I want to agree with this, but one of Sailor Moon’s other main elements and atributes of her “power” is beauty. Yeah. : /
Agreed. The character of Usagi also concurrently trivializes intellect in the strangest ways.
Unfortunately. : / I get that they’re trying to highlight that it’s trying to highlight that she’s a good person, and even the most average of people can be meaningful, etc. But still, there’s a lot about Usagi that sends mixed messages about women in power.
Then again: Japan.
Oh I guess you didn’t delete.
Wow, first of all, way to be racist as fuck.
Second, Usagi may not need intellect to succeed (though she’s far more logical and strategic in the manga than the anime- and PGSM actually outright says she doesn’t really work hard to help herself hence the poor grades, but when it comes to working hard to help others, she can do basically anything) butttt the show doesn’t say women in power can’t be intellectual. AmiSetsunaHarukaMichiruChibiusa are all pointed out to be incredibly smart and good at academics.
I mean, shounen heroes generally aren’t very book-smart either, even worse than Usagi a lot of them (at least she studies sometimes) but they don’t get any shit. Not every girl can be a super genius, and the point of Usagi was to encourage girls who are incredibly flawed they can still be a hero.
I apologize for that coming off badly, I meant simply that Japan is often very bad with it’s media messages for women and their roles.
As for the rest of my statement, I stand by it. There may be other stronger female characters in the show (which I’m glad to see), but the centre of the show’s story and most powerful character is Usagi, thus she becomes the forefront of any message the show might have. This gives a rather shaky example for feminine power.
I’ll go ahead and say that it is not inaccurate to say that Japan is sexist. It is - believe me. Only around 1% of the country’s corporate execs are women, and the labor laws tend to disregard some basic tenets of women’s health issues. That is certainly not to say that is worse than sexism anywhere else - the U.S. is still pretty grievously misogynistic, and the stats are analogous. Japan’s historical discourse on gender is necessarily very different, and it comes to light in the way its media is presented.
I understand the social discourse of Japanese imports as products of their time and cultural contexts, and I can appreciate that Sailor Moon is a product of the 90s - it’s got that watch-me-fight-monsters-in-my-tiny-skirt-and-impossibly-long-legs version of faux-feminism that pervaded purportedly well-intentioned tropes of girl-power.
From an academic lens on superheroes, Sailor Moon comes out of a communal-collectivist culture. A recurring trope of the show is that her power stems from the support of her friends and family. It would be difficult to critique Usagi’s character as an individualistic figure the way we tend to try to do in Western cultures.
Sailor Moon broke boundaries and various ways - it is a wildly successful media franchise that was created and orchestrated by a woman, Naoko Takeuchi, whose cast was comprised of mostly women. Rumiko Takahashi is the only other manga author I can think of who can make that claim, being one of the most successful people in the business, and many of her stories follow the same highly gendered tropes as Sailor Moon.
A retrospect of Rumiko Takahashi’s work will reveal that the context of some of her earliest works, Urusei Yatsura, dealt with the tensions between new and traditional roles of women in contemporary Japanese society in much the same way as Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon - they both employ female heroines in very small clothes doling out all kinds of supernatural kickass. Urusei Yatsura predates Sailor Moon by at least a couple decades, but its brand of hyperfeminine, borderline pandering flavor of girl-power has remained relatively unchanged.
But let’s think about it in terms of an even broader, cross-cultural historical context. Siegel and Shuster’s Superman was created and popularized after the Depression and just before the first world war. He became a vehicle by which new immigrants could envision themselves as powerful contributors - he is an allegorical figure of the American Immigrant Dream after WWI. Captain America, with his decked out star-spangled shield and unrepentant Americana, was similarly a vehicle for popular American anti-Nazi sentiment.
Likewise, after the Second World War and, most importantly, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan’s allegory that would carry them through that immense collective cultural trauma was Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, a diminutive figure who could fight the enormous mechanical horrors and atomic terrors. Our superheroes carry the weight of fighting our allegorical monsters, and they each tend to correspond to a need of the time.
I actually think that Sailor Moon is a reaction, a cultural byproduct of the concurrent misogyny in 1990s Japan and the internalized belief in a cisgender, gender essentialist notion of womanhood. Japan is moving, in different but analogous ways, through its cultural landscape in terms of contending with patriarchy in a lot of the same ways many other places in the world, including us in the U.S. It would not be okay to pretend that there are no problematic elements to the show, but I find value in that it comes out of a place and time that informs our own.
It’s a complex discussion that needs a little more thought than derailing accusations, and I don’t think that it’s wrong to note that Japan legitimizes a lot of unchecked sexism, too.
I’ll always love the show and the books, but I’d be a total idiot to deny that it falls into sexist tropes that are prevalent in anime.
But then again: the 90s.