Welcome back to Total Lunacy! A new weekly series where in celebration of Sailor Moon’s international revival, senior Moonologist Anne Mortensen-Agnew will tell you a thing or two about the franchise. This week we have an in-depth look at the series’ themes, with a focus on the comics.
Last time on Total Lunacy I gave you nerds a rundown of where Sailor Moon came from. I mentioned that Sailor Moon ended up being about a lot of things, more than could be contained in a brief 101. While on the surface level Sailor Moon is an action series about teen girls kicking tail, the series also deals with some really heavy themes: family, the power of dreams, and the necessity of hope and perseverance during war.
[Note: This analysis is focused on the comics, or manga, as opposed to the anime.]
Sailor Moon’s first arc is… pretty heavy, to be frank. It’s all about reincarnation, life and death, and improving upon your past and succeeding where before you failed. The Silver Millennium, the utopian lunar monarchy, existed and then fell during a time of intense xenophobia. The people from the Earth were jealous of the people of the Moon for their long lifespans, and Queen Beryl – along with the ancient evil, Metalia – was able to easily manipulate that jealousy into fear and eventually outright war.
During that war everyone died: star-crossed lovers Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion; Serenity’s guardians: Sailors Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus; Endymion’s guardians: Kunzite, Zoisite, Nephrite, and Jadeite; even Beryl herself. In the end, Queen Serenity used the last bit of her life force to seal away Metalia and give everyone a second chance at life thousands of years in the future on Earth.
While Queen Serenity’s intention was to give everyone a clean slate, history repeats itself many times over throughout the first arc. Serenity and Endymion, reborn as Usagi and Mamoru, find each other, bicker, and fall deeply in love. Beryl – who had also been in love with Endymion – again reawakens Metalia and becomes just who she was before, only worse. She puts Endymion’s guardians under her thrall and schemes to grasp power over the Moon Kingdom by seizing its most powerful artifact, the Silver Crystal.
In the past Beryl had killed Endymion for rejecting her, but now she doesn’t give him the opportunity and places him under mind control. During their penultimate fight, Usagi is forced to kill Mamoru, and after doing so seemingly takes her own life, as she did in her past. Sailor Venus, distraught, even wonders if they are all doomed to repeat the past.
But–while they are haunted by the transgressions and tragedies of their past, they are not bound to them. While the guardian Sailors of the past failed miserably in their duty to their princess and their country, the Sailors are now successful, saving their princess and Earth, and returning home to their families and friends. Usagi and Mamoru suffer, fight, and hurt each other, but they don’t give up. Instead of throwing away her life because her love is taken from her, Usagi has the strength of will to power through and swear to save him and get him back herself. Mamoru is able to overcome the Dark Kingdom’s power and actually manages to protect Usagi and heal Earth, instead of dying in his love’s defense against his own people. In fact, when Usagi is seemingly dead, he successfully reawakens her with a kiss – this time around, their love and their strength was enough to overcome everything in their path.
Furthermore, while the Moon Kingdom was just as xenophobic as the Earth kingdom, the reborn Sailors embrace meeting other people and protecting all of mankind, not just their own. In fact, when Sailor Moon and Luna raise the Moon Castle at the end of the arc, Luna tells her that she is the rightful owner and Queen of the Moon. But Usagi declines. Her home is now on Earth with her friends, and instead of returning to a stagnating husk she chooses to venture forth into an unknown future.
That future, however, comes far more quickly – and literally – than any of them could have guessed.
I’ll be back later in the week to talk about the series’ progressive slant into heavier and heavier territory with the Black Moon arc, and its themes of family and exploration of the two types of power shown in the series. After that we have Infinity and Stars, and why maybe SuperS deserves more respect than the haters give it. See you then!