When people find out I'm a newly minted Sailor Moon fan (it's been a little over a year now) the shock hits them harder than Sailor Jupiter's Coconut Cyclone attack. I obsess over Sailor Mars's fiery temperament, swoon over the lesbian relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, and am absolutely smitten with the outer senshi. I began watching Sailor Moon Crystal by the urges of a fellow journalist J.A.M. and the fab artist Trungles, both whom gave me "the run down" at last year's Flame Con. What I discovered is that friendships are a beautiful thing, but queer friendships are even more mesmerizing. Crystal helped me embrace both my queerness and my relationship with others in the queer community in a way I hadn't fully recognized or expressed before. So I'm expressing it, dammit!
Now before you rain down a galactic read on me, I'd like to disclaim that I grew up in an overly religious household, so Sailor Moon, due to its fabulously short Sailor outfits and "magic" were pretty much banned in my childhood. But since then, I've read some manga, revisited the classic original series, and watched Crystal. So fret not.
I won't recap the entire series, but one thing Sailor Moon Crystal does an amazing job of is cutting right to Usagi/Sailor Moon's friendships with the girls around her. In season one of the original series, there's a lot of fluff before we come face-to-face with the other senshi/Sailor Guardians. But in Crystal, we meet Ami/Sailor Mercury in episode 2. She's teased for having an extraordinarily high IQ and being too awkward and too damn smart for a junior high girl. In episode 3, we meet Rei Hino/Sailor Mars, a mysterious shrine maiden with supernatural and precognitive abilities. Of course, she attracts some obvious gossip and a rather large group of haters. Makoto/Sailor Jupiter is the incredible strong but sweet transfer student, who of course, not following the gender norm for Japanese girls, also gets bullied. But are you seeing a pattern so far? The senshi were all on the outskirts of their community, sometimes wanting to fit in. And if that isn't a brilliant start for a metaphor of queer existence, then you can just leave this now.
Besides the obvious outsider perspective, Usagi's reaction to each girl she meets reminds me of several of my encounters with my queer friends I have today. I crushed so hard on my bestest friends in the most non-sexual way. Queer magic is enthralling, and I admire so much of the magic I see within my own queer circle. Usagi is intimidated by Ami/Sailor Mercury's genius, has a total girl crush on Rei/Sailor Mar's isolated beauty and loves Makoto/Jupiter's sense of compassion. In fact every time Usagi meets another one of the senshi, she's smitten with them. Finally another girl capable of being who she is unapologetically! Usagi is a food loving, boy-crazy total ditz, but she is who she is without flinching. The other Sailor Scouts follow suit, and if your queer friends are anything like mine, their personalities are unwavering. They are who they are. And thus, Sailor Moon’s girl crushes are justified. These girls not only inhibit the planets they're assigned (which also protect them), they also embody distinct personalities who make up a broader spectrum of literal and metaphorical color.
Sailor Moon's magical items is a list longer than a Target wedding registry, but her Moon Chalice is filled with not only her own mystical powers but the souls and powers of her BFFs. Countless times in multiple seasons, Sailor Moon delivers the final blow to an enemy drawn from the strength of her friendships with the other senshi. She is empowered by love and the love of her friends. She is also de-powered when the the bonds of her friendships are strained. The original Sailor Moon S, does an incredible job of highlighting this caveat to her abilities. And maybe that's cheesy, but holy goddess did it hit home for me. I would not be here without my own group of senshis. My best friend has the exact same temperament as Usagi, and maybe that's why I'm so choked up about the depiction of friendships in the Sailor Moon universe.
The Sailor Scouts survive multiple galactic and school adventures and they do it together. The inner senshi are Sailor Moon’s true BFFs who make up the main squad. Separately, the girls were all ostracized, teased ,and mistreated. Together they are guarded by celestial bodies and given the abilities to defend this planet. HELLO! Is this not the gayest thing you’ve heard of since the X-Men?
But it's not always literal rainbows. Sometimes the girls do not get along, and that's OK. It's not just OK, it's honest. Raise your hand if you've ever felt personally victimized by Regina George (or another gay). The truth is, when it comes to other gays, especially men, we can be really crappy to each other. I've been guilty of this myself.
Enter in my favorite season of Sailor Moon: Crystal season three. When the original Sailor Scouts eventually encounter the outer senshi, the Guardians whose sole purpose is to guard the galaxy from external threats, the meeting isn't pleasant. So it's no surprise that the outers pay the inner senshi absolute dust at times. Mind you, Sailor Moon is a princess, and the senshi even the outer are meant to protect her. But we see them disagree in Crystal. We see Sailor Pluto, Uranus and Neptune all turn their backs on Usagi and the inner senshi, because they believe their mission is far greater than the opinions of Usagi & Co. And it should also be noted that the outer senshi are immensely more powered than the inners. Season three of Crystal plays this up exceptionally well. The outer senshi are cold, calculating and have total tunnel vision. Even in Sailor Moon S part two, the outer senshi are relentless. Disclaimer, this bitch loves her fair share of tension and anti-heroes so both of these seasons are favorites of mine.
Eventually the outer senshi come around. They fall in line to save their princess. But the outer senshi harken back to encounters with I've had with gays in the past. Some of them privileged enough to harpoon themselves on the isolated surfaces of Pluto or Uranus. Some of them being quite rude upon first meet. If real life mirrored the Sailor Moon saga, we'd all be together as one. I mention this because gay friendships are incredible, but there's an ugly underbelly to them. The competitiveness, the need to be better, to toss around the words bitch and girl so frivolously to both harm and embrace our queer brothers and sisters... It can be maddening. Sailor Moon Crystal highlights Usagi's grave disappointment in this behavior. Because it fucking sucks.
However this show exquisitely shows friendships between girls in a way we don't often see in the pop culture spectrum. And just like the LGBTQ community, who else is more equipped to save the world in pumps, mini skirts and flawless hair? Sailor Moon has been a goddess-send, for primarily this reason. Also, the shady quips come close to Buffy levels. I know some of my pure Sailor Moon die-hards will always hold the original animated series above all, and I totally get that. But for me, every season of Crystal was newly discovered magic. Season one was all about finding your tribe, season two about maintaining your friendships, season three about learning how to play nice with the other girls.
In the event that you'll want to buy into my super gay Sailor Moon experiences, you can buy Sailor Moon Crystal seasons 1and 2 here. You can buy Sailor Moon S part two here. Sadly my favorite season of Crystal, season 3 , hasn't been released yet, but pre-sales are set for December. So go on, have yourself a gay old time with the special features and that amazing pink AF box art.
Dammit, I love me some Sailor Moon, and you should too.