“She is the one named Sailor Poo!” I used to sing every time the show began, just to annoy my sister who was far more invested in this series than I ever was. Well, I pretended to not like it simply because she did. And if we are being honest, I did the same for pretty much every show on Cheez TV.
However, rediscovering this classic before-school television show under the strict guidelines of an autoethnographic study has shed new light on this series and I may have judged it too quickly as a kid.
Sailor Moon is one of the most popular anime and manga series, which has sold over 35 million copies worldwide.
The series is a Japanese shōjo manga series which is a category of manga aimed specifically at a female audience rather than writing for a specific genre. Sailor Moon is about a young school girl, Serena who unbeknownst to her, is a guardian destined to save the Earth from evil and sets about establishing a team called Sailor Scouts – Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter.
I initially found it difficult to find the original, full-length episodes that did not involve me climbing over Internet walls lined with dragons ready to bug my computer at any minute. But maybe I was looking in the wrong place as many of the sites were – I assume – in Japanese and I was not able to understand where to click and where not to.
However, after many exhausting hours – in reality it was about one hour that ended in complete frustration – a quick scan through good-old YouTube lead me to Season 1 Episode 1 and it was the English dubbed version. Disappointing. But so began the nostalgia
Ellis et al (2011) suggests that autoethnography involves the interpretation of a text which is often influenced by our own personal experiences and understanding. It is then coupled with a “thick description” of a culture to help facilitate understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders.
I began with the first episode to reacquaint myself with this series as it has been many years since watching early morning TV.
I had to change to another episode later in the series where she had transformed into Sailor Moon to examine the spectrum that is the character of Serena and Sailor.
From watching the first episode and episode 30 (where she becomes Sailor Moon) there were a lot of first impressions and many observations were things that I had not noticed when I was a child viewing this series
- Theme song really catchy and bubbly – almost sickening. Also “fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight”
- Introduction or beginning scenes are really vibrant despite watching it on YouTube
- Seemingly accurate portrayal of Tokyo where the series is set as the city is large and there are various malls
- The lines of expression coming from their faces and bodies to exemplify and exacerbate the characters’ emotions are helpful. Something like the laughing tracks added to sitcoms showing you where to laugh
- Melvin or Marvin, a male nerd who wants to help her study seems awkward and describes Serena as, “beautiful but a shopaholic”
- Being able to pause and digest is different from initial viewings back in the days of box televisions where you were not able to pause, rewind or even record
- Mouths do not move at the same time as their words in the English dubbed version – annoying but understandable
- Character’s names are incredibly hard to follow – there was Queen Beryl and another Emporer of blah-blah and other names such as Chibiusa – and they are not phonetic either. It got a bit overwhelming and there were a lot of WTF moments
- I really liked that they accurately portray a young, teenage girl who is struggling to find a way to tell her mother that she failed her Algebra test – something Serena and I have in common.
- She is obsessed with boys and has arguments with her friends and heavily blushes when she is embarrassed.
- She seems to be a typical teenager which enables a stronger grasp on what is happening even if you cannot figure out who we’re fighting or saving or hating – much like the roller-coaster that is teenage life.
- Why does she wear such a short skirt as Sailor Moon? I mean, how can you possibly fight crime and the bad “guys” when your skirt barely covers your bum?
I hope to explore more of the English episodes of Sailor Moon – as finding a subtitled full episode of the Japanese television show is proving difficult – too add to the data and and examine this series through the lens of feminism with the help of Newsom (2004). Although it is not an autoethnographic article, it does examine this topic in depth and has some incredible insight into the world of Sailor Moon as well as some juxtaposition between Western female roles and Asian female roles.
I want to delve deeper into the question of whether this is a war cry to all the strong women out there or whether it is hiding the traditional, over-glossed, dominant not strong female role.
Once the creative juices have begun to flow again, I hope to present this in a research essay as I feel that this topic needs some arguing along with the autoethnographic method. But for now.. “fighting crime by daylight, winning love by moonlight….”
Ellis, C, Adams, T.E., Bochner, A.P, (2011), ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no.1, http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
Newsom, V.A., (2004), ‘Young Females as Super Heroes: Super Heroines in the Animated Sailor Moon’, Femspec, vol.5, no.2, p.57 – 81