What sets anime apart: A look at anime through Sailor Moon

In my previous post I uploaded a video of my initial reaction as I watched the first episode of Sailor Moon (1992) and the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal (2014), and then compared the two. This can be viewed here.

As I experienced watching the two shows throughout the video, I was somewhat unclear as to the direction of my investigation. I couldn’t quite articulate the differences I was seeing between the two shows and I put it all down to the lack of experience I have in watching anime.

As a child, Sailor Moon was the first anime I had been introduced to. Besides this and the ever popular Pokemon, I had never been exposed to anime. For the film buff and aspiring entertainment journalist that I am, I have always been more concerned about the more western productions. I’m now ashamed I haven’t considered broadening the scope of entertainment. So for my individual autoethnography project, I’m taking the first step towards broadening my experience by starting with anime.

Anime in general is quite a large topic and a very divergent one at that. Yet I have noticed that they also carry something similar that sets anime apart from every other animation. Their use of expression and other tropes.

Sailor Moon had a more emphasised and obvious tone clearly showing it was anime especially through the expression (this can be seen in the above featured image). Sailor Moon Crystal has been made 22 years later and with modern computer graphics. From initial assumption, I thought that Sailor Moon Crystal had been targeted towards a more western audience because of this slight change, as well as the less obvious tropes included in the show. I tried briefly researching this to see if it were true, but nothing has been mentioned about the possibility of target audience change.

When trying to research Sailor Moon for even the basic information (dates, series info etc) there wasn’t as much information as I thought, not to mention conflicting information. The main sources are from Wikipedia and fansites, although this is a great indication and help to start off with, if I wanted more reliable and scholarly information, it will prove to be quite difficult. Therefore I’m narrowing my focus for the project. I will concentrate my autoethnography project strictly to anime art tropes, using Sailor Moon as a base. Finding more reliable sources to help me recognise what sets anime apart from cartoons.

A YouTuber called LavenderTowne redesigns Usagi (aka Sailor Moon) into a cartoon, giving a great insight to the difference of anime designs and cartoons. In her video she mentions how anime is more realistic due to the closer depiction of human anatomy compared to western cartoons which tend to be more exaggerated. I thought this was a good place to start as LavenderTowne uses her own experience and memories of cartoons growing up, referencing and giving examples of current and previous cartoons helping the audience relate and understand easier. This reminded me of a journal, Autoethnography: An Overview by Carolyn Ellis, Tony E. Adams and Arthur P. Bochner. In the journal Ellis et al states, “they [researchers] seek to produce aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience” (Ellis et al, 2017). Here is LavenderTowne’s video:

 

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

LavenderTowne, 2017. What if Sailor Moon wasn’t an anime? Redesigning Usagi 3 ways!. Online video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm4CwGYifp4

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