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The heroines of Japanese cartoons: Sailor Moon

The power of Bunny and her 90s style will be back soon in a new movie on Netflix

The heroines of Japanese cartoons: Sailor Moon The power of Bunny and her 90s style will be back soon in a new movie on Netflix

Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon (literally: “The Beautiful Warrior Sailor Moon”) is far more than a Japanese cartoon. Born in 1991 as a manga (the famous Japanese black&white comics to read from the right to the left) by the pencil of Naoko Takeuchi, who was just 24 years old at the time, it was soon turned into an anime (the Japanese abbreviation to “animation”, referring to the all the Japanese animated movies and series that became popular thank to world-wide famous sagas as Dragonball or Pokémon). The success of the anime was unprecedented: today, Sailor Moon is the protagonist of a cultural phenomenon that made more than $15 billion only in the first three years on air.

Yesterday it was also announced the new film Sailor Moon Eternal, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the release of the latest anime feature film in the saga, arriving on June 3rd on the streaming platform Netflix. The film is divided into two parts and will be a continuation of the animated series Sailor Moon Crystal, adapting the fourth chapter of the original manga called Dead Moon Circus.

Despite the success, the anime immediately caused many controversies mostly due to the freedom with which it represented some issues as genre identity and sexuality, in a time when the public was still not used to it. As Eleonora Caruso rightly wrote on PrismoSailor Moon has been one of the very first feminist icons to be represented by media : her adventures anticipated the spirit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xeena the Warrior Princess, while the portrayal of such a strong female friendship came years before the first airing of a cult as Sex & The City. To be honest, she was the first heroine of a shōjo manga (manga dedicated to a female audience) to systematically narrate the fight against evil enemies, codifying a language that previously belonged only to the shōnen manga (dedicated to a young and male audience).

Who is Bunny (aka Sailor Moon)

At first sight, Bunny/Sailor Moon might seem the typical girl in need to be saved, especially in the anime, in which she is actually rescued anytime she is in danger by her boyfriend Milord. Though, as episodes go by, her personal growth is really impressive: she manages to turn her weakness into a powerful strength and she does it mostly with words, and not with violence. After all, Bunny is “just” a 14 years old girl who goes to middle school by day - and she is not even good at studying - while she fights the evil by night. The differences between anime and manga are clear in the way with which she is portrayed: in the anime she appears to be much more childish, as the “cartoon” is dedicated mostly to a youngest public, while in the manga she is very much more adult, as she was supposed to be read by a public of teenagers. In the original manga, all the girls look older than what they are and are capable of deep thoughts on topics such sacrifice, love, family and even sex.

The greatest example of their maturity is given by the way they deal with love. Of course they are teenagers, so they all aim to find their soul sister, but in the end it is always clear that they just want him, but don’t need him: the only Sailor who has a boyfriend is Usagi, who is deeply in love with Mamoru. That is because the real strength of Sailor Moon lies in her friends: a group of outsider girls who care for each other and would give their life to save their friends. Their loyalty is clear in an episode from the fifth season, when Sailor Mars confesso to her fellows that she fears that they might lose the battle against Sailor Galaxia, their all-time most powerful enemy. Sailor Venus tries to reassure her: “For us, there has always been only one motto: to save our friends, defeat the enemy and protect who we love. This time is no different! I am sure that we will survive.. And then we would come back to our everyday lives and go to high school! We will finally get a boyfriend!” At this point, her speech is interrupted by another character, who tells them that they already choose a person in their heart - and they choose to live and die for her. It is true: they choose to live for their princess, Sailor Moon. And this is all they ever cared for.


The best looks

Not just a heroine. In the moments of everyday life that intersperse the life of Bunny, between a transformation and another, we find the simplicity and comfort of the 90s. In fact, when she is not saving the world, Bunny goes to school, takes walks with her friends, plays sports, chills in the company of the cat Luna, just like an ordinary teenager.

Although Bunny's most popular look is the blue and white set with pink knee-high boots combined with the bow and hair decorations, nss G-Club loves especially her more casual outfits, often underestimated. In her closet there are several essentials of the 90s, which the heroine can't do without, such as miniskirts, short overalls, oversized sweatshirts, denim jackets. Her style is versatile, she passes easily from streetwear-inspired looks, wearing items like puffer jackets and sneakers, to easy-chic and feminine outfits.

What's nss G-Club's favorite look? The white dress worn by Princess Serenity, of whom Sailor Moon is the reincarnation. It is a palladium dress, inspired by Christian Dior's Haute Couture collections from 1992, perfect for the moon princess.

Unlike her wardrobe, Bunny's hairstyles don't leave much room for creativity. In fact, a single iconic hairstyle characterizes the look of Sailor Moon in the collective imagination: very long, blonde hairtwo cute pony-tails and messy bangs. The only difference is the addition of some small decorations from time to time, like a diadem or pink hair pins, combined with the symbol of the crescent moon on her face when Bunny turns into the heroine Sailor.

In the initial sketches by the author Naoko Takeuchi, Bunny's hair was pink, but later it was changed and so both the manga and the anime portray the protagonist with blonde hair.


In the pop culture

The character of Bunny and her fairytale and mysterious aesthetic on one hand, on the other similar to the look of a common high school girl, continue to fascinate even the new generations, not only those who grew up watching the episodes on TV. This led over time, to the creation of merchandising of all kinds dedicated to Sailor warriors during the years. Not only, numerous brands in the fashion and beauty industry created collections inspired by Sailor Moon and  this is a current phenomenon too.

Few examples? From the collaboration with Shiseido which incorporates the symbols of the cartoon maintaining the essential and mature aesthetic of the brand, to the one of ColourPop, a young and innovative beauty brand that created a pop and glittery collection, inspired by Bunny and the cat Luna. About a year ago, Uniqlo presented a collection of t-shirts dedicated to Sailor Moon and her magical powers.

La collezione più attesa? Senza dubbio quella presentata da KITH Women lo scorso aprile: una serie di hoodie e t-shirt in diverse varianti monocromatiche, con logo del brand sovrapposto ai personaggi principali della serie. Non può mancare certamente l'item più hype degli ultimi anni, le sneakers: Sailor Moon e Skechers hanno collaborato nella realizzazione di nuove versioni della famosa silhouette D’Lites Airy 2.0. Le guerriere Sailor erano già state accostate allo stile streetwear con l'extreme makeover dell'artista @drawmelike_ che nelle sue illustrazioni aveva vestito le eroine di piumini The North Face, sneakers esclusive, accessori e capi Supreme, e tracksuit Nike.

The most exciting collection? Without any doubt the one presented by KITH Women last April: a series of hoodies and t-shirts in different monochromatic variants, with the brand logo superimposed on the main characters of the series. Certainly the most hype item of recent years, sneakers: Sailor Moon and Skechers have collaborated in the creation of new versions of the famous silhouette D’Lites Airy 2.0. The Sailor warriors had their streetwear makeover thanks to the artist @drawmelike_ who in his illustrations dressed the heroines with The North Face puffer jackets, exclusive sneakers, Supreme accessories and items, and Nike tracksuits.

But there's more: in addition to these collaborations, the Japanese anime has inspired the food industry: numerous restaurants and cafes, especially in Tokyo, periodically created curious and fun products dedicated to Sailor Moon, like hamburgers, dim sum, and even milkshakes.

The looks of Bunny and of the other heroines and characters, are in perfect harmony with the dreamy settings of the city, of Silver Millennium and of Crystal Tokyo, with their enchanted atmospheres, pop colors, and mystic symbols. There is even an Instagram account entirely dedicated to Sailor Moon scenarios. It is certainly not the only account dedicated to Sailor warriors on Instagram, in fact there is a whole world of accounts that also collect the memes, the episode moments, and all the fan illustrations.