Some anime fans are really surprised that, though I call myself a shojo fan, I hadn’t seen Sailor Moon until last year. I didn’t grow up watching the Sailor Moon anime series nor did I find a need to watch it after I had become more settled as an anime fan. Even as I tried to enrich my anime experience and broaden my anime horizons, I shied away from watching Sailor Moon and it’s related series. When I finally did watch that classic shojo anime, I did like it, but I liked it more for what it inspired in later anime rather than the actual characters or story itself. And why did I have such an aversion to a classic anime that really was right up my alley? It’s all Rumiko Takahashi’s fault!
Rumiko Takahashi, born in 1957 and grew up in the classic anime era surrounded by Astroboy and other foundational anime series. Through her long career Takahashi has had many successful manga and anime series, her first being Urusei Yatsura published in 1978. Decades later she is now one of Japan’s most famous manga artists. Many fans across the globe know her as the creator of such anime and manga as Ranma 1/2, Rin’ne, Mermaid Saga, Maison Ikkoku, and most importantly for me Inuyasha.
Inuyasha Ruined Sailor Moon
At this point you might be wondering why such a prestigious mangaka would be responsible for my lack of enthusiasm toward the Sailor Moon series? And the answer is Inuyasha. Long, long ago when I was first learning what anime was. I spent my anime watching time sampling different types of anime from a wide variety of sources. And one anime I happened upon very late one night while watching the Sci-fi channel was an anime called Inuyasha. This anime wasn’t like anything I had seen so far (at this point I hadn’t really seen that many) and I thought it was amazing.
The anime Inuyasha was a about a teen girl (Kagome) that traveled through a haunted well back into the mythical past where she met a half demon dog-boy (Inuyasha). Through a series of accidents they ended up having to team up to find hundreds of shards of a magical sacred jewel and fight the evil demons that tried to use the bits of the jewel to run a muck. Kagome wasn’t some defenseless damsel that just looked cute and sat on the sidelines, she shot a magical bow and arrow, she could stop Inuyasha in his tracks with some cursed beads, and she was the reincarnation of a very powerful priestess! And in my mind (at this point I had only seen children’s anime and shonen anime series) this is what a shojo anime was, a strong female figure that stood on equal footing with the male characters and wasn’t afraid to fight or go on the same adventures as everyone else. Sure there was plenty of girly or silly moments in the series, but I never saw Kagome as dense or lazy or wimpy or lacking compared to the other characters in the series. If anything, she was the more level headed, honest, and good natured of the group.
What does this have to do with Sailor Moon?
Well, over the years, when I went to conventions or hung out with other anime fans I did see little trailers or AMV’s or parts of episodes of Sailor Moon that happen to be playing on someone’s TV, and I couldn’t help but compare the two styles of anime. After watching over a hundred episodes of Inuyasha and half a dozen movies from the series, in my biased mind Usagi Tsukino, was no Kagome. No matter how I thought about Sailor Moon, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. The main character of Sailor Moon was not the brightest light bulb in the box, nor was she strong, or brave, and she complained an awful lot. She didn’t even have to go back in time before hot running water, so what was she complaining about?
Before the Sailor Moon fans grab their torches and pitchforks!
Of course, hind sight is 20/20. After years of anime watching and deep diving into the histories of storytelling and anime in Japan, now I understand that Sailor Moon and Inuyasha are in different genre and really shouldn’t be compared at all. Also, that Sailor Moon and Inuyasha were written at different points in time and of course they reflect the difference in society and female roles in Japan of the eras they were written in. And honestly, if Sailor Moon had never existed, Inuyasha probably would have never been written, that’s how integral Sailor Moon was to the development of shojo and female heroes of anime. It took me a while, but I did circle back and honestly watched Sailor Moon. Not little bits and pieces. Not random parts of an episode. This time around I sat down and watch the series starting with the first episode. And it was pretty good! Though I still don’t like Usagi Tsukino that much, Sailor Mercury Ami Mizuno is pretty awesome!
So in the end it’s all Rumiko Takahashi’s fault that I was misjudging Sailor Moon for years. Maybe if I hadn’t liked her series Inuyasha so much, I would have watched Sailor Moon sooner? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Do you have any anime series that you misjudged and actually ended up liking? Leave a comment below!