11. Sailor Moon
If my Christmas countdown was organized like a ranking, this post would have been saved for Number One because, you know, AHHHH SAILOR MOON. But since this is more of a narrative, I am sitting Sailor Moon down here. Meaning, if Sarah from Labyrinth reminds me that adults can draw on fantasy as an empowering source of strength, then Tsukino Usagi naturally follows with the lesson that
Love is strength. Love is power. And, love is everywhere.
Wait, wait, waiiitt. Is that cheesy, sentimental schlock? Stick with me here a bit.
There is a valid argument to be made that Sailor Moon is not particularly progressive. It is not just the hyper-sexualized school uniforms they wear, powered-up in variably hued bursts of glitter and pastel ribbons. It is because Sailor Moon’s power is not boundary pushing, falling well within traditional feminine values: love, kindness, softness, friendship, romance, beauty. While the “cooler” characters were brutally decisive about pursing their goals, no matter the sacrifice or collateral damage, Sailor Moon always seemed to just whine about us all just getting along and then saved the day, saved the world, even brought back the dead with lo~oovee.
Teenage me was like “Fucking hell, are you kidding me? You have the power of the entire galaxy here so why not kick the monster in the face and blast them to death? Fuck lo~ove. Get strong and get it done!” But that perspective mostly came from cynicism and a general, immature impatience with how life actually works.
Not everything in life boils down to “getting strong and getting it done.” Sometimes the most important thing in facing life’s battles is resilience and grit, standing your ground over and over, and finding the motivation to fight. Sometimes you can survive best in life through forgiveness, in simple joys, acceptance and camaraderie. And yeah, all of those things can come from love. It is easy to sentimentalize this into meaninglessness but, in our age of cynicism and politics and to-do lists and bureaucracy and hate? In all my endless feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and helplessness regarding my son?
Well. “Love” feels like an important message for me to carry into 2016.
Ultimately, Sailor Moon isn’t a show about one girl gaining cosmic power. It is a long story about
- the network of relationships that tie us deeply to a place
- the long, long wake of emotional trauma
- the simple, healing power of unconditional love
Some people are damaged and react in violence but anyone can be reborn. People can be stunted but can grow with love (Chibi-Usa). And love is both limitless and everywhere: even “the moonlight carries the message of love.” And, what actually motivates Sailor Moon? Why does she fight instead of giving up? When she is the weakest, laziest, fattest, dumbest, and generally most useless as measured both by societal standards and fighting prowess? It is love! It is so simplistic and so cheesy but it is true.
And to close with my favorite artist for Sailor Moon fanart:
Make sure to visit these artists for more of these amazing Sailor Moon illustrations: Trungles, Taku, Kassandra Heller, Jooby. I wish I knew who did the other 2! I found them on Tumblr and the seem to come from pixiv :S