Who Was Naoko Takeuchi Before Sailor Moon’s Debut?

Sailor Moon & her Sidekick: Super (Deformed) Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon & her Sidekick: Super (Deformed) Sailor Moon

Though it may sound a bit counter-intuitive, one of the things I love reading about most in interviews with Ms. Takeuchi is when she opens up about subjects other than Sailor Moon.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love the Sailor-suite guardian of love and justice as much as the next strawberry Pop-Tart-obsessed Moonie. It’s just that it’s pretty rare to get some insight into not only the origins of Sailor Moon, but the person behind its creation.

Luckily for us, Ms. Takeuchi granted Puff, a magazine dedicated to the manga industry, just such an interview back in May 1994. Strap in for a trip down memory lane as we take a look into Ms. Takeuchi’s past, tastes in men, and other manga ideas she toyed around with!

May 1994 Interview in Puff Magazine

May 1994 Interview in Puff Magazine

The following translation comes from an interview Ms. Takeuchi gave to Puff magazine back in May of 1994 detailing her early career and some of her manga projects beyond Sailor Moon. You can find a full scan here.

Pre-Debut

I started submitting my stories when I was a senior at high school. I didn’t exactly intend to become a manga artist, but rather I was just drawing these stories as a way to escape my studies for university entrance exams — a pretty rare case, to be sure. (laugh)

I submitted four stories and it was the fourth one that got picked up as a “story to watch” in Nakayoshi Deluxe. My editor at the time spent was kind enough to pay attention to me and asked me to keep drawing. With all that going on and my heart still not set on being a manga artist, I somehow made my debut with a work called Love Call when I was still a second year university student.

It was one painful discovery after the next having debuted like that without having drawn many proper manga up until that point. I basically didn’t know anything and had to learn everything from the start.

I Love Manga

I love reading manga and still strongly identify myself as a “reader.” Even after I’ve become a professional, I still feel like I spent more time reading than drawing. Upon launching Sailor Moon, I was so busy with the series that this turned around entirely.

When I was younger, I used to buy and read so much manga that I was like an unstoppable monster. I simply loved manga so much that I just kind of happened to end up on this path.

At my peak, back during junior and senior high school, I was reading all of the shojo magazines. I’m amazed I managed to even afford it all. Once I was in high school, even shojo manga alone wasn’t enough for me and I got sucked into the motorcycle stories in shonen manga. I really loved Bari Bari Denstsu,1 Futari Daka,2, and Pelican Road.3 I read a lot of sci-fi, too.

But even that wasn’t enough for me and I found doujinshi next. Back then, our small little town hall in Yamanashi would hold a small direct sales event. I still cherish the doujinshi and stationary that I bought back then even now. They’re really quite valuable to me. (laugh) I never did draw any doujinshi — just purchased them.

I next got really involved in an art direction group. I’m a huge fan of Yuki Hijiri’s work on Locke the Superman.4 I remember being over the moon5 when the Shonen King series got picked up for syndication. Even today I still have the scraps I cut out of the magazine saved away somewhere important. (laugh) I love collecting memorable scenes and have a huge collection of color pages.

Though she doesn’t mention it in this particular interview, Ms. Takeuchi has also gone on the record quite often and mentioned how much of an impact the Super Sentai series had on her growing up and other shonen series.

It’s definitely interesting to hear that she was going to doujinshi events back in the 70s and 80s, though! It sounds like she was quite the manga fangirl.

Reika... a stand-in for Naoko?? (... probably not)

Reika… a stand-in for Naoko?? (… probably not)

A Science-Minded Woman

I was also a big fan of the bishojo anthology comic magazine, Petit Apple Pie,6 and read it often. I guess that was around the beginning of its popularity. I was a huge fan of Akira Kagami and absolutely loved the refreshing combination of cute girls with mechanical implementations.

I’ve loved making miniatures and plastic models ever since I was little. And telescopes, too. Kind of strange for a little girl. (laugh) My father often made miniatures for me, so I suspect that may have had an impact.  And of course there was an impact from a boy I liked, too.

I was good at science-related studies in school and always pursued that path in my studies.

In the past, potpourri and snacks were common tools throughout Nakayoshi while I used different, more boyish items.

Admittedly my knowledge of pre-Sailor Moon Nakayoshi is quite limited, but I think it would definitely be worth taking a look at some point and see just how much of an impact Sailor Moon had on the types of manga the magazine carried.

Read also:  Guardians? Soldiers? What Are the Sailor Senshi?

However, this is also backed up in other interviews with Fumio Osano, Ms. Takeuchi’s long-time friend and Sailor Moon editor, regarding how Nakayoshi was traditionally devoted to romance and comedy manga.

University Life

Between my club activities, drinking parties, and dance parties, I lead a fulfilling university life. I remember being busy having fun. (laugh)

Since I was majoring in pharmacology, I had a lot of lab classes and they were strict about attendance. The atmosphere was one of “I don’t care if you’re hospitalized, you better crawl here if you must!!” so skipping class wasn’t an option. I was pretty busy being a student at the time and didn’t draw much manga.

I got a job at a university hospital upon graduation. I wanted this job more than anything else, so it was a real challenge for me at the time to decide between giving it my all to become a professional manga artist or to work in my job.

Naoko has an interesting taste in men

Naoko has an interesting taste in men

Love

I’m the type of person who prioritizes love over work when I find someone I like. That’s why the relationship I’m in at the time, and how we play off each other, tends to appear in whatever I’m working on at the time. My manga bears all. (laugh) In that sense, it’s kinda scary. (laugh) Male characters tend to be based on whoever I was dating at the time. (laugh)

I love the dark, silent types. I just love pushing these dark guys with all sorts of complexes to their limits. (laugh) Once I’m done with them, I’ll tell them to not get so down and cheer up. (laugh)

But these guys always runs away when I’m poking and prodding at them like that. Something great is waiting for them at the end, yet they don’t hang around. (laugh) Mamoru Chiba (Tuxedo Mask) seems rather cold and pathetic, right? That’s my type. My assistant’s always telling me “you don’t need to make him that pathetic, you know.” (laugh)

In reality, I’m not terribly interested in looks. There’s really no common physical denominator between all the guys I’ve liked, so I don’t think looks is the starting point [for love] for me.

The nuance of the word 情けない (nasakenai; miserable, pitiable, pathetic)7 can be hard to capture in English. Overall, the impression is that someone or something is so pathetic/unbecoming to the extent that it’s almost shameful.

Ms. Takeuchi provides a little more nuance about what she means with respect to men like this later on in the interview.

The Ideal Man

When I’m talking to one of my fellow manga artist friends and mention that my type is a “guy who is dark, quiet, gloomy, and a little scary,” she remarked that it sounded like Golgo 13. (laugh) Like, “Never stand behind me.”8 (laugh) But that’s not what I mean!!

I love Chirico, the main character of the Armored Trooper Votoms9 anime, and would describe him as pretty close to my ideal man. And probably [the titular character of] Captain Harlock.10

Miss Rain who is absolutely not Ami Mizuno

Miss Rain

I am without a doubt an ame onna (雨女; a woman who is said to cause it to cause it to rain)11 Of course, it’s not like that all the time, but it will without a doubt rain when I have a big event. In other words, when it doesn’t rain, I feel like something must not be a big event for me. Miss Rain12 is a manga that came to me when I was thinking about just such a moment.

Since Miss Rain was still a relatively recent release at the time of Sailor Moon‘s run — and ostensibly still being sold in bookstores — Ms. Takeuchi even wrote a note in the original print of the manga that Ami looked just like her.13 This has since been removed from all future releases.

Read also:  How did the Ministry of Education Change Sailor Moon?

The Legendary Syndicated Manga (That Never Came to Be)

Right when it was decided that Sailor Moon would start as a syndicated manga, there was actually a plan to carry an idol manga right at that same time. I had the characters all designed and even color advertisements ready to go. (laugh) The main character had dark hair worn in a bob cut, and I was really looking forward to drawing it! (laugh)

This is the first and only time I’ve ever heard about this mysterious idol manga being developed by Ms. Takeuchi. I’d love to find out more about it if there’s any other information out there!

Boys and Girls

Most of the men I’ve dated were all kind of pathetic. I can’t say why, but that’s who I always seem to fall for. Whenever we fight, I end up getting mad and they apologize over and over before giving in and I wind up thinking about how I need to pull myself together. That’s a pretty familiar pattern in my love life.

When talking with my friends about our love lives, I always end up coming to the conclusion that we can’t rely on men and need to end up doing things for ourselves. (laugh) Maybe that’s why Sailor Moon has become this story about girl power.

Future Plans

The artbooks that people have been begging for is on its way. Would you believe it, there are going to be three of them! Wow! (laugh) It’s basically going to be split up into Sailor Moon‘s three acts and I think the first one should be out this summer. I drew up some full color, more mature designs than I was able to put in the manga itself. I’d love it if you’d take a look.

I’m also releasing a new comic, Prism Time. I’d love for you to check it out, but I’m pretty sure people would be pretty surprised since the style and contents are quite different. It can be hard to recommend it for that reason. (laugh)

Prism Time (AKA Naru, Ami, Fuu, and Sailor Galaxia?)

Prism Time (AKA Naru, Ami, Fuu, and Sailor Galaxia?)

As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s pretty refreshing to read interviews with Ms. Takeuchi where they don’t recount the same old story.

While obviously I always want to know more about the little details that went into the creation of the series we all know and love, I find it absolutely mind blowing to know that she was actually far along in the development of a new idol-based IP before the Sailor VSailor Moon manga project got pushed forward.

What about you? If there’s one mystery about Sailor Moon‘s past that you’d love to see cleared up, what would it be?

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References:

  1.  See Bari Bari Densetsu (Wikipedia)
  2. See Futari Daka (Wikipedia)
  3.  See Pelican Road (Wikipedia)
  4. See Locke the Superman (Wikipedia)
  5. Pun not in the original, but totally fitting and I don’t regret it.
  6. See Petit Apple Pie (Wikipedia)
  7.  See 情けない (Jisho.org)
  8. Ms. Takeuchi (mis)quotes a famous phrase from Golgo 13 — 俺の後ろに立つな; see this Golgo 13 shirt
  9. See Armored Trooper Votoms (Wikipedia)
  10. See Space Pirate Captain Harlock (Wikipedia)
  11. See 雨女
  12. See Miss Rain
  13.  See vol. 1 p. 49 of the original manga release

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