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Sexiness as Evil in Sailor Moon

Queen Badiane hold Sailor Chibi Moon in black energy force field

Queen Badiane from the SuperS movie holds Sailor Chibi Moon. Credit: www.screwattack.com

Last Christmas, when I was at my childhood home, I sifted through my old Sailor Moon fanart. Among the Sailor Earth sketches, (YES SAILOR EARTH. I AM NOT ASHAMED.) there was a sketch of a villain–a woman with long black hair, crimson lips and long red nails. And it occurred to me–why does this woman have red lips? Why does she have long red nails? What was so evil about red lips or long red nails?

I took a look at my Sailor Earth–blue eyes, brown hair in pig tails (YEAH YEAH I KNOW) and I realized that she didn’t have red lips, long red nails nor long, black eyelashes even. And it dawned on me–why was the sexy woman evil? How did that happen?

Many people have noted that the Sailor Guardians are pretty sexy with their short skirts and high heels. Even Dateline thought Sailor Moon was a “bombshell.” But even though the Sailor Guardians yell “Make Up!” and the end of their transformation call, they actually don’t wear make up. (Well, unless you count nail polish. And, notably, their nails remain short. The outer guardians, who are two years older, do get some lipstick during their transformation. Live Action Sailor Moon also transforms with a tube of lipstick.)

Mars, Venus, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury stand, smiling, ready to attack

The sailor guardians not wearing any lipstick, eyeshadow or blush!       Credit: www.wallsave.com

So here’s our image of “good sexy”–short skirts, high heels, but no make up or cleavage. And what I find interesting about this image in particular and others like it, is that the artist doesn’t go out of their way to “sex it up.” In other words, there are no boob or butt “gleams.” Sailor Moon is popping out her hip a tad, but overall, you could probably could stick a dude superhero in one of these poses and it wouldn’t be read as feminine.

Anywho, so here is the adversary in the first season, Queen Beryl. She’s has long red nails, wears make up and a form fitting dress. Her dress also sports a boob window.

Anime Queen Beryl stands near her throne with her staff.

Meanwhile, Sailor Moon’s mom, Queen Serenity, gets a big ol’ bow to distract you from her boobage. And she’s all dressed in white in case you forget she’s a good guy.

But enough quibbling over minimal boobage, let’s talk about the real deal! Let’s talk about the Doom & Gloom Girls!

The Sailor Guardians meet the Doom & Gloom Girls (or DD Girls) in their final battle against Queen Beryl in the anime. As you can see, they are wearing little more than underwear/bikinis. They are powerful enough to take out the Sailor Guardians, but they end up being destroyed in the progress. Their job is to die and look sexy while doing it. It’s as if their revealing clothing tell you that they are disposable, that violence should be acted upon them. Our society seems to think that scantily dress women and girls should expect violence. I wish this just happened in the cartoon world, but this happens to young women and girls in real life.

Naoko Takeuchi has said that the anime has a “slight male perspective” and nowhere is this more apparent than in the third season where all of the disposable, monster-of-the-days are female.

These monsters created from inanimate objects, and when they attack, they uncover a part of their female body to reveal a black star. Good grief. Talk about “bombshell”–they are *literally* attacking with sexualized lady parts. WTF.

Thankfully, in the fourth season, this theme does not continue, but we do get the Amazoness Quartet, who show lots of boob and midriff. In the manga, they are redeemed and become sailor guardians themselves–complete with new outfits that cover up their midriffs, cleavage and groins.

Fours girls stand in revealing outfits

The Amazoness Quartet as villains

Four girls stand in the sailor guardian uniform

The Amazoness Quartet as heroes, the Sailor Quartet    Credit: Wikipedia

In the fifth and final season, we get the Sailor Animates. And if you thought the Sailor Guardians were sexy, wait til you get ahold of the Sailor Animates! I think Naoko Takeuchi must have been looking at one too many lingerie catalogs. :D

A woman with red hair stands with black bird wings, a revealing bodice, panties and long red boots. And a whip.

Sailor Lead Crow

A woman with butterfly wings stands wearing a bra-like top and panties with long black boots

Sailor Heavy Metal Papillon                        Credit: Villains Wiki

A woman with long light blue hair stands in a long coat, wearing panties and garter belts.

Sailor Aluminum Siren     Credit: Sailor Moon Wiki

To be fair, we also get the Sailor Starlights who I’d argue are the sexiest good guys in the Sailor Moon Universe. They’ve got short shorts, bare midriffs and deep neck lines–all in leather to boot! (Or at least, it looks to me like leather. Maybe it’s pleather? :D) I also wonder if the Starlights’ outfit isn’t so much to balance the Animates, but to reassert their femininity after spending their civilian time dressing as men.

The Sailor Starlights pose before an image of a galaxy

Credit: squidoo

Treatment-wise, the Sailor Animates get to stick around more than one episode in the anime and the Starlights are the only guardians who manage to be there with Eternal Sailor Moon until the very end.

All in all, it amazes me to what lengths creators can go to sexualize villains even more than than the already sexualized good guys. The idea that ‘sexiness is evil’ distorts what it means to be evil—which is to do morally corrupt actions, not to be scantily dressed.


{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Marine November 18, 2013, 10:23 pm

    I think that Naoko Takeuchi made the anime to be something that all the male feel delighted at watching those kind of women, girls, and ladies.

    And i think Naoko Takeuchi worked to show to the ladies, girls, and/or females around the whole world, that it’s possibly to fight and still be cute, and never lose the characteristic femininity that surrounds the females of the world.

  • A. December 14, 2013, 5:39 am

    I believe that there is a slight degree of misunderstanding on your part.

    Remember that Japan is a culture that places an emphasis on cuteness. Japanese women and girls are taught that CUTE is what you want to be, and not necessarily sexy. The Senshi do have revealing outfits, but they generally aren’t put to the level of fanservice very much in the anime. At the end of the day, however, they tend to be cute (except with Sailor Pluto and Sailor Neptune, who are considered more sophisticated).

    Sexiness is not necessarily seen as evil in Japanese culture, but cuteness wins out. And that is what you see in Sailormoon.

    • Anne Lee Anne Lee December 14, 2013, 4:33 pm

      Thank you for your comment!

      Ah, but you see, having “cuteness” win isn’t a good thing. Viewing the worth of women and girls through the prism of cute vs. sexy, madonna vs. whore, only enables crappy people to discredit women and girls by how they look.

      There is one villain in the Sailor Moon universe that is definitely evil and definitely cute and that’s the Sailor V villain Petit Pandora. Thankfully, her cuteness doesn’t win! :) I didn’t include her in my analysis because she seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

  • Shannon June 21, 2014, 8:08 pm

    I don’t how to write this where I don’t come off as rude, so I apologize for that in advance. I think you’re just looking too much into it. I really think that it’s just from the perspective of one person. I don’t really think that Naoko Takeuchi had much of any of what you wrote in mind when she created Sailor Moon. I think she just had an idea of what her characters looked like, and drew them as such. Sometimes picking things apart looking for symbolism that isn’t meant to be there is worse than anything.

    • Anne Lee Anne Lee June 22, 2014, 3:59 pm

      Hi Shannon! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      It’s cool if you disagree–but I dislike it when people say “you are looking too much into it.” I dislike this because people don’t provide any evidence or support for their statement. If you think Naoko just had an idea of what her characters and drew them as such, please provide a quote and/or evidence for that assertion.

      You can also look at it that it ultimately doesn’t matter what Naoko’s intentions are–if evil characters dress in skimpier clothing than the good guys, that does send a message that sexiness is evil, whether you meant it or not.

      Of course, perhaps, you as a viewer might think that message is crappy, and think that the Sailor Moon villains are pretty cool regardless. ^_^

  • um September 11, 2014, 7:54 am

    do people forget that one of the reasons the senshi aren’t that sexualized is because they’re…14..?

    • Anne Lee Anne Lee September 27, 2014, 8:00 pm

      It’s funny, I think a lot people think they are sexualized because they wear short skirts.

      And it’s odd too–at 14 I was definitely wearing make-up so I kind of find it odd that they aren’t shown wearing make up.

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