There is nothing more ironic than a magical girl without great powers. Imagine if Sailor Moon never met Luna and never realized her true identity as a Moon Princess.What kind of life would young Usagi Tsukino have ended up living if her character hadn’t been shaped by the mysterious ways of the Sailor Scouts? Without being bequeathed with moon attacks, sparkly magic love, and a team of talented and diverse women, Usagi would never have discovered her true calling.
Sailor Moon is a fun and campy manga about Usagi Tsukino, a middle school girl with a penchant for sweets and arcades. She is visited by a talking cat named Luna and given a special brooch. When the brooch is activated, she transforms into the powerful, crime-fighting Sailor Moon. Along with her team of magical girls and supportive boyfriend, Tuxedo Mask, Usagi defends the universe from various malevolent forces.
Although a late bloomer to the nineties, the world of Sailor Moon still managed to open itself up to me and present its fantastical story. I was fortunate to accidentally discover the show and books through a suggestion from my fourth grade teacher, who let me borrow a copy of one of the later volumes. It took a lot of prodding for me to give it back, and I still held onto the copy for over two months.
Based on my experiences, I’m convinced that every little girl who watched Sailor Moon at some point hoped that they would one day be their own Usagi. To be visited by a talking cat and discover they were princesses with magical powers to defeat the monsters of this world. At least, I certainly did! The life of a Moon Princess seemed unique and fun as a ten year old with big expectations placed on her.
Sailor Moon amazed me. I spent hours each day attempting to perfect the flowing lines and feathery portraits portrayed on each anticipated page. Every story transported me to new and exciting worlds, away from the monotony of school and extracurricular activities. Although my local library only carried a few of the books, those volumes were constantly checked out. I’m almost certain that Volume 6 was in my possession for over a year.
The show and stories not only fascinated me; they provided me with escapes. Times when I could be alone in my room with a paper towel tube, prancing around and shouting my favourite Sailor Chibi Moon and Tuxedo Mask attack at the imaginary monsters, “PINK SUGAR TUXEDO ATTACK!!”
As years passed, my dreams of becoming a magical crime fighter began to diminish as reality set in. Paper towel tubes remained in the trash, my sketchbook had been long since packed away, and I no longer recited every single Sailor Jupiter attack when I was bullied on the playground. But the idea that I could change the world, have a relationship with a partner and my parents, and still maintain a relatively fun and carefree life never left me. If I worked hard enough, my life could be filled with everything I ever wanted, just like Sailor Moon.
Or so I imagined.
No amount of sparkly wand attacks could prepare me for high school. Classes that I had once easily excelled in now dropped my grade point average to new lows. Although I was no longer bullied, I became isolated and without more than one quasi-close friend to get through freshman year. And while the favorable aspects of puberty evaded me, I was allotted a face full of acne, a roller coaster of emotions, and fluctuating weight. These ever-increasing pressures in my life made me lose faith in my abilities and appearances that had been secure when I consistently read Sailor Moon.
There was no truth-writing pen to use on my tests and quizzes; no group of strong and supportive girls to keep my back; no partner to fight alongside me in a black cape and formal wear; and no way to defeat my own personal Negaverse. All I had was human inferiority and insecurities to get through the day. This was no way to be Sailor Moon! She had been a role model that I consistently strove after and hoped to be like: strong, in touch with her feelings, supportive of her friends and family, and beautiful inside and out.
Sophomore year rolled around, and I became extremely depressed. Wrapping myself into a shell, I refused to share my feelings or even attempt relationships with anybody out of fear of rejection or humiliation. When I could feel, the only emotions I had were anger, fear, and resentment. Why couldn’t I balance everything I wanted to do? Why did I consistently let myself and my family down? Why couldn’t I be as strong and powerful as my role models?
Halfway through tenth grade, during the peak of my stress and lack of motivation, my father presented me with a parcel. Upon opening it, I was overcome with an excitement that I hadn’t felt in months. Inside was a copy of the new translation of Sailor Moon, complete with a beautiful color portrait of the pretty guardian herself.
Tossing my homework and studying aside, I laid on my bed and began to read what had enraptured me for years as a little girl. But this time, I discovered something that had slipped past my ten year old eyes.
Usagi Tsukino was a hot mess.
Crybaby, immature, always late, failing her homework assignments: all of these were common themes within the books that I had never focused on as a child. She definitely did not have it together. I suppose all the beautiful art and intense action sequences had taken my vision away from who my role model truly was. She may have been a strong warrior when she used her brooch to transform into the powerful Sailor Moon, but Usagi Tsukino was anything but perfect.
Somehow, though, this seemingly unfit candidate for a position of power became the perfect embodiment of the good, the beautiful and the pure. The imperfections of Usagi Tsukino helped her to grow into the strong Sailor Moon and eventually understand her previous self: Princess Serenity. Usagi’s immaturity and uncontrollable appetite and emotions didn’t make her defective or disqualify her from being magical. Rather, her human flaws helped her in her journey as Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon isn’t all fighting evil by moonlight or winning love by daylight, much like the theme song of the anime suggests. Sailor Moon presents a girl with initial shortcomings who is able to transform them into the driving force for her entire team of Scouts. The defective magical girl of Usagi Tsukino–with her insane appetite and seemingly shallow desires–made her into a powerful protector of the universe. Through all of her growth, however, she never loses sight of what is important to her: love, her friends and family, even the simple pleasures of beauty and food. The girl we see in the first pages of Volume 1 is the foundation for the wise and just princess we see in Volume 12.
Just like Usagi Tsukino, I too can embody the values dear to my heart and channel them into a powerful force of love, strength, and beauty, without giving up who I am. And, certainly, my shortcomings are large. Some days, I can hardly get out of bed or motivate myself to do any type of work. Chocolate chip cookies will forever be my weakness (hopefully my enemies never find out), and my anger can often cloud my vision and make me commit rash acts. But if Usagi Tsukino can become Sailor Moon and save the universe, surely I can become my own magical girl in my own world–no matter how defective I appear to everybody else.