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Shôjo Classic - Sailor Moon Gemma Cox

Find out more about this shojo classic in our feature from NEO 002

Naoko Takeuchi originally came up with the idea behind Sailor Moon when she wrote the short comic ‘Codename Sailor V’, which features Sailor Venus – the original Sailor Scout. This was in 1991, and in 1992, Ms. Takeuchi began what would become the most popular shôjo mangas of all time. Mixx (now TokyoPop) first began to print this series in English in June 1998, but dubbed versions of the 200 episode strong series were already being aired on TV. Despite the sometimes squeaky dub (which people still persist in snubbing) and the fact that the distributing company wasn’t going to release the entire series, Sailor Moon quickly caused a stir – due in no small part to this new fangled thing they call ‘the world-wide-web’ (refer to Patrick Drazen, Anime Explosion, p. 281). In fact, according to TokyoPop’s website, there are 30,000 sites online devoted to Sailor Moon. Ignoring Sailor Moon in a roundup of shôjo classics would be like excluding James Bond from your ‘100 greatest spy films’ list. It may not be high-brow or without flaws, but it’s damn popular, and not without reason.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Sailor Moon is so popular may in fact be the mythology that surrounds it, thanks to the heavily edited dub fans in the West were offered. Conscious of the fact that they were not being offered the ‘true’ Japanese Sailor Moon experience, fans quickly started websites charting the differences between the American and Japanese versions. Save Our Sailors campaign is a prime example. ( Sailor Moon remained (and still does, to an extent) mysterious and elusive, with rumours abound as to the real content of the series in Japan – some of the more outrageous claims, as I remember, suggesting that in Japan, Sailor Moon was actually a kiddie porn series featuring gratuitous nudity.

If the anime is still a bone of contention for some, the manga is certainly not. Released in its entirety, with (as far as we know) little or no exclusions or major changes, the manga remains the truest example of Takeuchi’s final vision that you can get in English. There are three series – Sailor Moon, consisting of eleven volumes, Sailor Moon SuperS, consisting of four volumes, and Sailor Moon StarS, consisting of a mere three volumes - that’s eighteen volumes in all. The Sailor Moon manga universe is far less complex and sprawling than the anime one – not featuring, as the anime version does, three or more versions of each episode. (The dubbed version, the subbed version, and the original Japanese version) Therefore, everyone knows what happened, when it happened, and who it happened to – something not so easy to figure out from the anime at times!

This article originally appeared in NEO #2. If you’d like to find out more about the Sailor Moon world, check out the book Warriors of Legend (www.warriorsoflegend) which was reviewed in NEO 011 as a Hot Pick!

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