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Ami’s First Love: A Sailor Moon Treasure Hunt

Run Run July 1995, Credit: missdream.org

I’ve been slowly working through a re-read of the Sailor Moon manga, this time, with my Eternal Editions. This edition has been quite thrilling–the large size nearly replicates how the images were originally presented in Nakayoshi and there are color pages galore! I just finished reading the side story, Makoto’s Melancholy when my eyes fell onto the next page–the color preview for Ami’s First Love (image above). And I noticed something I had never realized before–you can actually read the text on several items in the illustration! I set out to investigate!

I first noticed the two green bottles, sitting on the bathroom. The first bottle with the yellow is a bottle of Perrier, which is carbonated mineral water from France. Seems reasonable! The next bottle is a bottle of wine–it says, “1985, Santa Helen, Moselle.” Was this was an actual wine? I couldn’t find anything called “Santa Helen,” but the Mosel is a river in Europe. Much of the wine produced in this region is not exported, but the most common one available abroad is a German Riesling. I paid a visit to my local wine shop to see what they had. They did have two Mosel wines that were about $15 USD each. Then, they showed me a more expensive, classic version they had, and I knew I had to get it! This is most expensive bottle of wine I have ever purchased, but since Ami lives in a very expensive condo, I think Ami would be drinking this one. It was very good, but perhaps a bit sweeter than what I would usually drink.

Next, I tackled the books stacked on side table. The first book says “Tiffany Windows.” At first I thought this was a collection of shopping windows from the Tiffany & Co. jewelry store on 5th Ave in New York City. However, after discovering this book that was published in 1982, I realized it was stained glass windows made by Tiffany’s son, Louis. What’s interesting about this is that lately we’ve gotten various Sailor Moon merchandise that includes stained glass imagery, however, stained glass isn’t featured in the manga. The windows in this book feature various religious images, but it also includes images of flowers and landscapes. It reminded me of this image of Super Sailor Moon, Chibi Moon and Pegasus from the Materials Art Collection:

Credit: missdream.org

Here is a similar image from the book:

Many of these windows were produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which puts this artistic style in the same time period as Art Nouveau and the creation of shōjo manga itself. The above window is dated to 1920. Since many of these windows were made for churches, many windows feature religious figures presented like this:

Third Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA. 1902.

….which reminded me of this iconic image featured in the fourth art book:

credit: missdream.org

So, that’s what I found in Tiffany Windows. The next book in the stack is a blue book titled Inside Rome. Unfortunately, I did not find this book since many travel books have the same name. The next book after that, is The Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry. I was able to find a similar book, which was originally published in 1969 and reprinted by a Singaporean publisher in 1989. It had the same cream colored spine and red title font.

This book showcases the personal prayer book of the Duke of Berry, a prince of France, who commissioned the prayer book in 1413. As the name implies, this prayer book, a book of hours, was to be used throughout the day. This particular one is considered to be the most beautiful to have survived from that time period. I can imagine that perhaps Naoko Takeuchi hoped this book would be useful for the third season of Sailor Moon, which had a significant amount Christian themes and imagery. The first half of the book consists of 12 images for each month of year, each illustrating a scene from one of the duke’s many castles and farms. The rest of the book features religious scenes from the bible.

None of the images particularly stand out to me as influencing Sailor Moon, however the vibrant colors remind me of Sailor Moon’s color palette. There is quite a bit of cobalt blue used throughout as well as gold borders. Only 10 colors were used throughout the whole book, so sometimes it does have a very inner guardians color scheme going on! I was surprised that zodiac imagery was used for the monthly images. Below you can see Taurus and Gemini.

There was also this “anatomy of man” that has intense zodiac imagery. Even the editors note that this was rather unusual to include. However, they do note that in something like this, you can see the evolution of culture from the Medieval Ages to the Renaissance.

Finally, there was this image which is a map of Rome. I instantly thought of the prism compact!

The next book on the shelf is Portraits d’Hôtels by Nicolas d’Archimbard. In collaboration with a Japanese publisher, it was published in 1994. At first, I was surprised that Naoko would have a book of fancy hotel rooms–Sailor Moon is known for many things, but lavish interiors is not one of them! I was thinking this book was better suited for Rose of Versailles, not Sailor Moon! However, as I looked through the book, I was reminded that Naoko and her mother often went antique shopping, and we know that some of these antiques influenced Sailor Moon.

It’s not just a photo book of fancy hotel rooms, these images are filled with objects–lamps, tables, chairs, and books. That said, I was really surprised when I saw the photo of this statue–her tiara looks very similar to Sailor Moon’s! The caption says it’s Art Nouveau, so I wonder if Naoko may have seen something similar in another book or perhaps at an antique store.

There are many different rooms featured in the book–sitting rooms, bedrooms, lobbies, and–like, the one above, bathrooms. And where is Ami in the original image? The bathroom! This book made take a second look at the image because, actually, the claw foot tub that Ami is sitting in is rather unusual for Japan.

This claw foot tub isn’t exactly like the one in Naoko’s illustration, but I realize that this gives the image a different vibe than I originally thought–one that is foreign and signifies wealth. Claw foot tubs originated in Europe in the 1700s. Most Japanese bathrooms are small, so they cannot fit a claw foot tub. However, since Ami is rather wealthy, she has the space for it! In fact, claw foot tubs do make an appearance in several anime due to their unique look.

Next on the list is On the Edge: Images from 100 Years of Vogue. Published in 1992, this photo book was created from an exhibition featured at the New York Public Library from April 4 – August 1, 1992. I was *really* excited to look through this book. Finding the fashion inspirations that have appeared in Sailor Moon is a favorite past time of Sailor Moon fans, and I was hoping to find we haven’t seen before.

One of things that was most surprising about this book is that it isn’t exactly a look at fashion throughout the years. It mostly features images of celebrities, notable people and photos from featured stories in Vogue that have nothing to do with fashion at all. However, there were a few things I could glean from this book. Most notably, I can see why Naoko would have these books around, not only for the fashion, but ideas on how to pose multiple women in one photo! By 1995, the cast of sailor guardians had doubled from five to ten. The closest possible inspiration photo I could find was this photo of several models wearing white shirts:

…which reminded me of this illustration that appeared in the fourth art book, published in October 1997.

The next book spine you can read is the blue which says “Moon Park” on it, however, I do not know what this is referring to. After that, on a dark green spine, you read the words “The European.” This is not a photo book, but a novel by Henry James called The Europeans, published in 1878. At first I thought Naoko may have had this book lying merely because it was title The Europeans–shōjo manga often draws it’s inspiration from European history and culture. But as I read further, Henry James’ work often deals with the culture clash between Europeans and Americans, and in this story, a European relative visits her American cousins. This novel was adapted into a movie in 1979 and I was able to rent it on Amazon Prime. I didn’t find it particularly interesting, but I did find it fascinating that Naoko wasn’t just inspired by European culture, but American culture as well. In fact, it reminded me that this particular illustration from the first art book which was inspired by the 1938 American film Jezebel:

Credit: sailormusic.net

The movie Jezebel follows a young southern woman played by Bette Davis who loses the man she loves to another woman. And if you are thinking this sounds very Gone with the Wind, well, it is basically. Since Bette Davis lost out to Vivien Leigh for the role of Scarlett O’Hara, this was the next best thing.

Credit: Wikipedia

I do love how at times Naoko will take an image of a “villain” and cast her heroine in their place. Although in this particular case, you have an image of opulence at the height of slavery in the United States. While it’s not surprising how these images travel around the world, but I’m still surprised nonetheless!

So there you have it! A detailed treasure hunt of what I found in the title page of Ami’s First Love. Naoko drew from a variety of sources–religious iconography, fashion, and American literature and cinema. I may have even discover Naoko’s favorite wine! While I don’t think I’ve discovered anything earth-shattering, it was an absolute joy to explore.

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