Sailor Moon Crystal Act 1- Usagi – Sailor Moon
I am quite new to this property, but having previously seen bits on television in the Nineties and read a chapter of a tankoban at a library in Lake Havasu City, Arizona in the early Two-Thousands, I had a passing interest in it. I bought the first volume of the manga re-release published by Kodansha a couple years ago and I was disappointed. Something didn’t click and I can’t even remember whether or not I finished it. I have heard for years that Sailor Moon is good and the opportunity to see a closer adaptation of the manga with beautiful new animation has induced me take make up for missed opportunities in the past and take a serious look at Sailor Moon Crystal.
One of my first thoughts on seeing the opening credits of the show was that there is an obvious feminine hand at work in the production and design team. I have long been under the impression that manga is one of the few remaining fields that allows for an auteur to operate with full creative freedom and seeing this work greatly reinforces that idea. The character designs for men and women are quite beautiful on purpose, except for dramatic effect here and there.
The beautiful leggy teen heroines don’t feel at all like they are for me or males in any demographic. The beauty of all the female figures shown: from Usagi’s mother, to the high school girls and teacher and female patrons at the jewelry store are featured for the female audience. Likewise, Tuxedo Mask and the bad boy who raised the clay doppleganger of Naru’s mother serve as eye candy to engage the audience in the story. The beauty is an indicator of weight and importance. Like Usagi who dreamt of the beautiful princess and whose heart was a flutter after running into the young man in the tuxedo, I am stirred by the elegant lines and lovely designs.
I am accustomed to being let down by depictions of women in Kamen Rider and in most anime I have seen, so at first the Sailor Guardian designs gave me pause, but seeing the full context has put me at ease. I worried that the voluptuous clay woman the evil servant raised was meant for an untoward purpose, but after learning who she was impersonating and seeing how she acted, I could see that the author intended only to depict an attractive woman who chooses to present herself proudly as part of her work to sell other women jewelry. There seems to be an interesting sentiment about greed and women’s lust for things that shine and sparkle, but two factor counter balance that. The first is that greed is bad in men and women and while that may be the actual point, the items were on sale and the women and girls didn’t get themselves jewelry by anything but honest means. The second is that Tuxedo Mask himself and the evil servant are looking for a jewel.
Though this is a story written for a primarily female audience, or perhaps because that is the case, there is a wonderful balance to the presentation of male and female characters. Umino is not portrayed as mildly antagonistic because of his looks or maleness, but because he told Usagi’s mom about his high score on the English test; if done to embarrass her, that is a petty move regardless of all else. Usagi and her brother seem to share a somewhat common sibling rivalry, with scholastic achievement as the currency of conflict. The mysterious Tuxedo Mask and the evil servant are obviously moving in larger circles and it will be interesting to see what roles they play. Because of the genre, I assume the evil servant is either only the first of many disciples to this great evil at the source of the conflict or the right hand to the bad boss. Tuxedo Mask’s choice to stand down and let Usagi handle the creature was awesome. As Sailor Moon, Usagi is the titular character and is expected to be the strong one, at least until her team comes about, but the way it played out did nothing to diminish Tuxedo Mask as a player in this struggle and she came off even stronger for it.
While all of the above is enough for me to continue watching, the clincher may be the very personal and intimate set up from Usagis’s perspective. The heavy focus on her point of view and the other worldly elements we glimpsed put me right in her shoes and I’m ready to take a journey that I’m sure will have both personal and cosmic stakes.