Sailor Moon is one of the most iconic anime/manga franchises. Gaining international acclaim in the 1990s, Sailor Moon was one of the first animes to be syndicated in the US, and soon many other countries around the world started airing dubbed or subtitled versions of the show. Thanks to this, Sailor Moon had a great impact on viewers, inspiring children everywhere. We can even see the affect of Sailor Moon today, with modern Western shows like Steven Universe drawing from the magical girl genre.
Considering its fame, fans were delighted when the new show Sailor Moon Crystal was announced. This version draws more from the manga storyline, which deviates from the original 1990s Sailor Moon anime. Although it's a fairly decent show, Crystal Season 1 disappointed fans with shaky animation and an over concentration on the male characters. Despite the criticism, we have high hopes for Sailor Moon Crystal Season 2, as long as the writers remember this one crucial fact...
Neptune & Uranus Are In Love!
Manga creator Naoko Takeuchi's choice to include a lesbian couple in her story was pretty groundbreaking. Sailor Neptune (or Michiru) and Sailor Uranus (Haruka) are two of the Outer Senshi, sailor soldiers that are introduced in the Infinity arc of the manga.
These lovely ladies aren't just norm-defying in their relationship: Haruka also dresses in a fairly masculine fashion, and her androgynous nature also serves to subvert gender normativity. Takeuchi had wanted to include a character like Haruka in her works for a long time, as a combination of the ideals of both men and women.
"The female best friend and the fairy tale prince in one."
This is how Takeuchi described Sailor Uranus in an interview with Kodansha in 1999. And you can see what she means: Haruka is simultaneously dashing and graceful, flirting with Usagi but showing loving devotion to Michiru. The original '90s anime managed to show this quite well, as many of the Inner Senshi developed crushes on Haruka before they realized she was actually not a guy.
While they never obliquely state that Haruka and Michiru are in a romantic relationship, the original anime makes this as clear as possible. So clear in fact, that the US dub changed Haruka and Michiru into cousins... with distinctly awkward consequences. But just in case you're not convinced that Haruka and Michuri were in a romantic relationship, here's a quote from Naoko Takeuchi about the issue...
"The relationship between Haruka and Michiru is quite special. I think the most important feeling in the world is friendship. The friendship between them is so strong that it becomes love. There's not only heterosexual love, but there also can be a homosexual love, in this case between two girls."
There you have it: the girls were pals who fell in love. Aw! So what does this mean for Sailor Moon Crystal?
High Hopes & Potential Pitfalls
While Haruka and Michiru have a similar relationship in the Sailor Moon manga, their dynamic is slightly different. Haruka develops a strong relationship with Usagi, while Usagi actually considers leaving Mamoru for Haruka.
The heroine of Sailor Moon confirmed as having romantic inclinations towards both men and women would be fantastic, and a giant leap forward for bisexual representation in the media. But there's a chance that Crystal might follow the manga a little too closely and sideline Michiru... and her relationship with Haruka.
Showing a loving, healthy relationship between two women is absolutely crucial for Crystal to do, and to play down the relationship between Haruka and Michiru would be a great disservice to Naoko Takeuchi, as well as the millions of people for whom Sailors Neptune and Uranus were a beacon of hope.
"I looked at the pictures very carefully of both of these characters. I studied the pronouns to make absolutely certain that I wasn’t missing anything. But no. Two girls. In a relationship. Together. I went upstairs to my bedroom, clutching the book to my chest, and I sat on my bed and sobbed. I…existed."
It might be 2015, but life is still very difficult for people on the LGBT* spectrum. Seeing yourself reflected in the stories you love can be vital to self esteem, as well as to understanding who you are. Just as girls should feel empowered by seeing women as superheroes, so non-heteronormative people should feel important and special. Haruka and Michiru go a long way in achieving this.
In adapting the Infinity arc of the manga, Sailor Moon Crystal Season 2 has the potential to be really amazing. Here's hoping they don't forget one of the most important things about Sailor Moon, and the impact the story has on the fanbase.
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