Our thoughts from the monthly Mangaforum
- http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum – 24th February 2017
Sailor Moon and A Universe of Squad Goals
This months manga was Sailor Moon, one of the most popular shōjo manga series ever produced, written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi.
- The plot is revolves around middle-school student named Usagi Tsukino (Bunny/Serena in the English dubs) who befriends Luna, a talking black cat that gives her a magical brooch enabling her to become Sailor Moon: a soldier destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Luna and Usagi assemble a team of fellow Sailor Soldiers, each with their own planetary transformation powers, to find their princess and the Silver Crystal.
- In the first arc, the group battles the Dark Kingdom, led by Queen Beryl, who are attempting to find the Silver Crystal to free an imprisoned, evil entity called Queen Metaria.
What we thought in a nutshell;
- It’s a stone cold classic; By the power of the moon, I CHALLENGE you, Dear reader, to tell me about what’s not to like about this phenomenal, global gateway manga.
- …Is it really as good as i think it is? OR does nostalgia completely cloud my vision?
- Men/People who have never read it; Please give the first volume a go and let me know what you think
- Choose the manga; Not the anime. The Manga is both better and shorter.
- Why aren’t there more Girl Team stories out there?
Sailor Moon was how I was introduced to manga; I was a 12-ish, impressionable, girl’s school girl that couldn’t read good, in a time when the internet was dial up and Youtube and on-demand subscription tv wasn’t a thing. Inevitably, Sailor moon made a lasting impression.
So, when it was initially proposed to re-read it as a classic here at the Manga Forum, some 16 years on after I first read it, with an intention of looking at the portrayal of female roles and discussing strong female characters in manga in general, I was very much on-board…but then i started thinking…What if Sailor Moon is actually shit? What if I my judgement from back then, was actually clouded by youth and naivety ??
Um… I shouldn’t have worried. It’s great.
I invite you to listen to us talk at length about what we like about it on the podcast but here’s a summary;
- Characters are relate-able, flawed, true to their roles and each have their own unique personality, background story and depth.
- They are also bad-ass
- Art work is beautiful and the pacing is spot on. The reader moves through very quickly after the first couple of intro pages, then the story keeps you engaged with text, dialogue, character thoughts, action and battle sequences.
What We Dislike about it;
- Not much.
**Caveat** We do acknowledge that there are also a couple of questionable things that perhaps our nostalgia and fandom hides from us, such as
- Is the fact that they’re cats, stupid??… Why are they cats?
Among all it’s strengths, an undeniable aspect of Sailor Moon that deserves massive praise, is the strong female-centered team-work story.
There are of course a LOT of strong female characters out there in anime and in manga – But I just think there is something particularly special and endearingly realistic about the group dynamic in Sailor Moon, that isn’t as widely seen.
Although it has been disputed that the story Takeuchi actually wanted to write was forced to be diluted and sweetened for commercial accesses, Sailor Moon’s target audience is relatively young, impressionable girls; However I believe that the story of Sailor Moon could only have become the international success by genuinely appealing to the human spirit of companionship, which I feel maybe something that hasn’t been freely explored using male-based stories, due to the tendency for male protagonists to have to be masculine, self-sufficient independent warriors, out to rescue those in-need on their own.
Now days, there are multiple, female-based “squad” mangas, often revolving around supportive friendships and compassion, which is what makes it entertaining for everyone and ensures the stories remain timeless and cross-generational.
I personally feel these stories of female squad support are important, especially for teen-age groups (both male and female) because it introduces the fact that we all have responsibility to protect and support each other (even girls!! *feign shock*), in the face of adversity and in their daily lives; It also shows us that girls too have the capacity to fight together, be villainous or be bad bass, and who aren’t limited to the superficial pursuit or competition of luurve, but have higher, self-less ambitions, to ensure good in the world.
So now, What is the equivalent in western comics? Seriously, tell me in the comments below…! The first thing that comes to my mind is Powerpuff Girls (No shade on Powerpuff Girls at all – i think that’s another ground-breaker but for a whole host of other reasons), although during this research, I also found an article published in 2015, about Marvel writing a new comic to bring together female characters from across the Marvel universe – but is this it? The female characters from franchises, coming together and getting a spinnoff??
I believe that we see these kinds of stories, much more in Manga because the platform is so wide-scope. It may be harsh to consider, but it’s western comics that are arguably still predominantly aimed at male audiences (hence stronger male characters and story arcs), where as Manga is seemingly limitless in the audience and consumers to target, and therefore something for every taste and to promote any and all messages.
And this is ultimately why manga has brought us together, right!?
Anyway, enough gushing.
Next month’s blog will follow our breakdown of a hugely popular (but relatively less infamous) Slice of Life time-travelling manga, Orange.
Tune in at the earlier date of 17th March on http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum, and follow us on twitter for more updates over the coming months- https://twitter.com/themangaforum.
We look forward to hearing what you think!
Lara and Lexa