest of the Sailor Team, to reflect the fact that she was from a different time.
Oh, and there’s also the fact that ChibiUsa’s “uniform” isn’t actually a uniform at all, seeing as her elementary school allows the students to wear whatever they want. But no one talks about that…
There’s nothing really ground-breaking or earth-shattering here, but to be honest, there doesn’t need to be for me. I love every little bit of trivia I can find about the world of Sailor Moon, and especially about how the series came to be.
Since we’re already on the topic of school uniforms, I figure now is a good time to ask you: what’s your favorite uniform in the Sailor Moon universe? Though it’s a really tough choice for me, I think I’d have to throw my vote in for Mugen Gakuen. So what about you??