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Queering Sailor Moon: Takarazuka Style!

When it was announced earlier this year that the new Sailor Moon musical would have an all female cast, many fans in the West were shocked. What would it be like having Tuxedo Mask–a character who many see as their “first boyfriend”–be played by a woman? However, Tuxdeo Mask wasn’t going to be played by just any woman, retired Takarazuka super star, Yuuga Yamato would be taking on the role.

Yuuga as Mamoru stands in a green suit with a black tie with a baseball glove.

Yuuga Yamato as Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask. Credit kawaisasailormoon.tumblr.com

For the uninitiated, the Takarazuka Revue is a theater troupe that consists of only female performers. When performers enter the Takarazuka academy, they are assigned a gender to play based on their look, voice and preference. One might think that the genesis of this theater was quite feminist; however, it was merely a gimmick to get people to spend money.

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Feminists like to throw around the term “male gaze,” but sometimes I think the term is a bit vague. I’ve talked about it some in this post, but I’m always game to examining what it actually means. About two years ago, DC rebooted its characters with The New 52, which included the character of Starfire, in a comic called Red Hood and the OutlawsYou may remember Starfire from Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans. She looked like this:

However, in the New 52 reboot, Starfire came out looking like this:

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Miracle Romance: Finding Sailor Moon in Japan

It was an amazing opportunity to see the new Sailor Moon musical, La Reconquista, in-person. But it wasn’t the only opportunity to be had!

Before the show, my good friend Yosenex and I adventured around Tokyo. Our first goal was to visit every Book Off (a used book store) we ran into and spend at least 5 minutes there. When found our first one in Shinjuku where Yosenex taught me how to find Sailor Moon manga properly. Apparently, manga is sorted by publisher so you need to find the manga with the KC label! In this Book Off we found several first editions of the original manga. I wasn’t aware of this, but Yosenex told me that these volumes (except the first one) had small posters inside. So, for 105 Yen (about $1.00), I bought this beauty:

A pull out poster of Super Sailor Moon holding the holy grail and scepter

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La Reconquista: A Feminist Sera Myu Review

Close up of Sailor Moon's chest bow and brooch with sparkles. It's the cover image of the myu guide book.

Hey Moonies! I just got back from my trip to Japan and it was fantastic! I arrived on the evening of September 12th, and the very next day I saw the opening night of La Reconquista. It’s been a week since I’ve seen it–and fair warning, my Japanese is the worst, so I’m not sure how accurate this review will be. However, you may have already read Yosenex’s review, or this absolutely hilarious review by zukarevue, part 1 and part 2. I’ll use their reviews to jog my memory and fill in the blanks.

******SPOILERS AHOY! ********

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The Invisible Red Thread: Menstruation in Sailor Moon

All ten guardian sit in causal clothes, colored with various shades of red

Editor’s Note1: This is Shojo Power’s first guest post EVAR! And the honor of this first post goes to the creator of missdream.org, Elly Winters.

Editor’s Note2: Since this is a post about menstruation, I want to take a moment to remember that not all women and girls menstruate. Some men have periods as well. Shojo Power! welcomes these perspectives and experiences.

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“Sailor Moon” chronicles the transformation of a clumsy 14 year old crybaby named Usagi into a soldier of love and justice. Along the way Sailor Moon meets four other girls her own age who also undergo the same journey to become sailor soldiers for their respective guardian planets; Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, and Sailor Venus. Later, Usagi meets other girls going through a similar transformation – Sailor Saturn, who is around 12 years old, Sailors Uranus and Neptune, who are thought to be between 17 and 18 years old, and Sailor Pluto, who is a university student in her late teens / early 20s. An array of teenaged girls, all of whom fall somewhere along the spectrum of when girls begin to become women…

While the series “Sailor Moon” focuses on the trials and tribulations of girls transforming into magical warriors of justice, another transformation is quietly happening in the lives of each of the characters. The lack of any mention of this physical transformation in a show dedicated to female empowerment and development is puzzling; how can a show like Sailor Moon, which focuses on a team of girls going through puberty, totally ignore the facts of menstruation?

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Body Image in Sailor Moon: Skin Tone Edition

The term “body image” encompasses quite a few facets. In this post, I talked about weight and height. Body image also includes skin tone.

In many cultures around the world, light skin is considered more beautiful than dark skin. In fact, Japan is Asia’s largest market for skin lightening products and global sales of these products are expected to reach $20 billion by 2018. Unfortunately, the quest for bihaku or “beautiful white,” is not always so simple. These products can cause skin damage:

I’ve talked about how Sailor Moon tries to expand the definition of beauty when it comes to atypical body types, but what about skin tone?

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Does Sailor Moon Promote Fat Hatred?

Kim Kardashain wears a black outfit with shorts and low neckline. She sticks out her hip.Beyonce has blonde hair and wears a short top and panties. She's sticking out her butt.Kate Upton stands in white panties and white winter jacket.

Kim Kardashian. Beyonce. Kate Upton. These women epitomize the beauty ideal in the United States–light skinned, thin, no tattoos or piercings, preferably blonde hair, big boobs and big butt—and no fat anywhere else. According to the ANAD, up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. So why should we care about this? Because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. No only does our beauty ideal severely limit our concept of health and beauty, but our obsession of keeping women small and delicate literally kills.

Knowing that, how does Sailor Moon do with body image?

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a woman hugs a man in a red suit. They are the same person.

credit: http://bishounen.info/

Sailor Moon has gay villains and lesbian heroes, but what about trans characters?

There aren’t any truly trans characters in Sailor Moon. However, in the final season of the anime, we meet the Sailor Starlights who are female, but take on male bodies once they arrive on Earth. We even see their male bodies change to female when they transform into the Sailor Starlights. Again, the Sailor Starlights aren’t trans, but I think there are some interesting parallels to be drawn. For example, in episode 189 of the anime, the sailor guardians are shocked to learn that the members of their favorite boy band are the Sailor Starlights. This means that the cute boys they drool over are also women. This leads to fascinating scene where the sailor guardians have to confront their heterosexuality and what it means when a person’s body doesn’t meet your gender expectations. I think this scene does a somewhat decent job of showing that trans people should be treated with dignity.

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Otakon 2013: Cosplay, Music and Loot, Oh My!

blue background with 20 years otakon written in white

Otakon 2013 was my third Otakon–I first went in 2006 and again in 2010. I was able to see Home Made Kazoku in 2010, so when I heard they would be at Otakon again, I knew I had to go! Not only that, but a massive amount of Moonies from twitter would be there too! Moonies Unite!

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Sailor Moon graces a two page spread in ROLa magazine

Credit: Miss Dream

It’s been 11 years since Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Sailor Moon, sat down for an interview so I was super excited to read Miss Dream’s translation. One of the things I think about as I reflect on Sailor Moon is how Naoko developed her story and characters. In other words, how intentional were her choices? How did certain decisions come about? Thankfully, we do get a new glimpse of what it was like sitting in the Kodansha’s offices 20 years ago.

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