Welcome aboard for another Millennial Misremembers! Today, we’re looking back at Sailor Moon, a serialized manga from the ’90s that was adapted into an anime hit. The first anime series ran in Japan from 1992 to 1997. Here in the US, it aired on Cartoon Network. This series has been much lauded for being heroine-led, as well as its queer inclusion.

What I (Mis)Remember

I watched Sailor Moon back when it was on CN’s Toonami, back when it was dubbed and heavily edited. Because of that, I don’t know that what I find to watch today will be the same version of the show I watched back then. 

Regardless, I was obsessed — OBSESSED — with Sailor Moon. In 7th grade, I dressed up as Sailor Jupiter for Halloween (I have brown hair) in a costume I had my mom custom-make for me (she was not a seamstress).

I read as many of the manga as I could get my hands on. I just thought anything and everything about Sailor Moon was romantic, swoony and cool. Kick-ass warrior chicks? Sign me up.

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I do wonder how I will feel now. Looking through the episode titles on Amazon, I see they are called things like Season 1 Episode 1, “The Crybaby: Usagi’s Beautiful Transformation,” and Season 1 Episode 4, “Learn How to Be Skinny From Usagi.” That’s not … great.

In any case, I am stoked about this.

Let’s Rewatch

The first big difference is that this episode is in Japanese with English subtitles rather than dubbed (probably a good sign!). 

The episode opens with Usagi (Kotono Mitsuishi) introducing herself. Usagi’s a 14-year-old in her second year of middle school. She’s a klutz and a bit of a crybaby, as well. She’s late for school and has a minor freak out about it. Her mom (Sanae Takagi) is super nonchalant since she already tried to wake her kid up many times. 

On the way to school, Usagi sees a group of small children messing with a cat. She yells at them to leave it alone. Usagi goes up to the cat to see if it’s OK. It has a bandage on its forehead, which she removes to reveal a crescent moon. The cat instantly becomes super powerful and alive.

Image of Sailor Moon -- a blonde girl with two buns and pig tails at the top of her head. She wears a tiara and a sailor outfit

Scared off and hearing the school bell, Usagi runs off to school. Not only does the teacher not allow her in class, but she learns she’s failing. Her best friend, Naru (Shino Kakinuma), scolds her and hurts her feelings. She tries to cheer her up by letting her know Sailor V, a crime fighter, showed up again. 

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Last night, she stopped a jewelry thief. While Usagi and Naru are glad Sailor V saved the day, they both understand why someone would steal jewelry. It’s so pretty. They decide to go to the jewelry store, which is having a sale. 

Meanwhile, some dude named Umino (Keiichi Nanba) with swirly lollipop eyes and a crush on Usagi watches this conversation and tries to insert himself.

After a commercial break, we enter our villain, Queen Beryl’s (Keiko Han) lair. She wants to obtain some sort of crystal to do something … I don’t know, man. Anyway, whatever she wants to achieve, Jadeite (Masaya Onosaka) and his monster feel confident they can accomplish it.

Over in the shopping district, a crowd is ready to shop. The saleswoman — Naru’s mom (Michiko Abe) — has been possessed. The crystals she’s selling are sucking energy out of the humans and passing it over who Jadeite, who passes it on to Queen Beryl. What a game of telephone!

A woman turned monster sneering at the screen in Sailor Moon.

Usagi and Naru escape as the crowd becomes more and more unruly. Usagi wants a diamond necklace, but she failed her English test and has already spent her allowance this month. (Also it’s a diamond necklace?)

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Mad at herself, she balls up her failed English test and throws it, promptly hitting a much older-looking guy (Tôru Furuya) in the head. He calls her Bun-Head. 

Heading home, Usagi spies a video game featuring Sailor V and cannot believe how great V’s life must be. Usagi wishes her life were more like V’s. The cat from earlier comes back. She stalks behind Usagi and says to herself, “Usagi, I’ve finally found you.”

Usagi arrives home, and her mom kindly acknowledges her lateness but doesn’t make too big a deal about it. She brings up that her kiddo got her English test back, and she’d like to see it. Umino told Usagi’s mom he got a 95. When Usagi’s super calm mom sees the 30 percent her kid got, she shoves her out the door, saying she doesn’t deserve to be in their house.

Back at the jewelry store, people are starting to faint because they lack energy. Naru is scared and asks her mom what’s wrong. When she turns to look at her daughter, her neck cranes at a sinister angle, and she has a ghoulish grimace.

Meanwhile, Usagi’s mother has finally let her back in. After all that stress and crying, Usagi falls asleep instead of doing her homework. The cat from earlier visits her. Usagi keeps referring to the cat’s moon-shaped marking as a bald spot, to which the kitty takes offense.

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The cat, Luna (Han ), thanks Usagi for helping her earlier. By uncovering a bandaid on the moon spot, she helped heighten Luna’s sensory and speech powers. That way, Luna was able to find Usagi. Usagi thinks she’s dreaming. 

A black cat on a bed with a blonde girl with pigtails admiring a brooch in Sailor Moon.

Luna decides to give her a present to wake her up, giving her a broach as a gift. But Luna needs her attention. Bad things are happening in Tokyo, and Usagi is a chosen guardian princess who will help defeat evil. Usagi thinks that’s pretty cool, but she’s still more interested in the brooch than anything else. 

Luna tells Usagi to repeat the words “Moon prism power makeup!” What entails is a seizure-inducing transformation sequence where Usagi turns into Sailor Moon. Which is more of a fit change than anything, but I guess she can also hear things, like Naru hearing for help. 

At the jewelry store, Naru’s “mom” is trying to kill her. Naru’s real mom is tied up in the basement. This is a monster. Enter: Sailor Moon. Her threats of punishment in the name of the moon don’t impress our villain. Monster Mama calls upon her victims to rise. They lunge at Sailor Moon. The slightest scrape on her knee sends her crying.

A woman covered in jewels on the floor in Sailor Moon.

Luna reprimands her; she must fight back. Instead, a superhero named Tuxedo Mask comes to save the day. Cool. He thinks crying won’t save the day, but the reverberation of her tears does a pretty good job of fighting the zombie people. And a move called “moon tiara action” crumbles up the monster. So, who needs Tuxedo Mask now?  

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The next day, Naru and other girls walk around school talking about their ” dreams ” about Sailor Moon. Usagi just wants to sleep.

Does It Live Up to the Nostalgia?

Whew. That was a ride. Honestly, more than anything, the show left me confused. I am generally a fan of subtitles over dubbing, but following the animation and the subtitles is hard.

The pacing surprised me. In US American programming, so much plot happens in a 22 to 24-minute episode of television. Watching this, so little plot occurred for as long as the episode went on. Visually, the show went a mile a second. That’s not a criticism; it just is what it is. 

I can see how I loved this as a kid, but it’s not something I would show kids in my orbit. I don’t like how the kids or parents react to Usagi’s 30 percent test result. Some of this is cultural, but I, personally, wouldn’t want this show to influence kids.

Are you a fan of Sailor Moon? What should we cover on the next Millennial Misremembers? Let us know in the comments below! 

Millennial Misremembers: ALL THAT

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