Sailor Moon: Art Styles and Epiphanies

Script:

After reading Ellis et al, my understanding of autoethnography is that it’s a process. A process of methodologies that require personal experience. Simplistically put, you identify a part in a culture you would like to further understand or analyse, for example my group’s autoethnography project was on Japanese dating sims. We identified this billion dollar industry but were unfamiliar with the games, how it became popular, why it became popular and how it has influenced the Western cultures (if so).

After identifying the area of focus and researching everything you can about the topic, the next progression stage is immersing yourself in the experience. Whether it’s playing games, attending events, making something – whatever it be, immerse yourself in that cultural experience and then document it. This is one of the most critical and most stressed points in autoethnography. In the Autoethnography journal, Ellis et al clearly states, “‘auto’ is from personal experience, ‘ethno’ is to understand cultural experience and ‘graphy’ is the approach to research and writing that describes and analyses (Ellis, 2004; Holman Jones, 2005). Obviously alluding to the final progression stage, describing and analysing your experience and findings.

I applied this autoethnography method through my individual research of Sailor Moon. I so far have made two videos available on YouTube where I give my first account and experience, and secondly, where I analyse the account through my own cultural framework and how it structured my investigation.

As I have been going through the process of autoethnography I have had my own epiphanies of realisation. When I say epiphanies, I’m not relating to Ellis et al’s definition, I will get to that in just a moment. I’m talking about the epiphanies I had through the process itself and through my gradual understanding of autoethnography. As you will see through my videos and blog posts, I experience stages of interpreting autoethnography as I carry out my research and even correct myself for the misunderstanding a couple of times.

The epiphany distinction I had to make is different as Ellis et al states in their journal, “…epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity”. This distinction is clear, however, it is not to say I did not have epiphanies as I became a part of the Japanese culture by watching Sailor Moon and researching anime.

As mentioned, in my second video I analysed my initial account and how it structured my investigation. In the attached written piece, I confess as I critique myself, “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”, therefore I came to the conclusion that I need to narrow the focus of my investigation.

As I watched and compared Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon Crystal (2014) I had an epiphany, I noticed that both versions are similar with their use of expressions and tropes. Although I also point out that Sailor Moon had a stronger emphasis on her expressions than that of Sailor Moon Crystal, which led to my assumption, that due to the change in art style (graphics) and minimised expressions, Sailor Moon Crystal has changed for a more western audience. As I later find out, this isn’t true. The change in style is actually due to Japan’s economic decline and using computers in an effort to save money during the 1970’s (Clements, 2013).

This is where I focus my investigation once more. Anime in general is very broad with many avenues to explore which often intertwined in research, so I needed to narrow it once more to clarify where I was heading with the investigation, and its clear focus. With this is mind, as well as still using Sailor Moon as a basis, I narrowed my research to the simple yet obvious question I found in my video, ‘how and why has the art style changed between Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon Crystal (2014)’.

To start off, the obvious visual answer to the difference between the two styles is stated in a blog post by Crunchyroll, a global video service for Japanese anime and Asian content. Here they describe the differences between the 90’s anime art style and the 00’s. The 90’s art style consisted of thick lines, a strong emphasis on pen pressure, a defined shadow and highlight, big hair with bundled strands, large highlight in the eye with black pupil, eyes are shaped as oblong circle, nose drawn as hiragana (Japanese writing system, in English it looks like an L) and a mouth placed in a high position. In contrast, the 00’s art style consisted of thin delicate lines, conservative use of shadows and highlights, less hair volume and without bundled strands, small highlights in eyes, pupils aren’t filled, circular shaped eyes, nose is expressed as a dot, and mouth is placed low on the face.

However, this is just an overall perception. In comparison between Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal, the main features that changed were her eyes (they’re now bigger and more round), her chin is pointed as is her nose, the colour of her eyes have black pupils and also have highlights and shadows, giving her eyes a 3D look (Crunchyroll, 2013).

Mentioning 3D, it’s also obvious that Sailor Moon Crystal has been made with 3D computer graphics. Until the mid 1990’s animators continued to work with pencils, the lower levels of inbetweening (which is a frame between two images giving the illusion of motion), and colouring to capitalise the labour-saving functions of computers (Clements, 2013). Jonathan Clements states in his book Anime: A History, “the close of the twentieth century saw several productions jostling for the chance to claim the cultural capital of being the ‘first; fully digital anime” (Clements, 2013). This clearly showing that the main reason for style change between both versions of Sailor Moon is due to the advancement of technology and the eager adaptation of computers in Japan. The introduction of computers made it easier and more efficient for animators to create and edit their work, however Japan has had a love-hate relationship with 3D graphics with an apparent desire to cling to 2D animation, or to 3D animation that looks like 2D (Clements, 2013). There’s nothing in my research that says that this -in anyway, was included in the Sailor Moon series, so purely off my own observation, I don’t believe that Sailor Moon was affected by this love-hate relationship. If anything, I think the graphics in Sailor Moon Crystal are used in praise.

Overall, the answer to ‘why’ Sailor Moon has changed art styles is simply because of the adoption of computers in Japan. So, my assumption that it was because of audience change isn’t correct. However, western cultures are becoming more influenced by anime productions and the industry. As for the ‘how’ Sailor Moon changed art styles, it’s mostly visual changes including the change between pencil drawing production to rendered 3D graphics. Unfortunately, there isn’t much on explaining the artistic differences for Sailor Moon, especially in terms of film direction of the show. This would most likely require further research and investigation by contacting the production company Madman.

Other epiphanies I had throughout my research that I found interesting but weren’t specific to my investigation of art style change, were:

  • The difference between ‘anime’ and ‘cartoon’. Anime in Japan is shortened form of ‘animation’ where as to the western audience, because of the distinct stylistic difference, anime refers to an animation made in Japan.
  • Shape-shifting into an animal or demon comes from Japanese fairy tales, which actually derived from Franz Kafka, a novelist and short story author born in Prague during 1883, and who often had works based on transformation and its effects (MacWilliams, 2014).
  • This can relate to Sailor Moon who, through her series, relinquishes shape-shifting demons
  • In Sailor Moon Crystal, Usagi (aka Sailor Moon) is constantly seen playing a Sailor V game at the arcade, which could be a nod to the evolution of the Japanese gaming culture and its capital in animation such as Street Fighter II: V (Clements, 2013)
  • Anime isn’t just for children, it can also for a more adult audience, making animation films with in depth character and plot development, as well as realistic character designs. For example, Ghost in the Shell, and Perfect Blue.
  • There’s a large relationship of influence and history between Hollywood and the anime/manga industry
  • Character designs represents their personality

References:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JapaneseVisualArtsTropes

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Anime_vs_Cartoon

https://www.wired.com/2014/07/sailor-moon-faq/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h-ZYtHCB4k The Evolution of Anime Character Designs, AnimeEverday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZQ0EZp0dzk When anime went digital, AnimeEverday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwj2ahYnci4 The Stylistic Evolution of Anime, AnimeEverday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3hjtUYPtns Why Does Modern Anime Suck? AnimeEverday

https://gemr.com/blog/how-anime-has-changed-over-25-years/

https://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/11/how-anime-art-has-changed-an-explainer/

http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2013/10/04-1/90s-versus-00s-moe-character-design-examined

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=6dDfBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA82&dq=stylistic+changes+in+anime&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=stylistic%20changes%20in%20anime&f=false Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, M.W. MacWilliams, 2014

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UQMVCwAAQBAJ&pg=PT340&dq=stylistic+changes+in+anime&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=stylistic%20changes%20in%20anime&f=false Anime: A History, J. Clements, 2013

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=yPDHCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT121&dq=anime+art+style&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihke-13pfXAhVJmJQKHYXfARkQ6AEIWTAJ#v=onepage&q=anime%20art%20style&f=false Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood, N. Davis

https://soundcloud.com/user-972508607/sailor-moon Sailor Moon, Wizard and the Bruiser

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