29 7 / 2012
An AMAZING message I got:
I stumbled upon your tumbler and your entry asking about liking Sailor Moon back in the day. I first saw Sailor Moon during my freshman year at college. It was Thanksgiving break, 1995. My sister had caught it one day when she was home sick from school and remembering that I liked that style of art, she shared it with me.
I watched it every day that I could. Over breaks I would tape it when it showed around 5AM in the morning (near DC), at school I would take a break from workstudy and rush to the social room of a nearby dorm to watch it at 3PM I believe. I had access to the internet through computer labs and well do I remember the days of trawling Geocities and the like for pictures to decorate my dorm room with and more information. I was sometimes in the computer lab until sunrise!
It’s funny but back then people on webpages would sometimes get all huffy over “fake” sailor scouts because they didn’t believe there was anyone but the inner senshi! >_< Then I found Hitoshi Doi’s website and entered a realm of knowledge beyond anything I ever imagined. Not just Sailor Moon but Saint Tail and Himechan no Ribbon and even further back Creamy Mami and Magical Fairy Pelsia (as he romanized it).
I drew Rei, Ami and Usagi in Edwardian style dresses around my campus (which dates back to the 1840’s) for my final in my art class that year. I told my poor boss more about Sailor Moon than anyone but a fan would want to know and I joined the Sailor Moon fan club. (The window clings kinda died that year on my dorm window but I still have the membership certificate!) I bought the transformation locket, the dolls, and the wand. I found a small Asian goods shop in DC that imported the manga and bought every issue just as it finished up publication in Japan. Wow, they were expensive back then! But the pull-out mini posters were the stuff of dreams! I also signed the Save our Sailors petition.
My sophomore year I had a Sailor Moon themed birthday party with licensed piñata, plates, napkins and invites (wow those drawings were pretty bad!) and my grandma even took a picture of Sailor Moon’s crescent wand to the cake shop so they could put it on my cake! I dressed up as Sailor Mercury for Halloween that year too (badly). I found the art book number three and paid through the nose for it at a comic book store. I was trying to read the manga with a Japanese-English dictionary although at the time I didn’t know enough to know when a word stopped! “Huh, wa doesn’t make sense here… Wata doesn’t either… Oh! It’s watashi! That means I!” (I’m not kidding. >_<) Japanese exchange students found my ardor for a kid’s show amusing at best. Once or twice one of them brought me back Sailor Moon goods from Japan and one girl taught me how to say “月に代わって、お仕置きよ!”
There was only a two year Japanese program at my school and the books were in romaji! However my junior year I was an exchange student with a sister school in Japan. I learned a lot of Japanese, bought all the art books, all the transformation lockets and even more goods. I was so excited to get Sailor Moon ふりかけ! I repurchased all the manga while I was there because I hadn’t packed it, sometimes for 50円 a piece (!), and bought Nakayoshi every single month. I wrote about the manga for my Death in East Asian Thought class as well as my Japanese Popular Culture class.
My senior year I founded my university’s anime club, attended Katsukon, did my senior research paper on Sailor Moon as a way to transmit societal values and Japanese cultural norms to the next generation, used my computer science class to make a database of all the manga I had painfully brought back from Japan (so very heavy! I had to stop and rest several times between deboarding and customs and I even had the latest Nakayoshi tucked into the front of the overalls I was wearing!), started getting Nakayoshi through a Japanese bookstore in Rockville, Maryland, and started collecting fansubs of other magical girl shows.
My first year out of college I worked at the Japanese Embassy. I was getting so many fan subs (and “raw” anime for underrated shows like マ マは小学4年生) that I kept a database of which subbers had which episodes for how much as well as what I already owned. The room I slept in was literally floor to ceiling covered in cartoons, mostly Japanese.
The year after that I returned to Japan to teach English for five years. I pretty well burnt myself out on anime after my first two years but I still have all the Sailormoon art books (so pretty!) and it holds a special place in my heart. I even say my sister met her husband because of Sailor Moon. The girl who I went to Japan with as an exchange student (she convinced me to go with her as she was the other anime fan at my school — I had been planning to go to Ireland) became one of my best friends and one of her friends from her first year out of college is now my brother in law.
Recently I’ve been rediscovering my love of manga and anime and once again remembering how Sailor Moon reconnected me with my girly-girl true nature when I was lost in a sea of grrrl power. Being true to yourself gives you more power than squeezing yourself into any role defined by others, even that of a butt kicking, stompy boot wearing, warrior goddess — after all Sailor Moon saved the day in high heels with a magical pink manicure!
Thank you so much for sending me this message and sharing your story! But come on, you are probably only a few years older than me! OLD FANDOM POWER haha! And yes, I think Sailor Moon WAS greenlighted for the US precisely because the 90s had that pop-culture resurgence of “girl-power.” But, while I wasn’t particularly won over by the whole riot grrrl thing (maybe I was too young?), Sailor Moon hit a very special spot for me.
Reading your message really reminded me of the obsession and frustration of fandom in the mid 90s (though, I guess we can’t complain too much compared to the fans before us?). And yes, you just had to go to Japan in the end because there just was nothing NOTHING here! I got a tip from a high school classmate that she saw glossy, obvs counterfeit Sailor Moon goods in this city a good 20 min drive from us but guess where I was all the time that summer, pissing off the store owners. It was the first time I saw the Art Books and realized I had to learn Japanese to read the damn notes.
I also burned out on Sailor Moon for a while but still watched PGSM and then rediscovered my obsession a few months ago (now tripled with the 2013 reboot announcement). It has been enormously wonderful to connect with fans everywhere through this fancyschmancy internets that the youngsters grew up on ;)