My First Anime
I still remember the first anime I ever saw. I was nine years old and had just turned on the television to watch some cartoons before school. While channel surfing that morning, I came across a cartoon that was unlike any I had ever seen before. It featured a young teenage girl named Serena (or as she is called in Japan, Usagi) who with the power of a makeup compact, the moon and some magical words turned into a super heroine in a sailor suit. With the help of her friends who have similar magical powers, her talking black cat Luna, a talking white cat named Artemis and a mysterious dashing young man in a tuxedo and a top hat, she keeps the evil forces at bay with the powers of friendship and love.
Sound familiar? If you grew up in the late 1990’s in the US or Canada, chances are you know what anime I am talking about. I am referring to the still insanely popular anime Sailor Moon or as it is known in Japan, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Many people are not aware of it, but this anime was much more than an anime. As a result of its immense popularity, it inspired a whole generation of mangas and animes that featured magical girls with secret powers such as Magic Knight Rayearth. It also led to a live action Japanese TV show version that ran for a season in 2003 and there were even Sailor Moon musicals that ran from 1993-2005 in Japan. (Yes, actual musicals!) Not only that, but there was a manga version that came out concurrently with the anime in Japan.
Since then, the series continues to be popular worldwide and is now celebrating its 20th anniversary with the release of new Sailor Moon merchandise, a new musical being performed in Japan, a new anime scheduled to premiere in July and beautiful new editions of the manga with a new translation, new cover artwork and some color images from the artbooks.
My Reflections on the Manga
Many times people have asked me what it is I find so appealing about the Sailor Moon anime. Besides the obvious answer, “I love the show because it has a great story, interesting characters and it has a wide variety of strong female characters that I can relate to.” I also like to add: “I prefer the anime over than the manga.” Many people respond to this with “There’s a Sailor Moon manga?” There are several reasons I prefer the manga over the anime. The first is that the manga does not have as many fillers like the anime does. This was a common complaint about the show. Many of the fillers for the anime were considered extremely tedious and repetitive and had no character or little plot development. I, therefore, have a fondness for the manga because there is more visible character development. For example, in Serena’s or Usagi’s case in the manga, she seems more ditzy, timid and at times lazy at the start of the series. However, by the end, she is more mature, stronger, brave and not afraid to take risks to do what is right. The same could be said for Serena or Usagi in the anime, but the changes seems less obvious (possibly because of all of the fillers). She also seems less transparent as a character and more dimensional in the manga compared to the character in the anime. She has more depth as a character.
I also prefer the manga over the anime because of the Ms. Takeuchi’s artwork. It is beautiful and shows that she has a real understanding of her characters and the world she has created for them. In addition, I appreciate the mature themes in the manga that were downplayed or ignored totally in the anime such as the more of the struggles that Serena and Darien face during the course of their romantic relationship. We also get a chance to see that relationship mature and blossom eventually culminating with Darien’s marriage proposal to Serena in bed at the end of the manga; a scene that would have never been shown in the anime.In addition, we are allowed to observe more of the romantic relationship between Haruka and Michiru or Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. Even though the manga is for a more mature audience than the anime was, it is still something Sailor Moon fans will enjoy because it is Takeuchi’s original vision for the series. It contains no fillers, more backstory and characters that were featured very little in the anime or not at all. (One such example is Sailor Cosmos, Sailor Moon’s ultimate form.) For any Sailor Moon fan, a reading of the manga is a must.
Why the Manga Matters to Me
Even though it is 18 years later, I still enjoy reading the Sailor Moon manga. Why? For the same reasons that I loved the manga when I first read it. First, I loved how relatable the characters were in spite of the fact that they were super heroines. Even today, I still find myself relating to several of the characters and their personal struggles. I also appreciated the overall positive messages of the manga; that love and friendship always prevails, that good always overpowers evil and that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. With all the negativity in the world today, it is refreshing to read such an inspirational and overall positive manga. I know that today’s youth will enjoy it just as much as I did when I first read it.
Elizabeth Bell graduated with her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) from the University of British Columbia in 2013. She now works at the Downey City Library in Downey, California. She is working towards becoming a youth services librarian. When she’s not reading the latest book for children, teens or adults or creating preschool storytimes, chances are she is listening to music from one of the many Sailor Moon soundtracks, watching the Sailor Moon anime, reading the Sailor Moon manga or searching the web for news about the new Sailor Moon anime. She has been an avid Sailor Moon fan since 1995 and is regarded by many to know more about the series than most people. Elizabeth also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California where she graduated cum laude in 2009.