Lovefool 04.18.11 | In the Moon Kingdom, Love Rules

Lovefool takes a look at the comic that saved her from a life more ordinary: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon.



The very first comics I remember reading were the deliciously wee-yet-thick Archie comics. I’d beg and plead to have them purchased for me in the grocery aisle, eschewing candy and other trinkets, insisting that I needed to read Archie Digest. From Archie and his pals, I learned many things, namely that high school involved endless sunshine and convertibles and lots and lots of boys. So we’ll take that image of high school and romance and we’ll tuck it away in the back of our minds long enough to fast forward to a teenage Lovefool alone in a toy store. I’d escaped from my family with orders to rendezvous at some point and was meandering the aisles when I came across something cool, something I didn’t recognize amongst all the familiar icons of childhood.
I’m a little foggy on what, exactly, my first Sailor Moon purchase was. Maybe the wand? An action figure? Either way, I remember exactly how I felt standing in that aisle. I was, up until that point, potentially going to turn out to be fairly bland. I think I was 13 at the time, a younger-than-normal freshman in high school who had floundered through middle school after spending most of grade school as an army brat, never being anywhere long enough to fit in. And then, when I was somewhere long enough to fit in, discovering that I didn’t quite have the knack. So maybe, at that moment, perusing the Sailor Moon section in KB Toys, some part of my brain quietly decided that I’d be interesting instead. Mileage may vary as to how I’ve been doing with that but, in high school, I was utterly fascinating to a certain cross-section of the male species that I’ve never been able to pin down.
They weren’t your stereotypical nerds. They weren’t cool. They were probably just like me: fringe elements somewhere in the middle, not getting shoved in the hallways but not sitting with the cheerleaders. They coach college debate teams and have doctorates in obscure sciences. But back in the ‘90s, at the height of Sailor Moon fever, I was sent a mix CD with a cover that had my face superimposed over Usagi’s and my beau’s over her beloved Mamoru’s. I’d get painstakingly copied artwork torn from the corners of algebra notes and even just a moon sometimes, carefully rendered on the outside of a note. A-ha! Something in my brain clicked. Maybe it’s not convertibles and endless sunshine and lots and lots of boys. Maybe it’s a little stranger than all that. Not very, mind you, but a little more beautifully odd than what I’d thought it would be. Maybe we’ll get to talk about myth and space and maybe we’ll get to be a little more flawed than California standards allow. And thank those oft-discussed stars that I stumbled my way to that conclusion.
So, feeling I’d been saved from a life more ordinary, I slowly sank into the world of Sailor Moon, a process that would take years. It was a little clichéd, a little funny and varied wildly between adaptations. But one thing stayed the same in the Moon Kingdom: love ruled. Clumsy but sweet teenager Usagi and badass but still sweet Sailor Moon shared a beau, so to speak: the older (but not pervily so) Mamoru, who entered her life as the elusive Tuxedo Mask, a mysterious hottie who showed up to save Sailor Moon every now and again until she got the hang of this heroine thing. He brought roses and snark and your teenage Lovefool was completely enamored. And then there was this whole moment where it turned out that the slightly antagonistic Usagi and Mamoru were actually lovers in a past life and that’s what had brought them together in this one. They were fated, living out the myth of the moon and her beautiful shepherd, falling in love only to find themselves separated and only true love and a lot of work and tiny skirts would bring them back together. They were meant to be. They were sooooooulmates, brought together by a crystal and thief’s dreams.
I have always hated that word, soulmates, rolling my eyes at it then and launching into a scathing rant when I hear it now, but when I flipped pages as Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask exchanged banter across rooftops, even my inner cynic was shushed. I believed it. I believed in these super teenagers and their epic, millennium-spanning love affair. Mamoru knew, psychically, when Usagi needed him because they were that connected. And when things got complicated, I was all about it. A weird dislike of each other at first? Gosh. Amnesia? Cool! Weird holograms of someone’s mom saying that she’d resurrected them and sent them into the future to be humans, to live happy, uncomplicated lives? Awesome! And, later, when things got really, really weird, various forms of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask would unite their powers, sometimes physically melding and sometimes with some violence, to defeat whichever baddie they were facing down. To a teenage Lovefool, they were the ultimate pair and probably secretly fueled years of my doomed teenage passions. Well, Usagi and Mamoru and the Smashing Pumpkins.
But I digress. Now that I’m older and wiser but still absurdly excited about the upcoming rerelease of the Sailor Moon manga, I realize that there’s some weirdness going on here. I feel bad for Mamoru. In the anime, which is technically not in our purview here but we’ll mention it for argument’s sake, he’s initially forced into transformations to go save a girl he’s not even really that sure he likes. In both adaptations, he’s kidnapped and brainwashed approximately 8 million times before Sailor Moon comes and manages to combine powers with him to save them both. I feel bad for Rei, Sailor Mars, who kind of maybe saw Mamoru first. I wonder at Usagi’s seeming placidity when she realizes that she and Mamoru, who was certainly hot but also kind of a criminal(-ish) are fated to be together. On the other hand, I’ve always felt that Sailor Moon has a lot to say about being who you are, about how love takes two and that teamwork is key to any relationship.
I like to think that I’m a better person for having discovered Sailor Moon. More interesting, anyway. I sincerely wonder how different my life would be had I not ended up in that KB Toys that winter evening during my impressionable youth. Would I be here, writing this column? I doubt it. Would I have learned to embrace my own inner badass and have grown into the person I am? Maybe. It’s hard to tell. Would I, had I kept longing for sunshine and ragtops and the perfection of Riverdale, be the person I am today? I can honestly say I don’t think so. | Erin Jameson

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