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The Mommy Track: Motherhood in Sailor Moon

Neo Queen Serenity holds Chibiusa in this anime image

In January 2017, the Sailor Moon R movie played in movie theaters across the United States. I was ecstatic that I was finally going to be able to see Sailor Moon in theaters for the first time. It had been quite some time since I had seen the Sailor Moon R movie–I think the last time was when it appeared on Toonami. Of course, the movie was as exciting and entertaining just as I had remembered, however, there was one scene that completely surprised me.

During the final battle, Chibiusa, who is safely sitting on a rooftop with Luna and Artemis, tells them, “It’ll be okay, Sailor Moon is everyone’s mom!”

Wait, what? How?

Sailor Moon being everyone’s mom is pretty much the last thing I would say to describe Sailor Moon. In fact, throughout the second season of Sailor Moon, Chibiusa struggles to accept that Usagi is indeed her mother’s younger self. Usagi is the complete opposite of her mother–she’s childlike, self-centered, klutzy and a bit of a crybaby. Usagi and Chibiusa act more like sisters rather than mother and daughter.

I wasn’t the only one who was struck by this scene. The blog Tuxedo Unmasked, dug up an old interview with the movie’s director, Kunihiko Ikuhara that explains the theme of motherhood in the movie:

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The Sailor Moon Manga Act I Hate the Most

Usagi and Chibiusa are in swimsuits looking at fishes swimming in front of them

When Kodansha re-released the Sailor Moon manga in 2013, I was ecstatic. I eagerly purchased the new volumes even though I owned all the old Tokyopop editions. Based on the second generation format of collected volume that were released in Japan in 2003, in this edition, all of the side stories were taken out of old volumes and collected in two separate volumes–Sailor Moon Short Stories 1 and 2.

It had been a while since I had read the manga, and I had mostly forgotten about the side stories. I was eager to revisit them with some fresh eyes. While most of them were as fun as I had remembered, it was Chibi-usa’s Picture Diary #2: Beware of Tanabata that left me the most confused and frustrated.

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Akiko Yosano and the Moon Flower

opening shot of the first opening credits of sailor moon crystal with the five guardians standing in front of a white moon in a field of blue flowers

Previously, I’ve written about how Raichō Hiratsuka’s famous essay In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun influenced Sailor Moon. Our heroine might not represent the Sun, but the light of her feminine power definitely shines brighter than anything else in the universe.

However, not all of the contributors to Seitō (aka Bluestocking) wanted to give up moon imagery. In fact, Raichō’s essay may not existed without the first contribution to Seitō, a series of poems by one of Japan’s most celebrated poets–and ardent feminist– Akiko Yosano.

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The Moon Kingdom screen from the 1992 anime

Next week is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. I love this time of year because I get it stick a tree in my apartment and decorate it with lights. I find these lights to be very warm and inviting when it’s cold and dark outside. It’s probably the reason why I have the Silver Crystal so much on my mind lately. We all need a warm, bright light during this time, don’t we?

After posting my article last week about the Silver Crystal, I remembered a conversation on Twitter. Someone asked my friend Sakky (@sailorastera) why the Holy Sword was made out of Silver Crystal. It was a really good question because the manga makes a big deal about how the Silver Crystal is a unique and powerful object. It doesn’t make much sense if the Holy Sword can do the job just the same. Sakky had a really interesting response that I had never thought of before. She believed the whole Moon Kingdom was made out of Silver Crystal–even the plates!

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My Silver Crystal Brings All the Evil to the Yard

 

the silver crystal sits in the moon stick in front of a full moon

(Damn right it’s better than yours)

In September 2017, the revival of the Sailor Moon musicals came to an end with the adaption of the final manga arc, Le Mouvement Finale. It was bittersweet to watch–in a world full of terrible final seasons, Sailor Moon’s final arc is one of the few that feels satisfying. It brings the sailor guardians’ battle of good versus evil to a larger scale–it’s not just a battle for Earth, but for the whole galaxy. The battle is fought for the heart of darkness itself, the birthplace of everything–the Galaxy Cauldron.

During the final battle between Sailor Moon and Sailor Galaxia, we learn that both Good and Evil comes from the Galaxy Cauldron. This comes with the uneasy realization that this means all the Evil we’ve met in previous seasons–Queen Metallia, the Doom Phantom, Master Pharaoh 90, Nehelenia, and Chaos are all siblings of Sailor Moon. Moreover, the existence of Sailor Moon is the reason why these Evils kept coming to Earth–they were drawn by Sailor Moon’s light from her Silver Crystal.

This fact throws Sailor Moon into an emotional tailspin. She wonders if she should commit suicide, because if she does, she’ll end these battles. When I first read this back in the late 90s, I remember thinking that this was really unfair. It sounded really victim blamey. However, as the topic of online harassment has reached a fever pitch recently, perhaps Takeuchi-sensei didn’t mean to victim blame at all. Perhaps she was trying to warn us.

manga panel of the galaxy cauldron

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Anime NYC 2017: Con Report!

anime nyc powered by crunchyroll

Ever since the demise of AnimeFest, I’ve been patiently waiting for a new anime-centric con to take its place. NYCC has become way overcrowded and anime’s presence there has diminished, so it’s been quite a relief that Anime NYC has finally made the scene.

In it’s first year, Anime NYC took over a third of the Javits center’s exhibition hall as well as the entire River Pavillon for the Artist Alley. Over 20,000 people attended and while it sometimes felt crowded in the dealer’s room, overall, it didn’t feel too overwhelming.

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Japanese Feminism 101 Panel at Anime NYC!

anime nyc powered by crunchyroll

Exciting times! I will be at Anime NYC the weekend of November 17th – 19th 2017 and hosting a panel called “Japanese Feminism 101” on Saturday, November 18th at 3:45pm in Panel Room 2 at the Javits Center.  Here are the details as mentioned on the Anime NYC website:

Japanese Feminism 101 – Panel Room 2 – Sat – 3:45 to 4:30 PM
Today, feminist critique of anime is all over the internet. However, what about feminism in Japan? This panel introduces key women in Japanese feminist history such as Raicho Hiratsuka and Beate Sirota Gordon as well as artists like Machiko Hasegawa and Rokudenashiko.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a proper anime convention in NYC since New York Anime Festival went under, so I’m pretty excited to see how this will go. I’ve heard good things about the Crunchyroll Expo on the west coast, so I’m sure this will be great! Moreover, Saturday, the day of my panel, has been declared “Sailor Moon Day” so come for the Sailor Moon, stay for the feminism!

And just help you plan your day a bit better, the panel before mine is a panel about dolls:

BJD Talk – Panel Room 2 – Sat – 2:45 to 3:30 PM
A place where ball-jointed doll enthusiasts can meet with their dolls and discuss the joys and woes of the BJD hobby with their dolly peers. Whether you’re new to the hobby and haven’t even gotten your first doll or you’ve been in the game for years, this is a fun place to laugh together and maybe even share some face-up tips.

 

And the panel after mine is being put on by the folks behind @blerdconDC:

Blerd is the Word: Diversity Means You! – Panel Room 2 – Sat – 4:45 to 5:30 PM
A walk-through of Blerd history and culture with an empowering message from the little con that could – Blerdcon!

I hope to see you there!

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Blood the last vampire movie poster with saya dressed as a school girl

During the recent controversy surrounding the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, I’ve seen nary a mention of the last anime adaptaion produced for the English language market, Blood: The Last Vampire. This adaptation did not whitewash its main characters by casting Korean actress Gianna as the vampire slayer, Saya, and Japanese actress, Koyuki, as the demonic archvillian, Onigen.

So, what can we learn about the issues of whitewashing from this decidedly not whitewashed film? Let’s take a closer look!

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Happy 4th Birthday Shojo Power!

The inner senshi sailor moon crystal stlyle with jupiter, mars, moon winking, mercury and venus

This month Shojo Power! celebrated it’s fourth birthday. It’s hard to believe! So as usual, onto the stats!

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Trauma & Resilience in Skip Beat!

Guest Author: ThatNerdyBoliviane

How do I write about a character who was so personal and meaningful to me when I was a dissociative teenager? Growing up as a Latinx of color, issues like representation were not completely at the forefront of my mind, but I did know that I was not connecting to characters that were presented to me no matter what medium I consumed.  I remember the day when I went to Kinokuniya in New York City after school to pick up my monthly Shojo Beat magazine and there it was–chapter one of Skip Beat.  At that age, it was so rare for me to find a character that I identified with on a personal and emotional level so it didn’t take me long to decide to purchase volume 1.  

[Warning: Minor Spoilers!]

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