I first became acquainted with the classical magical-girl anime Sailor Moon at around 10 or 11. A little old, perhaps, to be interested in a cartoon about a teenage girl who transforms into the “Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon”, but it was around the time I was beginning to become obsessed with everything Japanese. As the internet took form in the general public, my insatiable need to consume every piece of information regarding Sailor Moon was fed, but it was piecemeal, like drops of kerosene onto a fire.
I begun to collect artistic Sailor Moon desk-top backgrounds, familiarised myself with the basics of the Japanese language, investigated anime in general. I discovered a plain-text website which had scene-by-scene descriptions of every single episode of Sailor Moon ever aired. For one mad summer, I read them all, well into the night, often till dawn. It was an illicit thrill, like literary and sexless pornography. I was addicted. It was sad.
Oh yeah, I should mention I’m a dude. You can imagine that I kept my Sailor Moon fanaticism pretty quiet. I didn’t. If you knew me, you probably knew me as… you know, that guy.
And here’s the thing – I had never seen an episode. The closest I had gotten was dubious websites offering 7-second clips of, let’s say, the Sailor Senshi using a magical attack, or speaking horrendous English, or a vacuum cleaner turning into a monster. The downloads would take hours -HOURS- on the dial-up modems of the late-90s, and god forbid if your session timed out and you had to restart the whole fucking thing. All for a couple of lousy clips. There was something seriously wrong with me.
You just couldn’t get anime in the UK at the time. Perhaps that is what made Sailor Moon so alluring to me – it seemed forever out of my grasp. Only those who have attempted to use mind-altering substances to gain enlightenment can understand my emotional state at that age. Good lord I sound like I had fetal-alcohol syndrome or something.
I was finally united with my long-distance love that I had met over the internet at the age of 15, when this thing called eBay crawled out of whatever hole it was conceived in, and I ordered every single episode of Bishojou no Senshi Sailormoon on DVD. Let me tell you – no one alive has ever spent more time fantasising about the attainment of material objects than I had before getting those DVDs. How could Sailor Moon have ever lived up to my juvenile expectations? It was a relationship doomed to failure from the start.
And here’s the thing: it was perfect. Perhaps it was a psychological complex I developed in order to prevent cognitive dissonance over what should have been a massive disappointment, but hey, if so, thanks brain, you gave me something beautiful.
I’m older now. I’m jaded, my life has suffered setbacks and heartaches (hey I’m writing a blog about Sailor Moon, of course I’m a fucking loser) but I thought it might be interesting to share my thoughts, episode by episode, to see if the show holds up. Let me share a part of my history, what made me the charming alcoholic I am today, though this blog.
I plan to review a couple of episodes a week, trying to discover what Sailor Moon can teach us about life in Japan in the 90s. Perhaps I’ll even find deep metaphysical truths hidden under Tuxedo Kamen’s top hat. Who knows? I really just want an excuse to visit the characters that I knew so well that it almost felt like they were my real friends.
There’s 200 episodes and 3 films of Sailor Moon to get through, so we’d better not dawdle on this solipsistic and rather pathetic piece of prose.
I hereby officially announce the Pretty Soldier Project! Now I say that out loud, it does sound a little Village-People-esque, doesn’t it…?