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So, one day I’m on Twitter, as usual, and I come across this tweet that just knocks me over:

And it got me thinking–was it possible that Naoko Takeuchi actually based Sailor Star Fighter off of 90s lesbian icon Jenny Shimizu? Come with me and let’s find out!

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Japan Foundation’s Sailor Moon Virtual Panel

How is everyone? As I write this post, it’s been a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m hanging in there, but it definitely takes conscious effort to make sure my mental health is on the right track. I hope you are hanging in there too!

Navigating this “new normal” has been an adventure, but I suppose one of the bright spots is virtual events. They allow for a wider audience to access really awesome content and experiences. This past year the Japan Foundation has been hosting a series of virtual panels on anime and manga. They’ve done panels on the works of Satoshi Kon and Ghost in the Shell. So naturally, it was only a matter of time until there was one on Sailor Moon!

This panel featured several academics–Dr. Kumiko Saito, Dr. Samantha Close, Dr. Kathryn Hemmann and Mari Morimoto–who you may remember was one of the translators of the English Sailor Moon manga, the Kodansha 2nd generation edition. I’ve linked the panel above for you to watch, but I wanted to provide a written summary of the event as well.

The first half of the event had the panelists presenting a powerpoint presentation. First up was Dr. Kumiko Saito from Clemson University who summarized the history of the magical girl genre. She talked about how the genre started in the 60s and 70s with shows like Sally the Witch and Himitsu no Akko-chan. Early magical girl shows were aimed at girl from 4 to 9 years old. However, with the introduction of Cutie Honey, the genre began to become more sexy.

In the 80s, there was Minky Momo and Creamy Mami that exemplified cuteness and fine tuned the art of the transformation sequence. More adult male fans began enjoying the magical girl genre.

In the 90s, Sailor Moon arrived amidst an economic bust–the first magical girl sentai team. During this time, there were several gender defying anime at the time like Ranma 1/2, Ghost in the Shell, and La Belle Fille Masquée Poitrine. Beyond Sailor Moon, magical girls these days are cuter, queerer and physically stronger than in the past. Empowerment = cute.

Next up was Mari Morimoto’s presentation. She talked about what it was like translating the Sailor Moon manga and what it meant to her and her queer identity. She mentioned that she was not familiar with the anime, but became a fan when the 2nd generation of the manga came out in Japanese. She particularly enjoyed the character of Haruka and her gender fluid identity. She talked about some choices that she and the Kodansha team made regarding the Starlights. For example, they made the decision to use male and gender neutral language when they are first introduced. She also advocated for using man/women and gender rather than male/female and sex. And, of note, in the original Sailor Moon manga, “Sailor Star Lights” and “Sailor Anima Mates” were written with a dot between the words, so this is why they included a space between the words in the English edition. (Note: In the Eternal Edition, a dash is used.)

In Dr. Samantha Closes‘s presentation, she talked about Sailor Moon and censorship. Apologies, my notes are sparse for this one!

In Dr. Kathryn Hemmann’s presentation, she talked about fandom in the 90s. She talked about how fandom played out with internet accessibility, stores like Media Play and conventions. She even noted how anime has made it to the mainstream–the February 2017 issue of Glamour, has Jennifer Marlow talking about Sailor Moon.

She also talked about how conventions and artist alleys provided an outlet for future artists like Rebecca Sugar, the creator of the widely popular and unabashedly queer Steven Universe. In fact, Dr. Hemmann noted that Rebecca Sugar used to create naughty Sailor Moon comics. Dr. Hemmann also posed a fascinating question. Conventions and artist alleys allowed fans to wear their fandom with pride–so did conventions allow for more queer representation in mainstream animation or did mainstream animation allow fans to be openly queer? (If I understood her correctly!) Nonetheless, Dr. Hemmann made a strong case that the influence of fandom can’t be ignored in the creation of mainstream animation.

After the presentation, Mari Morimoto led a discussion between the panelists. She shared the results of character popularity poll that was done when attendees signed up for the event. She also compared the results against the recent NHK poll done in Japan. The differences were striking! Most of the inner senshi appeared at the top of the event poll, however, most of the outer senshi appeared at the top of the NHK poll.

Sailor Uranus was number one in the NHK poll. I was very surprised by this, but after the panelists gave their thoughts I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Dr. Saito noted that Haruka very much occupied the role of “cool sempai” that Japanese school girls often adore. Dr. Saito also noted that she was surprised Sailor Jupiter ranked so high; normally in sentai fandom the “green” character is the least popular; this character is seen as a “support” character. Dr. Hemmann noted that many of the top characters in the NHK poll were also popular characters that were paired with Usagi in 90s fan comics (Haruka, Sailor Uranus, Seiya, Minako). It was also noted that in Japanese polls characters and their alter egos are often separated out whereas in Western polls, they are not. No one could explain this, however, Mari did note that she could see how one might be a fan of Haruka as opposed to Sailor Uranus–after all, Haruka’s gender expression is more fluid as opposed to Sailor Uranus whose presentation is more strictly female.

All in all, it was a really interesting and fun event. I’m so glad these smart, thoughtful women are in academia and publishing, making sure that content created for girls and women is taken seriously. During the discussion, the topic of Takarazuka came up and there seemed to be much enthusiasm for the panelists to return to discuss this topic. I really hope Japan Foundation makes that event happen–I’m looking forward to it!

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In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun Podcast

A Japanese woman is reading a book with a blue cover. In the background other Japanese women in Western and Japanese clothing read a book with a blue cover as well.

How’s everyone? I hope you are hanging in there during this pandemic! To assuage your boredom, I have another podcast to recommend you to. Issac Meyer is a historian and teacher who is the creator of the History of Japan podcast. He recently did a three part episcode featuring Japanese feminists Raicho Hiratsuka and Fusae Ichikawa. Definitely check out Part 1 where Shojo Power! gets a shout out!

Episode 329 – In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun, Part 1

Episode 330 – In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun, Part 2

Episode 331 – In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun, Part 3

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Shojo Power! on Manga Machinations Podcast

manga machinations black and white logo in english with katakana underneath

So I don’t get to listen to podcasts as much as I used to, and I have a list a mile long to dive into, BUT a lovely little podcast that I’ve enjoyed listening to invited me onto their show! That podcast is Manga Machinations, a podcast that focuses on more obscure and unknown manga. Obviously Sailor Moon is not obscure, but I had the opportunity to discuss important Japanese feminists which hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet. LOL.

The podcast features dakazu, darfox8, seamus and Morgana. In addition to being lovely people, each brings their own unique experience and background to the podcast. dakazu lives in Hawaii and seamus lives in Ireland which makes it a podcast that literally spans the globe! Please enjoy!

Time stamps courtesy of Manga Machinations:

  • 00:00:00 -Intro Song: “Sailor Star Song” by Kae Hanazawa from Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, Opening, Introductions, Social Media
  • 00:03:06 – Learning about Anne’s origins in anime/manga fandom
  • 00:07:59 – Anne gives us her hot take on Sailor Moon Crystal
  • 00:10:14 – Anne explains how volunteering for an ESL class in college led her to teach English in Japan
  • 00:14:10 – After giving a panel about Sailor Moon and feminism Anne decided to create her blog Shojo Power!
  • 00:16:12 – Anne tells us about Takarazuka Revue and the various Sailor Moon musicals
  • 00:23:26 – We discuss why manga musicals aren’t made available for the International market
  • 00:26:23 – Anne shares her experience seeing the 2019 Sailor Moon Musical in New York
  • 00:30:31 – Morgana tell Anne about what manga she recommended to girls while working at Comicopia
  • 00:34:41 – dakazu asks Anne about her thoughts on problematic elements in Japanese manga & anime such as lolicon
  • 00:44:28 – dakazu is concerned about the ramifications of Japanese brothels that cater to train molestation fantasies
  • 00:50:09 – Anne shares her thoughts on the perception that Sailor Guardians are sexy
  • 00:58:04– Anne points out the existence of the Sailor Moon branded condom
  • 00:59:18 – Anne gives some thoughts about why Sailor Moon is finally getting a digital release
  • 01:01:58 – Anne gives her recommendation on how to get into Sailor Moon for the first time
  • 01:05:42 – Next Episode Preview and Rundown: New Chapter Check-in, dakazu and Darfox will be going full spoilers with the newest chapters of their favorite manga series
  • 01:06:41 – Main Segment Sailor Moon Translations & Taisho Era Feminists, Transition Song: “Rashiku Ikimasho” by Miyuki Kajitani from Sailor Moon SuperS, We discuss translations and learn about feminists from the Taisho Era of Japan
  • 01:07:34 -Anne explains the various translation the Sailor Moon manga has gone through
  • 01:10:48 – Anne asks the hosts for their preferences on translating sound effects and onomatopoeias
  • 01:20:24 – We discuss the use of honorifics in English translations
  • 01:23:50 – Morgana hated renaming characters with English names in Yo-kai Watch
    01:29:26 – Darfox brings up the different character names used in the Spanish dub of Sailor Moon
    01:32:58 – Darfox comments on how hilarious Minako was in the 90′s anime
  • 01:35:13 – Searching for Japanese feminism led Anne to learn about Raicho Hiratsuku
  • 01:43:17 – We discuss the relevance of Raicho’s motivations for women’s rights with the current discourse about no female editors working at Weekly Shonen Jump
  • 01:48:44 – Anne shares a story about Beate Sirota Gordon writing the women’s rights section of the new Japanese constitution in 1946
  • 01:56:07 – Anne shares a list of books about Japanese feminism
  • 01:59:00 – We thank Anne for joining us, Next Week’s Topic: New Chapter Check-in, Social Media Rundown, Sign Off Song: “wish men” by sunbrain from Beet the Vandel Buster

You can follow Manga Machinations on Twitter and Tumblr.

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Happy 6th Birthday Shōjo Power!

sailor moon drops human luna

It’s that time of year again! Every July Shojo Power! celebrates its birthday. Since it’s our 6th birthday, onto the Top 6 stats!

Top 6 Posts that Published This Past Year

  1. The Real Trans Rep in Sailor Moon
  2. The Real Life Princess Kaguya: Dr. Chiaki Mukai
  3. The Greatest Attack Name of All Time: Star Gentle Uterus
  4. Gender & Passion in Claudine: Manga Review
  5. Shojo Power! Podcast Episode 2 Slim City
  6. Shojo Power! Podcast Episode 3 Sailor Mercury

Top 6 All-Time Posts This Year

  1. Beautiful Like You: Black Lady’s Uncomfortable Electra Complex
  2. The Top Ten Most Epic Deaths in Sailor Moon
  3. Is Sailor Chibi Moon Too Sexualized?
  4. Anne’s Fabulous Sailor Moon-Themed Wedding!
  5. Blame It On the Sluts: Nostalgia Critic’s Review of Sailor Moon
  6. Stop Fat Shaming! Episode 4 Feminist Commentary

Top 6 Most Memorable Keywords

  1. why is chibiusa in love with her dad

Why indeed!

2. is sailor moon white

NO.

3. tiny evil’s sexiness comes to life

I have no idea what this means–but I am intrigued!

4. sailor moon boobs

Again with the boobs!

5. how much does sailor moon weigh

Actually, this is a really good question. I have no idea!

6. titanime

I dunno, fam. I’m not sure I’d really call Sailor Moon a “tit anime” although I suppose there are some nice tits in the last episode of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.

Top 6 Visitor City Locations

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Paris
  4. Chicago
  5. San Francisco
  6. London

General Stats for This Past Year

  1. 39,453 page views
  2. 24,904 users
  3. 7 posts

As for some general updates–I’m not sure if the podcast will be continuing, real life has been getting in the way. However, I do have episode 5 on my computer, waiting to be mixed, so I will see if I can get off my tush, and finish that. A lot exciting Sailor Moon news has come out–more Nogizaka46 musicals, a Princess Kaguya musical in 2020, a permanent stage/dinner show called Shining Moon Tokyo, the English dub of Sailor Stars has been released—and, last but not least! Finally word on the Sailor Moon Crystal Dream Act movies–Sailor Moon Crystal: Eternal, releasing in 2020! I’m aiming to visit Japan in the summer 2020 for the Princess Kaguya musical, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ve been pretty active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. When I’m not writing articles for Shojo Power!, I’m buying Sailor Moon merch and sharing it with you all on these platforms! How are you all doing?

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It’s been a joke among Sailor Moon fans for years–Sailor Star Maker’s attack call is “Star Gentle Uterus.” And now, North American and English speaking fans can finally legally enjoy it with the release of the final season of Sailor Moon, Sailor Stars. I imagine a lot more Sailor Moon fans will be asking the same questions we all have at some point—-how???? Why??? Well, I’m here to shed some light on that!

I, myself, was in the dark for the longest time regarding these questions. In fact, it wasn’t until quite recently that I learned that some fans identify the inspiration for the Sailor Starlights as coming from Hindu mythology. In Hindu mythology, there are three main gods–Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Preserver), and Shiva (The Destroyer). This fits very nicely with the names of the Sailor Starlights–Sailor Star Maker aka The Creator, Sailor Star Healer aka The Preserver and Sailor Star Fighter aka The Destroyer. Which brings us back to Sailor Star Maker’s infamous attack, Star Gentle Uterus.

While life is created in many ways in mythologies around the world, in our every day life, life begins in the uterus, so it makes a lot of sense that Sailor Star Maker’s attack name would include “uterus.” Of course, though, I suppose that’s not necessarily why people giggle at the attack name. We giggle at it because we’ve been taught to view the female reproductive system as private and taboo to talk about. It’s a double standard–society views the penis as both humorous and natural to talk about. Previously, I’ve talked about how a vagina kayak made more people uncomfortable than a mascot with an erection or penises at fertility festivals.

For some feminists, it’s important to eliminate the taboo of talking about female bodies so that people can feel more comfortable with their bodies and consequently, feel more empowered about their health and sexuality. Previously Naoko Takeuchi has made “negative” feminine attributes like crying into an attack, so perhaps she was trying to reclaim the power of uteri here.

So, whenever Star Gentle Uterus comes up, I’m actually pretty happy with the attack name. I think we need to talk about the female reproductive system more casually. I’m all for jokes like these if it actually educates you about human bodies!

Star Gentle Uterus but with actual uteruses in the bubbles

In fact, the only small quibble I have with the attack name is that I’m not sure why it’s “gentle.” For many people, once a month, their uterus it anything but gentle! It’s more like:

And that’s just uteri! The actual creation of stars in the universe is rather intense.

So if you could come up with a better attack name, what would it be?

Images via Beckyism.com, Sailor Bitch-Lord

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Gender & Passion in Claudine: Manga Review

Banner of Claudine manga cover

Seven Seas Entertainment has been on a roll lately, haven’t they? First, they come out with My Experience with Lesbian Loneliness which slammed through the internet and bookstores like a wrecking ball. Then last year they followed up with its sequel, My Solo Exchange Diary, and other one-shots like The Bride was a Boy and Claudine.

Claudine was written by Riyoko Ikeda in 1978, just a few years after her megahit Rose of Versailles hit the scene. Rose of Versailles was originally supposed to be a historical fiction work centered on the life of Marie Antoinette, but the handsome and noble soldier Oscar, who was assigned female at birth but lived as a man, quickly became the most popular character. Soon after the manga’s publication, Rose of Versailles was adapted for the Takarazuka stage. The stage production was so popular, it financially saved the all-female theater troupe.

Enter Claudine. I had always thought that perhaps Naoko Takeuchi was the first mangaka to take the characters from the fantastical world of the Takarazuka Revue and put them in the real world. Our favorite lesbian power couple Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were modeled after Takarazuka actresses–and instead of portraying a heterosexual relationship as they would in a Takarazuka production, they are a lesbian couple. However, I was wrong. Riyoko Ikeda was placing these characters in the real world more than a decade before Sailor Moon hit the scene.

WARNING: SO MANY SPOILERS FOR CLAUDINE!

Content Note: In Claudine, the title character is referred to as female throughout manga. However, in this article I’ve used male pronouns to reflect Claudine’s gender preference. This follows how the translator and others have referred to Claudine as well.

Trigger Warnings: Dysphoria, Freud, Misgendering

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The Real Trans Rep in Sailor Moon

 

Reo Sanada as Kunzite on the right, and Avu-chan with a Luna-P ball on the right

In the past, I’ve written about some trans metaphors in Sailor Moon regarding the Sailor Starlights. But obviously, sometimes metaphors aren’t good enough. And while Sailor Moon gave us the best lesbian power couple ever, it’s 2018—how do trans issues fit into Sailor Moon? I’ve always thought that since trans women are women, trans women have always had a space in Sailor Moon. But since the manga and anime are over, how can that made crystal clear? Well, I’m happy to report that I have two wonderful examples to share with you!

Warning: Some mild spoilers for the Sailor Moon Super Live

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Chatty AF Podcast: A Sailor Moon Retrospective

Recently I had the opportunity to appear on Anime Feminist‘s podcast to talk about the first season of Sailor Moon. Dee and Vrai are so funny and entertaining, you have to give it a listen! What’s really interesting about this podcast is that all three of us have different perspectives of Sailor Moon. Dee did not grow up watching Sailor Moon, yet she’s a total Stan. Vrai is revisiting Sailor Moon after being away from it for awhile and get this–they have never seen Sailor Stars! I AM SO EXCITED FOR VRAI YOU GUYS. And there’s me, the Ami of the group chiming in about my encyclopedic knowledge of all things Sailor Moon. ^_^

We plan to cover all five seasons–so please enjoy! I wrote up some fun pros & cons lists for Sailor Moon R, so I’ll post that with the next podcast–stay tuned!

Please visit Anime Feminist for the time stamps.

And as always, please support Anime Feminist and Shojo Power! on Patreon.

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Shojo Power! Podcast Episode 3 Sailor Mercury

Sailor Moon Crystal Title Card for Act 2

Episode 3 of the Shojo Power Podcast is now available on SoundCloud!

Also, I have some exciting news–I’ve finally created a Patreon in conjunction with the podcast! Pledge now before Monday, September 24th 2018 5:30 EST and you could be part of our next podcast!

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