(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.
To understand all this, it’s probably best to start at the beginning: what is the Silver Crystal and why do all the villains in Sailor Moon want it? The Silver Crystal holds immense power–the most power in the universe. In the first arc, Luna tells the sailor guardians that it is sealed within the moon princess and they need to find her before the bad guys do. The crystal finally appears in the form of the princess’s tear, after Sailor Moon’s love, Tuxedo Mask, nearly dies trying to protect her.
However, the Silver Crystal is more than just a fancy rock. There’s something more elusive about the gem–perhaps eluded to in its Japanese name–Maboroshi no Ginzuishou (幻の銀水晶.) “Maboroshi” can mean phantom; vision; illusion; dream. The Silver Crystal is not just a physical object, but something much more. After it appears, its light moves from the Silver Crystal and transfers to Tuxedo Masks prone body, keeping him alive. It’s the first instance where the crystal’s power acts on Sailor Moon’s feelings.
As the first arc progresses to its climax, Sailor Moon nearly kills Tuxedo Mask–who has been turned evil–as well as herself. The Silver Crystal grows and encompasses both their bodies. It takes the rest of the sailor guardians’ power to awaken them. After Sailor Moon’s awakening, the Silver Crystal takes on a unique shape for the first time–the lotus flower. In Buddhism, the lotus flower is a symbol of rebirth, purity, and spiritual awakening.
In this way, the Silver Crystal isn’t just raw power, but its legendary power represents Usagi’s purity and spiritual empowerment. So the villains of Sailor Moon aren’t just drawn by its power, but by Usagi’s spiritual enlightenment itself.
Previously, I’ve written about the connection between Raicho Hiratsuka’s feminist manifesto, In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun and Sailor Moon. In the manifesto, Raicho argues that women need to find their own hidden sun within themselves so that they can utilize their talents and reach self-actualization. Raicho argues this journey a spiritual one:
Passion! Passion! We live by this and this alone!
By “passion,” I refer to none other than the power of devotion, the power of will, the power of meditative concentration, the power of the Way of the Gods! Or, in other words, it is the power of spiritual focus.
Spiritual focus is the one and only gateway to recognizing mystery.
Although I have just spoken of “mystery.” I do not mean to imply either something that lies beyond or apart from reality or something fashioned by one’s hands or imagined in one’s head or created by one’s senses. I am not taling about dreams, ether. Rather, I would argue that mystery is reality itself, that it lies in the farthest recesses of the human consciousness…
Raicho talks about “mystery” and in the new Kodansha English translation of the manga, Sailor Moon is actually referred to as the “Guardian of Mystery.”
So, Sailor Moon’s Silver Crystal represents more than just power, but spirituality, empowerment, fulfillment–happiness even. And what hates happiness? Evil. Negativity. Instead of blaming Sailor Moon for all these battles, perhaps Takeuchi-sensei recognized that Usagi’s bright light would attract those would try to tear it down. It reminded me of how online trolls operate–that they are so unhappy with themselves that they use hatred and harassment to make themselves feel better.
One of my favorite feminist writers and comedians is Lindy West. In her writing, Lindy is unapologetic about who she is–she’s a fat woman who loves herself and loves life. Apparently, a man saw her happiness and this made him angry–he decided to take on the online persona of Lindy’s dead father and harrass her. Lindy confronted her harasser on NPR and asked him why he did it. He explained:
I think my anger towards you stems from your happiness with your own being. It offended me because it served to highlight my unhappiness with my own self. I have emailed you through two other Gmail accounts just to send you idiotic insults. I apologize for that.
Over the phone, he explained further:
You’re just a very– you almost have no fear when you write. You know? It’s like you stand on the desk and you say, this is– I’m Lindy West and this is what I believe. And you know, fuck you if you don’t agree with me. And I– even though you don’t say those words exactly, I’m like, who is this bitch who thinks she knows everything?
I asked him if he felt that way because I’m a woman.
Oh, definitely. Definitely. Women are being more forthright in their writing. You know, they’re not– there isn’t a sense of timidity to when they speak or when they write. They’re saying it loud.
To me, Lindy has her own Silver Crystal–she knows she can’t live life fully by being unhappy with herself. Loving herself empowers her to be who she needs to be–and allows her to bring happiness to others. She will not be silenced by the darkness of trolls.
In the final arc of the manga, Sailor Moon is presented with the dilemma that Evil has and always will be attracted to her light. Her future self, Sailor Cosmos, presents Sailor Moon with two options–destroy herself and the Galaxy Cauldron so that all life ends or, don’t destroy it and be faced with endless battles.
Sailor Moon chooses not to destroy the cauldron, but instead jumps into the cauldron, unleashing her light within it which disperses the Evil that has gathered there. She hasn’t eliminated Evil, but it does seem that the moral of the story is that when you are faced with negativity brought on by your own light, you should only shine brighter.
H/T to the blog TuxedoUnmasked that reminded me that I had something to say about the Silver Crystal too!
Images via Pretty Solider Project, MissDream.org, SailorMoon.org, Sailor Moon Wikia