Pixar’s newest movie Turning Red features quite a few anime references, but one series is given a true spotlight: Sailor Moon. This isn’t surprising when you consider that the movie is set in Canada in 2002 and is loosely based on the director, Domee Shi‘s life. Though both the director and the protagonist are Chinese, anime is a major influence for people in many different cultures. Sailor Moon, in particular, is one of the most influential anime of all time. If you were in school in the early 2000s, odds are you grew up watching Sailor Moon and were able to spot some references in Turning Red

From the stars that Mei Mei wears on her ears to subtle background details, we have a list of all the Sailor Moon references we spotted! There will be spoilers ahead for the movie. If you haven’t seen it, consider this your warning. It’s streaming on Disney Plus.

Color Coding

An easy Sailor Moon parallel that can be spotted early in the movie is the color palette on Mei and her friends. Like the sailor scouts, Mei’s friends each wear a signature color. Mei Mei dresses in red with a blue skit as a nod to Sailor Moon herself. Priya, who sports yellow/orange colored clothes, is a nod to Sailor Venus. Miriam, in her signature green outfit, is a nod to Sailor Jupiter. Finally, Abby looks like she’s a nod to Sailor Saturn in her purple-colored attire. 

Sailor Scouts vs Turning Red


The coloring and background work in Turning Red are also influenced by Sailor Moon. Throughout the movie, the animators use a sparkling feature with purple highlights that are reminiscent of the anime’s colors. Viewers will also note the sprawling cityscapes with purple and yellow hues as well as some strategically placed moons throughout the runtime. 

Turning Red Backgroud


When the women of the family come of age, they perform a special ceremony that locks away their red panda forms into a piece of jewelry. During the 4-Town concert, when the mother, Ming, shows up as a kaiju-sized red panda, it is revealed that her panda spirit was sealed inside the necklace she wears. When the aunties and grandmother come to the concert, they reveal their jewelry do the same thing. They lift them into the air before breaking them to release their pandas and help reseal Ming’s panda spirit. 

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For anyone not as familiar with Sailor Moon, the girls who make up the Sailor Scouts are normal high school girls until they use their wands to transform. The transformation scenes are iconic and even if you haven’t seen Sailor Moon, you’ve seen them emulated somewhere! They lift their wands high, call for power and transform in graceful, technicolored style just like the aunties in the clip below. 


The Poses

The poses are where Sailor Moon references are really cemented. When Mei Mei introduced the 4-Town guys to remind the girls what real men look like, she lifts her hand into the air in a way very much like how Sailor Moon does to transform. Then once they’ve been introduced, Mei can be seen sitting atop a mountain with them holding up her arm with a flashing light like the sailor transformation. There’s also all of the literal moon imagery within the film when Mei leaps in her panda form. 

Turning Red Pose


On Pixar’s official Instagram, we have been getting a lot of extra art for Turning Red and in these, the Sailor Moon references are undeniable. The first is a doodle straight from Mei’s notebook that has her and her pals dressed as sailor scouts. The doodles aren’t colored, so we don’t get a confirmation as to which scouts they kin, but we still have their clothes’ color-coding. The second image is Mei jumping in front of the moon with her panda spirit in a special pose. 

Turning Red Pixar Instagram

Well, how did we do? Did you see any Sailor Moon references that we missed? If so, let us know down below and on social media!




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