I really tried to find a good substitute for “Africa” but “Japan” just felt too generic considering ALL the characters are Japanese.
And Umino wonders why it takes Naru so long to come around to being his girlfriend.
And Umino wonders why it takes Naru so long to come around to being his girlfriend.
Basically Tiger’s Eye’s reaction to NaruxUmino is the same as the rest of the fandom’s.
Hello, few not-evil dudes of Sailor Moon. Let’s talk about you for a second.
Sailor Moon is known for being one of the few stories with positive representations of females, which is great because it is. I think, however, it should also be recognized for its rare portrayal of male feminist characters. Yep, I said male feminists. They are there. All over actually, if you look. I noticed something pretty amazing about the (good) guys of Sailor Moon. Pretty much every single one is love with a girl who is either stronger, smarter, or arguably cooler than him. And none of them seem to mind. In fact, they are inspired by their awesome ladies and supportive of them.
Let’s see. It’s a given that Usagi is much stronger than Mamoru, but never once does he go “WAH I’M A GUY WHY DO YOU HAVE MORE POWERS THIS ISN’T RIGHT”. He’s aware of his position and quite comfortable with it, choosing to help where he can, and otherwise making it his duty to be Sailor Moon’s official cheerleader. Chibiusa took on an evil queen, saved Helios’ life and put him back in his body. He, like Mamoru, is always giving her advice and encouragement to come into awareness of her own strength. Motoki and Kakeru are both supportive and take pride in their girlfriends advancing their careers as a archaeologist and astronaut, respectively. Both chose to step back when they believed they were holding their partners back. Ryo looks up to Ami’s intelligence, and Asanuma idolized Makoto’s strength (both qualities that the girls were usually ostracized for). Artemis, Umino, and Yuichiro are not insecure about, scared away from, or resentful about loving girls with stronger personalities or better social standing than their own.
Nice. There is some serious collective awesome here. How often do you see this type of representation of males, ever? Let’s just add this to the infinite list of reasons I will always love Sailor Moon.
On a side note, I would be a little too happy if everyone in this set was looking up, down, and around at each other a la The Brady Bunch. Teehee.
I can’t believe people seriously think SM is a feminist anime just because it’s the girls fighting for once (and by fighting I mean finishing off the enemy—that’s what happens most of the time). I finished watching the whole thing, subbed, recently, and while I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece I thought it would at least be fun and pleasant, instead I found myself raging and feeling appalled most of the time.
Did everyone miss how the girls are portrayed? They fight monsters, but they are apparently worthless without a man. It’s not simply that the anime wants to portray young girls dreaming about love and being silly—I would have no problem with that. In every single episode, the girls are chasing after different boys, so much and so often that everyone except Michiru, Haruka (for obvious reasons) and Setsuna, gets a love interest or at least one, if not several, crushes through the series. There was more than enough time to focus on actual aspects of their personality, flesh them out, and make the girls into characters with a personality, instead those were turned into jokes (example, Ami’s intelligence, Rei’s ambitions) and those jokes into their only personality traits besides the blind faith in their friends/mankind as a whole, of course, and the fact that they constantly fall in love.
It’s expressed several times though the series - explicitly and indirectly, jokingly and seriously - that a girl is missing something, is failing at being a ‘proper’ girl, if she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Sailor Moon is old, and was made in a country, a society, that even nowadays tends to see men as the strongest because they are men (ever noticed how the male character always goes on and on about how they will protect their love interest, even when the latter is trying to be active and fight for her own/his sake, not because he’s worried for the person he loves, but because she’s a woman) and women as the meek, timid ones, even when they put up an arrogant front (most tsunderes), not because they’re people who try to hide and forget their own weaknessnes (example, Asuka from NGE, whom I can’t even stand but I acknowledge is a good character), but because, after all, they’re still grils. Makoto is one of those. She isn’t a character that suffers because she’s constantly expected to be the strongest and has nobody who will worry for her, or because she has trouble choosing between or conciliating her feminine and masculine side. She believes that a girl like her, tall and strong, must be good at cooking and other typical ‘feminine’ activities (showing also - once again - that in the show’s mentality men and women have very different and well defined roles) to compensate. It’s not something I’m making up or twisting around. She really does say that with those words. Makoto doesn’t accept herself as she is and feels the need to become more sterotypically feminine.
When Mamoru broke up with Usagi, Usagi tried to ask for an explanation a few times, but never got angry, even though he - in the eyes of someone who didn’t know his reasons - was acting like a complete asshole. All she did was trying to make him fall in love with her again and not even by showing him what a great woman she was, rather, Usagi’s idea was to change herself into someone he would like.
And then there are so many things, that taken individually and put separately in a story could work without coming off as anti-feminist, like the story with Ami’s love interest, but in Sailor Moon they only end up making things worse: nothing wrong with it per se (it’s probably the only het romance in SM where the boy and girl are actually equals), but when you make the one girl who, up until that moment, seemed to be content with her friends and working hard for her future, fall in love, in a series full of female characters who repeat in every episode how important it is to find a man, it’s like they’re saying ‘see, even she had to fall in love, because after all she’s a girl’.
Umino tries to impress Naru by protecting her. Naru’s love story with Nephrite is played off as the typical innocent girl who gives up everything for the dark and mysterious stranger that she doesn’t even really know (and they’re one of the few SM pairings I actually like). And I could go on. Sailor Senshi or not, the girls are still expected to behave like ‘proper’ women and become ultimately fulfilled through romantic love because they are women.
And even in the fights, the girls are usually lost or losing until Tuxedo Mask shows up and tells SM when to attack; when they face off against the real enemy at the end of the series, even if the dynamics are different and the girls are more active, their role and their power are still related to what is considered typically feminine: they don’t hurt, they don’t want to kill, they trust and they want to understand; they talk to the enemy and save them by making them realize their mistakes and repent. Like mothers (the Outer senshi being once again the exception). I’m saying this as someone who isn’t fond of violence at all and believes in solving problems through dialogue—I’m not trying to say that being aggressive would make them better characters (on the contrary, this is the feeling I get from the ‘SM is a feminist anime’ faction: just because the girls fight, SM is feminist, and of course anything that might prove otherwise is conveniently ignored?). I just tried to explain why I think this show is actually filled with heteronormativity.
I appreciate your thoughts. I think I should clarify a few things. This may be a little long-winded, and I apologize in advance, but it’s only because I care about this topic. I see you’ve shaped your response using the anime as a reference. I definitely had the anime in mind as I wrote this, but in addition to that, I was looking at these characters from a combined perspective of the anime and manga (or manga-only, which is why characters such as Asanuma were on my list).
In no way or shape is Sailor Moon the model of an ideal feminist ANIME series. I concede that. It is a product of its time, culture, and on top of that, significantly altered from the original female-authored material. The Sailor Moon story, however, is not exclusive to the anime, and the manga, in some respects, it is a completely different monster in terms of storyline and characterization, especially in regards to some of the things you’ve addressed, such as the boy chasing or even the R Season breakup.
I was not, however, originally trying to validate all of Sailor Moon as some comprehensive model of feminism. That post was only an observation of the progressive attitudes which I perceived these male characters had towards their love interests compared the what is typically portrayed in the media, which I still stand by 100%.
But since you’ve brought up issues of Sailor Moon and feminism, I’ll address them. It’s hard for me to agree with your idea that the feminist merit in Sailor Moon is difficult to find or appreciate, especially when it has been such a strong source of inspiration for others and myself.
Yes, Mamoru vows to protect the girl he loves. The other guys vow to protect the girls they love. This isn’t simply a douchey cry of chivalry, especially when viewed with a more culturally-sensitive perspective. Wanting to “protect” someone in Japanese culture is not automatically “you’re weak, I’m strong”, but another common way in a modest society to declare one’s deepest love. And, um, this is hardly exclusive to the dudes in this series. Sailor Moon, the other Senshi, and even non-civilian female characters have pulled the “I WILL PROTECT YOU!” on their guys more times than I can count.
“They fight monsters, but they are apparently worthless without a man.”
Huh, what, que? The senshi in the anime ARE more interested in boys than their manga counterparts, and this wasn’t my favorite change, but even then I can’t even wrap my mind around the idea that I was being fed a message of “girls are worthless without men”. Not even close. Worthless without strong, honest friendships? Worthless without a sense of selflessness? Worthless without dreams and aspirations? These I could consider. But “worthless without a man” is not ever I something I will take away from Sailor Moon. Manga!Rei and Minako straight up say “WE DON’T NEED MEN. GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?” It doesn’t get much more explicit than that.
And even if they showed expressed interest boys in anime, I don’t think this made the characters enemies of feminism? This was a series about a group TEENAGE GIRLS. I will not fault them for having crushes or being interested in romance. I will not fault them, especially since it never got in the way of them pursuing their dreams, hobbies, or duties as soldiers or friends. Whatever cultural messages there were in the series about girls needing validation through boyfriends were not so oppressive that it was used as a measure of their worth or validation. At the end of the series, most of the senshi did not have boyfriends or love interests. Tell me they did not have all the fucking worth in the world from fighting and protecting what was important to them.
On the flip side, Sailor Moon having a love interest was hardly her lone source of worth or takes away from her being a complete, whole character with her own distinct sense of self. And again, romance is not antifeminist. I loved Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen’s romance not because he validated her, but because they made EACH OTHER stronger and shared a dream of protecting the world TOGETHER. They aren’t equals because they are both powerful or intelligent in the same way. They are equals because they strive towards the same goal and tactically play off each others’ strengths and weaknesses to ensure the safety of the people they care about.
During the R breakup, when Usagi tried to change herself through the desperation and grief she felt because her first real heartbreak, what Mamoru knew and what we as an audience knew by the end was HEY THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU, YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE ANYTHING BECAUSE YOU ARE PERFECT AND MAMORU IS A PARANOID DUMBASS. And eventually she DID grow, realized this, and stopped feeling sorry for herself so she could dedicate that energy to becoming a stronger fighter and protecting Chibiusa.
The ladies in Sailor Moon are hardly allow themselves to be victims of some traditional idea of oppresive femininity. Ami’s intelligence was a source of humor at times, but that never detracted from the fact that it was also her greatest strength. She proved time and time again that she could save everyone’s ass in a way that was unique to her strengths and just as meaningful and effective in battle. Makoto’s femininity was not something that was used to take away from, or make up for her strength, but rather complement it. Few girls in any literature are allowed the luxury of being both tough and feminine because there is some myth that it is impossible to be both and proud of it. Minako is completely comfortable in her sexuality and power to use it without shame or guilt. Anime!Rei is willing to step aside from a relationship so that her best friend can be happy proving that girls are not slaves to jealousy and hurting one another. Usagi is the furthest thing possibly from a typically “proper” Japanese girl, and the fact that she is able to find someone who loves not in spite of, but FOR her flaws, is beautiful to me. Furthermore, as a story aimed at children from 20 years ago that includes cross-dressers, gender-benders, several implied homosexual relationships, and perhaps the one of the most beautifully portrayed, openly homosexual couples I’ve ever seen given justice to in any fandom, Sailor Moon is hardly the worst heteronormative offender.
Perhaps the biggest offense I take to your reply is the idea that the Senshi are somehow weaker or lesser feminist icons because they are girly, trusting, loving, and merciful? Because they are not strong in the sole physical sense? These are NOT weaknesses to me. These are horrible reasons to invalidate Sailor Moon as a feminist series. HORRIBLE. The idea that girls have give up what is “traditionally feminine” in order to wield power, that being feminine is not feminist, is just reinforcing internalized sexism. If killing, fighting, and being emotionally devoid are the ONLY ways for the Senshi to validate themselves as strong female characters, then I completely reject your narrow idea of what a feminist is.
The Sailor Senshi are not my feminist icons because just because they are fighters. Fuck that. If that was the message you were looking for in Sailor Moon, then you’ve completely missed what this whole thing was about. They are my icons because they are a varied group of women with varied dreams, interests, sexual orientations, relationships, strengths and weaknesses. They are my icons because they prove that there is no one definitive formula for being a badass girl. They are my icons because despite their differences, they are selfless and brave and always have each others’ backs.
If they anime wasn’t to your liking, then I urge you to check out the manga if you already haven’t. Despite everything working against it, the story of Sailor Moon still stands as one of the best depictions of females I have ever had the fortune to see.
REBLOGGING FOR RELATIVITY’S AMAZING REBUTTAL
In episode 131, there is a sign behind Naru and Umino that reads “SMSS.” This is the abbreviation used for this season, Sailor Moon SuperS.
Tell us Naru.
Ah, Sailor fuku…
Ah! This is GREAT! XD