the_sun_is_up: Person with a fan for a head excitedly typing the word "OMG" over and over. (zero p - eeeeeeeeee)
Sailor Moon Manga Gets New Anime Series in Summer 2013


Edit: Actually, here's a more topical gif:

the_sun_is_up: Aliciabeth from Claymore succumbing to zombie-ification. (claymore - drowning)
Since I've been talking a lot about Dark Magical Girls lately, I figure it's about time to discuss one of the main codifiers of the trope: Sailor Saturn.

At a glance, Sailor Saturn looks like your typical by-the-book DMG. Dark hair? Check. Wears purple and black? Check. Cold, aloof, and stoic? Check. Angsty? Triple check. Starts out as an enemy of the heroes but later joins their team? Check. Has her frozen heart melted by the pink-haired heroine? Check. Has tons of parallelism and LesYay with said pink-haired heroine? Check. Hell, she even has a creepy-looking scythe as her signature weapon and she's prophecied to bring about the end of the world.

But there's one big problem with categorizing Saturn as a Dark Magical Girl: she's not evil. She's not even an antagonist. The Outer Senshi think she's their enemy, but she doesn't share that opinion. She gets possessed by the Big Bad, but unlike with Chibiusa turning into Black Lady, it's done by force instead of manipulation. Furthermore, the pink-haired heroine who's responsible for Saturn's redemption arc is not the protagonist but the protagonist's daughter, who spends most of her time as a joke character.

If Sailor Moon had debuted in the past ten years, I'd put Sailor Saturn in the same bin as Homura from PMMM: characters who are set up to look like Dark Magical Girls only to turn around and subvert the trope. However Sailor Moon came out in 1992, back when the DMG trope had barely started to exist and certainly hadn't been codified yet, so I guess Saturn falls into that weird category that TV Tropes calls the Unbuilt Trope: when a trope gets subverted before it even gets properly established. At any rate, even though Saturn technically isn't a DMG, I tend to put her in that category anyway because it seems clear to me that she had a major hand in defining the trope for later works. Tsubami from Cyberteam, Rue from Princess Tutu, Fate from Nanoha, Dark Cure from Heartcatch — they're all following in Saturn's footsteps.
the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
Okay, so let's talk about Sailor Moon and how she overhauled the Magical Girl genre.

Actually I think some Westerners give Ms. Moon a tad bit too much credit — hers is usually the earliest MG show they're familiar with, so they tend to dismiss everything else as a Sailor Moon "ripoff." Sailor Moon certainly didn't invent the MG genre, nor did it invent most of the tropes it used, since most of those were borrowed from earlier MG shows. No, what made Sailor Moon revolutionary was the way in which it combined all those tropes, the result of which proved so popular that it became the de facto guide on How To Construct A Magical Girl Show.

Sailor Moon is a cross-pollination of the various pre-existing MG genres. From the male-oriented Proto-Magic-Warrior genre, it took the focus on fight scenes, the "save the world" high-stakes plotline, the nude transformation sequence, the "I am so-and-so"/"In the name of the moon" post-transformation speech, the Cutey-Honey-initiated trend of having all the baddies be scary-looking females, and the overall theme of the Magical Girl as a badass superheroine. From the girl-oriented Object-User genre, it took the endless parade of foofy outfits, the sparkles, the PINK, the blinged-out magic items that look suspiciously like plastic merch, the basic origin story of "muggle girl gets cool magic trinket out of the blue," the cutesy otherworldly critter who gives the girl her magic trinket and serves as her mentor, and the overall idealistic outlook and tone.

To this mixture, Sailor Moon added something that was totally new to the Magical Girl genre: the Girl Posse. Up until that point, each Magical Girl heroine was the sole Magical Girl in her universe, with only the muggles for company. Occasionally a MG heroine would have a single MG rival (Meg-chan, Sally 2), but that was about it. But then Sailor Moon took some cues from the sentai genre and gave us not one, not two, but five Magical Girls who fought together as a team, which later grew to six seven ten thirteen. Ish. Since then, the concept of a team of Magical Girls, each with her own signature color, theme, and combat specialization, all inducted into Magical-Girl-hood via the same systemized ritual, and all bonded together by the power of FRIEEEENDSHIP has become an idea strongly associated with the genre.

Speaking of girl-bonding, the next thing Sailor Moon introduced/enhanced in the genre was lesbian subtext/text. It makes sense: when you have a group of girls who all share intense friendships and who frequently find themselves in life-or-death situations and make heroic sacrifices to save each other and die dramatically in each other's arms etc etc, you're inevitably going have lots of LesYay, whether intentional or not. I can't be totally sure of the gayness level of the older MG series, but from what I've seen, none of them approached the canon-gay of Uranus and Neptune, or Uranus hitting on Usagi, or Seiya hitting on Usagi, or all the subtext between the Inner Scouts, etc etc. At any rate, LesYay is something you often find in Magical Girl shows today — especially blatant examples being Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cardcaptor Sakura, Puni Puni Poemi, Tokyo Mew Mew, Futari wa Precure, Nanoha, Uta Kata, Mai-Hime, Getsumen to Heiki Mina, Heartcatch Precure, and PMMM — and I'm inclined to point to Sailor Moon as the one who started that trend.

Thirdly, Sailor Moon did much to codify the Magical Girl transformation sequence. The details are going to require a whole other post, but in short, Sailor Moon invented/popularized a number of henshin tropes that became popular standards of the genre, and especially popularized the stock footage henshin as a way to save time and money. Prior to Sailor Moon there were a few MGs who used stock footage henshins (Minky Momo, Magical Emi, Sweet Mint) but more often, they'd have newly animated henshins for every occasion — Cutey Honey, Marvelous Melmo, Lunlun, Creamy Mami, and Persia all did this. Post-Sailor Moon, it became standard to have one piece of henshin footage used over and over, to the point where shows that avoid this (Uta Kata) are considered unusual.

And finally, due to the cross-pollination I mentioned above, Sailor Moon was the first Magical Girl show that a) was made for girls and b) had a badass world-saving heroine. Previously, the only superheroines were in the adult-male-aimed shows, and the girl-aimed MG shows tended to be pretty low-key and devoid of violence, for reasons that aren't hard to guess. However thanks to Sailor Moon's influence and success, these days it's the norm for a Magical Girl to be a badass lady.


the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
Sing me a bawdy song, make me merry

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