Sailor Moon and Me :-)

Sailor Moon
and Me :-)

[Image of Sailor Moon stretched out on the shaft of a crescent moon wand]

[Image of Usagi] I am a 28-year-old anime fan (okay... "otaku") planning to eventually apply for Ph.D. programs to study issues of race in anime. A recent project involves using the You're Under Arrest! OAV series and the wonderful-but-disturbing film Perfect Blue as case studies, and I am now working on a large Flash-based project to explore whiteness in anime. I have also created a critical studies course on anime, focusing on issues such as auteurism, gender, race, and nationalism.

My interest in the Sailor Moon universe began in Spring 1995, when I was living and studying in Paris, France. Given my class schedule, I was able to spend some mornings at home instead of in class. On one such morning, Club Dorothée (a children's program, no longer airing) was on, and I saw my first Sailor Moon episode, "Nightmare in Dreamland" (the Dream Dolly episode); thus my first experience with Sailor Moon was en français. While I could not explain why at the time (and I still cannot fully explain this), I was/am quite hooked on Sailor Moon. I was only able to see a handful of episodes of Sailor Moon during the time I was in France, but I certainly enjoyed them!!!

When I returned from Paris, I went to spend the summer working in New Mexico. One of my friends there informed me that Sailor Moon was scheduled for American television release (DIC version) that fall, when I would be back in college. Since I did not own a television or a VCR at the time, I had to get up incredibly early and go down to the public TV in the dorm's basement to watch the first North American episode of Sailor Moon. Although the dubbing job is quite inferior to the French version, something still had me entranced with the series, so for several weeks, I could be found in the dorm's basement at 5:30AM, watching (and eventually taping) the first episodes of the series.

Several weeks into the semester, I finally acquired an old VCR (for only $10!!!), and quickly took an old, unused television from home. After several days trying to hook up to the campus cable system, I was finally enjoying Sailor Moon in my own dorm room, although initially I was still watching (and taping) at 5:30AM before finally setting the VCR to record the episodes so I could gain more sleep. During the fall and spring semesters, I was able to tape most of the episodes shown in the States at the time, so I now have my own Sailor Moon library for the first two Japanese seasons of the series :-)    Because I find the dubbing job so incredibly lacking (even compared to the DIC dubs for the original run of Sailor Moon in North America), I have not seen the "new" Sailor Moon episodes now airing on Cartoon Network.

[As a side note, my girlfriend-to-be and I were both getting really interested in anime about this time, and I had her watch a few (taped) episodes of Sailor Moon with me. She was definitely interested :-)   Even now, although her interest in anime has waned, I still tend to call her "Meatball-head!!!"]

When the three Sailor Moon films were finally released, I happened to notice that The Right Stuf International, a company I had previously done a lot of business with for other anime titles, was offering a prepack with all three films... subtitled. The day they arrived, I ended up tossing all homework aside (I was in grad school) and watching all three films back-to-back-to-back. This was my first chance to experience Sailor Moon in Japanese, and it was a very enlightening experience indeed - topped only by my later acquisition of the entire Sailor Stars season.

Sailor MoonSpring 2000, I finally decided to order The Sailor Moon Role-playing Game and Resource Book, partially due to my interest in the series, and partially because I was considering getting back into gaming after a 7-year hiatus. Of all the anime purchases I have ever made, this has definitely been the best!!! The gaming system was quick and easy to learn, very intuitive, and highly flexible. After spending a month or so creating various characters, I began working on an adventure, with the intention of running a campaign with the other anime fans/otaku at Philmont Scout Ranch that summer. The initial one-shot adventure, Daughter of Mars, was an instant hit, even among those players who had never participated in role-playing games before that night. For the rest of the summer, Sailor Moon was one of the most popular RPGs we ran (which also included Bubblegum Crisis, set in Chicago in 2034). Unfortunately, circumstances have kept me from returning to Philmont this summer, but hopefully this Web site is helping the Philmont anime gamers :-)

My favorite character from the original Sailor Moon universe is Rei Hino/Sailor Mars, (followed very closely by Sailor Mercury). I really like Sailor Mars' strong will and personality, although her attitude sometimes gets in the way. Also, I felt from the beginning of the series that her strong religious connection was admirable, even though I personally had no such connection until a few years ago. In a way, I feel that Sailor Mars should be the leader of the Inner Senshi (à la "Who Do You Think You Are?"), but given how much Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon has matured by the Sailor Moon R film, why quibble over roles? I also have a respect for the Outer Senshi (especially Hotaru Tomoe/Sailor Mercury), although I do not truly understand Haruka's position on The Three Lights in the Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars series (final season).

[Image: Sailor Hibiki's head]My favorite character I have created for the SMRPG is definitely Amanda Parkinsly/Sailor Hibiki. I wanted to make her quite different from other characters, so she is an American now living in Japan (who speaks Japanese almost fluently), an aspiring pop idol, and a naturally-bald model who is fairly well-known everywhere she goes. Although I only had one chance to play Sailor Hibiki as a player, I "played" her as the GM in the adventure Fetch, and I certainly hope to use her in more Sailor Moon campaigns in the future. There is also now a Web site dedicated to this character: HibikiWeb.

One character I definitely hope to play eventually is Sylvie Castelet/Sailor Kaaji, although she will be a difficult character to play: She rarely speaks and is very much a loner. Just the psychological aspects of playing an immortal character will likely be difficult to fathom. Still, I believe that part of the fun of playing this character is the challenge of playing her as originally intended. The trick will be finding a GM who will actually allow me to play such a character (as intended), even if under very strict guidelines.

Overall, The Sailor Moon Role-playing Game is one of the best gaming systems I have ever known, as a player or as a GM. While the second-edition Big Eyes Small Mouth system (or BESM, another Guardians of Order release) definitely has its benefits, it does not really lend itself to the Sailor Moon universe - or other magical girl campaigns - nearly as well as the SMRPG does, despite BESM's inclusion of some aspects from SMRPG; for example, look at the Amanda Parkinsly/Sailor Hibiki character sheet for BESM.

Also of interest in my "relationship" with the Sailor Moon universe: I have acquired the entire fifth and final Japanese season of the series as a fansub set!!! While I had previously known a little about what would take place in the final season of the series, actually seeing it is a true treat :-)   Usagi/Serena and the others may now be in high school, but "Dumpling" hasn't really grown up much!!!!! The first six episodes of the season essentially form their own standalone mini-series (important for those who have not seen the series before), which is itself quite interesting. However, the final six episodes are so involving that they truly must be seen in a single block (about three hours).

At this point, my anime collection boasts over 130 videotapes and DVDs, so I am no longer actively pursuing titles to add to the collection. However, I do occasionally use eBay to pick up anime-related merchandise, and most of the items I acquire in this manner is related to Sailor Moon. Now that I have some more space on my walls after redecorating recently, I will likely be adding a few more Sailor Moon posters :-)

[Image of Usagi in silhouette]

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[Image of Usagi in silhouette]